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March 30, 2023

Laying out the WIRE in the Penitentiary

Laying out the WIRE in the Penitentiary
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Woody and Jim discuss the facilities at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola and cover the entire 18,000 Acres of devices available there, some of which may surprise you!

#LouisianaStatePenitentiary #AngolaPrision #BloodyAngolaPodcast #Podcast

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Jim:Hey, everyone, and welcome to this episode of Bloody-




Jim:A podcast 142 years in the making. 


Woody:The Complete Story of America's Bloodiest Prison.


Jim:And I'm Jim Chapman.


Woody:And I'm Woody Overton.


Jim:And today, we're bringing y'all-- really, Woody, wouldn't you call this an episode of what this podcast is really about?


Woody:Yes, it's the meat and the guts of it. Hey, but real quick, before we get on, I want to talk about our other podcast real quick, Real Life Real Crime Daily. Y'all, it's Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. And starting next week, it's going to be on its own feed, meaning that we're going to give you the links and everything to it so you can automatically click over and go to it. You'll get notifications as soon as the drops come out. All those episodes are fire. Some of them are very funny, some of them are very serious. It's Jim Chapman and I, Mike Agovino. The show has had such success, we're taking off the Real Life Real Crime regular feed and putting it on its own feed.


Jim:It's like a baby that you watch grow up and then you put them in their own room, and they leave your bed. We're letting it leave the bed and have its own room.


Woody:Yeah. I kind of think it's like the Howard Stern of true crime shows. It's fire.


Jim:It really is, folks. It focuses on current crime and things that are in the headlines, all related to the crime genre. Look, some of it is very hard to hear and serious, and some of it's funny as shit. [laughs]


Woody:You have games and shit, like Jim beat me again yesterday in one of the games.


Jim:Shawshank. [chuckles] 


Woody:Yeah. I just want to give y'all that shoutout and thank you to our listeners on Bloody Angola. Thank you so much for our Patreon members. Y'all rock. I know you've been getting a lot of episodes, and we love y'all and we appreciate you. A lot of big things coming. We continue to grow, and it's because of y'all. Thank you. 




Woody:All right, this episode, like you said, Jim, is the meat.


Jim:The meat. We're going to call it Laying out the Wire. 


Woody:Laying out the Wire, 18,000 acres worth.


Jim:18,000 acres. We're going to tell y'all, one thing that what Woody has described many times on this show, he has a lot of experience with Angola, and he's always talked about the out camps that they have and the B-Line. There are so many pieces to Angola that we find absolutely interesting. We know you're going to find it interesting, too. We're going to kick it off with the inmate quarters. 


The state of Louisiana, they consider Angola to be a multi security institution. 29% of the beds that they have in Angola, those are designated for maximum security inmates. These inmates, as we've described in the past, they live in housing units, and they're kind of scattered all throughout that 18,000 acres. Believe it or not, y'all, it wasn't until the 1990s that air conditioning and heating units have been installed inside these housing units. Before that, you sweat it--[crosstalk]


Woody:I'll tell you that most of them still don't have air conditioner. Now, the heating is a bigger deal. Most of them have the big, giant box fans. Air conditioner, this is a little bit misleading because probably 50% of it still doesn't.




Woody:That's one of the reasons the radio is so popular. The convicts love to get [unintelligible [00:05:23] the radio because infirmary is air conditioned now. 


Jim:Yeah, there you go. 


Woody:They [crosstalk] up in there for a while. 


Jim:That's it. 


Woody:And eat some Jell-O. 


Jim:That's right. Look, when I was a young buck, I worked for a company, and they went in the plants and they would build units, and I was a pipe fitter/helper.


Woody:I did the same thing. 


Jim:Yeah, man, look, you want to work when you're 19, go do that. 


Woody:[crosstalk] work, turn around.


Jim:Yeah, you make tons of money. But, man, it's 100 degrees out there. The whole point of that is, I would do everything I could to-- they would have these little units where you go get tools and stuff like that.


Woody:Yeah. Pipe shops and stuff.


Jim:And there will be air conditioning--


Woody:Pipe room, yeah. 


Jim:Yeah. I'd go get just bullshit stuff just to go in that air conditioner for five minutes, so I can be [crosstalk]


Woody:On one of the jobs I went on, this is funny, the bathroom, it was a long line of stalls with the cubicles. People were going there and taking naps in the air conditioner. So, the head foreman of the job cut off the cubicles halfway down so you couldn't sleep in them.


Jim:Oh, my God. 


Woody:In Angola, they don't even have those. [crosstalk] 


Jim:No, they don't. Now, most of the inmates, they live in dormitories rather than cellblocks. Explain that. 


Woody:I think that is a huge misnomer for people. They think that it's all cellblocks. It's not. Most of the dormitories house at least 100 to 125 inmates. You have two dorms in each section. You have two correctional officers, one watching-- there is a raised desk in the front, and one's watching one dorm, one's watching the other. That's simply so they can house more inmates. And most of these convicts are there forever. They're not really a bad problem. If you're a problem, you're on a cellblock.


Jim:Yeah, there you go. You might wonder why they do that. It actually makes sense when you learn, and that is the prison administration, what they believe is that these inmates living in dormitories, they develop friendships and relationships.


