Thursday, April 07, 2011

Exposing Sexual Violence Behind Bars

Former Angola Prisoner Wilbert Rideau Receives George Polk Journalism Award for Exposing Sexual Violence Behind Bars

Wilbert Rideau was imprisoned for 44 years at the Angola Louisiana State Penitentiary before he won his release in 2005. While he was in prison he was editor of The Angolite, a newspaper produced by inmates, and became an award-winning journalist. He received the George Polk Award for Special Interest Reporting in 1979 for his outstanding contributions to public understanding of the criminal justice and prison systems. More than three decades later, he will be honored today at the 62nd Annual George Polk Awards for journalists. "Back in 1979, the way [prison officials] portrayed sexual violence in prisons to the public was that this was something that was done by homosexuals," says Rideau. "And the sexual violence, what I did was essentially told what it really was. And it wasn’t the homosexual, it weren’t the gays; in fact, they were quite often victims. And it was the heterosexuals who were doing the raping and the violence and whatnot, and it was being done with the tacit approval of prison authorities."

Forty four years, you can't conceive being locked up for that length of time can you?
Democracy Now, eight minute video or transcript, worth watching.

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