Welcome to my life

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STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN

Get it uncut, uncensored, and in true form: This comes straight from the pen, literally and figuratively; words that escape the thick walls, bars and fences, lined with rows of sharp and shiny razor wire, designed to slice and dig deep into the flesh of anyone who dares to cross the guard line to venture into the real world, beyond the horizon but difficult to reach.

The words contained inside this wave of the Deep Blue Web, provides readers with a peek into a part of life where millions of people found themselves chained and bound to a past they wished to forget; other words give hope of better days, a better life.

And then there are those inside who drool upon remembrance of dirty deeds done that demanded payment with their lives.

That is not me. I dream of one day living a respectable life as a free citizen, of one day being a productive member of society in penance of the damage I caused living the thug life. Prison experiences vary from prisoner to prisoner.

Welcome to life inside the American federal prison system. I will express my views from an open, honest, and straightforward perspective, with words that flow straight from the pen on diverse topics and issues that concerns the human experience.

In corrections, I am an inside expert. I began serving a thirty-five year federal sentence of imprisonment on August 18, 1988 for Conspiracy to Commit Armed Bank Robbery, Armed Bank Robbery, Abduction of a Person to Facilitate Commission of an Offense, and Use of a Firearm During the Commission of a Crime of Violence. Read ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN to learn more about my life that lead to this prison sentence.

Essays originally appeared in the PrisonLawBlog.com (PLB) and PrisonEducation.com (PE):
(PE), May 2013: “Education, the Prisoner, and Recidivism”; (PE), Feb. 2014: “Fighting for Rights to Write”; (PE), Aug. 2014: “Social Media for Writers”; (PE), Sept. 2014: “Life from “F”s to “A”s”; (PLB), Oct. 2014: “An Inside View of the Criminal Justice System”; (PLB), Nov. 2014: “The Truth About Incarceration, Part I”; (PLB), Nov. 2014: “From Where Do Writers Root.”

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HALF A PROBLEM

By Wayne T. Dowdy

backwards-arrowDon’t get it twisted; I am glad to have this half of a problem but it is a problem much greater than what confronts me.  The Bureau of Prisons (BOP), or “Backwards On Purpose” agency of the United States Department of Justice, is denying me of something I feel I have earned and need before reentering society.

But more than that, the situation that affects me affects the lives of many others, including thousands of federal prisoners and the unsuspecting public who has a right to know what goes on behind the walls, bars and fences of the federal prison system.

In my blog, “Life Inside” (11/20/17), I wrote about 16-halfway house closures, or rather, the BOP agency’s decision not to renew contracts, that may affect my leaving here on April 25, 2018.  It proved true!

Halfway House, Community Corrections Center, and Residential Reentry Center (RRC) are synonymous.

civil war imageBATTLE LINES:  Many of my peers do not know how to fight for their rights, and the unsuspecting public does not know how the recently appointed BOP Director, Mark S. Inch, is putting them at risk of becoming the victim of a recidivist.

I acknowledge that the retired, two-star General, walked onto a battlefield of a different kind than those where he probably sent or helped send many men and women to die in battle.  Though his actions created my dilemma, I chose not to view him or anyone as an enemy, as we are all comrades in life.  Nor do I mean to come across in a disrespectful manner towards him, because I do respect him and his accomplishments in life.

In addition, I do not want to believe that he had ill intent when he implemented processes (not renewing halfway house contracts; removing cognitive behavior programming requirements).  Those actions lead to increased recidivism rates (more men and women reverting to old behaviors that led back to prison or worse).

However, I cannot help but believe that his actions are driven, in part, by the influence of private prison officials.

Me and Director Inch are at opposite ends of a spectrum, where my vast experience provides a view he may not see due to the political BS thrown in his eyes by Attorney General, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, who appointed Mr. Inch as BOP Director.

ISN’T IT IRONIC:  My publisher liked my Happy New Year and Happy New Life message that I sent out to those on my Corrlinks contact list.  She decided to post it as a blog on January 2, 2018.  Ironically, I learned on that same day that the requested halfway house date of April 25, 2018, had been reduced to December 26, 2018 (leaving me with only 119-days in prerelease status at an RRC or on home confinement).

My first line of irrational thoughts were to tell “them” where to stick those 119-days, and then refuse to go to the halfway house upon release.  In my situation, though, the staff here on my Unit Team is on my side and wanted me to receive more time to help me successfully reintegrate; it is not anyone here who angered me with such a stupid proposition as sending a man to a halfway house for 119-days, who has served 30-years in the insane world of incarceration.

The irony is what I had written in the last paragraph of the now titled blog, Happy New Life:   “Whether that day comes on April 25, 2018, or April 24, 2019, I will succeed at living the rest of my days doing something worthwhile and beneficial to this thing we call life.”

GRATITUDE/RESENTMENT:  I resent the Backwards On Purpose agency not giving me the requested 364-days.  But, hey, I do have a release date; it’s not the date I expected or feel I’ve earned, but I am grateful to have a date.

Staff and inmates alike were shocked to hear I only received 119-days, after having served 30-years, and after having maintained clear conduct since March 1993 (almost 25-years).  My only incidents of misbehavior were drug-related; no convictions for committing acts of violence or otherwise harming others.  I help others, maybe that’s why the powers who be want to keep me around?

REVERSE DISCRIMINATION:  Perhaps I am a victim of reverse discrimination.  A close friend who left here on December 20, 2017, en route to the same halfway house I’m going to (Dismas Charities, Atlanta, GA).  He has a lot of resources (home, land, large bank account, supporting family), and received eleven and a half months RRC placement.

He’s African-American, near my age, served 23-years for armed bank robbery and a firearm charge, whereas I’ve served almost 30-years for armed bank robbery and associated charges, but I did not have a firearm.  He and I have a Criminal History Category of VI (several prior convictions).  He had disciplinary (incident) reports for acts of violence.  I haven’t.

I’m a European-American (white), born and raised in Georgia.  I do not have financial resources and will be starting over at the age of sixty-one.

Other African-Americans have received shorter terms of RRC placement, who haven’t served as long.

One white friend going to the same halfway house, who has been in prison less than a year, received 60-days: I’ve served 29-more and received 58-days more, thanks to the absurd Backwards on Purpose agency.

MY LAST CHRISTMAS?  In “Santa, Stars, Sex & Politics” (12/18/17), I wrote, “For me, this Christmas will be my last behind bars so life is good.”  Whoever set the date of my departure from here as the day after Christmas, must have chuckled as he or she thought to get the message across that they were making sure I wouldn’t be home for Christmas.  It is not over, though.

IT’S ON:  Battle lines have been drawn.  Battle drums rattle my brain.  The war is on.  I am fighting for myself and will fight for those whom I will leave behind.

My plan is to elicit the help of the United States Congress to halt the plans of General Inch, who was under fire during the Federal Prison Oversight Hearing on 12/13/2017, about his actions in regard to Residential Reentry Centers.

No doubt, his actions put the American public in harms way.  Personally, I believe he may have mislead Congress about his intent behind his actions that results in men and women spending more time in prison and less time in RRC placement.

If he does not renew RRC contracts, he creates a shortage of bed space that justifies keeping people in prison longer, at a higher cost to taxpayers.  Congress enacted THE SECOND CHANCE ACT OF 2007 to provide prisoners with longer RRC placement periods.   Read on for more.

According to attorney Brandon Sample, “Director Inch was asked by several members of the Committee about BOP’s decision to cut back halfway house placements.  In response, Director Inch told the Committee that the agency is ‘absolutely not’ cutting back on its commitment to re-entry.”

The BOP shut down its Reentry Hotline which says it all.

In the modified words of a famous poet whose name I don’t recall (Henry David Thoreau (?)), Director Mark Inch’s “[a]ctions speak so loud I can’t hear a word of what [he] says.”

HALF A PROBLEM:  My problem isn’t much of a problem on one level, and is one thousands of other prisoners would love to have:  I have a release date and am near getting out of prison.

THOUSANDS of my peers do not have a release date; others have release dates decades away, just as I did when I began this sentence on August 18, 1988.  My problem does not compare to theirs but it is a problem because 119-days does not provide me with what the United States Congress said the Director of the Bureau of Prisons should provide its prisoners (a “sufficient duration [of RRC placement] to provide the greatest likelihood of successful reintegration into the community.”)  18 U.S.C., Section 3624(c)(6).

When I first began this sentence, my Unit Team at U.S.P. Leavenworth, suggested I not do anything to lose any Good Conduct Time (time earned off a sentence for good behavior).  I said, “By the time I do thirty-years, do you really think I’ll care about doing five more?”

SURVIVOR SYNDROME:  I now care about doing those extra five-years; at least, on one level I do, but on another, I really don’t, to a certain extent.  Prison life is what I know best.  I’ve been incarcerated most of my life and have survived being in two prisons rated the most violent prisons in the U.S. while I was in them (GA State Prison, Reidsville (1981-85), and U.S.P. Atlanta, GA (1993-96)).

I survived those experiences and will survive the outcome of this sentence and whatever I encounter upon my release; however, I do feel I need more time to re-acclimate to the society I left 30-years ago.

FLAWED THINKING:  In the Georgia prison system, the State Board of Pardons & Paroles notified me that I had a tentative parole date:  It shocked me.  I was also told of being considered for halfway house placement.

I wrote and said, “Give that spot to someone who needs it.  I don’t need to go because I have a job lined up, a family, and a good support system.  Some guys don’t have anything.”

When I got to the halfway house, I realized how much I needed it.  I stayed 4 1/2 months after serving 7-years, not thirty.  I failed to successfully reintegrate.

BACKWARDS ON PURPOSE AGENCY:  When statistics indicate what the results will likely be and an agency enacted with a specific purpose in mind to avoid those results by taking actions, and then does the opposite, their actions or inactions prove their intent.

“SECOND CHANCE ACT OF 2007:  Community Safety Through Recidivism Reduction.”  Congress entered provisions for the Second Chance Act in Title 18 of the United States Code (U.S.C.), Section 3624(c), Prerelease Custody.

Congress enacted those provisions to make communities safer by helping ex-offenders successfully reintegrate into the community, not to put ex-offenders at a higher risk of committing crimes to survive.  Section 3624(c) increased the maximum term of RRC placement from 6-months to 12-months.

“Section 3624(c)(1) provides:

“The Director of the Bureau of Prisons shall, to the extent practicable, ensure that a prisoner serving a term of imprisonment spends a portion of the final months of that term (not to exceed 12 months), under conditions that will afford that prisoner a reasonable opportunity to adjust to and prepare for the reentry of that prisoner into the community.  Such conditions may include a community correctional facility.”  Brandon Sample Newsletter, email:  news@brandonsample.com

Congress directed the BOP Director to ensure that RRC placements are “(A) conducted in a manner consistent with section 3621(b) of this title [18 U.S.C.]; (B) determined on an individual basis; and (C) of sufficient duration to provide the greatest likelihood of successful reintegration into the community.”  18 U.S.C., section 3624(c)(6).

How does reducing the term of RRC placement fulfill congressional intent?  It doesn’t.

Halfway House or Residential Reentry Centers, are what Congress gave the Bureau of Prisons to use for providing its prisoners with a “reasonable opportunity to adjust to and prepare for reentry … into the community.”  The purpose of the Second Chance Act is to reduce recidivism.

