Category Archives: My Life as a Free Man

REENTERING SOCIETY

by Wayne T. Dowdy

When my day comes in the near future, I will be approaching the free society like the Columbia Space Shuttle reentering the atmosphere without all of its protective tiles, or like a meteor heading straight for a collision course with the earth:  I will burn up because of the friction created in the atmosphere of society, caused by my reentry into a distant world of free citizens, unless I proceed with caution and the protection of knowledge, draped in a determination to succeed against the odds.

I must remain constantly aware of the transitional aspect of my journey and how I am affected by all that has changed since my departure three decades ago.  Upon my reentry into a time-warp-zone, I will fail to become a productive member of society if I do not take advantage of the available help now available to prisoners, which will help me ease into a normal life, whatever a normal life may be “out there.”

After my release, death will be inevitable but I will have a choice on whether it will come to me while I am a free man, or as a recidivist who returns to prison because of his thug lifestyle, or as a drug addict who dies because of his addiction and lifestyle, or as a man who fought to change and succeed at changing his life.  My choice is the latter.

COVER.inddIn “No Sympathy” I wrote about my transition into society after serving seven years in the State of Georgia’s prison system and my eventual return to prison (recidivism).  I use my experience to show others that it did not have to be that way:  I did not have to return to prison.  I made choices that led me to where I now write.  I use my story to promote change in a broken criminal justice system and am pleased to see that some of the issues I pushed for over the years have come into existence.

In May 2015, I had my publisher to send Georgia Governor, Nathan Deal, an email for me and an electronic copy of my blog (“Snake vs. Politics,” 03/13/15).  In my blog, in the section subtitled, “Political Promises & Incarceration,” I praised Governor Deal for what he had done and planned to do in the Georgia Criminal Justice system and its prison system.  I know his action will lead to favorable results; e.g., his creating re-entry programs for those released from prison and juvenile diversion programs to stop the flow of juveniles becoming career offenders.

In another essay I wrote and then posted on my blogs (The Truth About Incarceration, Part II); in a subtitled section, “Reentry & Recidivism,” I wrote about the Honorable Eric Holder, former U.S. Attorney General and President Obama for creating reentry initiatives to help ex-offenders find employment, treatment for drug, alcohol problems and mental health issues.

Those reentry initiatives are more of what I pushed for and know will have a positive impact on the lives of those released from prison, as well as for American society as a whole.  (We are all a part of “one,” whether we want to be or not.)  I cried out for all of that in “No Sympathy” when I revised it in June 2014 before I put it in my personal magazine (ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN) and posted it online as an eBook and then on my blog for everyone to read for free.

I have written other blogs that mention recidivism rates and my experiences over the years that will increase my chances of getting out and staying out when released.  Some blogs contain humorous parts but still draw attention to important issues.

In “Rain, Blogs, Frogs & Politics” (November 3, 2015), and in “Vacation in Prison” (April 8, 2015), I wrote about my position in the Federal Prison Industries (trade name UNICOR).  My experiences and skills learned in the organization will help me to secure employment upon release.  I have been fortunate to have obtained legal skills foreign to most prisoners.

Then in “Teaching Cons New Tricks–Creative Writing and Q.A. Apprenticeship Program” (April 15, 2015), I did the same (wrote about skills learned to help me reintegrate into society).

UNICOR is a non-profit organization set up by Congress in the mid-thirties to make various cotton duck cloth items, originally strictly for the military and other government agencies.  The business structure of UNICOR operates similar to the United States Postal Service by generating its own funding, rather than depending on Congressional budgets.

I show in my essays that UNICOR reduces recidivism by teaching inmates marketable job skills.  Even though in recent years, UNICOR seems to have lost focus of the fact that Congress created the organization as a work program for inmates; not as a conglomerate to become a good-ole-boys fraternity or undercover, profit-generating organization, where profits must disappear into staff bonuses and purchases of elaborate office furnishings or maybe into expense paid trips justified as business necessities.

By their Program Statement, UNICOR has an Inmate Scholarship Award where UNICOR contributes funds to assist inmate employees in paying for college courses; however, the budget for the Inmate Scholarship Awards disappeared, probably into some lavish furniture or extra large bonus for Washington Officials who stripped the funding from the program.  Imagine that, misuse of government funding:  Spend funding on unnecessary items rather than on maintaining a program known to reduce recidivism.

Programs that allow inmates to learn new skills, improve their education, and to learn a new way of life benefit inmates and society:  It is a cost-effective way to reduce recidivism and to help create more productive and constructive members of society.  In “Snake vs. Politics,” I challenged all politicians to read “No Sympathy” when deciding on what is needed to reduce recidivism rates in America.  Maybe some of them actually took me up on the offer.  I feel reasonably assured that Governor Nathan Deal accepted the challenge.  He continues to strive toward making prisons do what society needs done to shut the well-known “revolving door” of recidivist that plague the nation.

