Category Archives: Politics

REENTRY PLANS & A FRIEND MOVES ON

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

*****

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

*****

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

*****

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

*****

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

guitar 2

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BREAKING NEWS

trump and kim

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is from my ACT WorkKeys Skill Report:

WorkKeys Graphic Literacy:

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

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

* Compare two or more pieces of information

* Identify a trend/pattern/relationship

* Make an inference or decision

* Identify the graphic that accurately represents the data

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

* Compare two or more trends/patterns/relationships

* Interpret a trend/pattern/relationship

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

* Justify an inference or decision based on information

* Identify the most effective graphic given a defined purpose

* Justify the most effective graphic given a defined purpose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_________________________________________________

Wayne T. Dowdy writes at StraightFromthePen.com.

CHANGES

By Wayne T. Dowdy

Dowdy storm 1

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Dowdy P Trump

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

DONALD J. TRUMP

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

______________________________

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

 

 

 

 

MARCH MADNESS

by Wayne T. Dowdy

For the last month, I thought about writing this blog, twisting my mustache as numerous ideas whirled around inside my head: making a minor correction suggested by a reader; praising women in honor of Women’s History Month; updating the halfway house issue; and my plans for StraightFromthePen.org and .net, including my agenda to help reform the failed policies and practices that fuel mass incarceration in America.

womens history month 2018WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH:  On March 27, 2017, I wrote “Women Rule the World” in honor of the wonderful women of the world, whom we all owe our lives.  Please take a moment to read it on https://straightfromthepen.wordpress.com or http://waynedowdy.weebly.com.

BLOGS:  I won’t devote much space to the halfway house issues I wrote about in “Half a Problem” (01/12/18) and the other blog my publisher posted on February 12, 2018:  “The Storm and Valentine’s Day Wish” (The Storm).

Two days after The Storm was posted, seventeen victims died and numerous others were wounded from the blasts of an AR-15, while trying to obtain an education.

valentines day masacreANOTHER VALENTINE’S DAY MASSACRE:  Ironically, as I wrote in the latter post, when I first sent out “A Winter Storm & Valentine’s Day Wish” on February 12, 2014, two days later, an earthquake struck this area.  This time, after posting the modified version of the same story, a mentally-ill young adult permanently affected the lives of the survivors of a school shooting and engrained unpleasant memories on a day for sweethearts and lovers.

THE COWARD WHO POSED AS A PROTECTOR OF THE PEOPLE:  I spent many hours thinking of those innocent children who were murdered at a Florida school, as a coward who posed as a security guard from the Broward County Sheriff’s Department, stood trembling outside the doors of the school as the gunman killed his victims.  I understand that humans experience a paralyzing fear, but for trained professionals, isn’t that when their training is supposed to kick in, putting them on autopilot to perform their heroic deeds?

The one paid to protect the children and their teachers, had lived most of his life.  I don’t understand why he did not risk what remained of his life to help save the lives of those who were just beginning theirs; I’m sure he regrets his inaction on that fatal day.

If one of the world’s most ethical preachers of the gospel had not passed away, I’m sure he, the late Reverend Billy Graham, would have said a prayer and forgave the coward for not protecting those who depended on him to keep the school safe.

US-INTELLIGENCE-POLITICS-RUSSIAHALFWAY HOUSE UPDATE:  I am awaiting a response from the Regional Director on my Administrative Remedy Request (BP-10), of which I mailed a certified copy of to BOP Director, Mark S. Inch, and Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC).  The Honorable Trey Gowdy chaired the Oversight Committee on the BOP’s changes to its Halfway House program.

I invited Director Inch to read my two blogs and then sent a copy of the blogs to Representative Gowdy.  I also wrote, “I refuse to believe that those under you are applying the changes as you intended; if they are, then with all due respect, I feel those policies are an abuse of the discretion provided by Congress in 18 U.S.C. Section 3624(c), Prerelease Custody (Second Chance Act of 2007:  Community Safety Through Recidivism Reduction).”

I do expect to succeed at getting additional time in a halfway house, because as everyone has acknowledged, 119-days is not enough for someone who has been in prison for thirty-years.

The Regional response is due April 5, 2018.  April 5th is the day I stopped using drugs and alcohol in 1995.  I then stopped smoking on that same date in 2004.  A friend said, “If you’re ever going to play the lottery, do it on April 5th.”  🙂  I’ve bought my ticket!