January 5, 2018:  I completed Step One in the administrative remedy process by completing what is known in the federal Bureau of Prisons as a BP-8, Informal Resolution Form.  For illustrative purposes, I use my situation to show that Dir. Inch may be putting society in harms way with his new halfway house policy that will increase the risk of recidivism, contrary to Congressional directives for him to do the opposite.

Perhaps Dir. Inch mislead Congress on 12/13/2017, during a two and a half hour hearing, when he claimed to be keeping the Bureau of Prisons’ commitment to provide inmates with reentry needs.  I thought American Generals fought to protect its citizens.

His new policy led to the 119-days that does not only affect my life: his policy will ultimately affect the lives of others who leave the federal prison system, all of the victims of recidivist, and all of the lives of loved ones incarcerated in the “BOP” agency.

TO BE CONTINUED

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Wayne T. Dowdy writes at StraightFromthePen.com

residential reentry centers, RRC, halfway house; Brandon Sample, Esq.; Congress, Second Chance Act, reentry, federal prison system, Bureau of Prisons, B.O.P., Director, Mark Inch; U.S. Attorney General, Jeff Sessions; U.S. Department of Justice

HAPPY NEW YEAR and a HAPPY NEW LIFE

My New Life Chapter 1 imageI wish each of you a Happy New Year and a Happy New Life!

For me, it is always a pleasant thought to acknowledge that each day is the first day of the rest of our lives.

May 2018 be the best year each of us experiences in our young lives. That’s right, I still consider myself young, per se, even though I have seen many moons come and go during my existence in this thing we call life. I am proud to have achieved elder-status!

My hope for 2018 is to walk out the doors of this prison, en route to becoming a legally free man who contributes something that benefits all of those who follow. My prayer is for each of you find the strength and courage to do what you can to make a positive difference in the lives of others, which I know will enrich the quality of your lives as it will those you help.

Learning to take selfless-actions over the selfish, self-centered ones Mr. EGO often demands; learning to stop and listen to those near and to the Creator, whom I chose to call God, and learning to experience my natural emotions, rather than pretending to be bulletproof, made me a better man.

What really made a difference in my life is learning how not to numb or saturate emotional responses with drugs and alcohol and “relearning” how to be human; that gave me a new life.

When the day comes that I do walk out these doors, which I still hope to be April 25, 2018, I know I will face many challenges that will test my faith and resolve. In three decades, “life out there” changed considerably, some for the best, some not so much, all of which will take me some time to readjust to and to learn to blend in with rest of the free world. But I also know that I am man enough to meet each challenge with the faith and courage I need to continue living the rest of my days as an honorable and respectful man.

Whether that day comes on April 25, 2018, or April 24, 2019, I will succeed at living the rest of my days doing something worthwhile and beneficial to this thing we call life. I hope the same will prove true for each of you. Happy New Life!

SANTA, STARS, SEX & POLITICS by Wayne T. Dowdy

Santa sleighOn December 23, 2015, I blogged about a “Plot to Stop Santa.”  My publisher found a photo to post of Santa and a Militarized-Sled Santa used to fight terrorists who stood in his way.  Well, now there may be other reasons to deter Jolly Ole Saint Nick from doing what he does best: deliver gifts on Christmas morning.

 

Santa Clause may skip over a lot of homes and businesses this year, due to fear of being dragged into a sex scandal that would prevent him from being able to deliver all the gifts to all the boys and girls who have behaved.  Who knows what someone may do who has drank a little too much Egg Nog.  Alcohol does impair memory and behaviors.

 

Maybe he won’t pass over this prison, even though there are lots of perverts and thugs who would take all the gifts and his “goodies.”

 

In recent weeks, the news has been inundated with sexual misconduct claims against politicians, movie stars, television personalities and others in the entertainment industry; all complaints filed were by women against men in powerful positions.

 

I wonder at what point will a sexual advance on a date become grounds for a sexual misconduct claim?   Maybe some of the events in the news are just that.  Will men stop making sexual advances because of paranoia about being sued by a would-be-potential mate?  Maybe to a certain degree in America but highly-unlikely in more liberal nations.

 

I understand how wrong it is and know how angry I’d be if some pervert gave my daughter, granddaughters, sisters or other family members, a date rape drug and took advantage of them.

 

Do not misunderstand what I write in the following paragraphs.  I do not condone and do not attempt to justify anyone, regardless of gender or any other factor, who sexually abuses someone.  My true feelings for women is in “Women Rule the World” (03/27/17).

 

MEN GET ABUSED TOO:  How long will it be before men began initiating sexual misconduct claims?  No doubt, men too, have performed sexual acts and done personal favors to climb the corporate ladder, or to otherwise enhance their chance of success in the business world or entertainment industry.

 

Men also get sexually and physically abused by women.  But if a man complained about a woman who sexually abused him, some may ask, “Why are you complaining?  Be happy.” 🙂

 

With my release date approaching, and in considering my knowledge of vulnerability after serving thirty-years in prison, I must take extreme precautions to guard against any claim of sexual improprieties by an evil woman who lures me into her web so she can take advantage of me.

 

SEXUAL RESTRAINTS:  No, not that kind of kinky stuff.  I’ve been restrained too long with cuffs, chains, bars, walls and fences, to volunteer to let someone tie me up and pull out the whips and chains or to bound and gag me.  Not my cup of tea!

 

The good thing about my extended stay in the federal prison system, is that I have gotten plenty of practice at restraining myself from making sexual advances toward women I find sexually attractive.  I won’t even flirt, which is far different than the way I would have been many moons ago.  I am damaged now!

 

PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE:  I write from the perspective of a heterosexual male but the principles apply to anyone, regardless of sexual preference, gender, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status.

 

ENTERTAINMENT & CONSENT:  Perhaps I will create a CONSENT AGREEMENT to cover all legal issues for any woman who wishes for me to entertain her wildest dreams (sounds good).  I’d email a Consent Agreement to an interested woman and require her to fill in all blanks and agree not to bring suit against me for any action one may interpret as a sexual advance, within reasonable boundaries, such as placing an arm around her waist, over her shoulder, or on her leg if out on a date.

 

Casual touching or groping the erroneous zones requires special written permission, even if on a date or within the confines of one’s residence.  Upon completion, she’d have to click to return the email to me before we engage in a relationship.

 

DISCLAIMER:  For safety precautions, I’ll include a disclaimer should I fail to live up to her expectations or to give her more than she wanted.

 

Because a woman’s age is not obvious (some look years younger, others years older), the production of identification is required before we engage in romance.

 

PERSONALLY:  I’ve given thought to the issues now facing males in an insane and monetary-driven world.  I feel certain that most women are saying what they believe to be true in relation to their sexual misconduct claims.  Personally, though, I suspect many claims are false and are driven by a desire to be paid, a new form of Gold Digging.  It happens!

 

When I worked in the Personnel department at an Atlanta company, an attractive, African-American female, who had relocated to Atlanta, asked me to take her to lunch.  I did.

 

After we ate lunch, she wanted to go to her apartment to pick up something before we returned to work.  She invited me in to smoke a joint while there.  I succumbed to her desires.  She showed me the only furniture in the apartment:  her bed, a lone mattress.

 

Nothing sexual transpired between us.  I did not proposition her or make a sexual advance; however, if she had not indicated that she wanted me to furnish her apartment, it’s possible we would have had sex at a later date, but that wasn’t going to happen because I wasn’t into paying for sex.

 

A few weeks later, she was terminated for unexcused absences and for repeatedly being late for work.  In an attempt to get her job back, she contacted the personnel manager and threatened to file a sexual harassment claim.  She claimed we had sex in her apartment.

 

Did her memory reconstruct the event and twist the facts to best serve her purpose or did mine fail to accurately recall what transpired between us?

 

I signed a sworn affidavit that we did not have sex and that I never propositioned her to have sex.  In the affidavit, I agreed to take a polygraph test (lie detector test) to attest to the same.

 

SELECTIVE BUT NOT-SO-RELIABLE MEMORY RECALL:  According to the field of Psychology, we use memory to guide us in our decision making process and thus use the past as a guide into the future.

 

The memory stored in our minds is not always an accurate portrayal of events, because, as humans, we “reconstruct” events to make sense of our experiences.

 

The fallible memory process lead to false convictions that caused numerous men to be sentenced to death.  If not for the advent of DNA that allowed the defendants to prove their innocence, the witness’ unreliable memory would have put the defendants six feet under or led to cremation of their bodies.

 

MEMORY IS NOT A CAMERA:  Some people may think of memory like a movie camera or tape recorder, recording vivid details of their lives.  That is not an accurate assumption:  Memory is more akin to a series of snap shots from a group of unconnected frames that the human brain lays out to reconstruct in order to “figure out” what the missing parts of the scenes were like.

 

British Psychologist, Sir Fredric Bartlett (1932), was one of the first scientist to conclude that memory is in large part, a “reconstructive process.”  We often take complex information and modify it in ways to make sense out of what we know or think we know.

 

Since Sir Bartlett’s conclusion, hundreds of studies have confirmed that we do that with our conversations and personal experiences.  Is the reconstructive process behind the delayed claims of sexual improprieties?  Possible.

 

Maybe that is why humans argue?  Everyone believes their reconstructed memory is correct.

 

The fallible memory process applies to the accused as well as to the accusers; both may be right or wrong or only remember parts of what is true.

 

FLASHBULB MEMORIES:  When memories fall under the spell of emotional events, Roger Brown and James Kulik labeled such memories as “flashbulb memories”; the term captures what appears to be photographic detail, surprise, and illumination associated with the recollection of the event.

 

The mind also alters those types of memories, and with the passage of time, are also subject to error.

 

CONFABULATION:  Another unusual aspect of the reconstructive memory process is a subject’s ability to confuse an event that happened to someone else as “their” experience.  In other words, the person believes something that happened to someone else happened to them, when it did not.  Facts become mixed with fiction.

 

DHoffmanSEX & HOLLYWOOD:  In the entertainment industry, sexual misconduct has always been a part of it, if Harold Robbins used the truth to form the basis behind what he wrote about the industry in THE LONELY LADY, a book I read in the early eighties.

I am convinced that numerous producers, agents, and major players in the movie industry, including other stars with sexual desires, used the offer of screen roles and movie contracts as a “dangling carrot” to entice victims into performing sexual acts to win the prize.  However, I am not convinced that everyone accused of sexual misconduct is guilty.

 

In 1986, I chose not to sign a modeling contract with the PIZZAZZ Modeling Agency in Atlanta, Georgia, because of my belief about sexual exploitation in the industry, which I based strictly on my belief, nothing more.  During the interview, I was not propositioned or given any reason to believe sex had anything to do with me being given a contract to review, sign and then return to the agency with my portfolio.

 

TIME CHANGES THINGS:  Over the last several decades, society has changed considerably, a very different society than the one I left in 1988.  Some of the events that fueled many changes over the years are terrorist attacks, mass shootings, and changes in the legal climate, which includes what constituted rape and sexual abuse of children.

 

In the fifties, it was not viewed inappropriate for a twenty or twenty-five year old man to marry a fourteen or fifteen-year old girl:  Society evolved and determined it inappropriate, based, in part, on the fact that the mind of a young girl has not developed as fast as the rest of her body.

 

Even in the sixties, some rapists were not found guilty because of the way a woman dressed.  If the woman dressed seductively, a jury or court often failed to find the man guilty if he claimed the sex was consensual, and because she “enticed” him into having sex by the way she dressed.

