Inside The Rodeo For Supermax Prisoners At Angola Penitentiary

The injuries are real, the rewards are tiny, but the convicts will stare down a charging bull just for the thrill of competition.

The Louisiana State Penitentiary is a “supermax” facility that houses some 5,000 violent criminals. Its nickname: “The Alcatraz of the South.”

Via en.wikipedia.org

Every April and October, a select few inmates get to participate in the Angola Prison Rodeo, which offers cash prizes and a little competition for individuals who are mostly isolated.

Sean Gardner/Los Angeles Times / MCT

Sisters Kristy and Katie Barry made a mini-documentary about the Angola rodeo — we’ve briefly summarized it below, but when you have the time, watch the doc full-screen.

Video available at: http://vimeo.com/65640280.

vimeo.com

This is Angola prison warden Burl Cain, by the way. Perfect.

One event at the Cain-supervised institution’s rodeo is Convict Poker, in which inmates sit at a table and the last one not to get unseated by a rampaging bull “wins.” Losing involves being launched three feet off the ground by a bull horn in the ass.

Yup, just normal rodeo stuff here.

Then there’s Pinball, where convicts stand inside hula hoops and try to be the last man standing. (Not getting gored in the ass is considered “good form.”)

This might be a good time to remind everyone that the top winners get about, oh, $47 each and this kickin’ belt buckle. (Optional parting gift: A bull’s horn in the ass.)

There are also traditional rodeo events, like straight-up bareback riding, where you have to hold on the longest in order to win.

And, of course, classic bull-riding, where you need to hold on for eight seconds in style.

Another event involves three-man teams trying to milk a wild cow. It looks insane.

The first team to bring milk to the judges “wins.” This is not easy to do.

Why’s that? Well, WILD COWS ARE NOT VERY KEEN ON BEING MILKED.

But don’t forget about bulldogging, where you have to try and flip a bull. It mostly ends up with the convict putting a bull in a headlock (and then most likely getting gored in the ass).

But the craziest event at the Angola Prison Rodeo? That would be Guts and Glory. It’s completely bonkers and many asses get gored.

The conceit could not be simpler: All the convicts have to do is grab a $500 poker chip affixed to the back of a bull. Sounds super-easy, right?

Well, only one person gets the dough, while everyone else gets gored in the ass. Fun for fans, not so much for the convicts.

More than 7,500 fans attend every year, and proceeds go toward the Louisiana State Penitentiary Inmate Welfare Fund.

Mario Tama / Getty Images

Which, presumably, is then spent on rehabilitating inmates who’ve been run over by angry cows.

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