They’re often thrown like rag dolls and risk being stepped on or gored by bucking bulls and broncos. But in those few seconds in the spotlight of the Angola Prison Rodeo, the inmates feel like they are part of the world again.
Louisiana’s most violent criminals, many serving life sentences for murder, are the stars of the nation’s longest-running prison rodeo that is celebrating its 50th year.
In a half-century, the event has grown from a small event for prisoners into a big business that draws thousands of spectators to the Louisiana State Penitentiary. Proceeds go into the prison’s Inmate Welfare Fund, which helps pay for inmate education and recreational supplies.
Only the prison’s most well-behaved inmates get to participate, said Gary Frank, an award-winning power lifter and former professional football player who serves as the maximum-security prison’s athletic director