Burl Cain, longtime warden of the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, the state’s largest prison and keeper of death row, is resigning amid questions raised by a newspaper about his private real estate dealings, reports the Associated Press. Cain, 73, a Republican considered one of the state’s most powerful figures, has run the maximum-security prison, commonly known as Angola, since 1995. Cain has been credited with improving conditions and decreasing violence at the working prison farm, which has 3,600 inmates confined on 18,000 acres, land where once slaves worked on a plantation. Cain is also known for pushing the expansion of religious outreach at Angola, which has eight churches.
The Advocate in Baton Rouge questioned whether Cain violated a policy against having a “nonprofessional” relationship with “offenders or with offenders’ families or friends.” Cain reportedly sold his interest in tracts of land to two developers who were friends or family of two murderers at Angola. The newspaper reported that the Louisiana legislative auditor and the state Department of Public Safety and Corrections had opened probes into the matter. Cain’s prison is the subject of an ongoing federal lawsuit about heat levels. A federal judge ruled in 2013 that death row gets so hot that it violates U.S. constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment and demanded a cooling plan. State officials are appealing the ruling.