By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
ANGOLA – Burl Cain won’t be joining the list of candidates running for Louisiana governor, at least for now.
The warden of the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola announced the news on Wednesday during a meeting of the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge, ending months of speculation on his status for running in the governor’s race.
“I wouldn’t have the money to do it,” Cain said in an article by the Baton Rouge Advocate newspaper. “I looked at it. I’m still looking at it. … I’d have to resign my job.”
The longest-serving warden of any prison in the U.S. and in the history of Angola itself, Cain had said during the Louisiana Baptist Senior Adult Lunch at Summer Grove Baptist Church in February that he had not yet made a decision whether he would or would not run for the office. Signs in support of his potential candidacy can be found around Louisiana and the Facebook page “We Want Warden Burl Cain La Governor 2015” has garnered nearly 2,000 likes.
“It’s important to serve Him and look for His blessing and direction,” Cain said at the time. “When you are not in God’s will, disaster occurs. No answer would mean I didn’t get an answer and I would stay here at Angola Either answer is okay with me because it’s about serving God. It’s not about serving self.”
Just a few months after he started at Angola in 1995, Cain experienced his first administration of lethal injection there on an inmate convicted of murdering his mother-in-law. Cain, who is Southern Baptist, said he never asked the man about where he would spend eternity.
He knew he had to do something.
From that day on, Cain vowed to ask men about their relationship with God before they died.
He knew a changed life would result in a less-violent prison and that would change through moral rehabilitation in the years ahead. Efforts include an extension program of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, which is a four-year program started in 1995.
More than 255 inmates have graduated from the seminary’s extension program. Some of those graduates have even transferred to other prisons as missionaries.
A new building for the extension program is complete and scheduled for dedication during a ceremony on Aug. 27, followed by a graduation.
Now, Cain says, instead of inmates committing crimes, they are witnessing to other inmates, studying for a seminary test or holding a Bible study. And the result has been thousands of inmates who have professed Christ as their Lord and Savior and an 85 percent decrease in violence at Angola. Of the 6,300 who are inmates at Angola, nearly 50 percent are thought to be Christians.