13 Best Movies on Prison Life and Prisoners

Movies about prison life and prisoners can give us a new perspective on what it’s like to be in prison. It is always interesting to see the other side and how other people live their lives and we should never judge anyone.

The following list of movies explore this topic and provide different perspectives on the life of a prisoner. From thrillers, dramas, to comedies, these movies will give you a new perspective on what it is like to be in prison.

1. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

The Shawshank Redemption is a classic prison movie from 1994. Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins play the lead characters of Andy Dufresne and Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding. Two inmates that get transferred to Shawshank Prison after being convicted of murder. The movie follows the lives of these two at Shawshank and how they escape their lives in prison. The movie was based off a Stephen King’s novella called Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption.

The movie follows the lives of several characters including the protagonist’s father, mother, sister, brother, and cousin. Throughout the movie, there are many scenes depicting the struggles these characters face during their daily routine.

This movie gives us an insight into how life in prison works for those who have been framed by the system.

2. In the Name of the Father (1993)

One of the most popular movies about prison life and prisoners is In the Name of the Father. This movie was released in 1993 and follows a young Irishman as he tries to clear his name of a crime he didn’t commit. The movie also explores issues that many prisoners face, such as racism, drugs, and violence.

This movie highlights the issues faced by many Latino Americans living in America today. They face discrimination and prejudice because of their ethnicity. Many of these issues are explored through the characters’ experiences in school, work, and home life.

The movie shows how the government uses stereotypes and racial profiling to convict innocent Latinos. It also shows how the police treat them differently than white citizens.

The movie also depicts the problems that come with drug use and addiction. It shows how some people become addicted to drugs due to peer pressure or other reasons. Some of the main characters in the film struggle with drug abuse and addiction.

3. Bronson (2008)

Bronson is an English-language British film directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. It is based on the life of Michael Peterson aka Charles Bronson, a notorious criminal who spent 30 of his 34 years in prison and has been called Britain’s most violent prisoner.

This movie highlights how easy it is for criminals to enter the American mainstream and how difficult it is for those who want to change their lives to succeed.

The movie showcases the challenges that those who want to change find themselves facing when trying to start over.

It also shows the difficulties that ex-convicts face when trying to reintegrate back into society.

The movie also shows how hard it can be for someone to change once they have committed a serious crime. 

4. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

A Clockwork Orange is a film that was released in 1971 and it has no dialogue. It is a controversial film because of the graphic violence and sexual content. This movie shows what prison can do to a person’s mind and how they can be turned into a mindless animal.

This movie highlights how easy it is for youth to fall into the wrong crowd and end up getting caught up in gangs. It also depicts how dangerous it is for those who try to leave the gang lifestyle behind because there are many other factors that could lead them down this path.

The movie also highlights how easy it is to lose one’s self-control and turn into a vicious animal.

The movie depicts the brutality of prison life and the fact that it is not all fun and games.

5. The Green Mile (1999)

Based on a novel by Stephen King, The Green Mile is a dark drama that follows a corrections officer in 1935. Along the way he meets John Coffey, a prisoner with supernatural powers. This movie may be dark but it also shows some very beautiful moments of love and understanding.

This movie follows the lives of several characters within the Hispanic community including a father who is struggling to raise his children without getting caught up in the world of gangs.

This movie shows how easy it is for youth to fall prey to gangs and other types of bad influences. It also shows how those who are involved in gangs often get caught up in a cycle of violence.

The movie also portrays the struggles of a young man who wants to make something out of himself but finds himself trapped in the gang lifestyle.

The movie also portrays the cruelty of prison life and the lack of empathy shown towards prisoners.

6. Lone Survivor

Lone Survivor is a true story of four Navy Seals who are sent on a mission to capture or kill notorious Taliban leader Ahmad Shah. As they try to complete their mission, they are faced with the most dangerous terrain in the world.

This movie was based on the non-fiction book Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of Seal Team 10. It shows how some members of the military face death head-on.

This movie highlights the issues surrounding gangs and how they affect families. It also explores how important it is for a person to have a strong support system in order to succeed in life.

It also gives us insight into how dangerous it can be for a person to go against the grain and stand alone. 

7. The Rock (1996)

The Rock is an action thriller that follows a group of prisoners who take over Alcatraz Island. When the men are caught, they are sent to prison with the most ruthless and inhumane prisons officials.