CORRECTION:  One dedicated reader who attended the event I wrote about in “The Storm & Valentine’s Day Wish,” corrected me about who made a statement that the BOP was running out of prisoners because of changes in the law, and policies made by the former President Obama and Attorney General, Eric Holder.

I attributed the comment to having been made by a BOP spokesperson and at a Union meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The event was a conference, not a closed-door meeting, and the speaker was from the Department of Justice, a U.S. Attorney, the reader believed, and not a BOP official.

CONFESSION:  I confess to being tough on the BOP and its officials whom have the task of managing the Federal Bureau of Prisons, often without proper funding, and a lack of desire to fulfill its professed commitment to society to protect it from the nation’s most dangerous criminals.  The BOP claims to accomplish their mission by helping convicted men and women become law-abiding citizens, by offering self-improvement and employment opportunities.

From my viewpoint, that is supposed to occur while its prisoner remain captive inside the depths of the inherently corrupt federal prison system, whose policies and practices are driven, in part, by the influence of private prison companies.  Many of the alleged self-improvement and employment opportunities are items listed on paper and not practiced as required by policy.

Read “The Truth About Incarceration, Part II” for more on the topic of private prison influence on absurd laws and policies.

cropped-cropped-front-cover-art-with-tower.jpgSTRAIGHT FROM THE PEN:  On May 4, 2011, I sent out a post about my ideas for StraightFromthePen to be shared on Facebook.  This is an updated status report to be posted and shared on social media outlets:

At this point, the Straight From the Pen concept is a dream, a plan to gather the people who will help create a social networking system designed to improve the state of affairs.  Prison budgets drain state and federal economies, but more so than that, the prison experience drains life from many and damages the chance of those who wish to succeed after serving time in prison.

Once tarnished by the “Ex-Con” stigma, it makes it difficult to find jobs and people willing to trust an ex-offender and help him or her get on their feet.  Many of those who go to prison lose everything and walk out of the prison gates without any money, family, friends, and a lot of repressed hate and anger that will destroy them and sometimes hurt others who become their victims.

Recidivism rates soar in America:  In one study of prisoners released in 1994, 67.5% of prisoners were re-arrested within 3-years of release.  A recidivist is a person who returns to old behaviors.  Then in the “Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005, Patterns from 2005 to 2010,” on average, 76.6% of state prisoners returned to prison with a new charge.

Federal prisoners fared better than state prisoners.  In an eight year study, “Recidivism Among Federal Offenders:  A Comprehensive Overview” that the United States Sentencing Commission released in 2016, “almost one-half of federal offenders released in 2005 (49.3%) were rearrested for a new crime or rearrested for a violation of supervision conditions.”

In some categories, over 80% returned to prison after release.  The recidivism rate is 80.1% for career criminals who automatically fall in the Criminal History Category of VI by having two prior felony drug and, or violent crime convictions.

THE COST of incarceration in America varies depending on the age and security of prisoners.  In the federal system, those rates average between $31,000 for healthy prisoners, and much higher for most of its aging prisoners.

The cost of my incarceration now runs close to $100,000 per year.  Wouldn’t it be cheaper to free me?

Straight From the Pen hopes to lower those numbers by helping to change the status quo of the criminal justice systems across America and beyond.  Reducing recidivism, crime rates, and the victimization of those who will otherwise fall victim to the recidivist, whether by feeling the pain inflicted from the recidivist or by paying enormous tax rates that supports mass incarceration in America, will make life better for everyone involved.  We can make a difference!

My plan is to find those capable and willing to create two social networking sites called StraightFromthePen.org and StraightFromthePen.net.  The .org will contain links to every state and federal legislature.  Myself or others will draft bills and letters of support on specific issues of interest to society, and demand a vote from the elected officials to support the bills or issues necessary to change the corrupt system fueling mass incarceration.

The participant only has to select the contact information of the legislature, and then click to send the letter or bill of interest, which demands the preferred vote in exchange for another vote during re-election campaigns.

To realize this dream, as the conditions indicate on this date, I need people to handle the technical aspects involved in creating and maintaining the network; some to research issues needed to write effective articles, bills and support letters; others to handle the finances, apply for government grants, receive and channel donations to benefit the organization.

