Angola Penitentiary, Louisiana

The Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola is currently the largest maximum security state prison in the U.S., and certainly one of the most notorious. Nicknamed "The Farm," it is a working agricultural complex that utilizes cheap prisoner labor (wages range between 4 cents and 20 cents per hour) for traditional agriculture production and light industry. The penitentiary occupies 18,000 acres of the prime farm land that was once a 19th century plantation--the Angola Plantation--named after the area in Africa that supplied most of the plantation's slave labor. The site is home to over 6,000 inmates, over 65% of whom are serving life sentences and are expected to die on the penitentiary grounds and then be buried in the prisoner's graveyard. Angola Penitentiary is also home to around 1,600 employees who live in a town known as B-Line (described by some as the "safest in America"), located in the middle of the penitentiary. The prison is considered one of the most accessible prisons in the country. It has its own radio station, newspaper, and acclaimed magazine --The Angolite--produced by prisoners. Currently there are no tours of the prison itself, but the Angola Museum (located just outside of the main gate), boasts exhibits relating to prison life, including "Gruesome Gertie," once the official electric chair used throughout the state of Louisiana, in which a total of 87 people were killed. The chair was last used in 1991. The prison is also home to the Angola Prison Rodeo which takes place in the fall and spring, as well as an Arts and Crafts Festival which is held in conjunction with the rodeo.