Inside Angola: Part 2 - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Inside Angola: Part 2

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WEST FELICIANA PARISH, La. (KALB News Channel 5) - In what was once considered the bloodiest prison in America, inmates are serving out life sentences while also finding ways to improve themselves.

Covering 18,000 acres, the six camps of the Louisiana State Penitentiary House 6,300 inmates, from those serving short term drug offenses, to death row inmates to those serving life terms.

"Angola is different than most prisons. You're not just sitting in a cell serving time, everyone that's physically able works, and a lot of times that's very productive work," said Kerry Meyers.

Meyers is serving life without parole, and under Louisiana law, will likely never leave Angola. He is making the most of his time as Editor for the prison's news magazine - The Angolite.

"Even though prison is plain and simple and bare, it makes life here, the quality of life here, relatively speaking, the highest quality of life you can have," said Meyers. 

Meyers leads a staff of writers, telling the stories of those inside. Stories like those of Randy Thomas. Thomas, convicted of first degree murder, is finding his own escape.

"The doors of opportunity opened up and as an end result, I'm here," said Thomas. 

As a DJ for KLSP, Angola's convict run radio station, Thomas rekindled his passion for music.

"I love music, I grew up around music, from Elementary School to High School," said Thomas.  

It's a passion that's helping him cope with the reality of his conviction.

"It has given me peace of mind, and the reason being, being in an environment like this, music is a way of escape," said Thomas.

Angola is a prison without walls, and those here have an opportunity to prove they are more than just a number.

"There's actually men here, there's actually free men here, there's actually men that they can come in here and do business with like you do on the streets," said Lacey Billiot.  

A place where they can find an outlet for expression.

"We are still human even though we have committed some type of offense to society, they let us know that we are still human and that's the way we're going to treat you," said Thomas.

As long as they seize the chance to improve themselves.

"When they're given an opportunity and they make the best of it, this is what you get, a guy who does art, a guy who can paint, a guy who does metal sculpture," said Meyers.  

If you're interested in visiting the Louisiana State Penitentiary you can check out the convict produced "Life of Jesus Christ" play November 16th and 17th or the Angola Rodeo next spring.

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