I Will Not Be a Pawn by Joseph Spicer, Sr.

Prison is like chess. The prisoners and officers are simply pieces on the board, waiting to be manipulated. But one corrections officer refuses to be anyone’s pawn.









Read the Excerpt Now. 


I Will Not Be a Pawn, a prison corrections officer provides a unique perspective on the complex relationships and hierarchies of the prison system and how life behind bars has both changed and stayed the same.

Joseph S. Spicer Sr. details his life both within the Department of Corrections and outside. His memoirs


Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan worked for twenty- nine years for the Michigan Department of Corrections and was named regional corrections officer of the year in 1995 and retired from the Michigan Department of Corrections in April of 2015. Attended Northwestern High School in Detroit, Michigan and received a full scholarship to college and played basketball at Lake Superior State University. A stand-out high school basketball player from Detroit, Michigan, who won an award at the legendary “Five Star Basketball Camp”. Where a host of known NBA ballplayers started their fundamental skills at a young age. Spicer was just twenty-two years old when he became a corrections officer, twenty-nine years later he hopes his memoirs will act as a teaching tool for parents, athletes, mentors, and others who face difficulties dealing with and discussing every day social issues that impact their lives for better or worse.


Get to Know the Author:


What inspired you to write a book?

I was inspired to write this book after working 29 years in the Department of Corrections and seeing countless number of young men and women coming through the criminal justice system as if it was a rite of passage, not truly understanding the consequences that come with the bad decision made, due to not taking the time to stop and think.

How would you describe your book to the reader?

I would describe my book as a teaching tool for parents, educators, mentors, youth organizations, the judicial system and a host of community programs that are set out to reinforce the importance of” life’s journey’s that will take one through some ups and downs but it’s how you navigate through those struggles that will determine your overall success or downfall, simply put checks and balances.         

 Why did the word “pawn” become a focal point throughout your book?

The word “pawn” became  a focal point just because of the situations that individuals put themselves in, a lot of times unnecessarily and then becoming sacrificial property to the Counties, State’s and Federal judicial system, I strived to emphasize (importance) , how a person must stop and think, am I making the right decision for myself and those who love me .                                             

  What made you use the analogy(comparison) of chess pieces for your storyline?   

 I went about using the game of chess, as a comparison to the game of checkers, as my storyline due to the connections with my journey through the Department of Corrections where I used administrative leaders within the dept. of Corrections as pieces of chess on a chessboard, I wanted the young reader to think about situations in their lives and make a comparison to my story. One example is where I state to the young me and women reader “stop playing checkers with your life and start playing chess” with checkers your bouncing around the board until you land up in jail and or other serious complications, whereas in chess your strategizing, thinking more of about consequences and goals you want to achieve.        

 What would be some lesson you would like to be learned and highlighted in the book?      

I would want the lesson of having integrity (honest principles) moral values do the right thing when no one is watching you, hold on to your true beliefs of right and wrong and to not let anyone family or friend cross those lines. To many individuals fall short an accept negative behavior as the norm it’s not.                                                                        

What challenges did you come across writing this complex book about the relationships and hierarchies within the prison system?

For one just opening up about the problems I encountered towards the end of my Corrections career working in the Dept. of Corrections was tough, I’m really not one to openly speak out about my time working within the prison system , but I was inspired and called upon by a higher power  to tell my life’s story takes the reader on a journey, in order to help those families, youth’s, Pastors/minister’s, educator’s, Juvenile justice system and others who are struggling with what directions to travel? and have healthy discussions amongst one another by using this book as a tool.

Why do you want to emphasize the messages within the body of the book, as opposed to the corruptions you encountered while working in the prison system?

And what did you find to be the value of writing a book of this very interesting subject (Hierarchies of the Prison System) by giving the reader an inside perspective of the complexities of the Prison system?                                                

I wanted to emphasize that after writing this book I have had the pleasure of young men and young women, fathers, mothers, and people of different ethnicities, letting me know how much they enjoyed this book, I’ve been told by these different nationalities that, ”they can relate to the problems and struggles within the family structure and how it has made them take a different look at how to deal with their own loved ones returning to the communities. When it comes to the corruption within the prison system itself and writer not emphasizing it more, I’ll let the reader decide and understand that within the prison system itself, everyone can become a pawn if you do not have any integrity and morale to do the right thing.


Find the Author and Book links:

Twitter link: Joseph Spicer Sr.@Jpicer497sr.                                            

LinkedIn, Instagram & Facebook links are all Joseph Spicer.


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