This is the vision for Straight From the Pen:

Straight From the Pen seeks to improve and change the status quo of prison through knowledge and understanding about the beast by enlightening others from the inside of places stereotyped as holding sullen, dejected, and dangerous people.  Through open debate and an honest approach, we seek to reduce recidivism, reduce state and federal deficits, and to help change the lives of its participants.

AGENDA: stimulate discussions and actions on the following topics:

1) Prison Reform;

2) How to Reduce Recidivism;

3) Life on the Inside and Its Effect;

4) Lives Affected by Criminals;

5) Retribution;

6) Laws Leading to Prison;

7) Prison Politics; and

8) Educating Prisoners to Reduce Recidivism and Save Lives.

We can change the mass incarceration rates and the destructive effect of prison with a proactive approach that targets those who make laws and policies.  States such as Georgia, Kansas, and Kentucky have already implemented programs that reduce recidivism, which is proof that we can help to create positive change, but not alone.  We must work together to come up with solutions to improve the quality of life for everyone involved.

(Send suggestions or comments to wtdowdy57@gmail.com or waynedowdy@straightfromthepen.com.  Put SFTP in the subject line.  My response may be slow but I will respond.  For snail mail, send it to Wayne T. Dowdy, #39311-019, Federal Correctional Institution, P.O. Box 725, Edgefield, SC 29824-0725)

Seven years after I began working on Straight From the Pen, I have one of three websites available to help generate funds for the other two (http://www.straightfromthepen.com).  I also have people in my circle who will help realize the Straight From the Pen dream.

Invest in the future:  To support this agenda, purchase eBooks and set the price you wish to contribute on my Smashwords Authors Page at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy, or if you prefer, make donations at GoFundMe (gf/me/u/ba6xjn).

StraightFromthePen.net will provide a platform for a select group of the incarcerated or formerly incarcerated to tell the world their absurd, verifiable stories that lead to unbelievable prison sentences that did not match the crimes.  For instance, one friend received a 40-year federal sentence in Florida for 1-gram of cocaine hydrochloride for personal use, and a .357 magnum cartridge that hung on a keychain.  Many such horror stories live inside the prisons of the world.

I thank you in advance for your time and contributions toward making a difference in the fight for justice.   Wayne

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

PRISONERS

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

 

_______________________________

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

Mothers & Memorial Days by Wayne T. Dowdy

happy mothers day

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

*****

confederate flag

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

 

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

 

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

monument being removed in NO

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

old glory

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

DAMAGE & PRISON

solitudeby Wayne T. Dowdy

Prison damages people.  Those who spend decades in prison are damaged in many ways, all of which I will not go into.  For instance, exposure to violence or physical abuse that people deal with, or repressing natural tendencies to fight when having to comply with irrational demands; e.g., like ones I wrote about in “The Truth About Incarceration, Part I,” and “A Prisoner’s Story,” https://straightfromthepen.wordpress.com and http://www.straightfromthepen.com.

DON’T GET PERSONAL:  A less than obvious example of damage, occurs for someone like me–a southern gentleman by nature who likes to assist people I see carrying a heavy load or otherwise look to need help; especially, women, who represses the natural desire to help.  To engage in a personal conversation may also create difficulties.

At times, I resist the desire to offer help due to fear of causing a conflict for the damsel in distress.  I still offer to help in certain situations.  Because of prison regulations and the warped, unwritten code of prison ethics, I may avoid speaking openly about an issue I would normally speak about to a person I feel I can help by offering a suggestion.

The person may or may not accept a helping hand.  In such a situation, an inmate may decline assistance at the fear of being seen as weak or vulnerable.  A staff member may decline due to fear of another staff member suspecting improprieties between him or her and the compassionate prisoner.  Personal conversations and any type of transaction between staff and inmates are viewed as inappropriate by many prisoners and staff alike.  Humanity prohibited!

INSTINCTS DENIED:  My instinct is to help others.  Sometimes I don’t because of the risk I may put the other person in by doing what comes natural.  Knowing that my act of kindness may harm the other person, makes me reluctant to offer the assistance my ethics and natural instincts tells me to do, as a decent human being.

Upon release, I will have to undo decades of damage done by the prison experience:  suppressing healthy emotions and needs.  I must learn to be a normal.

I sent out the following message to a friend who posted it on social media for me.  A lot of people liked it so I will share it.