Woody:Almost like a sense of community.


Jim:Yeah. You got to remember, when you're in Angola, you have life sentences or very, very long sentences. 


Woody:Yeah. You're going to die.


Jim:If you put them in cellblocks, it really puts them in a hard mental state. So, that was actually planned that way. 


Woody:Yeah. Well, the ones that are on cellblocks when you first get there, you're on cellblock for X amount of time until they figure out where they're going to put you. But if you're in a cellblock in Angola, that's because you fucked up some on the inside. It's not what you do on the outside unless it's death row. It's not what you do on the outside that determines how you live inside the wire.


Jim:That's right. That's kind of a breakdown of the inmate quarters.


Woody:Right. I'm going to tell you about the main prison complex, y'all. Now remember, 18,000 acres and all these different complexes are spread out, pretty ingenious in a way because they have different fields that are worked, and they work from different areas. But the main prison complex consists of the east yard and the west yard. The east yard has 16 minimum and medium custody prisoner dormitories and one maximum custody extended lockdown cellblock. The cellblock houses long-term extended lockdown prisoners, in transit, administrative segregation prisoners, and inmates who need mental health attention and protective custody inmates. Now, that's where I worked, Jim. 


These guys that are locked down on the max security cellblocks, it's not like Camp J where they don't get out of the cells. These guys actually go out to work and it's two men to a cell instead of one. They can't live in the general pop because they got caught fighting with weapons or raping somebody or drugs or attacking an officer, some kind of major charge.


The admin seg cells if you're just a regular Joe Blow and you get swung, as you hear us talking about, they send you to the hole, admin seg until you have your court hearing and then they'll determine whether or not they're going to send you to working cellblock or release you back out in population with whatever penalties. But the west yard, y'all, has 16 minimum and medium custody prisoner dormitories, two admin seg cellblocks and the prison treatment center. The treatment center houses geriatric, hospice and ill and transit prisoners. As of 1999, the main prison complex houses half of Angola's prisoners. 


Jim:Now, wrap your head around that. 


Woody:It's a lot. That's over 2500. 


Jim:That's an aging population. 


Woody:Dormitories within the main prison include Ash, Cypress, Hickory, Magnolia, Oak, Pine, Spruce, and Walnut. So, they name them all after trees naturally. The cellblocks are A, B, C, and D. The main prison also houses the local main prison administration building, a gymnasium, a kitchen, dining facility, which is huge, y'all, the mess hall, the Angle Vocational School and the Judge Henry A. Politz Educational Building. 


All right, what they're doing here is they have these 2500 approximately inmates, and they're all inside this wire. Now, each one of these complexes we tell you about are secured within the cells with gun towers and wires and the wolves and all that, the wolf dogs. But it's like its own mini city. It's got everything, churches, infirmary, whatever, vocational schools. The movement of these inmates is still contained inside of that section of the prison.


Jim:Yeah. It's very similar to-- if there are any listeners out there, I'm sure there's a ton that have been in the military. It's very similar to a military base, but a lot more controlled. 


Woody:It's a military base with wire around each individual camp, if you will. 


Jim:Yeah, exactly. But totally self-sufficient. Woody, you mentioned in there about half of the Angola prisoners being housed in these hospice and treatment centers and all that sort of stuff. Look, aging prisoners, prisoners that are 65, 70 years old cost nearly four times the amount to house. It's because a lot of them are in hospice. A lot of them have just health issues from aging. So, you'll see these aging prisoners sometimes get released if they've been in there 40 years and-


Woody:Dying of cancer. 


Jim:-they're dying of cancer. A lot of that is the cost.


Woody:The deal is when you get sentenced to Department of Corrections, the State of Louisiana's job is to house and care for you. So, if you got hemorrhoids or you got a bad tooth or you got cancer or whatever, they've got to treat you. It's the law. 


Jim:That's right. We're going to tell you about the out camps. Of course, you've heard us talk about that Angola has several. Camp C, for example, includes eight minimum and medium custody dormitories, one cellblock with administrative segregation and working cellblock prisoners. They also have one extended lockdown cellblock.


Woody:Right. It almost mirrors the main prison [unintelligible 00:13:38].


Jim:Yeah. Then, Camp C includes the Bear and Wolf dormitories and the Jaguar and Tiger cellblocks. They named those obviously after animals. Camp D has pretty much the same features as Camp C, except it also has a working cellblock instead of an extended lockdown cellblock.


Woody:Let me go back and clarify that again for y'all. When I said I worked in a working cellblock, that's exactly what it was, but they really didn't work that much. They had to get up, by the time you check them out-- and they all worked in the field under the gun. By the time you checked them out and they got their tools, it was basically time for the first break. And then they work till lunch break, work a couple of hours, and then they come back in, check in their tools. They're back in by like 4 o'clock.


Jim:There you go. Camp D, now they housed the Eagle and Falcon dormitories and the Hawk and Raven cellblocks. Of course, Camp D became notorious in 1999 when Captain Knapps was murdered inside the education building in camp. But that was Camp D. So, it became notorious after that. Camp F now, it has four medium custody dormitories and the dog pen which houses 11 minimum custody inmates. All of the prisoners housed in Camp F, y'all, they're trustees, they mop floors, they deliver food, and they perform other support tasks.


