Category Archives: Current Affairs

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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

PRISONERS

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

 

_______________________________

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

LIFE INSIDE

by Wayne T. Dowdy

mass shootings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Memorandum:  October 30, 2017

“Subject:  Incoming Inmate Correspondence

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

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

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

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

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

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

______________________________________

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

Out of Many

human genome for WDowdyby Wayne T. Dowdy

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

More quotes from the article will be revealed!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

***

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“Don’t try to change other people.

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

 

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

 

“Don’t try to change the system.

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

 

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

 

“Don’t spend your life protesting.

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

______________________________

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

UNCIVIL WARS

by Wayne T. Dowdy

 

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

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

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

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

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

abc news Charlottesville

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

____________________________

Wayne T. Dowdy writes at StraightFromthePen.com.

Mothers & Memorial Days by Wayne T. Dowdy

happy mothers day

TO THE MOTHERS OF THE WORLD:  Two years ago on May 8, 2015, I sent out a message to have posted on FaceBook.  My publisher read and liked it so much that she decided to post it as a blog for me.  This is what I wrote:

 

“Happy Mother’s Day to all you wonderful women out there who gave your blood and suffered unbearable amounts of pain to give life to the children you brought forth into this thing we call life.  Not to mention all you gave of yourself to raise your children the best way you could by giving them what you had been given.  May those close to you show the same amount of love on your special day.”

 

To all you Mother’s out there who do or do not follow my blogs, I resubmit to you the same feelings wrapped in words.  Each of you deserve praise for the sacrifices you make for your offspring and loved ones.  I decided to repost it when a friend of mine let me know he planned to plagiarize it last week, after having read a collection of my blogs.

 

In “Women Rule the World” (March 27, 2017), I used a bear to illustrate that women are the stronger and more intelligent of the human species.  We owe our lives to our mothers, whether she was the best or the worst, she chose not to “abort” the mission of bringing us into this world.  For those who did not read it, I will share a version of my favorite parts that caused the audience to erupt into laughter when I presented it at a special to celebrate Women’s History Month.

 

“I am Wayne T. Dowdy, a son, father, grandfather, brother, and an uncle, all the products of a woman, my Mother.

 

“The strength I saw in her and many other women has convinced me that the biggest deception in life began when an intelligent woman convinced man that he was the strongest.

 

“Yeah, right!  She says, go fight that bear to protect me, honey.  Bring me his meat and we will eat.  The man risks his life to please and feed her. …..

 

[Men do insane things to please women, some rob banks, write bad checks or worse to win them over.]

 

“The birth process is evidence of a woman’s strength.  Most men would not dare to suffer so much pain to give life, if given the option.  No, he is too weak for that kind of pain.

 

“Our species would not have survived if man carried the burden of birth.  He may go fight a bear to please her and to feed their children, but he dare not to endure such pain for nine months.

 

[Of course, there are those “males” who would love to get pregnant and become rich, but most men I know would mandate prophylactics (rubbers), not because of the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, but because of the risk of pregnancy.]

 

“Additional evidence lies in the fact that in long-term marriages, if the woman dies first, the man is soon to follow.  If the man dies first, the woman keeps on going to nurture her offspring for generations.

 

“My mother outlived and buried three husbands.  …..

 

“Yes, maybe most men are physically stronger than most women are; however, the facts show women rule the world.  Evidence also suggests that she is more intelligent.  If she wasn’t, she’d be the one to go fight that darn bear to feed her family while the man stayed home with their children.”

 

It made me happy to be able to help others have a pleasant day.  A Psychologist who was present thanked me as I was leaving.  She said, “You had us laughing so hard we had to hold our sides.”  🙂

 

MOTHERS & GOD GIVE LIFE:  Both parents may have enjoyed the process of putting us children into our mother’s belly, but it was she who suffered the pain of childbirth that allowed us to grow into the person we became in life.  The formation of our life was under her and God’s control.

 

HIT & RUN:  Some fathers hit and run and left the mothers to bear the pain all alone.  Single parent mothers made even more personal sacrifices to get us the life we now have.

 

If you know any single parents (male or female), who has children at home, give them a hug and offer to help care for their children long enough for them to go out and get some time alone or time with friends.  Everyone needs a break, sometimes!

