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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REENTRY PLANS & A FRIEND MOVES ON

This blog contains mixed topics. The first one I’ll write about is dedicated to a man who proved himself to be a true friend to me in 1995, after he came into the federal system at the United States Penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia. Other topics will include an update to my pending release and plans to reenter society. I must include politics, too, of which I apologize.

 

IN MEMORY OF DANIEL E. SCOTT: My friend of twenty-four years left from here on May 10, 2018, for the halfway house/Residential Reentry Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Originally, he was approved for six-months in the RRC but that was reduced to four-months when ex-director, Mark S. Inch took over the BOP.

 

Dan’s health deteriorated quickly during the last two months of his stay here, when he should have been at home with his wife and children, and would have been if not for the bureaucratic BS in Washington, DC.

 

Dan had been real sick for months. For several years he struggled with various illnesses. During the last 5-to-6 months here, he went to the medical department and complained of severe stomach pains, nausea, and as time progressed, other symptoms associated with cancer. He was told he had pancreatitis at the local hospital. His pain medication: Tylenol and Prilosec for most of that time. He did receive Tylenol-3 with codeine for his last month here.

 

He told me one day of all of the symptoms he was experiencing. I said, “I hate to say it, but that’s what Larry complained of before he passed away and it was stomach cancer.” Larry was my younger brother who passed away in 2016.

 

A month later, Dan said, “I don’t think I’m going to live long enough to make it out of here. I know I’m dying.” He was in constant pain, couldn’t sleep without waking because of the pain, and couldn’t keep any food down after eating.

 

I promised I would pray for him and that I believed he would get out where he could get help. Three weeks before leaving, a person on the medical staff informed him that a February ex-ray result showed a mass in his chest. A CT scan was done shortly before he left for the halfway house. After he got there, his condition worsened. He was hospitalized days later and did not have pancreatitis.  He had pancreatic cancer that had already spread to both lungs.

 

I spoke to him around 11:00 AM on Thursday, June 28th. He struggled to breath. I thanked him for being a true friend to me over the years and let him know I loved him. I knew his time was near.

 

Before hanging-up the phone, he said, “Good Bye, my friend,” as if he knew it would be the last time we spoke. That night I called him again but no one answered. At 8:30 PM I put him a Happy Belated Birthday card in the mail and said farewell to a good friend. He moved on to the next phase of existence two-hours later.

 

One thing I’ll always remember him for is this:  We met a few months before I decided to stop using drugs and alcohol, while at U.S.P. Atlanta.  When I told him and others that if they started talking about drugs or getting high, not to feel offended if I walked away. I explained that it was harder for me to quit by talking about it and being around it.

 

One evening I was visiting him in his cell when another prisoner came in and said, “Man, there’s some killer stuff going around.”

 

Dan held up his hand to stop him and then said, “When you see this man sitting in here, don’t come in here talking about that bullshit. He’s trying to quit and not be around it and I respect him for that.”

 

That proved to me that he was a true friend; he supported me in my pursuit of a new life. I miss my friend and hope he’s sitting on a lake in the sky with a fishing pole in his hand, not feeling any pain or sadness for the life he left behind.

*****

REENTRY PLANS: I often see the skyline of Atlanta, Georgia while watching movies. Last month I watched Tiana Taylor dancing in HONEY: RISE UP AND DANCE and saw familiar places in Atlanta, a place of my future, a remnant of my past.

 

I most often identify the City of Atlanta by the IBM Tower (if still so named). Seeing Atlanta from a distance in movies and periodic views of T.V. programs (e.g., Walking Dead, Love & Hip Hop-Atlanta, Black Ink Crew (a friend played a role in it)), makes me think of all the changes since my departure in 1988, not just in the city and its people, but in myself as well.

 

Seeing Atlanta Area Tech does the same thing to me because I once planned to go there to learn aviation mechanics, one of many ambitions wrote off to my misbehaving while young and dumb.

 

SOCIETAL CHANGES: Early one morning, I got up around 4:00 AM and was surprised to see and hear a commercial on television for Adam & Eve sex toys, a beautiful woman selling vibrators and other “pleasure toys” to pleasure seekers.

 

When I was a child, it was exciting for us children to see a Playtex bra commercial, the most sensual of all advertisements during the early ’60s. Even when arrested in 1988, I don’t think sex toy commercials were allowed on regular television in America. I don’t recall the sexy models advertising for Victoria’s Secret, either.

 

Around 1997, I did see sexually explicit scenes and segments on late night HBO and Cinemax shows. One HBO Special, in particular, showed commercials from Germany and other countries, where models were topless and commercials sexually charged. Times have changed. Women didn’t wear thongs on the beach, either. I look forward to seeing such changes.  😉

 

I also love swimming and fishing if the fish are biting, and eagerly await my chance to dive in a body of water, as well as to experience the Internet, cellphones, and typing without paying five-cents per minute.

 

Please don’t misunderstand what I wrote: I am not complaining about those types of societal changes. I don’t feel they are wrong, because I don’t feel people should be ashamed of their bodies.

 

PERSONAL PLANS: I first need to get my identification and drivers license, if I plan to drive a car, which I want to do, but I am willing to use public transportation until I can afford to purchase one and to pay for associated expenses (gas, oil, tires, maintenance, insurance). I’m not planning to get any particular type of vehicle. After thirty years, any new model will be more akin to a spaceship for me.  🙂

 

WORKING MAN: My main objective is to secure a position in a reputable company with good pay and benefits. I also want to go back to college to learn coding so I can design my own websites, and to visit the Georgia Aquarium and other places I haven’t seen.

*****

POLITICS: Since writing “Breaking News,” I had tweets sent to President Trump and Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser, asking them to save American taxpayers an annual $30,630,000. I included a link to Breaking News (https://straightfromthepen.wordpress.com).  I hope one of them read what I wrote.

 

DEFEATED: The National Inmate Appeals Administrator denied my BP-11 on 06/04/18, cosigning the BS of previous decisions to deny my request for additional RRC time, even though the halfway house situation has lightened up.

 

It is a waste of time and $$$ to go further with the issue because Congress gave the BOP too much discretion in 18 U.S.C., Sect. 3624(c).

 

A young man left here on 07/05/18 with 5-months in the same Atlanta RRC that I’m scheduled to go to 12/26/18. He was here 10-months for a 17-month violation of the terms of his supervised release.

 

I’ve been in 30-years and received 119-days, one day short of 4-months. That was when Mark Inch was in command, so if my RRC date gets changed because of the following, I may receive more RRC time.

 

VICTORY: Two weeks ago, I learned my release date changed from 04/24/2019 to 03/08/2019 (47-days closer to Freedom’s Door). On 11/01/17, I challenged the calculation of my Good Conduct Time (GCT), including an improper deduction of 82-days for my misbehavior in 1990.

 

28 C.F.R., Sect. 523.20(a), Good Conduct Time, states, “For inmates serving a sentence for offenses committed on or after November 1, 1987, but before September 13, 1994, the Bureau will award 54 days credit toward service of sentence (good conduct time) for each year served. This amount is prorated when the time served by the inmate for the sentence during the year is less than a full year.”

 

In 1990, I was put in the Segregated Housing Unit at U.S.P. Leavenworth, KS for 60-days and lost 41-days of GCT for possession of narcotics (a paper containing methamphetamine residue). On the same day, I received 30-consecutive-days in the SHU, with another 41-days loss of GCT because I refused to provide a urine sample.

 

Under Title 18 of the United States Code, Sect. 3624(b), as enacted November 1, 1987, 54-days of GCT shall be awarded at the end of each year, providing the inmate behaved “during that year.” Crediting and deductions can only be made based upon behavior during one-year segments, and cannot be taken from future or past years. Once credited or lost, it stays that way. That is, unless unlawfully taken that can be challenged in court under 28 U.S.C., Sect. 2244, after exhausting administrative remedies.

 

On 08/17/18, I will have served 10,950-days (360-months) on my primary sentence. During that period, I lost a total of 109-days of GCT (41+41+27), all for drug-related incidents. Twenty-eight of those days were unlawfully taken for the 1990 incident, so 28-days were refunded, and then I was properly credited for 1,539-days of GCT (1,620-days, minus 81).

 

Now, with the above deduction, I only have 72-days in an RRC and am awaiting a decision from the Residential Reentry Manager concerning a modification to my RRC date. Because 18 U.S.C., Sect. 3624(b) requires any remaining time of less than one-year to be prorated and awarded six-weeks before the sentence ends, my release date will change again because I’m owed 31-more days. My date will change to February 7, 2019, the day after one of my granddaughters’ birthday.

 

If the First Step Act passes the Senate, I’ll leave earlier than that. Please urge your senator to co-sign the bill and vote, Yes.  Thanks!

*****

MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: What is the first thing you plan to eat? Where are you going to go eat at when you get out? What do you plan to do first?

