Watch: Former Guards and a Prisoner Recall Life in a Private Prison

“You can lose your sanity working in a prison system.”


In December 2014, Mother Jones senior reporter Shane Bauer started a job as a corrections officer at a Louisiana prison run by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the country’s second-largest private prison company. Read Bauer’s gripping firsthand account of his four months as a prison guard here. His investigation is also the subject of a six-part video series.

Below are three extended interviews that go deeper into the lives of two former guards and a former prisoner who Bauer met at Winn Correctional Center. In the first video, Jennifer Calahan talks about the challenges she faced and sacrifices she made when she worked long hours as a prison guard:

 

Life in prison was a matter of survival, explains “Corner Store,” a recently released Winn inmate. (He asked that his nickname be changed.) He sits by the Mississippi River and recalls the violence and sexual assaults he witnessed behind bars.

 

Dave Bacle, who was Bauer’s work partner at Winn, explains why guards felt unequipped to confront dangerous incidents inside the prison:

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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