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Revolutionizing Prison Hospice: The Interdisciplinary Approach of the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola

NCJ Number
Corrections Compendium Volume: 29 Issue: 4 Dated: July/August 2004 Pages: 5-7
Michael J. Osofsky; Philip G. Zimbardo; Burl Cain
Susan L. Clayton M.S.
Date Published
July 2004
3 pages
This article presents a brief overview and description and impact of the prison hospice program in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.
The inmate population within the Louisiana State Penitentiary (LSP) at Angola in 2004 is close to 5,100 with approximately 94 percent of those inmates expected to die while incarcerated. Corrections administrators are being forced to determine new ways to adapt to and deal more effectively with the aging prison population. Hospices have been identified as one possible solution. In 1997, the LSP at Angola decided to create a hospice program to provide the best end-of-life experience possible for the large population of lifers. The first inmate-patient was admitted in January 1998. Louisiana became 1 of just 11 States to have a prison hospice. The program’s structure and objectives consist of five core goals: (1) provide quality end-of-life care; (2) honor the patient’s support systems; (3) address the patient’s needs holistically emphasizing palliation of physical, social, spiritual, and emotional suffering; (4) assist the patient with activities considered life affirming; and (5) maintain an end-of-life care system. Angola’s hospice is run on a daily basis by the Interdisciplinary Team (IDT), which consists of a seven-member team. The team creates a plan of action for each patient and ensures the maintenance of appropriate care. A common feature of prison hospices and an essential part of Angola’s program is the participation of inmate volunteers who have a role in the creation of the hospice and the primary care. The hospice program has a real impact on powerfully changing many of those who make it a part of their lives, particularly the inmate volunteers.