Prison Families is a ground-breaking observational series following ten families as they grapple with the challenges of living with a loved one behind bars. From suburban housewives to notorious families of crime, each episode documents one family’s unique story of crime, justice, and redemption. Striking dramatisations bring to life the moments their lives changed forever.
S01:E01 - Season 1, Episode 1
Young mother Ayla is waiting to find out if her partner will get out of prison but ends up in court facing her own prison term. The daughter of two prison guards, Ayla has had a troubled life riddled with drugs, crime and the prison system. Now a devoted young mother of two, Ayla is holding the fort while her beloved Richard, convicted of manslaughter eight years ago, serves time. With his parole date looming, will Richard be released and finally come home to his family? And Ayla’s past comes back to haunt her as she faces her own court date. Will she be sent back behind bars as well?
S01:E02 - Season 1, Episode 2
A Christchurch mother attempts to rebuild her life after her son, an adopted Russian orphan, is sent to prison and their house is destroyed in an earthquake.Nutritionist Sue adopted two children from Russia before settling down in idyllic Christchurch. But Sue’s life is about to crumble around her, firstly her son Andrej is sentenced to prison at just 19 and then her house falls apart in the massive earthquake. As a condition of his potential release, Sue must have a secure address for Andrej to come back to. But with no home can Sue find a house in time for Andrej’s court hearing? And with a sudden snow storm blocking roads, will Andrej even get to court in the first place?
S01:E03 - Season 1, Episode 3
Two parents come home to a gang-land police raid to find their golden-boy son charged with a crime and sent to prison. Karen and Paul are shocked when their bodybuilder son is sentenced to prison for multiple drug-related charges. With their golden boy now behind bars, the parents grapple with unexpected changes to homelife. But with a fast-approaching parole hearing, will Dylan finally get out in time for Christmas?
S01:E04 - Season 1, Episode 4
Fierce matriarch Joanne fights to keep her notorious crime-boss family on the straight and narrow. Labelled by many as the ‘real-life’ Sopranos, matriarch Joanne runs her deceased husband’s earthworks business, looks after her four children, and sticks by her brother- New Zealand’s most notorious criminal. But as the family prepare to welcome their next addition into the world, can Joanna keep her kids on the straight and narrow, out of prison and avoid another generation of crime?
S01:E05 - Season 1, Episode 5
A middle-class suburban housewife is forced to sell the family home and start over when her husband is sentenced for multi-million dollar fraud. Selina’s life is blown apart when she discovered that husband Richard defrauded his workplace of over five million dollars. With Richard now in prison, Selina is forced to sell the family home and treasured possessions to cover debts from her husband’s crime. Selina is planning to leave Auckland and move to the same town her husband’s prison is in to be closer to him. Can Selina and her children start over and keep their family together while their patriarch serves time?
S01:E06 - Season 1, Episode 6
A dedicated mother prepares for her son to be released from prison and the unique challenges he may face. Promising rugby player Jesse was a potential All Black and the apple of his mother Paula’s eye. ‘Two minutes of madness’ blew the family’s world apart and now four generations of women come together to discuss what to do. Will a unique bond with an ex-prisoner help Paula stay strong? And with a release date set, how will Jesse cope with the outside world?
S01:E07 - Season 1, Episode 7
Rob and Gail are convinced their son is innocent and shouldn’t be in prison. They spend two hundred thousand dollars trying to prove he didn’t do it. Anthony is sentenced to prison for his role in a fatal car accident. Parents Gail and Robert are convinced their son was framed and wasn’t the one driving. The legal fight has cost them nearly a quarter of a million dollars and everything they own but they’re not giving up. With a looming court date, they’re about to find out the Judge’s decision on their latest appeal. Can Gail and Robert find new evidence to support their case and get their son out of prison?
S01:E08 - Season 1, Episode 8
A terminally ill grandmother races against the clock to see her imprisoned grandson at home and pull her estranged family back together before it’s too late. This is a tough family with a heart of gold. Grandmother Carolyn has been the sole supporter of Joshua, her favourite grandson. She’s been visiting him weekly since he was locked up but has recently found out she has terminal cancer. The rest of her family have wiped their hands of the very troubled and violent Joshua. Can Carolyn pull the family back together before it’s too late? And will her campaign for a compassionate visit home for Joshua with armed guards for a last meal be granted?
S01:E09 - Season 1, Episode 9
With all three boys in prison, blue-collar parents Tim and Cheryl wonder where they went wrong. Baker Tim and Nurse-Aid Cheryl enjoyed their small town life, until all three of their boys were locked up. Brothers Paul, Ryan, and Wayne ran a teen-crime syndicate to fund their cannabis addiction. Youngest son, eighteen year old Wayne is released and the parents have decided on a drastic move to start over. Can the family succeed moving to a new town in a last-ditch attempt to turn their family around? And having never stepped foot in a prison before, can mother Cheryl bring herself to visit her boys?
S01:E10 - Season 1, Episode 10
Two brothers struggle to break a lethal cycle of crime and stick together when one is sent behind bars. Unwanted at a young age, brothers Waiata and Danny grew up looking out for each other. The brothers had a band and playing their music helped them stay on the straight and narrow. They believe they could be professional musicians and make it big one day. But now Danny’s inside and a newly-engaged Waiata is dealing with the aftermath. With his release any day now, how will Danny cope in the outside world? And can the brothers go back to the way things were?
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