When I heard the story of Cassie Sainsbury, the 22-year-old Australian woman detained on cocaine smuggling charges in Colombia, I was instantly fascinated.
In one moment, the personal trainer went from living freely to facing a 25 year sentence in Bogota’s notorious El Buen Pastor jail. She’s reportedly scared, sick and lonely, and no matter the outcome, her life will never be the same again.
There’s something about these stories that stirs a rare concoction of emotions. At once I’m aware of how terrifying the situation would be, and the anxiety that must be brought on by that level of uncertainty. It’s easy, though, to be critical. How could someone make such a poor decision? How could she get caught up in something so risky?
Listen: Clare Stephens recommends Banged Up Abroad to host Laura Brodnik on The Binge. Post continues after audio.
It’s this strong emotional response, and the countless questions that come with it, that makes these stories so addictive.
And that’s why it’s not enough just to hear about them in the media. We need an entire TV series dedicated to what happens to these people.
I’ve been watching Banged Up Abroad, the National Geographic series that features accounts of people who have been arrested while travelling. It’s been running for years, but in the weeks since Cassie Sainsbury’s ordeal has been in the news I’ve been completely addicted to it.
Not all episodes are about individuals who were caught smuggling drugs. Some tell stories of other crimes, or of people being held hostage or captured overseas. But many follow men and women who faced drug charges in foreign countries – and several of those take place in South America.