 

My response: I don’t know. I’m thinking of steak and lobster but when I see the price, I may change my mind to steak and shrimp or a Burger King Whopper or a Blizzard at Dairy Queen. 🙂 Those prices may make me want to prepare my own meal. Then the grocery store prices may make me want to fast.

 

I do plan to find a good paying job with benefits so I can afford to eat the way I prefer (healthy choices on most days).

 

MOST POPULAR FREE ADVICE: Get a hooker because you’ll fall in love with the first woman you have sex with if you don’t.

 

My response: I’m not walking out the door thinking with my penis. I’ve never paid for sex and I’m not starting when I get out of prison. I’ve been thirty years without getting laid and if I have to wait a little longer, I will survive. 🙂

*****

SIMPLE MAN: One of the things I look forward to is being able to listen to music without interruptions, per se, no commercials, no distractions from the typical things we experience in prison; e.g., having to listen for a guard to announce “Count Time,” during certain times so we can stand up and be counted; or to annoying announcements on an intercom that disturbs my peace.

 

I could have bought an MP-3 player years ago and eliminated some of those problems. I didn’t feel purchasing one was wise due to the $1.55 price tag, per song, for altered (graphic lyrics restricted, etc.) and limited music selections, so … I have patiently waited and dealt with static, difficulty finding a station playing what I want to hear, and long-commercial interruptions.

 

SWEET HOME ALABAMA: On the Sunday morning following Dan’s departure from this thing we know as life, I listened to members of Lynyrd Skynyrd on Uncle Joe Benson’s, Off the Record. Hearing many of the songs reminded me of days gone by.

 

When I listened to Sweet Home Alabama, I was thankful that my friend did get to go home and leave this world as a free man. Maybe he has a guitar in his hands and is strumming God’s favorite tune.

guitar 2

BREAKING NEWS

trump and kim

I have good and bad Breaking News. First, I commend President Trump for commuting the life sentence of Alice M. Johnson, a 63-year old grandmother trapped in the federal prison system for 21-years. The lovely Kim Kardashian West interceded on her behalf to President Trump.

Ms. Johnson was not a small-time drug dealer, but … 21-years is enough time in prison for anyone to serve who did not commit mass murders or horrendous crimes.

Now, if President Trump wants to save American taxpayers millions of dollars, he’ll instruct the Attorney General to order the BOP to reinterpret 18 U.S.C., Section 3624 to give federal prisoners the 54-days Congress provided for in the statute (see “INCREDIBLE NUMBERS FOR SEVEN DAYS”).

Other good news is that I succeeded at obtaining WorkKeys Platinum Certification to increase my chance of finding gainful employment upon release: More on that in a moment.

The bad news is that a nine-year study on recidivism was released in May 2018 that showed 83% of released prisoners from 30-states were re-arrested at least once during the study period. I’ll write more on that one, too!

MORE OF THE GOOD NEWS: In “Uncivil Wars” (08/17/17) and in “A Job Affair” (10/03/17), I listed what my ACT WorkKeys Skill Report showed for each of the three ACT skill levels. I scored in the Platinum range for two of the three categories.  The Gold Certification I received was because of the Level 5 score in the Locating Information category (I needed one more correct answer to score as a Level 6), so that’s why I wanted to try again.

During the September 29, 2017, Mock Job Fair, the representative from the South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department strongly suggested I retake the test because I was so close, and because only six percent of students receive the Platinum certification. I followed her advice.

CHANGES: Since I took the ACT tests in August 2017, WorkKeys changed their testing and scoring system. The Levels for Locating Information ranged from 3-to-6. When retested, I learned that Locating Information was replaced with Graphic Literacy.  Students may now score up to a Level-7 in Graphic Literacy, the same as with Applied Mathematics and Reading for Information (also changed). The change made sense and made the testing more consistent.

This is from my ACT WorkKeys Skill Report:

WorkKeys Graphic Literacy:

You scored at Level 6.  People who score at Level 6 have demonstrated all of the Levels 3, 4, and 5 skills. They also demonstrated, using graphics designed at the highly complex level, the following skills:

* Locate information in a graphic using information found in another graphic

* Compare two or more pieces of information

* Identify a trend/pattern/relationship

* Make an inference or decision

* Identify the graphic that accurately represents the data

Additionally, using graphics designed at the high-moderate level, they have demonstrated the following skills:

* Compare two or more trends/patterns/relationships

* Interpret a trend/pattern/relationship

* Make a reasonable inference or decision based on one graphic after finding information in another graphic

* Justify an inference or decision based on information

* Identify the most effective graphic given a defined purpose

* Justify the most effective graphic given a defined purpose

[End Quote] In Graphic Literacy and Applied Mathematics, my scale scores were 82. I did best at Reading for Information (Level 7, scale score of 87).

The above results show 1) I’m capable of interpreting data presented in recidivism studies that rely on graphs and complex data, and 2), I’m qualified to perform mathematical analysis to solve complex problems.

CONFESSION: I failed to perform to my fullest potential when writing “War & Reentry.”

A reader said I was unclear when writing about recidivism numbers and studies. Upon review, I saw I erred in comparison of recidivism numbers relied on by ex-director, Mark Inch. I wrote that he was wrong by stating federal prisoners recidivated at half the rate of state prisoners.

I was incorrect in one sense: If non-citizens were included into the federal study, the numbers would be much different; however, that is not the case. I used an incorrect formula to present the argument. The actual numbers were 67.8% for state prisoners, compared to 33.7% for federal prisoners rearrested within 3-years of release.

If 68-state prisoners and 34-federal prisoners were rearrested after their release during the same study period, the statement by Mark Inch would be true.

THE FACTS prove the statement untrue because the Feds released and deported thousands of illegal immigrants during the study period, many of whom illegally-returned to the United States and were rearrested (recidivated), but were not included in the “Recidivism Among Federal Offenders: A Comprehensive Overview.” Non-citizens were included in the comparison 5-year State study listed below.

Read more on the 2016 federal study in “Recidivism in America” (01/25/17), where I posted a link to the April 2014 comparison state study. Another associated article/blog is “An Inside View of Criminal Justice,” originally published by PrisonLawBlog.com (10/07/14). I show the influence of private prison companies on the BOP and failed policies that fuel mass incarceration.

INCREDIBLE NUMBERS FOR SEVEN DAYS: In “War & Reentry” I showed the millions of dollars American taxpayers will save if the BOP awards its prisoners 54-days per year, instead of the 47-days awarded since 11/01/1987, which resulted in prisoners serving longer prison sentences than intended by Congress.

The numbers listed were that 44,000 federal prisoners get released each year and that if released 7-days earlier, it would equate to an annual savings of thirty-million, six-hundred thirty-thousand, and six-hundred dollars.

Those numbers are correct: $30,630,600 saved by awarding federal prisoners the other 7-days lost in the BOP’s interpretation of federal law.

THE JUSTICES who dissented in Barber v. Thomas, 560 U.S. 474, 130 S.Ct. 2499, 177 L.Ed.2d 1, 13-16 (06/10/2010) cautioned that the majority opinion would add, “[t]ens of thousands of years of additional prison time on federal prisoners …. And if the only way to call attention to the human implications of this case is to speak in terms of economics, then it should be noted that the Court’s interpretation comes at a cost to the taxpayers of untold millions of dollars.”

The majority said the BOP’s interpretation was “reasonable” and that they must give it deference. The Justices did “[n]ot determine the extent to which Congress has granted the BOP authority to interpret the statute more broadly, or differently[;]” therefore, the agency may change their interpretation immediately to comply with the statute, clarified by the House of Representative in passing the FIRST STEP act with a vote of 360-59.

IF the BOP and Attorney General wants to save your taxpayer dollars, they will change their interpretation and give federal prisoners those other 7-days. The truth is, that if changed, the bureaucrats will probably give themselves large bonuses to consume funds saved.

COST OF INCARCERATION INCREASE: Between 2011 and 2017, the cost of incarcerating a federal prisoner rose from $79.16 to $99.45 per day or $28,893.40 to $36,299.25 per year. Federal Register, Vol. 78, No. 52 (03/18/13), and Vol. 83, No. 83 (04/30/18). That will grow.

BE PROACTIVE FOR CHANGE: Demand a change! Contact your Senator and Congressional Representative and ask him or her to push prison reform and a change from draconian sentencing laws that lead to mass incarceration. Demand that BOP (Backwards on Purpose) officials be held accountable and follow the law to reduce recidivism.

BACK TO THE NUMBERS: I questioned the figures when I thought of 44,000 as the number of released federal prisoners, so I went to the source:  transcript of Ex-director, Mark Inch’s testimony before the “Oversight Hearing of the Bureau of Prisons” on April 17, 2018. Inch stated on page two, under subheading “OUR PROGRAMS – REENTRY BEGINS ON DAY ONE” as follows:

“Reentry programming is a critical component of public safety; inmates are much more likely to return to a life of crime and victimization if they leave prison without job training, treatment for mental illness and/or substance abuse, an education, and a general understanding of what it means to be a productive law abiding citizen. It is important that we in the Bureau help ensure the nearly 44,000 inmates who are released back into the communities each year do not repeat their past mistakes.” https://judiciary.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Inch-testimony.pdf.

