cover image Committing Journalism: The Prison Writings of Red Hog

Committing Journalism: The Prison Writings of Red Hog

Dannie M. Martin, Peter Y. Sussman. W. W. Norton & Company, $25 (341pp) ISBN 978-0-393-03574-2

Lompoc Federal Penitentiary convict Dannie Martin, a 46-year-old bank robber and heroin addict, started writing newspaper columns about California prison life for the San Francisco Chronicle 's ``Sunday Punch'' section in 1986. His pieces--about topics as diverse as the plight of inmates with AIDS and the fate of squirrels outside his prison walls--attracted a following. In 1988, he got thrown into solitary confinement for writing a column criticizing a new warden for establishing institutional practices that Martin (``Red Hog'') claimed were likely to incite a riot. A lawsuit followed and Martin received national publicity. In this book, his writings are collected together with Chronicle editor Sussman's commentary about the response of readers and prison authorities to Martin's columns. His prose is flowing and effective; his story, augmented by Sussman, is moving. Paroled in 1992, Martin now lives in San Francisco and works as a freelance writer. Author tour. (Nov.)