Magazine article New York Times Upfront

'This Is Not College'

Magazine article New York Times Upfront

'This Is Not College'

Article excerpt

In Louisiana, a life sentence comes without the possibility of parole, and teenagers as young as 14 who commit certain crimes can be tried--and sentenced--as adults. A 14-year-old boy receiving a life sentence would serve his first four years at the Dixon Correctional Institute in Jackson, which has separate facilities for youthful offenders.

At 18, the inmate would go to the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, which has the largest "lifer" population in the world: More than 3,000 of Angola's 5,100 inmates are serving life without parole.

For their own protection, the youngest inmates are housed apart from the general population. "Being here can be very hard, very tough," says Cathy Fontenol, an assistant warden. "This is not college."

Angola inmates have 20 minutes to finish their meals and are subject to four major head counts a day. They can have 10 people on a visitor list, 20 on a phone list. …

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