Woody:Also, Camp F is where I spent my time inside the wire at the training academy. It's housed there also. We lived in the dormitory, I think it was 8 or 12 weeks, and went to classroom all day long and we ate with the convicts in their mess hall. 


Jim:Oh, wow. Made you not want to go to Angola, I bet, as a prisoner.


Woody:Or as a correctional officer.


Jim:[laughs] Camp F, interestingly enough, y'all, also houses the execution chamber which you wouldn't think the trustee dorm would house the execution chamber, but it certainly does. Camp F actually has a lake where the trustees fish. 


Woody:Let me tell you about that. They have convicts whose only job is to go out and catch fish every day and clean them and then prepare them. Most of the time, it's for the dignitaries, the people that come in. The regular inmates don't get them but some of the best fried fish you can get. 




Woody:And some of the best damn fishing. I got pictures of my daddy as a little boy, my grandfather was a judge in the black and white photographs and they have hundreds of sac-a-lait, that they call right there in that lake or pond, whatever you want to call it. 


Jim:Unbelievable. I don't know if I've shared this story on the show yet, but I actually had another show that I produce, and former inmate of Angola came in to tell a story. And he had told the story of a guy who had been a trustee at Angola for 60 years. Look, the Angola guards and administration pretty much let this guy roam wherever he wanted to roam. He was a good fisherman. And every day, it was his job to catch the fish for the inmates. One day, he's all fishing and they notice about 20 hours later that he never came back. They go out there and they end up finding the poor guy died in his [unintelligible [00:17:24]. He was out in that lake fishing and had a heart attack or something and died. But he died fishing, which is what he did for Angola. 


Woody:It's pretty good way to go. 


Jim:I guess he probably wanted to go that way. Anyway, that's what Camp F is, where the lake is that the trustees fish in. It's really off, y'all, from the rest of the prison. It's kind of in its own little section. It's kind of off from everything else.


Woody:It's way out there. I'm going to tell you, you wouldn't believe it, it's like a 15 minutes' drive or more when you get inside the gate to get there. 


Jim:Yeah. So, very interesting. It also houses the CCR unit, which is closed cell restricted. That's an isolation unit located near the main entrance. It has 101 isolation cells.


Woody:That's for the worst of the worst. And not what you did on the outside, what you do on the inside, and that's ones that kill other inmates or guards or whatever. 


Jim:Yeah. It also has 40 trustee beds in the CCR unit. You may wonder what the deal is with that. Well, the trustees are the ones who keep it clean. Look, when you're in CCR, you don't get out. 


Woody:Right. They keep it clean. Look, a lot of times, they gas, which means they throw shit and piss on the thing, or somebody might shit themselves in the cell. I had a lot of that. People just cover themselves in their own feces and somebody's got to clean it up and the inmate or the convict that did it didn't clean it up. So, they have to remove them from the cell and you go and clean it up. But they also have to cook and feed them and do their laundry and cut the grass and shit. Everything's got to be taken care of.


Jim:That's right. Formerly housed Camp J until Camp J was closed in 2018. If you're not familiar with Camp J, we got a whole episode dedicated to that. It's really good.


Woody:Simply the worst lockup in the United States of America until it was closed.


Jim:Camp J, when it was open, housed the Alligator, Barracuda, Gar, and Shark cellblocks. And Woody is known for catching gar.


Woody:Right. I like my gar. I like my alligator also.


Jim:Shoe pick. [laughs] 


Woody:I don't mind shark either. You know shark don’t have any bones. 


Jim:Yeah, I did know that actually. 


Woody:You put it under-- People say you can't eat shark. That's not true. You cut it into steaks and you run it under cold water until the meat stops bubbling. And then, it's like tuna. 


Jim:I'm going to tell you what, I went fishing one time in the gulf and offshore, and everybody was laughing because they were catching red fish. All I caught all day was shark. Look, that sounds fun, let me tell you. It's fun to fight them. But it will wear you out after about five of them. 


Woody:You're absolutely right. 


Jim:I was a shark killer. That's what they called me. [laughs] 


Woody:All right, let me tell y'all about reception center and death row. The reception center is the closest prison housing building to the main entrance. It acts as a reception center for arriving prisoners. It's located to the right of the main highway inside the main gate. So, picture this. You come through the main gate, they shake you down, shake your vehicle down. Look, especially if you work there, you got to drive to wherever you're going. As soon as you come in to the right, besides the B-Line is recession center. It's a building, it's the first thing you're going to see. In addition to it, it contains death row.




Woody:That's what people are shocked by a lot of times, that you would put death row right inside the gate. 




Woody:Now, where death row is and where they kill them at in Camp F is a long, long, long ways away, where the death house is. Right before they kill them, a couple of days before they kill them, they move them to the death house and wait in the back of the prison and they put you under 24 hours security watch, have somebody sitting in front of your cell 24 hours because they want to make sure you don't kill yourself before the State of Louisiana gets to.




