Keri Blakinger is a friend of our ministry and support group. She is a staff writer for The Marshall Project whose work focuses on prisons and jails. She previously covered criminal justice for the Houston Chronicle, and her work has appeared in the Washington Post Magazine, VICE, the New York Daily News and The New York Times. She is The Marshall Project’s first formerly incarcerated reporter. Her memoir, “Corrections in Ink“, comes out in June 2022; I’ve already pre-ordered my copy on Amazon and I can’t wait to read it. – Jeff Grant
When I was in prison, books sometimes felt like the only untainted connection to a past life.
Sure, there were friends and family who visit visited, bringing along our shared memories from the free world. But they also brought with them the knowledge that I was in prison, and I could see in their eyes how it colored every interaction. The people I met in books did not know that about me. And maybe that was part of why treasured I them so much.
During the 21 months I spent behind bars, I read obsessively — sometimes 20 or more books a month. I tore through Kazuo Ishiguro, David Foster Wallace, Jennifer Egan, and Alice Walker, checking off title after title at a fever pace as if each finished page were another thread in a literal lifeline to freedom.
When I wasn’t distracting myself with reading, though, I was writing — filling up yellow legal pads and white printer paper. For most of the time I was behind bars, I told myself that I would write a book of my own. That was back in 2012 — but last year I finally did. It’s called Corrections in Ink and it comes out this month. Right now, I’m trying to get as many copies donated to prisoners as I can.