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Sheriff faces questions from Arkansas lawmakers over ‘Netflix’ series filmed at county jail

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas lawmakers on Tuesday raised questions about a sheriff’s decision to allow a Netflix documentary series to be filmed at the county jail, with one critic saying the move exploited inmates.

Pulaski County Sheriff Eric Higgins defended the decision to allow the series, “Unlocked: A Jail Experiment” to be filmed at the county jail. The eight-episode series, which premiered last month, highlights a program giving some inmates more freedom at the Little Rock facility.

The decision has prompted scrutiny from local and state officials, who said they weren’t aware of the series until shortly before its premiere. The series focuses on a six-week experiment that gave inmates in one cellblock more freedom by unlocking their cell doors. Higgins said he did not approach Netflix or Lucky 8, the production company that filmed it, about the series.

“I took action to ensure that we have a reentry program to help those who are booked into our facility to come out and be better individuals,” Higgins told members of the Joint Performance Review Committee.

Republican Sen. Jonathan Dismang said he doesn’t have a problem with the sheriff’s reentry program or trying something new to address recidivism. But he said he was concerned with it being the focus of a show, and questioned how it could be considered an experiment if it was being filmed.

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