Watch: What It’s Like to Become a Guard at a Private Prison

The first episode of the video series “My Four Months as a Private Prison Guard”


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. During his four months on the job, Bauer would witness stabbings, an escape, lockdowns, and an intervention by the state Department of Corrections as the company struggled to maintain control. Read Bauer’s gripping firsthand account here.

Bauer’s investigation is also the subject of a six-part video series produced by Mother Jones senior digital editor James West. In the first episode, Bauer gets a job with CCA and begins four weeks of training at Winn Correctional Center, which one former guard describes as “hell in a can.” Bauer also explores why a dangerous job that pays $9 an hour is attractive in an area with few employment options.  

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Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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