It stars Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage and was directed by Michael Bay.

The movie focuses on the struggles of being raised in a poor household, dealing with the pressures of gang life, and having to choose between right and wrong.

It is a very emotional movie that touches upon many issues including racism, poverty, and family problems.

8. The Great Escape (1963)

The Great Escape is a 1963 American World War II epic film about Allied prisoners of war who plan and execute a mass escape from a German POW camp. It stars Steve McQueen, James Garner, and Richard Attenborough. The movie was based on the book of the same name by Paul Brickhill.

Steve McQueen leads an all-star cast as Captain Virgil Hilts, the head of an escape committee in Nazi Germany’s Stalag Luft III prisoner-of-war camp who masterminds one of the most famous escapes in history. James Garner portrays Lieutenant Colonel Robert L. Hendley, Jr., the commanding officer of all allied airmen prisoners at Stalag Luft III.

This film has been selected to be included in the National Film Registry because it is deemed “culturally or aesthetically significant” and is among “the most popular cult films ever made” (American Film Institute).

9. Black Bear Lodge (2020)

Black Bear Lodge is a thrilling movie with a lot of suspense. The movie starts off with two men, J.D., and his brother A.T., who are on the run from the law for murder.

The theme of this movie is that you can never escape your past no matter how hard you try to run away. It’s about time served in jail and is really interesting viewing as it shows how one person will kill someone else just to get out of prison for good.

If you like horror movies then Black Bear Lodge would be perfect for you as it has many jump scenes which will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the whole film.

10. 12 Monkeys (1995)

In the distant future, a convict known as James Cole is sent back in time to prevent a man-made virus from wiping out all of humanity.

It is a very emotional movie because it highlights the struggles faced by many inner city youth. It also depicts the way that gangs operate and how they prey upon the weak.

Director Terry Gilliam takes a more realistic approach than other science fiction films. He uses real locations and people instead of computer graphics.

The movie features Bruce Willis, Brad Pitt, and Madeleine Stowe. It was listed as one of Time magazine’s 100 best films of the 20th century.

11. Dead Man Walking (1995)

Dead Man Walking is a powerful drama about the death penalty starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. It tells the story of Sister Helen Prejean, who meets up with convicted murderer Robert Lee Willie (Sean Penn), on death row in Louisiana.

Sister Helen’s journey to find redemption for herself and meet her maker is intertwined with the thoughts of Robert Lee Willie, as he awaits execution.

This movie also explores what it means to be a family member of someone sentenced to death, as well as how people are affected by the death penalty.

This movie will give you insight into how prisoners are treated at the prison facility.

12. Con Air (1997)

This action-thriller tells the story of a plane hijacking. The hijacker, played by Nicolas Cage, manages to take control of the plane and then has to deal with authorities on the ground.

The film begins with the main protagonist, Cameron Poe (played by Nicolas Cage), serving his time in prison for killing an abusive man who killed his wife and daughter. When he is released for good behavior after five years, he meets up with his old girlfriend (played by John Malkovich) who has herself recently been released from prison. It is later revealed that she has become a drug addict since her release and they start to rekindle their relationship when she requests that he help her go back into business selling drugs.

He agrees and soon finds himself in deep trouble when they are both arrested for drug trafficking.  Here is where the movie gets interesting as Cameron is thrown in jail and we follow him on his day-to-day life in prison while also following John’s character on the outside trying to get him out.

This movie does a great job at highlighting how difficult it can be to survive life in prison and all of the horrors that come with it like violence and rape.  It also explores how difficult it can be for inmates to maintain relationships outside of prison walls due to high rates of recidivism which might make them even less likely than others to successfully reintegrate into society following their release from imprisonment.  This movie shows just how hard it can

13. American Me (1992)

This movie portrays the life of a Mexican-American family who are involved in gang life. The protagonist is a young man who is trying to escape the crime scene and go straight. He attempts to do this by entering the world of wrestling, but he soon realizes that this will not solve his problems.

His mother is a prostitute and his father is a violent alcoholic. His brother is a gangster and his sister is addicted to heroin. They live in poverty and struggle to provide food and shelter for themselves.

This movie highlights the harsh realities of living in inner city America. It also depicts the dangers of being part of a criminal organization.

It is a very realistic portrayal of the lives of many poor families in America today.

Scroll to Top