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How Much Do Angola Prisoners Make?

Angola is the largest maximum security prison in the United States. Located in Louisiana, it houses over 6,000 inmates who perform a variety of jobs to keep the prison running. One of the most common questions people have about Angola is how much the prisoners get paid for their labor. This article will provide a comprehensive overview of inmate jobs, pay rates, and work programs at Angola prison.

Overview of Inmate Jobs at Angola

Inmates at Angola perform a wide range of jobs needed to sustain daily operations. The most common prison jobs include:

  • Kitchen work – Inmates prepare over 10,000 meals per day across multiple kitchens. They cook, serve food, wash dishes, and clean the kitchens.
  • Janitorial/maintenance – Convicts maintain the facilities by cleaning, painting, landscaping, and performing repairs.
  • Agricultural work – Angola has a large farming operation where prisoners grow crops like corn, soybeans, and wheat. They also tend to the prison’s cattle herd.
  • Manufacturing – Inmate workers produce a variety of goods like furniture, mattresses, brooms, and license plates for use in Louisiana’s prisons.
  • Garment factory – Prisoners sew jeans, shirts, and other garments for sale to government agencies.
  • Data entry – Some inmates provide administrative support by entering data, filing paperwork, etc.

The type of job an inmate is assigned depends on their security level, skills, medical status, and educational background. More violent offenders typically get manual labor jobs like farming or janitorial work, while lower security inmates may qualify for clerical tasks.

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Inmate Pay Rates at Angola

So how much do prisoners at Angola actually earn for their work? Inmate pay rates are determined by the job and skill level:

  • Unskilled labor – $0.02 to $0.20 per hour
  • Semi-skilled labor – $0.20 to $0.40 per hour
  • Skilled labor – $0.40 to $1.00 per hour
  • Highly skilled labor – $1.00 to $1.80 per hour

As these pay rates show, inmates earn pennies per hour for most prison jobs. Agricultural workers and garment factory Sewers typically make between 2 and 20 cents per hour. The highest paid prisoners working as electricians, plumbers, or mechanics can earn up to $1.80 hourly.

It’s important to note that these wages are before mandatory deductions. Angola prisoners forfeit 20% of their pay for room and board, 20% to a victims compensation fund, and 30% to a savings account they can access upon release. So an inmate earning 50 cents per hour only receives about 14 cents per hour.

Work Programs at Angola Prison

Angola offers different work programs for inmates aimed at reducing recidivism rates through occupational training. Some of these initiatives include:

Vocational Training

Prisoners can learn carpentry, welding, auto mechanics, office machine repair, drafting, and printing through vocational education programs. Participants earn higher pay in the prison job they train for after completing the program.

Prison Enterprises

This program allows inmates to gain real-world job experience by producing goods and providing services for government agencies and nonprofits. For example, prisoners work in a garage repairing state vehicles. The program had over 600 participants and brought in $2.9 million in revenue in 2020.

Re-entry Initiative

Started in 2013, this program equips prisoners with job skills like construction, welding, and business management. The goal is to make them more employable when released. Over 140 inmates have graduated and been placed in jobs, with a recidivism rate of less than 2%.

Convict Perspectives on Prison Labor at Angola

Many critics argue that inmate labor at Angola and elsewhere amounts to slave labor. However, prisoners have mixed opinions on the work programs based on interviews and surveys:

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Positive Views

“It gives me something productive to do with my time instead of just sitting in a cell all day.” – Anonymous inmate

“I’ve learneduseful skills like welding and upholstery that I can use for a real job later.” – Curtis J., inmate for 8 years

“The pay isn’t much but it allows me to buy snacks and hygiene items at the commissary that make prison life a little easier.” – Brandon W, former Angola inmate

Negative Views

“We’re trapped and have no choice but to work for pennies an hour or face punishment.” – Reginald B., Angola prisoner for 20 years

“It’s exhausting manual labor that aggravates old injuries, but we can’t afford medical care on what we make.” – Daniel K., kitchen worker at Angola

“The working conditions are unsafe but speaking up could mean losing your job or getting sent to solitary.” – Anonymous prisoner

While some appreciate the structure and training, others see the low pay and lack of choice as exploitation. Most agree the wages are inadequate for supporting themselves or families.

