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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Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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