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Incarcerated Men Seek Emergency Order to Stop the Farm Line at Angola Prison

— May 22, 2024

Plaintiffs and experts point to inhumane conditions of forced agricultural labor.

On May 13, Voice of the Experienced (VOTE) and eight men who are incarcerated at the Louisiana State Penitentiary (Angola) asked a federal judge to grant a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order to stop prison officials from operating the so-called Farm Line whenever the heat index reaches or exceeds 88 degrees.

“Any day now, the heat and humidity in Angola’s plantation fields will exceed levels proven to be dangerous to human health,” said Lydia Wright, Associate Director of Civil Litigation at the Promise of Justice Initiative. “The unconstitutional and inhumane conditions of forced labor will soon become life-threatening. This is an emergency.”

Separate from the “productive” farming programs at Angola, the Farm Line is a punitive, dangerous, and grossly inhumane form of discipline akin to nineteenth-century slavery. On the Farm Line, as during chattel slavery, men are forced to work Angola’s fields, tending crops in oppressive heat without protection, modern farming equipment, or even clean drinking water.

“It is hard to overstate how life-threatening the combination of forced labor, high heat, and Angola’s woefully inadequate medical care are for those locked inside,” said Oren Nimni, Litigation Director at Rights Behind Bars. “Inaction in the face of these conditions is unacceptable. Angola should have ended the Farm Line long ago.”

Filed in September 2023, plaintiffs’ class action lawsuit alleges that the Farm Line, particularly during periods of dangerously high heat, violates the Eighth Amendment rights of all people at Angola to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. The lawsuit includes two proposed subclasses: one for individuals with disabilities, bringing claims under Americans with Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act; and another for people who were convicted by non-unanimous juries, bringing claims for violations of the Thirteenth Amendment.

Plaintiffs are represented by PJI, Rights Behind Bars, and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP

The amended complaint in VOTE v. LeBlanc can be found here.

The motion for a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order can be found here.

Learn more about PJI’s End Plantation Prisons work at

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