Woody:In addition, it contains the death row for male inmates in Louisiana with 101 extended lockdown cells housing condemned inmates. The death row facility has a central room and multiple tiers. The entrance to each tier includes a locked door and color photographs of the prisoners located in each tier. So, when the COs is walking the tier, they can make sure you're the one that's supposed to be inside that cell. Believe it or not, they actually had-- we'll talk about it in detail one day, four inmates have tried to escape from death row. I think it was in the 90s, but we'll get to that later on. Death row includes eight tiers, lettered A to G. Seven tiers have 15 cells each, while one tier has 11 cells.


Jim:Now, when you say tiers of eight, stacked on top of each other?


Woody:No. That's another misnomer. It's tiers-- everywhere I've been, I've been to all of them in the state of Louisiana at one point or another. Tiers are long straight hallways with cells on one side, windows on the other, or fans or whatever. That's for security so they can't face each other. Imagine on death row. If I can sit across from you-- it's not likeThe Green Mile.If I sit across from you, I'm fucking with y'all day long. Probably a mental case or whatever. Or like they said Derrick Todd Lee did to Gerald Bordelon, they would just ride his ass even though they couldn't see him. From the time, they woke up at night, they were like, "Hey, baby killer bitch. Why don’t you just go ahead and kill yourself?" and all that. So, tiers are long straight hallways, I made 14 million rounds up and down in my career. 


The death row houses exercise areas with basketball courts. The death row facility was constructed in 2006 and there is no air conditioner or cross-ventilation. Let me tell y'all that the exercise area, they don't let them all out in the yard at the same time. That's when they get their one hour out and it's little screened in-- basically, a dog cage is what it equates to but they have to give them that by certain rights because they've sued over the years and stuff like that. But, yeah, it's stinky, it's nasty. 


Jim:I can imagine as a guard, you don't really want to work that.


Woody:I may be wrong on this now, but it used to be death row, you had to volunteer to work there because it takes-- and if you want it to be removed from there, they would move you somewhere else because people get burned out. I mean, you're dealing with--


Jim:Do you get any extra money for working?




Jim:They should at least give you a dollar extra an hour or something. Oh, man.


Woody:[crosstalk] In addition, the reception center has one minimum custody dormitory with inmates who provide housekeeping for the facility. And they're talking about death row facility, y'all. In June of 2013, three prisoners filed a federal lawsuit against the prison in court in Baton Rouge, alleging that death row facility does not have adequate measures to prevent overheating. Well, they're right. 


Jim:Woody would agree. 


Woody:Yeah, but I don't agree they deserve it. 




Woody:The prisoners said that due to preexisting medical conditions, the heat may cause health problems. Brian A. Jackson, the district federal judge, ordered a collection of temperature data at Angola death row for three weeks to determine the conditions. During that time, Angola officials blasted outer walls of the prison with water cannons and installed window awnings to attempt to lower the temperature data. That's funny. In response, Jackson said that he was troubled by the possibility of manipulating the temperature data. [chuckles]


On Monday, August 5th, 2013, the federal trial regarding the condition of death row and high heat started. The following day, Warden Burl Cain apologized for violating the court order regarding data collection. On Wednesday, August 7th, 2013, closing arguments and the trial ended. In December of 2013, this is the same judge, Judge Brian Jackson ruled that the heat index of the prison was cruel and unusual punishment and therefore a cooling system must be installed. Well, that was new for me, y'all. By 2014, a court-ordered plan to install a cooling system was underway. So now, you're housing them with your tax dollars and cooling them off.


Jim:And wrap your mind around this, so basically-- I mean that's pretty ingenious by Burl Cain, maybe a little bit illegal. [laughs]




Jim:Go wash down [crosstalk] walls.


Woody:What are you going to do to me? Hey, it wasn't the correction officer washing down the walls. They had trustees out there.




Woody:He was like--[crosstalk] 


Jim:Drop that temp a little bit. 


Woody:That's right because it's only 167--[crosstalk] 




Woody:As of May of 2019, the issue was close to being resolved. After a six-year-long court battle, a settlement has been reached between the death row inmates and the prison. One of the things they did, I remember it just popped back in my head on the dormitories and stuff and in the rec rooms, they had the big fans, but you know what they would do? They had inmates whose only job was to bring in those orange igloo coolers full of ice water. So at least, you've got something cool. 


Jim:That's right. 


Woody:Anyway, the settlement agreement calls for daily showers, I can assure you that was much needed, for the three Angola inmates of at least 15 minutes, individual ice containers, here it is, that are timely replenished by prison staff. That's not true. That's convicts, I'm pretty sure the correction officers never filled up--[crosstalk] 


Jim:My ice is getting low in here. 


Woody:Individual fans, water faucets in the cell, icy breeze units or so-called caging coolers, and diversion of cool air from the death row guard pod into their cells. Now, that's funny.




Woody:The caging cooler, to me that's when I buy a 12 pack in the thing and I don't have an ice chest in my car, so I pour a bag of ice in there, and it'll keep it cool until the cardboard melts away. On this, they're taking ice chests and they're putting a fan behind ice chest and blowing the cool air from that. But the funniest, the COs in that pod that are running everything, they got air conditioner. Now, I don't know how they do it. I guess through bars or whatever, they put in the fan, a little fan there and blowing a little cold air down the tier.


Jim:Now, we're going to tell you about the B-Line. You've heard about us both talk about the B-Line in past episodes.


