What Angola's Resigning Warden Is Leaving Behind

This article details the reformation project that Louisiana warden Burl Cain engaged in during 20 years at Angola. It considers how he used education, labor, and even Christianity in his efforts to rehabilitate prisoners.

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Few prison wardens have achieved the notoriety of Louisiana’s Burl Cain, who is stepping down amidst investigations of his business dealings after 20 years at the top of Louisiana State Penitentiary, better known as Angola, the largest maximum-security prison in the most incarcerated state in the country.

During his tenure, Cain was celebrated for reducing violence and rehabilitating prisoners but also criticized for everything from running a “modern-day slave plantation,” to ordering beatings and extended stints in solitary confinement, to making unethical business deals, and threatening journalists. Wilbert Rideau, a former prisoner who edited The Angolite and faced censorship even as he won national journalism awards, says “a major part of his legacy is that you can't find out what the inmates really feel about him and what he did as warden. You have to simply take his word for everything.” Read more...