Sheriff accuses Mother Jones of having 'undercover operative' in La. prison

A Louisiana county sheriff is accusing a news magazine of attempting to infiltrate his correctional facility by having a reporter pose as a correctional officer


By C1 Staff

JACKSON — A Louisiana county sheriff is accusing a news magazine of attempting to infiltrate his correctional facility by having a reporter pose as a correctional officer.

The Washington Post reports that a Mother Jones reporter, James West, was caught trespassing outside an area prison operated by Corrections Corporation of America in Winn Parish with a camera-equipped drone among his possessions.  Shortly before that, an employee of the same prison resigned and was called an “operative” of Mother Jones by Winn Parish Sheriff Cranfrod Jordan.

Jordan said the man, who has since been identified as Shane Bauer, senior reporter at Mother Jones, worked as a correctional officer.

Bauer is best known for being detained in 2009 in the isolation ward of Iran’s infamous Evin Prison.

West was found on prison grounds March 13 when someone was spotted via a light from a cell phone. Correctional officers found his vehicle and eventually arrested West.

West works as a senior producer for Mother Jones. He was released on $10,000 appearance bond.

Jordan said his deputies have no idea what West was doing near the prison.

“If I was doing a story, I wouldn’t want to be out there at night. Those guards out there have guns,” he said. He said West was not carrying any media credentials.

“My policy is we extend courtesies to the press,” he added. He said he didn’t know what West planned to do with the drone.

He continued, saying that his office has it “on good authority” that Bauer was working as an operative inside the prison for Mother Jones.

“Journalists have a right to do stories, but you can’t violate the law while you’re doing it,” he said.

Mother Jones issued a statement regarding Bauer’s resignation and West’s arrest:

James West was stopped by police while news gathering in a public place and arrested when he refused to show the contents of his camera. Shane Bauer is an award-winning criminal justice reporter. He did not conceal his identity or employment history from CCA. If and when he chooses to write about his experiences, we’ll be happy to discuss it further.

A spokesman for CCA, Steve Owen, said he didn’t deny any of Jordan’s account and was unaware of any untoward conduct by Bauer but did take issue with the conduct of Mother Jones.

He said that the magazine hasn’t contacted CCA regarding any story it might be producing on the company or the Louisiana facility.

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