Timeline

The Walls - 1835

First state penitentiary, commonly called “The Walls,” opens in downtown Baton Rouge on the site of the present federal courthouse

McHatton-Pratt & Co. - 1844

Failing to be self-sufficient, the state enters into contract to lease its prisoners to McHatton-Pratt & Co. Louisiana leased its prisoners for 56 years.

Women Prisoners - 1860

Contrary to popular beliefs, Louisiana incarcerated women before the Civil War, a majority of whom were slaves.

Occupation - 1862

During Civil War “The Walls” was occupied by the 1st Wisconsin Artillery Battery.

Return to Baton Rouge - 1866

Prisoners sent to New Orleans during the Civil War return to “The Walls” in Baton Rouge.

Samuel L. James - 1869

Samuel L. James acquires lease for Louisiana prisoners, subleases convicts to build levees & railroads.

The Purchase - 1880

James purchases 8,000-Acre Angola plantation in West Feliciana Parish, moves most prisoners to Angola & outlying work camps.

Shoes & Clothes - 1890

Remaining male prisoners at “The Walls” make shoes & clothes for all state convicts.

Samuel L. James Jr. - 1894

Samuel L. James dies at Angola, lease reverts to his son, S.L. James Jr.

Constitutional Amendment - 1898

Constitutional amendment bars convict leasing with expiration of James Lease.

State Purchase - 1900

State agrees to purchase Angola plantation for penitentiary; “The Walls” used primarily as a receiving center.

Resuming Control - 1901

On January first, Louisiana resumes control of its prison system after 56 years of leasing.

The Farm - 1910

“The Farm” improves conditions for prisoners, turns a profit during first decade understate control.

Henry L. Fuqua - 1917

Angola General Manager Henry L. Fuqua establishes convict guard system; “The Walls” in Baton Rouge is closed.

Flooding - 1922

Major flood inundates prison; most buildings and crops destroyed; Angola doubles in size with purchase of 10,000 adjacent acres.

The First Escape - 1934

After a mass escape led by notorious convict Charlie Frazier, Angola built its first cellblock, the Red Hat.

Hell on Angola - 1943

Hell On Angola” series, by former Angola Argus editor William Sadler, published in the New Orleans Item; spurs Justice Department review.

Heel Stringing - 1951

Eight inmates cut their achilles’ tendon in “Heel Stringing” incident, a protest of prison conditions that launched massive reform.

Female Prisoners - 1961

Female prisoners, at Angola since 1901, moved from prison to new quarters at St. Gabriel, Louisiana.

Lawsuit - 1976

Consent decree stemming from a 1973 lawsuit is entered into between corrections and Justice Department; Angola comes under federal court supervision.

American Correctional Association - 1993

Louisiana State Penitentiary is accredited by the American Correctional Association, a precondition to ending consent decree.

Burl Cain - 1995-Present

Burl Cain becomes warden, begins massive expansion of education and moral rehabilitation programming; violence inside the prison dramatically reduced.