Angola Rodeo & rehabilitation for inmates - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Angola Rodeo & rehabilitation for inmates

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You hear the expression, "Lock 'em up and throw away the key." And that is what happens to many, if not most criminals, sent to the Angola State Penitentiary.

But their warden has gained worldwide attention for his efforts at moral rehabilitation of inmates.

Warden Burl Cain says, in Germany, the Angola Prison Rodeo is the 34th item on the list of things you should do before you die.  

But it's not just to entertain. He wants people to see what goes on here.

"What's the most important is the rodeo is supporting those schools teaching them to be welders, and carpenters and to work on cars, and mechanics and so forth. We have 450 vocational slots paid for by this rodeo and no burden to the taxpayers," said Cain.

Cain considers moral rehabilitation the key to public safety and fewer victims.

"Corrections means correct deviant behavior. It doesn't mean lock his feet, torture and torment. If you do that, you make 'em meaner, just like a dog, so if they do get out, then they're more violent and they're going to hurt you again," said Cain.
  
Some will eventually get out. So programs aim to help them succeed when they enter society again. Kyle Hebert is in for attempted first degree murder. Hebert says he has a life waiting when he gets out.

"I have already been through several vocational trades. I'm a certified welder. Mig, tig, stick and helio. I have five certifications in vo-tech. I'm a Bible college graduate. I also have a masters of divinity, which I've also been called to ministry. I'm assistant pastor up here, and I'm also a re-entry mentor for the Phelps guys," said Hebert.
   
But three quarters of the inmates at Angola are lifers. In Louisiana, generally, a life sentence means life in prison, unless there's a pardon or reduced sentence (commutation) from the governor.  

Hebert, who expects to be released in five years, says that many of the lifers here have been rehabilitated, and he thinks it's a waste of the taxpayer dollars to keep them locked up for the rest of their lives.

"We need to change these laws. Prison's not a place for rehabilitated men and dying old men. It's for predators. We do have predators, but they're in a cell," said Hebert.

Though, as he works for rehabilitation, Cain remembers:

"Don't forget the victims. Somebody's in the grave for many of them that's here, and we never forget the victims," said Cain.

Proceeds from rodeo ticket sales go toward the educational programs for inmates. If you want to attend, they also hold the rodeo for four weekends in October. For more information click here.

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