Visit our "store" tab for the best in Bloody Angola Podcast merch!
Jan. 19, 2023

Camp J Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola

Camp J Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola

First it was the Red Hat, brutal.....Then upon the closure of the Red Hat Cell Block came its replacement, even more brutal was the notorious Camp J.

Closed in 2018 forever, Camp J was feared by even the convicts of Death Row and the most infamous solitary cell block in America.

Woody Overton and Jim Chapman of Bloody Angola Podcast share the story of Camp J and the details that made it so bad.

#CampJ #WilbertRideau #PrisonPodcast #BloodyAngola #LouisianaStatePrison


Advertising Inquiries:

Privacy & Opt-Out:

For Louisiana Local Advertising inquiries or to book appearances please email


BLOODY ANGOLA: A Podcast by Woody Overton and Jim Chapman (Camp J) Jim: Hey, everyone, and welcome to Bloody-
Woody: -Angola.
Jim: A podcast 142 years in the making.

Woody: The Complete Story of America's Bloodiest Prison. Jim: And I'm Jim Chapman.
Woody: I'm Woody Overton.
Jim: And we're going to talk about Camp J today, Woody.

Woody: Yeah, y'all. Camp J was always controversial, and certainly we can't cover all of Camp J in one episode, but we're not going to make a series out of this. We're just going to bring you some as we go along. Everything from Jim's phenomenal research on stuff and some of the stuff we're going to play today to, in the future, having former inmates that were in Camp J and all that. But let me tell you real quick about Camp J. If you go back on the history part, you remember when they closed the Red Hat cell block, they had to come up with a new area to house the worst of the worst, and that was Camp J.

Jim: If you're sitting there and you're wondering, "What is the Red Hat cell block?", well, we covered that, and I believe it was Season 2's opener of Bloody Angola. One thing I'll make sure I do is link that in the description, because this may be your first episode with Bloody Angola.

Woody: The Red Hat Cell Block, y'all, was notorious and they ended up shutting it down. How bad does a fucking place have to be if you're going to shut it down, when it's housing people that nobody cares about? But to get locked up in these places like the Red Hat before they shut it down and the new and improved Camp J when they opened it up, you have to be a real, real problem. Now, it doesn't matter what your crime is that you commit on the street, when you get to Angola, you get classified and most convicts do their time in dormitories. But you get locked down on Camp J was an extended lockdown-

Jim: CCR, Closed Cell Restricted.

Woody: -cell block. To get locked up there, you didn't just get in a fistfight with another inmate. That's a regular working cell block or admin seg thing. You had to either attack a guard with weapons, not just a fistfight. Weapons could be feces or urine also. Or get caught smuggling drugs and/or escape or try to escape.

Jim: Rape.
Woody: Rape. Yeah, you could call it raping somebody. You had to do something so bad

that they wanted to lock you away from the rest of the prison population.

Jim: Think about it as a prison inside a prison. One of the questions you may have had was, "Well, you're already in prison. What else can they do to you?" Well, they have to have a place they can send you that is even worse than the situation you're already in. You're already in jail. You're already being told when to shit, when to eat, all those sorts of things. So, what can they do to you outside of that in CCR units or lockdowns or whatever you want to call it? Camp J was the place that you went to when you broke the rules in prison.

Woody: The worst rules. They like killed somebody or whatever. Jim: Shanked. Jugged them up.
Woody: Killed them good.
Jim: Killed them good. [chuckles]

Woody: When you get sent to Camp J, you have to do 90 days before you come up for a review to be released back in general population. Now, that's 90 days without a low court or a high court writeup. And that means no rule infractions. If you're back there on your first day, and most of them do, and you fuck up, you do something wrong, guess what happens? You know you got to finish your other 89 days, or you're going to automatically get rejected. These guys aren't model convicts by any means, and they get the other 89 days to fuck up, and you can't do them anymore. So, when your review comes up again, you automatically get them denied, and then you get a clean slate for the next 90 days. But they got convicts in Camp J that are housed there forever.

Jim: Forever.
Woody: I mean, like so many years. I guess we should tell them a little bit about it. Jim: One thing I want to go into before we do that, just paint the picture.
Woody: Oh, yeah. Paint the picture of the cells and everything else.

Jim: Think of it like this, y'all. If you were like me and you were raised and your parents would do this to you, maybe you'd say a cuss word, you see how that helps us [crosstalk] saying-- Cusswords every now and then. So, maybe--

Woody: [crosstalk] -get the soap.
Jim: Yeah, get the soap. That's one version. But a lot of parents would say, "Go in the

corner, put your nose in the corner, and stand there till I tell you to come out."

Woody: My dad would just beat my ass-


Woody: -with a leather belt from Mexico which said "Mexico" and had dove imprints on there, it used to leave them on me. But I promise you, I deserved every one of them.

Jim: Every one of them. [laughs] But you put your nose in the corner and you'd have to sit there till your parents-- and 10 minutes seem like 10 hours. That's your parents' version of Camp J. That's their way of putting you solitary, by yourself, where all you have to do is focus on your nose in the corner. Well, that's what Camp J is, but obviously on a much higher level.

Woody: They're locked up 23 out of 24 hours a day. Most of the time, I would submit to you, they're locked up longer. They didn't get that hour out. Back in the day, they only gave them like one phone call a month. But if you got your hour out, it was for a shower and just sweep out your cell real quick because they weren't letting trustees in your cell. These are bad motherfuckers. And you get out. Now, I remember being a boy and going to Angola on a

school tour, and they took us to Camp J. Outside the front of the camp, they had the exercise yards. Now it's not open yards, these were fenced in, wired-in yards, probably--

Jim: Dog pens, basically.

