He was 22 years old when he was convicted of first-degree murder without possibility of parole. He was given a life sentence in 1997. His mother feels like he did not get a fair hearing at the court possibly because they did not have the money to engage the best legal team. He remains adamant that he is innocent of the murder charge he is accused of. He is afraid that he might never see his loved ones again.
Eugene “Bishop” Tanniehill
He was imprisoned on October 4th,1959 at the age of 24 years. In 1998 when the first documentary was shot, he had been in the prison for 38 years. He is an ordained minister, explaining the name Bishop. He has gained much of the education while in prison. His parole was waiting for the governor’s signature, which was not forthcoming.
He was accused of armed robbery and imprisoned in January of 1972 for 75 years. However, he did not get to serve his entire term as his parole was approved in 1999. He is a source of hope for the other inmates and keeps inspiring them to live a positive life. His parole was denied for the first time but still hopes to get back his freedom. He was even allowed the chance to work outside the prison to prevent more people from coming into the prison.
Logan ‘Bones’ Theriot
He was given a life sentence in 1960 for having killed his wife. His wife had borne a child with his friend. She did not accept the child, the issue that led to Logan killing her. He died in 1997 after a battle with lung cancer. This was the reason he did not serve his sentence to the end.
By the time the documentary was recorded, he had been in the prison for 12 years having been sentenced in 1986. He was sentenced to capital punishment and executed in 1997. He is really bothered by the lack of contact with the outside world, a life he equates to that of an animal. He likes music which is his source of hope.
He was accused of two counts of aggravated rape and sentenced in 1977 for 100 years of hard labor. These are crimes that he claims to be innocent of. Because he did not have the resources to get legal representation, he represented himself in court. After serving for 20 years, he faced a parole hearing which he was denied.
He was sentenced to death in 1961 for first-degree murder and kidnapping. In 1972, he was commuted to life and got his freedom in 2005 following his 4th trial. He studied to become an author as well as award-winning journalist during the time he was imprisoned.
The prison is one of the most secure in the United States. There is evidence of this in the documentaries, particularly in the nature of cuffing and chaining of the inmates. The farm does not leave security to chance. The prison, defined as bloodiest in the country, is indicative of its harsh nature. Those who enter have no chance of coming out unless getting a parole or serving the complete sentence. There are few prisoners who get to see the outside world once they are in.
Disconnection from the Outside World
The prisoners are completely disconnected from the outside world, and whenever they get the chance to be visited, it is for a limited amount of time. These days are also very few, and the visitors are limited to only five. After staying for a long time, the prisoners tend to forget how it felt to be part of the society. John Brown describes their life like that of caged animals. He says that he no longer knows how he would relate to the people out there in case he is given the chance.
To deal with violence and the outcome of depression, the prison has a policy of solitary confinement. The prisoners are held in solitary cells for as long as 23 hours. This is a time during which they do not have any contact with their fellow inmates. It is hard enough that the prisoners are cut off from the outside life. Confinement makes life even harder for them when they are behind bars.
Hard labor is one of the main characteristics of the farm. The inmates are expected to work on the farm and perform other forms of hard labor. This is all for only 4 cents per hour. This is evidence of a very challenging life of the inmates.
Persistent Denial or Parole
One of the ways that the prisoners get to leave Angola is through parole. There is a guarantee of one parole hearing for all eligible inmates. However, for the prisoners, regardless of the amount of evidence, there are limited chances of getting the parole approval. Out of the seven prisoners for whom the stories are shared, only one got a parole approval. Up to the time of the second documentary, the remaining inmates are still waiting.
The Farm: Life inside Angola Prison (sometimes called The Farm: Angola) (1998)
The Farm: 10 Down (sometimes called A Decade Behind Bars: Return to the Farm) (2007)