Category Archives: My Life Inside

GRATITUDE AND MORE

from Wayne T. Dowdy

PRISONERSLast year on December 23, 2015, I posted “Plot to Stop Santa by Mr. D.” to add a little humor to the holiday season (read it on straightfromthepen.wordpress.com or waynedowdy.weebly.com and check out Santa’s militarized sled). This year I am writing along personal lines and will share some previous messages I sent out to those on my Corrlinks contact list. My hope is to create a sense of gratitude.

12/25/2011: On Christmas Day, I sat in my cell reading my favorite magazine (THE SUN). “Chow time,” the guard shouted.

I rushed to the chow hall. Inside, I sat at a rectangular table of four with three of my peers. One person stood to leave. Each of us exchanged Christmas greetings, wishing him a Merry Christmas before a 27-year-old youngster sat down to take his place.

The one who sat to the right of the youngster had just complained how the Cornish game hen was small. I had previously tried to maintain the attitude of gratitude at the table by commenting how it was good, though, it was smaller than those we had had in the past. It was still tasty. I simply agreed with the other guy about it being smaller than usual. I labeled it as a “Cornish Game Chick.”

That’s when the youngster sat down. “There sure are a lot of complaining people at this prison,” he said.

His words filled me with guilt. He had once told me that both of his parents were still in state prison. I realized his parents were probably doing worse than all of us at the table.

The youngster’s comment helped redirect the nature of our conversations toward what we were grateful for.

I shared my favorite saying by an author whose name I do know to give him or her their credit due (“I complained of having no shoes until I met a man with no feet.”).

I continued to express gratitude for the well-prepared meal; knowing we were all fortunate to have what sat before us, as we compared our plight to others incarcerated in state and other federal prisons, who probably wished they could eat as good as we were.

This is what we had to complain about: a Cornish game hen, black-eyed peas, which were really good; collard greens, rolls or wheat bread (I chose wheat bread); an individually packaged cherry pie, chocolate cup cake, and some other stuff I probably forgot. I ate my fill.

Each of us walked away feeling more grateful for the meal we had been blessed with because we had stopped for a moment to remember the less fortunate in life.

Not only do I have two feet and nice shoes, I have a fat belly filled with gratitude. I hope each of you have a wonderful Christmas meal and feel fortunate for the freedom you share in a less than perfect world.

Sincerely,
Wayne

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Along the same theme as above, I wrote this on America’s Turkey Day:

THANKSGIVING DAY 2016: Happy Thanksgiving Day to each of you. If you feel like you don’t have much to be thankful for because of the hardships life has thrown at you this year, stop to think of all you have to be grateful for; perhaps you have food to eat; two feet, two arms, shoes on your feet, and clothes to warm your body, a place to stay and be safe. Feel fortunate.

When I find myself disgruntled for having to wait for an hour in the commissary to purchase a few items, I try to stop and remember those who wish they had my problems, financially able to shop for a few items needed to maintain a decent level of living inside this prison. That makes me feel grateful for the opportunity, rather than disgruntled and agitated for having to wait as I listen to loud mouths shouting to the man next to them, disturbing the peace, killing the sound of silence.

Upon remembrance of the less fortunate, I find myself grateful for the simple things in life I often take for granted. Be thankful for those you have in your life who love and care for you. Happy Thanksgiving!

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For those of you who follow me through other means of social media, you may have read the message below that I wrote after losing one of my brothers, Larry. I once had a mother, father, three brothers and two sisters. I am now down to one brother and two sisters.

In 1978 I lost Stanley, my older brother. In 1982 I lost my father, and then in 2016 I lost my younger brother, Larry, after having lost my mother eight months before him.

The loss of two loved ones in the same year was why I wrote what I did about “the hardships life has thrown at you this year”; including myself in the equation. I write to show we still have things to be grateful for in light of the hardships we experience as the cost of our love for others.

Some people lost their whole family and suffered tragic loss of limbs and even more severe health issues. That makes me grateful to still have family members who remain in my life. I am also grateful for my less-than perfect health.

The families of some prisoners abandon them because they go to prison. My family has stood behind me, even though my actions were unacceptable to them; my actions that landed me in prison. I am fortunate!

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September 18, 2016: One of my two younger brothers moved on to the next phase of existence around 3:00 PM today. Larry was the most gentle and innocent of the four sons birthed by our Mother. Not that he was innocent; he wasn’t, but he was not driven by hate or anger and he never intentionally harmed anyone that I know of. Him and Jeff, the youngest of us, were never the rowdy type, whereas me and Stanley were hell raisers.

Larry was a kind and all around good person. It hurts like hell to know he is gone, but I do rejoice in knowing he no longer suffers from his illnesses. He lives without pain in some other place we all must go one day. Maybe he fishes from a rainbow, catching a few rays, as he surfs the ocean in pursuit of eternal peace. I hope he catches an abundance of love and happiness during his journey. No doubt, many here on earth loved and will miss him.

Ironically, he passed away on my ex-wife’s birthday. Our Mother passed away on the birthday of our son, Jonathon. For those of you who believe in God, please keep the family in prayer as we go through a difficult time. Thanks! Wayne

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December 18, 2016: Yesterday my remaining siblings came to visit me. We had a good visit. Though each of us are grateful to still have each other in our lives, I sensed the emptiness from the unspoken loss of our loved ones.

Loved ones fill a space in our hearts that no one else can replace. God made that spot just for them, whether our memories and feelings are good or bad, that space is theirs.

I am grateful to have been blessed with the love given to me by those, whom that power greater than myself, put into my life.

I am also grateful for my eyes* and other physical features that I use to write and send my words beyond the walls and barbwire fences that surround me at this juncture of my life.

Prison only confines my body: I refuse to allow it to consume my sense of being, or to rob me of my dignity and integrity. I am a man first and a prisoner second.

My mind and spirit are freer today than when I roamed the streets in 1988 before my arrest. God gave me a life worth living.

Better days are on the horizon. When I walk out of these prison doors, Straight From the Pen will come alive, more like straight from the keyboard.

In an upcoming blog, I will share a former prisoner’s inspiring story. Brandon Sample is one who proves people can leave prison and succeed in life, by beginning to build the path toward a better life while inside doing their time.

Miracles happen. Have faith and never loose hope. Hope keeps the world going.

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* I have an essay titled “Eyes” that I wrote in gratitude of my eyesight that I am fortunate to still have. It is an inspiration story you can read it in ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN.

Purchase UNKNOWN INNOCENCE ($10.95 USD) and ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN ($8.95 USD) while the prices are low. Available in paperback at Amazon, Createspace and other online booksellers, and as eBooks at Smashwords.com, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.Kindle, and other eBook retailers.

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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.

 

 

WORD USE & PRISON LIFE

by Wayne T. Dowdy

prison mail“Words pack a punch, whether written or spoken, words have the power to change or destroy lives. I choose my words carefully and hope the ones I select affect a positive change.” Teaching Cons New Tricks–Creative Writing & Q.A. Apprenticeship Program. (April 15, 2015) straightfromthepen.wordpress.com.

