Angola hospice program helping inmates - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Angola hospice program helping inmates

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The Angola Prison Rodeo and Craft Show is as close as many people will get as far as a look inside the state penitentiary. Three quarters of the men are lifers and many will die there.

Warden Burl Cain said they bury far more than walk out.

"Last year we buried 52 people. One a week died here and we release only one every two weeks out the front gate. So, we have to have hospice because it saves money and it's dignity," said Cain.

Cain said the prison hospice program is one of the finest in the country.

"Our hospice patients potentially have six months or less life expectancy and our palliative care that are a year and a half or less life expectancy. They sell quilts at the rodeo & craft show to help raise money for the program for medical equipment for the program," said Cain.

Hospice coordinator Tonia Faust has been working at the prison for 13 years. She said she loves her job.

"You have every walk of life that's in there. But like everybody tells me, it could be anybody's family member that you're taking care of. They've gone through the court system. They've gotten their sentencing. They're here. I'm not here to judge them or punish them. I'm here to take care of them, their medical needs. What I've gone to school for," said Faust.

They usually have between fourteen and seventeen inmates in the program and about thirty inmates volunteer to care for those among them who are nearing the end of their lives.

"We conduct a 40 hour course for the guys to go through on bereavement, spirituality, body mechanics, how to take care of someone, different infectious diseases and then once they're finished they mentor with another hospice volunteer," said Faust.

While the program provides care and comfort for the dying, Cain said it also shows the change that takes place as a result of moral rehabilitation of inmates.

"An inmate is a taker. He takes your money, your life and your car. If he learns to give back and give he starts the road to rehabilitation. To do a hospice and be a care giver you're giving. So that's a real rehabilitative program. That's the biggest one. When you can go and take care of a fellow prisoner and he's nasty and dirty and you give him a bath, I mean that's a big deal," said Cain.

At Angola, hospice stands for helping others share their pain inside correctional environment.

Warden Cain is said to be the longest serving warden in America and he said he plans to keep on going. The next Angola Rodeo is in October.

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