*****

confederate flag

REMEMBERING REBELS:  Confederate Memorial Day is April 25, 1866, that is, depending on who you chose to believe.  Various dates and places exists as to where Memorial Day originated.  The same is true about which group of people began the day of remembrance for the soldiers who died during America’s most gruesome war.  Civil War history is convoluted.

 

The United Daughters of the Confederacy kept memories alive of the Civil War, by raising funds to have monuments constructed to honor soldiers who died during a period of American history that America’s government wishes to forget.

 

No government likes rebels.  Those darn rebels had the nerve to create their own government, and even worse, to make their own money.  How dare those darn Rebels!  Disgusting Rebels!

monument being removed in NO

ERASING HISTORY:  In New Orleans, Louisiana, local government is in the process of trying to remove memories of the Civil War by removing various Civil War monuments.

 

On April 24, 2017, “Workers dismantled an obelisk, which was erected in 1891 to honor members of the Crescent City White League who in 1874 fought in the Reconstruction-era Battle of Liberty Place against the racially integrated New Orleans police and state militia, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a statement.”  The New York Times, “New Orleans Begins Removing Confederate Monuments, Under Police Guard” by Christopher Mele (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/24/us/new-orleans-confederate-statute.html?_r=0).

 

Plans exist to remove other statutes/monuments.  The list includes a bronze statute of General Robert E. Lee, an equestrian statute of P.G.T. Beauregard, a Confederate General, and a statute of Jefferson Davis, who was the president of the Confederacy.  Even the monument of President Andrew Jackson is at risk.

 

Removing the obelisk is more understandable than removing the other monuments; especially, statutes of real men whose family linage and heritage is rooted; e.g., Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, P.G.T. Beauregard, and President Andrew Jackson.

 

More of those darn rebels protested when workers and officials attempted the removal of Jefferson Davis’ monument on May 1, 2017.  Five people were arrested; the removal process put on hold.

old glory

MEMORIAL DAY:  The celebrated federal Memorial Day is the last Monday of each May.  Supposedly, Memorial Day got its start when a group of women put flowers on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers.  Regardless of whether they fought for the North or the South, those Civil War soldiers gave their lives fighting for their country, as has all other soldiers before and after the Civil War.

 

It is a disgrace for those in power to attempt to eradicate a part of history.

 

IMPORTANT DATES:  A misconception pumped into today’s society is that the primary “cause” of the American Civil War was to free the slaves.  Don’t mistake what I write.  I do not like what happened in America during the days of slavery.  No human being deserved to be mistreated the way some slaves were, not even terrorists.

 

I write that to stress my point:  I do not like Terrorist cowards or predators who kill or injure innocent people because of their ideological belief.  Terrorist deserve to experience extreme amounts of pain for repayment of their acts.  But to treat them the way they deserve to be treated, would make us no better than them.  In my opinion, it would be more humane to execute them rather than torture them to death, as they deserve.

 

PROOF OF HISTORICAL DECEPTION:  “On July 20, 1862, John Hay, Lincoln’s private secretary, predicted in a letter that the president ‘will not conserve slavery much longer.’  Two days later, Lincoln, wearing his familiar dark frock coat and speaking in measured tones, convened his cabinet in his cramped White House office, upstairs in the East Wing.  He had said, ‘dwelt much and long on the subject’ of slavery.  Lincoln then read aloud a 325-word first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation, intended to free slaves in Confederate areas not under United States authority.”  Louis P. Masur, “Forever Free.”

 

After writing the draft, President Lincoln was faced with another problem:  “One of the weightiest questions was whether significant numbers of Union soldiers would refuse to fight in a war whose purpose was not only to preserve the Union but also to end slavery.  ‘How Will the Army Like the Proclamation?’ trumpeted a headline in the New York Tribune.'”  Smithsonian magazine, January 2013, “Forever Free” by Louis P. Masur.

 

If the Civil War was about freeing the slaves, President Lincoln would not have had that concern and the article would not have appeared in the New York Tribune.

 

Lincoln later “[o]pened the ranks of the Army to blacks, who until then had served only in the Navy.”  He had to do that to get slaves to help the Union fight the Confederate rebels who were kicking their ass on the battle field.

