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Greenlit: Louisiana Lockdown, Animal Planet

Louisiana Lockdown – Set inside one of the USA’s largest maximum-security penitentiaries, Angola Prison.  Angola is home to 5,300 prisoners who may never see the outside world again. With an army of 1,300 dedicated staff-people, the prison grounds are also home to hundreds of guards and workers and many of these families have dwelled there for generations.

The penitentiary has a bloodied past, known for the numerous grisly murders that occurred there, but Warden Burl Cain has since introduced correctional programs to correspond with his motto – “Land of New Beginnings.” The earned opportunity to be released temporarily from the prison walls to train animals outside in fresh air gives Angola inmates the incentive to work hard, stay in line and feel the reward of the closest thing to freedom many of them will ever experience again.

These dangerous criminals, with the harshest and most enduring prison sentences, have a simple choice: Either they rebel and live in despair or they cooperate and earn privileges at Angola. If they can earn the title of “trustee,” they are entrusted to do meaningful work, much of it with animals.  It can take an inmate 10 years to reach trustee status and become eligible for the most sought-after jobs on the grounds, such as herding cattle, raising bloodhounds and training wild horses. Good behavior also earns the prisoners the chance to compete in Angola’s controversial, yet popular annual rodeo where prisoners intermingle with the general public, work with horses and have the potential to earn prize money and acclaim.  As one convict says, it’s worth being good all year to have just “eight seconds of freedom” on the back of a bucking bronco.

Of course Warden Cain and his employees aren’t naïve to the possibility of rebellion and escape. At any moment, they’re prepared to protect themselves and society from acts of violence, using an army of guards and guard dogs as insurance. In the premiere episode, the threat of flooding (a likelihood as the prison is surrounded by water), can turn the prison into an escape route. With the Mississippi River nearing historic heights, the warden and his staff face their first-ever evacuation thus risking utter chaos by transporting hardened criminals to institutions across the state.

Channel: Animal Planet

Producer: Original Media

TX: 1st June 2012

Source: Animal Planet press release

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