A is for Angola

Angola Bound~ Going to the Farm

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.

Make sure to visit the other bloggers in the challenge.  Here is a link to the list of participants.

43 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing an interesting view of the U.S prison system. I know little about the U.K prison system too, but it seems very different from what you have in America. 

    ReplyDelete
  2. That is a kick-ass first post for the challenge, really informative and interesting! The idea of inmates building their own caskets really creeps me out!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for sharing. I never knew about these horrible conditions.

    ReplyDelete
  4. That's so interesting about the funerals at Angola.  And I love that Aaron Neville went back there to perform.  I ran into him at the airport in New Orleans a few years ago and he was very gracious to speak with us.  Good start to A to Z.  Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wow, I found this fascinating! What an old-fashioned and creepy miserable place. Of course, prison isn't supposed to me a four star hotel by any means but it sounds like these guys are paying for their crimes and paying hard.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I had no idea. thanks for sharing

    ReplyDelete
  7. When I saw Angola in the title, the first thing that came to mind was the south-west African country torn by civil war for so many years (1975 - 2002). Poverty is endemic; life expectancy and infant mortality rates are among the highest in the world. 

    The two Angolas, it seems, have a lot in common. 

    As someone who once served as a prison Chaplain, I can appreciate your comment about the videos being "sugar coated."

    A thought-provoking read. 

    ReplyDelete
  8. Wow! I had no idea about Angola, other than the Hollywood and books mentions. This is a terrible, unique, frightening place. 

    ReplyDelete
  9. This is going to be a really interesting month and if I'm not careful I might actually learn a thing or two.  :)  What a great start!  I lived in Louisiana from 1975 to 1983, and a large part of my family (including my father) still live there.  Angola was the term we used there instead of saying Prison.

    ReplyDelete
  10. It's the first time I've heard about Angola prison. When I opened your blog I thought you were writing about the country (well, I live in Portugal, so that would make sense, wouldn't it? LOL). Sounds a terrible place. I wonder if it's called Angola because so many slaves came from there?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Enjoyed your post very much and look forward to more. Loved the music.

    ReplyDelete
  12. This is the first time I've heard of this place. Thanks so much for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Wow, this is a great subject for the A-Z challenge. Awareness of prison life and the sheer number of Americans incarcerated is important in this prison nation of ours. It's fascinating that you have been both prosecutor and defense attorney. Cool. I bet that makes your books very real and well-researched. Good luck with the challenge.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Prisons in the US seem very different to those in the UK - not sure either system does much real good though.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I had no idea that Aaron Neville had been in prison at all, much less one like Angola. I was going to ask if you'd been there, but you answered it for me. This was really fascinating  Melissa. I'm looking forward to seeing what else you have up your sleeve!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I'd heard of Angola, but didn't have anything like depth of information. You probably can't write about it in a direct fashion, but I would love to know more about your personal experiences. 

    Looking forward to A to Z.

    ReplyDelete
  17. What an eye opening post! I must have lived in a closet all my life. Didn't know this prison existed. May I never kill anyone!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thanks, Kyra. It is part of a theme I am using.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Well I suppose they aren's supposed to be country clubs, but they should be humane.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Cheers right back. I love Aaron Neville. I met him once as well and he let me take a photo with him. Am I a groupie, omg??

    ReplyDelete
  21. I know it, they aren't there to have fun. Prison sucks anyway you look at it, but this one is pretty bad.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thanks for reading. I am glad you understood the comment. Some people don't, but it is true.

    ReplyDelete
  23. It is, but the inmates in there have usually been to prison before and it's not like they did't know what the consequences would be for their crimes.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I think everyone is Louisiana says that. So how did you like living here?

    ReplyDelete
  25. That is a good question because technically it is called the Louisiana State Penitentiary , but everyone calls it Angola.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Your welcome & thanks for reading.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Thanks Shell. It is definitely an asset to be so familiar with both sides and they are so incredibly different.

    ReplyDelete
  28. You are not the first person to point out the difference in the prison system in the U.S and the UK. I am very eager now to research the prison system there. I am very curious. 

    ReplyDelete
  29. Thanks, Sarah. Yes, he was one of the few who did not have a life sentence and he had one that eligible for parole.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I would be happy to answer any questions you have or share more via email

    ReplyDelete
  31. No kidding. It is definitely a deterrent. The problem is, it is only a deterrent for people like us who would never really kill anyone.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I suppose there are other prisons in the world which are equally bad. I'm a firm believer in punishment, but I also believe in giving people a second chance where they deserve it . This place seems to say "abandon hope forever." Intresting post, though.

    ReplyDelete
  33. :) My husband is a NY state Correctional officer and worked at Attica for 13 years. :)

    ReplyDelete
  34. Yikes. I am sure you have heard some horror stories.

    ReplyDelete
  35.  I feel the same way. Louisiana does not offer second chances. Life means life.

    ReplyDelete
  36.  You and me both (not killing anyone). If a place like this isn't enough to deter criminals, nothing will.

    ReplyDelete

If you don't have anything nice to say ... then sit by me. Kidding. Please share your thoughts. I love comments. I dislike stalkers & trolls. If you want to ask me a direct question, please email me: sugarlaw13 at live dot com

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
 
Blog Design By Corinne Kelley @ The Cutest Blog on the Block