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In the Place of Justice: A Story of Punishment and Deliverance

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

There's much more in this book than a single crime story. It is a clear-eyed look at the problems and abuses in the corrections and judicial systems of the state.

In Rideau's final trial, many of the more sensational accounts of the crime were disproved, including the stab wound to the neck that was in fact proven to be a tracheotomy performed in the hospital. He doesn't make light of the terrible crime he committed nor of the hu...
In Rideau's final trial, many of the more sensational accounts of the crime were disproved, including the stab wound to the neck that was in fact proven to be a tracheotomy performed in the hospital. He doesn't make light of the terrible crime he committed nor of the hurt he caused. The intelligent reader, however, can witness his progression as a writer and as a human being, as he educates himself, becomes a leader respected by inmates and administrators alike, and after 44 years is ready to become a productive member of society, something he might never have been had he not utilized his time behind bars the way he did.

posted by AnotherCrimeWRiter on May 7, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

Rideau leaves out an all-too-important part of his story....

The lack of attention in this book to the violent crime committed by the author, which resulted in this book and its subsequent praise and celebration, is disturbing. It's true that he doesn't make light of it-in fact, he barely touches it at all (he gave an interview ...
The lack of attention in this book to the violent crime committed by the author, which resulted in this book and its subsequent praise and celebration, is disturbing. It's true that he doesn't make light of it-in fact, he barely touches it at all (he gave an interview to a Louisiana newspaper saying that the four pages devoted to it in the book were only included at the demand of his publisher). This story would be a lot more inspiring if he actually were to acknowledge the suffering that his actions brought upon others, rather than just upon himself.

I was recently struck by an author who wrote about her time in prison ("Orange Is The New Black" by Piper Kerman) and how it caused her to truly reflect upon the effect her crime had on others. True, her short time in prison was easier than Rideau's, as she was in a minimum-security women's prison, not Angola, but then again, her charge was a drug sentence that was very minor and ten years old, not murder. Still, she wrote that seeing women addicted to drugs in prison made her understand how her actions had harmed others, no matter how minor they seemed or how long ago they were. This attitude of remorse, as well as the acknowledgment of any personal responsibility for the suffering he experienced, is lacking in Rideau's work. Perhaps if this were more evident, or better yet, if he were donating some of the proceeds of this book to a worthy cause, as some rehabilitated criminals do- one that supported victims of crimes like his, or helped others similar to the young man he was from going down the same path-then his writing might be something worth supporting.

posted by 3530022 on May 9, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2010

    Rideau leaves out an all-too-important part of his story....

    The lack of attention in this book to the violent crime committed by the author, which resulted in this book and its subsequent praise and celebration, is disturbing. It's true that he doesn't make light of it-in fact, he barely touches it at all (he gave an interview to a Louisiana newspaper saying that the four pages devoted to it in the book were only included at the demand of his publisher). This story would be a lot more inspiring if he actually were to acknowledge the suffering that his actions brought upon others, rather than just upon himself.

    I was recently struck by an author who wrote about her time in prison ("Orange Is The New Black" by Piper Kerman) and how it caused her to truly reflect upon the effect her crime had on others. True, her short time in prison was easier than Rideau's, as she was in a minimum-security women's prison, not Angola, but then again, her charge was a drug sentence that was very minor and ten years old, not murder. Still, she wrote that seeing women addicted to drugs in prison made her understand how her actions had harmed others, no matter how minor they seemed or how long ago they were. This attitude of remorse, as well as the acknowledgment of any personal responsibility for the suffering he experienced, is lacking in Rideau's work. Perhaps if this were more evident, or better yet, if he were donating some of the proceeds of this book to a worthy cause, as some rehabilitated criminals do- one that supported victims of crimes like his, or helped others similar to the young man he was from going down the same path-then his writing might be something worth supporting.

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 7, 2010

    There's much more in this book than a single crime story. It is a clear-eyed look at the problems and abuses in the corrections and judicial systems of the state.

    In Rideau's final trial, many of the more sensational accounts of the crime were disproved, including the stab wound to the neck that was in fact proven to be a tracheotomy performed in the hospital. He doesn't make light of the terrible crime he committed nor of the hurt he caused. The intelligent reader, however, can witness his progression as a writer and as a human being, as he educates himself, becomes a leader respected by inmates and administrators alike, and after 44 years is ready to become a productive member of society, something he might never have been had he not utilized his time behind bars the way he did.

    3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2010

    In the Place of Justice

    This is the best book I have ever read on our criminal justice system, and Louisiana's, in particular. It is extremely well-written and thought-provoking. This is a must-read!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 3, 2010

    rehabilitation

    That's wonderful that he is rehabilitated. It is disturbing to see him honored everywhere as a special guest, however. There are receptions celebrating his stardom in the state where he committed the cold-blooded kidnappings and murder. Unbelievable.