“03/05/17:  To all my Faithful Friends:  I hope March brings each of you lots of love and success or whatever your hearts desire.  For me, I’d be happy to be able to walk through a park or to sit on a lake to listen and observe the beauty of nature; to give someone a hug, kiss someone special, or to just be able to sit and watch animals; or to pet a dog, cat, rabbit, or a chicken.  🙂  Hell, I’d be happy to watch some fish swim around in an aquarium.  I am looking forward to going to the Georgia Aquarium to see some really big fish!  So much in life people take for granted until it’s gone.  One day soon I will be reentering the human race.  Then I will be able to interact with each of you like a normal person.  Have a great day!  Wayne”

The above indicates the desensitization of prisoners.  For over 28-1/2 years, my physical contact with other humans and mammals has been severely restricted.  That is definitely true on an intimate level about lovers and sexual intercourse!  During this sentence, I have resisted romantic-relationships.  I’ve only been involved in three since 1988, and only one of those included physical contact (hugs and kisses on a visit).

I had one female visitor I got to hug and kiss, and some mice to pet while at U.S.P. Atlanta.  🙂

In Lompoc, California, I got to take care of a friend’s pet house sparrow, and to go outside to feed the seagulls, crows, other birds, and ground squirrels.  I fed the ground squirrels until the administration poisoned them.  😦

In a relationship, I love to hug and touch, to put my arm around my mate’s waist or shoulder, to sleep with my arm around her to maintain contact.  I guess I am by nature, a “touchy-feely” kind of guy.  In prison, I sleep alone and touch myself.

SEXUAL REPRESSION:  In 1980-81, when I took psychology in college, I seem to recall that a prominent psychologist or psychiatrist wrote about the damaging effect of suppressing sexual feelings and desires.  If that is true, I must be more damaged than I realize.  Perhaps I need a therapist, now!

In my opinion, sexual repression is one of the leading causes of mental illness in America.

Around 1997, a Nevada, Holier-than-Thou politician, pushed a bill through Congress that prohibited federal prisoners from receiving magazines or books containing nudity.

CENSORSHIP & COMPLEX REASONING:  Several years ago, the prison mail room staff rejected an issue of Smithsonian I subscribed to because it contained nudity.  I appealed.

The program statement makes an exception for educational or anthropological content, as one may see in National Geographic; however, understanding an “exception clause” requires cognitive thinking; an ability to comprehend the subject matter and its relation to the provision; to then analyze the situation and decide whether the matter before one’s eye, does in fact, contain what constitutes a permissible exception, a far too complicated process for someone who may not have a GED, I reckon.

The Smithsonian Board of Directors has Supreme Court justices and politicians.  If I was wrong in my assertions, the justices and politicians on the Board of Directors support publishing and distributing pornography.

I appealed the decision to reject my Smithsonian.  I took it to the highest level in Washington, DC.  No one involved comprehended the “exception clause” and upheld the denial of my magazine.  Censorship won because I didn’t want to spend $500.00 to litigate the matter in federal court, where someone with the required intelligence could understand the educational/anthropological, “exception clause.”

PERVERSION & THE POLITICIAN:  Since that policy took effect, I saw a dramatic increase of inmates put in the hole (confined to a cell 23 hours per day, restricted from purchasing most commissary items, using the phone, email system, etc.) for “gunning down” female staff members (masturbating or exposing genitalia while watching the woman).  That may qualify as abnormal behavior.

The politician who sponsored the censorship bill, later came under fire for getting caught cheating on his wife.  Throughout the years, many of the politicians who come up with such bills did what prisoners in the Georgia prison system called “Shifting the Heat,” which is to say or to do things to put the focus on other people to keep it away from themselves.

CELIBATE BY CHOICE:  In prison, I remain celibate because I choose not to participate in homosexual activities, my only other option since I do not have or attempt to have sexual affairs with staff members.  Even if involved in a heterosexual relationship with someone, I still couldn’t engage in sexual activities, even if someone visited me.  While visiting, prison rules limit physical contact to hugs and kisses when greeting and leaving.  Therefore, I remain celibate and will do so until I reenter that part of humanity upon release from prison.

LOMPOC CA:  In 1999, while I was at the United States Penitentiary in Lompoc, California, a tall and pretty, female staff member worked in M-Unit, along with a male staff member known to create drama with staff and inmates alike.

M-Unit is where those of us with high profiles were kept.  I lived in it because I was a maximum custody prisoner.  The administration scored me as Maximum custody due to violence and an escape in 1981, when I was a 24-year-old knucklehead in the Georgia prison system.  Today I am a model prisoner.