In my March 8, 2016, blog post (“Manuscripts Worth Stealing”), I wrote about two of my manuscripts that I suspect a corrupt federal employee stole or destroyed. Readers who know me commented on my unusual display of anger in what I wrote. One friend in particular, Jeff B., commented about my statements concerning what I felt the culprit deserved if caught; how I started off in an aggressive tone and went on and on, and that it made him feel like I wanted to do to the culprit what I said he or she deserved, going by what he read.

I clarified that I did not say I would do those things. I let him reread my statement in the third paragraph:

“I do feel sorry for the idiot who gets caught for doing it. Risking five-years in prison for stealing a manuscript in the mail takes a real devious person, or someone who is just downright ignorant or stupid. However, if the person does get caught and goes to prison, I would not weep if he or she experiences extreme levels of physical and sexual abuse by prisoner predators. Tampering with someone’s mail is a killing offense for some of those confined inside American prisons. For a person convicted of committing such a crime, to be raped and brutalized would be letting them off easy. I do not approve or endorse predatory behaviors, but in this case, Karma seems to demand an exception.”

PRISON LIFE: The above quote was only a comment. I know that many in society think of prison life completely different than its reality. When discussing what to blog about to get more followers, a staff member shared how her friends thought it necessary for her to have armed guards sitting in a classroom to protect her as she taught prisoners. She laughed in telling me that, because such thoughts are so common, and yet indicate something so far away from the truth about prison life that it is comical for those who live or work inside and know the truth.

Given that line of thinking, a common misconception about prisoners and prison life is the caliber of people inside. (Read “The Truth About Incarceration, Part I” for a realistic view of what prison life is really like for MOST prisoners.) Everyone in prison is not violent and we do not typically run around raping and robbing each other, or battling over food in the chow hall. In the more violent prisons, some prisoners may rob, rape, or take food or commissary items from weaker prisoners, but those things do not happen on a regular basis.

NOT ME: Back to the missing manuscript and my word choice. I do like to entertain my readers, but this blog is not the place to read about wild adventures. My censors would disconnect me from the outside world if I got carried away with content. Maybe later, once I am released, I will post more on the wilder side of prison life, but just for the record, I am not into raping and brutalizing men, women or animals. Sorry, that’s just not me.

NON-VIOLENT: I avoid committing violent acts and would only do so to protect myself from physical harm. I used to view myself as a violent person living a non-violent lifestyle, until I shared my feeling in a twelve-step meeting. One of my sponsees said, “I don’t see you that way. I see you as a gentle, kind, and compassionate person who is capable of being violent.”

His words changed my self-image. He spoke the truth.

Even offenses against my delicate ego do not warrant violent reactions or responses to something as trivial as someone stealing or destroying a manuscript in the mail; however, I do understand and know what some of my peers would do to someone for doing similar things. That is why I wrote what I did, not because it was what I would do if given the opportunity. If I did anything violent in response to their action, the most it would be is a bitch slap to get their attention. Years ago I would have done that and more without hesitation before I decided to change my evil, wicked ways.

WORD POWER: As for what I wrote, okay, I confess, empathy and compassion escaped me. My words did not suggest sympathetic feelings or forgiveness for the villain. I used coarse statements and calloused words for literary and personal reasons. I hoped the perpetrator would read what I wrote and think about the severity of his or her actions.

One of my sisters agreed and commented that my blog may change the life of the person who stole the manuscript by making him more aware of the potential consequences of what he did.

I hope so. That would turn a negative into a positive. I like doing that; especially, if I can do it with words alone.

In “Manuscripts Worth Stealing,” my powerful words painted graphic images to deter the offensive behavior of mail theft; however, I did not indicate, suggest, or imply that I would commit those acts if given the opportunity to execute revenge against the one(s) who took my manuscript(s), providing what I suspect did happen. I am convinced by the facts that it did. I put it in the hands of the United States Postmaster General to determine what happened.

FIGHTING FOR MY PEERS: I did not want to file a complaint with the Postmaster General, but I had to think about the risks to my peers if someone lacking morals is left in charge of their mail. Those who put legal documents in the mail to fight for their freedom deserve protection.*

One of my friends mailed his post-conviction relief motion on Friday, March 18, 2016. Mailroom officials weighed his package and told him the amount of postage needed.

He paid over $9.00 to send it by certified mail. A family member checked on Monday and the post office said it could not be tracked by the tracking number. The receiving stamp provided by local post office was not legible.

On March 24, 2016, he went to the mailroom and discovered that it was returned for $0.84 postage. A staff member who works in the mailroom, had went to the local post office to enquire about his missing mail. The local post office had it laying around. It took six days to learn something that he should have known by Monday (03/21/16). The incident shows the level of incompetence of those who work in the mailing system that we deal with in prison. Sometimes the problem occurs at the institutional level; other times at the United States Postal Service.

RESENTMENT: The manuscript issue is not one for me to waste away my time dwelling on ways to retaliate for wrongs done to me by anyone. I am not a religious person, per se. I do believe in spirituality, which to me, is accepting that every human is flawed and that it is okay; not putting everyone in a box that requires them to think and believe the same. In the book I mention below, as I recall, it essentially said that spirituality is more open-ended, rather than compartmentalized (to be one of us, you must believe, think and act as we do). Spirituality allows us to accept each other in light of our differences.

With that established, when I am angered or struggling with an issue, I let go and turn the matter over to my higher power, whom I choose to call God.

I refuse to harbor resentment. I express my anger, take appropriate action or do not do anything, and then move on with my life. I always had to pay for my dirty deeds and I know everyone else will have to do the same. I am not God’s executioner and cannot control other people. The world’s best selling books says, “We reap what we sow,” and to “judge not lest we be judged by the same token.”

With my history, I need all the leniency I can get, so I try to avoid using a magnifying glass to examine the wrongs of others in hope of one not being used to examine me. I focus on my actions, not theirs, because it is what I do that creates my problems or rewards.

I pray to forgive. I do not have the power to forgive anyone. That is not my department. All I can do is let go and get out of the way to let nature take its course.

Spiritual principles work like math formulas. Add three plus four and you get seven; add four plus three and you still get seven. Subtract three from seven and you get four, or subtract four from seven and you get three. No matter how it is added or subtracted, we get the same result: It works out according to the principles and formulas applied. I receive what I put out.

POWERFUL STORY: In 2004 I read a powerful story in THE SPIRITUALITY OF IMPERFECTION by Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketchum about resentment and forgiveness that went something like this:
Two former Nazi prisoners sat around talking.
One asks the other, “Do you ever think about the Nazis?”
“Yes, I think about them every day of my life,” he said.
“Then they still have you in prison.”