EVIDENCE OF MORE RECIDIVISM:  Last month the Bureau of Justice Statistics released a new study (“2018 Update on Prisoner Recidivism: A 9-Year Follow-up Period (2005-2014),” NCJ250975, May 2018), a follow-up to the 5-year study relied upon for comparison by the ex-director (“Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010,” NCJ244205, April 2014).

The 83% recidivism rate revealed in the 9-year follow-up study shows the seriousness of recidivism in America and the need for a magic elixir that does not exist. Until financial incentives end for politicians who continue making policies and laws that fuel mass incarceration, positive change will be slow: It is time to stop state and federal funding for private prisons.

In 2015, former presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders, introduced a bill to bring back federal parole and to stop federal funding for private prisons. Apparently, none of Senator Sanders’ peers were interested in eliminating a source of income from private prison lobbyist, so the bill never made it to the vote stage of legislation.

FLAWED POLITICS: In passing laws and implementing policies and practices, the political trend for decades has been to restrict or prohibit violent felons from receiving time off their sentences for program participation. Criminal laws include increased penalties for career criminals and those who commit violent felonies.

To deny those offenders of program benefits increases the risk on society that those prisoners reoffend. Violent offenders need help, too.

Most violent offenders will be released from prison; therefore, those laws and policies are flawed and need restructured to include anyone who wants to participate and maybe change their lives, if the law-makers want to protect society and to reduce recidivism.

VIOLENT CRIME MISCONCEPTION: All categorically-listed crimes of violence do not contain violence. I addressed the issue in “Violent Crime Misconception” (02/24/16). I believe most people think of violent criminals as those who physically harm or threaten to harm their victims during the commission of crimes like rape, murder, and armed robbery.

Programs that current policy prohibits certain prisoners from receiving benefit from, are programs such as the Residential Drug Abuse Program. And in the event that the Senate approves the FIRST STEP act, any “Evidence-based Recidivism Reduction Program” or activity that reduces recidivism.

For instance, inmates with convictions for “certain” crimes of violence or sex crimes, will be prohibited from earning time off sentences by participating in evidence-based programs; e.g., Federal Prison Industries (UNICOR) that reduces recidivism by 24%; taking educational or vocational classes. Restrictions also apply to those who participate in faith-based or social programs; mentoring or teaching any evidence-based program; participating in cognitive behavior treatment, “victim impact classes or other restorative justice programs.”

Those aspects of legislation needs changed and made retroactive to award prisoners for positive behavior exemplified under dire circumstances. Maybe Kim Kardashian will help get votes in the Senate to change the failed criminal justice policies. Go girl!

_________________________________________________

Wayne T. Dowdy writes at StraightFromthePen.com.

WAR and REENTRY

guard stand barbed wire fenceby Wayne T. Dowdy

 

GENERAL SURRENDERS: Mark S. Inch, former two-star, retired-general, surrendered his post as BOP Director on May 18, 2018. Attorney General Jeff Sessions appointed Hugh J. Hurwitz as acting BOP Director. Mr. Hurwitz was the Deputy Director of Reentry Services.

Several sources reported Mark Inch resigned because of conflicts with AG Sessions micromanaging his actions, not allowing him to hire staff, and Jared Kushner’s desires for prison reform initiatives.

AG Sessions opposes any actions that benefit prisoners, even those to be enacted to protect society from recidivist. He opposes the FIRST STEP ACT that passed the House by a vote of 360 to 59, introduced by the Honorable Doug Collins (R-GA) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).

FIRST STEP ACT (H.R. 5682): Those 360 votes by congressional representatives represent the “Will of the People.”

The Will of the People shouted in the House of Representatives, but that may not be good enough for Senators driven by personal agendas and the influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that ALWAYS interferes with any bill or policy introduced to reduce prison populations. *

The First Step Act contains provisions that allows federal prisoners to earn additional time off their sentences for taking “Evidence-Based Programs” that reduces recidivism, and thus save taxpayer dollars and spare American citizens of the negative effects of recidivists who fail to reintegrate into society.

IMPORTANT FACT: The bill “clarifies” that federal prisoners earn 54-days per year, not the 47-days the BOP provides because of their interpretation of Title 18, Section 3624(b). Those additional 7-days may not seem like much, but I’ll show it mean a lot.

I sent MR. Inch a letter on 11/20/17 to show how to save money. He didn’t respond. On 03/05/18, I re-submitted it and my BP-10, and then sent Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC) a copy of all I sent Mr. Inch.

I’ve readjusted figures to represent the 2017 average cost of incarceration ($99.45 per day/$36,299.25). An average of 44,000 federal prisoners get released each year.

Those 7-days equate to an annual savings of $30,630,600.00 (7 X $99.45 = $696.15 X 44,000).

Those 7-days put me on the streets 240-days earlier (08/07/18), without going to an RRC, so I have a vested interest in the issue.

* Read “The Truth About Incarceration, Part II” for more on ALEC and their influence, whose members I suspect include AG Sessions, Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Mitch McConnell (R-KY), neither of whom favors prison or sentencing reform.

I agree with Attorney Brandon Sample that the FIRST STEP Act is not perfect because it prohibits too many prisoners from receiving its benefits, but the bill does contain 3-important provisions for all federal prisoners:

  1. The retroactive Good Time fix;
  2. Requiring the BOP to keep prisoners within 500 driving miles of their family members;
  3. Allowing compassionate release motions made by prisoners, DIRECTLY with the court, after exhausting administrative remedies. Brandon Sample Newsletter (email: news@brandonsample.com); read his blog at https://sentencing.net.

SENTENCING REFORM AND CORRECTIONS ACT (S.1917): “Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also wants any [Prison Reform] type bill to include sentencing reform.  Grassley and [Richard] Durbin [D-Ill.] are joint sponsors of the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017, S.1917, that retroactively reduces mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug and gun offenses.  SCRA was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in February, and is awaiting a vote by the full Senate.” Legal Information Legal Services Associates, http://www.lisa-legalinfo.com (email: newsletter@lisa-legalinfo.com).

Some legislatures want sentencing reform added to the FIRST STEP ACT. Some analysts say that adding the SCRA would likely be the death of the bill.

The sponsors re-titled the initial prison reform bill to become the FIRST STEP for good reason: it is a First Step for change.

Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, lets such bills die instead of sending them to the floor for a vote. I’m sure he’s an ALEC member.

If he does not send the First Step act to the floor, let the voters remove him from his seat for ignoring the Will of the People!

EX-BOP DIRECTOR TESTIFIED BEFORE CONGRESS: Mark Inch prepared his statement for those in attendance at the Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations, dated March 16, 2018, presented April 17, 2018.

In his statement, he played with recidivism numbers to present the BOP as complying with its mission of protecting the public. According to Mr. Inch, federal inmates recidivate at about “half” the rate of state prisoners (“[o]ur three-year recidivism rate is nearly half the States’ average. 1”). https://judiciary.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Inch-testimony.pdf

Not so!  34.1% is not almost half; it’s almost one third.  Maybe math is not his strong suit, or maybe he misrepresented the truth to make the BOP appear better than it is at reducing recidivism. (See below:  STATISTICAL JUGGLING OF RECIDIVISM STUDIES.)

In footnote #1, Inch stated, “In 2016, the U.S. Sentencing Commission found that only 34% of the inmates released from the Bureau of Prisons in 2005 were re-arrested or had their supervision revoked over a three-year period.”

I read the 2016 Study and suspect Inch got his data from Table 2, “Rearrest Rates for Recidivism Study Offenders.” That table shows 33.7% of federal prisoners return with a new commitment to pay for their transgressions (that’s almost 34%).

What Inch did not reveal, was that the 2016 Study covered 8-years and showed a 49.3% recidivism rate on page #16 of the study on “Recidivism Among Federal Offenders: A Comprehensive Overview.”

STATISTICAL JUGGLING OF RECIDIVISM STUDIES: The state study used for comparison was reported by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) (“Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005.  Patterns from 2005 to 2010”). That State Study did show 67.8% of state prisoners recidivated within 3-years, compared to the 2016 Study for federal prisoners that showed 33.7% of federal prisoners recidivated during 3-years (a difference of 34.1%).

At 5-years, the numbers are 76.6% for state prisoners, compared to 42.1% of federal prisoners (a difference of 34.5%). Those numbers would not have helped him attempt to bamboozle the United States Congress, who battered him during the April 17th, 2018 Hearing.

