Letters from Marion
A Deadhead's Journey From Peace to a Supermax Prison
(Big House Publishing, July 2015)
"Unknown to me as i opened the door, there were two DEA in front of the building with pump shotguns..... 'surprise, surprise,' one of them said when I answered the door. As this was happening, my whole life started to pass right in front of me....I opened the door, an automatic 45-caliber gun was put to my forehead while simultaneously being pushed backward all the way down to the ground, during which, this gun barrel was firmly pressed to my forehead....As he cuffed me, he asked if I was Joel Blaeser, after I made a unintelligible sound of assent, he sat me in a kitchen chair and threw a nineteen count federal indictment into my lap."
And thus begins Joel's 151 month journey into the prison system, spanning 6 federal prisons, including the most dangerous federal super maximum prison ever built, USP Marion.
Letters from Marion recounts the redemptive story of a 23 year-old, midwestern non violent first time offender ending up in the spiritually bereft walls of prison containing some of the most predacious and sophisticated criminals such as John Gotti, Bruce Pierce, James (Doc) Holliday and others.
This book is not only an all access back stage pass of life inside prison, but about transformation and freedom being found during lockdown 23 hours a day. Joel quickly learns how to survive in a world where the guards are as corrupt as the criminals. He details the informal "laws" in the world of convicts while desperately trying to retain his humanity. He slowly realizes after enduring many dark nights of the soul that freedom is a state of mind.
Woven throughout are his letters to loved ones sent from prison-to Joel's mother, brother and sister-and how incarceration affected them. He comes to know that his family were the ones doing really hard time in the suffering they would endure thinking of what he was going through.
Raw and heartfelt, Letters From Marion is an incredible story of survival against all odds revealing the power of hope and faith in us all.