Louisiana State Penitentiary
The Louisiana State Penitentiary (known as Angola, and nicknamed the "Alcatraz of the South", "The Angola Plantation" and "The Farm") is a maximum-security prison farm located in Angola, Louisiana. The facility is operated by the Louisiana Department of Public Safety & Corrections, and with 6,300 inmates, it is the largest maximum-security prison in the United States.
This facility is named "Angola" after the former plantation that occupied this territory. The plantation was named for the African country that was the origin of many slaves brought to Louisiana. This facility houses Louisiana’s male death row inmates, and it also has the state’s execution chamber for both male and female inmates.
The state of Louisiana considers Angola to be a multi-security institution. Approximately 30% of the prison's beds are designated for maximum-security inmates, however most inmates live in dorms instead of cell blocks. The inmates live in several housing units scattered across the Angola grounds. In the 1990s, air conditioning and heating units were installed in the inmate housing units.
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, inmates who need mental health attention, and protective-custody inmates.
The West Yard has 16 minimum and medium-custody dormitories, two administrative segregation cell blocks, and the prison treatment center.
Dormitories within the main prison include the Ash, Cypress, Hickory, Magnolia, Oak, Pine, Spruce, and Walnut dormitories. The cell blocks are A, B, C, and D. The main prison also houses the local Main Prison administration building, a gymnasium, a kitchen/dining facility, the Angola Vocational School, and the Judge Henry A. Politz Educational building.
Angola also has several outcamps.Camp C includes eight minimum and medium-custody dormitories, one cell block with administrative segregation and working cellblock prisoners, and one extended lockdown cellblock. Camp C includes the Bear and Wolf dormitories and Jaguar and Tiger cellblocks.
Camp D has the same features as Camp C, except that it has one working cellblock instead of an extended lockdown cellblock, and its other cell block does not have working prisoners. Camp D houses the Eagle and Falcon dormitories and the Hawk and Raven cellblocks. Camp J has four extended lockdown cell blocks, which contain prisoners with disciplinary problems, and one dormitory with minimum and medium-custody inmates who provide housekeeping functions for Camp J. Camp J houses the Alligator, Barracuda, Gar, and Shark cell blocks.
Camp F has four minimum-custody dormitories and the "Dog Pen," which houses 11 minimum-custody inmates. The inmates housed in Camp F are trustees who mop floors, deliver food to fellow prisoners, and perform other support tasks. Camp F also houses Angola's execution chamber and has a lake where trustees fish.
The Closed Cell Restricted (CCR) unit is an isolation unit located near the Angola main entrance, and it has 101 isolation cells and 40 trustee beds.
The Reception Center for arriving prisoners is located inside the main gate. It also contains the death row for male inmates, with 101 extended lockdown cells. 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.
Death row includes eight tiers, lettered A to G. Seven tiers have 15 cells each, while one tier has 11 cells. Each hallway has a cell that is used for showering. The death row houses exercise areas with basketball posts, but there is no air conditioning or cross ventilation. In addition, the Reception Center has one minimum-custody dormitory with inmates who provide housekeeping for the facility.
After a lengthy court battle between death row inmates and the facility, both sides reached a settlement in May 2019 after it was found to be cruel and unusual punishment because inmates were overheating.The settlement agreement allows daily showers for the three Angola inmates of at least 15 minutes; individual ice containers that are replenished by prison staff, individual fans, water faucets in their cells, "IcyBreeze" units or "Cajun coolers,” and the diversion of cool air from the death-row guard pod into their cells.
There is a fire station that houses the Angola Emergency Medical Services Department staff, who provide fire and emergency services to the prison. There is also the Prison View Golf Course, which is the only golf course on the property of an American prison, but the inmates are not allowed to use it.
The "Ranch House" is a facility for prison guests, there are multiple cemeteries on site, a museum, a farm, and an airstrip for prisoner transport.
Inmates cultivate, harvest and process an array of crops that make the facility self-supporting. Crops include cabbage, corn, cotton, strawberries, okra, onions, peppers, soybeans, squash, tomatoes, and wheat. The facility also has approximately 2,000 head of cattle, and some of the herd is sold at markets for beef. Each year, the prison produces four million pounds of vegetable crops. Inmates also breed and train the horses used at Angola for field work.
Most new prisoners begin working in the cotton fields. A prisoner may spend years working there before moving onto a better job.
Angola has the largest number of inmates serving life sentences in the United States, and approximately 32 inmates die each year, with only four paroled each year. Louisiana's tough sentencing laws result in long sentences for the inmate population, who have been convicted of armed robbery, murder, and rape.
