Does The Cast Of 60 Days In Get Paid?

Aside from maybe The Bachelor, no other show will make you shake your head and wonder, 'why would you do this to yourself?!' more than 60 Days In. And knowing what the 60 Days In participants get paid won't make you feel any better about watching them try to survive in jail

Each season of A&E's 60 Days In documents the plight of a group of people — ex-prisoners, law enforcement, activists — who infiltrate a jail in the name of reforming the criminal justice system. Participants are chosen by jail administrators and are each given a mission and a backstory to help them make alliances (or not) just as if they were real prisoners. All they have to do is stay in there and alive for sixty days, but most participants tap out a little early when they start to feel like their covers or lives are in danger. 

Every season, there is a new cast of seven innocent participants and a new setting to contend with. According to The Cinemaholic, Seasons 1 and 2 were filmed at the Clark County Jail in Jeffersonville, Ind., Seasons 3 and 4 at the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta, Ga., Season 5 at the Pinal County Jail in Florence, Ariz., and Season 6 premiered in January 2020 having filmed at the Etowah County Detention Center in Alabama. 

60 Days In participants are all but volunteering

On 60 Days In, the stakes are always high. If the contestants are sniffed out as undercover moles and they don't tip off the producers and camera crews with their secret code words or hand signals, they could really be in danger. That's why you'd think they actually make a little money doing it. Alas, that's really not the case. 

While A&E doesn't disclose the participants' salary for the duration of the show, someone who claimed they "used to work in reality TV" broke down some numbers for curious fans on Reddit. The user wrote that the budget for a one hour A&E show is about $375,000, noting that, after production costs, participants probably get paid somewhere around $3,000 per episode. So it's not like they are spending 60 days in jail for free — but it's not like they're winning the lottery, either. 

As per the News & Tribune, the jails where the show films really make some money. Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel, for example, told the outlet that he received about $60,000 from the network as payment for allowing the show to be filmed in the jail. Noel said, "[The money] will go to training and equipment actually for the jail, so anything that we do that can approve the jail operations." 

The series also reimburses jail staff for any extra time they have to work due to filming.

Some alums say 60 Days In is totally fake

While 60 Days In can be captivating to watch, the reality series has been called out for being fake by critics, including Season 1 participant Robert Holcomb, who told RadarOnline that although the series is supposed to be about finding drugs or other flaws in the system, he was really just there "to entertain." 

He also alleged that the show was edited to make it look like he was in more danger than he actually was before he was sent to solitary confinement for his own safety (and as punishment for covering one of the security cameras in the cell block). He said, "The show was real, but the editing was fake. The inmates figured me out in two hours and they treated me like gold. They were the nicest group of people I had been around my entire life."

Per Screenrant, a real inmate from Season 1, DiAundré Newbey, also claims that the series edited footage of an altercation he had with Holcomb that was "taken completely out of context" and was nowhere near as serious as it looked. 

Whether it's completely accurate or not, 60 Days In is hard to turn off once you start watching. And knowing that the participants aren't exactly doing it for the money does make it all the more interesting — even if it's hard to wrap your head around why anyone would willingly go into jail.