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.
Life 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
- Getting to Know Federal Prisoner Edwin Rubis
- How YOU Can Help Marijuana Lifer Edwin Rubis
- Change.org Petition Asking for Clemency for Edwin Rubis
- Edwin Rubis Facebook Page
- Marijuana Lifer Edwin Rubis: The Months and Years Go By and We’re Still Here – (Civilized)
(Edwin Rubis profile by Julia Rubiner of Editorial Emergency)