Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Prison Rodeos and the Three Strikes Rule

Last night I was flipping through channels with Boy, and we came across some sort of fluff news show (or maybe it was one of the seven hundred ESPN channels) about the Angola Prison Rodeo.

Angola is the Louisiana State Penitentiary. Angola is where they put you when, as Double Ex used to say, "you need to go
UNDER the jail." They also call it "The Farm," though I don't know why. Maybe it used to be a's far enough in the middle of nowhere for it to have been a farm.

ANYWAY. Every year, Angola hosts this event. It's basically a mini festival within the pen walls, complete with food, fun, and rodeo, the rodeo, obviously, being the main event. The rodeo participants are the prisoners, and the whole thing gets pretty brutal. It's possible that all rodeos are this brutal, but I have not been to any other rodeo. So I can only comment on this one. It's crazy.

This is the event called "Convict Poker."

Prisoners are on a huge waiting list to participate in this yearly event (only the best-behaved prisoners can participate). I've heard it likened to a Romans/lions/
coliseum sort of situation, but as the warden of Angola says (and I have to agree), these prisoners are not only willing participants, but they are basically clamoring to take part. He mentioned that 80% of these dudes don't get any visitors. Like, ever. Meaning the only people they EVER see are the people that work at the prison and their fellow inmates. If these dudes find it fun to get roughed up a little by a bull, I say, go for it. And besides, there's lots of other ways to participate: all the food stands, art stands, and bandstands are run by prisoners as well.

ANYWAY. There was a prisoner talking about how much he enjoyed the rodeo, and the media dude asked him what he was in for. He told the guy (in the SE Louisiana accent that I just lurve), that he got picked up for dealing coke. Or holding enough to deal or some shit. Why is he in Angola for life? Because Louisiana is one of the "three strikes" states. My man got picked up for something twice, and the cokie offense was his third strike.

As Boy pointed out last night, this is the dumbest law ever. Here's why: someone like this dude gets picked up once, gets a public defender who doesn't give two fucks, gets convicted as a felon, does his time, it happens again, happens one more time, then boom. He's in jail for life next to mother rapers. Father stabbers.
Father rapers! Right there on the bench! On the other hand, someone like Robert Downey Jr. (who I do adore, and don't want to see go to jail, but just let me have my point here) gets picked up for the same thing (California is also a three strikes state), gets his charge knocked down to a misdemeanor by a fancypants gazillion dollar lawyer, does some service, it happens again, he does a teeny bit of time (again, a misdemeanor), it happens again, he does time, but the difference is, he gets out and makes Iron Man.

I loved Iron Man. I'm glad it was made. I just think it's horrible that Cokie Louisianian has to go away for life for the same shit.

I promise that at some point, these posts will start being well-written again. Also, thank you to Boy for the RDJ example.


Crystal said...

If you know of a bittorrent file for this documentary, let us know?

Monica said...

I don't, but there is a documentary by a dude named Simeon Soffer called The Wildest Show in the South: The Angola Prison Rodeo

Crystal said...

OMG, just Googled that doc and found tickets for sale to the rodeo!!

Chessa said...

I like the way you're writing and don't think it needs to change or go back to whatever you thought it was before. you're naked, remember?

as an attorney, I can tell you that I firmly believe that these three strikes laws are complete crap. not to mention unconstitutional...I think it's called due process or something like that.


Simeon said...

Ha ha! I'm the 'dude' named Simeon Soffer who made that film! Glad y'all enjoyed it! I'll try'n figure out how to post a copy! Thanks for watching!


Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

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