When a group of middle school students visited Angola a few years ago, Cain told them that the inmates were there because they "didn't listen to their parents. They didn't listen to law enforcement. So when they get here, I become their daddy, and they will either listen to me or make their time here very hard."
Cain's first execution, he told the Baptist Press, was done strictly by the book. "There was a psshpssh from the machine, and then he was gone," Cain recalled. "I felt him go to hell as I held his hand. Then the thought came over me: I just killed that man. I said nothing to him about his soul. I didn't give him a chance to get right with God. What does God think of me? I decided that night I would never again put someone to death without telling him about his soul and about Jesus."
...he was implicated in a scandal involving a company that used Angola prison labor to relabel damaged or outdated cans of milk and tomato paste.
In fact, there is considerable evidence that the turnaround at Angola began two decades before Cain became warden, in the 1970s, when a prisoner lawsuit forced the facility into federal oversight and a series of reforms began. According to Burk Foster, a professor of criminal justice at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan and the leading historian of Angola, by the mid-1980s Angola was already the most secure prison in the South. Prison violence is down dramatically across the country; the prison murder rate has fallen more than 90 percent (PDF) nationwide in the last three decades.
Yet the legend of Cain persists—and not just because Cain and his team (the formidable Cathy Fontenot included) are so skilled at PR. Cain does a job that no one else much wants to do, dealing with a group of people that no one else much wants to think about. Rather than face that reality, most of us prefer to believe in a miracle.
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