Warden Burl Cain always had an open-door policy with the media, and he allowed the filming of the documentary The Farm: Angola, USA at the prison in 1998 which focused on the lives of six men. The movies Dead Man Walking, Monster's Ball, and I Love You Phillip Morris were partly filmed in Angola.
The prison hosts a rodeo every April and October, and inmates produce the newsmagazine The Angolite, which has won numerous awards. It is available to the general public and is relatively uncensored.
Angola Prison hosts the country's only inmate-operated radio station, KLSP. The prison officials have also started LSP-TV, a television station. Inmates film prisoner events, such as the Angola Prison Rodeo, prize fights, and football games. As it has a closed circuit system, it allows even inmates on death row to watch the broadcasts.
History of Louisiana State Penitentiary
This facility has a long history dating back to the early 19th century, and it was part of the old convict lease system. The Louisiana Department of Public Safety & Corrections says that this facility opened as a state prison in 1901.
Charles Wolfe and Kip Lornell, authors of The Life and Legend of Leadbelly, said that Angola was "probably as close to slavery as any person could come in 1930." In Louisiana State Penitentiary history, the electric chair, known as Gruesome Gertie, was stored at Angola.
But, because West Feliciana Parish did not want to be associated with state executions, officials used to move the chair to the parish of conviction of a condemned prisoner before executing him or her.
In 1971 the American Bar Association criticized the conditions at Angola. Linda Ashton of the Associated Press said that the bar association described Angola's conditions as "medieval, squalid and horrifying." In recent decades, efforts to reform and improve conditions at Angola have continued, but it still has a long way to go.
In March 2019, seven members of staff at the facility were arrested for rape, smuggling items to inmates, and maintaining personal relationships with prisoners.
The most restrictive inmate housing unit used to be the "Red Hat Cell Block,” after the red paint-coated straw hats that its occupants wore when they worked in the fields. "Red Hat," a one-story, 30-cell building at Camp E, was built in 1933. Brooke Shelby Biggs of Mother Jones reported that men who had lived in "Red Hat" "told of a dungeon crawling with rats, where dinner was served in stinking buckets splashed onto the floors." In 1972, "Red Hat" officially closed.
In 1977, the administration made Camp J the most restrictive housing unit in Angola. On February 20, 2003, the National Park Service listed the Red Hat Cell Block on the National Register of Historic Places.
Louisiana State Penitentiary is the state’s oldest and only maximum-security prison, and that means it’s a much sought after tour destination for school groups, churches, and criminal justice professionals. A regular tour consists of a visit to the museum, the historic Red Hat, a dormitory (depending on availability), and the lethal injection table. Lunch is available for a fee at the Big House Cafe. For more information, please contact the LSP Museum at 225-655-2592.
Louisiana State Penitentiary
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Visiting Hours and Rules
Visiting days are Friday through Sunday from 6:00 a.m. until 4:15 p.m. Visitors should plan their arrival prior to 2:00 p.m., at which time the bus makes its final departure to the visiting area(s). On the rare occasion when there are five Sundays in a given month, there will be no visiting on that Sunday or Saturday preceding it. There will only be visiting on that Friday only.
Each offender is allowed a two-hour visit on any visiting day. Each visitor on the approved visiting list will be permitted to visit twice a month. Each offender is allowed to visit with up to five visitors, including children, at one time.
General Visiting Rules
All approved visitors must have a picture ID (valid state issued driver’s license or state issued ID card obtained through the Department of Motor Vehicles). All visitors 15 years of age and above must have a picture ID in order to visit an offender.
Other accepted forms of picture ID include passports and military, law enforcement, college/university, or school identification.
All visitors are subject to a search of their vehicles, possessions, and persons. This is necessary to preclude the introduction of weapons, ammunition, explosives, cell phones, alcohol, escape devices, drugs and drug paraphernalia, or other forbidden items or contraband into the prison environment.
Visiting areas are designed to cultivate a family atmosphere for family and friends of all ages. Visitors should dress and act accordingly. The following apparel is considered inappropriate and will result in the denial of visits:
- Clothing that is similar in appearance to the clothing worn by the offender population. Male and female visitors shall not wear denim or chambray shirts, gray, blue, or white sweatshirts, or white t-shirts.
- Undergarments, underwear and bra, must not be visible. Underwear must be worn by all visitors.
- Clothing that is similar in appearance to the clothing worn by correctional officers (i.e. camouflage, blue BDU’s, etc.).
- Transparent clothing
- Swimming suits
- Skirts, shorts, skorts, culottes, and dresses shorter than one inch above the knee cap or those with revealing slits.
