Abstract: Most people do not have first-hand knowledge of the prison system; therefore, media images are critical in shaping their understanding of these institutions. While research has examined how prisons are depicted in film, less attention has been paid to images in other facets of the media. This study examined MSNBC Investigates – Lockup in order to determine how televised documentaries depict prisons. Findings indicate that this series presents tales of some of the most extreme institutions and the most violent inmates. By using violence as the main frame, this programme sends messages that support the United States' current use of imprisonment.