I knew the 20/20 producer was only kidding around when she brought up the idea that I might interview Daniel myself. P20 – I do apologize if I caused you any problems when I mentioned this last week.
It’s a silly idea, right? I’m a blogger, not a TV show.
But once that little seed was planted in my mind, I started thinking, “Well what’s the harm of looking into this?” It might be the only chance to get Daniel on camera since I knew he hadn’t wanted to be interviewed by Dateline or 20/20.
This would be different. I’m his friend. It would be more like one of our regular conversations.
I started coming up with reasons in my head why this was a good idea:
- I could promise Daniel I wouldn’t make the interview public until after everyone involved in the case had gone to trial.
- I really wanted him to have an opportunity to speak to Sam’s and Julie’s families. That would only be for them to see (if they wanted), not made public (unless they wanted).
- Since I’m not a journalist, I could share the questions with Daniel in advance and create additional questions at his suggestion… though I would not let him take out any questions.
- Daniel would have the opportunity to talk in great detail about the Orange County informant scandal.
- I could use the interview to gain publicity for my writing.
- The experience would make a great story.
How Do You Interview Someone In Jail?
However, I had absolutely no idea how a person might go about doing an on-camera interview with a jail inmate, but I knew I walking in with my iPhone and filming Daniel through the glass wasn’t going to fly. And I figured I should probably check with him to see if he’d even be willing to consider the idea before I expended too much energy thinking about the details.
Getting Permission To Interview Daniel Wozniak
I decided to broach the subject during one of our visits… Often when I tell Daniel “I want to talk (to him) about something,” he responds with an amused, “Uh oh.” Usually it’s unwarranted. But not this time…
“Hey. One of the producers said something that got me thinking…”
“Maybe you should just let me interview you.”
“Yeah, I could get a camera and figure out the logistics and I would interview you myself.”
“You? Interview me? On camera? Like a news correspondent?” Daniel burst into laughter.
“It’s not a totally crazy idea.” I was also laughing because it was a totally crazy idea.
“And what would you do with this interview?”
“Well… umm… I don’t know. I could put excerpts on the blog’s Facebook page. Maybe I’ll do a documentary about all of this someday. Ooh, I could use it as part of a multi-media presentation related to my one-woman show…”
“So, you’re actually serious about this?”
“Yup,” I said, grinning at him.
“This is probably not a good idea.”
“No, of course not. But…”
I explained that I wouldn’t make anything public until after all the trials were finished and how this would be a great opportunity to talk about the Orange County informant scandal.
Also, it wasn’t like he was going to say anything to me that couldn’t be overheard by the Orange County Sheriff’s deputies anyway, and I would promise that when the interview was made public, I would air the entire thing. No edits.
And most important: I’m his friend.
When Daniel told me to go ahead and look into it, I took that as a yes.
The Process and the Price
I did a little research and found out that I needed to contact the Public Information Officer for the Orange County Jail. I sent him an email explaining the situation and asking what I should do next.
I found out that before anything could happen, I had to go to the jail and have Daniel sign a form granting me permission to interview him.
It was a “non-visiting” day when I made the trip to the jail’s visitor area. I wasn’t used to the place being so empty.
This reception area is also used for people to claim the property of loved ones who have been recently incarcerated. On that day it was just the “property people” and one lawyer waiting to see her client.
I got in the regular check-in line behind no one and waited for an extra-long time for someone to notice I was standing there. I was told to come to window one and was greeted by one of the deputies. I recognized her from previous visits. She’s friendly. I explained about the form I needed to fill out.
She was rightfully confused and pointed out that I’d never identified myself as the media before.
“We know you. You’re his friend.”
I agreed with her and explained a little about the interview idea. She talked to another deputy and he got me a form to fill out. He took that form to Daniel. Within about 30 minutes he came back to tell me Daniel had signed the form and it would be forwarded to the PIO (Public Information Officer).
I left the jail feeling pretty good about myself. I was going to get the only on-camera interview with Daniel Wozniak.
I felt like I’d won something. I’ll be honest with you guys; my contact with the TV producers had skewed my way of thinking a little. It’s their jobs to care about ratings and landing interviews.
I’m just writing a blog about being friends with a person who did some terrible things. And I guess I want people to understand how I don’t define my friend by his actions.
My reasons for wanting to interview Daniel turned out to be a moot point anyway, because I couldn’t afford to actually do it.
It’s REALLY expensive to film someone at the Orange County Jail. It would have cost me thousands of dollars just setting up all the necessary insurance policies and paying the salaries of all the deputies who would be involved in the filming. Obviously it is a lot easier for the TV shows to pull this stuff off.
I know that I could make back the money I spent if I was willing to sell Daniel’s interview to one of those shows, but that negates the whole reason for having me do it in the first place. So, it wasn’t going to happen. Not now anyway. But Daniel trusted me and when it comes to the two of us being friends, that is what’s most important.