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Tuesday, January 27, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 25.0° F  Fog/Mist
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Eric Hainstock's letters from the edge

In preparing this story, I exchanged more than a dozen letters with Eric Hainstock. In all, Hainstock sent 19 letters, totaling about 40 pages. Most of these letters responded to specific questions from Isthmus. But some raised topics of Hainstock's own choosing.

Included here are three of Hainstock's shorter letters. This first is the letter he sent to Isthmus asking that his story be told. For reasons that remain unclear, this letter took more than two weeks to arrive. Subsequent correspondence adhered to normal postal timelines. Letters from Hainstock arrived from prison still sealed; letters to him were opened and inspected, but under prison policies would not typically be read.

In the course of this exchange, Hainstock stated that his cellmate, Brannon Prisk, typed the letters and helped him compose them. But there are times when Hainstock states that what follows are his own words, verbatim, without any input from Prisk.

The second letter, dated June 29, 2008, is among the most personal that Hainstock sent, reflecting on his relationship with his father. It was written I made clear my interest in getting Shawn Hainstock's perspective.

The third, undated, letter included here arrived about two days after the June 29 letter. It is the only one in which Prisk purportedly had no role, as it was written by Hainstock in his cellmate's absence. Part of the letter has been blacked out by Isthmus, as it relates information that Hainstock asked not be shared. The redacted content does not involve any criminal or sexual activity, or any violation of prison rules.

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