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Two stories from Louisiana prisons: A cause for alarm and a pathway toward empowerment

Louisiana Department of Corrections
Reginald Dwyane Betts (center) helping to set up new library at Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, LA

Last summer, Louisiana state officials opened the high-security juvenile detention facility, the Acadiana Center for Youth in St. Martinville.

But a recent investigation into the center by ProPublica, NBC News and the Marshall Project found horrific conditions at the center, including teens held in solitary confinement for weeks at a time, shackled with leg irons during showers and little to no education provided.

Beth Schwartzapfel, reporter with the Marshall Project, tells us more about the recent investigation.

The national non-profit Freedom Reads recently opened Freedom Libraries in two Louisiana prisons. The libraries are the brainchild of 2021 MacArthur Fellow Reginald Dwayne Betts, who went from being a 16-year-old sentenced to nine years in prison for a carjacking to becoming a critically-acclaimed writer and graduate of the Yale Law School.

Betts joined us to discuss the founding of Freedom Reads, and how his organization aims to empower inmates through literature.

Today’s episode of Louisiana Considered was hosted by Karen Henderson. Our managing producer is Alana Schreiber and our digital editor is Katelyn Umholtz. Our engineers are Garrett Pittman, Aubrey Procell, and Thomas Walsh. 

You can listen to Louisiana Considered Monday through Friday at 12:00 and 7:30 pm. It’s available on Spotify, Google Play, and wherever you get your podcasts. 

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Karen Henderson is an award-winning journalist whose stories have aired nationally on NPR.
Alana Schreiber is the managing producer for the live daily news program, Louisiana Considered. She comes to WRKF from KUNC in Northern Colorado, where she worked as a radio producer for the daily news magazine, Colorado Edition. She has previously interned for Minnesota Public Radio in St. Paul and The Documentary Group in New York City.