Let it go. Stop dwelling on past transgressions. The same book described a resentment as pain wrapped in anger.

For me to heal, I deal with the pain and get to the anger to let it go.

Do not be a prisoner of those who offend you or do you wrong. With forgiveness comes freedom from the past and the pain of resentment.

LOVE NOT WAR: Karma takes care of those who commit acts that deserve retribution. Personally, I prefer love not war. My fantasy is a fat butt girl with a pecan tan and a Mercedes Benz, to love, hug and hold, not someone to take out aggressive feelings on.

A lot of what I wrote in that sentence is just word play to paint a picture with words. I do not set requirements on finding love. Wealth, fame, economic status, ethnicity or a person’s skin tone does not concern me, if love thrives within our hearts. But I do not need a woman who needs abuse to make her feel wanted. I’m not into that either. I want to cuddle and love, not wrestle and fight.

HONEST JUDGE: In my last blog (“Agape Love”), where I wrote about love, I lost two followers after my publisher posted it. I reckon there are those who want to read hate or anger driven blogs instead of those about love. That is not the first time something negative happened after I did something positive.

In 1986, a friend of the family asked me to be a judge in a Beauty Pageant. I agreed. No one mentioned that I was there to rig the votes. One of the sponsors did point out who their relative was in the toddler division. I voted according to my version of truth about who was the best. My vote cost the relative’s toddler to come in second place.

I never got invited to judge again.

So much for moral rewards when displaying good work ethics and honesty. I’d do the same thing again. Fire me for doing the right thing? All right. That is okay with me. So much is life.

CONCLUSION: My hope is that my words written above will affect a positive change in the life of someone who reads them. The power of words is undeniable.
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* I wrote about a similar issue in “Fighting for Rights to Write,” posted on March 03, 2015, on my blogs at straightfromthepen.wordpress.com and waynedowdy.weebly.com (first published by PrisonEducation.com in February 2014). By the way, I won that battle and others where our right to write was concerned.

Wayne T. Dowdy writes Straight From the Pen. Purchase his writings from your favorite book or eBook retailers, or from straightfromthepen.com or Midnight Express Books, P.O. Box 69, Berryville, AR 72616. Look for UNKNOWN INNOCENCE within weeks. The release was delayed due to the stolen draft copy of the manuscript written about in “Manuscripts Worth Stealing.”

AGAPE LOVE

agape love pixPenitentiaries are not the typical place to learn about love; however, I attended Kairos in 2003-2004 while at the United States Penitentiary in Pollock, Louisiana.  Kairos is a prison outreach program where people of different faiths come together to teach the central theme about the love Jesus Christ has for us.  Kairos means in God’s Special Time.

During the gratifying experience, I learned about Agape love.  The mentors taught that Agape love in unconditional, it is how God loves us mere mortals.  I do not have to do anything to receive it, other than to open up my heart and let the love flow in through the portals God opens for me to receive it.

I am loved in light of my many character defects and imperfections.  That is real love, because God is love.

Agape love is a powerful form of love God allows us to share with others, without stipulations or expectations of return, or favors in exchange.  It is free, the best deal around.  I am blessed with serenity when I am able to open up and let the love shine in.   Wayne T. Dowdy, straightfromthepen.com

PLOT TO STOP SANTA by Mr. D.

[The author uses his pseudonym due to institutional concerns when his publisher emails blogs into American prisons: one prison blocked their emails after sending “Zachariah Zambroski, Attorney at Law.”]

PANIC IN THE NORTH POLE: Santa’s elves discovered a package that ticked and then called in the bomb squad. False alarm. After detonating the suspicious package, the bomb squad determined the ticking package had been a miniature version of a grandfather clock. Clocks will be clocks. Real clocks tick.

PLOTS OF TERRORISTS: The feds uncovered a terrorist plot to blast Santa out of the sky. An early morning raid by the FBI netted six terrorists, five pipe bombs, four AK-47s, three pistols, two Rocket Propelled Grenades with launchers, and one computer. A search of the hard drive on the computer revealed other terroristic plots against Santa.

Santa sleighSanta security personnel installed anti-missile devices and .50 caliber machine guns on the sled to give Santa a fighting chance. Santa says, “I’ll blast them to pieces before they get me.”

Go Santa!

 

 

NO SANTA FOR PRISONERS: Santa’s not coming to see federal prisoners this year. The feds deemed Santa’s modified sled and his reindeer’s antlers a threat to institutional security and barred him from landing on prison property to deliver gifts to prisoners who have not been naughty. If he lands on federal property, he’ll be prosecuted on weapons charges and for the introduction of contraband behind the guard line.

Prisoners gathered on the yard to protest after the Warden announced the news. Guards in riot gear fired tear gas to disperse the prisoners. No reports of injuries. Prison authorities placed the prison on lockdown status and will feed the prisoners bologna sandwiches and Kool-Aid for Christmas.

CONCLUSION: The plot to stop Santa only stopped him from delivering gifts to prison, and that’s how the story ends, but at least the fortunate children will see him and get their gifts.

Terrorists will reap eternal suffering for their dirty deeds.

It turned out for the best anyway. Investigators later learned about a plot by Mean Mugger Mack and Hack’em & Sack’em Sam, who planned to rob Santa of all the gifts when he touched down, so it’s all good. The terrorists plot to stop Santa saved him in the end. As for the prisoners, prisoners are survivors and will go about their daily activities like it is just another day in the pen, hoping for the day of their freedom. May God bless them all with peace, regardless of the name used by those who pray to summon that power greater than themselves.

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all who celebrate! I hope everyone gets blessed with the desires of their heart and that 2016 will be the best year ever experienced. Watch for my next blog on Presidential Commutation of Sentences.

Download a free copy of “An Airport Ate the Neighborhood” from https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy by using Smashwords Coupon Code MQ86S. Hurry to download your copy of ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN for 75% off by using Smashwords Coupon Code SP43N.

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RAIN, BLOGS, FROGS & POLITICS by Wayne T. Dowdy

Rainy-Day2

Rain falls as I run on my catch-up mode.  This is my first blog since I posted “Frog Napper Returns” on October 1, 2015.  I planned to write at least two blogs per month.  I did not do as planned.  Legal matters and other obligations pulled me from my plans.

BLOGS:  I worked ten days overtime last month in the Federal Prison Industries (UNICOR), where I am the document control clerk and an internal auditor in an ISO (International Organization for Standardization) certified factor.  I also help keep the factory ISO certified by participating in external audits conducted by the National Standards Authority of Ireland, and by writing or editing technical documents used for administrative and instructional purposes.  On overtime I earn $2.60 per hour for all hours in excess of 7.25, of which I earn $1.45 per hour ($10.51 per day for regular pay).  If working in a similar position in the free society, I’d earn a five to six figure salary.  I will write a blog in the future on UNICOR & SOCIETY.  I wrote an unpublished essay on the topic several years ago that I will extract data from to update.  Anyway, the overtime alone occupied lots of time and kept me too tired to be blogging, after going to work at 7:30 AM and getting off at 8:30 PM, only to work on other pressing projects until bedtime.

