On May 12, 1982, Thony Green woke about dawn to put on the coffee at the Open Door Community in Atlanta. Thony had come in off the streets just a few weeks after the community had opened its doors to homeless people on Christmas Day 1981; he quickly
became an important part of its life. On this particular spring day, he was watching 2-year-old Hannah Loring-Davis while her parents were at a meeting. Mid-morning he put her down for a nap and went downstairs to ladle soup.
Moments later, four men burst through the front door, waving guns. Throwing Thony to the floor, one put a gun to his neck and hollered, "I'll blow your head to pieces if you move!" Two handcuffed him, while the fourth flashed a badge from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Thony, it turned out, had escaped from prison, where he was serving a 482-year sentence for armed robbery. He was dragged off to the Louisiana State Prison in Angola, a wretched place infamously noted in a Neville Brothers' song, "Angola Bound."
Ed Loring of the Open Door wrote after his first visit there: "Surely the year is 1845. Three men on horseback with rifles. Forty convicts in two parallel rows marching with hoes on their right shoulders." He described the prison as a 20,000-acre "Old South plantation, where 5,200 men are slaves."
Thony is paid four cents an hour for cutting brush. And there's a plasma bank at the prison. "Two bleeds equals one case of Bugler [rolling tobacco]," says Thony. "Four bleeds equals one carton of cigarettes."