About 100 inmates at Louisiana’s Angola penitentiary took part in this week’s Angola Prison Rodeo, says USA Today. It’s one of only two rodeos in the U.S. performed almost entirely by inmates. The other is at Oklahoma State Penitentiary. At one time, there were as many as six prison rodeos around the country, said Art Leonardo the North American Association of Wardens & Superintendents. Fear of lawsuits from injured inmates and lack of political will caused most of them to close, he said.
The nation’s financial crisis has forced prison officials to face deep cuts. Money-generating events like the rodeo have become increasingly important to fund inmate programs and activities, Angola Warden Burl Cain said. The rodeo, which generates up to $450,000 a day in revenue – which includes income made from prisoners selling their handmade crafts – pays for Baptist seminary classes at the prison, funerals for inmates, educational programs, and maintenance of the prison’s six chapels. The event is also a good incentive to keep inmates orderly throughout the year, Cain said. Only well-behaved prisoners are allowed to ride.