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Mother Jones Reporter Discovered Working in CCA Prison

by David Reutter

Private prison operator Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) recently made a statement to Mother Jones magazine in response to the discovery of reporter who had been employed at one of its prisons in Louisiana. The operation was uncovered when a reporter was arrested after being spotted outside the perimeter of Winn Correctional Facility.

Winn Parish Sheriff Cranford Jordan’s office was called at approximately 9:30pm on March 13, 2015, by guards at the CCA-operated prison. The guards had spotted someone on prison grounds via a light from a cellphone. The person left in a rental car when guards tried to stop him.

The car was tracked to Mother Jones senior producer James West. Monica Bauerlein, co-editor of Mother Jones, issued the following statement, “James West was stopped by police while doing newsgathering in a public place and arrested when he refused to show the contents of his camera.” Jordan said West did not carry media credentials and had a camera-equipped drone with him.

Then, on March 17, a guard resigned his position at the prison after being a no-show for two days. The guard, who had been employed at the prison since December, was Shane Bauer, a senior reporter at Mother Jones. He is one of the journalists who was detained in 2009 while hiking along the Iran-Iraq border. His 26 months in Iran’s infamous Evin Prison left him with an interest in the trauma of solitary confinement.

Mother Jones confirmed that Bauer worked at the CCA prison, stating, “He did not conceal his identity or employment history from CCA.”

CCA, meanwhile, is concerned about what Bauer may write regarding his experiences as a prison guard. “If Mr. Bauer intends to publish a story, it is our hope that he will provide CCA and our government partner with the opportunity to be responsive and ensure that his reporting does not jeopardize the safety and security of the facility, maintains the confidentiality of inmates and staff, and avoids altogether the inclusion of false information,” CCA said, in a statement that also questioned Bauer’s “journalistic standards.”

In response, Mother Jones said, “If and when [Bauer] chooses to write about his experiences, we’ll be happy to discuss it further.”

Sources: Washington Post, CNNMoney