At the age of 24, Chad Marks was arrested for his involvement in a non-violent crack case. He was charged in Federal Court with a crack cocaine conspiracy and two separate gun charges. Chad was offered a plea for 11-14 years but instead exercised his right to trial. In the end he was convicted and sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 40 years. The first prison he went to was USP Big Sandy, a vicious and brutal institution in the feds. After hitting the compound Chad realized that he might never get out if he didn’t start fighting for himself. He started going to the law library and learning the law. Over the years as a jailhouse lawyer Chad won many cases for other men. Finally in 2018, the First Step Act was passed and Chad used the Compassionate Release Statute to petition the Court for a reduction in sentence. The law said that if the Judge can find extraordinary and compelling reasons he can reduce the sentence. Chad argued that the change to the gun laws which mandated 25 years for the first offense (which changed with First Step Act to 5 years) was extraordinary, along with my rehabilitation, were compelling reasons to reduce the sentence. The judge agreed and reduced Chad’s sentence to 20 years. He just got out this year and his prison memoir, Blood on the Razor Wire, about his time at Big Sandy, has been released.
Why did you decide to write a book about your time in prison? I was sent to a maximum security prison, the worst the federal system has to offer, USP Big Sandy. I wrote the book Blood On The Razor Wire because I wanted people to see what is really going on in the federal system. I had read too many redemption stories about people that were in lower security prisons…. So I wanted to tell the story that not many people could tell – that was the one from the maximum security perspective.
How would you describe your book and what its about? My book is best described as real. My book is about what a person goes through emotionally when they get on that prison bus heading to the unknown. It is about how a person feels and what they see when they walk into a prison. How prisoners live and how they interact with others. This gives a person getting ready to go to federal prison and their families an inside look on what prison really is behind those gloomy walls, beyond the razor wire.
When and where did you start writing the book? I was housed in solitary confinement after I was attacked by 5 other prisoners – and that is where I decided to write this book. I wrote the majority of the book laying down on a prison mattress. That was the first draft, the second draft came later when I was sent to another prison. A lot of the book was written locked in a cell. Every time there was what we call a lockdown I would write.
Whats the biggest takeaway you want readers to come away with after finishing your book? I want people to know what prison is really like. Many people have no idea what prison is like. And there is a misconception that Federal Prison is some nice place and in fact it is not.
Describe what being released this past year was like? Tasting freedom is not something explainable in words. Words can do it no justice. But I can say being free was emotional because I was buried alive. There were times I never thought I would make it out of there but now I did. It was a long walk, over 17 years of my life was stripped away. Forever lost but now I am trying to live my best life and enjoy my freedom, and family. I am working to help others get the second chance they deserve. I work for Freedom Fighters and Prison Consultants. I also am working on putting a reentry house together along with a construction company that hires ex-felons- people that really want to live their best life.