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In December 2010, during my senior semester at Cornell University, I made national headlines when I was arrested with almost 6 ounces of heroin initially (if somewhat erroneously) valued at $150,000. Now, more than five years later, I’m sober, out of prison, and working as a journalist in the New York City area.

Click on the tabs above to explore the site. Check out the Bio page to learn more about me or click on the post links at the right to read some of my recent articles. Follow me on Twitter @keribla and click on the icon at right to Follow my blog. To contact me directly email keriblakinger[at]gmail[dot]com.


72 responses to “Home

  • funnyphilosopher

    I live in Baltimore, allegedly the nation’s heroin capital (according to the locals), and I think, “Thank God I didn’t grow up here. If someone had offered me a needle when I was in high school, I’d have said ‘Sure’.”

  • Sunny

    Nice blog, Keri.

  • Moonlight May

    I understand where you’re at in your life; I’ve been there. One day at a time!

  • ReadyOrNot

    I can’t wait till the book comes out.

  • Kameron

    Glad you liked the post:) You know, if you don’t get your book published, you can always self publish. That’s what my dad did.

  • John Newland

    Now YOU have an interesting story to tell. Eager to read more.

  • Michael J. Ocello

    Hey Keri, I’ve been enjoying your blog. I can’t wait to read the book when it comes out! Hope all is well.

  • dreamsdissolve

    I would love to read your book! I look forward to following and reading your blog. Wish you all the best,

    Crystal

  • curi56

    surprised but glad to read You lines!
    I´ll follow Your blog.
    Annamaria

  • A Taylor

    It sounds like the sort of book that agent Andrew Lownie in London would be interested in.

  • Gede Prama

    compassion blossoms in the garden of your heart

  • Hellagood

    Congratulations on getting your life together and all that good crap. Any updates on when your book is coming out?

  • joewriteshiswrongs

    Congrats on getting your life on track…that is exactly what I am doing and will continue to do once released. I appreciate you checking my blog out as well. Best of luck to you in all you are trying to do.

    • Keri B.

      Thanks — you too. How long will you have on paper after you get out?

      • joewriteshiswrongs

        Thanks! I have spent most of my adult life in and out of jail. I got 7 1/2 years for the bid I am doing now (which was the minimum I could get) which puts me being released Nov of 2015 and then indefinite supervision. I refuse to be a nobody and spend any more of my life locked up then I already have too, if I get in any more trouble I will be right back here. Which is why every day I work harder than the day before to change my life around and make something of myself.

      • joewriteshiswrongs

        I realize I didn’t actually answer your question lol I will have 20 years.

  • Incarcerated Flavors

    We often go through really horrific situations before we get it together. I’m just glad that you are putting this out because many think that the upper/middle classes are exempt to the issues that plague our urban communities. Would you like to come tell your story I would like to have you out here its the perfect area for what you have to say. It could be our way in to combat all of the heroin use by young white teens that are protected/enabled by the ignorance of those that don’t get it.

  • kainzow

    I got rejected by every Ivy I applied to.Haha.(Yesterday I dreamed I got admitted to Columbia)
    I stumbled upon your blog while looking for those who participate in the Top Ten Tuesday.I was curious to know why your blog was so named,and really I’m stunned! You look almost like a celebrity to me!

    I bet you’ll find what you’re looking for!:).

  • 2Cool4School

    This is a great blog you have here girl.

  • Mel

    I tried to email you at the address above but it came back so ill place it here?

    I hope this isn’t the wrong place, but I just wanted to know if there is a waiting list of sorts I can be put on to find out when your book comes out? I wish I could starting reading it tonight! I didn’t see anywhere on the website that had a day the book would be available. Again I’m sorry if this is the wrong place to ask you I just heard about your story and as a 27yr old female who has/is struggling with addiction issues it’s a story I need to read.

    Thanks!

    • Keri B.

      That’s strange — I’ve been getting emails at that address all morning. In any case, this is a perfectly fine place to comment. I don’t have a date when the book will come out; I’m still in the process of trying to find an agent. There isn’t any waiting list (but maybe I should think about creating one). However, you can follow this blog or follow me on Twitter (since I tweet new blog post links) and I’ll periodically post updates on my efforts to find an agent and publisher. Or, if you want to Friend me on Facebook you can do that, too. I sporadically accept some Friend Requests from strangers, but if you choose to do that I’ll be on the lookout for Mel and accept.