 

Lincoln did not write the draft of the Emancipation Proclamation until 464-days after the Civil War began on April 12, 1861.  That proves that the American Civil War was not fought to free the slaves.  At least, it did not begin with freeing the slaves on the agenda, only later was it added.

 

Slave labor allowed the Southern plantation owners to undercut the Northerners in the Cotton market, the same argument presented today by politicians about the Federal Prison Industries, Inc. using inmate labor to produce goods and services, which raises a question of whether the practice violates the Federal Fair Trade and Practice Act (?).  (I will write a blog to cover that issue in the future.)

 

The Emancipation Proclamation was not signed until January 1, 1863; 165-days after Lincoln wrote the draft on July 20, 1862, which gave freedom to slaves across America, including those in the North.  In other words, wealthy Northerners still had slaves when the war began in the South.

 

The most liked blog of mine is “Southern Pride-Waving a Confederate Flag” (July 6, 2015).  As stated, “If the Civil War was fought over slavery, wouldn’t President Lincoln have signed the Emancipation Proclamation to free all slaves before the war began on April 12, 1861, instead of on January 1, 1863?  Weren’t the slaves used by the president to fight off Confederate forces who had proved to be a more formidable force than expected by slaughtering his troops in numerous battles?  Yes, is the most logical answer based upon the facts and history of the rich using the poor to fight their battles.”

 

What would the Mothers of Civil War soldiers think if they could see what is going on today about the war that claimed the lives of their sons?   We should, as a society, honor those who gave their lives to defend our country, even if their lives were lost fighting a war within the United States of America.

 

Feel free to share this post.  For more on the Civil War, and excerpts from THE LAST CONFEDERATE COIN by S.G. Garwood and Dr. Jonathan Jackson, visit thelastcharlestonconfederate.weebly.com.

 

_________________________________________

Wayne T. Dowdy writes at StraightFromthePen.com.  Send comments to waynedowdy@straightfromthepen.com, or by writing him at Wayne T. Dowdy, #39311-019, P.O. Box 725, Edgefield, SC 29824-0725

Burning Bridges

by Wayne T. Dowdy

Some terms I use in this blog may be offensive, even though that is not my intent. Political correctness isn’t my cup of tea.  If you are sensitive and feel offended by terms that appear insensitive, please read some of my other blogs. I have a variety to choose from, including some of which stick in my mind:  “From Where Do Writers Root”; “Social Media for Writers”; “Vacation in Prison”; “The Truth About Incarceration”; “Gratitude & More”; “A Spiritual Journey”; “Love & Evil Are Color Blind”; “Southern Pride: Waving a Confederate Flag”; “We Are the Cancer”; “No Sympathy”; “Reentering Reality.”

burning bridge

BURNING BRIDGES: Metaphorically, I burned down many bridges during the early years of my life. I am sure many others will identify with burning down metaphorical bridges; especially, those with a history of drug abuse, alcoholism, and criminal lifestyles.

When a person reaches out to help someone and gets taken advantaged of or injured in the process, a bridge gets torched. Today I work on constructing bridges rather than burning them.

CRACKHEAD: I use the term “crackhead” to paint an image of someone who commits an act or says something that defies logic or doesn’t make sense. The way I use crackhead, it does not necessarily have to do with someone who smokes crack, though most crack smokers do qualify for what the term denotes that others coined for their behavior.

I often say, “He smoked one too many crack rocks.” I do not mean for it to be demeaning, insulting, or belittling, though it sometimes is. I also apply the term to some who never seen a crack rock, whose actions warrant the label.

In this blog, I refer to a person as a crackhead but cannot say he ever smoked crack, even though the media reported that he did. His extensive criminal record helps show he’s a crackhead, regardless of whether he smoked crack; however, he is innocent of the alleged crimes until proven guilty.

Addicts, alcoholics, and criminals burn more bridges in a year than can be built in a thousand. But one crackhead in Atlanta, Georgia, stands accused of burning a bridge so big that locals will remember its burning more so than the telling of General Sherman terrorizing the City during the Civil War, when he marched through it on September 1, 1864, burning buildings to the ground.

TRAITOR OR WISE MAN: When General William Tecumseh Sherman marched through Atlanta, he spared the Peters’ house, an Antebellum era mansion that rests on a city block.