Woody:My mama was raised there, and I've got all the photographs. My grandfather being the first parole officer to ever live on the grounds of Angola, on the B-Line. My mom was a little girl with her two little sisters. Now, y'all, this is inside the wire, and they had trustees that cooked for them every day and did all this stuff. Mama said when her baby sister was born, evidently, they were born there also. I don't know but she said that she remembers my pawpaw was saying, "I've never had so many biscuits in my life." Everybody was there congregated, and they cooked for them, clean for them, everything, but you tell them about it. 


Jim:B-Line, very interesting. They actually had an elementary school called Tunica Elementary School.


Woody:For the Tunica Hills which surround Angola. 


Jim:All the children on the B-Line, which there were a lot of kids, you had guard families.


Woody:The whole city, I mean everybody that lives and works there. 


Jim:They would go to school at Tunica Elementary School, and all go to school together. The facility, they had a group of houses, of course, called the B-Line, and that was for prison staff members and their families and inmates would actually perform services for the staff members and their households. Some of them had, I don't know if you call them butlers, but--


Woody:Basically, what it was. Pretty good deal. I mean, it's a pretty good perk because they weren't making any money. 


Jim:That's it. They'd cut the grass for them, all that kind of stuff.


Woody:Pain the houses, everything. Every little thing.


Jim:They have rec centers there, they have pools, they have parks, just like you'd have in any community. They even have an Angola B-Line chapel that was dedicated back in 2009. Residents are zoned to the West Feliciana Parish public school system. So, as Woody just mentioned, Tunica Elementary School, which is in West Feliciana Parish, that's the public school there, where the elementary school is located. But they go to those West Feliciana public schools, and they actually have several more on the Angola, serving the Angola grounds, including Bains Lower Elementary School and Bains Elementary School which is located in Bains. 


Woody:Yeah, that's definitely outside the gate. Probably back in the day that road used to be-- it used to take you 30, 40 minutes to get up the road. It was a curvy small two-lane road. Now, they've made it pretty much like the autobahn. They cut it straight through the hills. But Bains is a little ways away. 


Jim:Yeah, it's actually about four miles from Angola and is several miles from the main entrance. Many of its students live on the grounds. The sad thing is you go through budget cuts, we talk about this in prisons, that's the first thing legislators look to cut is their prison budget because, heck, man, who wants to pay for prisoners, right? The problem is, in one of these budget cuts in 2011, they actually had to close Tunica Elementary.


Woody:Right. Y'all, that is not a direct result of the budget cuts from West Feliciana Parish because West Feliciana Parish is one of, if not the richest parish in the state of Louisiana. That is because way, way back when in the 70s, they built the nuclear plant there and they deferred their tax options for however many years to get them to come there and locate. But once the taxes kicked in-- West Feliciana is small. And St. Francisville being really the only town--


Jim:But it's beautiful, y'all. 


Woody:It is.


Jim:It's on the hills of Louisiana is what I call it.


Woody:[crosstalk] -on the Mississippi River and all that. That's what my mama was raised after the B-Line. West Feliciana Sheriff's office has a horse division, they have their own helicopter, they've got everything because they get all this tax money. Well, the tax money that comes from the nuclear plant goes to three places. It goes to sheriff's office, school system, and the parish government itself. Y'all, let me tell you about this, now you think when I say city and say 6000 inmates and however many COs, but all their family members and whatever, that's bigger than the town I grew up in.


But Angola also has its own fire station. The fire station houses the Angola Emergency Medical Service Department staff who provide fire and emergency service to the prison. Angola Fire Department is registered as department number 63001 with the Louisiana Fire Marshal's Office. Department's equipment includes one engine, one tanker, and one rescue truck. Within Angola, the department protects 500 buildings, including employee and prisoner housing quarters. Department has mutual aid agreements with West Feliciana and the Wilkinson County, Mississippi. 


All right, I want to talk about this for a minute. You've got to think about this. They have their own EMTs, they get used more than anything. So, you've got 6000 inmates, whether it's a stabbing or an old person dies or somebody has a heart attack or whatever it may be, they actually respond. It's like a 911 call. Their pagers or the beepers and goes to the control center and they call them out. They dispatch them out. Believe it or not, they actually have fires in Angola. One of my buddies was over a couple of years ago at my bar and we were drinking, and he was at EMT at Angola, but he also doubled up as a firefighter and they had a big fire one morning in one of the vocational schools. I mean, it happens, but this just really hopefully brings it home for you. It's really its own city. 


Jim:The main entrance to Angola has an etched monument that actually refers to the epistle of the Philippians 3:15 and reflecting the historic dominance of the Catholic Church in South Louisiana. Y'all, if you're not from South Louisiana, you can't really grasp it. Look, you start getting in-- especially the Cajun French country of Louisiana, if you don't have a Mary statue in your front yard, people are raising eyebrows.


Woody:That's how we have Mardi Gras and Lent and everything else. Very deep Catholic roots in South Louisiana.


