By Rory Reynolds
A TALK by a controversial prison warden in Edinburgh has been cancelled after the organisers were threatened by “aggressive” anonymous callers.
Burl Cain – warden of a notorious Louisiana prison where two prisoners have been held in solitary confinement for 36 years – was due to speak at Edinburgh’s plush Prestonfield House Hotel tonight.
The Edinburgh business group, Winning Entrepreneurs, cancelled the event to avoid taking any risks after they were bombarded with calls and emails.
The focus of the threats is believed to be over the two prisoners held in solitary confinement in Louisiana State Penitentiary – nicknamed Angola because of its savage gang wars.
The prison is currently being investigated by a federal grand jury.
Winning Entrepreneurs founder Belinda Roberts cancelled the talk at the last minute, saying that hosting the event was too risky.
Spoke to police
She said: “We have to put the safety of the warden, our members and the hotel staff ahead of any other concerns.”
“My team started to receive phone calls which they felt were aggressive and which felt to them like threats over this event – we don’t want to take any risks.”
“We realise that the issue which brought this protest – the treatment and convictions of the Angola 3 – is a topical and emotive one and we felt the associated risks were not ones that we wished to take.”
“I spoke to the police and after further discussions we decided the event should be cancelled.
“It’s disappointing that this has had to happen but you have to put the safety of people first, which we have done with Lothian and Borders Police keeping an eye on the situation.”
The Angola 3 are three black prisoners linked to the brutal murder of a white prisoner guard in 1972. One of the prisoners, Robert Hillary King, has been released after his conviction was overturned. The other two, Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox remain in prison.
Burl Cain was due to travel to Edinburgh after meeting Scottish dentist Biju Krishnan and Scottish businessman Richard O’Connor while they were carrying out volunteer work at Louisiana State.
Full scale prison battles
Cain, who has been head of the prison since 1995, is well known in the US as using innovative techniques to quell prison violence.
Louisiana State Penitentiary is the largest in the United States and one of the most violent, where prison staff frequently has to deal with full-scale battles between rival gangs.
The violence stems from that fact that a large proportion of the 5000 inmates are in prison for life, meaning that staff in the prison are unable to extend the sentences of violent offenders.