Bites at Animal Planet

22 Jun

Angola Prison: The Mission of a World within a World


In the last episode of Louisiana Lockdown, the Angola staff and inmates struggle with maintaining family life with the harsh realities of prison life.  Assistant Warden Cathy Fontenot talks about the institution of Angola and its mission.

Cathy-fontenot-2-350x250In many ways Angola is a world within a world. It’s an institution built to keep the great majority of its felons from ever reentering free world society again. It is the job of the staff who work there to use the resources at hand to attempt to correct deviant behavior in order to provide public safety. While we can prevent men from physically escaping, we know that they still have an impact on their family, supporters, and the public. It is our job to inspire and ensure that any contact made with others (inside and outside prison walls) is non-violent and non-offensive. We hope that the messages are informative and can lead to discussion on how better we can serve the public in terms of their future safety.  We hope to stop victimization and promote healing.

Angola has a bloody past and Louisiana incarcerates more of its citizens per its capita than any other state.  While we continue to lead the nation in locking up its people, our institution has become known as a place of moral rehabilitation. Violence here has decreased over 70 percent and with that offenders have an environment that allows them to be penitent for their crimes. We are here because lives have been destroyed and it is our mission to do all we can to empower and give dignity to victims and survivors.  Still, with all the positive change, we remain a prison and bad things, although rare, can happen. Four correctional officers have been killed in the line of duty over Angola's history.  These deaths occured when offenders became hopeless.

Our job is tough.  We are committed to public safety. Our job is to "keep the keys!" When we do our job, bad things don't happen - hopeless inmates don't kill or escape and the public remains safe, secure in the fact that there are those of us committed to the challenge of this type of work.  It is often thankless but we are acutely aware of the importance of our professionalism and when further violence is averted, therein lies the reward.  


Tune in TONIGHT for an all-new episode of LOUISIANA LOCKDOWN, where Warden Burl Cain’s "Land of New Beginnings" offers inmates "eight seconds of freedom" in a unique Animal Correctional Program.
"Hunger Strike" premieres at 10 PM ET/PT.

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