Jim:That's right. That's kind of an ode to that. In the 2000s, the main prison church, the churches for Camp C and D and a grounds chapel were constructed as part of an effort to build chapels for every state-run prison facility. So, they really put a lot of effort into getting religion out there into the prisons. They saw what Angola had done with that and what Burl Cain had done with that and how it seemed to bring peace or more peace to the prison. A staff and family of the staff chapel was under construction, and they would get donations from outside. Look, the prison rodeo, the ticket sales to that would fund these churches. So, it wasn't something that the public was funding. It was something they were getting either donations through or, of course, the rodeo, which is very popular, we'll do an episode on at some point, they would get the ticket sales and they would apply that. 


The Camp C chapel and the B-Line Chapel were both dedicated on the same day. And the most recent structure is a beautiful chapel, y'all, called Our Lady of Guadalupe and it's 6000ft. That structure was built with over $450,000 worth of donated materials by Latin American businessmen, Jorge Valdez and Fernando Garcia. That's some businessmen with some deep pockets that are doing some good. Right, Woody?


Woody:Right. This next part just blows my mind.


Jim:Yeah. Its design resembles the Alamo. I'm going to put a picture up on the Bloody Angola-- I might do a little blog on this and put it on the Bloody Angola website as well, but I'll put it on the Facebook for sure. And it is just absolutely beautiful. Looks just like the Alamo and it was built in 38 days by 50 prisoners, y'all.


Woody:It's crazy. 6000 square feet.


Jim:6000 square feet, 38 days. I can't build a bathroom in 38 days, ya heard? [chuckles] It opened in 2013 and it includes seating for more than 200, features paintings, furniture, and stained-glass windows crafted by inmates. Me and Woody are going to be going to Angola and doing a visit, hopefully soon. We're going to-- look, all the things we're telling you about today. We're going to have pictures and we're going to tell you more about it. We're really excited about that.


Woody:And we'd be able to tell you individual stories from each one of these locations.




Woody:[crosstalk] -tour guides. And, yes, Angola has tour guides.


Jim:Yes, they do. Actually, Kelly Jennings, who was on the show, was a tour guide at one point for Angola.




Jim:So, we'll definitely bring you some information more on the Alamo of Angola. 


Woody:Yeah. And it's crazy. Also, y'all, this is going to blow your mind, I think. The recreational facilities in Butler Park, prison staff members have access to recreational facilities on the Angola property. Angola has ballfields, the Prison View Golf Course. 


Jim:The Prison View. 


Woody:That’s really a nice golf course, really is.


Jim:Yes. I guess--[crosstalk] 


Woody:A swimming pool, a tennis court, and a walking track. So, you get it all right there. You live on the B-Line--[crosstalk] 


Jim:It's making me want to go work at Angola. [laughs] You got it made.


Woody:Lake Killarney, an oxbow lake of the Mississippi River located on the prison grounds, has large crappie fish. Some people call them sac-a-lait down here, crappie, whatever you want to call them, white perch and the best eating fish in the world. 


Jim:Big as your hand. 


Woody:Y'all, an oxbow lake simply means it's like false river. It's where the Mississippi River over time has shifted course and it blocks off like a bin or a stretch of water that used to be part of the Mississippi River.


Jim:Dang, Woody, you're full of good information. 


Woody:The prison administration controls access to Lake Killarney and few people fish there. The crappie fish grow very large. Remember I told you I have the pictures of my daddy as a young boy fishing there? Butler Park is a recreational facility on the edge of the Angola property. It houses gazebos, picnic tables, and barbecue pits. As of 1986, a prisoner who has no major disciplinary issues for at least a year may use the property. It's crazy.


The Prison View Golf Course is a 6000-yard, nine-hole, 36-par golf course, is located on the grounds of Angola. Prison View, the only golf course on the property of an American prison is between the Tunica Hills and Camp J at the intersection of the B-Line Road and Camp J Road. All individuals wishing to play are required to provide personal information 48 hours before their arrival so the prison authorities can conduct background checks. Convicted felons and individuals on visitation lists are not permitted to play on the golf course. Basically, y'all, if you want to go play the golf course at Angola, you can. You just got to get a security clearance. 


Current prisoners at Angola are not permitted to play on the golf course, but I bet you they cut that grass. 




The golf course, constructed on the site of a former bull pasture, opened in June 2004. Prisoners performed most of the work to construct the course. Prisoners that the administration considers to be the most trustworthy are permitted to work at the golf course. Warden Burl Cain stated that he built the golf course so that employees would be encouraged to stay at Angola over the weekends. He wanted them available to provide support in case of an emergency. Pretty ingenious, right?


Jim:Very ingenious. Let me tell you, there's somebody, Woody, that listens to this show, and I'm talking to you now. You know who you are, and you actually designed the Prison View Golf Course. You were an assistant warden at Angola for years and years. I believe it was your dad or your grandfather was actually the warden at Angola. And you know who you are. You said you were coming on the show. Me and Woody would love to have you on and talk about especially the process of designing that golf course. So, you're out there. I don't want to shout out your name just yet, but get in touch with us, message us.


Woody:We'd look forward to having you. 


Jim:Yeah, definitely. Let's make it happen. 


Woody:All right. Y'all, let me tell you about the guest house. The ranch house is called as a facility for prison guests. James Ridgeway of Mother Jones described it as a sort of clubhouse where the wardens and other officials get together in an atmosphere for chow prepared by inmate cooks. Originally constructed to serve as a conference center to supplement the meeting room and Angola Administration Building, the ranch house received its name after Burl Cain was selected warden. Cain had the building renovated to accommodate overnight guests. The renovations, which included the conversion of one room into a bedroom and the addition of a shower and a fireplace, cost approximately $7,346. That's because of that free labor.