  • Deanna

    I just wanna say I really hope your book is published. I look forward to reading it. I find your story inspirational and though I can’t imagine how to relate to an Ivy League graduate I can relate to the drug aspect and I believe your book would help keep myself on the right track. Thank you.

    • Keri B.

      Thank you — it’s wonderful to hear from you. I think that every person who messages/emails/comments saying that they can relate makes me feel like that much less of a screw up myself.

  • figprod

    Hi Kari: I am so hopeful after reading a portion of your blog and your responses to interested members. You have so much to offer the youth of today. I relish the opportunity to read your memoir. I may have a few leads for you to follow. If you are interested please email me. Good luck and I look forward to hearing about your progress and hopefully, one day, reading a review in the New York Times Sunday Book Review. Congrats on all the great work to day. A day at a time really does work! Best regards-fg

  • mazinGrace

    Hey Keri-

    Your story struck a chord with me and so thought I’d look you up and drop a line. I’m on a similar path.. Ivy league, about to graduate with a 4.0, same.. symptoms.. very unsure about the future.. was numb til it didnt work anymore and have yet to find a better answer..

    Anyway I just wanted you to know that you’re not a screw up, and you’re not alone there’s many of us out here with the same struggle.. ‘the results are always perfect and that’s old news’..
    I’ll be looking for your book. Stay clear and busy, and best of my wishes to you.

  • Kenneth Billings

    Hi Keri,
    Glad ur out of the pen and hope you are enjoying the “free world”. I posted on the The Addiction Show, “I think non-isolation and non-violent alternatives other than solitary confinement may be good for women inmates but whether such alternatives can be inmate-protectively enforced in such a nationally and locally corrupt system is another question.
    However, solitary confinement for men is like a luxury and is needed to prevent rape… http://www.hrw.org/reports/2001/prison/

    • Keri B.

      Thanks and thanks for visiting. I responded on YouTube but I’ll respond again for readers here. The thing is, male or female, nobody should be put in solitary confinement for having too many stamps or eating the core of an apple (which is apparently not allowed because it contains arsenic). Protective custody (which is what you might request if you fear rape) and solitary confinement are in theory but should in fact be separate things. As of now, if you have reason to fear for your safety you can be put in protective custody — but protective custody is in fact solitary confinement. You can’t make phone calls, you lose all your belongings, and you lose out on the chance to participate in educational and reentry programs. One of the aspects (which I didn’t touch on) of the HALT Solitary bill that I spoke about in the video you watched is mandating that protective custody be more like a restricted, supervised unit and not simply solitary confinement.

  • Kenneth Billings

    Thanks for replying Keri. Love you… will remember you in prayer, blessings!

  • Russell Newcombe

    I believe that the solution to the heroin problem is to prescribe heroin to regular users. What’s your view on that?

    • Keri B.

      I’m not opposed — I don’t think it’s really any different than prescribing suboxone or methadone (and is arguably less harmful than methadone which is much harder to get off of). Personally, though, I’m very grateful that I’m not addicted to a legally prescribed alternative. I’m not saying that to in any way demean the great value of suboxone and methadone — I’m just saying that personally I’m glad not to have to worry about being sick. I don’t have to worry that I’ll be dopesick if I don’t make it to the methadone clinic; I don’t have to worry that I’ll be dopesick if I lose insurance and can’t fill the next suboxone prescription.

  • Dustin John

    I was in a vaguely similar situation aside from a women’s prison and the vast amount that got you hemmed up. Glad to see you have made your life into something special, meaningful, and others can learn from your past history. I found you through your OITNB article and found it quite fascinating. I am thrilled to get deeper into your blog and I wish you the best.
    Dustin

  • Carina

    I do not even know how I ended up here, but
    I thought this post was good. I don’t know who
    you are but definitely you are going to a famous blogger if you are not already😉 Cheers!

  • Russ Tarby

    Really enjoyed your recent article on the things I hadn’t know about marijuana…some fascinating historical highlights!

    • Keri B.

      Thank you! That was part of a series that I’ve really enjoyed writing. It means that I can spend hours surfing the internet as if I’m doing nothing but then ultimately still come out with something productive.

  • Violet

    Excellent web site you’ve got here.. It’s difficult to find
    excellent writing like yours these days. I honestly appreciate people
    like you! Take care!!

  • addictedtomyself.com

    Life changing decisions should always be accompanied
    by a well thought out personal development plan. These areas are:
    Environment, Life Events and Knowledge. They would much
    rather experience more personal success and achieve their dreams.

