Journalist’s Resource is out with a tip sheet on interviewing white-collar prisoners. They come from Eugene Soltes who shared what he learned while doing research for Why They Do It: Inside the Mind of the White-Collar Criminal. Here are the bullet points on that article and a link to the full discussion that adds good context to these suggestions.
- Don’t lead with personal questions and questions that probe into the meatiest details of a convict’s crimes. Focus first on developing trust.
- Have a plan for whether and how you’ll use sensitive information that sources might divulge once they trust you.
- If you want prisoners to talk to you, write them a letter.
- When interviewing individuals who are incarcerated, choose phone calls over in-person meetings. You can develop a rapport more quickly through four 15-minute phone calls than one hour-long, in-person conversation.
- Establish a system of checking your biases to limit the impact your relationships with sources could have on your work.
- If you’re describing someone’s feelings, opinions or mindset, consider letting that person review what you have written to make sure it represents them accurately.