PRETTY WOMAN:  That tall and pretty woman was a mother of three.  The male guard wanted her to sit in a booth where the correctional officers, who worked in the unit, had a phone, small desk, drawers, and a cabinet to store their personal and work-related items.

She rebelled.  Instead, she chose to speak with me, within his view.  We stood talking on a tier, in an open area, where others could hear our conversation.  To learn how she might help raise her children, she asked about my childhood and history, and wanted to know what I thought lead to me spending my life in prison.  Our conversation was wholesome, no improprieties of any sort.

The next time I saw her, she asked if I’d be willing to give her an affidavit about our conversation, if she needed it.

“Sure,” I said.

The male guard wrote a complaint against her for fraternizing with an inmate.

Because of that experience, I sometimes avoided conversations with female staff members, who may have only wanted to engage in conversation to ease their tension from working in a male prison.

When sexually attracted, I must resist the impulse to flirt or to make an advance.  A rejection might result in a trip to the hole and a damaged ego, the damaged ego being the worst casualty of rejection.

As damaged as I may be from the prison experience, I will blend into society when I am released.  With a little help from my friends, and maybe a therapist or two, I will be okay and become a success story.

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Purchase books by Wayne T. Dowdy from StraightFromthePen.com, or his eBooks from Smashwords.com  (https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy).

POLITICS & PRISONS

election-dayby Wayne T. Dowdy

The United States Presidential election will be over by the time this blog gets posted. Half of the cellblocks at this institution cannot watch television coverage of the elections because some prisoners had the nerve to violate the rules by having contraband in their cells. Imagine that, prisoners who break the rules!

PRISONS: most prison administrators use an “old” military technique of punishing groups of men (and women now), because of the actions of one or a few.

I was never in the military: my criminal record kept me out. I wanted to join the Air Force to become a jet fighter pilot, instead, I become a fighter in prison.

I learned to fly high without leaving the ground and that landed me in prison. In prison, I fight for rights (read my blog, “Fighting for Rights to Write,” originally published by PrisonEducation.com).

NO BLANKET PARTY: Based on what an ex-military, staff member told me, the ideology behind mass-disciplinary techniques was derived from military tactics: if a soldier failed to make up his bed or left his area un-kept during inspection, the whole barrack was punished. As an unofficial sanction, the offender’s fellow soldiers gave him a blanket party by throwing a blanket over his head and beating the stuffing out of him to teach him a lesson.

In prison, violence is prohibited, so prisoners cannot give blanket parties or punish those who cause everyone else to be punished for their actions, which defeats any common-sense-application of mass-disciplinary techniques. Most prisoners that I have known would not give a peer a blanket party or sanction them for violating a rule, even if allowed: Some will report offenders who violate rules and would help the guards arrest and shackle them if allowed.

Federal Institutions now have a Crime Stopper Hotline, which I find amusing. Time has changed things. Maybe for better, maybe not. If the changes reduce recidivism and help to improve the lives of others, then it is all good.

MORE ON BLANKET PARTIES: If certain prisoners were given a blanket party or “sanctioned” by their peers for failure to comply with rules or regulations, it may lead to extreme violence; therefore, the ideological control mechanism for military men and women does not work on prisoners, or otherwise has adverse effects; that is, unless the prison administrators really want prisoners to clash. Many administrators do have ulterior motives.

DOMINANCE & SUBMISSION: Perhaps what drives mass-disciplinary techniques is a stroke of the executioners’ ego, more so than to produce the desired or intended effect. Then again, maybe such techniques are utilized just as a display of power to show who is in control of the masses? The politics of prison are all about dominance and submission.

Break out the whips and chains and sweat boxes to teach the scoundrels a lesson! Maybe the cat-o-nine tails to go along with the whips to really get the point across, their backs that is.

People do not go to prison for being nice men and women. Most who do go to prison come out worse than when they arrive, damaged and scarred by the prison experience.

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: My view on politics is that the Democrats represent the lawyers trying to sue the big businesses represented by the Republicans. Politicians deceive voters when they run on a platform and promise to vote a certain way on an issue, but then vote otherwise when elected because of their party line agenda.

Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump: I would vote for Mrs. Clinton for the simple reason that she has Bill Clinton’s experience behind her.