  • jimw1958

    Hi Keri,
    Thanks for following me. I wish you all the best with your memoir. If I can help you find an agent let me know.
    Jim

  • Lloyd Stein

    Hi Keri,
    Thanks for following my blog and the like to http://mranswerman.com/. Your blog is fascinating. Thanks for sharing your life.

    Lloyd

  • Mohamed

    Very good information. Lucky me I came across your blog by accident (stumbleupon).
    I’ve saved as a favorite for later!

  • Jim Melvish

    Hi Keri,
    I commend your blogging efforts. Putting this type of info out there for others to see gives people a valuable understanding of the prison system and current legislation/reform efforts. Also, you have made great strides in becoming a productive member of society. Very good work! However, I would offer one criticism. In all of your posts covering prison reform or the drug war, you never seem to offer any contrition for what you did or an admission that, all things considered, your sentence was quite lenient and other offenders with similar charges have had far worse results in the criminal justice system. First, you were convicted of possessing 6 ounces of heroin with intent, which even by the wildest stretch of the imagination, can’t be considered simple possession. You were wholesaling and furthering the addictions of others to support your own habit. The reality is that most crimes have a drug component, so, while you may not have been aware of this, your syndication of heroin very likely led to the commission of other crimes. In addition, your actions certainly played a role in damaging others’ academic careers, personal and professional lives. Secondly, it would be nice to see in your blog posts a bit of recognition that a 2.5 year sentence for 3rd degree criminal possession of heroin is a very lenient sentence. You’re lucky this occurred in Tompkins, as the situation would likely have been very different had you faced a judge in Tioga or any of the other more conservative, law-enforcement oriented counties in the region. I must admit that I, as a recovering addict, have done many of the same things that you have, and the act of making amends with those we have wronged helped me immensely in my path to recovery.

    • Keri B.

      First of all, thanks for reading and thanks for your detailed response. You’re right that both of these are topics I have not dealt – or not dealt with much – in my blog. I’ve addressed them in other formats, but unfortunately you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to see them. I’ve talked about all these things at length in my manuscript – but obviously, since it’s not published, I know that you wouldn’t have had the chance to see that yet. I also usually address all these things when I do public speaking events and I’ve spoken about both these things in interviews but I’m not sure that either has actually made it into the final article. Apparently those statements are not frequently taken to be the most interesting-sounding things I have to say.

      Of course I feel contrition. I can’t imagine that I would have managed to sober if I did not. I think that staying sober – or at least managing to live a meaningful sober life – inherently requires coming to terms with the damage you’ve done and also, as you mentioned, making amends. In regards to making amends, I simply don’t feel that I should share it publicly every time I make amends. It would seem, to me, like a rather self-centered way to go about making amends. You mention that at the end, but that is one aspect of the whole process of contrition and redemption that I am not willing to share.

      In general, I’m still on the fence about how appropriate it is for me to share feelings of contrition in general. I think, to an extent, contrition is a semi-private affair. If I feel contrite and have expressed that to those who I have hurt, then what are my motivations for wanting to share that with other people?

      I have also made a conscious effort to address issues of contrition and responsibility less after getting a couple complaints about it. Some people have told me that I should not spend time continuing to address such issues, that people understand that I’m remorseful simply from the way I’m living my life, and that I should move on in my writing.

      It’s funny that you mention the difference in sentencing between Tompkins and Tioga (or any other adjacent county, really). Over the past few weeks I’ve been writing an article that addresses that, although it hasn’t been published yet. You’re right, though – for Tioga County, this would have been an unimaginably light sentence. In Tompkins, some people (officials who I think would like to remain nameless) thought it was a surprisingly harsh sentence. I was incredibly lucky that – and am incredibly grateful that – I was living in Tompkins and not Tioga at the time. Even more staggering, in my mind, is the difference between the sentence when I got arrested and what the sentence could have been had I been arrested a year and three months earlier, before the Rockefeller Laws were repealed. In that case, I would have been eligible for a sentence of 15 to life. I thank my lucky stars every day that that did not happen.

      Finally, thank you for actually addressing your criticisms to me directly. Most people do not. I respect you for writing this to me and posting it directly to my blog instead of writing it about me and posting anonymously in a comment thread somewhere.

