In a harrowing look inside the booking process at jails across America, one man wearing only American flag-print swim trunks and multiple crosses around his neck demanded to know why he had been arrested when cops should be after the “real criminals.”
Robert, 58, is featured on the A&E series Booked: First Day In, which follows arrested individuals through America’s booking process, offering an extraordinary look at the most unusual, bizarre and often tense bookings.
Every year in America, nearly 9 million people are arrested and booked into jail. Robert, who was taken into custody at Virginia Beach for public intoxication in 2023, was one of them.
“I’m Robert and I’m pissed. Why don’t y’all chase some real criminals? Not a Christian who drank a third of a beer that was offered to me,” he exclaimed to a nearly empty booking room in an exclusive first look at tonight’s episode provided to The Independent.
“I didn’t even buy it, it was given to me. Why? Because I was thirsty.”
Robert then pleads with a deputy, “Can I get a drink of water?”
“Or do I need to lick the pee off the floor,” he scowls.
The deputy responds to Robert, telling him that if he stops with the attitude, she’ll let him go to the bathroom and the water fountain.
Robert’s attitude suddenly changes and he tells the deputy, “I’m sorry, I hope you can forgive me.”
But his drunken rant nor his attitude isn’t anything the deputies haven’t seen many times before. It’s something they encounter daily
Each episode of the series, which is in its second season, follows the story of an arrestee, with their permission, as they move through the system and recount what ultimately led them to their time in jail.
From petty offences to serious crimes, viewers will be taken on a harrowing adventure while they watch the arrestees throughout the booking process.
Executive producer Greg Henry has visited multiple jails across the country with production company Lucky 8 as they followed the booking process from the perspectives of both the arrestees and the deputies.
He told The Independent that the series unveils the booking unit as an unbiased and neutral space, but also a relatable space with folks from all walks of life – some faced with charges of major crimes while others are minor.
The production crew collaborates with each jail facility to conduct interviews, capture wild rants, and highlight how deputies respond to each situation.
“The booking unit at jails across the country can go from zero to 100 in a heartbeat,” Mr Henry said. “These folks, they’ve seen it all.”
An array of characters emerge in season two including Robert in Virginia Beach, who is busted for being drunk in public and then requires medical attention; a teen who goes joyriding around with his best friend and makes a mistake that he dreads telling his out-of-town parents about; a mom to young twins who is brought in on traffic warrants and desperately scrambles to find someone to bail her out so she can return to her kids.
Henry pointed out that while many of the individuals featured in the series offer an entertaining spectacle with their over-the-top rants, there are also many heartfelt moments.
In one instance, an arrestee called home for bail when he was given the bad news that his dog had been rushed to the veterinarian.
“Suddenly, he wasn’t worried about his bail,” Mr Henry said. “He was just worried about his dog. Unfortunately, the dog died overnight.”
Law enforcement agencies have embraced having the production crew shine a light on the booking process and have told Mr Henry that they hope it’s a deterrent for potential criminals.
“At the end of the day, our hope is for these folks to know why they were featured, and to know they helped others,” he said.
“Many have reached back out and said they were glad they were featured, and that if it could help someone else from being in the same situation, then it was worth it.”
New episodes of Booked: First Day In air on Wednesday nights at 10pm ET/PT on A&E.