JEFFERSONVILLE — DiAundré Newby was still an inmate when the A&E "docu-series" set in the Clark County jail premiered last month, so he wasn't able to watch his TV debut with the rest of the country.
But when Newby was released on March 23 after a six-month stint in the jail, he was quick to tune into "60 Days In."
"One of the first things I did was watch the episodes that I wasn't able to see," Newby said. "I have been watching each episode."
The show follows seven people who volunteered to go undercover as inmates in the Clark County jail for two months. Sheriff Jamey Noel has said the undercover program was an opportunity for him to see what really goes on inside his jail.
Newby, 20, Charlestown, grabbed viewers' attention when he took Robert — a controversial undercover volunteer — under his wing. Newby said he and other inmates were told that the A&E cameras were documenting experiences of first-time inmates like Robert. But when the first thing Robert did was ask if the jail's TV had the NFL package, inmates became suspicious of Robert and the cameras.
"It didn't take us long to figure out that they weren't really focusing on first timers," Newby said. "We didn't know that any undercovers had been put in [with us], but with most people who'd been doing this a long time they were always suspicious that that might be a possibility."
Unlike other inmates, Newby said he didn't suspect that Robert was a cop or think that he was connected to the show, but that he knew something was off. Still, Newby tried to help Robert navigate the pod. For that, there were consequences, or at least there appeared to be on the show.
Viewers saw Newby get attacked by another inmate, but Newby said things weren't quite the way the show presented them.
"Whenever I was assaulted by [the inmate], it actually didn't have anything to do with how I addressed Robert. That was a completely unrelated incident," Newby said.
Newby said the real story was that he had assaulted the inmate for unpaid debts and the inmate retaliated by punching Newby in the head. Newby added that the inmate waited until a correctional officer was nearby before assaulting him so that he would be removed from the pod. Newby said the inmate used the classic "check out move" so he could avoid the consequences of his debts to other inmates.
Newby said he also didn't like that the show implied that he and the inmate who assaulted him were both removed from the pod. He said he was only taken out for questioning, but returned to the pod 10 minutes later.
In the show, a title card tells viewers that Newby was removed and that producers informed Robert that Newby "was attacked and is longer in D-pod."
"That was actually something that did aggravate me because they took it out of context and made it seem different than what it was," Newby said.
A&E declined to comment.
DAY TO DAY
Newby said he helped Robert because he remembers what it's like to be in jail for the first time. His first time in jail as an adult was in Scott County. Prior to that he was in and out of juvenile detention. He was booked into the Clark County jail after pleading guilty to criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon.
"... I'm only 20 but I've been to jail before and I remember when I first walked into a pod and was like, oh s---," Newby said. "... If I think that somebody is having a hard time then I will help them if I can."
Newby said he adapted easily to the Clark County jail environment, but said jail is a stressful place to be and that it was probably more stressful for him than most.
"Especially since I'm actually an openly gay man," Newby said. "And in jail people will for the most part respect you so long as you don't come at them recklessly. But not a lot of people will mess with that because they don't want other people thinking, 'oh well I'm cool with the gay guy so now people are going to think that I'm gay.' "
To pass what could be stressful days, Newby said he would read, play cards, hang out with inmates, sleep or watch TV. While he said there were probably inmates who used drugs, there may not be as many drugs in the jail as the show hints to. When viewers see previews of inmates snorting lines of drugs in the pod, what they are actually snorting may just be crushed tobacco pills.
"There are these things called Stonewalls and they're not really illegal, you can purchase them on commissary for $12 a box. And people who had a habit of snorting stuff on the streets would take these Stonewalls and crush them up and make them into a line and snort them," he said. "It really didn't do anything for them other than the placebo affect of having something in their nose."
Pod-made alcohol, or hooch, was even more common, Newby said. Inmates would mix fruit and sugar in milk containers or 2-liter bottles and let it ferment. There would be a new batch of hooch at least once a month, he said.
Newby said he thinks the A&E show can be a learning tool for the jail, but that he also views it as entertainment.
"They did alter a few things to give it a whole different meaning, so I'm quite sure that a lot of that had to do with them trying to get ratings and kind of Hollywood it up a little bit," he said.
A second season of the show has already been announced, but Newby said he has no plans on returning to the Clark County jail.
"I've made my decision to stop acting like a fool since I got out of jail," he said. "I'm 20 years old. I mean there are inmates in the jail who will look at people my age and say you're too young to be doing this, you have your whole life ahead of you."