 

Absurd, yes, but true, even though I am writing from memory and do not provide specific case citations to support my position.

 

It is equally as hard for me to understand some idiot spilling coffee on himself and then winning a law suit against a McDonalds’ restaurant because he did what he did; supposedly, the courts awarded the man a million dollars.  I do not know for sure, since I am relying on what I’ve heard others report, which is not the best source of information, nor is the fallible memory process.

 

Hopefully, Santa will still crank up his old sled to spread joy throughout the world, and not worry about any of the events plaguing the nation or false claims that may be made against him along his journey.  For me, this Christmas will be my last behind bars so life is good.

PRISONERS

In 2018, maybe Santa will bring me someone special to have fun with and enjoy life.  Then again, solitude may be safer.  🙂

 

_______________________________

Purchase the most recent writings by Wayne T. Dowdy online at your favorite eStore.  eBooks available at Barnes & Noble, Smashwords.com and many others.  UNKNOWN INNOCENCE and ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN are must reads for those who want to see life on the inside, as well as inspirational stories of recovery.  Check out his Smashwords Authors page at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy.

LIFE INSIDE

by Wayne T. Dowdy

mass shootings

Recent events that concern federal prisoners may affect whether I leave for a halfway house on April 25, 2018.  Other events affect my serenity when I allow something eternal to govern my feelings, as is common for us living, breathing, human beings.  Feelings, negative or positive, remind me I am alive.  Powerlessness sucks!

MASS SHOOTINGS:  Life inside can be challenging, as it can be on the outside; typically, though, challenges on the inside are of a lesser degree.  On the inside, we don’t have to worry about some idiot running us down with a vehicle.  Nor do we have to worry about cowards using guns to massacre us, as happened on October 1, 2017 at a concert in Las Vegas, Nevada, and then again on November 5, 2017, at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas.

Mental illness played a role in the murders.  I sympathize with the victims and survivors of those and all other senseless acts of violence.

In “Love and Evil Are Color-Blind” (June 25, 2015), I wrote about a church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina, where nine people were murdered.  In that blog, I referenced to the December 10, 2007, church murders in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Jeanne Assam, a volunteer, armed-security-guard, saved the masses by challenging and shooting the predator.  He killed himself after she shot him.  The predator in Sutherland Springs, Texas also killed himself, after being shot by an armed citizen.

Without an armed citizen on the scene at the Colorado Springs church, many others would have died.  President Trump said the same thing about the Texas Church Massacre.

Two church shootings occurred in towns with names ending in “Springs.”

HALFWAY HOUSES:  Sixteen halfway houses will not be providing federal prisoners with a place to transition into society.  Several prisoners who had halfway house dates and were expecting to leave, later learned the dates had been extended.

A man in Yazoo City, MS, learned the day before his departure date that his date was moved back seven months.  He had already mailed out his personal property in preparation of leaving.

One man at this institution was not told about the cancellation of his date.  His family drove a few hundred miles to pick him up.  They sat in the parking lot on the morning of his scheduled release date while waiting to carry him to the halfway house.

He didn’t get to see his family; prison authorities had turned them away.  He learned his date had been cancelled and that he couldn’t leave.

I’ve received information from several sources.  Ms. Sue Kastensen, owner/CEO of Fairshake.net, a reentry service, provided a list of halfway houses closing, via the website for Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM).

The owners of these halfway houses chose not to renew their B.O.P. contracts and have closed, or will close soon:  Ft. Collins, CO; Marquette, MI; Akron, OH; Dayton, OH; Ashland, KY; Beaumont, TX, and Butte, MT.

The B.O.P. chose not to renew these halfway house contracts: Colorado Springs, CO (remember the Church shooting there); Madison, WI; Mitchell, SD; Wheeling, WV; Columbia, MO; Binghamton, NY; Durham, NC; Duluth, MN, and Champagne, IL.

MY TAKE:  The Department of Justice is making room for larger halfway houses operated by private prison companies; e.g., Core Civic and GEO Group.  Core Civic announced its plan to get into the halfway house business several months ago.

GEO Group holds its annual conference at a resort owned by President Trump.  The stock of both companies soared within a week of the election (Core Civic was then Correctional Corporation of America; its stock rose a staggering 43%, and GEO Group’s jumped 26%).

In the November 10th Fair Shake newsletter, a prisoner shared his negative experience with a halfway house in Florida (no resources or help for finding employment, rude & disrespectful staff).  His experience coincided with my friend who was at the halfway house I should go to one day.

My friend said that if I didn’t receive the full-year at the halfway house, not to worry too much, because if he had known all the BS that went on in halfway houses, he’d stayed at U.S.P. Coleman in Florida, the prison he left to go to Dismas Charities in Atlanta, GA.

Other people reported favorably about the halfway house experience at Dismas Charities in Atlanta.  Experiences vary.  I’ll be okay either way, whether I go for a few months, or for the requested full-year that I need to secure a job at the earliest date possible to restart my life as a law-abiding citizen, after having served thirty consecutive years in prison.

(Check out http://www.fairshake.net for reentry needs.  Contact info:  Fair Shake, P.O. Box 63, Westby, WI 54667.  Sign up for the free reentry newsletter by email:  outreach@fairshake.net).

MORE ON HALFWAY HOUSES:  Attorney Brandon Sample sent several newsletters on halfway house closures.  In one article he explained the statutory process created by Congress for halfway house placement; if interested, read it at https://sentencing.net/prison-conditions/federal-halfway-house.

Contact info:  Brandon Sample, Esq., P.O. Box 250, Rutland, VT 05702 (email: info@brandonsample.com)

Sign up for a free newsletter by email:  news@brandonsample.com.

Brandon played a large role in finding prisoners affected by halfway house closures and thus contributed to an article on Splinter News.  See “How Prisoners on the Verge of Freedom Are Getting Screwed by the Feds” by Molly Osberg (https://splinternews.com/how-prisoners-on-the-verge-of-freedom-are-getting-screw-1820192725).

SOCIETY & PRISONERS:  Why should society be concerned about prison-related issues?  Because most prisoners return to society, and if not treated, return in worse shape than when arrested.  Halfway houses help prisoners transition into society, and play an intricate part in whether the released prisoner returns to his or her life of crime (recidivism), or successfully reintegrates into society.

Recidivist affect the lives of others by collecting victims and costing taxpayers millions of dollars.  Most likely, no one who sat in the Sutherland, Texas church service expected a mentally ill person, who was a recidivist, to come in shooting people.

Had the shooter received the needed help while serving time in jail for abusing his wife and child, those people may not have lost their lives.  The system failed him and cost lives.

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:  What can we do to help those suffering from mental illness and or drug and alcohol problems, who go to prison and are not provided treatment for their condition?

Push for legislation, with sanctions for noncompliance against prison officials who fail to provide treatment programs and after care services, for those with substance use and mental health issues.

What can we do to help change the lives of others?  Provide opportunities to facilitate change may be a start.

Why do many prison authorities resist providing prisoners with resources to facilitate changing?  Ask your legislatures.

MAIL ABUSE:  I’ll conclude this with a memorandum from the warden.  I do not fault her or any prison administrator, but I do not agree with the resolution: it appears to me that mailroom staff do what they are paid to do (detect the introduction of contraband).

After a change in the mail-restrictive-process outlined in “The Memorandum,” what if the institution’s drug problem with the introduction of suboxone strips (a drug not allowed in the B.O.P. that medical professionals use to treat opiate addiction); or with some other drug, and then the Specialist in Security team discovers corrupt staff members introduced the contraband, or that drugs came through visitation or other means, will that result in restricting staff from entering the institution without extreme measures implemented to detect drugs, or in the cancellation of all visitation privileges?  Would the mail-restrictive policy be reversed?  No, to each question.

(I use staff and visitation examples for illustrative purposes only, not to suggest or imply anything improper.)

A few years ago, a prison guard and U.S. Marshal died in a shootout at the federal institution in Tallahassee, Florida, when  federal marshals came to arrest the guard for bringing in drugs and having sex with inmates, I seem to recall.  After that, tighter security measures were introduced to detect weapons, but did nothing to detect other forms of “hard contraband.”

WHO’S TO BLAME:  I fault my peers who violate mail privileges.

I fault the prison administration for not taking a proactive approach by providing meaningful treatment for addicts and mentally ill prisoners, which may not prevent the introduction of contraband, but it would help to reduce some of the demand.

From a different perspective, numerous requests were made for administrative assistance in providing Twelve Step meetings on a consistent basis, but such requests fell on deaf ears, even though the B.O.P.’s Mission Statement proclaims to “[p]rovide work and other self-improvement opportunities to assist offenders in becoming law-abiding citizens.”

Prison unemployment rates are high and most available self-improvement programs lack in substance.

A man I know who struggled with a suboxone addiction and went to the Segregated Housing Unit for drug-related issues, asked an executive staff member to help provide regularly scheduled Narcotics Anonymous meetings that he said helped.  Nothing changed.

Twelve Step members at this institution are fortunate to have the meetings that are held, but the Bureau of Prisons falls short when it comes to providing addicts and alcoholics with help needed to recover from addiction problems.  The issue gets magnified when it comes to helping addicts and alcoholics with an underlying mental disorder.

(Read “No Sympathy” for a personal example and more on the Bureau of Prison’s failure to treat those with co-occurring disorders (https://straightfromthepen.wordpress.com) or purchase ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN*).

This is a reproduction of the Memorandum for the world to see, should a random reader decide to send me or someone else a Christmas card or letter or any form of written communication affected by the absurd policy.

The Memorandum:  October 30, 2017

“Subject:  Incoming Inmate Correspondence

“Due to the escalation of hard contraband detected in incoming mail, which interferes with the orderly running of the institution and facilitates criminal activity, the following procedures will become effective December 1, 2017.  It is your responsibility to inform those you correspond with of these changes.

“All incoming greeting cards, envelopes and contents must be made with plain paper (no recycled paper, card stock, cotton paper, poster board, napkins, construction paper, etc.).    Store purchased greeting cards must be single layer and allow for examination without separating and altering its original state.

“If incoming inmate general correspondence envelopes are composed of unauthorized paper, the envelope will be stamped ‘return to sender, only envelopes made with plain paper authorized’.  Once the envelope is opened and the content is unauthorized, a rejection letter will be prepared for the sender and inmate.

“In addition, all postage stamps will be removed from incoming correspondence.  Correspondence containing glitter, glue, stickers, fragrance, and tape or adhesives, will be rejected and a rejection letter will be prepared.

“As a reminder, items that cannot be searched or examined without destruction or alteration (electronic greeting cards, padded cards, etc.), will be returned to the sender.”

How can manufacturers make cards without cardstock and glue for envelopes?  Maybe the fragrance of perfume on another sender’s correspondence won’t bleed on mine to get it rejected.  Prison policy makers don’t have to think well to make rules we must follow.  God Grant Me the Serenity to Accept What I Cannot Change.

______________________________________

* $8.95 online & at Midnight Express Books, P.O. Box 69, Berryville, AR 72616   Email: MEBooks1@yahoo.com (price does not include S & H charges)

A JOB AFFAIR

by Wayne T. Dowdy

“You can if you think you can. Engrave those seven words deeply in your consciousness.
They are packed with power and with truth.”                           Rev. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale

Job-FairOn September 29, 2017, I attended a Mock Job Fair: I took an 8-week Job Application and Resume’ Maker Class just to attend, as I knew how to prepare a resume’ and how to perform during job interviews. I walked into the room believing the door for a real job would open. I’m sure it did. More will be revealed!