I cannot believe that Americans want to vote for Donald Trump to run the most powerful and wealthiest country in the world, after he deceived the investors in his business adventures by convincing them to trust him, only to file bankruptcy, not once, four times! Trump is a recidivist.

I wanted Bernie Sanders to win but he wanted to uproot the good-ole-boy regimes and didn’t have a chance. So much for American politics, straight from the pen. Later. waynedowdy@straightfromthepen.com.

REENTERING REALITY

by Wayne T. Dowdy

Time Warp - Time Dilation. Quantum mechanics meets general relat
Time Warp – Time Dilation. Quantum mechanics meets general relativity.

The clock ticks away the seconds, minutes, hours, and months until my release. The realities I must face flood the senses as my day comes closer. The last three decades of my life will have been spent inside federal prisons. For most of this sentence, getting out seemed so far into the future that I never concerned myself with release preparations, other than general ideas about where I would live when that day arrives, and how to legally provide for myself; e.g., writing my way to riches, freelance technical writing, writing “how to” books; working as an internal auditor, or helping to prepare a company for ISO certification of their quality management system, maybe starting a company. Some of my peers want me to set up a paralegal service to help those still incarcerated. Whatever I do, I will succeed as a free citizen.

FREEDOM: In recent months, I have known a few to receive commutation of sentences: Alphonso Davis, Alonzo Mackins, and the most recent two J. F. Banks, and M. L. Sherrod, all of whom were doomed to die in federal prison until President Obama bestowed his mercy upon them and gave them another chance at life. All four men had sentences of life without parole for various drug-related crimes. (See LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE below.)

FREEDOM DENIED: I have known many, many, more men whose petitions were denied, including myself. My petition was denied on September 30, 2016. I am not alone. Thousands of applicants of all ethnic backgrounds have been denied.

Personally, I have not known anyone other than African-Americans whose petitions were granted. I know race plays a role in the decision on whether to grant or not grant a petition, since President Obama specifically mentioned sentencing disparities of “minorities.” It makes me happy to see anyone blessed with freedom.

The sad part is that all four of those men I know, who were serving life without parole, are only a micro-percentage of all the others I know who are in the same position and deserve another chance at life.

I do believe that what President Obama is doing is a good thing. I do not believe the color of a person’s skin should have been a decisive factor in sentencing or relief. I know the President began Clemency Project 2014 to release people of color who met specific requirements; a few others were also released. All of the people I know whom he granted relief deserved it and should not have been serving the rest of their lives in prison for their crimes.

RECIDIVISM: Statistically, many released prisoners will re-offend, whether white, black, yellow, or brown. Only a few will commit horrendous crimes and regardless of what percentage returns, the politicians should not use that to justify not passing laws to give others another chance at freedom. (Read my July 25, 2016, blog post, “Changing Public Image of Prisoners,” (UNRECOGNIZED SUCCESS STORIES), and “Reentry Programs Will Reduce Recidivism” for more on the issue.)

TOUGH-ON-CRIME BRIBES: Many donations will be given to politicians who vote against prison reform bills. On July 27, 2016, Presidential candidate Donald Trump received a $45,000 contribution from GEO Group, Inc., a private prison group with a vested interest in high incarceration rates. www. rollcall.com, “Private Immigrant Detention Firm Gave $45K to Trump Fundraising Group” by Dean DeChiaro.

My day will come and I will walk out the door a better man than when I walked in three decades before. Most of the years I have spent in prison were due in part to tough-on-crime bills driven by funding from private prison representatives.

In the “Truth About Incarceration, Part II” (https://straightfromthepen.wordpress.com), I wrote on the influence on laws by contributions from private prison officials.

lifewithoutparoleLIFE WITHOUT PAROLE: Life without parole for drug crimes was once considered to be cruel and unusual punishment in some states until the United States Supreme Court decided it was cruel but not unusual, and then upheld a Michigan criminal statute that allowed men and women sentenced to life without parole for possessing “650 grams or more of any mixture containing certain controlled substance, including cocaine.” He a first-time offender. Harmelin v. Michigan, 501 U.S. 957 (1991).

“Times change. The law has changed. Our culture is changing its views about how long we should put people behind bars.” The Honorable J. Merritt, Circuit Judge, dissenting in United States v. Taylor, 815 F.3d 248 (6th Cir. 2016).

Americans are reevaluating punishment for what they think crimes should carry.

The time has come for Americans to take a stand about the mass incarceration that drains the economy and ruins the family structure of those affected by unjust incarceration.

