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Bad Neighbors

ON JUNE 2, 2015, I celebrated my birthday at the Iberville Parish Court in Plaquemine, Louisiana. Plaquemine is about twenty miles southwest of Baton Rouge at a sharp turn in the Mississippi River, and I had woken up early to get there on time, filing in quietly with two friends who were there to have their case heard. We took our seats, and watched as the side door opened to admit eight men in orange jumpsuits. They were chained at the feet, hands, and necks.

“Are y’all having fun yet?” the judge asked, flashing a grin at the tiny audience.

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