Because of General Sherman’s mercy, I lived in a real mansion for a while. I posthumously thank him for sparing his torch on such a beautiful house.

I reckon I also forgive Mr. Peters for being a traitor when he helped the invaders. I thank him, too, for leaving behind his mansion for me to live in. Well, maybe he didn’t leave it just for me, but because he did leave it behind, I did get to capitalize on his kindness and successful lifestyle, even if just for a moment.

Peters Mansion from Ponce De Leon Ave

A HISTORICAL MANSION IN ATLANTA: “The Mansion” sat on a small hill, surrounded by concrete sidewalks on Myrtle Street, Piedmont Ave., Ponce de Leon Ave., and North Ave. The only other structure on the block was a tiny flower shop called Love for Sale that sat on the corner of Myrtle Street and Piedmont Avenue.

Sherman spared the mansion because of the hospitality shown to him and his soldiers by Mr. Peters.

The Mansion sat up the road from “The Bridge,” allegedly burned down by a crackhead. (Read below for “A CRACKHEAD AND A BURNING BRIDGE.”)

LESS KNOWN ATLANTA HISTORY: In December of 1971, I helped five other “residents” restore the Peters’ Mansion before Dante, the owner of Down the Hatch in Underground Atlanta, bought it for one and a half million dollars to turn into one of Atlanta’s famous restaurants, appropriately named, “The Mansion.”

CHRYSALIS: “a pupa of a butterfly : … : a sheltered state or stage of being or growth.” Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed.

All six residents (three boys and three girls), were adolescent addicts and juvenile delinquents. We were the first members to join Chrysalis–a residential drug program–created by Bob Griffith, who managed to get use of the Mansion to start the program. Three volunteer staff members assisted him at providing us with unconditional love to help us gain control of our lives, to help us change its direction.

I rejected their love and failed. At fourteen-years dumb, as is common for anyone that age who thinks they have all the answers, my decision making ability suffered. Spiritually, I lacked honesty, humility, and the willingness to follow directions, three major components for recovery.

I rebelled against authority and aborted the mission after four months, to go on to spend most of my life confined in correctional facilities, designed to contain and break my rebellious spirit; all of which failed until I became willing to change.

CHANGES: Two and a half decades later, I became teachable and God put people in my life that taught me how to change and to live my life without the use of drugs, alcohol, and criminal behavior.

BAD NEWS:  After three months of intense work at restoring the Mansion, Bob gave us the bad news: Someone bought it.

The place was paradise in the city, with its state-of-the-art, architectural design, and towering oak trees that shaded the yard. As I recall, it had a sun porch, a screened in sun room that sat above the main entrance; turret-like balconies at every upstairs window; spacious rooms, including a massive living room with a wall mirror that span at least fifteen feet across the living room wall; and a stair case, made from red oak that we polished daily.

On the outside, sat a carriage house where the stable buck once lived to care for the horses kept below; a garage to store and service a Model A Ford, and a beautiful swimming pool that we scrubbed for weeks to restore. That list does not include the many parts and features of the mansion that I do not have the architectural vocabulary to describe.

As a gesture of goodwill for buying the house we had grown to love, Dante invited us to Down the Hatch. We accepted his offer. He then treated us to chocolate and cheese fondue.  He even gave us a taste of his most expensive wine, which was far too bitter for my cheap taste. I’d been more happy with Boones Farm Strawberry Hill or Wild Mountain Grape. But I did appreciate his kindness and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of a lifestyle I had not known.

After the sale, Chrysalis moved to a less-attractive house on Boulevard Avenue, near the Atlanta City Zoo. By then, I had walked out the door of The Mansion to abscond from justice.

I was a “Wanted Child,” on the run from the law, a young thug out of control. Read ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN by Wayne T. Dowdy for inspirational stories that prove people change.

I burned a bridge when I walked away from Chrysalis. I was rearrested several weeks later.

I only agreed to go there to avoid returning to the Youth Development Center (YDC). Yes, returning. At fourteen, the judge sentenced me to an indefinite term of confinement for a violation of the Georgia Drug Abuse Act, theft by taking motor vehicle, and burglary.

BURNED BRIDGES: I did seven months at the YDC in Augusta, Georgia, before I got arrested again for drug-related offenses, within six weeks of my release.

