8 Must-Watch Prison Movies on Netflix
Published October 25, 2022
For most of us who’ve never been inside, prisons tend to have that mysterious appeal.
Cut off from the rest of the world, the things happening behind those bars are rarely made public. That’s why most of our knowledge about life in prison comes from the media and its portrayal in popular culture. It’s no wonder then that prison movies have always been so popular.
So whether you’re curious about life behind bars or just looking for something to stream on a Friday night, here are some of the top timeless prison movies on Netflix:
1. The Platform
The Platform is a Netflix prison movie that exhibits how jails would look in the future if prisons are vertical.
In this movie, the prison has hundreds of floors, each holding two prisoners. The title of the film itself refers to the platform that goes up and down these floors to serve food once a day. The platform descends from the top and goes all the way to the last floor.
Naturally, prisoners from the upper floors have access to a feast of different kinds of food. But, sadly, the food is limited. So prisoners from the lower levels usually don’t have enough to eat. While those on the lowest floors could only fight for the morsels left on the platform.
Goreng, the main character of this film, volunteered to enter prison to make himself quit smoking. The story revolves around him trying to survive his cruel situation inside the prison.
2. Inside The World’s Toughest Prisons
Have you ever wondered how dangerous things can get inside the world’s toughest prisons? This series on Netflix is a documentary that exposes the realities of incarceration in different countries. Though it’s a topic that’s been the subject of countless documentaries, this series offers a unique perspective by sending its host to go inside and interact with prisoners.
Paul Connolly presented the first season of this series where he spent time in prison in countries like Honduras, Poland, Mexico, and the Philippines. The succeeding seasons, however, are hosted by Raphael Rowe who himself spent time behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit.
3. First and Last
First and Last is a 2018 documentation centered around Gwinnett County Jail. This series focuses on inmate experiences on their first and last days in prison. A new beginning for every inmate may be another prisoner’s ending.
As seen in the series’ six episodes, an inmate’s first day in prison can be full of intense drama and chaos. While their last days can be emotionally touching and heartwrenching. This Netflix series also reveals what prison does to people and how much it changes them. First and Last shows us the different situations of inmates so we can gain a better perspective of the country’s prison system.
4. Orange Is the New Black
Orange Is the New Black is a comedy-drama series based on Piper Kerman’s true experience in prison. Take note that this series takes place in a women’s prison. Piper Kerman was charged with felonious money-laundering activities and was sentenced to 15 months in prison.
The plot is centered on Piper Chapman but later features other characters with their own background stories. The series opens with Piper a day before her fiancee accompanies her to surrender to officials. Orange Is the New Black lasted for 7 seasons with the final episode airing on July 26, 2019.
5. The Fear of 13
The Fear of 13 is a documentary about Nick Yarris, a man wrongly accused and convicted of murder. It’s a one-person show starring Nick himself. He spent 22 years of his life on death row in Pennsylvania. Imagine what being sentenced to death and waiting for your execution can do to an innocent person. After evidence of his innocence rose, he was released in 2004. The storytelling of this documentary until the final moments keeps the show’s intriguing mystery.
6. Miracle in Cell No. 7
If you’re looking for an excuse to cry your heart out, then Miracle in Cell No. 7 should be on your playlist. It’s such a good movie that it’s had multiple adaptations in various countries.
Miracle in Cell No. 7 tells the story of a mentally-challenged father who was imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit and his six-year-old daughter who snuck into prison to be with him. Feeling pity for them, his cellmates go to great lengths to help the father hide his daughter. Unfortunately, they were caught which led to a tear-jerking scene involving a hot air balloon, an ill-conceived escape plan, and cheering inmates.
According to sources, this movie’s plot is based on a true story of a South Korean man who pleaded guilty to raping a nine-year-old kid after being subjected to extreme duress.
Felon is a 2018 action movie that gives us a glimpse of life inside a supermax prison. The plot revolves around the story of Wade Porter, a blue-collar worker who was sent to prison for accidentally killing a burglar who snuck inside their home while they were sleeping.
After getting tangled up in a stabbing incident on the way to the prison, Porter was sent to a Special Housing Unit (SHU). It’s another term for a solitary confinement facility where problematic or violent inmates are often sent.
Through Porter’s eyes, the movie masterfully portrays the dangers inmates face in these types of prisons. From abusive prison guards to violent gangs, you name it. The movie ends well for the protagonist though. So that should be small compensation for all the violence you’ll see on screen.
Felon is directed by Ric Roman Waugh, who also directed “Shot Caller”, another must-see action movie about crimes and former felons.
8. The Shawshank Redemption
When it comes to prison movies, few would rival the popularity of Shawshank Redemption. This 1994 American movie tells the story of Andy Dufresne and a genius escape plan which involved 19 years of digging into solid concrete.
After getting falsely accused of murdering his wife and lover, Andy was sentenced to life in prison. There he befriended a fellow inmate and discovered the corrupt practices and money-laundering activities of the warden. As a former banker, Andy worked for the warden by setting up a system for his illegal activities. All the while, he was digging a tunnel in his prison wall, planning his escape. He eventually escaped but not before exposing the corruption inside the prison.
Ready to start your binge-watching session?
These are just some of the prison movies on Netflix that you’ll surely watch over and over again. Remember, however, that most of these movies and documentaries only show a certain aspect of prison. They do not fully encapsulate the complexities of incarceration and the deep-rooted problems of our prison system. They provide great entertainment though and teach you a thing or two that may, hopefully, help you avoid going to prison yourself.
Reduce Your Jail Call Costs By Up To 90% Per Minute With GlobalTel
GlobalTel’s inmate calling service lowers jail call per minute rates by up to 90% for jail calls from US facilities. Sign up now and use the special jail call phone number we create for you to eliminate the long distance jail call fees. Try GlobalTel for only $45.99 for 90 days. Make US/domestic and international jail calls at the local rate and stay connected to your incarcerated loved ones for less. Learn more about how to sign up for calls from inmates here.
About The Author
Krizzia Paolyn is an SEO Specialist with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. It has always been her passion to share her voice, and at the same time, to encourage other people to speak up.