A 17-year-old British drug dealer has turned his life around after spending a week in a maximum security prison in America for a TV experiment.
Korede Akintunde, from east London, joined seven other troublesome teens who were all taking part in Channel 4’s Banged Up: Teens Behind Bars, which starts tonight.
The group were put through gruelling daily routines at Florida’s Brevard County Jail and were made to work and live alongside its 1,600 other inmates which include murderers and rapists.
Korede Akintunde, 17, from east London, joined seven other troublesome teens who were all taking part in Channel 4’s Banged Up: Teens Behind Bars, which starts on Monday
The group of tearaways were forced to wear matching uniforms and would only be referred to as their prison number by guards
An officer squares up against one the teens in the recreation ground as they perform press ups
Chained together, the group were forced to do menial tasks while being threatened, belittled and humiliated.
Prison guards referred to the teenagers only by their prison numbers in a bid to make them lose sense of their identity.
They would wake them up in the middle of the night as a regular punishment.
After just one week Korede, who started selling drugs when he was 14, had had enough and resolved to turn his life around.
Speaking since the programme was filmed in November, Korede admitted that without this experience his life would have spiralled out of control.
He told the Sun: ‘I’d never go back to my old ways.
‘Hard work pays off and I know that now. I don’t need to steal a bike because I can buy one.’
They were chained together in a ‘chain gang’ and forced to perform menial tasks without complaining
One of the teens is presented with prison food and responds: ‘What the f*** is that?’
They were forced to make their beds every morning to perfection and even placing a blanket just one inch out of line would result in push-ups for the entire group. Pictured is Tunde, 17, from east London
Korede turned to a life of crime when he was in Year 9 at school because he was frustrated that he couldn’t afford new things.
He got addicted to the feeling of respect that came alongside stealing and using other people’s credit cards to buy pricey clothing.
Father, Phil, 48, was shocked when after three years he found out about Korede’s behaviour.
He told the Sun: ‘When I found out about Korede’s world it was scary. He was dealing with forces that could have chewed him up alive. He could have become another statistic’.
The British teens were constantly under pressure from guards to complete menial tasks to perfection.
If their beds weren’t made properly or a blanket was out of line by even an inch, guards would tear the bedding apart and make the group do push-ups before starting the process again.
One of the guards, Lieutenant Robbie Stokes, said that the aim of the show – which started in the US – is to break the arrogant teenagers down before building them back up again.
A guard shouts in the face of one of the young ‘inmates’ after they change into their black and white prison outfits
Since the programme was filmed in November Korede has vowed never to turn back to his old life of drug dealing and stealing. Pictured is 15-year-old Red from south Wales
The seven arrogant teens had their attitudes broken down by guards in order to be built up again. The technique, Behaviour Attitude Modification, is being used to try and tackle the 60 per cent rise in youth-related knife crime in the UK
The technique they use, called Behaviour Attitude Modification, is intended to keep young adults on the straight and narrow and is being used to try and tackle the 60 per cent rise in youth-related knife crime in the UK.
Korede said the loss of freedom was the hardest thing for him.
He called his father and said he wanted to go home.
The torrents of abuse were so bad that it saw 17-year-old Hugh Connell (pictured) burst into tears
The teens are given prison food – a box of meat and mashed potato – and one of the boys says: ‘I’d rather s*** in my hands and clap than eat it.’
When the boys are sent to view the maximum security wing one inmate shouts: ‘I’ll rape you’.
Another screams: ‘I’ll put salt in your a***. Your a*** taste better with salt.’
Lt Stokes tells the documentary: ‘When they first lay eyes on me I make sure that I let them understand that you’re no longer in control, I am in control of every aspect of your life.’
On the first day the teenagers were made to pick up dog faeces and any sarcastic quip would end with a guard screaming directly into their faces.
The torrents of abuse were so bad that it saw 17-year-old Hugh Connell burst into tears.
The youngster had been excluded from school, got arrested when he was 16 for carrying a machete and left education without a single GCSE to his name.
His behaviour was so terrible his mother begged producers to accept him on the programme, even offering to pay.
After just a week behind bars, living next to the other 1,600 inmates guilty of a catalogue of serious crimes, Hugh changed his ways too.
On the first day the teenagers were made to pick up dog faeces and any sarcastic quip would end with a guard screaming directly into their faces. Pictured is 15-year-old Red from south Wales
An aerial view of Florida’s Brevard County Jail in the city of Cocoa which is home to the teenagers for a week
For Korede, the turning point came when an inmate came to give a speech to the tearaways about his life.
The inmate was also a drug dealer and told the teens that while dealing may not seem to be a bad thing when you start, it can lead to bigger and bigger crimes and even murder.
Korede said: ‘He said a drug move went wrong and he had to kill someone.
‘That’s when it really hit me.’
Now Korede has been accepted on to the West Ham apprenticeship scheme and coaches football for a living.
Banged Up: Teens Behind Bars starts Monday night, Channel 4, 9pm.
What is Behaviour Attitude Modification?
BAM was created by Sheriff Wayne Ivey (who is seen in the series) and the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office.
It is designed to take youths ages 10 and upwards into a jail-like setting to give them a ‘realistic look’ of where they could end up if they chose a life of crime.
The program usually lasts for approximately 12 hours, but the Channel 4 show keeps the kids ‘inside’ for a whole gruelling week.
According to the Sheriff’s website, the programme aims to ‘encompass the consequences of poor attitudes, bad decisions, and committing crimes.
‘In this programme (sic), we hold nothing back.
‘ The programme is designed to give youth a healthy dose of realism and educate them about the dangers of using drugs and alcohol.’
The experience includes wearing a prisoner’s uniform, taking prison meals, sleeping in the cells, and even a trip to the morgue (for over 14s).