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'NOLA To Angola' Charity Bike Ride Supports Prisoners' Families

Micheal Boedigheimer
Cyclists gather before last year's ride to Louisiana State Penitentiary

On Friday morning 50 cyclists set off on a three-day bike ride from New Orleans to Louisiana State Penitentiary. They're raising money to support a free bus service for families and friends to visit their loved ones in prison.

Katie Hunter-Lowrey helps organize the annual charity ride, called NOLA to Angola. It supports Cornerstone Builders' Bus Project, which offers free, monthly transportation to five detention facilities.

"Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate, per capita, in the world," Hunter-Lowrey says. "More and more studies are showing the harsh effects of incarceration not only on the individuals in prison, but also the folks outside. One of the ways that families can stay connected through the barriers of incarceration is visits."

Getting to and from prison can be tough and expensive. In five years, NOLA to Angola has raised over $80,000 to provide buses.

"That's over 71 buses sent," Hunter-Lowrey says. "That's over 3,500 people who have been able to have that visit time."

The ride departs from Orleans Parish Prison and goes 170 miles to the penitentiary, following the journey from city jail to Angola that prisoners make in shackles.