Based upon one substantial fact, one cannot rely on the accuracy of comparison between the two studies, because the United States Sentencing Commission’s study DID NOT include “non-citizens,” such as illegal aliens known for running back across the border when deported (“The BJS study also included non-U.S. citizens, a category of offender excluded from the Commission’s study.”), fn. #40, U.S.S.C. 2016 Study.

Relying on the March 5, 2018, “U.S. Sentencing Commission’s, 2017 Sourcebook of Federal Sentencing Statistics,” non-citizens accounted for about 41% of all offenders.

ADD that 41% of non-citizens into the 2016 Study, and the true federal recidivism results would show that the BOP didn’t do any better than states at reducing recidivism; maybe even worse than some, by failing to provide federal prisoners with adequate programs that reduced recidivism, contrary to former Director Mark Inch’s testimony before Congress.

MISLEADING STATEMENTS BY INCH ON RESIDENTIAL REENTRY CENTERS (RRC): In his statement cited above, subheading, “OUR GOAL – EFFECTIVE TRANSITION TO THE COMMUNITY,” Inch wrote, “Despite our continued efforts to seek RRC capacity in new locations and diversify services in existing locations, there remains strong community resistance to RRC’s and few vendors compete for such solicitations.”

Isn’t that the same man whose actions resulted in the non-use of at least 17-RRCs throughout the United States, who then reduced the average placement period to 120-days or less to better utilize resource?

120-days is far below the time allowed by Congress to reduce recidivism and to protect its citizens. Now some inmates get sent to RRC’s in different areas/states than their designated release area, due to his actions.

To justify not renewing contracts, Inch claimed the RRC’s he chose not to extend contracts on were underutilized. Why not keep the contracts to reduce the strain on other RRCs?

Facts prove Ex-Director Inch misrepresented the truth when he testified before Congress.

Read more on halfway house (RRC) issues in these blogs: “Life Inside” (11/20/17); “Half A Problem” (01/12/18), “Storms and a Valentine’s Day Wish” (02/12/18), and “March Madness” (03/20/18).

***** REENTRY SERVICES: Two reentry services provide valuable service to communities by helping to increase the chances of ex-offenders successfully reintegrating into the community: RZero.org and FairShake.net.

RZERO.ORG: RZero is a unique and helpful service for finding reentry associated information by the incarcerated; e.g., Jobs in area of release, finding addresses of businesses and organizations. I’ve found it to be very beneficial. The service has thus far been superb. The following message was sent as a suggestion for me to post in this blog:

“RZero.org (Recidivism Zero, Inc.) is a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing recidivism through a series of practical, easy to implement, cost effective initiatives. We help bring resources from both the public and private sectors to the incarcerated population on both the state and federal level.

“Our entire organization is built on volunteerism and the idea that we can help others by ‘paying it forward’ to those around us. Everyone at RZero is a volunteer, including our Board of Directors.

“The reentry resource search service was developed because we saw a great need for it. Printed resource books contain stale information the moment they are printed. It is impossible and not very efficient to try to print these resources for every institution on the state and federal level. Our database contains over 10-million records of businesses, government agencies, offices and other organizations. It is important for a returning citizen to be able to successfully contact the resources they feel they need.”

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH NOTHING PERSONAL SEARCHES: To learn more about the RZero Project’s Search Service, I sought information for jobs in Atlanta, GA. For instance, I entered the following info in the body of the email, where only one line may be added. Nothing  goes in the subject line, except for maybe a polite thank you or brief message. Here’s examples of one-line search requests:

JOBS quality assurance inspector IN Atlanta, GA

JOBS quality control inspector IN Atlanta, GA

JOBS quality inspector IN Atlanta, GA

All three searches yielded different results. As in Internet searches, varying search criteria yields other information.

For Jobs of interest, I sent these:

FIND Delta Airlines IN Atlanta, GA

FIND Department of Transportation IN Atlanta, GA.

I received a prompt response and addresses so I can send my impressive re’sume’.  🙂

Users must capitalize the search command (JOBS, FIND, GET, HELP, and IN) or will receive an error message; I’ve gotten a few.

HELP is the best first message to send. RZero.org responds by sending instructions for using their reentry search engine.

More information may be obtained about RZero by visiting their website at http://www.RZero.org. Corrlinks friendly. Email: info@RZero.org.

FAIRSHAKE.NET: I cannot write about reentry services without mentioning FairShake.net, whose owner is dedicated to reentry initiatives and provides valuable services. I learned of RZero.org through her Corrlinks newsletter (outreach@fairshake.net).

Read “Reentry Programs Will Reduce Recidivism” (07/21/16) for more on FairShake.net (https://straightfromthepen.wordpress.com). Even better, visit http://www.fairshake.net. She needs volunteers to help with providing more services.

Be a warrior: Fight and reduce recidivism through effective reentry programs.

________________________________

Wayne T. Dowdy writes at http://www.straightfromthepen/blog and http://waynedowdy.weebly.com. Support his writings by purchasing his books. Visit his Smashwords Author’s Page at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy today.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, CORRECTIONS & REENTRY

happy mothers dayby Wayne T. Dowdy

Each year I like to wish all the mothers of the world a Happy Mother’s Day and to add something different to my previous wishes.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you wonderful and deserving mothers of the world.  Each of you is special in your own right.  Perfect is a fantasy, so even if you made errors in your youth or child rearing practices, you deserve recognition and praise for the pain you endured and thus kept the human race going, popping out babies to face the challenges life presents; some of whom become technological geniuses, innovators, inventors, and the movers & shakers who changed the world.  Most of us simply become ordinary men and women, but all of us are of equal importance in this thing called life.  We are all connected: It takes each of us to make Life complete.

Should this not be posted before Sunday, May 13th, Happy Belated Mother’s Day!

CHANGES:  I must confess once again to writing less than perfect blogs.  In my defense, I present that I type on a system without the benefit of any editing features, outside of spell-checking; nothing to check grammar or style, nothing available to check punctuation, or for using special font features (italics, bold, underline, all prohibited).

Whatever I send through Corrlinks.com gets posted, as is, unless I request a change after sending it:  I hesitate doing so because I don’t want to burden the person gracious enough to assist me in my mission of getting my words outside the walls and barbwire fences that contain my body but not my mind or fingertips that fly across the pages.  However, my messages are limited to 13,000 characters that I often use to get you something of value to read, so that part of me is contained unless I want to do a multipart series.  🙂

After clicking to send my most recent blog, “Changes,” I had to send a request to make four corrections, explaining that with a title like Changes, you might know I’d need to make a few.  Well …, then after she made them for me, I find others but chose to let ’em ride until I wrote this blog.  Darn it, I hate errors, especially, when I make them!

CORRECTIONS:  I listed the title of Ms. Sally Q. Yates as an Assistant United States Attorney.  She held a position much more prestigious than that: the former Deputy Attorney General under the Honorable Eric Holder, United States Attorney.  Sorry Sally.  Okay, I’ll do better.  I apologize Ms. Yates.

Then in the opening paragraph, I used “digression” in the first sentence (“Storms ravage the United States:  tornados, snow and ice storms, in April, along with the political and technological storms that drive the progression or digression of the nation.”)  The proper word is “regression,” because I meant it in the sense that some policies and practices drive us backward instead of forward.

I also improperly credited the Bureau of Prisons’ Psychology department as offering “Health & Wellness” classes (most of which are taught by someone from the medical or recreational departments), and “Job Applications & Resume Writing,” which is taught through the education department.  I benefited through my participation in both programs.

Other programs are also available at various institutions that benefit the inmate population that I do not mention.  I’ll share later about my personal experience with one such program conducted here on April 25, 2018 (the date my Unit Team requested for me to leave here to a halfway house that was changed to December 26, 2018, at the Residential Reentry Manager’s office in Atlanta, Georgia, because of the political BS and changes in the halfway house policy by the new BOP director).

CORECIVIC/CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA:  I recently learned that the correct name of the former CCA is not Correctional Corporation of America.  There is no “al” following Correction.  I learned the correct former name in the case I indirectly referred to in “Changes” Grae, Individually and on Behalf of All Others Similarly Situated v. Corrections Corporation of America, Damon T. Hininger, David M. Garfinkle, Todd J. Mullenger, and Harley G. Lappin, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 207475; Fed. Sec. L. Rep. (CCH) P99, 936 (M.D., TN 12/18/17), where the Honorable Aleta A. Trauger, United States District Judge, ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and refused to grant CCA’s motion to dismiss.

CLARITY:  Also of great importance is that I do not mean to come across as stereotyping all politicians, BOP employees or its prisoners, when I speak negatively about the political spectrum in America, the BOP or the system as a whole.  The system has more good men and women than bad (that goes for political parties, too).

Several staff and prisoners helped and, or supported my desire to change and gave me their time, and often shared their knowledge and wisdom that allowed me to advance to another level in life that I now use to help others.