BLOGS: I wrote blogs in tribute to Alphonso and Alonzo, both of whom were friends (“Freedom for a Friend” and “Freedom for Another Friend”). In those blogs, I praised President Obama for doing what he did. I wrote other blogs that relates to others reentering society and my views on programs to reduce recidivism (reverting to old behaviors, drug addiction or crime that leads men and women back to prison).

On a different note, President Obama was an attorney before he became a senator and then the President. As an attorney, he would have seen first-hand how Americans were cast into prison for life without parole, for crimes that did not warrant such severe punishment.

TRANSITIONS: Most everyone faces difficulties when reentering society; especially, with a criminal conviction to overcome when applying for jobs. Just trying to fit-it can be challenging upon return to a different society than when the ex-offender was last free. In “No Sympathy”* I wrote about such changes.

I forewarned Mr. Mackins about the changes to expect during his transition. He was a first-time offender who had spent eighteen years of his life in an unnatural environment: prison. Reentering society after decades in prison often makes a person feel like an alien.

My time is coming soon. Am I ready? Yes!

In 1988, I did not worry about what my life would be like in 2019, sixty-two years old; leaving prison, without a home, or a car, or a job, and without money to sustain my life in a foreign world: the free society. The world I left as a young man for sitting in a second-getaway vehicle during an armed bank robbery, down the road from the bank, unarmed, alone until confederates came to meet me for the great escape.

With it now being the end of 2016, and with knowing my case manager said he will put me in for more time in a halfway house than most people receive (due to amount of time served), I may go to that distant world as early as April 24, 2018. The reality of my upcoming release sets in.

My tentative release date is April 24, 2019. That is the date I am scheduled to begin serving my five years of supervised release. I will have served thirty-years and nine months inside.

For fourteen years I was rated as High security and Maximum custody. The custody rating determines the level of security and controls needed to house an inmate.

CHANGES: In the beginning, I realized a very real chance existed that I might die in prison; especially, since I was told I would stay maximum custody, because I had assaulted staff and escaped while serving time in the State of Georgia. I never accepted I could not get my custody/security lowered, even though the classification system did have me in a trap: I could never score enough points for a custody decrease, regardless of how well I behaved.

I did not give up, even with it looking as if I would never get my security lowered because of my past. My High Max classification was based more on my behavior as a twenty-four-year-young, knuckle head, than my behavior in the federal system.

Early on when I asked about having the maximum custody removed, the unit manager at U.S.P. Leavenworth said, “You will be maximum custody when you get out in 2020.” (My release date was in 2020.)

Years later, after not having been a disciplinary or management problem, I asked my case manager about removing the maximum custody that kept me in the penitentiaries. She said, “Two things the B.O.P. does not tolerate is escape and assault on staff and you have done both. I don’t see any warden signing off on you but we will talk about it at your next team.”

At the next team meeting I asked again. She put her hand on my extensive file, tapped it with a finger, and then said, “The person I see in here is not the same person I see sitting in front of me. You’ve changed haven’t you?”

“Yeah, I changed a little,” I said and laughed.

I have changed a lot over the years and am an honorable man and a good person. Many times I wondered if I would see the outside again, especially when I sat in some of the most dangerous federal prisons in the United States, with trouble brewing that I knew could lead to a full-scale riot and result in the deaths of many men.

I maintained my sanity by not thinking about a day I knew I may never see: the day I would walk out the prison doors as a free man.

REALITIES OF RELEASE: I recently thought about some of the challenges I will face upon release: needing a car for transportation to and from work, and needing the money to buy the car and insurance for the car that I cannot buy without a job. In the city of Atlanta, which is where I will be sent for the halfway house portion of my sentence, I will be able to use the MARTA transit system to get around while in the halfway house. In the suburbs of Atlanta where I plan to live, I am not sure if public transportation exists.

When I was last a free citizen, the price of gasoline at some Georgia gas stations was $0.78 to $0.82 cent per gallon. At high dollar stations like Shell and Exxon, it only cost around $1.15 to $1.38 per gallon. By the time I am released, I am sure the prices will be around $3.00 to $4.25 per gallon.

WANTS VERSUS NEEDS: I realized through my personal experience that the lack of money management skills put people in prison, as does drug and alcohol abuse. During the last twenty-one, “sober years” of this sentence, I learned to manage my money by living within my means, not borrowing to buy, and making decisions to purchase based on needs versus wants.

