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Sacramento County Considers New Rules On Filming In Vulnerable Spaces, Including Jails

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — There's new fallout from the filming of the Netflix series "Jailbirds" in Sacramento.

On Tuesday, county leaders will consider passing a new law that would give them final-cut over any new series that are shot inside the Sacramento County Main Jail or on reality show ride alongs.

The reality show "Jailbirds" — which was filmed inside the county jail — was one of Netflix's most popular series in 2019, and it brought notoriety to some of the female inmates it followed.

But the show — and others like it — have generated controversy for filming people at vulnerable times in their lives.

"The concern is that the inmate might say something that could be used against them in court," one legal expert said.

Now, new rules are being considered that could prevent scenes like these from ever being aired again.

"It hasn't been done right in the past and we are doing something that appropriately corrects that," said county spokesperson Kimberly Nava.

Producers for TV shows like "Cops" and "Jailbirds" have always needed county approval before filming, but now the board of supervisors wants to impose further restrictions.

"The board requested that there be a more robust filming policy," Nava said.

It would now be Nava's job — as county spokesperson — to approve every episode before it airs.

"This isn't about censorship, this is really about ensuring that the product comes out that doesn't cause any harm to anyone," she said.

So what kind of footage will Sacramento County ban from being broadcast?

"I think anything that misrepresents the county or people who are recipients of county services, anything that could be harmful to them," Nava said.

Law Professor John Myers says if producers agree to the restrictions ahead of time, it's legal even though it may not give the public a complete picture.

"If something bad happens in the jail, they don't want the public to see that," Myers said. "If everything's just fine, then they want the public to see what a good job they're doing."

Since "Jailbirds," the county has approved another reality TV show that highlights a therapy program for inmates involving horses.

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