To consume more of my valued time, I worked on a “Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence, Pursuant to 28 U.S.C., Section 2255” (2255) for a young Native American with an unconstitutional sentence.  The court sentenced him to 180-months imprisonment for a crime that carried a maximum of 120-months.  A recent United States Supreme Court ruling (Johnson v. United States, June 26, 2015), opened the door for him and hundreds of others erroneously sentenced for crimes captured with the “residual clause” of the Armed Career Criminal Act.  The residual clause was a “catch-all-clause” prosecutors used to classify any crime with a “potential” for violence as a violent felony.  Three prior violent felonies increased a 10-year statutory maximum to 15-years to life without parole, for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.  In addition to that 2255, I completed another one for a friend with the same circumstances, which I worked on for six weeks before volunteering for the second one.  Every now and then I am a nice person, even in prison.  🙂  Honestly, I am a nice person on most days of my life.  At any rate, I do apologize for my delinquent blog posting.

RAINY DAYS:  In addition to the above, I planned to write a blog on October 10, 2015, about a “Rainy Day in the Pen,” and then became distracted and thought about writing on “Mass Shootings in America.”  Rain dampened my plans on “One Rainy Day in the Pen,” after this area experienced torrential downpours that caused dams to rupture and floods that killed people, while I sat in prison complaining about getting soaked to go to the chow hall in anticipation of a pastry and dry cereal, only to find a pastry and cream of wheat I do not eat.  I’m a Southerner.  I eat grits!

This morning (11/01/2015), I  went out in the rain again for a pastry and dry cereal.  This time I succeeded at getting milk, low-cost corn flakes that turn gluey after moments in milk, and a cheese danish, all worth the five-hundred yard trip to the chow hall in the rain.  At least no one locally has drown in floods while I enjoyed the privilege of having food to eat and a roof over my head, something many free-citizens do not have, something I write with sadness.

While pondering the ideas for that blog, I listened to CNN News about an idiot who had walked into a college in Oregon and massacred nine innocent people and shot several others.  The only good part of the story being a man with courage who challenged the gunman, rather than lying down to wait for his execution.  He survived five gunshot wounds and his heroic actions saved others.  He is an American soldier who deserves a world of praise, since most people cower when faced with such danger, which usually results in death.  If you see an idiot with a gun walking around shooting people, why stand and wait for him to shoot you?  I wonder if people think the shooter will run out of bullets or suddenly be filled with kindness and compassion and decide to spare them?

Under those dire circumstances, in my opinion, I think it is best to stand and fight; to take a bullet for a cause, maybe that will allow others to live; may even be the event that causes the “herd effect,” where others follow in the charge to defuse the situation.  A passive stance will most likely lead to being shot with the other victims.  Killers aren’t compassionate people.  Such acts of cowardice only offends a psychopath with a gun or weapon.  One mass murderer in the state of Georgia, once wrote how the people laid there like cattle and waited for him to execute them, that they weren’t even willing to fight for their lives.  Me, personally, I would not wait.  Shoot me, he may do, but it would NOT be as I sat trembling waiting to be executed.  I might be trembling as I charged or found something to throw to distract or injure him, but I would not be shot while waiting for my turn.  Shoot me next.  If all else failed, I’d run like hell.  Anyway, for that blog I needed more factual information to write on that topic, so I added it to my Blogs To Do List.

FROGS:  And then I ran into the infamous Frog Napper Frye, who had just made bond for his crimes against living creatures–Frog Abduction.  Not really.  Really, that I ran into him, not really for why he was thrown into a custom-designed prison cell the day after I had last saw him, transporting a frog in a bottle.  I learned that he had freed the frog I helped abduct.  And then he delivered his bad news:  after his arrest, frog lovers freed his captive frog, Shorty Morgan; a small arboreal amphibian named after someone who had confiscated the frog-nappers’ relocated (stolen) onions and bell peppers.

I was happy to learn that both frogs had found their freedom because all living creatures want to be free.  I wrote along those lines in my blog, “#Nature:  Frogs, an Octopus, and #Escapees.” [1]  Well, my friend disappeared again.  The rumor mill (Inmate.com) has it that he was rearrested for his blog, “Embracing the Chaos”; that may or may not be true.  It could have happened, or his arrest may have been for some devious activity, but he felt that it happened because of the blog.  I read the blog and didn’t feel it contained any information worthy of casting a prisoner inside the Segregated Housing Unit, but, …. what I think doesn’t always coincide with what prison administrators and politicians think.  More will be revealed.  Read his blogs at bankblogger.weebly.com or murderslimpress.com/BankRobber’sBlog.

POLITICS:  I delayed writing that blog because the situation reminded me of the political attempt to silence the pen of a prisoner in the Pennsylvania prison system, who was involved in a “controversial case of killing a police officer.”  I needed more information to write that one:  I found it and so here I am, fingers on keys, but not the keys to my freedom, only the keys I use to exercise my freedom of speech that the United States Constitution says I have under its First Amendment.  The Pennsylvania Legislatures squeezed the life out of that Amendment by passing “The Revictimization Relief Act.”  A federal judge deemed that law “manifestly unconstitutional.”  The Honorable Christopher C. Conner, United States Middle District Chief Judge.  “‘A past criminal offense does not extinguish the offender’s constitutional right to free expression,’ Conner wrote.  ‘The First Amendment does not evanesce at the prison gate, and its enduring guarantee of freedom of speech subsumes the right to expressive conduct that some may find offensive.'” (Pennsylvania Law Limiting Speech of Prisoners Struck Down, by Andrew V. Pestano, [2015] upi.com.)

The Supreme Court relied upon the Free Speech principle in deciding on a case dealing with Hustler Magazine and its owner, Larry Flint.  Some people found the content of the magazine offensive, but the Court still protected his right to publish it.  Flint’s lawyer basically posed that if it protects those people who others want to silence or restrict, then it protects the average American citizen even more.

Prisoners only have so much freedom of speech.  Some speech can lead us to being handcuffed and then confined in a small cell without a phone, typewriter, or severely-crippled-computer, such as the one upon which I type.  There are those who will still fight for what is right, regardless of the price our actions may demand.  Most allow fear or lack of knowledge to stop them from challenging unconstitutional restrictions.  Read my blog, “Fighting for Rights to Write” [2], for an example of fighting for others who may not have the skills, as well as for my personal interests and liberties.  That is one of many incidents I fought and won.  I succeeded at convincing the administration of its error in trying to implement a process that would impede my ability to exercise my freedom of speech.  Not all prison administrators, or politicians, or judges, are bad people; however, some are more evil and devious and sinister than any prisoner executed on death row for their crimes against humanity.

