Whitmire finds moral rehabilitation inside Angola Prison
provides a tough and smart approach to corrections
AUSTIN, Texas — Senator John Whitmire (D-Houston) responded today about his three-day visit with Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston) to what was once the bloodiest prison in America. “Senator Patrick and I got a first-hand look at a moral rehabilitative program that provides a safer prison environment for staff and inmates, protects public safety through fewer victims and is cost effective,” stated Senator Whitmire. “It certainly deserves the attention of our state leaders and prison officials.”
The Louisiana State Penitentiary, also known as the Angola State Prison Farm, is the largest maximum security prison in the United States and is home to 5000 offenders serving sentences for murder, rape and other violent crimes; more than 3600 of the inmates are serving life sentences.
The focus of the visit was the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary located within the fences of Angola, and the moral rehabilitation it provides. The four-year higher education program has produced 150 new ministers, many serving life sentence, who will be disbursed to other units within the Louisiana prison system. The graduates serve as ministers to non-violent offenders who will eventually return to their communities with a new outlook on life helping to reduce recidivism, saves lives and families, and prevent future victims.
During their time at Angola, Senator Whitmire and Senator Patrick, along with Texas Department of Criminal Justice Deputy Executive Director Bryan Collier, other Texas officials, and Texas Bible College professionals held briefings with stakeholders, attended church services, and had direct interaction with inmates. Senator Whitmire stated, “I found this to be a remarkable program that Senator Patrick and I will present to state leadership and the Texas Board of Criminal Justice and will work with Texas prison officials to locate the right unit, the right warden, and the right staff to duplicate the effort in Texas.”
“Our ultimate goal is to make our communities safer by changing the character of prisoners so when released they do not go back to a life of crime,” stated Sen. Dan Patrick. “What we witnessed at Angola was truly amazing. The Bible College has changed the culture of Angola. I look forward to working with Chairman Whitmire to bring this concept to Texas prisons,” said Patrick.
“During one church service I handed Warden Cain a note stating that I had never seen so many men serving life sentences with a smile on their face. The Warden replied that with a moral attitude, even if an inmate will not be set free in this world, he looks forward to being free in the next,” Whitmire recalled.