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Diane Sawyer travels to prisons for first special since leaving anchor role

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NEW YORK — For her first big assignment after leaving as ABC "World News Tonight" anchor, Diane Sawyer went behind bars.

The veteran journalist traveled to four prisons across the country for a special, "A Nation of Women Behind Bars," that will air on ABC on Friday at 10 p.m. EST.

PHOTO: FILE - In this Feb. 15, 2015 file photo, Diane Sawyer attends the SNL 40th Anniversary Special in New York. Sawyer  traveled to four prisons across the country for a special, “A Nation of Women Behind Bars,” that will air on ABC Friday at 10 p.m. EST. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
FILE - In this Feb. 15, 2015 file photo, Diane Sawyer attends the SNL 40th Anniversary Special in New York. Sawyer traveled to four prisons across the country for a special, “A Nation of Women Behind Bars,” that will air on ABC Friday at 10 p.m. EST. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

Sawyer examines mental health in a prison system where so many prisoners are ill, how prisoners acquire contraband and issues involving sentencing. She visited prisons in Tennessee, Maryland, Florida and Washington over eight months for the show.

Prison life is a story she has returned to for ABC, spending two nights in an Atlanta prison in 2004 for a first-person look and doing a 1996 show on life inside a maximum security prison.

The veteran journalist gave up her nightly role in the evening news last summer to David Muir.

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