Ralph Inzunza discusses and signs The Camp
The Camp is a novel inspired by real events, and the story emerges from many conversations with inmates, who had received ten, fifteen, and twenty-year sentences for non-violent offenses at the Atwater Federal Prison Camp in Central California. The protagonist is a law and order, nerdy politician, former Deputy Mayor of a large California city, who goes to prison for "dishonest service of government," and is feeling sorry for himself until the minute he steps inside the fence. El Mayor, as he was called by the inmates, narrates for us first-hand the unfair plight that many of his fellow Paisas, Chicano inmates, are suffering, and the impact of incarceration on working-class families of color in America. As the only person of Mexican descent at the camp with a college degree, who had never smoked a "joint" in his life, he begins to transform in order to survive, and eventually extract his own judicial revenge.