Woody: -were basically, yeah. I was going to say like 15 yards around. I remember going up and there was this convict, and he was shackled, but he only had one arm. He was shackled with his one arm and shackled to his feet and he's running that circle. But guess what? They called him Wingding. We've got an episode of Wingding. Wingding was trying to escape and they shot him at the gate and blew his arm off and they killed the other guy during the escape. We'll tell that story--[crosstalk]

Jim: Yes.

Woody: But Wingding was running around in circles and it's a bunch of impressionable kids and he's like, "Fuck you, you motherfuckers. Y'all coming in here and stare at us like fishing a bowl? You fucking motherfuckers, I'll kill all of you." What're they going to do to him?

Jim: Yeah.
Woody: He's already--[crosstalk] Jim: He's already in Camp J.

Woody: [crosstalk] -like 15 fucking years. He ain't getting out. He was going to speak his mind. But when Camp J opened, it was a brand-new facility and top notch. But guess what? They didn't put a lot of money in Camp J. It would become known as the worst cell blocks in the United States of America, and probably in the world.

Jim: You've heard of us talk about this before, but budgets are always an issue with prisons no matter where you are in the country. Angola is no exception to that because obviously, us as free people, the last thing you want to do is have to pay for prisoners. Now, it's a necessary evil. It's just like insurance. You've got to have it just because if we didn't pay for these prisons, you'd have everybody roaming free, and that would obviously be a problem. But Camp J, when it opened, it was brand new. Well, as budgetary things came through every year, they would cut the budget for Angola. So, what do they start looking at? "Well, we got to cut staff. We've got to cut we don't need to fix that air conditioner that broke," although Camp J didn't even have that. Whatever it may be, they cut where they had to, and Camp J got cut a lot more [crosstalk] parts.

Woody: Camp J got [crosstalk] cut more than anything else. Jim: Sure.
Woody: Because nobody gave a shit.
Jim: Nobody gave-- yeah. It's CCR, right?

Woody: Now, think about it, y'all. If you had 6000 inmates or 5800, however many it was, you've got that certain percentage. Now, it's all rapists and murderers and armed robbers and just the worst of the worst, but most of them are doing their time, not letting their time do them but you have a real, real big factor on Camp J. I mean, that certain percentage of that population that's in Angola, they're in there for not obeying the laws, for murder and rape and everything else but a certain percentage, when they get there, they're going to continue to act out. It's the only thing they know. I'm going to tell you right now, a huge percentage of

them have severe mental issues. I'm telling you like cray, cray motherfuckers. But you know what? The state, especially back in the day, they only have one doctor come in from Baton Rouge, whatever, these guys didn't get the treatment, especially the mental stuff that they needed.

So, the cells are so small, y'all. It's a single-man cell. It has a shitter, a little metal iron desk, and basically about it. I think it's like five steps down, five steps back. You probably can reach your arms out and touch both walls.

Jim: It's a closet.

Woody: You don't have any direct visual contact with anyone else. It's just the place that you didn't want to go. Now, again, it's used to take these worst of the worst, the ones that act so bad inside for the most serious charges, and they get them out of general population so they can't continue to rape, murder, or attack staff or whatever it is that they were doing in that general population to get swung.

Jim: Explain to them what "getting swung" is.

Woody: Getting swung, y'all, means that when you're in the general population and you're living in all these dormitories or whatever your job may be, if you do a rule infraction, you get-- that's the term, we call it get swung. They swung your ass to the cell block.

Jim: I remember when you were talking to Kelly Jennings and you used to say, "Did you swing your clerk?" And I'm like, "What? What is that term?" [chuckles]

Woody: Getting swung is something you didn't want to have happen, but it happens. Even like Kelly's clerk, I didn't have a clerk, but trustees that would have, if invariably they're going to try to get over on you or do whatever, and you swung their ass and they lost the privileges. They may go to admin seg before the hearing or whatever. If you're a real shit heel, like you attacked an officer or you raped someone or whatever, then they swung you to Camp J at Angola and you didn't want to go there.

Jim: Yeah, you didn't want to go there. Just the fact that it's Camp J guaranteed when you step foot on Louisiana State Penitentiary to Angola, and you know typically it's a life sentence. So, you step foot, word travels fast. I'm sure you're walking down that walk and they're catcalling you, the other prisoners. "Hey, hey--"

Woody: You remember what the one guy on the documentary said? The white guy who was coming out? I'm not being racist. I'll submit to you that if you're Arnold Schwarzenegger and you're white in prison, you got a problem. They're still going to get you. Because on a cell block, I would have if there's 100 inmates, 98 of them would be African American and you got your two white boys. That guy said they interviewed him on that documentary, and he said, "Y'all, I'll tell you what you don't want to do. Everybody knows your fish when you get there, and you're coming down the side for a walk, try to carrying all your shit, and they're like, 'Oh, let me help you carry your stuff.' Don't do that, because they come to your bunk at 9 o'clock at night and take your ass."

Jim: Yeah. "Remember, I helped you carry your shit?"
Woody: "Hey, man, I helped you carry that [crosstalk] bend over, boy."

Jim: That's it. That's life. That's real life there. Kiana Calloway, who appeared on P2P Podcast.

Woody: Which is?
Jim: Which is Penitentiaries to Penthouses. Woody: Yeah, [crosstalk] check it out.

