Angola Prison Rodeo: Gamified

It’s time to rodeo! Let me guess what this phrase brings to mind: cowboy boots, angry bulls, horses, barrels with colorful clowns hiding inside, and way too much animal…waste. These are the things I imagine as well (maybe add a funnel cake in there, too). What has never crossed my mind as an integral part of a rodeo is a prisoner who has been sentenced to something like life behind bars. But for the Louisiana State Penitentiary (also known as Angola), without the untrained prisoner, there would be no rodeo.

I’m sure at this point you need details. This is not just any rodeo, as I am sure you have already speculated on your own. But what makes it even more untraditional is that a prisoner has to be on good behavior in their environment so that they can be deemed a “Trustee,” a task that can take up to 10 years, before they can even consider participating. This is a long time to be on good behavior and successful at challenges but the incentive is high for a prisoner because they have the ability to be cheered by all looking on and can, for a small amount of time, forget the confines of their cell. And along the way, conquering challenges can equal having a pet, getting a job, or freedom to roam the grounds.


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