The BEST Episodes of Hard Time (2011)

Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!

Last Updated: Dec 4, 2021

Ever wonder what life is like inside a maximum security prison? In this National Geographic series, producers lived within the prison walls, capturing the day to day life of inmates and correctional officers.

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Breaking Point

#1 - Breaking Point

Season 1 - Episode 5 - Aired Mar 23, 2009

Go inside Hi-Max - the most extreme prison environment allowed in Georgia - and at the other end of the spectrum "shock incarceration," an intense boot camp for non-violent first-time offenders.

star 7.71
7 votes
The Ropes

#2 - The Ropes

Season 1 - Episode 2 - Aired Mar 2, 2009

Follow new inmates as they learn the ropes and face the hurdles that come with entering Hays State Prison, one of the toughest facilities in the state of Georgia.

star 7.70
10 votes
Prisoner Protest

#3 - Prisoner Protest

Season 3 - Episode 6 - Aired Aug 9, 2011

Hays State Prison is challenged by an inmate sit-in.

star 7.67
6 votes
Misfits and Outcasts

#4 - Misfits and Outcasts

Season 4 - Episode 9 - Aired Oct 23, 2012

Las Vegas, Nevada draws in people from all walks of life, and its jail is no different.

star 7.50
4 votes
The Hustle

#5 - The Hustle

Season 2 - Episode 1 - Aired Feb 1, 2011

Go inside the underground prison economy at Ohio's Ross Correctional Institution and see inmates try their hands at different money-making strategies. A "jailhouse thief" brings his street ways within jailhouse walls, brutally robbing inmates and selling their possessions. A drug dealer on a 27-year sentence for attempted murder struggles to stay "clean" after getting caught up selling contraband at the orientation prison.

star 7.43
7 votes
Prison City

#6 - Prison City

Season 2 - Episode 2 - Aired Feb 1, 2011

Ross Correctional Institution is a gated city. Every inmate must make a choice: Use his sentence to prepare for a life on the outside, or fall prey to the convict mentality which on the inside is called getting institutionalized.

star 7.38
8 votes
Battle Behind Bars

#7 - Battle Behind Bars

Season 3 - Episode 1 - Aired Jul 5, 2011

Georgia's Smith State Prison goes into lockdown following a large, bloody fight.

star 7.30
10 votes
World Without Men

#8 - World Without Men

Season 3 - Episode 2 - Aired Jul 12, 2011

Georgia's largest female facility, Lee Arrendale State Prison.

star 7.22
9 votes
The Convict Cycle

#9 - The Convict Cycle

Season 3 - Episode 7 - Aired Aug 16, 2011

The Hays State Prison in Georgia is a disciplinary camp with closed security and is home to 1,500 inmates.

star 7.14
7 votes
Cellphone War

#10 - Cellphone War

Season 3 - Episode 5 - Aired Aug 2, 2011

Officers battle a flood of contraband cellphones at Georgia's Smith State Prison, where access to a mobile device means power on the inside..

star 7.11
9 votes
Tools of Control

#11 - Tools of Control

Season 1 - Episode 3 - Aired Mar 9, 2009

Step inside Hays State Prison where a war is underway between inmates and officers.National Geographic follows inmates and prison officials as they struggle to set the rules inside these walls.

star 7.09
11 votes
Changes Behind Bars

#12 - Changes Behind Bars

Season 1 - Episode 4 - Aired Mar 16, 2009

Step into the extreme world of a state correctional system, where transformation often occurs and starts physically, sometimes in the form of an illegal prison tattoo, sometimes becoming what some call "the female gender" behind bars.

star 7.00
11 votes

#13 - Breakout

Season 1 - Episode 6 - Aired Mar 30, 2009

Follow the intense manhunt for two escaped convicts from Hays State Prison as inmates go into lockdown, tactical squads assemble and K-9 units scour the countryside looking for clues.

star 7.00
4 votes
Breaking the Rules

#14 - Breaking the Rules

Season 2 - Episode 3 - Aired Feb 8, 2011

A high-stakes game of cat and mouse plays out at Ross Correctional Institution in Ohio. On one side, you have the inmates: men who've spent a lifetime breaking the rules and outwitting the system. On the other is a team of officers who monitor every corner of the prison and work to catch the offenders red-handed. There are rule breakers: a drug hustler trying to run his game behind bars, an old-school inmate, a jailhouse lawyer subverting the system and a lone wolf with one too many strikes.