  • Jim Melvish

    Interesting. I suppose it makes the most sense to keep contrition a private affair. On an unrelated matter, I’m sure you’re aware of this but your readership may find it interesting, New York State has finally gotten around to discussing legislation which would allow for the expungement of certain misdemeanors or felonies. The fact that NYS is just getting to this demonstrates the extent to which a hardline, law-enforcement oriented approach has characterized its legislation of penal matters. Sealing or expungement of criminal records is a vital rehabilitative tool which other states have been using to enable employment and reduce recidivism. It would be nice to hear your thoughts on this and to track this issue as it makes its way through the Albany legislature. Particular focus should be given to the work being done by attorneys Richard D. Collins and Jay Shapiro as well as the bill OCA 2014-98R introduced by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman. Here are some links:

    http://www.expertlaw.com/forums/showthread.php?t=91567

    http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Top-judge-to-address-judiciary-5223958.php

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/New-York-State-conviction-relief-criminal-record-sealing-or-expungement/155682704460158

    • Keri B.

      I did write about that before at one point. I just read the link to the Times Union piece you sent and was astonished that no editor took out the blatant editorializing in the middle. Sheesh.

      I will write about this again once there’s movement on it, but if it’s still in committee it looks like that could be awhile. Again, though, bizarrely you happen to have mentioned something I’m sort of in the middle of writing about. I started a blog post about expungement in general (not about NY in particular) a few days ago and haven’t finished it yet.

  • leslie

    Hi Keri, my name is Leslie and am writing to thank you for your story. I was turned on to it through a course I am taking at college. I to have had a similar situation as you with your experience in prison to a different degree and am still saddened by the racial disparity that I experienced but at a different level. I am white and most of the guards where I was were black and the prejudice was overwhelming. I to have been blessed since coming home. so again thank you

    • Keri B.

      I remember early in my prison bid being told that it’s easier to be black in the downstate prisons in NY (with mostly black COs) and it’s easier to be white in upstate prisons (with mostly white COs). So I definitely see what you’re saying as to how the reverse experience exists.

      I am glad to hear that you are in college:) I am always happy to hear about post-prison successes, as they are far too rare.

  • B.P.

    Glad I found your blog and I’m looking forward to your book – has it been published? I have an addicted child, who after two jail terms is now in rehab. She is/was SO intelligent, but unfortunately her brain receptors were messed up while she was still a teen – hoping that rehab and behavior modification will work and give her freedom from drugs – and then on to higher education. Definitely going to buy her your book when it’s published to let her see that there is hope!

    • Keri B.

      It has not been published yet, but thank you so much for your wonderful comment.

      Best of luck to your daughter. It is a difficult journey, but she can make it. Many people thought I would never get sober. I’ve had more than one person say they thought — by the age of 25 — that I was destined to be a lifelong junkie. I’ve been clean more than four years now. There is always hope.

      • B.P.

        Thanks – she is 24 now so that hits close to home – and congrats to you on four years – that is great. Hoping for publication soon!:)

  • jim faley

    Ms. Blakinger – in 1984 (I am now 70 yrs old) I was convicted of a felony in Michigan. I gave an undercover State Trooper 28/1000 of a gram of cocaine, thinking I was going to get laid. I got screwed all right. I did what the court ordered, which thankfully did not include jail time. I think I paid my price for my crime. Now, 31 years later, I am still paying the price because I must check “the box.” Because of economic problems, I find that I need to find a job. And I cannot, because of this “box” stigma. I am a partially disabled veteran of the Vietnam war and I can’t even get a job at the YMCA. If you have any information that may help, I will truly appreciate it. I hope this letter reaches you. thanks. jim

    • Keri B.

      I’m not sure how much advice I can offer — in part the solution here is waiting for society to recognize the importance of Ban the Box laws. From my experience, freelance journalism is a field that works really well with a felony because typically no one asks freelancers about their records. Also, although some corporate entities have banned the box (Koch, Walmart), I have found that generally small stores that are not part of a chain are more likely to take the time to consider other factors in a job application.

  • davidbp

    I am bothered by Jim’s comment (1/17/15) that you were partly responsible for the criminal actions and/or drug habits of other drug users because you were involved in supplying drugs (wholesale apparently). That’s like saying fast food employees are partly responsible for childhood obesity. It stretches responsibility to absurd levels.

    If you were partly responsible for the harms caused by people you sold drugs to, then can’t you also pass off responsibility for your actions to the person who sold you drugs? Everyone can pass off their responsibility to the previous person in the supply chain, and blame it all on the the poor peasant who scored the poppy pods.

