HBO Documentary follows young men in Miami-Dade prison boot camp program

MIAMI (WSVN) - An HBO documentary is taking a look at the life of a South Florida youth prison boot camp.

The documentary, titled “Rock and a Hard Place” follows a group of young men inside the Miami-Dade County Corrections & Rehabilitation Boot Camp Program.

The film is executive produced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Director Matthew O’Neill spoke about Johnson’s involvement.

“I think the combination of physical discipline, the regiment they are put through at the boot camp spoke to some of the things that Dwayne uses in his life to keep on the right track,” O’Neill said. “As he’s been very public about, there was a time he was a wayward youth and there, but for the grace of whatever, he could have been in boot camp or in prison, so he sees the importance of second chances and the importance of using discipline to reform your life.”

O’Neill said not everyone is eligible for the program. “You have to have the prosecution, the defense, the judge and in many cases the victim on board to allow these young men to go to boot camp,” he said. “The young men in this program have been charged with crimes ranging from armed robbery to assault with a deadly weapon, armed home invasion. The charges are quite serious and have decades, or even in one case, life in prison as a possibility.”

O’Neill described the first four month disciplinary phase.

“As they go through in-take, they’re screamed at,” O’Neill said. “They’re forced to do push-ups. They have their head shaved. It’s all part of this process where they’re broken down in order to be built back up.”

There are educational available as well. “They’re also given the opportunity to take classes ranging from GED classes, to anger management classes,” O’Neill said.

O’Neill also described the follow up process. “The next two months, they still live in the boot camp facility, but are on a work release program. They dress up in a tie every morning, and go out and work in the community as they begin their transition back to society. After that, they face at least a year, sometimes more, of community control.”

O’Neill described some of his goals in making this documentary. “So you see these young men who could be written off as statistics instead as the complex, ambitious individuals that they are, who have potential to contribute to our society, not be a drain on it,” he said

The documentary debuts Monday night on HBO.

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