Rideau, often called the most rehabilitated man in America, once shot a bank teller in the aftermath of a botched bank robbery. He was convicted by an all-white, all-male jury of murder and sentenced to die.
Rideau lived on death row at Louisiana State Penitentiary from the time he was 19 until he was 31. In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court abolished the death penalty as it was then practiced, and his sentence was commuted to life in prison.
In 2000, Rideau’s original murder conviction was overturned because of racial discrimination in a previous trial’s grand jury process. He was tried again, found guilty of manslaughter and re-sentenced to 21 years. Because Rideau had already served 44 years, he was freed.
In the interview, Roland asks Riedu about what message did he have for state facilities across the country as it relates to rehabilitating criminals.
Rideau expresses that state facilities are not trying to rehabilitate prisoners. Most of the people who he served time with wanted to be become better people. The problem is there are no opportunities, except to get tough, take away everything from them, give them nothing and believes that this is a suicidal social policy. Rideau goes on to explain that at some point 95% of those incarcerated are going to come back home.
Wouldn’t you want someone who was sent to prison to come back rehabilitated?