The largest prison in the United States and once known as the bloodiest prison in the country is reserved for convicted felons in Louisiana serving a minimum of fifty years. Over ninety percent of the inmates are serving a life sentence (in La. life means life~no possibility of parole) and ninety three to ninety seven percent of the inmates will die at Angola.
The inmates at Angola work the fields for up to seventeen hours per day and are paid four cents an hour (trustees earn twenty cents) but they are only permitted to keep one half of their wages to use in the prison store.
Although mechanical cotton pickers are almost universally used on modern-day farms, Angola prisoners must harvest by hand, echoing the exact ritual that characterized the plantation before emancipation. See Maya Schenwar's article Angola Slavery Haunts.
Most prisoners are expected to be buried on the land they till and they have the daunting task of building caskets. To think you could be building your own casket, how eerie. At Angola, funerals are elaborate affairs, with hand-made coffins pulled to graves by horse-drawn carriages, in rites conducted almost entirely by inmates.
Angola is not all bad. I mean they live without air in the smoldering Louisiana heat, but the inmates have their own newspaper, television show and they can participate in the Prison Rodeo twice a year.
Of course there is the disturbing story of the Angola three-except for brief intervals they have been confined to solitary confinement for thirty eight (yup-38 ) years. One of the three has been transferred to another prison, but two remain confined for 23 hours a day in 2 x 3 meter cells with little natural light, and "allowed outdoor exercise in a small cage, for one hour, three days a week, contrary to (what's) specified in the United Nations Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. For more information you can read this article, The Angola Three.
Quite a few brilliant musicians are the product of Angola. Aaron Neville was once an inmate at Angola as was his brother, Charles. I love Aaron Neville's song, Angola Bound. I love his voice, but the words are chilling. I am pretty sure the song originated with Bo Dollis, I know the Neville brothers did not write it or sing it first.
In this next video, Aaron Neville returns to Angola (as a performer) and sings Amazing Grace & Angola Bound.
Below is part one of a series on Angola.
As both a prosecutor and defense attorney I have been to Angola many times and while this video is horrible, my opinion it is sugar coated and fails to show the true Angola.
Okay, I know this post was kind of long (not so much without the videos & you don't have to watch them). Sorry, I got carried away for the first day. From tomorrow on, my post are brief.