Jim: They're friends of our show, and he went on there and was discussing his firsthand look at Camp J but before we play you that clip, I want to read you something that he wrote. It was a blog online, and it says, "I was just 17 years old when I was sent to solitary confinement in Camp J, one of the most severe lockdown units at one of America's most brutal prisons, the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola. I languished in solitary for 16 months. Back then, I didn't know that Louisiana was solitary confinement capital of the world. All I knew was that I had been convicted of a crime I didn't commit, and I had to maintain my humanity in one of the most dehumanizing places on Earth. It's called 23 and 1, because you spend 23 hours alone in yourself and 1 hour to take a shower and make a phone call if you're allowed."

"There's no education programs, you're stuck in yourself with just the voices in your own head and the cries of men who have already gone mad. Most of the other people in my unit were suffering from mental illness. I remember how they would ram their heads into bars, play with their own defecation, or throw urine or feces."

Woody: Getting gassed.

Jim: Yeah, getting gassed. "The hardest part of living in solitary is trying not to lose hope." Remember that word, hope. We say it all the time. "Each morning that I woke up in solitary, I would quote the same Serenity prayer. Remember my father reciting when I was young. 'Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.' The consequences are devastating. It's been 22 years since my time in solitary and 8 years since my release from prison. But I still have flashbacks and nightmares. Even when I'm with someone else, I can find myself secluded in my own mind. I call it being psychologically incarcerated. I'm learning to identify and deal with it, but I am still not normal."

That's what Camp J was doing to people. Before we go any further, I want y'all to listen to this clip. This was directly taken from the P2P Podcast show. You're going to hear a story that absolutely blew my mind that Kiana told on that podcast. So, it's right here.

Kiana: I spent 18 months in one of the most dehumanizing places that ever could have been created for a human being, and that was Camp J.

Interviewer: Okay. Angola, Louisiana.

Kiana: Angola, Louisiana, the Farm. So, [unintelligible 00:17:28] cell 11. They got cell 10. Cell 11 was the last cell. They had a guy named Money that slept on side of me for 10 months. Every morning, he woke up singing, "It's been a long, long time coming." Money's name was Alpha Baker. When I went to Camp J, Money had all been in Camp J for like 14 years at this time.

Interviewer: Wow. In the cell block? Kiana: In that same cell. Interviewer: Wow.

Kiana: In that same cell. That's why I fight for solitary confinement today. I was in Camp. J. The man had come down, shift change 6:00 and 6:00, we know it's shift change. 06:00, man come down, "Who all used the phone?" Friday. What's on Friday?

Interviewer: Chicken. Interviewer: Chicken.

Kiana: Exactly. "Who want to use the phone?" Everybody hands coming out the bar. "Okay, let me get the plates. How many people are not getting the chicken plate?"

Interviewer: [laughs]

Kiana: Listen, I didn't talk to my--

Interviewer: This is the guard?

Kiana: This is the guard.

Interviewer: He's trying to eat.

Kiana: He's getting chicken so he could swing it on the other side of the town.

Interviewer: You have the biggest [crosstalk] decision.

Kiana: They got Joes. They got Joes around the corner. So, it's a whole situation here. You only get one phone call every 30 days in Camp J this time.

Interviewer: Really?

Kiana: It was coming through the walls, busting through the walls.

Interviewer: Cinderblocks.

Interviewer: Who were?

Interviewer: The inmates.

Kiana: They bust through the walls.

Interviewer: They come get you?

Kiana: Yes.

Interviewer: Oh, wow.

Kiana: If they want you, they bust-- they coming through the walls. I'm talking about there's so many times that they had to replaster the cinderblocks.

Interviewer: They just go and get moles and coming through. Kiana: Moles?
Interviewer: How they get in through--[crosstalk]

Kiana: You can use--[crosstalk]
Interviewer: Oh, you're talking about the guy on the--[crosstalk]

Kiana: In 1998, they took the cell block, they have the flap wall where you put your stuff in there, you take that up out of there, and you can go through the wall.

Interviewer: No shit.

Kiana: Yeah, you can go through the wall.

Interviewer: So, Dudes are getting jugged up?

Kiana: Going through the wall. [crosstalk] Listen to me. Going through the wall. Listen to me.

Interviewer: Getting rinked? That’s wild, man.

Kiana: Listen, man, that is a world inside of the world, man.

Jim: That was crazy to say the least, Woody. Busting through cell cinderblock to get in the other.

Woody: By the time Kiana was there, certainly Camp J was known for not being maintained. They would do patches here and there and stuff like that, but the walls were rotting, the cinderblock and everything else. If you're down 23 and 1, which I'm telling you is a lot more than that, I can assure you. And you're crazy, or you're just a bad guy and you want to rape somebody or kill somebody, you just bust the fucking hole in the wall.

Jim: Just bust--[chuckles]
Woody: Bust the whole wall, "I'm coming to get you."

Jim: Yeah. They would rape, they would go in the next cell and rape people. Some of these guys have been in that same cell for years. Rules say no more than like three months or something like that.

Woody: They come up for the review in three months, but if they can't get out, they're not trying to rush them out.

Jim: Yeah. Depends on what you did.

Woody: Actually, the correction officers are trying to protect the other convicts and correction officers from these people, from whatever they did to get back in Camp J. Now, Camp J, y'all, the mental illness factor is a real deal. I'm talking about severe mental illness. You think about this. I believe the stat is something like, you can go insane after five days in solitary confinement. They've proven that. Not everybody does. Sometimes, it takes longer and what have you. But if you go back there and you go insane, [unintelligible 00:21:19] on the fucking rule. You can be back there forever. Like this guy that was in the cell block in the cell next to him, been back there 14 years and woke up singing every morning.

Jim: Every morning.

