But the cottage was high atop a hill inside Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, aka "the Alcatraz of the South." A former plantation worked by slaves imported from the country it's named for, Angola holds some 5,000 maximum security inmates and spans 22 miles - "bigger than all of Manhattan," as the warden likes to say.
After our first night, I arrived at the Treatment Center, home to the hospice patients whose lives and deaths I'm here to chronicle. I was sad to see the Christmas lights that had twinkled around the guard shack when I visited in December were being packed up. The candy cane and Santa Claus-patterned gift wrap that had papered the infirmary office doors was gone, as the New Year ushered in a return to institutional white.
I was there with a film production crew to watch as the prison hospice staff selected a new crop of inmate volunteers. Executive Producer Molly Fowler (who took the photos of our trip); DP Tom Mason; Producer Jeca Taudte, and I were following the inmates for our new documentary-in-progress, ONE LAST SHOT: A Story of Redemption, see more info and trailer here.
All photos of One Last Shot production by Molly Fowler.