A producer with MSNBC’s award-winning prison documentary series “Lockup” says Louisville Metro Corrections Director Mark Bolton made inaccurate statements about the city’s contract with the cable news network.
The series began filming at the city jail earlier this year, and its season debut Saturday will feature footage from the corrections department. Bolton told WFPL in a telephone interview that Metro Corrections was given final edit approval and that his department had received $20,000 from the show for leadership development.
But MSNBC spokeswoman Wessie Vieria says Bolton’s claims are not true, and the cable network never gave Metro Corrections the rights to final editorial control of the show’s content.
“MSNBC does not ever give any editorial control to the people who appear in the stories and it was not different in this case. MSNBC and NBC News have final editorial control over every episode of Lockup and that is very, very clearly stated in our agreements with the jails and the prison,” she says.
According to a contract between the city and Lockup producers obtained by WFPL that was signed by Bolton on March 6, the city has a right to request the removal of certain footage if it is deemed as a safety risk to corrections staff, but the department cannot control content.
In regards to any payments, the agreement states that “Lockup” would reimburse Metro Government for any additional security that the film crew may require. But MSNBC says no funding was given for officer or staff training, and that the $20,000 went to pay for their own security while filming the documentary.
“According to our executive producer MSNBC makes no payments to anyone on the program. The only exception to that is that in the case of shooting stories in the prisons when we bring our crew in we hire security escorts to come in with each member of the crew,” says Vieria. “And that’s just for the personal safety. And the reason that Lockup pays for it is because they don’t want the prisons to have to incur that cost.”
Bolton could not be reached for comment.