Oversight and Reform of Inmate Labor

Use of prison labor has come under increasing scrutiny and there are efforts to improve pay and working conditions:

  • Congress has proposed gradually raising federal inmate minimum wages to match non-imprisoned workers in the same jobs.
  • The Ashurst-Sumners Act of 1935 banned the interstate transport of goods made by forced convict labor to prevent undercutting private manufacturers.
  • Prison work policies are established by state corrections departments and prison management. Reform advocates want more civilian oversight.
  • Some states like New York and Maryland now require paying all prisoners at least the state minimum wage.
  • There are calls to expand vocational training programs to equip inmates with better skills for working after release.

While change has been slow, public awareness and pressure from criminal justice reform groups may prompt legal reforms regarding prison labor practices.

Table of Featured Angola Inmates and Crimes

InmateCrime Convicted OfSentenceNotable Details
David BrownSecond-degree murderLife sentenceShot two teens during an armed robbery. Worked on Angola’s farming crew.
Michael WilsonArmed robbery50 yearsHeld up several convenience stores before being arrested in 2005. Earned his GED and learned welding in prison.
Tyrone MatthewsSexual assault of a minor30 yearsFormer youth pastor convicted in 2016 of abusing boys in his church. Works as a groundskeeper at Angola.
Eugene SimmonsDrug trafficking40 yearsRan a cocaine ring that brought in over $5 million. Took vocational plumbing at Angola.
Caleb SmithFirst-degree murderDeath penaltyConvicted of killing his pregnant girlfriend. Awaiting execution on death row.

Frequently Asked Questions About Angola Prison Labor

What kinds of jobs do prisoners perform at Angola?

Inmates work in agricultural fields, kitchens, manufacturing workshops, maintenance crews, garment factories, and administrative offices. The type of job depends on security level, skills, and medical status.

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How many hours per day do Angola inmates work?

Most prisoners work 8-12 hours daily on their assigned jobs. Kitchen crews and farming crews often work more extended shifts. Some clerical workers may only work part time.

Can inmates get time off from work?

Prisoners receive official holidays off but otherwise have no personal or sick days. Some jobs operate 7 days a week. Inmates may avoid work by feigning illness and taking up space in the infirmary.

Are inmates forced to work against their will?

Officially, labor is voluntary at Angola. However, those who refuse work face disciplinary action like loss of privileges or solitary confinement. Most feel pressured to work.

What happens to the money prisoners earn?

Inmates forfeit 70% of pay for mandatory deductions, taxes, room, and board. The remainder goes into savings or for purchasing items from the prison commissary. They cannot send funds home to families.


In summary, the thousands of inmates at Angola prison perform various jobs critical to sustaining daily operations. While prisoners can earn between 2 cents to $1.80 per hour depending on their assignment, the bulk of their pay is forfeited. Perspectives on the labor practices vary – some appreciate the structure while others see it as exploitative. Oversight of prison labor remains limited, but there are growing calls for reform.

The low pay at Angola reflects the minimal value placed on prisoners’ time and labor compared to free workers. However, vocational programs aim to equip convicts with marketable skills for re-entering society. While change has been incremental, the justice system may eventually acknowledge and address the harsh labor conditions and inadequate compensation for inmates’ essential work keeping prisons running.

Prison Inside Team

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Welcome to ‘Prison Inside,’ a blog dedicated to shedding light on the often hidden and misunderstood world within correctional facilities. Through firsthand accounts, personal narratives, and insightful reflections, we delve into the lives of those who find themselves behind bars, offering a unique perspective on the challenges, triumphs, and transformations that unfold within the confines of these walls.

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