by Wayne T. Dowdy
November 26, 2016: Cuban immigrants party in the streets of Little Havana in Miami, Florida;
November 9, 2016: Protests in America over the election of President-elect, Donald Trump;
November 8, 2016: Television Privileges Restored & Gone Again.
CELEBRATING THE DEATH OF A DICTATOR: On November 25, 2016, at 10:30 PM, EST, Raul Castro announced the death of his older brother. Fidel Castro died at the age of ninety from natural causes, rather than as some would have preferred, by some excruciating means in compensation for the pain and misery he imposed upon the people of Cuba.
Cuban immigrants and Cuban Americans partied in the streets of Little Havana to celebrate the death of Fidel Castro, whose regime tortured and murdered thousands of men and women; especially, his political opponents. His henchmen cut off a testicle of one man, an atrocious act of cruelty, but not the worst he committed against Cuban peoples, only one that portrays the nature and evils of Castro’s torture techniques.
PRISONER RETURNS: In 1993 a prison guard at the United States Penitentiary (U.S.P.) in Leavenworth, Kansas, claimed to have assisted the U.S. Marshal Service in the return of Cuban exiles to Cuba. What happened shocks the senses on one level, but does not when considering that it occurred in the regime of a dictator.
Cuban soldiers directed the plane to an area where stood a tall, concrete wall. U.S. Marshals escorted the bound and chained prisoners into the hands of the soldiers.
The soldiers committed the return of the hardware and then lead the load of prisoners behind the wall. A barrage of gunfire erupted moments later.
The guard said, “When the soldiers returned the leg shackles and handcuffs, there was blood all over them. Then they said for us to bring them more prisoners.”
I am not aware of America returning any others to Cuba for execution by firing squad.
Perhaps Castro’s treatment of returned Cuban citizens influenced a prison riot at U.S.P. Atlanta in 1986. Cuban prisoners took hostages at the prison and then burned buildings, including the factory owned and operated by the Federal Prison Industries, Inc. (UNICOR), a UNIque CORPoration.
TRUMP ON CASTRO & CUBA: CNN reported on November 27, 2016, that President-elect Trump spoke out against the atrocities of Castro committed against Cubans. Castro has been out of power for ten years.
President-elect Trump expressed a desire to have better relations with Cuba. His message gave me hope that he will not unravel what President Obama started–a campaign to restore U.S. and Cuban relations. Afterwards, the Rolling Stones performed a concert and recorded an album in Havana.
TELEVISIONS & THE ELECTION: In “Politics & Prisons,” I predicted the Presidential Election would be over before my blog posted, and that we would not be allowed to watch the election because some prisoners had had the nerve to violate prison rules. I erred, twice.
My publisher/friend posted the blog the day before the Election. Then the Criminal Keeper restored television privileges in time for everyone to watch the controversial election of Donald Trump.
November 28, 2016: Now all television are on the same Black & Beautiful channel again. Another scoundrel broke the darn rules. Surprisingly, no one reported him to authorities. People do confess the sins of others to avoid confessing their own.
I suspect some prisoners expect him to “do the right thing” by owning up to his evil, wicked ways. Someone will most likely assist him before it’s over. No one confessed to the crime of stashed homemade wine; no one confessed on his behalf. In prison and life in general, the right thing to do is a matter of perspective.
Taking a bullet for a cause may be the right thing: dodging the bullet may be a better option. Bullets hurt like hell.
Personally, I went over 3 1/2-years at U.S.P. Atlanta without watching T.V. more than three or four times, and then for only brief periods, so I am not concerned with televisions. I am concerned with laws and matters that “really” affect the lives of others.
I change programs when my options change. Maybe we all need a moment of meditation to reflect on what we have in life.
PEACEFUL TRANSITION: On November 10, 2016, CNN covered the first meeting between President Obama and President-elect Trump. After a surprising one and a half hour meeting, both men appeared in good spirits and indicated a positive transformation of power and the unification of our Nation. A unified nation is a wonderful concept!
Mr. Trump commented that President Obama was a good man and that he would be speaking with him and seeking his advice a lot during the transition of power. I hope he spoke his true feelings and not just something that sounds good.
VOTES THAT AFFECTED PRISONERS
The following clears prisoner misconceptions about political events that restricted or abolished certain rights and privileges. Source: 2009 WORLD ALMANAC & BOOK OF FACTS.
98th Congress (1983-1985)
Under Republican President Ronald Reagan, Republicans controlled the Senate and Democrats controlled the House of Representatives. Republicans and Democrats alike passed the Sentence Reform Act of 1984 (SRA) that abolished federal parole and required federal prisoners to serve 85% of their sentences. The federal government forced the same measure on states by withholding federal funding if states refused to require prisoners to serve 85% of their sentences.
Ronald Reagan did not sign the bill. The SRA was attached as a Rider to a Senate Appropriations Bill that automatically went into effect after ten days.
104th Congress (1995-97)
Under Democratic President Bill Clinton, a Republican Senate and House majority passed the Anti-terrorism, Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), which restricted post-conviction relief for federal and state prisoners. The bill passed in a hurry after the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Federal Office Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Timothy McVeigh pulled a truck in front of the Federal building. He allegedly killed 168-people after he parked the rental truck and detonated the explosives in retaliation of the United States’ raid of the Branch Dravidian compound near Waco, Texas.
