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In the place of justice : a story of punishment and deliverance
Wilbert Rideau
Adult Nonfiction HV9468.R53 A3 2010

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From Publishers' Weekly:

A death row inmate finds redemption as a prison journalist in this uplifting memoir. In 1961, after a bungled bank robbery, Rideau was convicted of murder at the age of 19 and received a death sentence that was later commuted to life in prison at Louisiana's Angola penitentiary, then the most violent in the nation. Against all expectations, his own included, he turned his up-to-then cursed life around, becoming editor of the prison newsmagazine, the Angolite, and an NPR correspondent who published nationally acclaimed articles on prison violence, rape and sexual slavery, and the cruelty of the electric chair. Rideau frames his 44-year fight to get his conviction reduced to manslaughter and win parole (he succeeded in 2005) as a black man's struggle against a racist criminal justice establishment. More inspiring is his self-reclamation through tough, committed journalism in an unpropitious setting where survival required canny alliance building against predatory inmates and callous authorities alike. To a society that treats convicts as a worthless underclass, Rideau's story is a compelling reminder that rehabilitation should be the focus of a penal system. 16 pages of photos; 2 maps. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

In 1961, Rideau, a disillusioned African American 19-year-old high school dropout, attempted robbery, panicked, and killed a white bank teller. A secret police camera recorded his confession and then broadcast it via a local television station. Rideau was sentenced to death in a segregated town by an all-white jury. While inside a violent high-security Louisiana prison, Rideau taught himself journalism and went on to win numerous prestigious awards for his work. In 1993, Life magazine declared him "the most rehabilitated prisoner in America." Although other convicts accused of similar crimes were regularly granted clemency after a decade, Rideau remained incarcerated for more than 40 years. Here he tells his story. VERDICT Unlike most prison memoirs (e.g., Nathan McCall's Makes Me Wanna Holler), Rideau does not dwell on the sensational nature of his crime and instead tells his tale factually in the mellow and precise tone of an intellectual. His superhuman patience and insistence on willing his freedom through legal means are inspirational. Readers of all kinds will appreciate his large heart and thoughtful insights into the machinations of the criminal-justice system in America.-April Younglove, Rochester Reg. Lib. Council, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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