Woody: But also, right before Camp J closed, they were averaging one suicide a day. You're talking about 365 people a year killing themselves because they can't live in Camp J.

Jim: Yeah. That's absolutely insane. Now, one question you may have is what is it like from a correctional officer's perspective? Because if it's bad for the convicts, the correctional officers, just another day at work? You better believe it ain't.

Woody: Let me tell you this. I ran the largest rec room when I first started out at Dixon Correctional Institute and Burl Cain was my warden. I had a convict, I told him, gave him direct verbal order, which is a real deal to catch his dorm, because he was standing back and saying and he was like, "Fuck you." He walked out into the yard knowing that I couldn't go. I told the captain about it, and he said, "The next time that happens, you use whatever force you got to bring the situation under control." It was a Sunday night, convict is standing on the back wall. I cleared the rec room, and he wouldn't fucking leave the wall. I told him, I said, "Catch your dorm." He said, "Fuck you, white boy." I said, "Okay." I hit my pager and I jumped on right as he's starting the end of the dorm, and we went fisticuffs. One of the only fireable offences for civil service is not helping another correction officer when they're in a fight. My captain said he hit the door of the rec room and didn't see me. All the people with radios are coming. Then, he knew sugar turned to shit, it was a bad show. Came down there and he pulled me off. I'm in this big fight in front of hundreds of inmates. The correctional officer on the desk is like, "Fuck that. Ain't getting involved."

Why am I telling you this? They sent me home that night, I thought I was getting fired. Burl Cain brought me in his office the next day and he said, "Son, I'm going to send you somewhere where you can fight every night." The work in the cell block, which was the worst one at DCI and the two admin seg tiers. The rule was if you don't want to work back there anymore, you say, "I can't handle it because it's bad shit." It's like a mini Camp J, but not nearly as bad.

Jim: True.
Woody: But you're fighting every night and you get gassed. Jim: Oh, my God.

Woody: Gassed, y'all mean, you walk down the tier and they have screens, not cell bars. They have screens. They'll will save up their shit and their piss and throw it on you. And then, they know you they're going to catch that ass whipping. Even if they act bad in that cell there, you've got to extract them and take them out and put them in Admin Seg until they hear them, whether they're going to fight, they flood, toilet flooded. Then, they'll cover themselves with shit and piss. So, you got to put your hands on and stuff like that.

Now Camp J, holy shit, if these people are killing themselves, yeah, I worked many suicides on the cell blocks, but none of them are easy. In Camp J, they're hanging themselves, or however they're doing, slitting their wrist once a day, the correctional officers, fuck, you have to be a special breed to work back there.

Jim: Yeah, you really did. Just to give y'all-- paint a little picture of the size of Camp J and things like that, it was four tiers.

Woody: Tiers being long rows of cells, y'all.

Jim: They were 13 cells on each side of these four tiers. At its peak, Camp J had as many as 400 prisoners. Now, you may do the math and say, "Well, wait a minute, that doesn't add up if you have one person in a cell." Well, there was a time they were stacking two in there, and it's because they had so many people acting out at Angola, and they had to send them somewhere. And Camp J was the answer. And so, hey, guess what? You just got a roommate in your five-foot-wide cell.

Woody: And you pray your roommate isn't mad. Not mad, like angry mad, but like crazy mad. Batshit. Y'all, Camp J, the names of the cell blocks are like Alligator, Barracuda, Gar, and Shark. Whereas, like Camp D is Falcon and Wet Bird [crosstalk] and stuff like that.

Jim: Yeah, they had units.

Woody: The main prison compound, the dormitories are named after trees, but Camp J was the worst of the worst. You told me this earlier, and I believe this wholeheartedly. Okay, I guarantee you to call in, and it's civil service, so you got so many days calling in sick and all that. They call in on Camp J, they're like, "Fuck, I ain't going in today." But guess what? Somebody else had to cover that shift, and they're correctional officers, they say, "Hey, you got to go to Camp J," they're like, "Fuck that, I quit." Y'all, what I am telling you about the correction officers, some of them just would rather quit than go work at Camp J. I'm going to read you from an article, so just bear with me. It's called Challenges at Camp J.

Camp J became infamous among officers and offenders alike, a spot where conditions were harsh and where severe mental health issues became commonplace. In a letter, Warden Darrel Vannoy wrote to LeBlanc- y'all, that would be Secretary LeBlanc, who's over the Department of Corrections, -in July of 2017, advocating for its closure. Vannoy explained that within one year, 85 correctional officers assigned to Camp J have resigned, retired, or terminated. The challenges staff encounter at Camp J are more complex than other areas of the institution," Vannoy writing the letter, "attained by the advocate in a public records request." "Numerous times upon an officer's knowledge that they will be signed to Camp J or loan to Camp J for work detail, they will leave work sick, walk off the job, or report to human resources to resign. Completed in 1976, Camp J has four cell blocks, each with eight tiers made up of 13 single-man cells. It was used to discipline offenders following grave infractions of prisons rules, such as fighting with a weapon or for behavioral issues, officials have said, with the opportunity for offenders to earn the way out after meeting certain conditions."

Vannoy wrote, "That the locks for the cells in Camp J had recently begun malfunctioning, sometimes opening on their own, and offenders had figured out ways to jam the cell doors. Often with toothpaste caps or buttons, circumventing security checks by making unlocked cells appear closed. Weapons use had been on the rise along with security breaches," Vannoy wrote, "with 44 weapons found at Camp J in the first seven months of July 2017."

