Thursday, July 28, 2011

Showdown at Angola: God’s Warden vs. Veteran Muckraker

(Illustration of Burl Cain by Jack Unruh, Mother Jones)

Mother Jones writer James Ridgeway has written a new article about his recent visit to Angola Prison and his many failed attempts to interview Warden Burl Cain. While published in the July/August issue of Mother Jones, it has just been released online this week, and the full article can be viewed here.

For several years prior to this article, Ridgeway has been writing an excellent series of articles about the Angola 3, and this did not make him a favorite of Cain and Angola authorities. He writes that “when I requested permission to visit the prison and interview Cain, back in 2009, Fontenot turned me down flat. Cain, she said, was not happy with what I had written about the Angola Three, a trio of inmates who have been in solitary longer than any other prisoners in America…After more than a year of trying to get into Angola, I…turned to a lawsuit. In March 2010, the ACLU agreed to represent me on a First Amendment claim arguing that to keep government information from a reporter merely on the basis of what he's written is an infringement on press freedom.” Then, as “the ACLU prepared to file suit in federal court, Fontenot wrote to them, inviting me down for a tour.”