Marshall Project Reporter Headlines Free Speech Week Feb. 22-24

The Crimson Welcomes Award-Winning Journalist Keri Blakinger

MELBOURNE, FLA. — Keri Blakinger, a reporter for The Marshall Project, the Pulitzer Prize-winning nonprofit news organization focused on criminal justice, will speak at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 23 at Florida Tech as the university holds its 11th annual Free Speech Week.  

Free Speech Week is hosted by Florida Tech’s student-run newspaper, The Crimson.

Blakinger is a staff writer and columnist covering prisons and jails, about which she has an insider’s perspective. A recovering heroin addict, she spent nearly two years behind bars after she was arrested with a Tupperware container filled with heroin during her senior year at Cornell University. After getting sober and getting released, Blakinger dedicated her life to reporting on mass incarceration as an investigative journalist.

Before joining The Marshall Project, Blakinger worked as a criminal justice reporter for the Houston Chronicle. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post Magazine and The New York Times. Her memoir, Corrections in Ink, will be available in June.

“An important goal of good journalism is to provide a voice for the voiceless. Keri’s work covering criminal justice and prisons does exactly that,” said Ted Petersen, an associate professor of journalism at Florida Tech and adviser to The Crimson. “We are excited to welcome her to Florida Tech and look forward to learning more about her life and the power of the press to illuminate society’s dark corners.”

Due to Florida Tech’s pandemic requirements and out of an abundance of caution, only Florida Tech students, faculty and staff may attend in person at the Hartley Room. The public is invited to “attend” via a live YouTube broadcast.

Held every February, Free Speech Weeks highlights the value of the First Amendment and importance of a vibrant free press while also reminding the community that The Crimson functions as a truly free press—student editors make all content decisions.

This year’s Free Speech Week also includes the “Free Speech, Free Press, Free Cookies” wall on Tuesday, Feb. 22. At this event from noon to 3 p.m. outside of the Denius Student Center, students can get a free, prepackaged cookie for writing on the free speech wall.

On Thursday, Feb. 24, The Crimson will host, “Live Free or Eat Free: You can’t do both” on Crawford Green. From noon to 2 p.m., students will be offered a free meal from a food truck in exchange for their First Amendment rights.

For more information, contact Petersen at 321-674-7201 or

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