When you hear the phrase “gladiator fights” the first thing that may come to mind is the pairing of two men brutally pitted against one another in a Roman Empire-styled coliseum or professional prized fighters going head-to-head in a caged fight. It may sound far-fetched in real life, but an increasing number of correctional facilities throughout the nation are being hit by lawsuits—their officers are conducting in-house gladiator prison fights between inmates.

First, the FBI are now launching an investigation in San Francisco County Jail where it is believed that correctional officers are forcing inmates to fight each other in gladiator-styled matches for entertainment and money. According to the report, deputies involved are pairing the smallest inmate in the pod to fight the largest, having the two prisoners to gamble for possessions and food, all for the officers’ own sadistic entertainment. And just a week ago, two guards in a maximum state security prison in Nevada are accused of creating a “gladiator-like scenario” where two inmates were handcuffed to fight, which ended in one dying from a shotgun blast fired by the officer trainee. And lastly, these incidents aren’t isolated to the West Coast. During January, two inmates from Avalon Correctional Services in Tulsa, Oklahoma were caught on video fighting.

It’s hard to believe at first, but something I thought I would only see on TV shows and movies would actually exist in real life. Out of disbelief, I needed to know more. After hearing about these gladiator fights in prison all over the news, I wanted to see if this is recent trend. Apparently, guards coercing inmates to fight for entertainment and gambling purposes have been ongoing for almost a decade now. During the Roman Empire, most gladiators were prisoners of war, slaves, or criminals and automatically became infamies, a person who is beneath the law and by definition, not a respectable citizen. However, we live in a society that has modern laws and policies, where those who have been deemed criminals are given a chance to reform and not fight for their life in exchange for freedom. We’re glued to TV when there’s breaking news of a car chase, we pay for pay-per-view fights, and we go online once we hear about violent news to watch it. I guess it’s in our human nature to be entertained in a shock-and-awe way.