At the end of the day, we are all human beings trying to find our way through the life experience.  We do what we feel is right or wrong and then worry about the benefits or consequences when the time comes to reap the rewards or pay the piper.  I have paid dearly throughout my life for making poor decisions, but now I reap the rewards of having becoming a good human being.  If you read ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN by Wayne T. Dowdy, it will allow you to see life from a different perspective about the cost of a person’s actions for being an outlaw.  After reading it, you will want to share it with a friend, especially if you have one travelling down a road headed toward destruction.

The rain continues to pour, many Southern states flooded again.  Good day for bullfrogs, and a good day to blog about frogs.

________________________________

[1]  read full text at https://straightfromthepen.wordpress.com or http://waynedowdy.weebly.com

[2]  first published at http://www.prisoneducation.com in February 2014; reposted March 2015 on https://straightfromthepen.wordpress.com and http://waynedowdy.weebly.com

[3] Go to http://www.straightfromthepen.com to purchase my books; or for my eBooks, essays, and short stories, to my author’s page at Smashwords.com (https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy) or Amazon.kindle.

Talk About Under Pressure

Midnight Express Books released the paperback version of UNDER PRESSURE by Mr. D, in January 2013 before releasing the eBook a week later. A month afterwards, I let a prison guard read an excerpt from the eBook that someone had printed and mailed in to me. The excerpt came from a scene I wrote about my main protagonist, Stan Mason, who was involved in a prison riot. A Special Operations Response Team (SORT) member stopped his participation with 50,000-volts from a stun gun (TASER).

The guard said, “Oh, that isn’t correct. The Bureau doesn’t have TASERs.” He read on and then said, “This isn’t right either. SORT wouldn’t have responded to a situation like that. DCT would have.”

“What is DCT?”

“DCT is our Disturbance Control Team and is usually the first to arrive when something breaks out.”

I do not like to be inaccurate, even if writing fiction.

Before I sent UNDER PRESSURE to the publisher, a friend named Wayne G. had proofread my manuscript. He has a Master degree in Psychology. He strongly urged me to send copies of my novel to Criminology departments at universities all across the United States, because it depicts real life inside of some of the more serious American prisons and the events leading to prison.

“They made us read several books in class that were no where near as good as this one,” he said. “I’m telling you, man, they’ll jump right on it and make it required reading if you get it in the right hands. If they do that then you will sell 30-35 copies for every class, and if it catches on at one school, then others will follow.”

I liked that idea. Then I envisioned an English professor holding up a copy of my attractive book before his or her students in a Creative Writing class to inspire them. I liked that idea, too. After all, if a prisoner can write a book and have it published, then what can a free citizen do who has more tools and resources available to them than what the prisoner had? Thus sprang the idea for UNDER PRESSURE-MOTIVATIONAL VERSION by Mr. D, because if I were an aspiring student, the story behind the novel would inspire me.

I wrote “The Story Behind the Novel” to tell the process I used to get the book in print; then wrote the “Author’s Note” to explain the inaccuracies as reported by the prison guard; cleaned up every error I could find, and then sent it to the publisher with suggested formatting changes to make it more attractive and easier to read.

Midnight Express Books released the motivational version in July 2013. Now that my words are etched in history, less than two years after I had written about the TASERs in my novel, the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons started training staff to use TASERs in all of their high security facilities.

I must be a visionary, huh? Now I need to continue envisioning my novel in the hands of those professors. I sent a few copies of my books (UNDER PRESSURE-MOTIVATIONAL VERSION by Mr. D. and ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN by Wayne T. Dowdy) to magazine editors and a couple of colleges, but I am unaware if any of them have decided to use them. Please share my idea with any professor or school of thought that may be interested in using a well-written book to inspire their students. Then again, tell anyone about them who wants to read good books guaranteed to entertain them. Thanks!

Please purchase my books from StraightFromthePen.com (http://www.straightfromthepen.com) or from your favorite online or offline bookseller. Paperbacks and eBooks are available from most major book retailers and eBook distributors. I also have several essays available as eBooks. Some I offer as free downloads from my Smashwords Author’s page (https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy), which may be downloaded in any format for eReaders or in html or pdf formats for reading on a PC.

UNDER PRESSURE-MOTIVATIONAL VERSION (http://straightfromthepen.com/wdsftp_007.htm);
ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN (http://www.straightfromthepen.com/05122015_011.htm);
Links for eBooks from STRAIGHTFROMTHEPEN.COM go to Smashwords.com.

SNAKE vs POLITICS

Reprint permission granted by the author.
May 13, 2015

SNAKE VERSUS #POLITICS
by
Wayne T. Dowdy
Whether to put more emphasis on the topic of Politics or Snakes was my dilemma. Snakes won by a landslide; however, I will also write on Political Promises and Incarceration.

To be specific, what changed my mind was a foot-long, reddish-brown, coppery-looking snake, with black patterns and a white underside. Several of us prisoners stood gathered around, some saying it was a poisonous copperhead because it had struck at the first person who reached his hand down toward it, and because the shape of its head resembled a diamond when it lay poised to strike at the terrorists who taunted it.

It was a lively little creature, which struck at a folder filled with paper that I held near its head; I examined its markings and physical characteristics to determine whether a deadly reptile lay before me, or a simple non-poisonous one here to do its job of ridding the world of pesky insects, and rats too, after it grows large enough to eat them. I determined the latter to be true, based upon my experience at dealing with snakes earlier in life.

The colorful snake was a juvenile in fear of its life from the world’s greatest predator: human beings; a human who held an object close to the nose of the serpent to see what type of response he got from the venomous creature. Okay, I confess. The snake was not mean and vicious; the harmless baby was just trying to survive in a world no one understands, its instincts telling it to strike to deter the enemy from harming it. Hey, snakes do what snakes do. No harm no foul.

After three futile strikes it turned docile, portraying the message that it wanted to be left alone so that it could continue its sunbathing. That’s what it was doing before we rudely interrupted it by towering above it to gawk, while it lay on the ground not bothering anyone, just being a harmless snake.

How did the snake change my mind about what to write? The term “snake” fits scandalous politicians who tell lies to get votes, so there is a correlation between both topics. On this occasion, the serpent reminded me of my youth, when I loved to ramble through the woods with any device capable of sending a projectile into the body of some innocent creature (I would not consider harming anything today); or to trudge around a body of water to see if I could find fish, frogs, snakes, crayfish, salamanders, or some beautiful formation of rocks, trees, or plants.

I loved nature, even though I lost touch with that aspect of my life and became a destructive person who harmed people and the environment in which we live. I allowed my life experiences to turn me into a cruel person by becoming a product of my environment. Now I focus on becoming the person God created me to be.

My essay collection* contains several essays and poems about my life and some of the experiences that shaped me. In response to my childhood experience of growing up in a neighborhood across the street from the world’s busiest airport, I wrote “REMEMBER,” a poem which coincides with what I wrote in “An Airport Ate the Neighborhood,” (https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy) ($0.99).

