Sheriff Mark Lamb is the 24th Sheriff of Pinal County, Arizona, a “county the size of Connecticut.” He manages more than 650 employees within the Pinal County Detention Center and sheriff’s department, according to A&E. The Pinal County Detention Center will be featured in the new season of A&E’s 60 Days In.
For those who need a refresher, the docu-series 60 Days In follows a group of volunteers who willingly enter into the prison system for two months to help uncover illegal and controversial activities involving other inmates. The volunteers are given a fictional name and backstory to keep their cover, and help find illegal substances and other forbidden objects correctional officers may have missed while doing searches.
Season 5 follows the same premise, with volunteers on the inside tracking what their fellow cellmates and prisoners are doing. However, the trailer for season 5 shows the volunteers encountering some issues, with some participants threatening to reveal their identities and others worrying about their safety if they continue to stay undercover in the prison.
The seven undercover volunteers will be placed in Arizona’s Pinal County Adult Detention Center, which has a long history of violent inmates. In 2016, two inmates were caught on camera attacking a jail guard. Six weeks later, two inmates stabbed another guard 21 times with a homemade shank, nearly killing him, according to Pinal Central. Pinal County Adult Detention Center houses many dangerous criminals, and this season’s volunteers are walking right into the heart of the prison to spend two months with them. The volunteers include a group of law-abiding citizens, including a real estate agent, a chaplain, a police officer, and an Army veteran.
Unlike in past seasons, the participants this season were given specific missions by Sheriff Lamb based on each individual’s skill sets and interests. Each of the participants will be trying to expose flaws within the detention center, and help to uncover any illegal activities among the inmates. According to Arizona Daily Independent, prior to going undercover and entering the prison, six of the participants met and trained with one another, “leaving only one to enter on his own and operate as a ‘lone wolf’ on the sheriff’s behalf.”
Sheriff Lamb started his law enforcement career when he was 34-years-old, with most of that time spent as a gang and drug detective. According to A&E, he trained with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Academy and was named Valedictorian of his class. When he was hired by Salt River Pima-Maricopa, he was named Rookie of the Year, and went on to receive Officer of the Year shortly after. He was later promoted as a Detective to the Gang Enforcement Unit and in his first year was named Detective of the Year.
During a Facebook Live interview on January 3, 2018, Live PD analyst Tom Morris Jr. spoke with Sheriff Lamb about his jail’s participation in the new season. During the interview, Lamb spoke about his biggest concerns when filming the show, including challenges within his facility and the advice he gave to the volunteer participants for this season.
When asked what his biggest concern was regarding the show being filmed in his detention facility, he said: “Like any sheriff, the jail is the biggest source of liability for us. So we were just concerned for [participant] safety and making sure that the rest of the inmates were safe. There were some tense situations and it gets a little dicey in the end, but once we got past that, in the end it worked out.” Check out the interview below:
Sheriff Lamb said that the three things he and his staff were most interested in tracking were drug activity, gangs and jail operations. He worked closely with the volunteers before they entered the prison, and says their safety is a top priority. His best advice to the participants was: “Be safe and be yourself.”
“They needed to remember their backstory,” he continued. “But the most important thing, and the easiest thing, was to remember was to be yourself. And most of them did that. Some of them got away from themselves a little bit, but in the end, they all brought back very valuable information.”
Sheriff Lamb told Morris that he’s learned a lot about his jail after filming the show, including how inmates smuggle drugs into the facility and hide the drugs from guards and officers, as well as how to up better search inmate cells and determine which programs within the center were working and which programs weren’t.
Tune in to season 5 of 60 Days In on Thursday nights at 9 p.m. CT.
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