Before becoming a reporter and TV personality, Inside The World's Toughest Prisons host Raphael Rowe spent 12 years wrongly imprisoned. According to BBC News, he and two other men — Michael Davis and Randolph Johnson — were convicted in 1988 for the murder of one man and multiple robberies, earning them the nickname of the "M25 Three." But in 2000, a court of appeals overturned their conviction and freed them, citing an unfair trial. Since then, Rowe has been committed to telling his story and seeking justice for others like him. “It has been my passion. I am free now, but it's as if I'm still inside," he told The Guardian after his acquittal. "I'm still trying to get my voice heard."
Rowe studied journalism during his time in prison and read every document he could regarding his case, which helped him land a job as a reporter for BBC Radio 4's Today program less than a year after his release. “I had dreadlocks, brown skin and was a working class boy with prison slang when I joined," he told the UK's Daily Express. "Yet here I was reporting [for Today]." Had he not "learned the skills of being a meticulous researcher,” Rowe added, he wouldn't have been so successful.
Later, Rowe moved on to report for BBC's docuseries Panorama, where he helped investigate the wrongful conviction of Barry George for the murder of Crimewatch presenter Jill Dando. In August 2008, seven years after his initial conviction, George was retried and acquitted after doubt was cast on the reliability of gunshot residue evidence.
Now, on World's Toughest Prisons, Rowe voluntarily reenters the institution he says scarred him for life in the hopes of shedding light on maximum security prison conditions and the need for global reform. "I believe it is crucial to show an insight into how prisons around the world work," he wrote on his website. "Only with greater knowledge and understanding can real reform take place."