Barbed wire fence.

How Writing Has Helped a Convicted Murderer Escape

Writing serves as an escape for all sorts of people. “A lifeboat drifting daily from the fog” is how author Curtis Dawkins has described the therapy of writing.


Many other authors have felt hesitation about giving praise to Dawkins’s book “The Graybar Hotel.” Not because it lacks quality, but because it raises ethical questions.


The cover of book "Greybar Hotel"

Image courtesy of Simon & Schuster


The novel, penned by inmate number 573543, or Dawkins, was written on an electric typewriter that stores no more than 70 pages at Michigan’s Lakeland Correctional Facility.


Dawkins is serving life without possibility of parole. He hopes that by publishing this book, he will be able to change his sentence.


What landed him behind bars was a drug-induced binge after breaking sobriety the night before Halloween. After shooting one man and holding another hostage, he surrendered and was promptly taken under arrest.


Photo of author and inmate Curtis Dawkins.

Image courtesy of ABA


Dawkins’s book is a collection of short stories about his life in prison. He was able to get help from his sister, whom he would send stories to, and she would in turn submit the stories to literary magazines.


While several people have enjoyed the stories, Kenneth Bowman, the brother of the murder victim has spoken out against Dawkins’s writing. “I don’t think he should have the right to publish anything. He should be doing nothing in that prison, but going through hell for the rest of his life.”


Header courtesy of Houston Chronicle