Cains Redemption: A Story of Hope and Transformation in Americas Bloodiest Prison
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Delivery and Returns. Why Buy From Us. And the month before that, in July, four members of Congress wrote a letter to the Justice Department, asking federal officials to investigate the prison's "egregious and extensive" use of solitary confinement. Here's an illustrative passage from the Times :. The Times piece suggested that life at the prison is much safer these days for both inmates and guards because of this new-found religious activity and because "court supervision and a parade of reforming wardens improved staff training and introduced vocational and G.
This is essentially all the Times has to say about those inmates who "are considered dangerous, are being punished or need protection. And the phrasing itself-- "are being punished or need protection"-- begs the question of how Angola classifies its prisoners, and why, and whether its classifications are reasonable. For context and a different perspective on what life is really like inside that prison, I showed the Times piece to several people with long experience working with prisoners at Angola.
All were critical of the article.
Warden saw only one answer for troubled La. prison: Christ
And all were dubious of the role of religion as a wholly positive factor at Angola. Inmates, guards, even lawyers are afraid of Cain. I showed the Times piece to Jackie Sumell, a New York filmmaker who has studied the effects of solitary confinement. Sumell has spent time inside the prison, and her criticism of the policies and practices at Angola recently was documented in Herman's House , a film about Wallace that aired on PBS.
Sumell is a longtime critic of Cain's, no doubt, and when I asked her for her reaction to the Times ' story she offered these allegations, which we were unable to independently verify:.
Warden saw only one answer for troubled La. prison: Christ
I have been visiting inmates in Angola for 12 years. Warden Cain strategically and effectively disempowers inmates at his facility by making extreme examples out of "the few" as a means to terrify the many who are forced to live inside the walls of Angola. In some examples, men have faced more decades of solitary confinement for not adhering to strict Christian codes and maintaining their political beliefs.
It has been my experience working with formerly incarcerated men that many, even after they are released, continue to fear the notoriously retributive wrath of Burl Cain. I showed the article to Mercedes Montagnes, the deputy director of the Promise of Justice Initiative, which represents the plaintiffs in the "heat" litigation mentioned above.
Here is what she had to say about Angola, a perspective similar to allegations she has made in court in the pending lawsuit:. While there is a focus on religion, the prison prevents prison ministers from meeting with inmates' families, supporting pardon or parole applications, or even communicate privately with inmates through letters.
While some inmates appear to be able to secure favors through acts of devotion, the system does not foster hope, dignity or justice for the vast majority of men that work the fields, and fill the camps at Angola. I showed the article to Stephen Bright, a lecturer at Yale Law School who also is president of the Southern Center for Human Rights , a leading civil rights law firm that focuses upon men and women incarcerated in the nation's prisons and jails. Bright is one of the nation's foremost experts on indigent defense and one of the most sober legal analysts I know.
His take on religion at Angola:. The First Family Detail. Better Than Sex. Hunter S. In the Place of Justice. Wilbert Rideau. Behind Bars. Jeffrey Ross Ph. Born Again. Charles W. The Secret Man. Bob Woodward. Secrets of the Secret Service. Gary J.
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