REENTRY SIMULATION:   I went to jail for going to an NA meeting high, agreed to pay $40.00 to a bondsman, and then got evicted for not paying my rent on time, but I did go back and pay the bondsman when I got paid in the final quarter.  🙂

“Thank you,” he said.  “I pointed at you and told Ms. P (Reentry Coordinator) that you’d slide out of here and not pay me for getting you out of jail.”

The event took a lot of work to put together.  Over 50-visitors and 70-inmates attended.  To get the visitors inside the secured lines of the institution, required a lot of paperwork to check their backgrounds before they were approved to enter the visiting room, where the event was conducted.

Approximately 10-tables were set up around the perimeter of the visiting room, each of which represented various functions a newly released prisoner may have to deal with (e.g., Probation Office, Courthouse with a Jail next door; Social Services to apply for food stamps, etc.; a Health Department where we could sell blood for $25; Identification and housing departments; and an Employment Service where I needed to go to pick up my $320 pay check that no one had told me about.

In addition, one table was set up for the Church where Narcotics & Alcoholics Anonymous meetings were held, and another table representing a Treatment Center on the opposite side of town.

Institutional staff (correctional counselors, business office personnel, case managers, secretaries) and a few volunteers, manned the tables/departments.  Some volunteers participated in the event as if released from prison, while others coordinated the functions of the event.

OUT OF TIME:  The event was set up in four 15-minute segments.  At the end of each segment the coordinator blew a whistle for us to return to our seats.

Us participants were seated in seats where clear, plastic folders laid, with 5″ x 8.5″ card and other items, including Monopoly money to pay for services.  Each card contained a profile and role with a schedule we had to adopt and comply with to successfully complete the event.

We had to pay to go to any of the areas/services, the same as having to pay bus fares or processing fees for services.  I often stood in line only to learn I needed more money than I had, and by the time I made it back to where I needed to do whatever, the clock ran out and I failed to do what was required.

My profile was Whitney, a person with a drug problem who had served 10-years in prison for bank robbery and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, the latter of which is a common charge in federal prison.

Before the event concluded, my schedule required that I report to my probation officer, who was not happy because I failed to attend the required treatment sessions, failed a Urine analysis, got evicted from my apartment, and had gotten put in jail.

My response:  “I promise I will do better.  I’m sorry for not making it to the treatment session.  I ran out of time and couldn’t make it, and then when I appeared, the therapist couldn’t work me into her schedule, but I did go to NA meetings and to work.”

“Are you clean now?” he asked.

“Yes, sir.  I can pass the UA.”  He gave me a break and another chance by not filing charges against me for violating the terms of my supervised release.

WHAT I LEARNED:  I get agitated not knowing where I need to go and standing in long lines only to be turned away for lack of funds or for being late for an appointment.  I need to be more prepared, allow for more travel time, and to learn the location of everywhere I must go, in advance.  Such problems I’ve not faced for thirty years and did not find it entertaining.  I did enjoy the experience, though.

OTHER EVENTS:  The next day I retook the WorkKeys test for Locating Information.  I wanted to try again for Platinum certification.  Gold is good but platinum is better.  The lady from the South Carolina Department of Vocational Rehabilitation that I mentioned in my blog, “A Job Affair,” strongly suggested I retake the test to go for Platinum because I only missed it by one answer, and because only 6% of participants get Platinum Certification.

In the near future, I hope to write that I succeeded at obtaining Platinum Certification.  If not, then I’ll try it again.  “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”  I will do that until I achieve my goal.

In my next blog I will write more about bills pending in Congress, the BOP, and more misinformation presented by the BOP director before Congress during an Oversight Hearing.

CHANGES

By Wayne T. Dowdy

Dowdy storm 1

Storms ravage the United States:  tornados, thunder storms, snow and ice storms, in April, along with the political and technological storms that drive the progression or digression of the nation.  Storms fuel change:  Cruise Missiles that bombed Syrian chemical weapon sites, were launched with the intent to create change, to deter a tyrant from using chemical weapons on Syrian citizens.  Advancement in technology drove the Cruise Missiles.

 

A political storm drove the decision to attack another country.  Maybe a different political storm, driven by humanitarian concerns, will form to attack policies that fuel mass incarceration in America.

 

CHANGES:  During the early seventies, I loved listening to “Changes” by Black Sabbath (album title: “4”), and “I’d Love to Change the World” by Ten Years After.  Throughout the decades of my life, I’ve witnessed numerous changes.  Things once viewed as fantasy become reality.  For instance, in the sixties cartoon, The Jetsons, phones used to communicate became cellphones of today, with technology that permitted users to see the person on the other end of the line, like Skype.

 

STORMS:  Natural storm patterns changed, as have the nature of storms that fueled technological changes; advancements in medicine and technology used in the treatment of illnesses that extended life expectancy, created other storms: World population explosion, food shortages, soaring health care cost and big business profit increases that often thrive on the misery of others.  Private Prison companies fall within the latter category.

 

One of the largest private prison companies is CoreCivic, formerly Correctional Corporation of America (CCA).  Investors filed a lawsuit against the corporation because CCA had fraudulently claimed to provide a high level of quality services that assured satisfied customers, boasting about its contracts with the United States Department of Justice.

 

Former BOP Director Harley G. Lappin is named in the securities fraud lawsuit.  Him and J. Michael Quinlan left the BOP under unfavorable circumstances to work for CCA.  (Read “The Truth About Incarceration, Part II” for more on the issue.)

 

SALLY Q. YATES: And then came the “Yates Memorandum.” Ms. Yates is the former Assistant United States Attorney, who planned to phase out private prison contracts because of inferior services and numerous quality and safety issues.  One CCA prison of concern, was Adams County Correctional Center, where a riot erupted over poor conditions that resulted in the death of a prison guard and several injuries to staff and inmates, and over one million dollars in damages.

 

The Investors filed suit and claimed to have lost $1.2 million when their “159,000” shares of CCA/CoreCivic stock dropped because of conduct covered in the lawsuit; however, since then, President Trump and Attorney General, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, revived the stock value.

 

As I’ve previously written, CCA and GEO Group’s stock value SOARED within a week after the last Presidential Election.  When AG Sessions rescinded the Yates Memorandum and agreed to maintain private prison contracts, including the one with Adams County Correctional Center, it was back to business as usual.

 

I wonder if that decision put money and CoreCivic stock into the pockets and portfolios of AG Sessions and President Trump?

 

PERSONAL STORMS:  The calm storms of my life continue as I fight for freedom and refuse to give up until that day comes, or when my time expires in this thing called life.  Whatever the case may be, I will not give up.  If life exists after bodily functions expire, I’ll fight from the other side in my pursuit of justice.

 

I have not won the lottery, at least, not yet.  On April 5th I received a March 29, 2018, denial of my Administrative Remedy Request (BP-10) in reference to my halfway house placement date.  The author essentially stated that the Warden properly responded, and then noted that the halfway house budget led to placement terms being reduced to 120-days or less.

 

In my BP-11, I pointed out that the Regional Director failed to address my abuse of discretion claims against the Warden, Residential Reentry Manager, and BOP Director.  I also shown that 300-days in a halfway house, at $72.00 per day, would cost $21,600, but if I failed to receive enough time in a halfway house to successfully reintegrate into society and became a recidivist, it would cost much more.

 

If I fail on supervised release and get the full 5-years revoked, with the cost of my incarceration soaring above $100,000 per year due to a medication I take for a lung condition, that’d cost over $500,000.  If I committed another federal crime, that’d be real expensive; however, I did stress that that is not on my agenda.  My plan involves becoming a positive success story upon release.

 

The day after the BP-10 Response was dated, President Trump issued a Presidential Proclamation.

Dowdy P Trump

PRESIDENTIAL PROCLAMATION OF SECOND CHANCES:  On March 30, 2018, President Trump stated, in part, “I am committed to advancing reform efforts to prevent crime, improve reentry, and reduce recidivism.  I expressed this commitment in my 2018 State of the Union Address and reinforced it by signing an Executive Order to reinvigorate the ‘Federal Interagency Council on Crime Prevention and Improving Reentry.’  In the spirit of these efforts, I call on Federal, State, and local prison systems to implement evidence-based programs that will provide prisoners with the skills and preparation they need to succeed in society.  This includes programs focused on mentorship and treatment for drug addiction and mental health issues, in addition to job training.

 

“This month, we celebrate those who have exited the prison system and successfully reentered society.  We encourage expanded opportunities for those who have worked to overcome bad decisions earlier in life and emphasize our belief in second chances for all who are willing to work hard to turn their lives around.

 

“NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 2018 as Second Chance Month.  I call on all Americans to commemorate this month with events and activities that raise public awareness about preventing crime and providing those who have completed their sentences with an opportunity for an honest second chance.

 

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of March, in the year of our Lord, two thousand eighteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America, the two hundred and forty-second.

 

DONALD J. TRUMP

 

“President Donald J. Trump Proclaims April 2018 as Second Chance Month,” http://www.whitehouse.gov, March 30, 2018.

