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Life Sentences: Rage and Survival Behind Bars Paperback – July 7, 1992


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press; 1 edition (July 7, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812920481
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812920482
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,073,553 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Convicted murderers Rideau and Wikberg began contributing articles to the Angolite , the best-known prison newspaper in the U.S., shortly after receiving life sentences in the 1960s. From the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, the newspaper's editor-in-chief Rideau (once a death row inmate), associate editor Wikberg and other inmates write with grace, detail and well-balanced insight about Angola's history (musicans Leadbelly and Charles Neville have been confined there), sexual assault, prison politics, death in prison and procedures of prison executions. Articles in the Angolite have won the George Polk and other journalism awards. Editors' notes usefully update these pieces, first published between 1978 and 1990. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"...required reading for all fifty United States governors and for all present and future Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates...the most convincing argument I have read against our nationwide desire to deal with lawbreakers by 'locking 'em up and throwing away the key.'"

-- Russell Banks, The New York Times Book Review

"Life Sentences is an aberration. Out of the violence, madness and uselessness has come a work of uncommon and lasting value."

-- Colman McCarthy, Washington Post Book World

"Life Sentences is an extraordinary act of courage that should prick the conscience of every American. Rideau and Wikberg take readers inside the bowels of Angola...Within such a manmade hell, they become living proof that some can rise above the cesspool despite colossal odds."

-- Pete Earley, author of The Hothouse: Life Inside Leavenworth Prison

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 19, 1997
Format: Paperback
Rideau and Wikberg discuss the ways the prison system reinforces violence as a coping mechanism. Factual accounts of inmates' experiences are recounted in detail as examples to the author's theory, and observations of prison psychiatrists are presented in support of the authors' view. Out of deprivation and hopelessness, most inmates will neglect to work on those issues that would enable their successful rehabilitation, and it is easy to see why, in light of the harshness of prison life. The ways in which the system has inadvertently rewarded violent behavior throughout history is also evident, in spite of the many reforms that have been enacted. The message that we still have a long way to go is quite clear, as there really is no reprieve from the harshness of prison life. Until we begin to understand the reasons prisoners resist rehabilitation, we cannot even begin to solve the crime problem in America.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 9, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is a book every socially conscious American should read. A collection of works from the only uncensored prison newspaper in America, the award-winning "Angolite", this books encompasses everything from the mundane to the extraordinary, from the poignant to the horrifying realities of prison life. It covers both the fiscal concerns and the human issues involved in incarceration. I highly recommend it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Daniel D. Heilborn on June 14, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While there are newer books on prison life, this is still one of the best. It gives a surprisingly balanced view of past and current treatment of prisoners and a good look at prisoners' lives from their own perspective.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Henry E. White on March 21, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wilbert Rideau is the real deal. He has walked the talk. It's easy to understand why this guy is an award winner.
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Wilbert Rideau and Ron Wikberg present the stark reality of life behind bars and the human, political, and fiscal costs of our long-running war on crime.

the us incarceration rate is about 16 times that of europe - a very good reason for not planning any visits there.
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