- Strapless, tube and halter tops, tank tops and strapless dresses
- Tops that expose the midriff
- Low-cut blouses, shirts, and dresses
- Spandex, Lycra or spandex-like athletic pants, aerobic/exercise tights, or leotards
- Clothing with revealing holes or tears one inch above the knee cap
- Clothing or accessories with obscene or profane writing, images, or pictures
- Gang or club-related clothing or insignia indicative of gang affiliation
- House slippers and shower shoes and flip flops are not allowed. Footwear must remain on feet at all times. These restrictions apply to all visitors.
- Hats or other head coverings are not permitted, except as required by religious beliefs.
What can you bring to a visit?
Visitors are allowed to take the following to the visiting area:
- Wallet or clutch purse with no more than $300.00 cash money.
- Nitroglycerine tablets (must remain on person).
- Prescription medication in original container. Must be given to bus driver and kept at security counter and returned to visitor at Front Gate Visiting by bus driver. Medication should be limited in quantity to no more than that required for the duration of the visit.
- Prescription asthma spray to remain with the visitor.
- Small amount of candy, if diabetic.
- One car key. Remote car locks are allowed if they are attached to the key ring.
- If the visitor has a baby, the following items will be permitted: up to four diapers, two jars of vacuum-sealed baby food, two bottles of milk or juice, one change of clothing, one diaper bag, one baby blanket, maximum width or length not to exceed 48 inches.
- Wallet-size photos.
No items listed above can be left with the offender at the termination of the visit.
Louisiana State Penitentiary
17544 Tunica Trace
Driving Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/6cnXxYxVg64fAR1W9
General Phone Number
Inmate Mailing Address(es)
Inmate Name and DOC Number
Louisiana State Penitentiary
Angola, LA 70712
The Canteen Package Program gives family and friends an opportunity to order pre-approved food and hygiene products and personal property items for their loved ones incarcerated at Louisiana State Penitentiary. Click here for more information or to place an order.
How to Call an Inmate
You can’t call an inmate at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, but they do have access to a phone during assigned times and are allowed to make monitored outgoing calls. For complete details on how to call an inmate in Louisiana, please click here.
How to Send Money
Walk-up Locations for MoneyGram
MoneyGram is located in Walmart and CVS Pharmacy locations. It is also available in other places that display the MoneyGram logo.
Family and friends provide the MoneyGram office with cash only, along with the offender’s information and MoneyGram will electronically submit the payment to the receiving company/destination for a fee.
Go online to www.JPay.com and send funds using only Visa and MasterCard credit/debit cards. There are fees associated with the internet transactions.
Kiosks are located in all state correctional facility visiting areas. Family and friends can provide funds to the offenders by credit/debit card or cash. Cash deposited in Lobby Kiosks have a per transaction fee of $4.00 for deposits up to $500.00.
There is no charge for sending money orders via mail. JPay requires a JPay deposit slip to accompany the money order.
Money orders must be sent with a deposit form to the following address (not the institution):
P.O. Box 531370
Miami Shores, FL 33153
Download an English money order deposit form here.
Download a Spanish money order deposit form here.
Family and friends may call 1-800-574-5729 and transfer funds using only Visa and MasterCard credit/debit cards. There are fees associated with telephone transactions.
Programs For Inmates
Through partnerships with the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Ashland University, and the Louisiana Department of Education, Louisiana State Penitentiary provides opportunities for participation in the following educational programs:
- NOBTS (N.O. Baptist Theological Seminary)
- Ashland University (Bachelor’s degree in general studies)
- SSD#1 (Special School District)
- P.R.E.P. Pre-Release Exit Program
- Culinary arts
- Reentry and Rehabilitative Program
- Automotive Technology – ASE Certification
- Building and General Construction
- Collision Repair – ASE Certification
- Corrections Reentry Court Workforce Program
- HVAC Excellence Certification
- Outdoor Power Equipment
- Print Ed Certification
- NCCER Certification — Carpentry, Welding, Heating and Air Conditioning, Electrical, Industrial Painting, Concrete Finishing and Brick Masonry
- Eyeglass repair
Angola has several manufacturing facilities. The Farm Warehouse is the point of distribution of agricultural supplies. The Mattress/Broom/Mop shop makes mattresses and cleaning tools. The Printing Shop prints documents, forms, and other printed materials.
The Range Herd group manages 1,600 head of cattle, and the Row Crops group harvests crops. The Silk-Screen group produces plates, badges, road and highway signs, and textiles; it also manages sales of sign hardware. The Tag Plant produces license plates for Louisiana and for overseas customers. The Tractor Repair shop repairs agricultural equipment.
Pictures of Louisiana State Penitentiary
Careers at Louisiana State Penitentiary
If you are interested in a career with the Louisiana Department of Corrections at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, you can click here for more information.