Secretary Department of Corrections LeBlanc said he felt especially glad they closed the facility knowing of its compromised security after hearing about the inmate fight that killed seven in a South Carolina prison. "I think we made the right decision. It was a public safety issue. A staff safety issue and an offender safety issue," LeBlanc said. Advocates say Camp J rates of suicides and attempts have become a major issue in the desolate cells. Two suicides occurred on the same day in April of 2016 at Camp J. LeBlanc acknowledged there had been some suicides at Camp J, but said they unfortunately happened everywhere in the prison complex and were not the driving force Camp J's closure.

I may have got my shit wrong, but I heard from somewhere, probably somebody who worked there, that they were averaging one a day at some point.

Jim: Oh, I'm sure they were.

Woody: That shit never gets advertised, ever. Unless as I did in Baton Rouge, I did a story on that people at random the first day at Angola, he hung himself.

Jim: Yeah. One of the key things that was said in that article just now was 44 weapons. Me and Woody [crosstalk] in a couple of months.

Woody: But they're in their cells. It's not like they're out in the yard and hanging and going to work in the kitchen. Shit, they get they got 44 weapons in a couple of months.

Jim: Woody and I say it all the time, that prisoners, they have a lot of ingenuity. Woody: Absolutely.

Jim: All they have 24 hours a day is to think about, "How the heck can we get weapons? How can we do this?" And they get them in there. You go out to a yard anywhere in Angola and you're going to find shanks buried in the ground. That's where they put them.

Woody: In cells, anywhere else. I mean, it could be anything from a melted state-issued toothbrush. It didn't take a lot to make a weapon, y'all. at Camp J, at its peak, housed more than 400 prisoners being disciplined in solitary cells for more than 23 hours a day.

Jim: Yeah. Imagine that you get out, and that's if you got out, I submit to you that Kiana said that a lot of times they wouldn't let you out.

Woody: Yeah, they never get out.

Jim: "Oh, we forgot you need to see the sunshine, you need your vitamin D." We're not saying some of those people that well deserved being in solitary, maybe they killed somebody in there or whatever, but very harsh, harsh environment. Now, interesting little sidebar fact for you. So, Harry Connick, Jr., who is a-- man, you get to New Orleans, you know now who Harry Connick Jr. is.

Woody: His daddy was a district attorney forever--[crosstalk] Jim: And he's an amazing actor and singer.
Woody: And singer, right.

Jim: And Harry Connick, Jr., was studying for a movie, and I guess he was going to be a prisoner or something in that movie. He contacted Angola and he said, "Look, I want to stay like three nights in Camp J, and I want to really give him this role and know what it's like to be in solitary confinement." Angola was like, "Okay." They let him go, and he goes into Camp J. Y'all, he didn't make it one night.

Woody: Not one night.
Jim: Harry Connick, Jr., said, "Let me the hell out of here. I think I got it." [laughs] Woody: "I got a taste of what that's about."

Jim: Yeah. I mean, not one night in Angola's Camp J. So, that tells you about it. Angola's Camp J was looked at as a punishment camp, as we explained earlier. It is where you go when you break law in prison.

Woody: Serious laws.

Jim: Serious laws. You're not permitted to have even the basic of things. You don't get toiletries. They give you toilet paper while you're in there, but you can't go buy at a--

Woody: You're not getting any canteen--
Jim: Yeah, at the canteen--
Woody: You don't have any of those privileges. And canteen is a privilege.

Jim: That's right. The food. Let's talk about the food for a second. You got a loaf when you went into Camp J. Y'all might be saying, "What the hell is a loaf?" Loaf is basically where they make everything for the general population that night. They might have peas, and they might have of sloppy joe, and they got a five-course meal. A loaf is at the end of the night when they take all of that and they dump it in the same trough, and they mix it up like you would your dog. They mix it all up. They make a loaf, almost like a meatloaf out of it and they just give it to you.

Woody: Give it to you. The deal is, the rules are you have to feed them. They have dietitians who work in the prison, y'all. Each convict has to have a correct amount of caloric intake and a balanced meal or whatever. But I submit to you, I don't want my shit blended up. Let's say it was mashed potatoes, hamburger steak, carrots, and a piece of cornbread and a piece of pineapple turnover pie. You just mix it all up and they serve it to you in one loaf.

Jim: In addition to that, another harsh living condition there was, they had no AC or heat or anything like that.

Woody: [crosstalk] -screens on the windows.
Jim: I mean, here in South Louisiana, it is 100 degrees in the sunshine. In a cell with no

ventilation, you're talking about it being probably 130 in there during the day. Woody: Stunk.

Jim: Stunk to high heaven. They would actually-- look, this was common, you'd strip naked and you would lay on the concrete because that was the coolest part of the cell, and that's how you would sleep.

Woody: Right. Imagine that. But here's a problem. For many, many, many years, they didn't even have insect screens on the windows. Now, you are surrounded on the Mississippi River by three sides and swamp and all these big open agriculture fields. The mosquitoes, I mean, I know how they are in South Louisiana anyway, but mosquitoes in Angola like sabertooth--[crosstalk]

Jim: Oh, yeah, they're eating that sugarcane--[crosstalk]

Woody: They like rattling the window--[crosstalk]

Jim: Terminator mosquitoes.

Woody: They come in, and look, you can't stop them. To me, that would make my ass go crazy.

Jim: Another inmate has told a story that they had a drain that was at the end of the tier and you would wash out the cells as people would, I guess, get put back in the general population.

Woody: Or when they gas officers and stuff, you still--[crosstalk]

Jim: Yeah, you get spray down.
Woody: You've got to get the shit and the piss out. Jim: Oh, so gross.