Under the guidance of former Attorney General, Janet Reno, military weapons were used against American citizens on April 19, 1993. More than seventy members of the Branch Dravidian compound perished when two Army tanks crashed into opposite sides of a building before firing combustible gas canisters that exploded when the gases mixed. The building caught afire and burned men, women, and children to death. Those were sad days in American history.
Bill Clinton signed the AEDPA into law; however, even if he had not, a three-quarters majority vote would have overrode a presidential veto.
PROTESTS IN AMERICA: After the results of the 2016 Presidential Election flooded the news channels, thousands of citizens protested in American cities; most protests were peaceful, but some did erupt into violence that caused damage to property. Police tear-gassed crowds but did not shoot anyone. Miracles happen!
In the paraphrased words of Rodney King, “Why can’t we all just get along?”
On April 29, 1992, fifty-three people died during a major riot in Los Angeles, California, after a jury acquitted four L.A. Police officers on all but one count. Video footage showed the police beating motorist Rodney King. The violent protest caused millions of dollars in damage, a lot of which was due to some rioters using the event as an opportunity to loot stores and other businesses. At least the Trump Protest did not spark such violence and destruction.
RED NATION: The Red now reign in America. Not Native American red, whose plight still continues in North Dakota as they fight to keep and protect land from contamination by an oil pipeline. The Government gave their land back and forced them to live on the reservation, and now some corporation wants to use the land for profit.
History repeats itself. Pale Face spoke with forked tongue again if the intrusion upon Native American land prevents the people from keeping their water free from contamination.
The nation is Republican Red. Republicans control the House, Senate and Presidency. Perhaps the Do-Nothing-Congress will do something positive. Rebuilding the infrastructure seems to be what most Americans want. That will help the economy grow and provide more jobs. Huh, I seem to recall that President Obama wanted to do the same thing? Congress would not cooperate with him for some reason. I bet they will cooperate with President-elect Trump.
Prison Reform will likely happen. Sentencing Reform will probably stall. Maybe not. If those For-Profit-Prisons would just stop bribing politicians to vote against it, it might pass.
The Election results made private prison stocks soar the following day: stock in the largest for-profit-prison, Correctional Corporation of America (CCA), jumped forty-three percent; the second largest, GEO Group, jumped twenty-four percent. GEO Group contributed $45,000 to Donald Trumps’ campaign as I wrote in “Reentering Reality,” October 6, 2016.
To understand why the stocks jumped, read “The Truth About Incarceration, Part II” by Wayne T. Dowdy that shows the influence of For-Profit-Prisons on mass incarceration rates and “Tough-on-Crime” policies and practices.
CCA announced plans to invest in halfway houses. Maybe their legislative bribes will lead to the reinstatement of federal parole to boost their halfway house division profits. The immigration division is booming with Republicans dominating the government.
LOVE: The only short story in ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN is “The Lonely Spirit.” One reader commented that he thought that the word play I used was my best.
The story is an usual love story. I will give you a peek into its opening. Purchase it as part of the collection in paperback or eBook (http://www.straightfromthepen.com), or as an individual essay from my Smashwords author’s page (https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy) or at Amazon.kindle. Taser lost his true love and went on a mission to find her, after his death. This is where it begins: THE LONELY SPIRIT by Wayne T. Dowdy
“Lana and I looked over the edge at the wave crashing against the rocks, two hundred feet below. My right hand rested on the curve of her delicate waist and adorable hips. The July sun scorched our skin as an ocean breeze brought the salty smell of seaweed and dead fish to our nostrils. Several seagulls and pelicans rode the waves; some of the pelicans dived for fish, while other seagulls squawked as they soared above and surfed the convection currents. I stepped away from her and began a journey into another life.
Lana looked lovelier than ever in her golden string bikini. “Don’t do it Taser,” she said.
I gave her my cross-eyed look, then gulped the contents of my last beer before I smashed its emerald green bottle on the rocks ten feet away. Lana arched her eyebrows and glared at me as she usually did when I frustrated her with my false bravado. I burped, smiled, jumped. The water below was hard and merciless when I hit, arms stretched forward. Soaring through the stream of bubbles created by the crashing waves, my arms gave into the pressure before my head struck a sharp rock. I floated to the top, unconscious; only for a moment, though. The two hundred foot fall was too far, the water too shallow, the waves too rough, my life too short. My body sank beneath the waves and was smashed against the rocks and covered in seaweed. I watched as the wind carried me away to some other phase of existence. Where I went, I do not know. It’s a place where only spirits can go. I saw the Earth, foreign stars, unknown galaxies, different universes, beauty beyond imagination, the true paradise visited only in dreams and fantasies. I left to look for lovely Lana, my life, my dream, my love.”
Wayne T. Dowdy writes Straight From the Pen. Visit and click to “Like” his blogs on straightfromthepen.wordpress.com. Purchase his books online or at your favorite bookstore. Order by mail from Midnight Express Books, P.O. Box 69, Berryville, AR 72616 (email: MEBooks1@yahoo.com).