Incarcerated Louisianans, their loved ones, and all communities are negatively impacted by the great distances and logistical barriers that must be crossed to stay connected .
New Orleans, La. – On Saturday October 15th, 100 cyclists gathered for a send-off and press conference before beginning a 60 mile bike ride for the 12th annual Nola to Angola fundraiser. The event brings awareness to Louisiana’s high incarceration rates and raises money to reduce the negative impacts created by jails and prisons. This year, the over $40,000 in donations will support transitional housing with the First 72+, a re-entry organization in New Orleans.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, cyclists rode 170 miles every year from New Orleans to Louisiana State Penitentiary (“Angola”) to raise funds for Cornerstone Builders Bus Project, a program that provides free buses to carry family and friends to visit incarcerated loved ones. With visits to prisons paused during the pandemic, this year the money raised is being donated to the First 72+ to support transitional housing for community members returning home. Affordable and safe housing has become more and more scarce in New Orleans, especially for those with the barrier of a criminal record.
Through the leadership and wisdom of formerly incarcerated people themselves, the First 72+ transforms the re-entry experience with education, stable and secure housing & employment, health care, and community engagement. Their re-entry model builds on the strengths and abilities of people returning home from prison to ensure that they, their families, and their communities are given the greatest opportunity to grow and thrive.
Incarcerated Louisianans, their loved ones, and all communities are negatively impacted by the great distances and logistical barriers that must be crossed to stay connected during a prison sentence and to facilitate a safe transition back home. “The Cornerstone Builders Bus Project provides a desperately needed service that keeps families connected across great distances and despite the barriers of incarceration.” explains Minister Leo Jackson of Cornerstone Builders Bus Project, “The more we can keep the family intact, the more we can affect positive change. We want to keep lines of communication open between those on the inside and their families.”
“Prisons do not make us safer,” says Katie Hunter-Lowrey of Nola to Angola. “Louisiana has both the highest murder rate and the highest incarceration rate in the country. The criminal legal system as designed overwhelmingly harms individuals, their loved ones, and Black communities in particular, without addressing the root causes of violence. This ride is not just a fundraiser; it is a ride in solidarity with communities that are separated by the prison system and a call for our incarcerated community members not to be forgotten.”
This is the first Nola to Angola event back in person since 2019. Participants have been training, planning, and fundraising to prepare for the ride. A 60 mile route from New Orleans to the St. James Boat Club in Grammercy, LA will be undertaken by riders with multiple options for shorter distances along the way to increase the accessibility of the event. All miles biked are in solidarity with families who travel long distances to visit their loved ones in prison. The event is organized by an all-volunteer collective plus allies who are very generous with their time and resources.
To donate to the First 72+ or to learn more about the ride, please visit www.nolatoangola.org.
NOLA to Angola is a long-distance, solidarity bike ride established in 2011 to raise funds for the Cornerstone Builders‘ Bus Project.
The First 72+ is a re-entry organization based in New Orleans which envisions a world where prior incarceration is not a barrier to secure housing, employment, and community engagement & acceptance.
Cornerstone Builders’ Bus Project provides a free monthly bus service for New Orleanians who have loved ones in five Louisiana detention facilities.