At Angola prison, short timers learn trades, coping skills from lifers

April 8th, 2015 by DezinsAdmin

It was drug abuse that landed Austin Ray Morrish at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, the 18,000-acre West Feliciana Parish farm once known as the bloodiest prison in the United States. Since January, when he pleaded guilty to possession of heroin and alprazolam, the former Mandeville resident has been tethered to convicted murderers and rapists who have no expectation that they’ll ever leave Angola.

Morrish, however, is pulling only two years, far less than what he could have gotten. He sees himself as lucky. “It’s better than getting 20,” he said.

He is among the 104 “short timers” who have been sentenced to Angola, instead of to lower-security prisons, as part of a growing “re-entry” court program that was started by New Orleans judges Arthur Hunter and Laurie White in 2010. The program is authorized in eight jurisdictions in Louisiana, including the 22nd Judicial District Court for St. Tammany and Washington parishes, which admitted Morrish.

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