 

AFTER PRISON SUCCESS STORIES:  Brandon Sample, Shon Hopwood, and Tara Simmons are three of many ex-offenders who became success stories after their release from prison.  All three entered a field many people said could not be done:  Brandon Sample became a practicing attorney; Shon Hopwood an attorney and then a Professor of Law at Georgetown Law University, and Tara Simmons took her fight to the Washington State Supreme Court to become an attorney.

 

Justice Mary Yu wrote in her opinion that “[S]immons began ‘meaningful treatment’ while in prison and ‘changed her life to a degree that can only be deemed remarkable, both in terms of the efforts she had put forth and the positive results she has achieved.'”

 

Justice Yu also gave props to Shon Hopwood, who represented Simmons.  “‘Both Hopwood and Simmons are living examples of a person’s ability to change if he or she has the will and opportunity to do so.'”

 

Prison Law & Prison Education News Services, 04/13/18, (email: news@prisonlawblog.com), quoting from Seatletimes.com and Prison Legal News.

 

The Washington Supreme Court ruled that the Washington State Bar Association should allow her to take the bar exam, another victory for Mr. Hopwood and Real Justice in America.

 

I know of numerous others who were released and become success stories in their own right, especially my peers who are members of Twelve Step programs, as well as several former UNICOR employees who got out and became successful in the world of work.

 

UNICOR:  In 1936, Congress created the Federal Prison Industries, Inc., trade name UNICOR (for UNIque CORporation), to teach inmates marketable job skills.  UNICOR is supposed to be a Work Program for Inmates, not a conglomerate to increase earnings that allows executive staff to give themselves bonuses:  Some current practices border on exploitation of prisoners.

 

(A 04/10/18, USA TODAY article, “Federal Prison Bonuses Stir Outrage,” included bonuses for an array of federal prison officials, including wardens who shave dollars from prison budgets at the expense of prisoners.)

 

Statistically, UNICOR does reduce recidivism, so it is a good program within the BOP that allows inmate employees to earn enough to buy essentials for survival in prison.  But in recent years, inmate pay has dwindled to allow the organization to increase its profit margins.  I made more money per day in the early ’90s ($10.80) than I do today ($10.51).  So much for the show of gratitude by my employers for my dedicated years of service, huh?

 

Sometimes I feel like the old work horse in George Orwell’s, Animal Farm, who the Pigs hauled off to the glue factory after having served his purpose.  (Well, maybe not that bad.  They are keeping me around to mentor others and to pass on my accumulated knowledge before leaving.)

 

PROGRAMS:  The BOP does have some beneficial programs taught by inmates and staff alike.  Recidawareness is one such program, founded by a federal prisoner, Frank C., who devotes himself toward helping others through a curriculum that combines spiritual and practical principles.  The program helps participants focus on interpersonal aspects of their lives and the improvement of decision-making skills to assist them in changing behavior to avoid becoming a recidivist.

 

The Psychology department also offers programs that, if practiced, assists participants at living their lives in a different manner by teaching them to make better decisions (e.g. Cognitive Thinking, Anger Management, Health & Wellness, Job Application & Resume Writing, Non-Residential Drug Treatment Program, Residential Drug Abuse Treatment Program).  However, even though Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous are suggested programs for graduates of the drug programs, and are listed in the Psychology Services Program Statement, to my knowledge, most institutions do not focus on making AA/NA meetings available to inmates.

 

CO-OCCURRING (DUAL ) DIAGNOSIS:  In “No Sympathy” that you can read on this blogspot, I reference a 12/02/02, USA TODAY article, “Study:  Treat Addicts Mental Illness.”  Studies show that treating substance abuse and underlying mental disorders help people to not “reoffend,” and thus decrease recidivism rates.

 

BOP policy remains the same (ONE (1) institution offers treatment for those with dual disorders.)

 

FOCAL POINTS:  The current focus in prison reform appears to be on reentry initiatives.  Focusing on recidivism makes sense, since we fuel the system we claim to hate, when we get out and return to make the system grow bigger and stronger.

 

Now if Congress or the President will implement laws or policies to make prison administrators accountable for failure to comply with Congressional directives, things will change.  Until then, corrupt politicians and prison officials will continue to accept bribes from private prison executives and continue to feed mass incarceration in America.

 

______________________________

Visit http://www.straightfromthepen.com and https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy for other writings from Wayne T. Dowdy.  In April 2018, Murder Slim Press published his short story, “Guns, Drugs & Thugs” in THE SAVAGE KICK Magazine.

 

 

 

 

Happy Easter

be blessedHappy Easter to those of you who believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Each of us, believers and unbelievers of the miracle of the resurrection, can use this special day in the Christian faith to pray to a power greater than ourselves and ask for the spirit of forgiveness; to forgive someone who may have offended or harmed us. To do so will help us be free from the pain of resentment, a poison to the soul.

Whether you believe in a power greater than yourself or not, let the day be special by being grateful for the life you have, perfect or not. Just know that you are loved for being who you are, regardless of the way you believe or don’t believe: You don’t have to do anything to receive it, the love is free that flows from a special place in our hearts where the spirit lives. I hope you get to experience love’s pleasure today and everyday. Wayne

MARCH MADNESS

by Wayne T. Dowdy

For the last month, I thought about writing this blog, twisting my mustache as numerous ideas whirled around inside my head: making a minor correction suggested by a reader; praising women in honor of Women’s History Month; updating the halfway house issue; and my plans for StraightFromthePen.org and .net, including my agenda to help reform the failed policies and practices that fuel mass incarceration in America.

womens history month 2018WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH:  On March 27, 2017, I wrote “Women Rule the World” in honor of the wonderful women of the world, whom we all owe our lives.  Please take a moment to read it on https://straightfromthepen.wordpress.com or http://waynedowdy.weebly.com.

BLOGS:  I won’t devote much space to the halfway house issues I wrote about in “Half a Problem” (01/12/18) and the other blog my publisher posted on February 12, 2018:  “The Storm and Valentine’s Day Wish” (The Storm).

Two days after The Storm was posted, seventeen victims died and numerous others were wounded from the blasts of an AR-15, while trying to obtain an education.

valentines day masacreANOTHER VALENTINE’S DAY MASSACRE:  Ironically, as I wrote in the latter post, when I first sent out “A Winter Storm & Valentine’s Day Wish” on February 12, 2014, two days later, an earthquake struck this area.  This time, after posting the modified version of the same story, a mentally-ill young adult permanently affected the lives of the survivors of a school shooting and engrained unpleasant memories on a day for sweethearts and lovers.

THE COWARD WHO POSED AS A PROTECTOR OF THE PEOPLE:  I spent many hours thinking of those innocent children who were murdered at a Florida school, as a coward who posed as a security guard from the Broward County Sheriff’s Department, stood trembling outside the doors of the school as the gunman killed his victims.  I understand that humans experience a paralyzing fear, but for trained professionals, isn’t that when their training is supposed to kick in, putting them on autopilot to perform their heroic deeds?

The one paid to protect the children and their teachers, had lived most of his life.  I don’t understand why he did not risk what remained of his life to help save the lives of those who were just beginning theirs; I’m sure he regrets his inaction on that fatal day.

If one of the world’s most ethical preachers of the gospel had not passed away, I’m sure he, the late Reverend Billy Graham, would have said a prayer and forgave the coward for not protecting those who depended on him to keep the school safe.

US-INTELLIGENCE-POLITICS-RUSSIAHALFWAY HOUSE UPDATE:  I am awaiting a response from the Regional Director on my Administrative Remedy Request (BP-10), of which I mailed a certified copy of to BOP Director, Mark S. Inch, and Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC).  The Honorable Trey Gowdy chaired the Oversight Committee on the BOP’s changes to its Halfway House program.

I invited Director Inch to read my two blogs and then sent a copy of the blogs to Representative Gowdy.  I also wrote, “I refuse to believe that those under you are applying the changes as you intended; if they are, then with all due respect, I feel those policies are an abuse of the discretion provided by Congress in 18 U.S.C. Section 3624(c), Prerelease Custody (Second Chance Act of 2007:  Community Safety Through Recidivism Reduction).”

I do expect to succeed at getting additional time in a halfway house, because as everyone has acknowledged, 119-days is not enough for someone who has been in prison for thirty-years.

The Regional response is due April 5, 2018.  April 5th is the day I stopped using drugs and alcohol in 1995.  I then stopped smoking on that same date in 2004.  A friend said, “If you’re ever going to play the lottery, do it on April 5th.”  🙂  I’ve bought my ticket!

CORRECTION:  One dedicated reader who attended the event I wrote about in “The Storm & Valentine’s Day Wish,” corrected me about who made a statement that the BOP was running out of prisoners because of changes in the law, and policies made by the former President Obama and Attorney General, Eric Holder.

