The New York Times

Crime Pays

“American Prison: A Reporter’s Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment”

By Shane Bauer

351 pages. Penguin Press. $28.

Two weeks after Shane Bauer, a senior reporter for Mother Jones magazine, began his undercover stint as a prison guard at Winn Correctional Center in rural Louisiana, an inmate jumped the razor-wire fence and sprinted into the surrounding woods. There were no officers in the guard towers to witness his escape; the private prison company hired by the state of Louisiana to run the facility, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), had decided to save money by leaving those posts empty. An alarm sounded in the control room, but a guard ostensibly monitoring the battery of surveillance cameras saw nothing. Rather than review the footage, she simply switched off the alarm and returned her attention to whatever was

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