REMEMBER

Remember walking through woods,
Playing in creeks, catching crawdads,
Watching for snakes, frogs, fish, turtles.

Remember roaring jets, planes,
Spewing toxins, shaking trees,
Poisoning streams with spent fuel.

Remember neighborhoods,
Poisoned by noise,
Structures cracked by sound.

Remember houses on the trucks,
Men on top, moving power lines,
Helping houses move on roads.

Remember walking with nature,
With thick woods protecting creatures,
Life thriving under its cover.

Remember where I once lived,
Nature near, full of pleasure,
Before Jets and Planes came.

I wrote another essay with an environmental theme, “We Are the Cancer,” first published by Surepleasurez Promotions. You may read it in the March 2015 Archives (https://straightfromthepen.wordpress.com/). I write such essays with the hope of effecting a small change in the lives of those who read them, and as my way of trying to compensate for the damage I caused during my youth and the early years of adulthood.

Back to the snake that changed my mind. The snake reminded me of the first time I captured one when I was twelve-years-young. In elementary school and at home, I read books on insects, reptiles, mammals, and amphibians. As a disruptive student, most teachers encouraged me to sit and read all I wanted as long as I did not cause trouble. I was not a good student (if interested in my education, read “Life from ‘F’s to ‘A’s,” (03/28/15); published by PrisonEducation.com on 09/18/14).

My family owned a nice collection of encyclopedias, World Books, and Science books that my parents bought for my older brother and two sisters to have for school assignments. Even before I could read, I enjoyed looking at pictures in the volumes of Encyclopedia Britannica and any type of book or magazine about science or animals. All a book needed to entertain me was photos of things that walked (especially on four legs), crawled, flew, or swam, and looked different than humans. That’s how I learned to capture a snake.

That first snake taught me a lesson. I did not adhere to what I knew on how to catch one by grabbing it behind its head, at the rear of its jaws to prevent it from turning to take a bite. It was a harmless green snake, with its head stuck in some weeds, its body stretched across a trail me and a friend walked on while playing “hooky” from school that morning. Since the head was not visible, I reached down and grabbed it at the portion of its body closest to the weeds. It turned and bit me on my hand to remind me of the proper way to handle a snake. The bite only hurt my pride.

POLITICAL PROMISES & INCARCERATION

Reading proved valuable for me in many facets of life. I sympathize for those who cannot read due to issues beyond their control, and those who may never have an opportunity to learn how to read due to their social, geographical, or economic status. Maybe American politicians will focus more on funding education, and less on making laws to incarcerate its citizens for more crimes than any human has the capacity to comprehend. For several years, governments spent millions more on incarceration than on education at state and federal levels in the United States.

Read my essay, “Education, the Prisoner, and Recidivism” (03/28/15, first published in May of 2013 by PrisonEducation.com), to see where statistics prove education reduces recidivism (the return to old habits or behaviors). Politicians still continued to vote on Mass Incarceration policies until recent years. I show reasons for that in “The Truth About Incarceration, Part II” (04/05/15), where I address the influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and private prison companies on high incarceration rates.

Prisoners became a commodity due to the rise of Prisons-for-Profit, whose owners and representatives gave politicians hefty financial incentives to continue “Tough-On-Crime” policies. That trend changed because the operation of the Federal Bureau of Prisons and state prisons began to consume the largest portion of criminal justice budgets. Too many prisoners became too expensive to house with rising costs of incarceration.

On a positive note, Daniel Malloy reported in the May 3, 2015, edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the “South Leads Push to Reduce Prison Populations.” In a well-written article about changes in the political spectrum on incarceration in America, he reported that several states changed policies and practices: Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, Mississippi, and others across the South, as did New York. All have shown favorable results at reducing state deficits and incarceration rates. Most importantly, some of those states began providing better substance abuse and mental health treatment for their prisoners, as well as implementing re-entry initiatives. Those states and politicians deserve praise, even if most of those policies and votes were likely based on financial concerns, instead of any moral convictions for decades of wrongs inflicted upon their citizens by previous policies.

According to a quote in Malloy’s article from an ALEC spokesperson, former Texas Governor, Rick Perry, started spending more money on diversion programs in place of prison beds in 2007. I respect him and Georgia Governor, Nathan Deal, for creating diversion programs as alternatives to incarceration for juveniles and other offenders. Gov. Deal implemented different phases to change Georgia’s failed criminal justice system (CJS). I am a Georgia native who spent numerous years of his life in their CJS. Last year, Gov. Deal focused “[o]n improving ways to rehabilitate inmates who are serving prison sentences and ease their transition as they re-enter society. He’s poured millions into education programs at the state prisons.” AJ&C, 05/03/15, under sub-heading of “Tide Swells Across the South.” That was an honorable act. Politicians such as Governor Deal and Rick Perry, are a rare breed who take a stand for what is right that may not be politically correct.

CONCLUSION

As a general matter, Politics are depressing. No wonder I chose to focus more on snakes that crawl over those who walk. Who wants to read about immigration, legalization of marijuana, or the politicians who deceive voters by campaigning on issues and then promising to vote a particular way if elected, who then votes contrary to their promises, after their voters put them in office? Not me. The Snake lying on a prison yard has more appeal to me than a politician lying when making campaign promises.

With statistics proving the over-incarceration of American citizens, and the cost of keeping them in prison for decades, the 2016 presidential candidates and other politicians are campaigning to reduce prison populations. The future will reveal which ones chose to be honorable by voting according to promises made and introducing bills to support the words flowing from their mouths, as well as those who engaged in political pandering to get votes, who are more slimy than any reptile crawling on the face of the earth.

Respectfully, I say to those who win the seats, represent the office upon which you are elected by being honorable men and women, whose words mean something. As I write, I have spent almost twenty-seven-years in prison for my role in crimes no where near as harmful to the nation as the policies that put me here for decades. Countless taxpaying victims have struggled to pay the cost of my incarceration, shelling out more than a million dollars for me to stay in prison for driving a second getaway vehicle in a serious crime.

I challenge all politicians to read my essay, “No Sympathy” (first published in my essay collection,* and then posted 04/09/15, to let people read it free to see the true cost of failed Criminal Justice policies. Read it and look at the facts to determine whether the damage caused by “Tough-On-Crime” bills have been worth the price paid by American citizens. Now “YOU” have the power to change what was done for the sake of a vote that came with the expensive price tag of human lives. Please vote to correct the policies that lead to mass incarceration rates.

Oh, BTW, a prison guard arrested the snake for posing a threat to the safety and security of the institution and for it being in an unauthorized area. We pled for him to have mercy and not execute the poor little snake for its crimes. The guard promised to help the snake escape the confines of the prison by carrying it home in his pocket. I hope he did.

The guard really did say he was going to carry it home with him and that it was a juvenile garter or king snake. The tiny one wrapped itself around his fingers as he walked away to end the terrorism of the snake.

