60 Days In: Maryum Ali on life inside the “jungle” of Clark County

Maryum Ali
Maryum Ali works in gang prevention with vulnerable youths and is the eldest of Muhammad Ali’s nine children. She is passionate about preventing youths from committing crimes and going to jail.

Real Crime caught up with social worker Maryum Ali, one of 7 undercover inmates planted at Clark County Jail for the A&E Network’s shocking new reality TV show, The Jail: 60 Days In.

Describe your feelings and the atmosphere of the jail during the booking process and your entry into the female pod.

Ahhh. Yeah, that feeling of the booking process and going in. That was the worst part. I didn’t know what to expect, I knew that the staff didn’t know who I was. So not only was I nervous about being in jail, I was nervous about being found out and having my cover blown.

I didn’t want to do anything wrong or do anything to [blow my cover], but the realities of jail… there are certain things that made me say “Wow, this is rough.” The holding cell they hold you in before they take you to the jail… the pod smelled really bad and the energy of the women in there is very sick and tense, manic, chaotic feeling that I’ve never felt before. Never experienced.

I just felt trapped: I’ve worked in high-risk environments before – but I always felt like I could get in my car and go. In this situation you can’t leave.

When I got the sleeping matt it smelled like urine. I thought, “well okay… someone peed on this mat and it hasn’t been disinfected and I’m sleeping on it tonight.”

How do you think the women’s pod compared to the men’s pod female pod.

The men’s pod was bad. The rules were different… all that testosterone and… it was a jungle.

How did the briefing prepare you?

The briefing prepared me and my profession prepared me as well. I’ve been in adverse environments around the streets, so [some of the briefing] I already knew. But there were some things [I didn’t] like, ‘don’t interfere with fights’. One of the things I didn’t do that I was told to do, that I thought would be too hard for me to do was to dumb myself down.

60 days would be hard to not talk the way I talk… you know what I mean? I kinda put it into my storyline that I’d been to college before, worked with kids, I like reading, I like books, I like dictionaries… there’s just no way I can talk a different way. A lot of the inmates then came to me asking, ‘can you write this letter to my attorney’ or ‘the judge’ – and I just have to be that person because I don’t want to pretend, to watch the words coming out of my mouth and all that crap.

The Jail: 60 Days In continues Wednesday at 10pm on Crime + Investigation on Sky, Virgin, BT and Talk Talk, and is repeated on Saturdays at 11pm. For more, check out #TheJail and @CI. Look out for the full interview in Real Crime issue 12 magazine, on sale 2 June 2016.