Location: Angola, Louisiana
Notable Residents: C-Murder, The Angola 3 (Robert Hillary King, Herman Wallace, and Albert Woodfox), Lil Boosie, Robert Lee Willie and Elmo Patrick Sonnier
Amenities: A golf course and FCC-licensed radio station
Referred to as "The Alcatraz of the South," "The Farm," or simply LSP, Louisiana State Penitentiary is the largest maximum security prison in the United States. It holds 5,000 prisoners and 1,800 staff members. The land the prison covers totals 18,000. It was previously occupied by plantations owned by Isaac Franklin. LSP officially opened as a prison in 1901 and was said to be as close as anyone could get to slavery during the 1930s. Hardened criminals would be reduced to groveling husks when informed that they were headed there. Unsurprisingly, there were heavy racial tensions in the Farm during this time; each year, one out of every ten inmates was stabbed.
LSP, or "Angola" as it was also known, houses the state's death row for men. During the 1940s, Louisiana changed its method of execution, opting for death by electrocution, and the state's electric chair, "Gruesome Gertie," was carried from parish to parish before finding a home at LSP. In 1952, 31 prisoners severed their own Achilles' tendons to protest of the work routine, earning them the name "The Heel String Gang." The event garnered national attention.
Presently, most inmates live in dormitories rather than cell blocks. Prison administration rationalizes this as encouraging cooperation and fostering healthy peer relationships among inmates. Inmates live in multiple housing units across the prison grounds. During the 1990s, air conditioners were finally installed in the units.
It would be foolish not to put all of that space to good use, so LSP has several activities for inmates. It features a fire station, golf course, airstrip, museum, magazine (The Angolite), television station, and is the only prison in the U.S. to have been granted an FCC license to run a radio station (KLSP). The prison has also appeared in pop culture; the execution scene in Monster's Ball was filmed there, using Gruesome Gertie. Sister Helen Prejean based the novel Dead Man Walking on her experiences at LSP, and its been alleged that Stephen Kings's The Green Mile was inspired by the prison.