Stay posted. I plan to write more on politics based upon the AJ&C article. I thank those of you who follow my blog posts.

Wayne T. Dowdy, #39311-019, B-3
P.O. Box 725, FCI
Edgefield, SC 29824-0725
Email: waynedowdy@straightfromthepen.com

*ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN, $10.95, Midnight Express Books (http://www.straightfromthepen.com). For those willing to do a book review, contact me at waynedowdy@straightfromthepen.com and I will provide a free Smashwords coupon code to download the eBook; otherwise, download it as “Reader Sets Price” from https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy and pay what you like.

Vacation in Prison

I am on vacation today, a paid vacation, in prison; just one day, but one day needed to compose my thoughts and celebrate having lived to see the age of fifty-eight. I earn one-day per month but I don’t take too many at a time because of my position at work with others who rely on my vast amount of knowledge that I obtained through years of experience. 🙂 At any rate, as a child my Mother and others used to tell me I would never live to see the age of sixteen if I didn’t change my ways, then their prediction on my life expectancy went to eighteen when I proved that one wrong, then it went to twenty-one, and then they gave up. My personal predication of my life expectancy was thirty-years-old, and so I was wrong too. Life goes on.

My primary position is as the document control clerk at the UNICOR factory in the Federal Correctional Institution, Edgefield, South Carolina. UNICOR, which is the trade name for the Federal Prison Industries, Inc., provides various services and products to their customers. Those customers used to be military and other government agencies, but now a pilot program called the Repatriation Act allows UNICOR to provide goods and services to private sector companies who would otherwise be sending the work overseas to a labor market UNICOR can compete with, whereas American companies cannot due to the differences in pay scales. In 2012 I wrote an unpublished essay titled “UNICOR & SOCIETY” and gave a copy to the Associate Warden of Industries & Education and told him I didn’t care what he did with it, to use it any way he could to help UNICOR. In it, I showed the beneficial value of society having UNICOR factories to provide federal prisoners with marketable job skills in order to prepare them for release into society, so that the prisoner can become a taxpaying citizens, rather than another tax liability. I also showed how UNICOR competed with overseas labor rates such as China paying its apparel workers up to $0.80 per hour, and companies in countries like Bangladesh paying their apparel workers a measly $0.22 per hour. I compared that to UNICOR starting its inmate workers at $0.23 per hour, and allowing only a limited few to progress to the hourly pay rate of $1.15 to a maximum of $1.65 for those who have worked there for seven years or longer and qualify for what is known as Premium pay, which I do not get paid due to the political aspect of the grading system at this particular facility. Nevertheless, only a few receive the upper figures for hourly pay–most work for incentive pay, which is where pay is based on production numbers. No production, no pay, unless the inmate performs some task approved by their supervisor to allow them to be paid at the hourly rate. For the overseas labor rate numbers, I relied upon Ken Silverstein’s article in Harper’s Magazine, January 2010, “Shopping for Sweat – the Human Cost of a Two-Dollar T-Shirt.” Now the factory I work in makes T-Shirts for the military and the Federal Bureau of Prison, but the T-shirts cost much more than two-dollars.

The cheap overseas labor rates allow American companies to buy goods and services from oversees companies and still make a substantial profit after paying the shipping costs for the goods to come from across the oceans or borders. In my essay I wrote, “One argument against UNICOR is that it takes jobs away from American citizens, which is partially true, in the sense that if inmates were not performing the jobs, someone in the free society could be. On the other side of the equation, UNICOR workers are American citizens, because illegal aliens being deported are prohibited from working in UNICOR by law and policy. Furthermore, inmate labor can compete with overseas labor rates in the textile industry, whereas American workers paid minimum wage cannot.” Now, whether or not my essay ultimately sprouted the Repatriation Act does not matter, even though the facts do suggest that it did, since UNICOR had never mentioned the idea until about six months after I had given the A.W. my essay. Whatever the case may be, I am just glad to see some work now staying in America to provide me and my peers with an opportunity to learn marketable job skills.

The Post-Release Employment Project (PREP) study on inmates who worked for UNICOR showed a 24% reduction in recidivism, compared to those who did not work in UNICOR. In my opinion, those statistics justify UNICOR’s existence and should have stopped the politicians from complaining about UNICOR and trying to shut it down, but it hasn’t. (For the Bureau of Prisons actual report, see http://www.bop.gov/resources/pdfs/prep_summary_05012012.pdf). UNICOR does have its faults and flaws, since it essentially became a “good-ole-boys fraternity” that wastes millions of dollars through poor management principles, such as targeting inmate pay and run-hours to reduce deficits instead of focusing on the larger more obvious issues, but even if a private company was to come in and take over the reins, that would be a better alternative than closing the doors, as has happened at several UNICORs across the United States, thus putting prisoners in the unemployment line. UNICOR is supposed to be an Inmate Work Program, so why are doors being closed on factories that fail to generate profits? Read more about my employer at http://www.unicor.gov.

Personally, I’ve learned to operate wood working machinery; how to manufacture electronic cable products; how to write instructional documents (technical writing); how to perform numerous office related skills, including how to audit procedures and processes in an ISO (Internal Organization for Standardization) certified factory. I help this factory to maintain their certification by being knowledgeable in the ISO 9001: 2008, Quality Management System requirements and by performing internal audits, teaching others how to do the same, and by participating in external audits performed by the National Standards Authority of Ireland. As a result of obtaining that knowledge and in learning those skills, my chance of obtaining employment or of starting a successful business upon release has increased significantly. Upon release I will be a productive member of society by using the skills I have learned while working for UNICOR at slave labor rates, and will become a taxpayer instead of a tax liability. I say slave labor rates because inmate employees have not had an across the board raise since 1990. However, the State of Georgia doesn’t pay prisoners for working, so I am grateful for what I do earn, which allows me to take care of my personal needs. It is amazing what one can do earning $1.45 per hour compared to zero.

Read my essay, “No Sympathy”, free on this site or you can download for free by going to my website (http://www.straightfromthepen.com) and clicking on the Smashwords.com link. You will see that you are reading the writings of a million-dollar man, who may not have cost the American taxpayers so much money if he had not become a recidivist. If I had learned marketable job skills while in prison and learned how not to shoot dope in the process (not mentioned specifically in my essay), I would have stayed out of prison, but I didn’t learn how to keep the needle out of my arm. In prisons as a young adult, I learned how to commit more crimes, and then became a recidivist after I got out and failed to succeed as a so-called, career criminal.