Read on for more on the Mock Job Fair.

GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF LABOR: In “Seeking a Real Job” (July 7, 2017)*, I included my take on parts of an interview with the Georgia Labor Commissioner, Mr. Mark Butler, whom I had listened to on a local radio talk show, Georgia Focus. I liked what he said. (I carried a copy of that blog for the Mock Job Fair.)

workkeys-pyramidWORKKEYS ASSESSMENT: I wrote “Seeking a Real Job” during my participation in WorkKeys. In “Waiting” (August 9, 2017), I wrote about WorkKeys and said, “Now I am waiting to see if I succeeded at obtaining Platinum certification. By the next blog I will know and will proudly boast if I scored the Platinum. If I did not qualify for it in two out of three categories, I will be shocked. No doubt I will at least grab the Gold!” The latter held true.

In “Uncivil Wars” (August 17, 2017), I shared the WorkKeys Assessment scores. I will do so again because I am so proud. 🙂 This time I will list the Scale Score, which may be “Use[d] to show growth over time and provide group comparisons in outcome measurement. Not intended for selection and hiring. Scale Score range: 50-90.” ACT WorkKeys Summary, Report Date: 08/11/2017.

Even though I did not obtain three Platinum Levels, I did receive two out of three (Level 5 is Gold, 6 & 7 Platinum). I believe I only missed one question in the Locating Information Assessment that knocked me out of that Platinum Level. Here are the results as listed on my ACT WorkKeys Skill Report:

“Applied Mathematics (Levels range from 3 to 7) Level: 6 Scale Score 82

“This person scored Level 6. Individuals with Level 6 skills can set up and solve problems containing extraneous information or information presented out of logical order and involving multiple-step calculations on a mixture of whole numbers, fractions, decimals, or percentages.

“Locating Information (Levels range from 3 to 6) Level: 5 Scale Score 84

“This person scored at Level 5. Individuals with Level 5 skills can correctly use complicated workplace graphics, such as complex forms and tables, multivariable graphs, and detailed diagrams, to compare trends and main points, and/or summarize information within a single graphic or across more than one graphic representing related information.

“Reading for Information (Levels range from 3 to 7) Level: 7 Scale Score: 87

“This person scored at Level 7. Individuals with Level 7 skills can apply concepts from densely detailed selections, such as excerpts from complex regulatory and legal documents, to new situations. They can understand difficult concept and complex procedures containing jargon and technical terms whose definitions must be derived from context. Level 7 is the highest level measured by this test.”

GOLD IS GOOD, PLATINUM BETTER: In some respects, the most beneficial thing that I have done recently, is to take the WorkKeys class and to participate in the Job Application and Resume’ Maker Class; however, if I weren’t so close to getting out, then I’d need to take the WorkKeys class again, if not released within five-years, because that is when WorkKeys’ certificates expire. I am still considering taking it again to get the Platinum Level for Locating Information. If I don’t though, the Gold works well and is still impressive to potential employers.

MOCK JOB FAIR: The purpose of the Mock Job Fair is to prepare participants for the job interview process. Each interviewer writes comments to help us improve our interviewing skills and thus increase our chances of getting a job.

This institution has over 1,300 inmates; approximately fifteen enrolled, but only six of us completed the requisite Job Application & Resume’ Maker Class to attend the Mock Job Fair. All six of us did exceptionally well, according to the final comments by the interviewers.

Four volunteers came in for the job interview process. I will list them in the order of my interviews:
Ms. S. (Human Services Coordinator I-SNAP/TANF) and Mr. G., both from the South Carolina Department of Social Services;
Ms. M. (Business Services Recruiter) for the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL);
Ms. W. (Business Development Specialist) for the South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department.

The expansive room was arranged with three plush seats on the back wall for Executive staff members (none were filled. One of the two planned Associate Wardens did come into the room for a while).

Our six seats sat facing the three empty Executive staff seats. At the end of the Mock Job Fair, a teacher presented us with our Certificates, in place of the planned Executive staff member who failed to fulfill her commitment.

INTERVIEWS: Three tables were arranged to accommodate the process; one table and three seats were arranged to our left; two for the Social Service workers and one for the Interviewee.

Two tables for interviews sat on each side of the empty Executive Staff seats: Ms. M.’s table sat to the right, Ms. W.’s sat to the left, each with two seats, one for the volunteer and one for the Interviewee.

Ms. W. from V.R. appeared late because some rocket scientist sent her to go buy some different clothes from the Family Dollar Store, which often happens to visitors at this institution.

Women beware! You cannot wear the popular, church-going, open-sleeve blouses or open-toed shoes into this facility.

THE PROCESS: Each Interviewer had a form to complete to provide participants with comments and to rate their Interview Performance. This is the information on the form contained for each Interviewer to complete:
Resume’ Legible?
Resume’ Complete?
Good Eye Contact?
Good Posture?
Applicant’s Verbal Participation? TOO MUCH JUST RIGHT NOT ENOUGH
Would this person be eligible for hire in a “real” interview? YES POSSIBLY NO
If not, what does the applicant need to work on?
Overall Interview Performance: EXCELLENT GOOD AVERAGE POOR
Comments (Note: Give the evaluation to the applicant at the end of the interview.)

MY RESULTS: Each Interviewer answered all questions favorably; with YES as an option, Yes, and JUST RIGHT for my Verbal Participation.

FIRST INTERVIEW: My first interview was with Social Services who gave me a GOOD on Overall Interview Performance, and a comment of “Job well done.”

I wanted EXCELLENT so I mentally reviewed the process to determine where I could improve and then focused on what I felt needed changed. Conclusion: I needed to provide shorter answers with less emotional responses.

***
SECOND INTERVIEW: My second interview was with Ms. M. of the Georgia Department of Labor, my favorite, of course, because I am from and will return to Georgia upon release. She gave me an EXCELLENT rating, and told me at the end of the interview that out of all the interviews she has ever had, and that she has had a lot, that “in here” and “out there,” that my interview was by far her best. 🙂

To paraphrase what she said, “You answered all of my questions properly and provided me with all the information I needed to hear as a potential employer. Your resume’ is phenomenal! Not only did you walk in with confidence and tell me all you could do, you presented me with evidence to show you can do what you listed on your resume’. You maintained good eye contact. Your posture was good, you sit up straight, and done really well in all respects.”

On the form, her comments were: “Great job on interview, and telling about skills and training. Loved that you had certificates ready. I would hire you in a second! Good job!”

I walked in prepared and provided her with my resume’, WorkKeys Skill Report, certification as a Quality Assurance Inspector, college transcripts from four colleges, and my diploma from the Long Ridge Writers Group (a two-year, college-accredited writing course). I also have a certificate that verifies I am an ISO Internal Auditor; I failed to include it with my package to send to Mr. Butler at GDOL.

When asked if I had any questions for her, I asked whether my age would be a deterrent at getting a job? That lead to her saying that some of their employees worked up into their eighties. That really gave me hope, as one of my concerns was finding an employer who would hire me for my skills and capabilities, and who would not worry about my being sixty-one when I am released.

She went on to say that she thought I’d do well with them (GA Dept. of Labor) as a Career Counselor, I believe is what she referred to. I know it was something that concerned working with others, which I will follow-up on. By that point, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for hearing such positive comments.

“I may be interested in working for the Georgia Department of Labor,” I said, and explained that it would be a way for me to make amends for the harm I’ve caused the citizens of Georgia and society at large. I informed her that I’d be going to the Atlanta area. She agreed to speak with Mr. Butler about the interview, and instructed me to contact them as soon as I got to the halfway house. 🙂

I will do that!

***
THIRD INTERVIEW: My last interview was with Ms. W. from V.R., who rated me the same as Ms. M., and was as equally impressed with my resume’. However, based upon her comments, I feel she likes the resume’ format that contains SUMMARY QUALIFICATIONS in place of an OBJECTIVE, and maybe a functional format, instead of a combined format.

This was her comments: “Make sure to list specific skills in your interview. Start with 5-10 of most important. Put WorkKeys score report with resume/application.”

I failed to make extra copies of my WorkKeys Assessment Skills and had already given away the one I brought. In an actual interview, I’d never forget to include a copy, as she suggested. I do appreciate all advice and comments that I received.

GRATITUDE: I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and do appreciate the staff who made it possible, and I am especially grateful for each volunteer who took the time out of their busy schedule to come inside the confines of a federal prison.

I highly recommend that all eligible inmates and those of you on the outside who are in the market for a job, to participate in programs and events such as Job Fairs and to take WorkKeys.

HOROSCOPE: I am not really into astrology, per se, but I do see a lot of truth in some of what I have read. My characteristics as a Child of an Aires were fitting. This particular reading impressed me:

July 30, 2017, Horoscope, Aires (March 21st – April 19th)
“You don’t know your power. That’s not your fault, though. Your power has a lot to do with forces beyond your control.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, July 30, 2017.

I read that horoscope and thought, Huh, so that’s why I do so well under the circumstances and have been able to do things I never dreamed were possible, straight from pen. I know a force greater than myself watches over me.

When I was fourteen-years-young, a lady who knew me well said, “You must have two Guardian Angels because you’d worn one out.” I plan to do good things upon release from prison that will help others live better lives. I need all the help I can get from that power greater than me, whom I choose to call God.

___________________________________
* In “Seeking a Real Job” an incorrect link was posted for viewing a photo gallery that contains a photo of me at the World of Work Graduation Ceremony. The correct link is http://prisonimates.com/profile/WayneDowdy39311-019. Visit http://www.straightfromthepen.com and https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy to purchase my books or essays.

Out of Many

human genome for WDowdyby Wayne T. Dowdy

When we unite we become stronger, more intelligent, and our chance of survival as a species increases because of unity.  Now with the Internet, billions of us are connected and can share intelligence and a collective conscious.

 

In social settings, if we focus on what we have in common, it helps us to feel “a part of” that society or group.  If we focus on our differences, we will often feel, well, different, as if we don’t belong and are out of place.

 

Likeness attracts; the Law of Attraction comes into play to create communities of like-minded people.  Does Evolutionary Biology possibly contain the answer to our survival as a species?  Maybe so.  We’ll see.  A cell biologist provides a lot of food for thought, positive thought.

 

In “A Spiritual Journey” on straightfromthepen.wordpress.com and waynedowdy.weebly.com (April 1, 2015), I showed how the human body (the way our blood cells work inside of us to provide and fight for life), provided evidence of Divine Creation, and how I believed the theory of evolution and intelligent design coexisted.  This blog follows a similar line of thinking:  The gist of it is that “we” are all part of the human organism.

 

My aspiring, psychologist-in-the-making friend, Dr. K., shares his books and magazines with me.  He loaned me his Spirituality & Health magazine.  I read something meaningful to share with you that coincides with the sense of Oneness belief system.  One caption read, “We see a human as a single living organism.  In truth, a human is an integrated community of around 50 trillion amoebalike cells.”  Bruce H. Lipton, PhD.  “Why & How to Let Go of Fear,” Spirituality & Health, September/October 2017 ($24.95 per year).

 

More quotes from the article will be revealed!

