From the time I made first contact with Bill to my visit, we exchanged several emails about getting together. It turns out that Wednesdays are the days he visits the Rayburn Correctional Center in Angie, Louisiana, so why don't I plan to come photograph the men and their dogs then? I couldn't believe how fast this was going, and I was so excited to finally get a photography art project underway after being removed from doing personal work for over 15 years. I had a lot of questions about what I could wear (no jeans, tight clothing, exposed skin), what I could bring (camera and voice recorders are ok, cell phones are against federal law), if it was ok to touch the inmates…I'm very expressive with my hands, and often touch people on the shoulder or arm when I speak to them, and I wasn't sure if that was ok. Bill assured me that the men in the program were the best of the bunch, so everything should be fine.
I emailed the Deputy Warden and Warden to supply my information for a background check. I also mentioned that I'd like to ask the guys questions about the program. This seemed to make them very nervous, so I offered to send the questions I planned on asking. Pretty simple stuff, name, age, dog's name, age, how long were they in the program and what would they tell people about how this experience has affected them personally. I never heard a reply on whether I was cleared for my visit, so I just assumed I was. I packed for my trip and headed south.