Anyways, let me explain to you from where I live and write. In my April 3, 2015, Blog post (“My Life in a Prison Cell in an Overcrowded Prison” at https://www.straightfromthepen.wordpress.com/2015/04/03/life-in-a-prison-cell-in-an-overcrowded-prison and waynedowdy.weebly.com), I gave a general idea about the bathroom where I live with another man. To be more specific, the particular bathroom in which I live, is about ten feet high, twelve feet long, and eight feet wide; has a white porcelain sink and toilet, a stainless steel mirror that is virtually useless due to being scrubbed with abrasive cleaning powder, thus making it user unfriendly. Inside the cell is an array of battleship gray items: small table with a swivel seat in the rear of the cell, one bunk bed, two storage lockers adjoined by a shelf, all mounted to dull-white walls or bolted to the floor to attempt to deter the vandals from destroying them; two sturdy, hard plastic foot lockers, stored underneath the bottom bunk. Other than those foot lockers and two small bulletin boards on the wall, everything else is concrete and steel. If you walked in the cell, which I hope you don’t, all but two wall-mounted lockers, table, and a large fluorescent light are on the left side. The cells to the right of me have opposite fixture configurations. I could complain about living conditions, but I know I am not in a Five-Star Hotel. I’m in prison; furthermore, I realize that many state prisoners have it much worse, so I won’t whine, much.

The administrative color of choice around here is battleship gray. Maybe it is preferred because of its dull and gloomy look, like fog, or maybe it is to give the place the feel of a war zone. I failed to mention the battleship gray door; steel plated, equipped with a vertical observation window and a bean hole for guards to push food and other items into the cell during lockdowns, when prisoners can’t come out to play or battle with each other. Also in the rear of the cell is a screened window so course that one could use it to sand concrete. Three, thick, tubular bars enhance cell decor. Each cell has two powerful water sprinklers capable of filling the cell within minutes with a black, foul-smelling, oily substance mixed in water. Each cell also contains a duress button for medical emergencies that many refer to as a Panic Button. If someone is trying to kill you, or if you are in need of prompt medical care, don’t expect to be saved. You’d die waiting for rescuers to arrive.

So much is the life I live. Myself, I have never depended on prison staff to protect and keep me safe. I am a man and know how to survive in the insane world of incarceration, and believe me, it is an “Insane” existence at times. Fortunately, I get along with most people because I treat them the way I want to be treated, staff and inmates alike. Reading my essay collection (Essays & More Straight from the Pen) will give you an idea about my life inside of prisons. Medically speaking, I bought several hundred dollars worth of medical books over the years so I could keep the medical personnel at various prisons from killing me with malpractice. Seriously, the medical knowledge I obtained has kept me alive. A pharmacist once put a medication in my hand that could have killed me if I had taken it, and that was after I had told the prescribing Physician’s Assistant that I was allergic to it. And even though my file is labeled as so, that pharmacist still handed me a drug that could have ended my prison sentence in 1991 when it happened, but, that wasn’t what was meant to be. Anyway, that incident started my survival crusade and has saved me numerous health-related problems that would have occurred if I depended totally on my keepers. It’s a miracle I didn’t succeed at killing myself with self-induced-abuse. My essays contain lots of incidents to prove we only leave this world when our time is up, and that bell just hasn’t rang for me, at least, not as of today. Maybe it won’t for a long while so that I can keep you covered with my life straight from the pen, even upon my release.

In my next post I will write about the Quality Assurance Apprenticeship program that I am a tutor in, as well as a writing class a friend asked me to set in on to help teach other prisoners the Art of Creative Writing. Stay tuned. Post comments or contact me if you like and I will answer all questions. Thank you. Let me get back to vacationing, now. Unfortunately, I can’t go to the beach or lake, out on a date with a lover, or go out to eat at a steak house, because my keepers would miss me if I were gone. Hopefully, by 2018 I will be able to do all of the above without having to worry about hound dogs chasing me down. 🙂

Wayne T. Dowdy, 39311-019, B-3
P.O. Box 725, FCI
Edgefield, SC 29824-0725
E-mail: waynedowdy@straightfromthepen.com
Follow me on Twitter: @DowdyFromThePen

My Life in a Prison Cell in an Overcrowded Prison

An average day for me is not the same as the days of an average person, because I live in a very unnatural environment. My day often begins with a flashlight beam bursting through my eyelids, penetrating the brain, disrupting the sleep cycle. Or with the sound of metal-on-metal from a guard jamming a quarter pound, brass key into the keyhole to free me from the confines of a prison cell, designed for one, housing two. Quite frankly, I live in a bathroom with another man: a bathroom that may substitute as an office, bedroom, den, dining room, kitchen, living room, gym; one with the potential of becoming a boxing ring, miniature sports arena, war zone, crime scene. Under such confined conditions, having an attractive female as a roommate would make life much better. Unfortunately, that is not an option, so I remain more celibate than some priests. If I had a choice I would live alone, since I can’t have a female; due to prison overcrowding I live as I do. So much is life on the inside.

To clarify life on the inside, most people who come to prison straight do not go out gay, as “asserted” by Dr. Ben Carson. I learned in Psychology about Projection, which is where a person projects their actions or feelings into someone else. For instance, a person who cheats on their spouse may come home and accuse them of being unfaithful. Could that be related in some absurd way to Carson’s statement?  Who knows?  Why use defenseless prisoners as an analogy that homosexuality is a choice? I started serving this sentence almost three decades ago and haven’t changed my sexual preference yet. I don’t knock anyone who prefers to have sex with others, whether bi-curious, homosexual, or whatever they choose to be, who also decides to have sex with someone of the same sex; or what anyone else does with his or her life, but I will write that many prisoners are homophobic. Homosexuality is not socially acceptable in most prisons, especially in the federal system compared to some state systems. Most of whom I know do not choose to have sex with someone of the same sex. I have known men who were raped who still chose not to continue to participate is sexual activities with other men. Some of my peers asked me to clarify that what Carson said was not true, and so I have.

On a blog sent to me from CNN’s website, posted as Comment 97 by Philip Bump, March 4th, 2015, Bump wrote, “In an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Wednesday morning, likely 2016 presidential candidate, Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon, stated his belief that homosexuality is a choice. His evidence for the claim? ‘A lot of people who go into prison, [they] go into prison straight and when they come out, they’re gay.'”

Bump continues with a profound quote from Dr. Helen Eigenberg. “‘The fundamental assumption of the analogy he’s using is insane,’ said Helen Eigenberg, professor of criminal justice at the University of Tennessee, who has been studying sexuality and incarceration for about 25 years. ‘I don’t know of any research that substantiates the [claim] that men go to prison and come out gay. There’s no data to support that claim,’ she said.” I commend her for her frankness and agree 100%. Maybe I will send her a complimentary copy of my books (UNDER PRESSURE-MOTIVATIONAL VERSION by Mr. D. and ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN) to help her in her studies relating to incarceration.

The reality of life on the inside is far from what is shown on television. Most prisoners do not run around looking to rob, rape, or physically assault their peers. Some do, of course, but most of them end up caged in a cell twenty-three hours per day, alone. Prisons vary. Prisoners vary as well. More will be revealed. Stay tuned.  I’ll post more about my Life Inside real soon.