CONCLUSION

I will write a more technical blog on Reentry and Recidivism next time I have time to write.  Most of my time has been going toward legal work to help other prisoners file post-conviction relief motions, in an effort to help them obtain their freedom.  I won two out of the last five and hope to go five and O.  🙂  Now, due to a long-shot chance I have at obtaining my own freedom, I must rush to seek permission to file a motion to challenge my own conviction before the June 26, 2015, deadline.  Recent changes in law due to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (June 26, 2015) is what has changed.  As I wrote in “Violent Crime Misconception,” Johnson invalidated a provision of the Armed Career Criminal statute, known as the “Residual Clause.”  Some courts are rightfully applying it to other similar provisions in various statutes, such as Title 18, Section 924(c)(2)(B), which is where “crime of violence” is defined and contains similar language, as does the statute for immigration (18 U.S.C., Section 16(b)).  I have to show armed bank robbery is not “categorically” a crime of violence because a person can commit the crime without rising to the level of violence required to show it is a violent crime. A lot of legal jargon with lots of meaning for those fighting to live another day as free men and women.

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09012015002004Purchase “No Sympathy” as one of eleven essays in the collection, ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN by Wayne T. Dowdy, $8.95 USD, available from all major bookstores and eBook retailers.  Read No Sympathy for free online or by downloading the individual essay from Smashwords.com and other eBook retailers.

Due to technical issues, the release of UNKNOWN INNOCENCE was postponed.  The pagination was reduced and the book reformatted.  The tentative plan for release is June 15, 2016.  The listed price is $14.95, USD.  At 85,000-words, that is a deal:  Two books in one.  Those without Internet access may purchase it from Midnight Express Books, P.O. Box 69, Berryville, AR 72616 (email:  MEBooks1@yahoo.com).  All others may buy it from their favorite bookstores or eBook retailers, including the AppleiBookstore.

Follow my blogs at straightfromthepen.wordpress.com and waynedowdy.weebly.com.  Send comments to waynedowdy@straightfromthepen.com.  I will respond when my publisher forwards them to me, when a response is permissible.

 

 

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THE CONCERT I DIDN’T REMEMBER

In the seventies, I missed a lot in my life because the lights were on but no one was home: drugs, massive quantities of drugs fed into my brain had that effect on my intellect and cognitive functioning. Several people have filled in the blanks for me with statements like, “Oh, hell yeah, we had a great time,” or “That’s why everyone is pissed at you.” My recollection process experienced technical difficulties. Sometimes it was better that way, other times it made me angry that I didn’t remember anything about what had happened. One experience I regret failing to recall was a concert.

Me and my girlfriend went to see two hard rock groups perform at the Atlanta Stadium, around 1973-74, I believe. Drugs people, drugs, lots of drugs, that’s why I can’t remember the exact time and place; too many drugs and mind-altering substances for one mind to handle without experiencing technical difficulties, at least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

The bands playing that we went to see were Ten Years After with Alvin Lee, and their opening act, Golden Earring. Ten Years After faded away while Golden Earring soared with a series of hits in later years, hits such as “Radar Love,” “Lunatic Fringe,” and “Twilight Zone.” Out of all the songs in history for speeding-while-driving, “Radar Love” probably holds the record for songs played while acquiring speeding tickets in America. Sammy Hagar accumulated his share of speed victims with his hit, “I Can’t Drive Fifty-five.” The rhythm and lyrics always drove my foot down harder on the accelerator, like some demon had done jumped into the foot and took control. I am sure others experienced similar things while cruising along the roads and highways, with or without a joint burning and music blaring from their sound system. Put me in a car right now and pump up the volume on either song, and I’d most likely do it again, as I sang out, “Last car to pass and here I go. … The line of cars go down real slow.” Or I’d scream out “I … Can’t … Drive … Fifty-five,” when looking in the rear view mirror and seeing the flashing blue lights of a police car.

Smoking a joint while driving and speeding along the highways wouldn’t be an option for me these days, even if pot is legalized, as it should be because alcohol is legal and is much worse than pot when it comes to impairing judgment and causing health problems. And, most importantly, because research shows marijuana may treat or provide people with relief from certain health problems, but smoking dope just isn’t for me anymore. When I smoke weed, it makes me cough and then ignites the aphrodisiac response, and then I want to have sex, of course, but the increased sexual desires aren’t the problem. One thing leads to another with me and drugs, so, in time I know I would eventually revert to some of my former drugs of choice. Anyways, that part of my life went up in smoke years ago. Back to the songs now. According to Wayne, those two songs hold the records for the American song-related, speeding-tickets.

Ten Years After didn’t have a lot of songs to hit the pop charts because, in my unprofessional opinion, they were ahead of their time. A popular song of theirs was “Rock and Roll Music to the World.” I liked it but it didn’t compare to “Choo Choo Mama” and “Good Morning Little School Girl,” both of which contained sexually explicit lyrics that most radio stations prohibited from being aired during those days. Some college stations gave them air time, but most didn’t.

