The Audacity of Angola

I recently had a conference call with Emmy Award-winning film maker Jonathan Stack and some of his colleagues. While we're still in talks about how we could work together, I was able to secure a free DVD out of the conversation. His documentary titled "The Farm: 10 Down" is a revisit inside the lives of inmates in Angola prison located in Louisiana. A previous documentary, "The Farm: Angola, USA" was made ten years earlier with the same inmates. Angola is a unique prison in the respect that 95% of its inhabitants will never be coming out. It's also the largest maximum security prison in the United States, and in the 1800s it was a plantation. One in two inmates inside of Angola is in for murder. While there are many interesting facts about Angola prison, I find the warden and his approach to running the prison to be the most fascinating. This documentary takes an inside look at how Warden Burl Cain runs Angola. I was encouraged to see how well he and his staff treat these "worst of the worst". The respect and human decency shown to inmates in Angola pays off. They also have jobs for the inmates, inmate status upgrades that they have to earn and far fewer problems than other prisons their size. If you haven't seen the documentaries, I really encourage you to check them out. They lack the dramatic instrumental music that you'll find in most prison documentaries, which is designed to add an emotional charge, but they more than make up for it with journalistic integrity, and the stories themselves will stir your emotions. So, check them out, and be prepared to learn something and feel something. Who knows, maybe will be featured in their next documentary for our collective efforts (yours and ours) on trying to make a positive impact on the lives of inmates who really do want to turn their lives around. It's nice to see a film maker that avoids the usual sensationalism we expect from prison stories. Nice work, Jon.