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From Barnes & NobleIn 1961, Rideau robbed a bank, took three hostages, forced one to drive them to a remote area, and shot them. Two lived. One, whom his shot failed to kill, he also stabbed. For this, Rideau spent 44 years in Angola prison. A black man, 19 years old at the time of the crime, Rideau was convicted three times by all-white juries. A mixed-race jury reduced his conviction to manslaughter. In the Place of Justice is his exploration of the American penal system, primarily the ways in which racism, both covert and institutionalized, plays a role in determining the length of prison sentences and the ways in which those sentences are served.
As editor of the prison newsletter, Rideau placed a high premium on journalistic integrity. He became a celebrity prisoner for his exposés on prison life, including sexual slavery, drugs, weapons, "families," petty guards unrestrained by management or conscience, inedible food, filthy conditions, and brutal rivalries.
Those incarcerated for violent crimes are often dehumanized by society, just as those who kill dehumanize their victims, parsing them over time to bothersome abstractions. If integrity can be defined as the willingness to hold oneself accountable, In the Place of Justice is as much a look inside Angola prison and the judicial system as it is a fascinating yet unsettling journey inside the minds of those who do time there.