Woody: I know when I used to run cell blocks and they got that hour out, they would clean their own cell, most of it, unless mental illness, a lot of them just didn't give a shit, but most of them don't want to be in any more stink than they have to be.

Jim: Right. As they would have these issues, they would spray down the cells and there was a drain at the end of the tier. The rats, y'all, the rats, and I'm not talking mice, I'm talking squirrels. [chuckles]

Woody: Killer rats.

Jim: They would come through the drains. From underneath, so obviously these drains have been eaten away underneath the ground by these rats and they fit through the whole of those drains, and they actually come up from the freaking ground, come out of the drain. And this was pretty much every night. The prisoners would have to throw things at them to keep them from coming in the cell. They'd sit there and stare at the prisoners, not unlike the Red Hat cell block, and they'd be like, "Food and cotton. I see you have some clothes on maybe at that moment."

Woody: "I'm about to get me some."
Jim: Yeah, because they're hungry too. Rat got to eat too, and you ate all the loaf. Woody: Imagine the ones that fell asleep and did get eaten.
Jim: Just a horrible situation, staring at them.

Woody: As the years went on-- again we're going to tell y'all many, many stories. We should probably have our own Camp J episodes or companion episodes, but we're going to tell you many, many stories about it. It went down, opened in the early 70s and it just went to shit. They didn't care. They pretty much lost souls locked back there and I would think most of them didn't get out.

Jim: They even had, Woody, a death row inmate at one point that was placed in Camp J. And his name was Abdullah Hakim El-Mumit. He sued the prison. Let me tell you why he sued them. He sued the prison and said, "I want to be moved back to death row."

Woody: Holy shit.
Jim: Because Camp J was so bad, he's like, "Screw that, I'm on death row. I need to be in

death row." [laughs]
Woody: Right. "Give me my death row privileges."
Jim: I mean, it tells you how bad this was, y'all. You're suing to get to death row? Oof.

Woody: Yeah. Well, a lot of them escaped by killing themselves and just the most unimaginable conditions. And no air-- Well, most of them don't have air conditioners, but not even fans, locked up 23 and 1. No canteen, no privileges, no church, no education or

schools. All those things we talk about in the Bloody Angola Live, you've got to give prisoners hope. Ones that grab a hold of the hope, like the programs and stuff like that, it helps to control them from acting out. They're like, "Ah, I don't really want to lose these privileges." They don't have any fucking privileges in Camp. J.

Jim: No privileges. There's story after story of just these horrid things that went on. I've heard a story that there was a stairwell, and that stairwell did not have cameras like the rest of Camp J had. Prisoners, whether it was deserved or not, I don't know, but prisoners will be moved to this stairwell and just get shit beat out of them by somebody.

Woody: Where it can't be seen, yeah.

Jim: Yeah, where it can't be seen. So, it was a really bad place. It's important to remember how CCR in general, whether it was the Red Hat or whether it was Camp J, why those got started in Angola.

Woody: Closed cell restriction, y'all.

Jim: Yeah, Closed cell restriction. Those got started because of an escape back in 1933 that we told you about. That was in response to that because before that, Angola was just open camps. They actually have one little picture of jail cell at a city hall. They have one little jail cell in each camp. That jail cell was where the guy that basically was bad went. But after that escape, they're like, "We need to build a whole freaking facility." They built the Red Hat. Of course, the Red Hat, notorious and got closed, and made way for Camp J.

Woody: You've got to remember again that the Department of Corrections job is not to punish inmates for their crimes on the outside. Their job is to house the inmates while they're serving their term and to protect them from other inmates or protect you, John Q. Public, from these convicts escaping. Camp J, I think they probably started with good intentions, but it ended up being a hell hole nightmare.

Jim: Y'all, Camp J was four buildings. One was actually an open dormitory, and that open dormitory was not for the prisoners of Camp J. That was for the trustees. They had trustees just for Camp J. And they would be the ones a lot of times that were cleaning feces and spraying the--

Woody: Fuck, I wouldn't do it.

Jim: I wouldn't want to be a trustee for Camp J. Good Lord.

Woody: Yeah. I guess it's better than being in the fields swinging a hoe. Let me talk about this, Jim, real quick. I think you have a clip on it. Matter of fact, I know you do. I wanted to talk about even how other inmates think of Camp J. Now, you can say this interview was coerced, whatever, but it is by two of Angola's most famous inmates, Wilbert Rideau, who was the editor of The Angolite, and-- Wilbert is a black male. Billy Sinclair, who you heard us talk about in the Brent Miller episodes. At that time, Billy Sinclair was on death row when Brent Miller was brutally murdered. He talked about hearing the inmates being tortured and all that stuff during the Brent Miller investigation.

Years later-- it's not that many years later, when there became public scrutiny in like PBS and different news channels want to look into this, all this outcry and these horrible stories they're hearing about Camp J, now CNN, Fox News and social media and all that, what they put out for is pretty much what they put out. They have Rideau and Sinclair in freshly pressed blue LSP shirts and Billy Sinclair's hair is combed neatly and both of them are very

articulate, speak very well, but they do this interview. Play it for you now, and then we'll talk about it.

[video clip starts playing]

Male Speaker: Members of the Louisiana Coalition on Jail say they have statements from former Camp J inmates attesting to the brutality within the facility. However, two inmates we questioned, Wilbert Rideau and Billy Sinclair, who are award-winning editors of the prison news magazine, have a different perspective on the nature of the violence at Camp J.

