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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » A Priest in Hell: Gangs, Murderers and Snitching in a California Jail » User review

Interview With Randall Radic--A Priest In Hell

  • Feb 12, 2010
By Kelly Jad'on

A Priest In Hell is the memoir of not just one man, but that of almost every family in the United States. In 2008, 2,304,115 people were incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails. According to the Department of Justice, the rate is accelerating, rising by 12,000 between 2007 and 2008. Today, the United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world with approximately 754 inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents (2008). A 2002 study survey showed that among nearly 275,000 prisoners released in 1994, 67.5% were rearrested within 3 years, and 51.8% were back in prison. These men and women spend a life time leaving and returning to an institution which functions as a maternal-like home. The question of recidivism lingers yet.

The author, Randall Radic, experienced firsthand, the hell of being locked into an 84-square-foot cell to serve his time. Stripped bare of his belongings and dignity, he was punished for his unethical and illegal behavior--selling the church he pastored and its parsonage. Afterward, because of his prior spiritual role in his community, Radic received the equivalent of character assassination in his small town of Ripon, just outside of San Francisco.

A Priest In Hell details Radic's movement through the California prison system as an `OG' (old guy,) at the age of 52. A man holding two doctorate degrees and guilty of a white collar crime, found himself cuffed, shackled, and locked up with `chomos' (child molesters), the Surenos--a gang, car jackers, `firebugs' (arsonists), and even a murderer. Scared beyond belief, Radic lost 25lbs and debated whether or not to snitch on a murderer who had confessed his carnal deed to the former priest. Returning to his original faith, he continually prayed, "Dear Lord, deliver me from the pit of my life."

Like the Biblical Jonah, it is in these moments--the deepest, darkest, unanticipated snapshots of our lives, that we call upon God. Did He hear? Possibly. Radic believes so. The opportunity presented itself in Roy Smith, a known child molester accused of murder. Randall Radic turned and did indeed snitch. In an interview, he states that "the guy's eyes were flat and black. It was difficult to face him in court and testify against him. Roy Smith {the murderer} received life in prison instead of the death penalty, because he agreed to lead police to the location where he had dumped the body." Without Radic's testimony, Smith may be walking the streets today, a menace to both women and children. A guard who also claimed to be a Christian declared to Radic, "Maybe this is a way for you to redeem yourself." Radic, though incarcerated, chose to turn his life around, and reset the course of his life.

A man out of character for the setting, Radic deeply regrets his actions, writing, "it was a bad idea."

Today Randall Radic thinks that "Every day's a good day. I realize a lot of things now. It was a reality process and a very surreal experience. Initially, my time in prison destroyed my faith in God, but later it made it stronger. We are all totally dependent on the grace of God. For me, it took jail to realize this. It makes you happier."

Randall Radic has returned to the town of Ripon where he continues to make restitution. A gifted writer...his work has exposed the darkness hiding within the hearts of many leaders. Radic himself has become a living testimony of a lesson learned and the forgiveness of a kind and benevolent God.

Randall Radic, Th.D., S.T.D. is a former Old Catholic priest. He is a graduate of the University of Arizona. He holds a Master of Theology, from Trinity Seminary, a Doctorate of Theology from Trinity Seminary,Th.D., and a Doctorate of Sacred Theology, S.T.D. from Agape Seminary. Radic is also the author of Gone To Hell: True Crimes of America's Clergy (ECW Press/ Oct 2009)


Notes: Walmsley, Roy (2009). "World Prison Population List. 8th edition."International Centre for Prison Studies. School of Law, King's College London. "The information is the latest available in early December 2008. ... Most figures relate to dates between the beginning of 2006 and the end of November 2008." According to the summary on page one there were 2.29 million U.S. inmates and 9.8 million inmates worldwide. The U.S. held 23.4% of the world's inmates. The U.S. total in this report is for Dec. 31, 2007 (see page 3) and does not include inmates in juvenile detention facilities.

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About this book


Former pastor Radic's story is a simple one: craving more wealth than his clerical salary can offer, Radic embezzles funds from his church and lives the high life on the fraudulently gotten funds. His sins catch up with him and he is arrested, prosecuted and jailed in Northern California; he's eventually released after serving only a brief span of his time because he snitches on a fellow inmate. Radic's cliché-ridden account lacks passion, sincerity or conviction—in fact, Radic writes in the language and style of third-rate true-crime books. The book is filled with stereotypical gangbangers, murderers and criminals, and Radic's reflections on his own fears and concerns aren't convincing since he never portrays himself as someone for whom we should feel any pity or sorrow. In the end, when he gets out of jail, Radic is cavalier, almost as if nothing has happened for which he is sorry or contrite.(May)
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ISBN-10: 1550228692
ISBN-13: 978-1550228694
Author: Randall Radic
Publisher: Ecw Press

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