Lester Holt goes inside the largest maximum-security prison in America tonight on ‘Dateline’


Tonight on “Dateline,” Lester Holt spent two nights locked up and embedded inside the largest maximum-security prison in America, the notorious Louisiana State Penitentiary, also known as Angola.

The special hour, which was recently nominated for a News & Documentary Emmy, features reporting from inside prison walls on how incarcerated people live, the various issues of criminal justice reform and why it has landed at the top of the national agenda.

Holt talks with many inmates, all with different backgrounds, on their journeys through the justice system and the impact on their families

Here’s a preview:

LESTER: There’s certainly, fair to say, a heightened awareness as I walk through here with no guards.

For the next couple of days, I’ll be staying here, exploring key issues of the prison reform debate. Juveniles sentenced to life without parole.

INMATE: We were children when we got incarcerated.

The lasting effects of the war on drugs.

JOHN ESTEEN: My sentence was 150 years.

The power of rehabilitation.

JOHN SHEEHAN: You know that you’ve done something, and your life is worthwhile.

And the demand, by many, for punishment.

JP: Personally, I think he’s where he needs to be.

I’ll also be staying in a cell, not to play prisoner, but to better understand the purpose and experience of prison all from the inside.

Watch “Dateline” tonight at 9 p.m. on KSN.

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