Wilbert Rideau: Look, prison is a very physical and criminal world. I'm not just talking about Angola, San Quentin, Attica, anywhere, that is prison. You're going to find violence, you're going to find force, and you're going to find criminality in it. I mean, that is the way of the world. That's the way it is.

Billy Sinclair: The reign of terror is definitely an overexaggeration. It's a play on words to capture media attention. The reign of terror would be the situation that you would have if you did not have Camp J. Camp J is necessary to prevent having a reign of terror.

Wilbert Rideau: The way I look at Camp J is like this. You've got all these prisoners who go into prison. When you walk through that gate, you've got a choice. You can end up living in population like everybody else. We live in population. You've got thousands of people living together. On the other hand, you can end up in a cell. Now, you've got thousands of people who've never seen Camp J. They've never been in it. Those who are in it, they had a choice. Apparently, they made the wrong choice. I'm sure they're a victim of circumstances every now and then, because you'd have that in any system. No system is 100% correct.

Billy Sinclair: What Camp J does, and places like Camp J, is it permits the penal administrators to remove that segment of prison population which wants wholesale narcotic distribution, which wants wholesale protection rackets, which wants wholesale homosexual slavery. You can take when you have a place like Camp J and you can isolate that segment of the prison population from the rest of the whole population who want to go about just like anyone else in the free community, who want to go about doing their time as peacefully and law abiding as they can.

Primary focus now is being dealt with Camp J and the alleged brutality that's being inflicted on the DMH at Camp J. We sort of seem to be confusing our priorities. The guys who got to Camp J and those people who are there, no one is focused upon why they're there. What about that 18-year-old kid that was raped, that was brutalized and was maimed both psychologically and physically by the guy in Camp J? What happened to him? He's lost in a shuffle and if the guy at Camp J because he throws a bowl of urine on a free man, gets rapped upside the head for doing it, that becomes brutality. But what about the homosexual rape that he inflicted upon some 18-year-old kid and the damage that was done to him?

That gets lost in a shuffle. We seem to be confused in our priorities. I'm not saying it because somebody raped an individual, you're probably taking with them with ball bats.

Male Speaker: Well, who's confused? Do you think these groups- Billy Sinclair: The groups are.
Male Speaker: -that are filing suits?

Billy Sinclair: [unintelligible [00:47:15] group has not ever alleged or made any kind of statement or charges about the brutality of prisoners protecting [unintelligible 00:47:28].

Even now when you have the jail rapes or when you have the gangrapes or when you have the narcotic traffic, the whole bit, the reform groups are not interested in it. They're not interested in what prisoners are doing to themselves and ways of stopping it. The only thing that penal administrators can do is to try to stop it and if they have to, stop it physically because their job is to maintain control. Now, when they go too far and maintain its control, then the reform groups want to jump up and say that they're imposing a reign of terror.

[video clip concludes]

Woody: You just heard it from two guys, were they swayed maybe by the powers that be to do this? Maybe. But the deal is, the truth of the matter is I guarantee you they slept a little bit easier at night knowing that these ones are back in Camp J for the gang rape of the 18-year-old and all that, that even the convicts that were doing their time, not letting their time do them, they didn't want these fuckers around. They were security risk also to them and made hard time harder on them.

Jim: That's right. You say it all the time. People do their time and they let the time do them. There's a difference between convicts and-

Woody: Inmates. Jim: -inmates.

Woody: And that being, y'all, an inmate's your fresh fish, the young guys that come in always getting in fights and dealing with drugs and doing the different things. Convicts, I mean, you know you're going to die in Angola. The hope one day that you can get a better trustee position and more privileges and stuff like that, those are convicts. They don't want people to break the rules. They don't want to draw attention and have any of their small privileges taken away.

Jim: No, they don't. I think it's important to, you've heard Woody use some terms on here, like working cell block. I wanted to define some of the different terms that you may have heard and you're like, "What's that?" Extended lockdown, for example, y'all, that's a single-person cell. Camp J will be considered extended lockdown. A working cell block is basically where the inmates or the convicts leave every day, they go out into the fields, and they work.

Woody: Usually, they have two to a cell there, but they still have to commit such a violent crime or such an outrageous crime. Same crimes that you would do to get sent to Camp J. But the working cell blocks, they would do that 90 days without a writeup, but they would send them out into the fields every day. Not for long, y'all, because by the time you fed them up for breakfast and they came and marched them out in the field, it was lunchtime. And then, they brought them back. They got out to work. And for them, that's a good deal. Camp J, you didn't have a job.

Jim: So, it was segregated but it was a working cell block. And then, you had other maximum security and that's segregated for more administrative purposes.

Woody: If you just get in a fistfight with Joe Blow and you get arrested or even while you're waiting for these court dates I'm talking about while y'all are inside the prison. When you're waiting for your court date, if you get swung, you go to admin seg first, administrative segregation. You're handcuffed, you're put in a cell until you have your trial outcome. When you have a trial outcome, they'll say, "Hmm, send them to Camp J," or, "Send them to a working cell block." Now, if you go to working cell block and you fuck up again, you rape somebody or you gas a guard or whatever, you going to Camp J.

Jim: That's right. And then, you also have protective custody. And that would be for example, we'll use Denny Perkins. That's segregated housing for offenders determined to need special protection.

Woody: Whether you're chomo like Denny--
Jim: You're a church leader that molested kids.
Woody: Or you're a cop that came into prison or whatever.

Jim: Then, you have death row. Of course, that's the highest security single-person cells. So you get to death row, definitely you're not going to have two inmates in the same cell on death row. That is the highest, most secure part of prison. That's where all your folks sentenced to death are going.

