What Does Austerity Bring to a Big Louisiana Jail?

I’ve got a friend from a well to do family from uptown New Orleans who had a problem breaking into unlocked cars and stealing the contents to support a drug habit. After years of stealing like this, he got caught and convicted and sent to Angola State Penitentiary on a 9 year sentence. He’s 3 years into the sentence and was recently moved to a private for profit (bad idea!) called Allen Correctional Center.

Allen Correctional Center

After receiving a $13,000 Pell grant for his first two semesters earning his associate’s degree, he got shipped in the middle of his second semester. That’s right, college in prison costs big bucks, and the government is happy to issue you a Pell grant to pay for it.  Allen has an associate’s program also, but it takes a few weeks to get back in.

Allen’s conditions are more chaotic than Angola’s and the laid back atmosphere that Angola had is non existent in Allen. There are few guards at Allen, they are undertrained, and the inmates are much younger serving far shorter sentences of a couple of years. Allen is a world of difference compared to Angola. Almost all the younger inmates care about is getting high, and it’s a veritable drug store inside Allen.

The library, gym, votech school and big yard are all shut down because these privately run jails get paid only 24 dollars a day to house state inmates and there’s not enough money to run the place as a real prison, so most of the time inmates are locked down in their dorms. Lock and feed is what this is called and it’s all the inmates do.

My friend lucked out in that right after getting there, he got a job in the prison commissary filling other inmates’ store orders, stocking shelves, and unloading trucks. Only six inmates work there out of an inmate population of over 1,300. It’s considered one of the better jobs and he’s very glad to have it. It keeps  busy Monday through Friday from 7am to 3 or 4 pm. Worst thing is Allen’s all the way damn near to Lake Charles which is over 3 hours from New Orleans. So visitation is going to slow down to be at most once or twice a year.



~ by neworleansmusicman on April 17, 2017.

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