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A long par five, right past death row
November 7, 2012 12:58 PM   Subscribe

If ever there were a question about the ballooning scale of America's prison system, the Louisiana State Penitentiary provides an answer. It has its own golf course.
posted by Chrysostom (25 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
They also have a gift shop.
posted by ColdChef at 1:04 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


(which I now see is referred to in the article)
posted by ColdChef at 1:07 PM on November 7, 2012


Fore more years! Fore more years!
posted by phaedon at 1:08 PM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


So they . . . they land the . . . balloons . . . on th' golf course?
 
posted by Herodios at 1:09 PM on November 7, 2012


This is pretty terrible, but I know a lot of my students (who are also prisoners in Maryland) would love to have more time outside.
posted by anotherpanacea at 1:16 PM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ferndale Institution, a minimum security jail in B.C. Canada, had a golf course for many years. From wikipedia: "The course was often played by community groups from the Mission BC area as well as inmates. It was also utilized in training inmates in landscaping, and horticulture vocations, and to foster positive recreational habits for inmates. The golf course was eventually removed due to public outrage." I believe "Club Fed" is what the media dubbed it.

Warden Ron Wiebe wrote about the benefits of the course.
posted by Kabanos at 1:17 PM on November 7, 2012


Well, yes, but it's not USGA rated.
posted by boo_radley at 1:22 PM on November 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't know why a golf course is bad but a basketball net is not? If it benefits the prisoners, gives them more palatable social interaction, and something to do (even if building it) then good.

I questioned a family member who was once in prison for several years about how he felt about doing menial labor for free or slave wages. He said prisoners fought for the labor jobs, because it got them out of their cells, gave them something to do and just broke up the boredom.

So yeah, golf courses for all! Or whatever.
posted by Malice at 1:29 PM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Louisiana State Penitentiary, previously (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) on Metafilter.
posted by ambrosen at 1:29 PM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


You know, municipal golf courses aren't all that unusual, and I think that the author of the article didn't take the best angle when approaching the subject.

Some prisoners help maintain highways and roads by picking up litter. Others build furniture for use within the state government. A few of these inmates help to maintain a public park that happens to be located directly next to their prison.

There are plenty of f--ed up things about our prison system, but I'm not sure that this particular one is anywhere near the top of that list, or even a problem at all.
posted by schmod at 1:30 PM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


The resources required to purchase and maintain clubs, balls and other accessories as well as the immense amount of energy required to maintain the playing surface is a far cry from a basketball hoop on a cracked asphalt surface. I think that is why some are outraged.
posted by basicchannel at 1:36 PM on November 7, 2012


The prisoners don't play golf. They maintain the course. Golf is played by visitors, guards and their families. In case that wasn't clear.

Also: many of the guards live within the gates of the prison. On the actual prison grounds. With their families. Angola is waaaaaay out by itself at the end of a long road, miles and miles from everyone and everything. It's a strange insular community. As you'd imagine.
posted by ColdChef at 1:42 PM on November 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


For everyone not reading the article: The Golf Course is the Ballyhoo that beckons readers in to actually find out that some prisons are entrenched, own-world fiefdoms ensuring 18th century slavery lives on in the 21st century.
posted by jscott at 2:01 PM on November 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't know why a golf course is bad but a basketball net is not? If it benefits the prisoners, gives them more palatable social interaction, and something to do (even if building it) then good.

Just to be clear: my objection is to building a prototypical luxury on the grounds of a former plantation using mostly African-American forced laborers. Angola is a terrible place, but there's a pretty golf course and a rodeo for tourists that tries to cover up the terribleness.
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:02 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Whoever thinks that the urban poor don't contribute to the economy ... should probably get a new financial advisor, because those prison-management stocks are hot.
posted by jamjam at 2:04 PM on November 7, 2012


Yeah, I think some commenters on here didn't really grasp what is going on.

Prisoners work the golf course. At 20 cents an hour, they are well paid compared to other prison jobs. People go to the prisons for entertainment and leisure events. Like the golf course, and the rodeo, and the gift shop. And being in proximity to people in jail - apparently part of the thrill.

This creeps me out.
posted by entropone at 3:30 PM on November 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh god, I can just imagine the Fox News angle on this would be.
posted by JHarris at 4:17 PM on November 7, 2012


Do I get to hire a prisoner caddy?

Also I'm curious about the background check the article says you need to pass before playing. If you worked on this course and then were paroled, you wouldn't be allowed to come back and play?
posted by RobotHero at 4:50 PM on November 7, 2012


Angola is basically everything that is horribly, horribly wrong with American prisons, writ large.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:23 PM on November 7, 2012


A couple days ago someone posted Stephen Fry's documentary which features a visit to this place. It's hard to tell if he was repelled, amused, or perplexed, or all of the above.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:42 PM on November 7, 2012


If the worst thing about America's prisons was that they gave too many nice things to the prisoners, that would be AWESOME.
posted by edheil at 9:17 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Keeping the name Angola really is remarkably brutal cynicism.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:47 PM on November 7, 2012


Prisoners work the golf course. At 20 cents an hour, they are well paid compared to other prison jobs. People go to the prisons for entertainment and leisure events. Like the golf course, and the rodeo, and the gift shop. And being in proximity to people in jail - apparently part of the thrill.

It's almost as if capitalism is an Ouroboros that's continuing to eat itself until all that's left is the head.
posted by Apocryphon at 12:25 AM on November 8, 2012


Bizarre place, bizarre article.

Also, forty years in solitary confinement?
posted by subdee at 1:19 AM on November 8, 2012


The prisoners don't play golf. They maintain the course. Golf is played by visitors, guards and their families. In case that wasn't clear

You know how this game is played. Once this article (or at least its title) starts to make the rounds, I eagerly await the incendiary Facebook posts about how prisoners should be stamping license plates or being summarily executed, not playing LEISURE SPORTS on the TAXPAYERS' DOLLAR. Then Snopes will have to write some pithy 4-line summary saying exactly the same thing ColdChef did. It'll die down after a few days, but then some angry spittle-flecked relative will bring it up again at Thanksgiving, and use it as a segue into how awful it is that Romney lost. And then the same furor will spontaneously re-erupt every 18 months, from now until the heat death of the universe.
posted by Mayor West at 5:44 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


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