I attributed the comment to having been made by a BOP spokesperson and at a Union meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The event was a conference, not a closed-door meeting, and the speaker was from the Department of Justice, a U.S. Attorney, the reader believed, and not a BOP official.

CONFESSION:  I confess to being tough on the BOP and its officials whom have the task of managing the Federal Bureau of Prisons, often without proper funding, and a lack of desire to fulfill its professed commitment to society to protect it from the nation’s most dangerous criminals.  The BOP claims to accomplish their mission by helping convicted men and women become law-abiding citizens, by offering self-improvement and employment opportunities.

From my viewpoint, that is supposed to occur while its prisoner remain captive inside the depths of the inherently corrupt federal prison system, whose policies and practices are driven, in part, by the influence of private prison companies.  Many of the alleged self-improvement and employment opportunities are items listed on paper and not practiced as required by policy.

Read “The Truth About Incarceration, Part II” for more on the topic of private prison influence on absurd laws and policies.

cropped-cropped-front-cover-art-with-tower.jpgSTRAIGHT FROM THE PEN:  On May 4, 2011, I sent out a post about my ideas for StraightFromthePen to be shared on Facebook.  This is an updated status report to be posted and shared on social media outlets:

At this point, the Straight From the Pen concept is a dream, a plan to gather the people who will help create a social networking system designed to improve the state of affairs.  Prison budgets drain state and federal economies, but more so than that, the prison experience drains life from many and damages the chance of those who wish to succeed after serving time in prison.

Once tarnished by the “Ex-Con” stigma, it makes it difficult to find jobs and people willing to trust an ex-offender and help him or her get on their feet.  Many of those who go to prison lose everything and walk out of the prison gates without any money, family, friends, and a lot of repressed hate and anger that will destroy them and sometimes hurt others who become their victims.

Recidivism rates soar in America:  In one study of prisoners released in 1994, 67.5% of prisoners were re-arrested within 3-years of release.  A recidivist is a person who returns to old behaviors.  Then in the “Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005, Patterns from 2005 to 2010,” on average, 76.6% of state prisoners returned to prison with a new charge.

Federal prisoners fared better than state prisoners.  In an eight year study, “Recidivism Among Federal Offenders:  A Comprehensive Overview” that the United States Sentencing Commission released in 2016, “almost one-half of federal offenders released in 2005 (49.3%) were rearrested for a new crime or rearrested for a violation of supervision conditions.”

In some categories, over 80% returned to prison after release.  The recidivism rate is 80.1% for career criminals who automatically fall in the Criminal History Category of VI by having two prior felony drug and, or violent crime convictions.

THE COST of incarceration in America varies depending on the age and security of prisoners.  In the federal system, those rates average between $31,000 for healthy prisoners, and much higher for most of its aging prisoners.

The cost of my incarceration now runs close to $100,000 per year.  Wouldn’t it be cheaper to free me?

Straight From the Pen hopes to lower those numbers by helping to change the status quo of the criminal justice systems across America and beyond.  Reducing recidivism, crime rates, and the victimization of those who will otherwise fall victim to the recidivist, whether by feeling the pain inflicted from the recidivist or by paying enormous tax rates that supports mass incarceration in America, will make life better for everyone involved.  We can make a difference!

My plan is to find those capable and willing to create two social networking sites called StraightFromthePen.org and StraightFromthePen.net.  The .org will contain links to every state and federal legislature.  Myself or others will draft bills and letters of support on specific issues of interest to society, and demand a vote from the elected officials to support the bills or issues necessary to change the corrupt system fueling mass incarceration.

The participant only has to select the contact information of the legislature, and then click to send the letter or bill of interest, which demands the preferred vote in exchange for another vote during re-election campaigns.

To realize this dream, as the conditions indicate on this date, I need people to handle the technical aspects involved in creating and maintaining the network; some to research issues needed to write effective articles, bills and support letters; others to handle the finances, apply for government grants, receive and channel donations to benefit the organization.

This is the vision for Straight From the Pen:

Straight From the Pen seeks to improve and change the status quo of prison through knowledge and understanding about the beast by enlightening others from the inside of places stereotyped as holding sullen, dejected, and dangerous people.  Through open debate and an honest approach, we seek to reduce recidivism, reduce state and federal deficits, and to help change the lives of its participants.

AGENDA: stimulate discussions and actions on the following topics:

1) Prison Reform;

2) How to Reduce Recidivism;

3) Life on the Inside and Its Effect;

4) Lives Affected by Criminals;

5) Retribution;

6) Laws Leading to Prison;

7) Prison Politics; and

8) Educating Prisoners to Reduce Recidivism and Save Lives.

We can change the mass incarceration rates and the destructive effect of prison with a proactive approach that targets those who make laws and policies.  States such as Georgia, Kansas, and Kentucky have already implemented programs that reduce recidivism, which is proof that we can help to create positive change, but not alone.  We must work together to come up with solutions to improve the quality of life for everyone involved.

(Send suggestions or comments to wtdowdy57@gmail.com or waynedowdy@straightfromthepen.com.  Put SFTP in the subject line.  My response may be slow but I will respond.  For snail mail, send it to Wayne T. Dowdy, #39311-019, Federal Correctional Institution, P.O. Box 725, Edgefield, SC 29824-0725)

Seven years after I began working on Straight From the Pen, I have one of three websites available to help generate funds for the other two (http://www.straightfromthepen.com).  I also have people in my circle who will help realize the Straight From the Pen dream.

Invest in the future:  To support this agenda, purchase eBooks and set the price you wish to contribute on my Smashwords Authors Page at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy, or if you prefer, make donations at GoFundMe (gf/me/u/ba6xjn).

StraightFromthePen.net will provide a platform for a select group of the incarcerated or formerly incarcerated to tell the world their absurd, verifiable stories that lead to unbelievable prison sentences that did not match the crimes.  For instance, one friend received a 40-year federal sentence in Florida for 1-gram of cocaine hydrochloride for personal use, and a .357 magnum cartridge that hung on a keychain.  Many such horror stories live inside the prisons of the world.

I thank you in advance for your time and contributions toward making a difference in the fight for justice.   Wayne

 

Happy Valentine’s Day

happy-valentines-day-for-friends-and-family-1My last blog contained a Happy Valentine’s Day message but I want to make sure each of you know it was meant for you, too, and was not just a part of the blog. 🙂

I do hope each of you get to spend some quality time with the one you love or with someone special, whether that special person is a lover, friend, family member, or pet. 🙂

Providing I live to fight another day, which I highly suspect I will, theoretically, this year will be my last Valentine’s Day spent inside. Maybe I’ll have a special someone for the next Valentine’s Day, maybe not. The main thing is that I will be out of prison to enjoy it as a free man, alone, or with others. Being the stud I am, I’ll probably have someone to call my Sweetheart by then, but who knows? 😉

Enjoy the special day celebrating life as a living, breathing, human being. No matter how screwed up things may seem, know that there are millions of others who’d love to trade places and have your problems. That is something I have to remind myself of when disgruntled because the world isn’t working according to Wayne.

Have a spectacular day and hug the ones you love and tell them how important they are in your life, and know that you are special, too! 🙂 Wayne

waynedowdy@straightfromthepen.com

The Storm & Valentine’s Day Wish

The storm still rages within as I continue my fight for successful reintegration into society at an earlier date than approved. Time will tell if I win an administrative remedy process where I present my argument that 119-days in a Residential Reentry Center (RRC) is not “of sufficient duration to provide the greatest likelihood of successful reintegration into the community.”

As stated in my previous blog (“Half a Problem”), to support my position I rely on Congressional authority stated in 18 U.S.C., Section 3624(c), commonly known as THE SECOND CHANCE ACT OF 2007: COMMUNITY SAFETY THROUGH RECIDIVISM REDUCTION (SCA).

The problem lies is Congress giving discretionary authority to the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons, the “Backwards on Purpose” agency (BOP), who has a vested interest in robust prison populations. I will return to this topic later.

Because some of you may not be interested in the halfway house issue, I will share a slightly modified version of a former writing posted on Facebook and published in February 2014 by the Mission Possible, Words of Hope Ministries newsletter, Charlotte, NC. If you like, find other blogs of interest to read on my blogspot.

If new to this site, use the Search feature to experience a variety of writings: “Women Rule the World”; “Burning Bridges”; “Life Beyond the Obvious”; “Despicable Characters”; “Freedom for Another Friend”; “From Where Do Writers Root”; “Social Media for Writers”; “Love & Evil Are Color-Blind”; “Southern Pride – Waving a Confederate Flag”; “A Job Affair”; “Seeking a Real Job” and many others.

sleet stormWINTER STORM & A VALENTINE’S DAY WISH

A Winter Storm struck the south this morning in Edgefield, South Carolina (02/12/14). I woke to the patter of frozen rain on my window. The air system went off sometime before then and it had gotten real quiet, a rare event in prison.