    By Jim’s reasoning, are you also responsible for their pleasure? Has Jim performed the proper analysis to measure the benefit of pleasure vs. the cost of pain? Maybe you actually come out ahead and should be patting yourself on the back.

    You probably shouldn’t have used heroin given that you seemed to use it in a destructive manner. But still, it was your life to live recklessly. Jim implies that you deserved what you got. If it matters, I think society wronged you by placing you in prison. So, careful with that contrition.

  • Jim Melvish

    Davidbp, I feel you didn’t understand my comment. I was simply pointing out that this blog focuses much more on systemic forces (i.e. prison industrial complex, living in society with a felony record, etc.) and the impact of these forces on a former drug user/dealer/ex-convict. The blog doesn’t focus much on how drug users/dealers themselves impact societal trends, specifically the downstream and upstream chain of causality that produces criminal behavior in tandem with drug use. It is an undisputed fact that most crimes have a drug component. In our current system where drugs are illicit and sold in a black market, this is a reality. Perhaps decriminalization or legalization would help to decrease drug use and mitigate some of the damage to society brought about by the use and trade in drugs.

    In the broader context, a small wholesaler is linked to an upstream chain of increasingly larger suppliers, all the way up to narco-cartels that are very violent and destructive. You can’t blame an individual seller down the chain for the atrocities perpetrated by the big players, but you could say that the low-level sellers, in aggregate, provide needed funds and support to the higher-ups to keep their organizations running.

    I don’t feel a drug dealer is wholly responsible for the harms caused by their distribution of drugs to users. What I’m saying, however, is that a drug dealer can’t rule out the possibility that the customers he/she sells to committed crimes to facilitate the purchase of drugs. Perhaps this wouldn’t be the case so much in a college environment (since student drug users are generally middle-class and wouldn’t need to resort to robbery or larceny to buy a hit of dope), but it is the case in general. We can’t attribute 100% responsibility to Kerry, but we can ask if she feels contrition for the harm that her behavior has caused to others. By providing drugs to students, she may have served a role in damaging academic records and future career prospects. We can’t say she should take on 100% responsibility, since drug users have agency and can choose to address their use through treatment (which is available on many campuses). However, we also can’t say that her responsibility level is zero, since she was a critical causal factor in facilitating their drug use. Here’s a very basic analogy: if one of her clients overdosed and died, partial responsibility lies with her. While it was the drug user’s choice to use the drug, that choice would not have been there if there was no supply in the first place. While I’m not an attorney, I believe that drug dealers can be held criminally liable if they are linked to a client who has a fatal overdose. David, comparing this dynamic to a fast-food seller hawking hamburgers to obese kids is a far stretch.

    It is undeniable that her behavior was harmful not just to individual users, but to society as a whole. In fact, had she been involved in simple possession for personal use, the impact and level of harm would’ve been much less. This rationale is fairly commonplace. Based on this rationale, criminal codes throughout the world place a greater punitive burden on drug dealing versus possession for personal use.

    For the record, I am in favor of alternative forms of legal treatment for drug offenders. I think drug courts and deferred sentences where treatment programs are mandatory make far more sense than lengthy penal sentences. The reason being is that the treatment is more effective and rates of recidivism are lower when you give people proper medical treatment rather than just warehouse them with a bunch of other individuals who spend the days glorifying drugs and scheming other inventive ways to commit crimes to get drugs.

    While I don’t think it was appropriate for Kerry to go to prison instead of a treatment program, it’s important to point out that, in terms of the entire spectrum of drug offenders, she received a lenient sentence.

  • jennyt1991

    Hi Keri,
    Congratulations on your blog.I signed a plea (2 yrs in state prison) and I’m waiting for my sentencing hearing (10th september).I’m trying to prepare myself for incarceration.May I ask you what were some of your worst experiences whilst being in prison?

    • Keri B.

      That’s a question without a single quick answer, really. Prison is not terrible in the ways that you expect it to be, but is terrible in ways you might not think about. For instance, typically you’d expect it to be a very violent place, but that wasn’t so much the case in the women’s prisons I was in. (There was definitely violence, but it was not as violent as one might expect it to be.) What I found to be the worst was the constant fear that guards could basically just punish you for anything, whenever, whether or not you really did it. The constant threat of solitary confinement was terrifying to me. I sort of wrote a bit about that here. Also, I emailed you at the address you provided for the comment because I imagine you have a lot of other questions and if you want to ask in more detail in a less public forum, feel free.

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