 

According to his brief biography in the magazine, Dr. Lipton is a cell biologist and lecturer who received the prestigious Goi Peace Award (Japan) in 2009 in honor of his scientific contribution to world harmony.  He is the best selling-author of THE BIOLOGY OF BELIEF and THE HONEYMOON EFFECT, and is the coauthor with Steve Bhaerman of SPONTANEOUS EVOLUTION.

 

Dr. Lipton explains the evolutionary process in comparison to bacterium and its surface area representing its “awareness capacity” and its need to grow to become more aware.  Bacterium receives information from the cell membrane (outer layer of cell-skin) about its environment; it communicates with other bacterium through chemical substances and vibrations, and then joins other bacterium to increase its chance of survival.

 

Those bacteria joins other bacteria to form a bacteria colony, a community (bacterial films) and becomes larger and more aware of its environment.

 

THE BIRTH OF AMOEBA:  Bacteria communities become specialized and integrated and continue to multiply to create more surface area; it becomes another living organism–an amoeba with more “consciousness” and an increased ability to communicate and thus increase its chance of survival.

 

“While the amoeba is recognized as a single cell, in truth it is a modified version of bacterial community.  For the next million or so years, the amoeba was able to continually expand its cell membrane surface area [the skin of the cell used to communicate] to an extent that an amoeba’s awareness is 1,000 times greater than that of a single bacterium.”

 

Amoebas then multiplied to create an even larger organism with an ability to communicate information collected with its sense of awareness.

 

“All the visible plants and animals are actually integrated communities of amoeba-like cells.  For example, we see a human as a single living organism.  In truth, a human is an integrated community of around 50 trillion amoebalike cells.”

 

If you view a human brain, you’d notice its furrows and ridges (folds).  The human organism created “folds” to add more surface area to increase its awareness, consciousness.  The skull limited its capacity for awareness, so then humans experienced another “[e]volutionary jump, … the Internet, a nervous system that can connect 7-8 billion human ‘cells’ into one giant community with shared awareness.

 

***

 

“The next leap of human civilization will be the realization of the United States’ logo:  E pluribus unum, ‘out of many, one.’  We are all in this together; we are all cells in the body of an evolving humanity.”

 

UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL:  Our beliefs and values may unite or divide us; whether based on racial or cultural differences or similarities, religion, politics, fears, sexual preference or identity, and a whole array of other reasons.

 

How do we keep from falling?  Join hands and accept each other so we can work together to survive this thing we call life.  If each of us represents a “cell” of the humanity organism, those who damage and injure others are the cancers of society, driven by hate and indifference.

 

This quote comes from a sidebar in Dr. Lipton’s article:

 

“The Don’ts & Dos of Evolution Because You Are An Energy Field …

 

“Don’t try to change other people.

If you go in to change negative energy with your positive energy, it’s called destructive interference.  You lose your energy, they lose their energy, and nobody gains anything in the process.

 

“Do:  Focus on yourself and finding like-minded people to create a community in which all your energies are enhanced.

 

“Don’t try to change the system.

If you charge in with your wonderful energy to try to change it, your energy will be canceled. You’ll come out with your tail between your legs, asking, What the hell was that all about?

 

“Do:  Put your energy into constructing a new system.  If you build a better system, people in the old one will gravitate to the new one.

 

“Don’t spend your life protesting.

Your life is energy.  Too much protesting will cost you your life, because the system is not going to feed the energy you need for your protests.

 

“Do:  Find out who’s protesting with you.  Gather them together and step out of the system.  Use your energy for construction rather than destruction, and find other compatible communities.  That’s constructive interference, when energies come together and multiply each other.

 

“Don’t become frightened or angry or burned out.

These responses create walls that block your evolution and everyone else’s.

 

“Do:  Create the best and healthiest and happiest experience for yourself–and share it with the community.”

 

END QUOTE.  MY TAKE:  The above seems simple.  My experience shows it is not.  I somewhat agree with all he says and hope to become a more “positive energy” field than I am.

 

DON’T TRY TO CHANGE OTHER PEOPLE:  I know I cannot change other people.  That doesn’t stop me from trying on occasion; however, my determination and tolerance level has lessened over the years after sponsoring/mentoring numerous people whom I learned to give the right to be wrong.  I realized that no matter what happened because of my sponsorship, good or bad, the result was between them and the God of their understanding.

 

DON’T TRY TO CHANGE THE SYSTEM:  I am determined that “we” can change the system, perhaps by doing as he wrote (by forming a better one to attract others).  The question is HOW do we accomplish that goal?

 

I must start with the only one I can change, myself.  Then maybe work on creating a larger community others will join to be with other like-minded people.  Maybe my change will come through an example set by someone else.  Maybe my part will only be putting like-minded people together to begin the process; it may be some of you who reads this blog.  We’ll see.

 

DON’T SPEND YOUR LIFE PROTESTING:  I don’t and won’t do that, as I prefer to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.  I will voice my opinion on issues, whether the issue is viewed from a negative or positive perspective, I try to put a positive spin on grim or negative topics.  Sometimes I fail.  😦

 

But I will protest to release a good rant about unjust persons, situations, principles or processes.  I get it out to let it go until I allow some other event to trigger another reaction.

 

Perhaps silence is golden if the noisemaker chooses to spew negativity:  that even applies when the noise is in the mind.  Silence prevents the spread of negativity.

 

Let your actions shout by practicing love and acceptance of others.

 

Why not work together to build a better community that attracts others?

 

LIKE-MINDED ATTRACTION:  A wonderful example of like-mindedness attracting others manifested itself during Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in the United States.

 

A radio commentator shared about a group of people using a boat to search the flooded area of Houston, Texas to rescue dogs and other animals suffering in the flood.

 

The rescuers noticed a woman in need.  When they made it to her, they discovered she had rescued 21-dogs before they arrived to rescue her.  🙂

 

DON’T BECOME FRIGHTENED OR ANGRY OR BURNED OUT:  World events can create fear and anger, like those going on with North Korea (testing rockets with nuclear capabilities, then testing a hydrogen bomb four-to-five times more powerful than those used by the United States against Japan); the terrorist attacks in the Middle East and Europe, and in the United States and other parts of the world.

 

In reference to a possible nuclear attack, in 1983, a college professor once told those of us in his class that one thing the Super Powers know is that neither will ever push that button because they know it will annihilate mankind.  The threat of war allows governments to keep the people subservient to them for protection from the “evil empire.”

 

FAITH:  The opposite of fear is faith, so if I have faith and accept that whatever happens is working according to God’s will, then I can relax and not worry about a possible event I cannot control.

 

My belief is that we are spirits having a human experience.  As such, our spirits will live on regardless of what happens to the body because of world or personal events.  I continue to persist at building a better life regardless of the circumstances.

 

I may give out but I won’t give up; however, I don’t see me giving out (mentally, spiritually, or emotionally) until I breathe my last breath, and then my spirit will survive to push the agenda.  Even though I may be short on breath, I shall continue to do the things needed to build a better life.  I am passionate about what I do.

 

May the day come that each of us will unite to improve life and to make it sustainable for generations to come.  Our children are counting on us, as we are counting on our children and each other.  Our survival as a species depends on it.

 

______________________________

Wayne T. Dowdy writes at straightfromthepen.com.  Purchase his environmental-friendly eBooks at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy.  Check out “Life is an Anvil” and “The Search for Enlightenment” while there, both of which are included in ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN (eBook $2.99, paperback $8.95, USD).

UNCIVIL WARS

by Wayne T. Dowdy

 

Thanks for reading my blogs and for helping to increase the traffic at StraightFromthePen.com.  I picked up more views in a month than what I used to pick up in three.  🙂

workkeys-pyramidI began this blog before learning my WorkKeys scores today (08/15/17), which I will cover in conclusion.  I had written, “I’m sending this one out sooner than anticipated, before I received my WorkKeys scores that I hoped to write about.  World events demand a response before my scheduled blog, straight from the pen, my pen:  Well, actually, straight from the Corrlinks’ keyboard (it’s not my keyboard, I pay to use it to type).  Don’t expect political correctness from me on this stage, even though I will stay within respectful boundaries, this one comes uncut.”

Rodney King said it right during the Riots of L.A. several years ago:  “Why can’t we all just get along?”  The last few days have been dominated with the drama that went on in Charlottesville, VA, which resulted in the deaths of three people and the injury of several others.  The violence erupted during events that began the night before a scheduled protest on August 12, 2017, about the removal of a Confederate era statue:  General Robert E. Lee.

During the protest, one man ran his car through a crowd and killed one woman.  In comparison to a similar event in France, he committed an act of terrorism, the same as an Islamic extremist did when he ran a truck into a crowd of men, women, and children.

Evil is colorblind.  Read my blog, “Love and Evil Are Color-Blind” for more along those lines that I wrote in response to the massacre of nine innocent people at a church in Charleston, SC, by a young man who waved a Confederate flag before committing such an atrocious act.

abc news Charlottesville

BUM RAPS:  I feel many of the participants in the events at Charlottesville were mislabeled as White Nationalist and White Supremacist.  Perhaps some are like me and don’t like anyone erasing history.  I believe the same thing happened with the Marxist in Russia or during one of their revolutionary movements.

08/15/17:  After an investigation, President Trump acknowledged the same on national television (not all participants at the Charlottesville incident were White Supremacist or White Nationalist), and that some were just there to protest taking down the statue.  Common sense demands that conclusion.  Of course, not everyone has common sense, others are incapable of thinking from a rational perspective about a high-emotion event.

I do not know who started the violence and do not express any views on Charlottesville.

After President Trump spoke out about the event, he came under fire because he didn’t say what the media wanted.  His finding that there were wrongs on both sides did not go well.  He also spoke on the removal of statues and monuments and came under fire for that, even though President Obama also expressed the same view.  Those statues are part of American History and represent the ancestors of Americans.

I express my views on the historical aspect of the American Civil War (or War Between the States), in “Southern Pride-Waving a Confederate Flag” (07/06/15), and in “Mothers and Memorial Days” (05/11/17); It’s not about the flag.  It’s about the news media and certain government officials telling lies that the reason behind the Civil War was to free the slaves, a lie used for political purposes to shape public opinion and to support personal agendas.

Most people are too lazy to investigate to learn the truth, and allow the news media to control shape their opinion.  I lay out the facts in my blogs about the men who died fighting behind the Confederate Flag.

ALL LIVES MATTER:  I do not support the violence and the harming of people.  But I do not like it when members of the white race do something and the news media labels them as racist, white supremacists and many other things, when if people of a different ethnic background does the same thing, nothing negative would be said; the group may be praised, even when deaths occur as a result (e.g. Black Lives Matter).

Why can’t all lives matter?  NO ONE should be persecuted or harmed because of their skin tone or religious belief.

I do understand racial profiling and was appalled last year to see the cops in Louisiana murder the black man that five cops held on the ground, when one of them pulled his gun and fired into the man’s rib cage.  That warranted a protest and prosecution of the cop who fired the rounds.  He murdered the man, period.

In retaliation for the murder of the Louisiana man, in my opinion, when another man ambushed other cops, the murder of the innocent cops was unwarranted.  I understand why it happened, but I don’t feel it’s right to punish others for the deeds of others.

We, as a society, need the police; we don’t need rouge cops running around and killing people at the slightest provocation.

WET:  What if television producers came up with White Entertainment Television (WET)?  What is the difference in that and Black Entertainment Television (and for the record, I have watched many movies and events on BET throughout the years, including Black Girls Rock).

