"God's Own Warden": Inside Angola Prison

Editor’s Note: The latest issue of Mother Jones magazine includes James Ridgeway’s long article on Burl Cain, warden of the nation’s largest prison, and possibly its most notorious. The former slave plantation is known for the fact that 90 percent of its more than 5,000 prisoners will die behind bars, and also for holding two […]

After 16 Years Behind Bars for an $11 Robbery, the Scott Sisters Will Be Free at Last

The following announcement was issued today by Haley Barbour, Governor of Mississippi, regarding Jamie and Gladys Scott. We were among the first non-local media sources to write about the Scott sisters case, back in March. The full story of their arrest and incarceration, and Jamie Scott’s struggle to stay alive in prison, can be found here and here, […]

No Legal Defense for the Poor

Even among advocates of criminal justice reform, most (ourselves included) tend to focus on the draconian punishments that await the convicted–when in practice, it is the trial process that finishes off the accused, who is sold down the river after going through a mockery of justice. The crisis in defense of the indigent informs much of the […]

A Supermax Prisoner's Film from Hell

Last night HBO ran a documentary shot by an inmate living in solitary confinement at New Jersey’s Northern State Prison in Newark. The prisoner, Omar Broadway, a member of the Bloods gang, had served 7 years in solitary on various felony charges in the prison’s Security Threat Group Management Unit. Sympathetic guards smuggled a camera into his cell, […]

Our Father Who Art in Prison

You sometimes have to wonder why the state of Louisiana doesn’t just transform Angola prison into a year-round Christian camp meeting. As I’ve written before, under the tutelage of Warden Burl Cain, Angola has become a place where the only kind of rehabilitation on offer is Christian redemption. I respect any kind of spiritual life prisoners might turn to […]