Bites at Animal Planet

29 Jun

Working at Angola: Giving Light at the End of the Tunnel


What's it like being an Assistant Warden? Hear from Cathy Fontenot and the road that brought her to Angola.

cathy fontenotThe Assistant Warden of Programming works under the Deputy Warden of Programming and is responsible for all offender services and programs.  Classification, the placement of offenders in their housing, work and the following of their progress throughout their incarceration, is one of the chief areas of my work. Reentry efforts to correct the deviant behavior in those who are due for release back into society is unique here as we use long-term offenders as peer mentors to train and share their life experiences with short-term offenders.  These areas of responsibility involve daily contact with offenders, their families, crime victims/survivors, every other discipline at the prison and throughout the Department of Corrections, as well as outside law enforcement.  Angola attracts lots of tourists, media and researchers so my calendar remains full – as we average 2,500 people who visit each month. 

I’ve been working at Angola since 1995 but began my career in 1992 as a tower guard at the medium security prison where Warden Cain worked for 13 years prior to his arrival at Angola.  I’ve learned a great deal from Warden Cain – mostly that you must “give light at the end of the tunnel.” I’ve learned that people want to be clean, safe and be paid attention too – no matter if they are being bad or good, they need to know that their actions and behavior matters to someone.  It is important for offenders to find their purpose and unique talents and working under Warden Cain, who is a visionary and believer that all people have their own niche, has proven to be a factor in promoting positive change.  My greatest concern is public safety which I believe is achieved when we create an environment that prepares offenders to be penitent.  We are ever mindful of the suffering of victims and feel that empowering them with information is key to our mission.


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.
"Bones" premieres at 10 PM ET/PT.


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