Kingpin by Richard Stratton
Prisoner of the War on Drugs

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A pulpy, well-crafted recollection of time behind bars packed with unsettling questions about society’s embrace of mass imprisonment and the drug war.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

This fast-paced sequel to Smuggler's Blues is a harrowing and at times comical journey through the criminal justice system at the height of America's War on Plants.

Captured in the lobby of the Sheraton Senator Hotel at LAX following a fifteen-year run smuggling marijuana and hashish as part of the hippie mafia, Richard Stratton began a new journey. Kingpin tells the story of the eight years that followed, through two federal trials and the underworld of the federal prison system, at a time when it was undergoing unprecedented expansion due to the War on Drugs. Stratton was shipped by bus from LA' s notorious Glass House to jails and prisons across the country, a softening process known as diesel therapy. Resisting pressure to falsely implicate his friend and mentor, Norman Mailer, he was convicted in his second trial under the kingpin statute and sentenced to twenty-five years without the possibility of parole.

While doing time in prisons from Manhattan's Criminal Hilton to rural Pennsylvania, Virginia, Kentucky, and New York, he witnessed brutality as well as camaraderie, rampant trafficking of contraband, and crimes by both guards and convicts. He first learned the lessons of survival. Then he learned to prevail, becoming a jailhouse lawyer and winning the reversal of his kingpin sentence and eventual release.

Kingpin includes cameos by Norman Mailer and Muhammad Ali, and an account of the author's friendship with mafia don Joe Stassi, a legendary hitman from the early days of the mob who knew gangsters Meyer Lansky, Bugsy Siegel, and Abe Zwillman and has insights into the killing of Dutch Schultz and the Kennedy assassination

Kingpin is the second volume in Richard Stratton's trilogy, Remembrance of the War on Plants.
 

About Richard Stratton

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Richard Stratton was arrested in 1982 and convicted under the kingpin statute for importation of marijuana and hashish. Originally sentenced to twenty-five years without parole, Stratton became a jailhouse lawyer and had his sentence vacated. He was released in 1990 after serving eight years in federal prison. His novel, Smack Goddess, written while he was in prison, was published in 1990. Stratton is now an acclaimed filmmaker and screenwriter whose films have won prizes at Cannes and the Berlin Film Festival. A writer and consultant for HBO’s Oz, he was the creator, writer, and executive producer of Showtime’s Street Time. He is the founder of Prison Life, the former editor and publisher of High Times, and a contributor to Rolling Stone, Esquire, GQ, Details, Newsweek, and Playboy. He lives with his wife and children in New York City.
 
Published May 2, 2017 by Arcade Publishing. 304 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences, Crime. Non-fiction
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Kirkus

Above average
on Mar 21 2017

A pulpy, well-crafted recollection of time behind bars packed with unsettling questions about society’s embrace of mass imprisonment and the drug war.

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