Woody: [crosstalk] -capital punishment, but even the guy, I can't remember his long ass name that you said, that even he got sent to Camp J from death row. I guess he was doing whatever, gassing guards or COs or whatever, he was like, "Fuck that, send me back to death row."

Jim: Yeah. [laughs] He didn't like Camp J too much. The last one is treatment segregation. That's where basically, for some medical reason, you're segregated. So maybe--

Woody: It can be suicide watch or anything like that.

Jim: In 2018, Camp J ceased to exist. Primarily, the letter that Woody read you a little earlier by the warden, Vannoy, that started that process. Definitely, the state looked at that, this is coming from the warden of the prison, and they said, "Wow, maybe we have a problem." And then, you've got people like Kiana who tell stories of inmates busting through walls like the Kool Aid Man, and raping other people, and that's real shit, y'all. He ain't making that up. They were busting through the walls.

Woody: Every night you go to sleep, you have to worry about somebody breaking through the wall.

Jim: Yeah. So, obviously, the place--

Woody: Or the rats.

Jim: Or the rats. So, just from a physical standpoint of the cell block itself, they had a problem. The second issue was it was completely overhoused. It was three times the population than it should have had in there, and that was because a lot of people were acting up, and they didn't know what to do with them. Eventually, they ran out of beds, and they were just, "Hey, if you shanked a guy, we don't have anywhere to put you. You're going to have to stay here in G-pop." And that caused a problem.

Woody: Good luck.

Jim: Yeah, good luck. From a physical standpoint, definitely, if not a closure, it needed to be remodeled, to say the least. But even on top of that, the conditions from a humane standpoint were a problem.

Woody: I'm like, "Mm, if you gas me, fuck you," but I don't think anybody should have had to live like that.

Jim: That's right. It did close in 2018, and you may wonder, "Well, what do you do? Where do you send these people?" Well, they didn't do away with segregation in prison, obviously. You have to have an answer to those acting out. So, they went to more of a CCR-type thing, where it's just closed cell restricted, but you still have access to things like basic toiletries and newspapers and stuff like that. Before that, if you were in Camp J, you had no communication whatsoever. They also ensure nowadays that you do get that hour a day, and you're not exercising it at the park, y'all. It's a little--[crosstalk]

Woody: Walking around a dog cage.
Jim: Little dog cage, but I mean, it's something. Keep you from going absolutely insane.

Woody: Well, I suspect some convicts are more successful to be going insane regardless, but either way, that's our first--

Jim: Some are already insane-- [crosstalk]

Woody: That's our first story on Camp J. The ones in the future, we're going to bring out some murder stories, some attempted escape stories. Anything you can imagine, and we'll bring it from the people who were there. But this, we want to introduce y'all to Camp J. You heard us talk about it a lot, and it is what it is. It's basically hell on earth, or what it was.

Jim: That's right. And we just did a live this weekend.

Woody: Two lives.

Jim: A weekend of lives. Just want to thank everybody who came out. We told the story of the just horrific prison murder of Captain David Knapps and the hostage taking of Sergeant Reddia Walker and Lieutenant Chaney. And it was fire--[crosstalk]

Woody: Very, very important story. We had fans come in from Dallas, from Tennessee, from Houston, or whatever, just to see us and we were blessed to have them. I think we did the story justice, and it was a great success. Thank you again, Southeastern and Krystal Hardison.

Jim: Oh, she's awesome. One thing we are going to do is we were videoing that particular live, and we are going to put it on for some Patreon members. If you're a Tie Down tier or above, you will get access to the actual video. If you couldn't make it, we're going to upload it as soon as we get it. It may be a week or two before we get it, but as soon as we get it, we're going to upload it to Patreon. If you're Tie Down team or above, and you couldn't make live, that's okay. You still get a chance to watch it. If you're not a Patreon member, you can join and take part of it.

Woody: We want to thank our Patreon members. You rock and help make the show go. And we're doing three [crosstalk] now.

Jim: Tell me about it.
Woody: We appreciate and love each and every one of y'all. Thank you so much. Continue

to like and share and leave us a review if you're so inclined, and just can't thank you enough.

Jim: Look, one more thing, speaking of lives, there's Krewe Bash coming up on the Real Life Real Crime side of things.

Woody: That's right. That's February 3rd and 4th. 3rd is a VIP event. You can go to and get your tickets. Also, Saturday night, split up, y'all, if you just want to go Friday night, there's a price for that. If you want to go Friday and Saturday night, that's the VIP package. You just want to go to Saturday night, that's another ticket for that. But go get them because they're not going to be there forever. We're only a couple of weeks away and LOPA, Louisiana Oregon Procurement Agency, which Jim Chapman and Local Leaders podcast are one of the many donors that have donated to our raffle. We have $50,000 in prizes or something like that. [crosstalk] $15 for one ticket, $100 for a book of 10. Get it. We're trying to raise money like we do every year for LOPA. So, appreciate y'all go check that out. Anywhere on social media, etc.

Jim: Yes. Beautiful organization.
Woody: Yeah. Great people. Hey, be a hero, Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency. Be an

organ donor.
Jim: I'm Jim Chapman.
Woody: I'm Woody Overton.
Jim: Your host of Bloody-
Woody: -Angola.
Jim: A podcast 142 years in the making.
Woody: The Complete Story of America's Bloodiest Prison. Jim and Woody: Peace.

Jim: Bloody Angola is an Envision Podcast Production in partnership with Workhouse Connect. Music produced and composed by Alfe DeRouen in Studio 433 with vocals by Thomas Cain. Created and hosted by Jim Chapman and Woody Overton.

[Bloody Angola theme playing]