A Louisiana maximum-security prison once notorious for violence is experimenting with a novel way to keep criminals out of trouble: Murderers and other "lifers" are now teaching job skills and morals to non-violent offenders, readying them for another shot at freedom.

Since 2010, a pilot program at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola has authorized select judges to sentence dozens of low-level offenders to at least two years at the prison — typically sparing them much longer terms.

Roughly 130 "short-timers" are now learning such trades as automotive repair, welding, horticulture and plumbing from inmates serving life sentences. Each is assigned a "social mentor" responsible for their "moral rehabilitation," amid hopes they won't return to crime once freed.