For 5 years, I have served as the senior mental health consultant helping
to revise policies and improve services at the Louisiana State Penitentiary
at Angola. During that time, I have met in a collegial role on numerous occasions
with Warden Burl Cain. So it was no surprise when a few months ago, over coffee,
he told me that he had a request of me. I could not foresee that it would
have profound implications for me as a medical professional and as a person.
Warden Cain, the man in charge of this 5100-inmate maximum-security prison,
is an authoritative figure who is also clearly a religious person. He stresses
his belief that while security is paramount, correctional officers must show
decency toward the inmates. One of the country's best-known prisons, Angola
at one time was referred to as the bloodiest prison in the United States.
Under Warden Cain, it has achieved a reputation for reform and progressiveness.
Osofsky HJ. Dead Man Talking. JAMA. 2002;287(24):3181-3182. doi:10.1001/jama.287.24.3181