What about creating MET (Mexican Entertainment Television)?  Would that be racial?  I’d look at it too, even though I do not understand much Spanish.  The two Spanish television stations I’ve seen do show beautiful women.  I wouldn’t have to understand a word coming from their mouths to enjoy the experience.  😉

DIFFERENT FRIENDS:  To set the record straight, I have a variety of friends: some are black and white separatist, white supremacist; some are Muslim, some are Christian; some are Black, some are Hispanic, some are Native Americans, and some belong to gangs.  I do not discriminate.

One friend in particular is a Black Separatist, of whom frowns on my attraction to women of different ethnic backgrounds; especially, Black women.

To me, if a woman is pretty, she is pretty.  I don’t care about the color of her skin, eyes or hair; or from where she comes, whether that is from the North, South, East, West, Middle East, Far East, American-made, or Mars.  The particulars do not matter.  I see people as God made them.  I go beyond external factors to see the real beauty within everyone.

He, the black separatist, like his white counterparts, just don’t believe in interracial breeding.  That’s OK.  My belief is that things will turn out the way God has planned and that “we,” as humans, cannot change the inevitable.

Another friend is a White Separatist; the two separatist-friends work side-by-side and openly joke about the difference in beliefs.  And even though their beliefs differ, they support each other and show concern if any adverse event occurs, like a health issue or prison drama involving the other.  They’re friends.

I have another friend who is an African-American gangbanger.  He was unaware that I was near when he chastised a peer for using the term “cracker” to describe a white person.

“We’ve got to change,” he said.  “We don’t want people calling us nigger and we shouldn’t call other people racial names.”

My respect for him grew tenfold when I heard him take a stand for what was right.  Going by the stereotypical view of gangbangers, because of his past affiliations, society would look down upon him:  The same is true for my “Separatist Friends” who display exemplary characteristics that others need to adopt.

PRISON POLITICS:  I fit in and get along with most everyone.  In the prison hierarchy, as in totalitarian governments, it’s like George Orwell wrote in Animal Farm [1946]:  “All Animals Are Equal But Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others.”  Well, maybe not exactly the same, because government witnesses, informants, and sexually deviant prisoners; especially, child molesters, are not viewed equal.

I once sponsored an openly-gay, HIV positive, African-American.  I sometimes walked the track with him.  I did not feel comfortable doing so, but I knew I was doing God’s will, and so I did it regardless of how I felt.

This is my view on those who are different:  it is better if I make myself available to do God’s will and help another person change his life, than it is for me to stay in my comfort zone, or to worry about public opinion.  God judges.  Not me.

If God uses me to help a person change, then maybe he will get out of prison and never commit another crime against another individual.  If that person is a child molester, maybe my selfless-action will prevent another child from being victimized.  That would be a wonderful thing!

NORTH KOREA & VENEZUELA:  Years ago when that lunatic ruling North Korea threatened to turn the United States into a “Lake of Fire,” had I been in charge, I would have first given “his people” the option of removing him from power.  If no one did so, even though I normally don’t believe in going into other countries to drop bombs, I would have had his little ass trying to put out a Big Fire.  I’d sent so many bombs that the whole country would have dropped below sea level.

My opinion is that President Obama erred by not taking aggressive action against him.  If he had been more stern, then perhaps the United States and its allies would not be having to deal with such BS right now.

President Trump promised swift retaliation against any further aggressive action by North Korea.  To defuse the situation, China stepped in and publicly announced that it would side with North Korea if the U.S. was the aggressor, but if North Korea committed the aggressive act, they’d remain neutral.  Great move!

I am glad Russia and China stepped in to help resolve the conflict before North Korea did something that caused fire and destruction throughout the region.

As for Venezuela, if the country asks for help from a tyrant causing havoc, then maybe it would be the right thing to step in and provide military support.  Unfortunately, innocent people still die.

To go into another country for humanitarian motivation is one thing, but far too often, the true motivation of U.S., China, or Russian intervention, is based on the resources to be gathered during the process.  If no natural resources exist, it is less likely that the major Super Powers will provide assistance, and that is a depressing truth!

On another note, to topple a government that robs and starves its people, would not be bad if it could be accomplished without killing innocent citizens.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all just get along and stop killing each other and the world in which we live?  Hell, yeah!

WORKKEYS:  I received GOLD CERTIFICATION (two Platinum Levels and one Gold).  The quotes come from my ACT WorkKeys Official Skill Report:

Applied Mathematics:  (I scored Level-6 in a 3 to 7 Level range.)  “Individuals with Level 6 skills can set up and solve problems containing extraneous information or information presented out of logical order and involving multiple-step calculations on a mixture of whole numbers, fractions, decimals, or percentages.”

Locating Information:  (I scored Level-5 in a 3 to 6 Level range.)  “Individuals with Level 5 skills can correctly use complicated workplace graphics, such as complex forms and tables, multivariable graphs, and detailed diagrams, to compare trends and main points, and/or summarize information within a single graphic or across more than one graphic representing related information.”

Reading for Information:  (I scored Level-7 in a 3 to 7 Level range.)  “Individuals with Level 7 skills can apply concepts from densely detailed selections, such as excerpts from complex regulatory and legal documents, to new situations.  They can understand difficult concepts and complex procedures containing jargon and technical terms whose definitions must be derived from context.  Level 7 is the highest level measured by this test.”

To qualify for a National Career Readiness Certificate, a person must have at least a Level 3 in each category.  Learn more about ACT WorkKeys Level Scores at http://www.act.org/workkeys/pdf/forms/interp.pdf.

In sum, I brought home the Gold.  I shall return to test again in my pursuit of Platinum Certification.  Perhaps receiving it will help me show others how we can all get along and treat each other as equals, without having to resort to Uncivil Wars.

____________________________

Wayne T. Dowdy writes at StraightFromthePen.com.

WAITING

counting the daysI am waiting, waiting for my WorkKeys test scores, waiting for a class to begin on Job Applications & Resumé Writing.  All of that waiting concerns preparation for the day my freedom arrives (read my poem below, “Waiting”).

The past prepares me for today.  Today prepares me for tomorrow; and if given a “tomorrow,” I shall seek opportunities that prepare me for better days.

In preparation of the day my freedom comes, I continue to work on increasing my chance of success upon release, which may be as early as April 25th, 2018.  Well, that is my “almost free” date; the date I may leave here for Dismas Charities (halfway house) in Atlanta, Georgia, my home town.  I’d still technically be in federal custody while at the halfway house but will be allowed to go find a job to pay for my upkeep.  Later on I’d be put on home confinement, where I will stay at home unless at work, always near a phone and monitoring device.

WORKKEYS:  At the beginning and end of the class, we took the TABE Locator test for math.  At the beginning I scored 12.1 out of a possible 12.9, the latter of which I scored upon completion.  Now I am waiting to see if I succeeded at obtaining Platinum certification.  I feel I did.  By the next blog I will know and will proudly boast if I scored the Platinum.  If I did not qualify for it in two out of three categories, I will be shocked.  No doubt I will at least grab the Gold!

PLATINUM:  A flyer about the National Career Readiness Certificate, shows those with Platinum certification (Level 6), are qualified for 99% of jobs; e.g., accountant, technical writer, registered nurse manager, elevator installer and repairer.

GOLD:  those who bring home the Gold (Level 5) qualify for 93% of jobs; e.g., school counselor, pharmacy technician, semi-conductor processor, business executive, electrician.

I like the potential job categories for the Gold (as well as for the Silver or Bronze I do not list), but I prefer the Platinum; it will shine more when I apply for a job with an interested company.

JOB APPLICATIONS & RESUMÉ WRITING

OBJECTIVE:  Secure entry-level position with innovative company and advancement opportunities; demonstrate ability to assist management at maintaining and enhancing customer satisfaction.

I signed up to take the class for one reason:  to participate in a Mock Job Fair upon completion.  As I wrote in “Seeking a Real Job,” June 7, 2017, I completed the World of Work program and worked in personnel at Bankhead Enterprises, Inc.  I know how to complete job applications and how to write a Resumé.

I signed on as a student but when I went to show the instructor my Resumés so he can use them to show the other students how to overcome “missing years” from the workforce, I was asked to help with the class.  I agreed.  Our first class is this week.

EMPLOYMENT PLANNING

ISO 9001: 2008, QUALITY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM AUDIT:  For the last few weeks, I’ve worked on revising the local Quality Manual (QM) used by my employer.  This week, the factory will be audited for compliance with ISO 9001: 2008 requirements.  We will be under close scrutiny by an external auditor from the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI).

I control the documents and am intricate to the auditing process, as I am also an internal auditor for the Quality Management System (QMS), and am the longest-standing QMS employee at this factory.

Our Operations Manager, who began here in 2010 as a trainee for a Q.A. Manager position, upon completion of his training, relocated and then climbed the ranks.  He is now over this factory and two others.  He recently visited and said, “You’re still here? They need to make a monument out of you, you’ve been here so long.”  🙂

TECHNICAL INFORMATION:  Each section in the local QM coincides with the ISO 9001: 2008, Quality Management System requirement; e.g., ISO 9001: 2008, sub-clause 4.3, Control of Documents, is Section 4.3, Control of Documents in the local Quality Manual.  All ISO certified factories must be compliant with the ISO 9001: 2015 standard by September 15, 2018.

I am adding changes to the QM to ease the transitional process (listing parallel requirements, where the two standards coexist), and by adding any additional requirements to comply with the 2015 standard.  Doing that will make the conversion process easier when I revise other associated documents.

My original plan was to retire before this NSAI audit.  I changed my mind to honor my word.  During the February 2017 NSAI audit, the external auditor wanted to know when we’d be ready to apply for certification under the new standard.

“Before I leave in April of 2018,” I said, since no one else answered.  I have the skills and know the value of knowledge and experience that I’ll gain by helping to convert the QMS over to ISO 9001: 2015; I suspect it will boost my annual salary range by $10,000-$20,000, above the normal pay range for the type of positions I am seeking in the manufacturing sector.

The acquired knowledge also opens the door for freelance opportunities of going into businesses to help prepare them for ISO certification, or simply going in to set up an internal auditing program (several years ago the going rate for setting up an auditing program was 30K).  I can do that!

TECHNICAL WRITER:  Officially, UNICOR does not have a technical writer position; however, I have done and do a lot of it.  While doing an internal audit, I made a finding about the factory not having a manufacturing instruction for a new process.  Because of my superb technical writing skills, and the factory’s lack of qualified personnel in the production department, I became the one to write the needed manufacturing instruction.

I love showcasing my skills by creating visual art with the Microsoft Word 2010 computer program, so I added illustrations to show users how to perform the task.  Years ago, after seeing my work on manufacturing instructions, an external auditor was amazed that I had done it in Microsoft Word.

Now I have more to add to my portfolio.  In many companies these days, employees just take photos and write a brief instruction.  That doesn’t work well for all the other forms of technical writing I do; e.g., writing and editing other administrative documents for my superiors to approve.

AGE BARRIER:  My age was one of my former concerns in finding suitable employment; however, on July 29, 2017, I listened to a portion of a segment on CNN that relieved my worries.  The caption read:  DRUG USE IMPACTS BLUE COLLAR WORKFORCE.

Even though I plan to be a White Collar employee, when I heard that “Four Out of Five Job Applicants Fail Drug Screens,” it convinced me that living clean and sober gives me an edge.  Ironically, the problem that once defeated me in the pursuit of a promising career, has now become a factor to rocket me into a promising future as a productive member of society, as an older and wiser person.

