NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Prison's Guards Are Part Wolf, All Business

August 6, 2012

States prison systems are increasingly adopting creative answers to sidestep budgetary constraints. At the Louisiana State Penitentiary, this includes the employment of approximately 80 wolf-dogs for the purposes of guarding the compound, says the Wall Street Journal.

The wolves, which are a hybrid version of their wild counterparts, have taken the place of standard correctional officers. Acting as a significant deterrent to would-be escapees, the wolves have also managed to resolve many of the prison's budgetary problems.

  • The wolf-dogs are the brainchild of Warden Burl Cain and his staff, and they were brought in last year in response to a steady decline in the prison's annual budget.
  • The prison operated on a budget of $135 million five years ago, but this has since dropped dramatically to $115 million today.
  • The prison, which is known as Angola, has laid off 105 out of 1,200 officers, and 35 of the 42 guard towers now stand empty.

The ability to substitute the wolves for correctional officers is essential for the prison's net budgetary gain: while the average correctional officer at Angola earns about $34,000 a year, the canine program costs about $60,000 annually for medical care, supplies and food.

Interestingly, advocacy groups have been largely silent on the issue, hosting few notable protests. This is likely a function of two separate justifications. First, the prisoners cannot have adverse interaction with the dogs unless they are trying to escape. And second, more than half of the 5,300 inmates at Angola have killed someone, lending new importance to the task of preventing escapes.

Source: Gary Fields, "Prison's Guards Are Part Wolf, All Business," Wall Street Journal, July 31, 2012.

For text:


Browse more articles on Government Issues