Created by radio producer Robert Pollie, the 7th Avenue Project is a weekly radio show for the seriously curious. Interviews and features on science, philosophy, art, music, culture and real-life stories, from Nobel laureates to prison inmates.
The show airs every Sunday at 12 noon & Monday at 2 AM (PST) on NPR affiliate KUSP FM.
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Show for Jan 27, 2013. Life and Death in Angola Penitentiary.
Louisiana State Penitentiary, better known as Angola, is in many ways a world apart: a former slave plantation bigger in area than Manhattan, nestled in a crook of the Mississippi, where prisoners still work the fields overseen by guards on horseback. Many live out their days there and are buried on the grounds. It’s a world Marianne Fisher-Giorlando counts herself lucky to be a part of. She’s a criminologist who’s spent a good share of her life studying and volunteering in Angola. She’s become an authority on its workings, culture and history, and despite the fear and loathing the place may evoke, her experiences there have been surprisingly upbeat.
I met Marianne through filmmaker/musicologist Ben Harbert, when we did a show on his documentary film Follow Me Down: Portraits of Louisiana Prison Musicians. After hearing her story, I decided to share it with listeners.