The power grids in some areas have failed and resulted in power outages but we still have ours; even the air system power has been restored.

For the last few hours, we have gotten light snow mixed with freezing rain. I have stayed inside the living unit. Most of my peers went to go eat breakfast around 8:00 AM, which I rarely go to anyway, so I wasn’t about to go battle the falling, tiny-pieces of ice to trudge across more than five-hundred yards of concrete sidewalks, already frozen and ice-covered, to go eat a breakfast I wouldn’t have went to, even with a cool breeze blowing and a beautiful Red Morning rising sun.

Nature won! 🙂 I wimped out and stayed inside to funnel instant coffee; however, I did man-up to go out and battle the slush for lunch. At any rate, wherever you are at when reading this, I sincerely hope you are safe and warm. I know the storm began for some of you many days ago, while others are enjoying beautiful weather, others needing food and water, but whatever your circumstances are, I do hope you are able to enjoy life and take pleasure in what you have, rather than being discontent because of what is missing in your life that you wished you had but do not.

valentines day image

For those of you fortunate enough to have a special someone in your life, I do hope you have a Happy Valentine’s Day and are able to cuddle up to the one you love in some meaningful way.

For those who don’t have anyone special in your life, know that you are loved by many whom you may not have met, yet. Maybe the winter storm in your life will pass soon and you will find the beauty in life as spring rolls in to replace the cold and troublesome weather. Don’t give up! There is always hope. 🙂 Take care-Wayne

EARTHQUAKE: The winter storm continued for days. Two days after I wrote the above, a 4.1 Earthquake hit Edgefield, SC on Valentine’s Day. I told a friend, “Someone must not have gotten a Valentine’s card.”

SIN CITY
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA: I overheard staff members discussing what was said during an August 2017, Union meeting in Las Vegas. A BOP spokesperson stated, “We are running out of prisoners because of changes made in the law and policies implemented by President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder.”

Some of those policies implemented by the former Attorney General that decreased the prison population, focused on reentry initiatives, and ordering prosecutors to cease the practice of beefing-up criminal charges on defendants to get guilty pleas, as well as to respect state rights by not prosecuting those who grow marijuana in states where it is legal.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is working on solving “that problem” with new policies he has implemented (reversing pot policy), and with assistance from Director Inch, changing BOP halfway house/RRC placement practices, which will increase recidivism.

RECIDIVISM: Read “Recidivism in America” (01/25/17) for more on recidivism and the BOP’s population decline, due, in part, to those policies implemented by the former President and Attorney General (“The B.O.P. began 2017 with 189,333 prisoners, which is substantially less than the 219,298 reported in 2013.”)

On February 8, 2018, the BOP population was 183,447, with 7,149 prisoners in halfway houses, and 2,180 more on home confinement. To show the effect of policy changes by Director Inch, on June 15, 2017, the month before he took control, the halfway house population was 8,848, with 3,559 on home confinement.

HALF A CHANCE: BOP DIRECTOR MARK INCH DISREGARDS PROVISIONS OF THE SECOND CHANCE ACT.

The Honorable Henry R. Wilhoit, Jr., U.S. District Judge, wrote the following about the Second Chance Act in Glenn, Jr. v. Holland, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 127740 (E.D., Ky. 11/03/11):

“The ‘Second Chance Act of 2007’

“The Second Chance Act amends 18 U.S.C. Sections 3621(a) and 3624(c) and requires the BOP staff to review inmates for halfway house placement 17-19 months before their projected release dates.

“The purpose of the Second Chance Act are, in part, to break the cycle of criminal recidivism; to rebuild ties between offenders and their families; to encourage the development and support of programs that enhance public safety and reduce recidivism, such as substance abuse treatment, alternatives to incarceration and comprehensive reentry services; to protect the public and promote law-abiding conduct; to assist offenders reentering the community from incarceration; and to provide offenders in prison … with educational, literacy, vocational, and job placement services to facilitate reentry into the community. See Act, 112 Stat 657. The Second Chance Act requires the BOP to ‘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.’ 18 U.S.C. Section 3624(c).”

Maybe Director Inch hasn’t read the statute, which puts the responsibility on him to accomplish the above. The SCA (18 U.S.C. Section 3624(c), Prerelease Custody) begins with, “The Director of the Bureau of Prisons shall, ….” After I receive the response to my Administrative Appeal (BP-9), I will mail him a copy, which includes a copy of a newsletter by attorney Brandon Sample, who explains the legislative process (NEWS@BRANDONSAMPLE.COM).

BOP MISSION STATEMENT: “The Federal Bureau of Prisons protects society by confining offenders in the controlled environment of prisons and community-based facilities that are safe, humane, and appropriately secure, and which provides work and other self-improvement opportunities to assist offenders in becoming law-abiding citizens.”

The mission statement must have excluded the federal prison administrators that I’ve lived under for almost thirty-years, since I’ve not seen many programs that provide self-improvement opportunities, and since I have struggled with the ones at this institution to have regularly scheduled, self-improvement programs that reduce recidivism; i.e., Twelve Step meetings. And the situation here for 12-Step programs is better than what others report who come from other federal institutions.

Perhaps the BOP mission statement was written before private prison company executives corrupted the criminal justice system with their bribes (contributions) to increase their bottom lines and ensure a robust prison population.

Perhaps one can file under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act to see if the Honorable United States Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, and the Honorable Mark S. Inch, BOP Director, received “contributions” from private prison company executives (e.g., Core Civic and GEO Group), whose influences have lead to laws and policies that increased recidivism at taxpayers’ expense, the same as what is happening with the changed halfway house practices.

Read “Half a Problem” for more on the halfway house issue, and “The Truth About Incarceration, Part II” for more on the corrupt influence of private prison executives on prison authorities and politicians.

OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL REPORT ON BOP HALFWAY HOUSES (https://oig.justice.gov/reports/2016/a1701.pdf):

“The OIG found that, contrary to policy, guidance, and relevant research, BOP is ‘placing the great majority of eligible inmates into RRCs regardless of inmate risk for recidivism or need for transitional services, unless the inmate is deemed not suitable for such placement because the inmate poses a significant threat to the community. As a result, low-risk, low-need inmates are more likely to be placed in RRCs than high-risk, high-need inmates.’

“The numbers tell the story. During the study period, 90% of minimum security and 75% of low security inmates received RRC/home confinement placement. But only 58% of high security level inmates got such placement, while the remaining 42% were released into the community directly from a BOP institution. While the OIG Report conceded that this ‘may be a result of the fact that many of the high security inmates were considered a public safety risk,’ still the Report suggested that because, on average, the high-security inmates were within four months of release anyway, there didn’t seem to be much justification for not sending them to a halfway house, where they (and the community) might benefit from receiving reentry programming.” BOP HALFWAY HOUSE PROGRAM FOUND TO BE DEFICIENT (11/20/16), Legal Information Services Associates newsletter (for free Corrlinks newsletter, send email to newsletter@lisa-legalinfo.com). Visit http://www.lisa-legalinfo.com.

Many of the high-security prisoners released straight into the community, will commit crimes against citizens and return to prison. Providing a reasonable opportunity to prepare for reentry would reduce the numbers of those who do.

In an OIG Report on the BOP Release Preparation Program (RPP), the OIG stated, “Finally, we found that the BOP does not currently collect comprehensive re-arrest data on its former inmates, has no performance metrics to gauge the RPP’s impact on recidivism, and does not currently make any attempt to link RPP efforts to recidivism. We also found that the BOP has not yet completed a recidivism analysis required by the Second Chance Act of 2007. Such analyses would help the BOP know whether the RPP is effectively accomplishing its objective of reducing recidivism.” REVIEW OF THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS RELEASE PREPARATION PROGRAM (09/04/16), Jeremy Gordon Newsletter (info@topfederallawyer.com) Visit http://www.facebook.com/gordondefense.

The BOP first must want to decrease recidivism. Remember the Backwards on Purpose agency, whose “[a]ctions speak so loud I can’t hear a word of what [they] say.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The new halfway house policy lead to one man here, a recidivist who served 12-years, to receive 12-DAYS in an RRC. Another man served 14-years and received 28-DAYS. Considering that Congress extended the permissible RRC placement period from 6-to-12 months to decrease recidivism, shortening that period will increase recidivism.

THE STORM RAGES ON.
______________________________________
Wayne T. Dowdy writes at http://www.straightfromthepen.com/blog & waynedowdy.weebly.com. Purchase his paperbacks and eBooks to support these blogs. Visit his Author’s Page at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy to purchase eBooks.

 

 

 

 

 

Legal Information Services Associates; Brandon Sample, Jeremy Gordon; Halfway House, Residential Reentry Center; Second Chance Act; Core Civic, GEO Group, private prisons, Jeff Sessions, Bureau of Prisons, Office of Inspector General,

 

 

 

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

______________________________________

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