Betty R., a beautiful social worker assigned to my case, stuck her neck out to get me in Chrysalis. “Everyone warned me not to help you because I would get burned,” she said.

I did not intentionally burn her, but I did. My history proved I burned bridges.

CRACK PIPE: I sympathize with a 39-year-old man, who allegedly burned down the only “real” bridge I know of being torched by someone smoking crack cocaine. I hope the burning bridge leads to him getting help to regain control of his life before the pipe takes him to his death.

I smoked crack in 1988 before my arrest and do not condemn anyone who smokes crack or does drugs. I would be condemning myself because that was me. I feel regret for those who chose not to seek help and do what it takes to change their lives; however, I understand their reluctance to try changing.

I failed thousands of times before I got it right in 1995. I feared failure and success. My lack of self-esteem kept me from feeling I deserved success. I was double-cursed!

FLAWED THEORY: Crack wasn’t strong enough for me. All it ever made me do was to want powder cocaine to inject into my arm. The government’s theory of the crack-cocaine-epidemic, used to support severe penalties for crack cocaine offenders, was flawed in relation to the dangers of smoking crack. If an addict injected a quarter GRAM of 86% pure, cocaine hydrochloride (powder), he or she would likely die, whereas, if he or she smoked a quarter OUNCE of crack, they’d only want more.

A CRACKHEAD AND A BURNING BRIDGE: Thursday, March 30, 2017: three homeless people entered a restricted area under Interstate 85 to smoke crack cocaine. A fence with a shabby gate surrounded the restricted area, where the city stored construction materials, in particular, a “conduit made from high-density polyethylene, used to protect fiber-optic cables.”  Three hours later the bridge above Piedmont Avenue collapsed. [The Atlanta Journal & Constitution, April 2, 2017.]

Affidavits show Basil E., the thirty-nine-year-old, decided to smoke all the crack without sharing. As the other two were leaving, Barry T. claimed to have seen Basil start a fire. That does not mean Basil did.

Before leaving Basil with his crack pipe, Barry T., said he saw the crackhead put a chair on top of a shopping cart and set it on fire.

QUESTIONS: Could Barry T. have said the above because he was angry at Basil for refusing to smoke the crack with him?  Possible. Could Barry T. have started the fire and blamed it on Basil because of the anger? Also possible.

People will tell lies to retaliate!

(I only use first names to protect anonymity, already exposed by the press.) Basil, reportedly homeless for 15-years, had been arrested 19-times, mostly on drug charges in Fulton County, since 1995.

I celebrate April 6, 1995, because that is the day I began a life of sobriety.

According to CNN, Basil’s arrests were for drugs, battery, assault and other charges. “An April 2014 mugshot shows [Basil] after he was arrested for charges related to the sale and trafficking of cocaine.”

For the bridge, law enforcement officials charged him with criminal damage to property and first degree arson. If convicted, he will go to prison because he refused to give up the crack pipe and allowed it to reek havoc on his life.

I understand. I acted like a crackhead, too, when I walked out of Chrysalis in 1972. I did so even more as an adult when I knew I had a serious drug problem and didn’t try to fight it.

Back then, I didn’t have the strength or courage to do what I needed to change.  Only by the grace of God did I survive long enough to do so. My existence proves people can change.

An anonymous person told the AJ&C that Basil went to a 12-Step program and got kicked out because he became disruptive. I wasn’t there so I don’t know if he was wrong or if the members were wrong for not practicing more love and tolerance, as the program requires.

With him knowing where to find help, I know he can change if he makes the decision to do so. It is a decision I hope he and others make who are suffering from the disease of addiction. Build a bridge to those willing to help.  Show respect by following the path to a better life.  My prayers are with you.

The burning of The Bridge inconvenienced the lives of 250,000 daily travelers. Drug addiction kills more. If you have problem with substance abuse or alcoholism, consider contacting Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous.

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Wayne T. Dowdy writes StraightFromthePen.  Purchase ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN ($8.95) for more of his writings in relation to his life.  If you do not have access to online distributors, or prefer not to make online purchases, order your copy from Midnight Express Books, P.O. Box 69, Berryville, AR 72616 (E-mail:  MEBooks1@yahoo.com)

​POLITICS, DEATH AND LOVE

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.”

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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).