Corrections in Ink is a memoir about a young woman’s journey – from the ice rink to addiction and prison to the newsroom – and how she emerged with determination to expose the broken criminal (in)justice system.
Keri Blakinger always lived life at full throttle. Growing up, that meant throwing herself into competitive figure skating with an all-consuming passion that led her to nationals. But when her skating career suddenly fell apart, that meant diving into self-destruction with the intensity she once saved for the ice.
For the next nine years, Keri ricocheted from one dark place to the next: living on the streets, selling drugs and sex, and shooting up between classes all while trying to hold herself together enough to finish her degree at Cornell. Then, on a cold day during her senior year, the police caught her walking down the street with a Tupperware full of heroin.
Her arrest made the front page of the local news and landed her behind bars for nearly two years. There, in the Twilight Zone of New York’s jails and prisons, Keri grappled with the wreckage of her missteps and mistakes as she sobered up and searched for a better path. Along the way, she met women from all walks of life―who were all struggling through the same upside-down world of corrections. As the days ticked by, Keri came to understand how broken the justice system is and who that brokenness hurts the most.
After she walked out of her cell for the last time, Keri became a reporter dedicated to exposing our flawed prisons as only an insider could. Written with searing intensity, unflinching honesty, and shocks of humor, Corrections in Ink uncovers that dark, brutal system that affects us all. Not just a story about getting out and getting off drugs, this galvanizing memoir is about the power of second chances; about who our society throws away and who we allow to reach for redemption―and how they reach for it.
Corrections in Ink is a memoir that struck close to home but not for the reasons you may think. I won this book as a Goodreads giveaway without knowing much about it. When I read the inside flap, I realized that Keri attended Cornell at the same time as me… and that I recall events and news coverage of the events described within.
Corrections in Ink really struck a cord with me, and I can barely talk about it without tearing up. Keri writes in a way that exposes raw emotion and immerses you in her story. It was easy for me to imagine myself in her shoes, facing the same challenges. This made for a very powerful read. Keri also included a bit of comic relief that made this memoir a bit easier to read amid the heavy subject matter.
Within the pages of Corrections in Ink, Keri also confronts her privilege as an educated white woman and the ways in which her experiences, particularly with police and in prison, were shaped by these privileges. I appreciated that she included this and discussed the manner in which her experiences would have differed without these privileges.
My only criticism of Corrections in Ink is that there were a few parts that I wish Keri had provided further details. For example, it was clear that Keri’s relationship with her family was rocky and she mentioned the strictness of her parents. However, these things were not fully explored to an extent that I understood actions she or her parents chose. But I do not think it took away from the story.
Overall, I think Corrections in Ink is a must-read memoir and a great introduction to the prison system for those unfamiliar. A week later, I am still thinking about this book and I will be for a long time to come.
Corrections in Ink
June 7, 2022
Note: I received a gifted copy of the book from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, through winning a Goodreads giveaway. Regardless, I always provide a fair and honest review.