Woody:Traditionally, prisoners who worked successfully as cooks at the ranch house were later assigned to work as cooks at the Louisiana Governor's mansion and that's so true. You better believe they can cook, right? 


Jim:Oh, there's no doubt about it. Look, all this talking about the layout is making me want to go live there at least for a day.


Woody:We've been saying we're going to do the tour, etc. If you're listening, and I know a lot of you are, shoutout. First of all, I want to give just a shoutout to the correctional officers and all the people who make Angola run every day. We've never done that, I don't think. We really do appreciate y'all, but we want to come, have a full-blown tour, maybe two. So, reach out to us. 


Jim:Yeah, please do. Just shoot us a message, on Facebook is fine. I know a lot of you catch it there or go to the website. You can message us there and let's make it happen. Cemeteries. Obviously, you have a prison, you got to have a prison cemetery when you're the largest maximum-security prison in America.


Woody:Mainly because a lot of these people are going to die there. You go in for however many years and you're first in, your family keeps contact and your parents die off and your grandparents die off. A lot of them, by the time it's their turn to die, they don't have any family left. 


Jim:That's right. So, Angola had established Point Lookout Cemetery and that was established in 1927.


Woody:Y'all, check out a full episode that we've done on that. 


Jim:Absolutely. Point Lookout kind of got full and so they had to have Point Lookout Two, which is also a prison cemetery. This is located on the north side of the Angola property. It's at the base of the Tunica Hills. Deceased prisoners from all state prisons, not just Angola, but all state prisons have been buried there who were not claimed and transported elsewhere by family members. So, if you had a plot somewhere that was a private family plot, certainly you could be claimed and buried wherever you want. But as you can imagine, most prisoners, they were buried in prison.


Woody:Funerals aren't cheap. Another episode we did, y'all need to go listen to where we talk in detail about the casket making and the bearer process.


Jim:Absolutely. A white rail fence, y'all, surrounds a cemetery. And it's a beautiful cemetery.


Woody:Right. They keep it up. 


Jim:Keep it up.


Woody:Convict labor. 


Jim:That's right. Another reason they had to create a Point Lookout Two, and this is something not a lot of people know, but with Point Lookout, 1927 flood actually destroyed, just absolutely destroyed that cemetery, which was located where Camp C and Camp D are located now. In September of 2001, they installed a memorial at Camp C and D, and they kind of dedicated that to unknown prisoners. Now, the Point Lookout plot established after 1927, so Point Lookout Two has 331 grave markers and an unknown number of bodies, but they consider it full. So, you can imagine that. Now, Point Lookout Two is 100 yards east of where the original Point Lookout was, and it was opened in the mid-1990s. It has a capacity of 700 grave sites. And as of 2010, there's 90 prisoners buried there.


Woody:Yeah. Well, guess what? I can guarantee you, with the rate that convicts are dying nowadays, you can look out for a Point Lookout Three coming at you real soon.




Woody:Let's go to the Angola Museum.


Jim:Yes, let's do. 


Woody:It's operated by-




Woody:-nonprofit Louisiana State Penitentiary Museum Foundation, is an onsite prison museum. Visitors are charged $5 adult admission fee, $3 per adult if the group is 10 or larger. The museum is located outside the prison's main gate in a former bank building. Isn't that cool that they even had their own bank at one time when my mom and them were kids? Of course, they had their own post office and all that. But anyway, get back to it. I just thought that was really cool.


Jim:Yeah, it is. 


Woody:We'll be bringing y'all a lot from there. The convicts that work it, the trustees that work it, are the only trustees-- Well, I can't say the only ones. They're almost the only ones who work unsupervised outside the wire.


Jim:There you go.


Woody:The Angola airstrip. Believe it or not, Angola has its own airstrip or airport, y'all. The prison includes the Angola airstrip. The airstrip is used by state-owned aircraft to transport prisoners to and from Angola and for transporting officials on state business to and from Angola. The airport is used during daylight and visual flight rule times. All right, so let me tell you about this. My mom was on the parole board many years ago in the late 80s, and they used to fly them in to different prisons. So, I can pretty much assure you they almost never fly in convicts. It's notCon Air, they're busing them in. But the airstrip, people come in and whoever dignitaries, governor or whatever come in, they fly them in there. It's faster to fly from Baton Rouge Airport to there, it takes probably 15 minutes.


Jim:The guardhouse has long barriers with stop signs to prevent automobiles from entering and leaving the compound without the permission of officers. To allow a vehicle access or egress, the officers manually raise the bars, just like you would see at an air force base. 


Woody:We're going to tell you a story one day of an escape attempt that ended at that guard house. 


Jim:Now, the front gate visiting processing center has a rated capacity of 272 persons. They do processing and security screening for prison visitors. People that come in to visit, obviously the people at Angola, they want to make sure they're not smuggling anything from shanks to drugs. Also, the United States Postal Service actually operates the Angola Post Office on the prison grounds. Many people don't realize that. 


