While serving time, many incarcerated people turn to writing as an escape.
Curtis Dawkins, who is over a decade into serving a life sentence at Lakeland Correctional Facility in Coldwater, Michigan, received a message from one of the most prestigious publishing houses in summer 2016. According to The New York Times, Scribner offered him $150,000 to publish his debut collection of short stories.
His book, The Graybar Hotel, has since been published. While he didn't beat O.J.'s prison profits, critics acclaimed Dawkins's prose, which revealed life behind bars through the lens of a former addict convicted with murder.
Dawkins intended the profits from his literary accomplishment to go towards his children's college fund. However, Michigan's state government—particularly its Attorney General Bill Schuette—isn't letting Dawkins off the hook. The Michigan Department of Treasury filed a compliant last October to request 90 percent of Dawkin's assets, including book royalties. The requested funds will go towards the cost of his imprisonment since 2005, which is estimated to over $372,000.
Dawkins, unable to afford a lawyer, disagrees and is representing himself in court. His next hearing is scheduled for Feb. 26. He intends to fight to release funds to his children.
"I did wrong, but those kids are completely innocent," Dawkins told The New York Times.
Dawkins was involved with the arts prior to serving time. The New York Times also reports the Louisville, Illinois native received a Master of Fine Arts prior to his incarceration.