This Man Spent Four Months Undercover As A Private Prison Guard. Here Is His Disturbing Story

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Image: James West via Mother Jones
Image: James West via Mother Jones

“The boundary between pleasure and anger is blurring,” wrote Shane Bauer for Mother Jones in July 2016. “To shout makes me feel alive… During the lockdown, when Ash threatened to riot, I hoped the SORT team would come in and gas the whole unit. Everyone would be coughing and gasping, including me, and it would be good because it would be action. All that matters anymore is action…”

Image: YouTube/Mother Jones
Image: YouTube/Mother Jones

In 2014 Bauer, an investigative journalist who has previously written about the likes of police militarization and solitary confinement, spent a full four months undercover in the role of a private prison guard. With a hidden camera concealed in a wrist-watch, he infiltrated the oldest medium-security private prison in the United States and documented a litany of disturbing failings. And over time, his personality began to change…

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Image: YouTube/Mother Jones
Image: YouTube/Mother Jones

By recording daily life in a private prison, Bauer sought to provide a rare inside look at a closed and controversial industry. In 2015 U.S. private prisons contained 126,272 inmates, or 8 percent of the nation’s total prison population. And unlike publicly owned correctional facilities, they are profit-driven enterprises accountable to shareholders. They are also highly secretive, writes Bauer, and are rarely scrutinized by journalists, partly owing to laws protecting their corporate records.

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