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And even if I could get uncensored information from private prison inmates, how would I verify their claims? “I just don’t know no CO to pull out his pad every five minutes,” he told me. When prisons do let reporters in, it’s usually for carefully managed tours and monitored interviews with inmates. Their records often aren’t subject to public access laws; CCA has fought to defeat legislation that would make private prisons subject to the same disclosure rules as their public counterparts. In the future, if you decide to change your mind, you know the process.” into Winn’s front gate after I left town, the guard told him the assistant warden wanted to see him. Miss Calahan, who’d quit before me because she thought the job was getting too dangerous, wrote to me on Facebook: “Hey boy you got they ass lol.” Another sent me an email: “Wow, Bauer! I don’t even know what to say.” I attempted to contact everyone who’s mentioned in this story to ask them about their experiences at Winn. Others didn’t respond to my phone calls and letters, and a few I could not track down. Corner Store insisted he and other inmates knew something was up all along.He had told me to “get the fuck out of here” and threatened that if I didn’t he would “get up on top of this bed and jump straight onto [his] motherfucking neck.” He had gone on hunger strike repeatedly to protest the limited dietary options and inadequate mental health services. The letter dropped hints that the company had been monitoring my recent communications with inmates and was keeping an eye on my social-media presence. The smallest parole violation could land him back in prison.CCA’s counsel claimed I was bound by the company’s code of conduct, which states, “All employees must safeguard the company’s trade secrets and confidential information.” Since guards are not privy to confidential business information, the implication is that what I experienced and observed inside Winn should remain secret. “If they were ever to see me again, they wouldn’t have too much of a liking for me. After we sit and talk awhile, he stops scoping out everyone who passes by, and he stares out at the glistening surface. He walks down to the bank, scoops up some water, brings it to his nose, and breathes in deep.When the lawyer told me her son’s name—Damien Coestly—it took me back to my first day on the job, when I was working suicide watch.It had been a year since I’d pulled my chair across from him as he sat on the toilet, his entire body hidden under his suicide blanket. received a letter from a law firm representing CCA.“I should tell you upfront that the job only pays an hour, but the prison is in the middle of a national forest. ” “I like fishing.” “Well, there is plenty of fishing, and people around here like to hunt squirrels. The CEO of the company started out as a CO”—a corrections officer. Not only does Louisiana have the highest incarceration rate in the world—more than 800 prisoners per 100,000 residents—but Winn is the oldest privately operated medium-security prison in the country. The next morning, as I get coffee in the hotel lobby, I see a SORT officer standing outside in a black uniform, flex-cuffs hanging from his belt. We exit through a side door, and as I pull my truck out I see another man I recognize from the prison. They gathered “everything that had your name on it,” Miss Lawson said.
Miss Lawson also told me that Assistant Warden Parker texted her a photo of me, asking if she knew who I was.“I got called like four or five times for that one phone from corporate,” Miss Lawson said.“It was like they were insinuating that you brought the phone in or there was some information in the phone.According to documents that the DOC later sent me, in late 2014 the department had reviewed CCA’s compliance with its contract and asked it to make immediate changes at Winn.
Several security issues were identified, including broken doors and cameras, and unused metal detectors. Assistant Warden Parker took a similar position at another CCA prison. As a journalist, it’s nearly impossible to get an unconstrained look inside our penal system. In his office, Assistant Warden Parker asked Bacle what he knew about me. On his way out, Bacle asked the officer at the front gate, “What’s going on with Bauer? National media picked up the story and CCA issued a statement saying my approach “raises serious questions about his journalistic standards.” A couple of guards I worked with reached out to me right away.