    2 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 20, 2010

    A Story of Punishment and Deliverance

    I couldn't put In The Place of Justice down. Wilbert Rideau' accounts of punishment and deliverance gave me a new understanding of what it means to be in prison and what it means to be free. His understanding of what it means to be human and to be able to trust has many facets. Years forced to stay in prison for his crime did not have the power to imprison who he was and who he was to become. The power in this book can be found in the questions that are raised in the mind of the reader and searching for the light to find the answers. As Rideau helped people within the prison so his book/story will help many more inside and outside the walls. This book is a gift to all who read it.
    - Deen Thompson

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 15, 2010

    Perseverance

    I have been interested in Wibert Rideau since viewing the "Farm." After reading the injustice in this case, I was flabbergasted that he had to spend 44 years incarcerated, but other prisoners (white and black) were released after 10 years 6 months, outrageous. Although, I am not condoning what he did, but the system has to be fair to all prisoners. What he did was vicious and brutal, but 44 years in prison caused him to reflect and to emerge as a better person. Wilbert's book should be disseminated to all youth in this country and abroad. It will definitely give them insight of what can happen if they make bad decisions. Many of us have not been behind bars for 44 years, but our behavior towards one another is atrocious.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 11, 2010

    Could hardly put it down

    After hearing the author on National Public Radio, I knew I had to read his book. It's a well written, detailed account of his time in Angola prison and a determination to survive. Rideau never hides from his crime. He tells of his legal fight, rehabilitation, and longing for normalcy and a second chance. Well worth the read.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2010

    Transformation

    I have lived in Louisiana since 1980 and have followed Wilbert Rideau's story the entire time. I always believed that he should be eligible for parole at some point when fair-minded people in charge of the system believed it was time. I also saw that fair-minded people were not in charge of the system. He was too famous,too outspoken, and a black murder in a racist state with corrupt whites and blacks in power. I was glad in 2005 when he finally got out. It always seemed to me that he had changed and had proven he had rehabilitated himself with some help from the prison system amid a hellish environment. I don't think prisoners should be in a spa-like setting, but they surely should be in a humane environment and should at least have safe conditions with fair options to be rehabilitated and then freed to go into society and have a second chance. Otherwise we just reinforce the violence and anti-social actions that led them to crime in the first place. I think we should set an example of how civilized humans act. Otherwise we are no better than the criminals.

    Thus, it was with great delight that I saw this autobiography was for sale. Ii went to a book signing and purchased it and had it signed by the author and spoke with him slightly. He seemed a decent,intelligent, quiet-spoken older man.

    Now to the book itself. It is a page turner. At each sitting to read it, I have read at least 100 pages at a time. He is a very good writer and re-creates the world of the Parish jails and of Angola quite vividly. It is all so awful with immense unfairness and in truth evil that it is hard to believe it is not fiction. But it is a true. The parts that describe large and small acts of kindness and fairness from fellow prisoners and prison employees and others are very moving.I really highly recommend this book if you like true stories or any stories. It is basically a saga of determination,transformation, personal integrity, and redemption. It tells of brutal events and of tenacity and of a persons's struggle to develop his own humanity and to keep hope in the face of harsh and quite often unfair circumstances.It is also about coming to terms with having murdered a fellow human being.

    The man killed a person in cold blood and wounded two others. That was in 1961. He served 44 years in prison. He changed. He admits the murder was awful and wrong and really hurt others and that he feels great pain about having done it. He has become a good human being. He is a great and talented writer and reporter. Again I will say I am glad he got out and I love his book. Everyone is entitled to feel about him as they do. I am glad i gave his book a chance and read it. Taken on it's own merits, this book measures up as enthralling,real drama. It is a great read.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 17, 2010

    a murderer has to pay for his crime - unbelievable

    I have been rehabilitated but I was passed over for paraole - I have been rehabilitated but I was passed over for clemency - I have been rehabiliated but I was left in prision / there - you have just read all that this book has to say

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2010

    In The Place of Justice by Wilbert Rideau is a must-read for clergy

    In The Place of Justice by Wilbert Rideau is a must-read for clergy, families, lawmakers, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, prisoner advocates, and all those who believe in rehabilitation, redemption, and especially in the sacredness of life. Hopefully it will foster discussions on how to prevent mass incarceration of the poor, how to use imprisonment to prepare offenders to be useful and productive citizens of society, and how victims' families can be helped to heal.
    This beautifully written and enlightening story of life in a brutal prison show Mr. Rideau to be a very intelligent man with "a strength for life, a strength to hope where others are resigned, strength to hold one's head up when everything seems to go wrong, power to bear setbacks, strength to never leave the future to the opponent, but lays claim to it for oneself", - quote from I Loved This People by theologian Dietrich Bonheoffer - a true picture of Mr. Rideau's forty four years in Angola Prison and his miraculous survival and freedom. I'm honored to have been his spiritual adviser for most of that time.
    Sister Benedict Shannon

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  • Posted August 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Book for every person passionate about Criminal Justice

    I am a criminal justice student and read this out of curiosity and I am very glad I did. It was an excellent read and more then enough shared Wilbert Rideau's true passion about how unjustly he was treated. It makes you appreciate your freedom to simply walk down the street as he tells in depth how prisons 40 years ago were ran and how that compares to today. The story does have a happy ending but unfortunately one that came 30 years to late.

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  • Posted June 13, 2010

    Informative and Inspirational

    As someone well familiar with both the Louisiana penal system and Wilbert Rideau's long journey through the justice system, I find this book utterly compelling. (One of the angry Anonymous reviewers has his facts wrong; he apparently missed the gavel-to-gavel AP reports of the last trial, where a lot of the "facts" he presents were disproved.) The book offers a view of the prison system not to be found elsewhere, one that acknowledges the harshness and boredom of incarceration but also acknowledges the humanity of many of the guards as well. In the course of the book, you see a prison as it is transformed from a brutal, violent environment to a more civilized place through efforts of wardens and inmates alike, and you also see the personal transformation of Rideau himself from the ignorant 19-year-old kid who killed a woman to a thoughtful and mature man whose insights have much to offer. His book is both informative and inspirational, and everyone could learn from the last chapter of his book, where we are reminded of the opportunities for joy and happiness that are everywhere around us that most of us no longer see.

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    Posted July 26, 2010

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