Before we made it to the concert, I ate ten hits of Tab-T, named so in relation to Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, gungi, pot, or whatever you want to call cannabis sativa or cannabis indica. THC occurs in many variations, with the most active form being delta-9-THC. The seedless, female marijuana plant (sinsemilla), is one of the most preferred brands I am familiar with that pot connoisseurs like to smoke, which probably contains exceptionally high concentrations of delta-9-THC. On the other hand, Tab-T does not contain any THC. I’m sure that the Tab-T salespersons did not intentionally mislead people into believing it contained a variation of THC, such as cannabinol, a psychologically inactive crystalline cannabinoid. The thought of what Tab-T contained did not enter most drug-driven-minds, I’m sure of that, too; mine in particular. Since most who sell drugs aren’t chemist and there aren’t any quality control processes involved in the production of illicit substances, I doubt if anyone other than the chemists knew PCP was not a THC related substance. Years after I stopped using it and my brain activity increased enough to properly formulate a sentence in my Southern accent, I learned that Tab-T was actually Phencyclidine hydrochloride; commonly known as PCP, a veterinary anesthetic with psychedelic effects when used illicitly by humans. No wonder I acted like an animal during periods of my life.

Oh, I forgot to say that I also used to smoke a lot of pot and do lots of acid (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide). Perhaps that had something to do with my wild behaviors and occasional issues with the memory recall process? Purchase my essay collection and read some of them and you will see just what I mean by behavioral issues, especially those I wrote about in “The Price of Change,” “An Airport Ate the Neighborhood,” and “No Sympathy.” (ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN is available from Straight From The Pen.com (http://www.straightfromthepen.com). You can purchase some of the essays individually or the collection as eBooks. I later posted “No Sympathy” as a blog so people may read it for free without having to download the eBook (https://straightfromthepen.wordpress.com and http://waynedowdy.weebly.com).

As for the concert ….. Well, truthfully, after twenty-years of abstinence from mind-altering substances, I don’t have a memory problem. Actually, I have an excellent memory and recall process, even after all of the drugs and all of the years of my existence, but I still cannot remember anything more about that concert. I know I enjoyed it, though, from out in the ozone or wherever my mind was at when a fellow tapped me on the shoulder and asked, “Is your name Wayne?”

“Uhh, yeah, I think so,” I said.

“Man, your girlfriend has been looking for you all night.”

She came running over and wrapped her arms around me and then gave me a barrage of kisses, before she began a series of sentences that flowed from her luscious lips so fast that I couldn’t keep up with what she was saying. My mind still wasn’t functioning at normal capacity when she arrived. What had I been doing? Before the tap on the shoulder brought me back into reality, hanging on a fence set up around the stage, with my hands held high as I clapped and shouted, “More, More, More.” Everyone was gone. Only a few people remained in the venue where I had no conscious remembrance of the concert I had waited months to see. I don’t remember a single lyric played, any note strung on a guitar, or any reverberations generated from the pounding on drums. Gone. That part of my life gone. Gone without warning. I paid a reasonable sum for those concert tickets and missed the whole show because of getting a little carried away with the PCP. The story of my life! Not necessarily because of PCP alone. I used mass quantities of other drugs to take my mind to other places I do not know and cannot recall. One time I was the first to try out a fresh batch of PCP. The chemist warned, “I didn’t have time to cut it. Don’t put it out on the street like it is.” I shot it and my mind was gone for a few hours. I watched myself spiral down a revolving room into the carpet of a motel room. What can I say? I did it to myself. No one else to blame.

Anyway, how did we get separated from each other? I don’t know the answer to that one either. My girlfriend said, “You went into the bathroom and didn’t come out. I asked one of those guys to go in and check on you. He came out and said you weren’t in there, so we left to look for you.”

Wayne was missing in action, lost in a sea of faces. I must have went down the toilet with a flush and popped out near the stage. I have no idea how I got from the bathroom, without my sweetheart, and migrated to the front of the stage, only to miss hearing one of my favorite bands jam away throughout the night. I suspect that the ones who helped her search for me may have intentionally mislead her into believing I wasn’t in there, with hopes of taking her home with them. She was an absolutely beautiful young lady with long, blonde hair, perfect teeth, and a perfect body. She was also a good Christian girl determined to help God save my wicked soul. If that was their plan, it didn’t work. I kept my girl, even if I didn’t know where I was at or where she was. Her love for me kept her faithful enough so that she did not abandon me.

When we left the concert, we bummed a ride with strangers and had a car wreck. Either the driver of the vehicle we were in or the one driving the other car, run a red light. The other car broadsided the car we were in. The impact busted the windows and glass flew all over us. Me and her got out of the car and got the hell out of Dodge before the cops arrived. I couldn’t stand a shake down (drugs were in my pocket). I remembered all of that, and that I had to call my dear Mother at 1:30 AM to come rescue us from the streets of downtown Atlanta. I was about sixteen-years-old, a wild child. I never got another chance to see Ten Years After or Golden Earring. My loss. So much is life. You snooze you loose. I wasn’t snoozing but I may as well have been, because I honestly couldn’t recall anything about the night once the drugs kicked in and my mind kicked out. Drugs, people. Drugs. They robbed me of my life. They definitely stole that night. Damn it!

One thing I learned in writing this blog is that it is easier to take drugs than it is to figure out how to spell their names. To the contrary, learning how to stop using them is the opposite–I could have gotten a few doctorate degrees in the time it took me to figure that one out!

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Wayne T. Dowdy, #39311-019, B-3
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