I was there for the 48th Annual Angola Prison Rodeo.They have a web site which features tickets for the spring event.
First of all, getting in....there was a line of cars from US-61 which wound down the 20 or miles or so into what seemed like wilderness in the direction of the River. Then I had to go through the checkpoint. They gave us a list of what we were allowed to bring with us onto the rodeo grounds. Included in the "no" list were cameras as well as even cell phones and knives. There was a checkpoint at the pedestrian gate, and folks who had bags (like purses) had those searched.
I bought the program, and started by looking at the crafts. Part of the "rodeo event" is the arts and crafts market which accompanies it, and surrounds the rodeo arena. The craft sales are one of the ways that inmates can earn money. It is a massive exhibit, and includes many interesting items. (But no photos, no cameras or even cell phones allowed inside -- see above.)
The program has some interesting tidbits. The prison:
- is one of only three accredited by the American Correctional Association (ACA)
- is the largest in Louisiana -- 5,149
- is on 18,000 acres
- grows enough fresh produce to feed 11,000 inmates in five prisons year around
- has the only FCC licensed, prisoner run radio station (KLSP 97.1 FM)
- is the only prison with its own zip code (70712)
- has the highest percentage of its inmates serving life sentences (75%); 1.6% are under the death sentence
- has been the setting for many movies (but not Cool Hand Luke).
If you ever have a chance, it is worth a visit.
For me, the added interest involves my job. One of the things that reference staff (small "r" since it is both Reference Staff and Louisiana Section Staff) answer questions mailed to us by inmates. Many, many of these letters come from Angola -- the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.