Woody:Tell them when it was established.




Woody:October 2nd, 1887. That's a long time ago. 


Jim:That’s a long time ago. And the David C. Knapps Correctional Officer Training Academy, the state training center for Correctional officers is located on the northwest corner of Angola in front of campus. 


Woody:That's the same place it was when I went to, y'all, but Captain Knapps hadn't been murdered at the time. Like the Brent Miller firing range, that's another series we did, that's not really a place that you want your name on. Well, the Butler Park, he was a former warden, but if your name is up on something out there, that means you're dead.


Jim:Yeah. Near the training center, Angola prisoners maintain the only nature preserve located on the grounds. The RE Barrow Junior Treatment Center is located on the Angola premises. Angola is kind of world renowned for their treatment centers. Also, the C. C. Dixon K-9 Training Center is the dog training area. Of course, we've done episodes on the amazing work that they do with K-9s at Angola. Check out Wolf Dogs. Great episode. 


Woody:Yeah, Wolf Dogs is a super episode.


Jim:It was named in 2002 to commemorate Connie Conrad Dixon, who was a dog trainer and K-9 officer who died in 1997 at the age of 89. The Louisiana State Penitentiary Wastewater Treatment Plant, which you got to have a treatment plant in the largest maximum-security prison in America, it serves the entire complex. The prison also houses an all-purpose arena, which is where they do the rodeo.


Woody:That's right. And they built that too. History of the infrastructure. Camp H, a prisoner housing facility that is no longer in service. Camp A, the former slave quarters for the plantation, was the first building to house inmates in the early 21st century. Camp A did not house prisoners. Charles Wolfe and Kip Lornell, authors ofThe Life and Legend of Leadbelly, say that during the 1930s, Angola was even further removed from decent civilization than it was in the 1990s. The two added that's the way the state of Louisiana wanted it for Angola held some of the meanest inmates. In 1930, about 130 women, most of them black, were in prison in Camp D.


Jim:Wow. People don't know that.


Woody:Yeah, my grandmother worked there, I guess, in the early 40s. In 1930, Camp A, which held around 700 black inmates, was close to the center of the Angola institution. Inmates worked on levee control as the springtime high water posed a threat to Angola. The Mississippi River was nearly one mile wide in this area. Many inmates who tried to swim across drowned and few of their bodies were recovered. I can imagine that y'all. The prison hospital opened in the 1940s. The campus had only one permanent nurse and no permanent doctor. Y'all, listen another episode of Blood Angola, we talk about the Angel. They call her The Angel. In the 1980s, the main road to Angola had not been paved. It has since been blacktop. 


Now, I was there like '89 or something like that. It was blacktop then, but still wasn't straightened out like it was. It was a curvy ass road at the Tunica Hills. The out camp buildings constructed in 1939 as the WPA Project during the Great Depressions were renovated in 1970s. During May 1993, the building's fire safety violations were reported. In June of that year, Richard Stalder, who was the head of department of corrections when I was there, the Secretary of Department of Corrections said Angola would close the buildings if LDP and SNC did not find millions of dollars to improve the buildings. 


Jim:And there you have it. Look, you mentioned Leadbelly in there. We need to do an episode on Leadbelly. 


Woody: Leadbelly, that’s original. A lot of music. Very inspiring music. Shoutout to Thomas Cain for doing-- 




Woody:He headlined his first full headliner gig--[crosstalk] 


Jim:At the Texas Club. 


Woody:They said they had a hell of a crowd. 




Woody:He rocked it to the point where they had to pull him off the stage at 12:30. He was supposed to quit it at midnight. 


Jim:Come on. [laughs] 


Woody:He's jamming it out.


Jim:I hadn't heard that, Thomas. 


Woody:Thomas, I'm sorry, I missed that, man.


Jim:[crosstalk] -brother.


Woody:I'd love, love, love every time I hear that theme song. 


Jim:Yeah, it's all love. He wrote-- along with his wife, Lucy, and another gentleman, they wrote that song for us. We were just absolutely honored and really appreciate you, Thomas. And that was a fun episode. Woody. I hope y'all kind of got a good grasp of what Angola is outside of just a prison. It's so much history of this place. I love these kinds of episodes. 


Woody:I do too. We told you we'd always bring you something different. But everything we just told you about, think about this, there's 6000 of the worst murderers and rapists and just horrible people housed there.


Jim:Yep. Wrap your mind around that.


Woody:But anyway, thank y'all for listening. We appreciate you. Patreon members, thank you so much. We couldn't do it without you. Y'all keep sharing and downloading and liking and keep helping us grow. We appreciate it. We've had such mad success and we're blessed, and we love you all to pieces.


Jim:I have been getting several messages from people asking, "When are you going to do another live?" Maybe something in the fall, we'll look at doing. We really appreciate the interest, and we love doing that. It's real fun.


Woody:We'll try to schedule LSU off weekend.


Jim:Yeah. There you go. That's right. So, until next time, I'm Jim Chapman.


Woody:I'm Woody Overton.


Jim:Your host of Bloody-




Jim:A podcast 142 years in the making. 


Woody:The Complete Story of America's Bloodiest Prison. 


Jim and Woody:Peace. 

Jim:[laughs] That was a good one.