Robert Jesenik-Corrections in Ink

Author of Book: Keri Blakinger
Date Read: January 10, 2024

Book Report

Title: Corrections in Ink
a memoir
Date: January 10, 2024

Author: Keri Blakinger

My first day in the library was a blur. I was just walking around taking everything in, the classrooms, PCs, wall displays, library books, etc.. A bit overwhelming given all the noise and commotion, yes its a prison library… I found a list of classes as I was told by my prison advisor to sign up for classes as quickly as I can, only to find out that I missed the Jan 1 classes and have to wait for both my assessment as well as Feb 1 classes, which was unfortunate.

So I decided to get my first book and strolled through the library. It’s organized by category- suspense, self help,fiction, non fiction,etc. I got to biographies and the very first book was this one, and the word in the title ‘Corrections’ caught my eye. For some reason, I was a bit hypersensitive to the concept of prison and wondered if this was a play on words. Once I saw it was prison related, I grabbed it immediately and am very glad I did.

The book is about a gifted teenager(Keri Blakinger the author) growing up in a stable family environment, upper middle class almost. From about 2010-2020. She began ice skating as a youngster, eventually making the US Nationals and earning 5th in pair skating. Despite her privilege, hard work practicing all the time and perfect grades, in 9th grade or so she started having mental issues which led to anorexia, self induced vomiting after each meal, and other unnatural acts. To address her emotional pain she eventually turned to drugs later in high school and went thru a long dark period of using and dealing drugs, loser druggie boyfriends, dancing in strip bars, etc… She got into college, dropped out, had a couple stints in rehab and some dry periods, until the time she was busted with enough drugs for distribution. One month from graduating Cornell! That began a 1.5 year jail stint in a NY jail, followed by a 2 year prison term. Somewhere during this time she overcame her mental issues and determined to become clean which she did.

Eventually, at age 26, she got out, got a job as a reporter for a small Ithaca newspaper and worked her way up from there. Her focus became prison injustice, eventually working at the Daily News in NYC and then the Houston Chronicle. Her reporting led to all kinds of outcomes and results, including getting the Texas prison system to start providing dentures to inmates. Since then she has written for the NY Times, Wa Po, and several others. A true redemption story, today she works for the Marshall Project, a non profit focused on injustice in our criminal and prison systems.

I found this book to be very helpful for me personally because:

  • Keri did an in-depth explanation of her first few days in prison, all the same things I experienced, which helped me contextualize what I had just experienced- basically all prisons are the same…
  • Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t have better prepared for Days 1 and 2 of prison, because without experiencing it, words on a page or in a book just aren’t as impactful without experiencing it, believe me.
  • In prison it’s easy to ” categorize” prisoners who have come from broken homes as a root cause of their drug usage. Keri shows that isn’t necessarily the case.
  • Coming into prison, I was self focused on my circumstances and being a victim. Keri does an excellent job/great service highlighting the challenges minorities( majority of population in prison) face to get out vs. folks like herself or myself.
  • It’s easy to have self pity in prison, but Keri is an example of someone who was determined to follow the rules, become productive, and eventually give back to those in need within the justice/prison system. That encourages me to aspire that I will do the same!

Someday When I’m out of prison and re-read this book review, I hope it inspires me to seek a vision and execute on some way to help those trapped in the system without the tools/resources to do something about their situation. BJ