Entrance to Angola prison
The entrance to Angola prison. (Photo by msppmoore via Wikipedia.)

INSTITUTE INDEX: A brief history of the hell that is Louisiana's Angola prison

Number of years that Glenn Ford, a black man wrongfully convicted of murder by an all-white jury, spent on death row in the notorious Louisiana State Penitentiary, better known as Angola prison, before being freed this week: 30

Year in which Ford was sent to Angola, making him one of the longest-serving death row prisoners in the United States: 1984

Current age of Ford, who acknowledges feeling resentment over the decades of life stolen from him following a deeply flawed legal case: 64

Rank of Angola among the largest maximum security prisons in the United States: 1

Year in which a former Confederate major bought the Angola plantation and in its former slave quarters began housing prisoners, who worked the plantation and were leased to private companies for levee construction: 1880

Year in which the state of Louisiana took control of Angola's inmates following newspaper accounts of brutality under the convict leasing system: 1901

In the early 1950s, number of Angola inmates who sliced their Achilles tendons with razor blades to protest brutal conditions: 31

Period during which Angola gained notoriety as "The Bloodiest Prison in the South" because of the number of inmate assaults: late 1960s

Number of Angola prisoners who were typically stabbed to death each year in the early 1970s, when slavery was also commonplace inside the prison: about 12

Period in which the federal courts intervened to bring reforms to Angola following a prisoner lawsuit: mid-1970s

Number of years that Herman Wallace, who was sent to Angola for armed robbery and became a Black Panther activist there, spent in solitary confinement after being convicted of murdering a prison guard despite no physical evidence linking him to the crime, which he maintained he did not commit: 41

Number of days after being released from Angola upon orders of a federal judge following the overturning of his conviction that Wallace died of cancer: 3

Size in feet of the solitary cell that Albert Woodfox, a Black Panther activist who with Wallace was also convicted in the guard's death and maintains his innocence, is still living in today, despite federal orders that he be freed: 6 x 9

Number of times Woodfox's murder conviction has been overturned to date: 3

Number of times Angola Warden Burl Cain reportedly offered to release Wallace and Woodfox from solitary confinement if they renounced their political beliefs and accepted Jesus Christ as their savior: 1

Year in which four members of Congress asked the Justice Department to investigate Angola's "egregious and extensive" use of solitary confinement: 2013

Year in which three Angola death-row inmates filed a federal lawsuit claiming that oppressive heat conditions worsened their medical conditions and violated their constitutional rights: 2013

According to their lawsuit, heat index in degrees Fahrenheit reached on Angola's death row at one point in 2012: 172

In 2011: 195

Number of days between May and August of 2012 that inmates on one tier of Angola's death row suffered through heat indexes of more than 126 degrees, according to another lawsuit: 85

Date on which a federal judge in Louisiana ruled that conditions on Angola's death row amount to "cruel and unusual punishment": 12/19/2013

Date on which the same federal judge "sternly lectured" attorneys for Louisiana over their "lack of candor" about awnings and soaker hoses being installed last summer while heat indexes were being measured as part of the lawsuit over excessive heat: 3/12/2014

Given the cap Louisiana places on payments to people it's wrongfully incarcerated, total amount Glenn Ford will be eligible to receive for each year he spent locked up at Angola: $11,000

(Click on figure to go to source.)

The entrance to Angola prison. (Photo by msppmoore via Wikipedia.)
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I did time in the Louisiana prison system from 1970 to 1988 and I can tell you from personal experience that one tenth of the injustices are never told. I can understand the outrage of society when it comes to the horrendous crimes some have committed. Is it a "civilized" society though that turns their heads to the blatantly published human rights abuses that have been prevalent for so many years? I am equally amazed at the men and women that worked there and the depths of human suffering they see and never report, instigate, and go home and live with. There are some very good people that work there too. They have been instrumental in the improvements I saw in my years there. I believe warden Cain is on the right track as he encourages men in spiritual ways. Men can change. I am living proof. Society too can change as they grow in their compassion, wisdom, and spirituality.

I was there during

I was there during Katrina..the food was horrible..conditions horrible. Imagine boiling a whole chicken then putting it in a food processor bones and all over noodles or rice. The rapes and assaults.. hearing the weapons being sharpened on the concrete. It was the toughest time of my life. I was in for something pretty minor but because of Katrina i got caught up in hell. I really thought I would have to kill someone just to survive. I'm one of the lucky ones, I made it out unskaved.

I have been watching

I have been watching documentary's on this prison. Then I did a little reading about it. It's obviously a business and black men are being treated horrible, some of whom can prove their innocence. The parole board wants keep them inside for many reasons. It's pretty sickening, and I wish there was something I could do.

Documentary on Angola Prison.

I watched the documentary yesterday, 20.1.2015. The governor of the prison appeared to be a humanitarian. The prison conditions portrayed looked good. But! To lock a person up for so many years for minor crimes is also a crime. The young 32yr old, that had been incarcerated since 12, I was disturbed about, the meeting with the family of which his crime was connected to,it was was dreadful. The prison portrayed a christian rehabilitation course that looked good. The family of the victim did not show any compassion what so-ever. The sentencing of so many years on the criminals was far, far too harsh. Keep up the good work, prisoners, staff and I hope really hope the next governor is as good as the one the prison has now. Jolly good documentary. I had no idea the prison existed.

Angola Update

Sunday Morning aired a piece on Angola prisoners entertaining the public as bull riders in the prison rodeo. Nothing illegal about
offering the lesser of all the evils to these incarcerated for life men but wonder about the exploitation question.

Angola prison

After watching a documentary on Angola prison which was filmed in 1998 I can't believe that so much racism and blatant slavery is still so apparent in 1998! The old man waiting for a signature from the governor for his release, the man who served 20 years for brutally raping 2 girls but medical examination showed both females to be virgins (no mention of sodommy) and him being the only man handcuffed in the lineup picture. The 2 white men whom he was appealing to saw the evidence and brushed it of as 'oh he did it'. Just to mention the 2, must be 100's if not 1000's incarcerated for crimes they didn't commit! It's disgusting how these so called God loving racist animals are still getting away with using black men as slaves. The prison should be burnt down to the ground and a new one rebuilt. Why hasn't the US government done something about this? These Men are human beings. Something has to be done.


watched a documentary on tv last night about Angola.
3 inmates who had been sent to angola for murder and rape but the sentences they received was out of proportion to the crimes commited.I felt from the programme they did not receive a fair trail. It was apparent that the prison system used these prisoners as cheap labour. 4 cents an hour for grafting in a field. I think it is time to change this oppressive institution.

Angola article

This article shows how bad Angola is. Again it need to be reformed from tip to toe. Prisons should be used only for the most heinous of all crimes. Also, the practice of sending drug addicts to prison should be discontinued at once. When it comes to heinous crimes, that includes a man who killed a little girl I knew from church in 1975.

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