A POEM:  This poem captures the reality of prison living.  This is an existence I eagerly await passing, with no intention of ever returning, other than as a visitor to show others that there is hope of better days.  I wrote Waiting while living with a difficult cellmate, while I practiced humility, breathing in, breathing out; changing my karma.  Instead of getting physical to show my dominance, I stayed composed and effectively resolved the conflict without picking up a new case or causing injury.

It is easy to come to prison and spend the rest of your life for having to resort to violence to deal with a knucklehead.  I make better choices today by responding to conflict rather than reacting, and will continue to do so upon release.

WAITING

Light streams through bars and screen,

Illuminating the gray of a gloomy place.

A place where people weep and pray,

Making way for another day.

 

Another day confined in a bathroom;

Another day held with another person,

In an overcrowded prison, celled together,

Saving tax dollars, space, fighting hate.

 

Hate seeping through pores, poisoning the soul,

Creating a recidivist with its venom;

Venom eating the soul, leaving a shell.

Hate I leave behind today in search of serenity.

 

When will the day come without bars and fences?

Will I walk away upright, proud, free at last?

Will I be rolled out, en route to mortuary?

Will I walk freely, no chains or cuffs, mortified?

“Waiting,” copyright 2011, Wayne T. Dowdy, ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN.

*****

CONCLUSION:  When I do enter the job market, I will succeed at whatever field I choose.  I am also a qualified Q.A. Inspector.  Another field I may go into is counseling drug addicts and alcoholics, helping the mentally ill and others to find an acceptable way of life.  My long-term plan is to create my own company.  Only God knows what I will actually do or whether the day will come that I do walk out the doors as a free man.

Today (August 8th), I will attend a Memorial Service for a friend who could not conquer his addiction and died in a prison restroom.  He also had heart problems and I do not know what he actually died from, but do know he only had sixteen months to walk out the door as a free man, after having served over twenty-three years.

Tomorrow is not promised to anyone, but IF I do see the day I anticipate, I will make a difference on many levels, including the creation of StraightFromthePen.org and StraightFromthePen.net.  Click here (gf.me/u/ba6xjn) to see my GoFundMe page for more on my plans for both websites.

Of course, the old saying is if you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans.  This time, I hope mine and God’s plans coincide.

______________________________________

Support the author’s writings by purchasing ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN ($8.95 USD) from your favorite bookseller; available in eBook and paperback.  Visit StraightFromthePen.com and Https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy for other writings by Wayne T. Dowdy.  If you prefer to buy direct, purchase his novels and essay collection from Midnight Express Books, P.O. Box 69, Berryville, AR 72616  Email:  MEBooks1@yahoo.com.  Midnight Express Books helps prison authors to achieve their publishing dreams.

BLOGS & MORE

BLOG

by Wayne T. Dowdy

 

A friend read a few books and magazines on Positive Psychology and become a psychologist, at least, in his mind he did.  He does offer some periodic, beneficial advice.  In a conversation about my blogs and desire to increase the web traffic, he suggested I blog on more positive topics.

 

I learned a similar principle about writing when I took a writing course through the Long Ridge Writers Group, almost ten years ago.  Life contains enough pain and negativity for each of us; many read to escape the realities of life, or want to read things to make them feel good about themselves or their environment.

 

Doom and gloom feeds the news channels, so why doesn’t it work for bloggers?  Well, maybe it works for some.  Not me.  Actually, I don’t feel I write much doom and gloom in my blogs; however, I do confess that many are based on negativity.  Hey, to create lightning, it takes a negative charge.  Did I hear it thunder?

 

BLOG:  According to Mr. Google, a blog is a “regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.”

 

I write in an informal and conversational style.  I get a lot of local conversation based upon my blog content, unfortunately, my biggest audience cannot go online to click to “Like” or comment on my blog posts.  Hundreds of my readers can only read my blogs from the “inside view,” through TRULINCS, and cannot access the Internet because most prisons prohibit us from doing so.  (TRULINCS is the system Federal prisoners pay to use for emailing and phone services.)

 

HELP!  My fan base continues to grow but I need your help to make it grow enough to attract advertisers so the blog pays me instead of me having to pay to blog (I pay $0.05 per minute to type the blogs to send to my publisher/friend, who converts it into the proper format and posts it online for you to read).  Please share my link with others.  Thanks!

 

BLOGGING FOR DOLLARS:  In 2015 I wrote a blog titled the same.  I am still working on how to blog for dollars, but as stated, I do need your help to increase traffic/page views, because without the web traffic, advertisers will not want to pay to advertise on my sites.

 

Bloggers may use Google Adsense to attract advertisers.  If you are reading this on straightfromthepen.wordpress.com, you may see a periodic ad posted by different businesses.  I am not sure about the waynedowdy.weebly.com blog.

 

Maybe my publisher already listed the website with Google Adsense and I’m earning a few nickels to help pay the bills and I just don’t know it.  🙂

 

WHAT DOES BLOG MEAN?  The Internet Slang says, “BLOG means ‘Weblog, online diary.'”

 

A log of online posts/Web entries, I reckon it is, something burned into the memory of the deep blue web, where “WEblog.”

 

The Acronym Finder shows BLOG as an acronym for “Web Log,” “Better Listing on Google,” “Buy Locally Owned Group (Canada),” and my favorite, “Big Load of Gossip.”  Copyright 1988-2014, AcronymFinder.com.

 

With the help of one of my dear sisters, I investigated what a blog is because numerous people have asked me over the years.  I knew what a blog was and what it meant to me, since I have blogged for the last few years, but I was unaware of the actual meaning or if “BLOG” was an acronym for some mysterious online organization.

 

Now that we know the official definition for “Blog” (according to the referenced sources), I present a blog on my Independence Day at this facility (holiday events vary between prisons).

 

INDEPENDENCE DAY & GRATITUDE:  One blog a lot of people liked in the free society and on the inside, staff and inmates alike, is “Gratitude & More” (12/19/16).  I wrote it from a positive perspective, so maybe what my friend suggested is true?

I need to turn over a new leaf and let signs of a positive life flow from my fingertips.

 

Lightning flashes and then it thunders.

 

I began the day with instant coffee and watching videos on CMT and MTV-2.  I’d switch from Country music on CMT to Pop to Rap to Hip Hop, and whatever else MTV plays.

 

COUNT TIME:  at 10:00 AM, we were locked in our cells and then stood to be counted.  During the count, I listened to my antique Sony Walkman radio as I worked on math problems in preparation for the tests I’ll take to graduate WorkKeys next week.  Nineteen Eighty-two was the last time I worked on Advanced Math in college, and trying to relearn it has been a challenge, but one I have accepted and succeeded at handling.

 

After the count cleared and we were released from our cages, I stood around watching but not listening to any of the ten televisions, wondering why our unit hadn’t been released for chow.  Two and a half hours later, we got to go eat.

 

Any change in the regular routine creates drama in here.  The staff are “supposed to” follow a set schedule to let each cellblock out to eat.  The one I live in was supposed to get out fourth in the line of twelve listed on the Weekly Rotation.  The rotation ran awful slow or we didn’t get out in the scheduled order.  I had skipped breakfast and was ready to eat by the time the cellhouse officer yelled, “Main Line.”

 

CHOW TIME:  Over a hundred of us took off walking fast, like a bunch of hungry critters heading for the food trough, trying to outrun the others to get first choice.  I didn’t outrun everyone in this cellblock but I did outrun a few.  🙂

 

I stood in line for the noon meal and was happy to see peaches being served.  I love peaches, especially, Georgia Peaches, the two legged kind and the ones that stimulate the taste buds.

 

The serving line ran out of peaches with the person before me.  Peaches were replaced with watermelon.  I love watermelon!  I can eat half of a large watermelon by myself.  The Inmate Server put a tiny piece on my tray, one so small that the edible content would not fill a 12-ounce glass.  I did not feel grateful.

 

I still smiled and said thank you, as I customarily do, even when I don’t feel so thankful.  I try to be polite and treat people the way I want to be treated, not the way I may feel they deserve to be treated.

 

When I first arrived at this institution in 2004, I noticed ethnically-different, inmate servers, looking up to see who’s next in line.  And if the person was white, and not one who pays for larger portions, sort through the food to select a smaller piece while staff watched.  I experienced violent thoughts about using a serving tray as an assault weapon.  Not now, though.

 

I smile and say thank you and tell myself the person is trying to help me fight high-cholesterol I do not have, by finding a smaller piece of fried chicken or meat to give me and any other non-paying person.

 

THE HOLIDAY MEAL:  For lunch today, I had a chunk of beef so tough that a pit-bull would have struggled to chew it.  Tough or not, it tasted good and I am grateful to have had it to eat.

 

Too many people in the world, who are not in prison, did not have any food to eat yesterday and today.  Why haven’t we figured out how to feed everyone in the world or big cities in America?

 

I also had corn on the cob that I gave away, sour cream, baked potatoes, broccoli, and a tasty little apple pie, to go with the piece of beef and micro-watermelon slice.  Who but a whiny prisoner would complain about a meal like that?

 

Most people who paid for the meal would have wanted a refund on the terribly-tough, tasty beef.  Regardless of that, though, we got fed and filled our bellies, so I can’t rightfully complain, even though I did.

 

Prison is not supposed to be a pleasurable experience.  The meal we had was better than what millions of people around the globe ate that day.

 

GRATITUDE:  While sitting at a table eating, I suffered from Watermelon Envy as I eyed the peaches and slices of watermelon on the trays of my peers, their watermelon slices larger than mine.  A friend must have saw the look in my eyes and gave me his watermelon.  After eating it, I felt better before leaving, my belly full of gratitude for a moment.

 

Leaving the chow hall, I walked with a Mexican and African-American.  We were given a paper sack lunch for our evening meal: cold cut slices of various meat, a slice of cheese, four slices of bread, and pastries.

 

The African-American says, “I got two cinnamon rolls.  Did you get two?”

 

I peeked into my sack and only saw one.

 

The Mexican said, “Yeah, I got two of ’em too.”

 

I said, I only got one.  A cracker ain’t got nothing coming, I somewhat joked.

 

I returned to the cellblock and thought about the experiences during the meal and then remembered the premises I wrote about in Gratitude & More.  As I did so, I took everything out of the bag, then noticed I did have two cinnamon rolls.  The two packages were stuck together, which I didn’t notice when peeking into the bag.

 

GOD-SHOT:  I felt a God-Shot when I realized how things changed when I thought to be grateful for what I had, rather than complain about what I did not.  God gives me lessons each day.  I grow each time He does, if I learn what He wants me to learn.

 

It thunders when He speaks; oftentimes, it takes lightning to get my attention.

 

CONCLUSION:  I spent the latter part of the day studying more math and listening to music, periodically venturing out of my cell to look at the televisions.  Later in the evening, I went to the recreation department to walk the asphalt track and to print a draft copy of an earlier version of this blog.

 

Several of my peers ran the track, others screamed and shouted as they played basketball, softball, handball, and various other games.

 

Dark clouds filled the horizon and approached fast, pushed on by strong winds as a storm approached that caused the staff to close outside recreation.  Children cannot play outside when it storms; especially, those with a history of misbehavior and absconding from justice.  We rushed inside before it rained.

 

I did succeed at printing the draft and walking a few laps before returning to work more on this blog and read legal news on the electronic bulletin board.

