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NBC News anchor Lester Holt recently spent two nights inside the largest maximum security prison in the U.S. for a “Dateline NBC” documentary on mass incarceration and criminal justice reform.

“The important thing for me was that we didn’t go as some kind of a gimmick, that this would be a reporting device,” he added. “We tried to be as unobtrusive with the cameras as possible, which allowed me to have organic conversations with people. I think we built a level of trust with those we spoke with.”

“I’ve done a lot of criminal justice stories over the last several years and was trying to move into the next level,” Holt told People magazine. “We knew we wanted to do something big in the criminal justice space. An idea was born, apparently among my bosses at ‘Dateline,’ to put me in prison.”

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