Federal Prisoner Edwin Rubis Is Serving Life for Marijuana

Federal prisoner Edwin Rubis is serving Life for Marijuana

Federal prisoner Edwin Rubis is serving Life for Marijuana

Edwin Rubis, Federal Prisoner #79282-079, Serving Life for Marijuana

Offense: Conspiracy to Possess and Distribute Marijuana
Sentence: 40 years (De-Facto Life)
Incarcerated Since: 5-27-1998
Date of Birth: 8-20-1968
Family: 3 sons (ages 17, 20, and 22 as of this writing in 2016); elderly parents, 2 sisters, 2 brothers
Priors: Unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, driving without a license, DWI
How any from Edwin’s case are now free: Approximately 11
How many are not?: Only Edwin

Edwin Rubis — dental assistant, father of three, man of faith — is serving a 40-year federal prison sentence for a nonviolent marijuana conspiracy offense. “The U.S. Sentencing Commission considers a life sentence to be 470 months, or about 39 years, because that is the average life expectancy of someone confined to federal prison,” reported the Texas Tribune in 2013. Thus Edwin Rubis is serving a de facto life term.

At 26, addicted to drugs and alcohol — or as he puts it, “lost in sin, without purpose or meaning” — Edwin turned to transporting drugs for two men he met while working at his job as an auto mechanic, which alone could not support his habit. During one such run, Edwin was responsible for the loss of a sizeable quantity of illicit cargo. He therefore became indebted to these men and, fearing for the safety of his family, was pressured into carrying out more than a dozen additional drug transactions.

Edwin cut off all contact with those involved in the drug operation once the debt was repaid and sought treatment for drug addiction and alcoholism. One year later, however, as others working for the operation were being arrested and began cooperating with a federal prosecutor, Edwin’s name was offered up to facilitate one of their plea bargains.

On the advice of counsel, Edwin took a chance at trial rather than take a plea himself. But he was found guilty and in 1998 entered the U.S. Maximum Security Penitentiary in Beaumont, Texas. In 2000, USA Today reported that the facility had witnessed more murders that year than any other federal lockup.

Why was a nonviolent offender like Edwin sent to a maximum security prison? The sole criterion was the length of his sentence. Meanwhile, the men prosecuted with him, including the two leaders of the conspiracy, are free.

Federal prisoner Edwin Rubis, serving de-facto life for marijuanaLife in Federal Prison: A Challenge Met and Reward Earned

During his three and a half years at USP Beaumont, where Edwin says, “it was very hard to participate in rehabilitation programs because we were constantly on lockdown,” he spent every available moment working to complete the prison’s Challenge Program. The reward for this accomplishment was a transfer to a medium security federal correctional institution in Talladega, Alabama.

Once there, Edwin seized every opportunity to further his rehabilitation, finding, “there are always people willing to help you if you are willing to help yourself.”

He was trained as a dental assistant, receiving hands-on experience in a two-year apprenticeship, and has worked in that capacity alongside the prison dentist ever since. He plans to continue this pursuit after reclaiming his place in society, where he will also advance his spiritual mission.

“My first two years behind bars were very difficult,” he confides. “I was angry, bitter and depressed due to the length of my sentence. But then I experienced a spiritual awakening, which inspired me to again seek treatment for drug and alcohol addiction.” He has remained clean and sober for more than 15 years and does all he can to help his fellow inmates achieve the same measure of peace he has.

To that end, Edwin serves as a lay leader in the Spanish Christian group, offering counsel and mentorship under the supervision of the prison chaplain. He begins each day with prayer and meditation and spends each evening in Bible study and group counseling. He also plays guitar for praise and worship services. Having found his calling, Edwin is working toward a degree in biblical Christian counseling and certification as a therapist.

Reverend Brad Schluter, who manages Edwin’s Facebook page, is quick to say, “I’m so impressed by Edwin. He works at his job, plays in a band and is involved in ministering to other prisoners. Despite living in a federal prison, he’s created a rewarding and fulfilling life for himself — he’s doing more with his life than many people who have their freedom.”

“I keep busy,” Edwin confirms, “doing the best I can with what I have. I stay away from anyone or anything that could deter me from my goal of freedom and ultimately, success in society.”

More on Federal Prisoner Edwin Rubis, Serving De-Facto Life for Marijuana

(Edwin Rubis profile by Julia Rubiner of Editorial Emergency)


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  1. Allison Lindsay on

    I think he has served his time we have people out here in the world that have done worser crimes and they free marijuana is legal now in most states so yes this man need to be Set free so we pray that God touch every heart,kind,and soul that has they hand’s in this case to set this man free Amen

  2. Have no fear Edwin. The LORD has heard of your plight. HE will soon accomplish your release from the prison where you being held. The LORD Has Spoken, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
    Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass. I will cut off the chariot from E′phraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your captives free from the waterless pit. Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.” (Zachariah 9:9-12). The LORDS’ Words, “Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.” (Zachariah 9:i2). It will be as The LORD Jesus Teaches us, ““The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,” (Luke 4:18-19) Keep the faith Edwin, in but a little while, your eyes will see the Fulfillment Of HIS Words, “Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.” (Zachariah 9:i2), come to pass. The voice of one crying in the wilderness of America)

  3. My son was murdered cold blood – robbed a repeat offender. Repeat offender even had assault on a police officer!! The low life only got 7yrs. In Santa Fe NM….1st judicial court…
    And you incarcerated this poor guy for pit, which by the way is legal in many states: Countries….let him go! Make the bed open for a hardened criminal! ✝ Many Blessings…the law is not enforced straight across the board even as it’s written in black & white!

  4. Contact former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee. He has said marijuana offenders should be released from prison. He has gotten people released from prison.

    • Mike Huckabee’s support, while most welcome, unfortunately cannot get Edwin or any of the prisoners we advocate for here at the Marijuana Lifer Project out of prison. As Edwin and everyone on this site are federal prisoners, that will take a sentence commutation (clemency) from the President. But a letter in support of Edwin’s clemency from Mike Huckabee would be a powerful statement to add to Edwin’s next clemency petition. If you or anyone knows him, or any other powerful figures like him, that you can reach out to, that would be most helpful.

      You can learn more at this page.


  5. You have served your time and deserve a second chance. President needs to pardon you before he leaves office.

  6. FREE All non violent drug prisoners, none of them belong there for more then a year, most drugs are not dangerous, it’s the laws controlling us that are dangerous

  7. I think this guy has served for more than what he committed… this drug is also legalized now. Further our society is also full of criminals who aren’t even caught and have even killed people so comparing those, this guy hasn’t done much and has already served so he should be released to start a new life and enjoy with family.

  8. Ahhh…yes! HE was SO innocent! Drugs never kill anyone! So he was NON-VIOLENT! Let’s sing Kumbaya and make it all go away!

    • Drugs do kill people. 79 people a day in the USA die from prescription drug overdoses. But marijuana has never killed anyone. Please get educated.

  9. Nonviolent crimes should have little prison time. Most are result of other problems that require solution. Addiction, poverty, poor education, abuse … The resources spent imprisoning people could be well served addressing these issues as a preventative measure. Even our prisons could benefit from the methods used in Germany.

    My prayers and thoughts are with you. It’s not much, but all I can offer. I have signed and am sharing your experience and petition. Blessings!