 

While on the computer terminal, I watched the movie, Mr. Church, staring Eddie Murphy, in a much different cast.  After the computer kicked me off after 30-minutes, I watched the rest of the movie from my cell.  Some darn gnats or something kept getting in my eyes near the end of the movie when Mr. Church died.  I don’t know where those gnats came from.  🙂

 

My day concluded with a shower, talking with my cellmate, listening to the radio some more, and reading before counting off another day from the calendar.

 

All things considered, it was a good day.  I did something for the mind, body, and spirit.  What more can a person ask for in life?  Well, right now I can think of a few things I’d like to be different, but I will close without complaining.  We get what we need and things work according to God’s will, not Wayne’s.  Darn it!  However, the positive side is that if things went according to Wayne, I wouldn’t be “here” to entertain you with this blog.  Thanks for reading my writings!

______________________________

Note:  I decided to postpone writing the second eBook in the Fiction Crime Series, “Guns, Drugs & Thugs.”  Read the first of the series at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy.

 

Visit StraightFromthePen.com for more of my writings.  Purchase ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN ($8.95 USD) and UNKNOWN INNOCENCE ($14.95, USD) from your favorite bookseller; also available as eBooks from Smashwords.com, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.kindle, and many others.

 

Contact Midnight Express Books, P.O. Box 69, Berryville, AR 72616 (email: MEBooks1@yahoo.com) for inmate book publishing needs or to order my books from the “Inside.”  Thanks!

SEEKING A REAL JOB

job application.jpgby Wayne T. Dowdy

Time changes things.  Ex-offenders struggled to obtain gainful employment for years.  The blemish of a felony conviction decreased their chance of employment.  Now, at many American companies, a criminal conviction does not automatically disqualify ex-felon job applicants.  That is good news for society and taxpayers!

“The Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, representing 1,300 business groups, agreed last month with the Counsel of State Governments Justice Center to provide assistance to chamber members in the hiring of ex-offenders.

“While some businesses have been interested in the past, ‘it becomes even more critical when the labor market is tight not to rule out qualified applicants,’ said David Rattray, a Los Angeles chamber executive.”  Stigma of Criminal Record Fades, As U.S. Employers Get Desperate by Steve Matthews, Copyright 2017 Bloomberg L.P., published in the Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (BNA Reporter), CRL, May 31, 2017.

PERSONALLY:  In 1976, I was released from state prison and applied for numerous jobs.  I even tried getting a job at some of the local state government agencies.  During interviews, things went well until my criminal history became the topic, then I essentially got the infamous line, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”  No one called.

A month later, I read a newspaper article about CETA, a program created to help disadvantaged people find employment.  I applied there and experienced the same ole BS.  I had had enough by then.

CRIMINAL THINKING:  After hearing the same ole line, I looked at the interviewer and said, “I’m trying to get a job.  No one will hire me.  I have a wife at home, a baby, and another baby on the way.  I’ve got to have a job to take care of them, but since no one will hire me, what are you saying, I should get a gun and go to work?”

He reconsidered and sent me for an interview at a Volkswagen, Porsche, Audi dealership.  The company hired me as a mechanic.  Unfortunately, the floor manager did not like me.  If the Kelly’s Blue Book said to pay mechanics a certain rate for performing a specific task, he paid me less than normal.  The other mechanics sympathized and agreed that he was unfair to me.

I quit after dealing with the disparity for several months.  Within two years, I made a terrible mistake and picked up a gun to “get paid.”

CRIME PAYS:  I got paid using a gun.  What I got paid was a long-prison sentence because of the method of employment I chose to get paid.  Crime pays with prison sentences that rob men and women of their lives.

A life of crime led to me robbing my children of a father to guide, protect, and provide for them; robbed my wife of a husband to fulfill his responsibilities in the marriage; robbed my siblings of their brother, my mother and father of their son, and turned me into a liability rather than an asset to the family.

GET A JOB:  No, not with a gun.  Being caught with a gun or bullet, would get me sentenced to fifteen years to life without parole.  I don’t want to retire that way.  The 35-year sentence I am almost finished with, gave me enough time to get rested and willing to get a real job.

PREPARING FOR THE JOB MARKET:  On Sunday, May 28, 2017, Georgia Focus, a radio talk show, featured a Georgia Department of Labor official (I think it was Georgia Labor Commissioner, Mark Butler).

He spoke of programs to help the formerly incarcerated to find employment, and said that he has over 100,000 positions to fill.  According to the radio interview and the BNA article, one of the biggest obstacles of some applicant/employees is a lack of soft skills.

SOFT SKILLS:  show up for work on time, dress accordingly (if applying for a welding job, go dressed as if you are ready to start work, not in a three-piece suit); communication and people skills (working with others, being polite, considerate, etc.), and of course, working hard.

He also spoke on the value of following up on job applications; e.g., sending a message or calling to thank the employer for his or her consideration (as I recall, Mr. Butler used his daughter as an example of follow-up activities that landed her two interviews and then the job she sought).

THE WORLD OF WORK:  In 1985-86, I graduated from The World of Work, a program to teach participants to be entrepreneurs, how to get a job, how to succeed in the business world.

(To view a photo of me while giving a graduation speech from a podium at the Hilton Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia, visit my photo gallery at here..)

I secured the first position I applied for at Bankhead Enterprises, Inc. (BEI).  I drove a truck to pick up and deliver parts for their Transportation Division (Bankhead Transportation Equipment).  Within two years, I held multiple positions and increased my salary by fifty-percent.

One position I held was as the assistant manager of the Equipment Maintenance Division.  I brought it out of the red for its first time by billing all expenses.  All of the department heads complained about an increase in overhead, but it made my boss happy.  🙂

The last official position I held was in the Personnel Department.  For a pay increase, I left to become an estimator for BEI’s fastest growing division (Bankhead Asphalt Paving).  The manager wanted me to work for two weeks to show him what I could do before he decided how much to increase my salary.

SHARP DRESSED MAN:  I made an irrational decision to quit because “that wasn’t the deal.”  I wanted the raise to walk on the property in my three-piece suit.  Yes, I was young and dumb, well dressed, but definitely young and dumb.

I left BEI and later worked for the Electrolux Corporation to sell vacuum cleaners and shampooers.  I took top office sales on my first week out.

HISTORY HURTS:  In 1988, an insurance company and real estate company both called and invited me to work for them.  My criminal conviction prohibited me from getting license to sell insurance, homes or property.

The insurance company had hired me.  I let the manager know I may not be able to get a license.  I wanted to find out if I could be licensed before he invested the time into training me.  With regret, he learned Georgia law prohibited me from selling insurance for his company.

The principles I learned in The World of Work worked.  I failed to succeed because I had a problem with drugs and alcohol, a problem I no longer have, and one that screwed up my thinking.  With over twenty-two years of sobriety, and a determination to succeed, I know I can make it in any company I chose to work for upon release.

SELL YOURSELF:  To get a job, one must sell themselves to the potential employer.  Employers do not care if the baby needs milk or if the spouse needs a new pair of shoes.  Employers hire people to do the job and to profit/benefit from their labor, so an applicant must convince the employer they are the best candidate for the position, the one to make them money or best serve their interests.

COMPLETING THE APPLICATION:  When completing an application, if it contains a field for Felony Convictions, write or type, “Will Explain During Interview.”  That may allow you to get your foot in the door to sell yourself as the person for the job.

EXPERIMENT:  If faced with resistance by a potential employer, and if you are confident of your ability to do the job, offer to work a week without promise of pay, unless you satisfactory perform the tasks.  Walk away with dignity and pride whether you secure the position or not.  Be proud of having given it your best.

ADVANCEMENT (GIVE MORE THAN YOU RECEIVE):  If paid $10.00 per hour and only work to give an employer $10.00 worth of work, an employee will likely stay at $10.00 per hour; however, if that employee gives the employer work worthy of $20.00 per hour, he or she will likely be promoted, whether it be by advancing in the organization, or by an increase in his or her salary.

FEDERAL PRISON INDUSTRIES, INC. (UNICOR):  For almost 28-years I’ve worked for UNICOR.  Numerous politicians tried to shut the doors.  UNICOR helps reduce recidivism by preparing inmates for the job market.  I learned several marketable job skills since I began working for UNICOR on December 1, 1989.

The more promising positions have been working as a document control clerk, a tutor in an Apprenticeship Program for Quality Assurance Inspectors, a technical writer (since 1997), and an Internal Auditor for eleven years.

The former Quality Assurance Manager, once told an external auditor for the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI), who audited our Quality Management System for compliance with ISO 9001: 2008 Requirements, that I was like a gnat.

“When he’d ask me to do something we are supposed to do, if I put him off, he’d keep coming back to bug me to do it.  He was like a gnat flying around in my face.  I’d shoo him away but he’d keep coming back until I did what I was supposed to do.”

He retired and became a respectable employee for a private company.

I apply myself in whatever task I perform and do it to the best of my ability or not at all.  In UNICOR, I apply myself more so to do my part to help keep it afloat for others to have an opportunity to learn and provide for themselves.

I expect those who earn more in a day than I earn in a month to do the same thing.  That does not always work out when dealing with Union or federal employees who know it almost takes an act of Congress to terminate them.  Most often, the bureaucracy rewards incompetence by promoting them instead of sending them to look for another job.  Maybe President Trump can change that.

WORKKEYS:  I began WorkKeys last month to help prepare for reentry into the job market.  The title should have warned me that Workkeys required a lot of work.  The curriculum entails Reading for Information, Applied Math, and Locating Information.

In the early ’80s, I took a Math remedial class at South Georgia College to bring my math skills up to college level.  Now I am re-learning math because I forgot most of what I learned decades ago.  Use it or loose it!

The Neurons inside my brain sparked when math entered the equation.  Math is not my favorite course of study but that has not deterred me from proceeding with what I began.  I am rising to the occasion because of my desire to succeed.  I am striving for Platinum Certification.  More will be revealed!

REENTRY & EMPLOYMENT:  The changes in the job market give me more hope in securing gainful employment upon release.  My age may also be a hindrance when I apply for jobs.  Even so, I’m sure some employers prefer an older, more mature employee, who shows up for work on time, performs his duties in a prompt, efficient manner, and who proves himself an asset to their company, as I will do.

In “Reentry Programs Will Reduce Recidivism” (July 2016), I wrote on the reentry initiatives implemented by President Obama that will help ex-offenders obtain employment and become a taxpayer instead of a tax liability.  I listed numerous companies willing to hire ex-offenders; e.g., The Coca-Cola Company, Georgia-Pacific, Kellogg Company, Staples, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Best Buy, and many others.  Hopefully, Attorney General Sessions will not undo that as he has other initiates implemented by the Obama Administration.

Perhaps Georgia Governor, Nathan Deal, will hire an ex-offender when I am released.  I have a lot to offer about issues affecting recidivism, including ideas for reducing it by helping the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated.  After all, with my experience in corrections, I am somewhat an expert.

My corrections experience cost taxpayers well-over a million dollars.  Employing me as a Consultant or auditor will yield favorable results by converting me into an asset, especially, for those with a vested interest in reducing recidivism through employment opportunities.

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Wayne T. Dowdy writes StraightFromthePen.  Follow his blogs and purchase his writings at http://www.straightfromthepen.com or at Midnight Express Books, P.O. Box 69, Berryville, AR 72616, Email: MEBooks1@yahoo.com