He produced some of the Survivor shows, the popular reality TV series, and now he is one.
Bruce Beresford-Redman has had to become a survivor after having spent nearly three years in a Cancún prison after being arrested for the murder of his wife Monica Burgos in 2010. Last weekend, CBS News’ 48 Hours aired Bruce Beresford-Redman’s Prison Diaries, the producer’s own survivor show about life in a Mexican prison.
Armed with a small camera, Beresford-Redman takes viewers on a tour of the reality of life in the Benito Juárez Prison, which houses 1,800 inmates and was built for 700. He shares a cell with nine others; it was designed for three.
“For many years I worked in reality TV and the reality of reality television, even at its best . . . it’s a world that is created. Being in here is real . . . it is real and it sucks . . . .”
He is now housed with the general population after being placed initially with drug traffickers and killers, but it is still not a nice place. “When I walk around the prison, no matter where I’m going or what’s going on, I am constantly aware that his is just a hostile environment for me.”
Like the guests on the show he used to produce, he’s in survival mode. “I’m completely shut down. I’m simply in survival mode. To make it in here you cannot indulge in human sentiments . . . you really have to deaden part of yourself and just survive.”
Daily life consists of a physical workout, four showers a day, washing clothes. Prison food is supplemented by meals brought by the family of a former inmate whom Beresford-Redman had befriended, and his parents in the U.S. send money to further supplement his diet.
Prisoners discipline themselves; guards are on the perimeter but their job is primarily to ensure no one gets out. It’s dangerous, says Beresford-Redman, “because there’s really nobody to come to your help, to your aid, if you are in trouble here.”
It’s also like a small village, he says, around which they threw some razor wire. “There’s churches in here, there’s a mechanic shop in here . . . guys making hammocks.”
Three times a week is visiting day and the prison fills with wives and children. “Family is extraordinarily highly valued here and the prison administration and prisoners themselves and the gangs in here have enormous respect for the visits.”
But there are none for the American prisoner. His two young children live with his parents in California, and he insists that he does not want them to see him there.
Some parts of the 44-minute video that aired on television Saturday were filmed by a CBS crew that obtained permission to do so inside the prison, a process that took two years.
Beresford-Redman and his wife, whose relationship was in trouble because he was having an affair, had been holidaying in Cancún when she disappeared from their hotel to go shopping. Her body was later recovered from a drainage lagoon.
Beresford-Redman remained in Mexico for a week after his children were taken home by a friend. Then, despite having been instructed to remain in the city by officials who had even taken his passport, Beresford-Redman went back to the U.S., walking across the border near Laredo, using his driver’s license for identification. Instead of flying back to Los Angeles, he took a train, behavior that has raised suspicions.
He was later extradited after an international warrant was filed.
Much of the evidence in the case was either lost or contaminated in what appears to have been negligence on the part of investigators and prosecutors. The evidence phase of Beresford-Redman’s trial concluded only recently, said the 48 Hours report, with little to show for it.
CBS aired the Prison Diaries show over the objections of Monica Burgos’ family, who believe that Beresford-Redman did indeed kill his wife.