Category Archives: Current Affairs

REENTRY PLANS & A FRIEND MOVES ON

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

*****

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

*****

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

*****

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

*****

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

guitar 2

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BREAKING NEWS

trump and kim

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is from my ACT WorkKeys Skill Report:

WorkKeys Graphic Literacy:

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

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

* Compare two or more pieces of information

* Identify a trend/pattern/relationship

* Make an inference or decision

* Identify the graphic that accurately represents the data

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

* Compare two or more trends/patterns/relationships

* Interpret a trend/pattern/relationship

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

* Justify an inference or decision based on information

* Identify the most effective graphic given a defined purpose

* Justify the most effective graphic given a defined purpose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_________________________________________________

Wayne T. Dowdy writes at StraightFromthePen.com.

WAR and REENTRY

guard stand barbed wire fenceby Wayne T. Dowdy

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JOBS quality assurance inspector IN Atlanta, GA

JOBS quality control inspector IN Atlanta, GA

JOBS quality inspector IN Atlanta, GA

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

For Jobs of interest, I sent these:

FIND Delta Airlines IN Atlanta, GA

FIND Department of Transportation IN Atlanta, GA.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

________________________________

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

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, CORRECTIONS & REENTRY

happy mothers dayby Wayne T. Dowdy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Are you clean now?” he asked.

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

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

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

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

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

CHANGES

By Wayne T. Dowdy

Dowdy storm 1

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Dowdy P Trump

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

DONALD J. TRUMP

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

______________________________

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

 

 

 

 

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.