Posts Tagged ‘Louisiana State Penitentiary’
Oscar winning actor William Hurt spent a night at Angola Prison in Louisiana to prepare for his role as an ex-convict in the upcoming film The Yellow Handkerchief. According to Hurt, experiencing prison life for himself was crucial to being able to embody his character and tell the story well. Read more here.
The Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections has sued every inmate on death row, in an effort to block any one of them from challenging the state’s lethal injection procedures.
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Louisiana State Penitentiary, better known as Angola Prison, is offering its inmates the opportunity to obtain Bachelor of Arts degrees from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Warden Burl Cain worked to institute the program when Angola was still known as “America’s bloodiest prison.” This program is among others at Angola geared toward restoring hope among prisoners.
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Louisiana State Penitentiary inmate Henry Smith escaped on Thursday. More than 200 law enforcement officials have been searching for Smith, a convicted murderer, since his escape. Assistant Warden Cathy Fontenot said Smith escaped a day before the anniversary of his mother’s death and that he may have also been upset over the recent heart attack of his only friend at prison Clifford “Smurf” Bowman.
My last day in prison was filled with mixed feelings. There was a part of me that was excited, happy and looked forward to the adventure of being free. There was another part of me that felt like I was leaving many parts of my heart behind. I was leaving men who had become family. We had grown up together and survived many challenges over the years. We were survivors who had conquered our little world and become leaders within our society. We had built a lot of life enriching programs and ministries that helped the institution over the years and i was leaving those friends behind.
Being a father behind bars was a challenging experience. It was several years before I saw my daughter in person, and those were often depressing times. I used to write her a letter almost every day. I would write her as if I were writing to a young adult. I knew that she couldn’t read, write or understand, but her mother promised to read the letters to her.
As time passed, we had the opportunity to visit and share in each other’s love. I received a lot of letters and photos, and I wrote her letters and sent photos when I was able to take some. I used to give her advice on everything and I enjoyed every opportunity to answer any questions she presented to me. Over the years we developed a very close relationship. She wasn’t only my daughter, she was my friend and we could talk about anything. It made me feel special. During her teenage years she often called me her hero and although I felt pride in the fact that we were so close, I also felt a pain of not being with her and sometimes I was hard on myself for making the decisions that caused me to be confined and not physically in her life. We would talk about all of the things we were going to do when I got out of prison, and lived as if I was going to be released soon. Neither of us knew that it would take many more years before we had the opportunity to spend time together in society.
I became an advocate for inmates while I was in prison during my early years. I was a jail house lawyer, classified as a militant and there was a group of us who used to practice martial arts together on the yard who were often found in stand-offs against some of the groups who were involved in raping other young inmates. As I grew older in prison I was always developing new programs, classes or life enrichment programs for others. I believe that I was a part of God’s movement that gradually brought about change in prison on the tail of a federal court order that mandated sweeping changes to take place in the prison.
Once I was released from prison I became involved in a number of prison ministries, and developed several legislative advocacy groups geared toward making changes in the laws so that deserving men and women could return to society. I left a lot of friends in prison. Them and their families need voices and dedicated people like myself and the many others who have gained their released to do what we can to make a change.