star 7.00
10 votes
Worst of the Worst

#15 - Worst of the Worst

Season 2 - Episode 8 - Aired Mar 15, 2011

With more attacks on inmates and staff than any other facility in Ohio, Lucasville is the jail within the prison system. Fight, extort, run contraband or break the rules in any other prison in the state and you could be sent here. With some of the strictest controls of any prison, new arrivals at Lucasville spend 23 hours a day on lockdown with little movement and even fewer privileges. But even in such a restricted setting, the hustles and gambles of prison life continue.

star 7.00
9 votes
Women on Lockdown

#16 - Women on Lockdown

Season 3 - Episode 3 - Aired Jul 19, 2011

Three inmates, a first-timer, a career criminal, and a murderer with a life sentence attempt to adjust to the pitfalls and challenges of Georgia's toughest women's prison.

star 7.00
8 votes
Inmates vs. Officers

#17 - Inmates vs. Officers

Season 4 - Episode 11 - Aired Feb 9, 2013

Just like Sin City, the Clark County Detention Center never sleeps. It's a round the clock operation, where challenges come daily.

star 7.00
4 votes
Gangs Behind Bars

#18 - Gangs Behind Bars

Season 4 - Episode 7 - Aired Oct 9, 2012

Las Vegas is a crossroads for the major gangs of California and the Southwest. And at the Clark County Detention Center, inmates and officers are constantly under pressure from gang activity.

star 6.75
4 votes
Jail Mom

#19 - Jail Mom

Season 4 - Episode 2 - Aired Sep 4, 2012

Meet the jail mom. Older, wiser, steeped in the ways of the convict, the jail mom's influence can be benevolent or vengeful, nurturing or violent.

star 6.71
7 votes
Against the Wall

#20 - Against the Wall

Season 2 - Episode 5 - Aired Feb 22, 2011

Enter the locked-down world of Ohio's intake prison. For the newly convicted, the Correctional Reception Center (CRC) in Orient, Ohio, is their last view of the free world. More than 14,000 inmates are sized up each year at CRC and moved on to serve out their sentences. From robbers to murders and rapists, CRC sees it all. And while most follow the rules and do their time peacefully, some inmates come in with their own agenda, ready to make trouble.

star 6.50
6 votes
Running the Joint

#21 - Running the Joint

Season 4 - Episode 3 - Aired Sep 11, 2012

At Las Vegas's main jail, Clark County Detention Center, inmates try as hard as possible to retain a sense of normalcy. And for many, that means keeping up their gang lifestyle. Well go inside one of CCDCs most difficult dormsan open housing unit filled with high-security inmates, repeat offenders, felons and gang members where life on the inside can be just as tough as life on the outside.

star 6.50
6 votes
Breaking In

#22 - Breaking In

Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired Jan 21, 2009

National Geographic follows new inmates and correctional officer cadets as they first enter the treacherous world of Georgia's prisons - embarking on a yearlong journey behind bars.

star 6.44
16 votes
Gangs vs. God

#23 - Gangs vs. God

Season 3 - Episode 4 - Aired Jul 26, 2011

The Metro State Prison in Atlanta is where female offenders in Georgia begin their jail term.

star 6.43
7 votes
Prison Gangs

#24 - Prison Gangs

Season 2 - Episode 6 - Aired Mar 1, 2011

In prison, every day is a fight for survival. An inmate's most important weapon may not be a shank or a razor, but instead a gang membership. With more than 1,400 classified gangs in the Ohio prison system, inmates are joining up in alarming numbers.

star 6.40
5 votes
Female Offenders

#25 - Female Offenders

Season 2 - Episode 4 - Aired Feb 15, 2011

Forget what you thought you knew about women behind bars: theyre the fastest growing prison population in America, and one of the toughest to manage. At the Ohio Reformatory for Women, the system is tested daily by every kind of female offender: from capital murderers, to nursery mothers - and everything in between. Behind these bars, there are "pseudo-families" instead of gangs, infants being raised by inmates, and a complicated web of contraband trades and power plays. This is a world of women unlike any youve ever seen.

star 6.33
6 votes