The Prison Recreation Complex


In the new issue of Tomorrow Magazine, Josh Begley beholds the "ballooning scale of America’s prison system" while visiting Louisiana State Penitentiary's golf course:

There are enough prisoners in the United States to fill every NFL football stadium at the same time, with 80,000 inmates left over. … Yet at Angola, the largest maximum-security prison in the country, more than 70,000 people a year pay to enter the gates for fun. Most go to see the Angola Prison Rodeo, where inmates have built a 10,000-seat stadium to house "The Wildest Show in the South" every Sunday in October and one weekend in April. Some go for the arts and crafts festival, where prisoners sell handmade items like birdhouses and matchstick replicas of space shuttles for as much as $500. I went to play golf. They sell a t-shirt in the nearby gift shop: "ANGOLA: A GATED COMMUNITY."

(Photo: Inmates run from a bull during the Angola Prison Rodeo at the Louisiana State Penitentiary April 23, 2006 in Angola, Louisiana. The Angola Prison Rodeo, opened in 1965, is the longest running prison rodeo in the nation. The 10,000 seat arena was built entirely by inmate labor. The prison holds approximately 5,000 male inmates, 68 percent of whom are serving life sentences. By Mario Tama/Getty Images)