US Prison boss cancels Edinburgh talk


Burl Cain

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.


  1. The voilence does emphatically NOT stem from the inability to extend the sentence of violent offenders. The violece comes from sentencing individuals to horrendously long sentences, frequently in solitary and always with little hope of release as 90% of prisoners die in Angola. The violence comes from creating a situation where guards and wardens oppress and torture prisoners with impunity. Additionally, the calls made to the Winnger gorup were certainly not threatening, they just let the group know why Mr. Cain is the wrong person to be celebrating.

  2. Dear editor
    Angola is so called not because of the ‘savage gang wars’ but after the country in Africa where it was believed the ‘best’ slaves came from. The prison is actually nicknamed The ‘Last Slave Plantation’ as inmates are forced to work the 18,000 acre farm for a minimum of 40 hours a week for two to twenty cents an hour. Burl Cains ‘innovative techniques to quell prison violence’ include keeping inmates locked up in 6 ft x 9 ft cages for 23 hours a day, some of whom are placed on 4 point restraint (strapped to a bed), denying them contact visits and illegally recording legal phonecalls, in addition to many physical abuses exacted by the guards who operate under his direct orders. Burl Cain is by no means an entreprenurial idol, but a cruel, corrupt and indecent human being, who does not deserve any platform to justify his intolerable and racist attacks on inmates unjustly housed in his prison. Research = responsible reporting.

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