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Released After 44 Years, Prison Journalist Shares Life Journey

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April 12, 2005

Wilbert Rideau -- who Life magazine dubbed “the most rehabilitated inmate in America” and who three times was convicted of murder by all-white juries before gaining freedom early this year -- will deliver a Crain Lecture at Northwestern University Monday, April 18.

An acclaimed prison journalist who served 44 years in the penitentiary, Rideau will speak at 4 p.m. in the McCormick Tribune Center Forum, 1870 Campus Drive, on the Evanston campus. His free lecture will focus on the state of prisons and the prison press. It is open to the public.

Titled “From Pretrial to Prison: The View of America’s Most Famous Inmate Journalist,” it is part of a series of presentations on current events sponsored by the Medill School of Journalism.

Rideau, who essentially learned to read and write while in prison, was sentenced to death at age 19. Tutored in writing by a New York publishing house editor, Rideau eventually penned a book-length analysis of criminality that he expected would be found after his execution. He later edited an award-winning prison newspaper called The Angolite.

Rideau received an Oscar nomination for his part in producing “Farm,” a documentary about prison life. On occasion he was allowed to travel for public appearances. In one of numerous appearances on ABC’s “Nightline,” he shared the electronic stage with Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger.

The Crain Lectures feature journalists and newsmakers discussing current events and the news business. Check the Medill School Web site at http://www.medill.northwestern.edu or call (847) 491-5401 for the most up-to-date information.