If the prison commissary stocks a new item (e.g., a different style of tennis shoes I like, a watch, radio, or MP-3 player), I have often wanted to purchase the item but have not because it was a “want,” not a need. I love music and can afford to purchase an MP-3 player. I really do “want” one, but if I buy one, then I’d be buying songs for $1.55 each. I resisted the impulse and applied my limited funds toward paying for time on Corrlinks to write these blogs and for sending emails to friends and loved ones, or printing documents at fifteen cents per page.

I keep time on the first Indiglo model Timex that I bought in March of 1995. I don’t need a different watch, I want one. My relic works fine. I must maintain that level of thinking upon release.

My primary objective will be to find an apartment or home to rent or buy when my finances permit it. When I do, then I have to buy insurance on the house (and personal insurance), and then furniture for the house or apartment.

Relationships will be another adventure. God will give me who I need to make me whole.

Materially, I do not need anything elaborate, nor do I need all the fancy gadgets, such as the latest Apple iPhone. I’ll need to buy clothes to dress for success, a decent cellphone, preferably a Smartphone (who wants a dumb phone?), a computer for my writing career, and maybe a spacecraft to begin my journey into a whole new world. 🙂

In my blog, “The Internet,” I wrote about a conversation I had with my first unit team members. Read it and you will understand what I mean about a spacecraft.

Whether I have a spaceship or not, I will be okay and will be successful as a free citizen.

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The publisher will advertise UNKNOWN INNOCENCE in their newsletter that goes to prisoners. To absorb the cost of shipping and handling, I asked that the price be lowered from $14.95 to $10.95. Purchase it now while the price is low.

* “No Sympathy” is in ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN by Wayne T. Dowdy. It is a good read for those who want to know the truth about life inside American prisons and the associated politics of survival inside the insane world of incarceration. The book is a deal at $8.95.

Freedom for Another Friend

by Wayne T. Dowdy

obama clemencyOn January 5, 2016, I wrote about Alphonso D. in “Freedom for a Friend,” whom President Obama had freed from an unjust sentence of life-without-parole.  The President granted Alphonso’s petition for commutation of sentence and gave him another chance at life in the free society.

ANOTHER FRIEND FREED:  I am grateful to write that President Obama granted 214-more commutation of sentences on August 3, 2016.  One of the men was another friend of mine:  Alonzo M., a tall, light-skinned, well-mannered, African-American male.

Before August 3, 2016, Alonzo was eighteen years into serving life without parole for a drug conspiracy case, with a concurrent 240-month sentence for a bogus money laundering charge.  He was fed to the lions by criminals who wanted time off their sentences.

DANGEROUS CRIMINAL:  Alonzo was a late bloomer who indulged in mind-altering substances for his enjoyment, not for business purposes.  He occasionally bought small quantities of marijuana, until at the age of 47, after hospitalization for a serious injury, he began using cocaine and heroin to ease the pain of his injuries.  (See SENTENCING ENHANCEMENT FACTORS below for why he received so much time.)

prisoners leaving jailFREEING JAIL BIRDS:  Alonzo ran a family-owned bonding service, passed on to him by his father.  He employed two brothers.  Mackins Bonding Service helped get men and women out of jail who paid the required fee, or otherwise put up something of value to cover the cost of the bond.  Many of his customers were drug dealers.  He came when called to bond them out of jail.  If he knew them and they had been good about paying debts, he’d work with them on the financial aspect to get them out.

UNDER PRESSURE:  Prosecutors and law enforcement officers use jail cells and the poor living conditions to pressure defendants into pleading guilty, and into cooperating with investigations by helping to put other people in jail.  That is especially true in cases based on the most abused law in history:  CONSPIRACY.  That is so even when the government witnesses are known liars who fabricate evidence to get a plea deal.

WARNING:  One agent from the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) cautioned Alonzo, “You are interfering with our investigations by getting them out of jail before we can interrogate them properly.”

“I am a bondsman.  I get people out of jail who pay me.  That’s what I do for a living.”

Another DEA agent came to him in 1997 and attempted to get him to cooperate by providing information against some of his clients.  The DEA agent said, “I know you have a drug problem and that you buy drugs from some of them, but we don’t want you.  You aren’t the problem, but if you don’t become part of the solution, we will see you as part of the problem.”

Alonzo didn’t cooperate and become targeted as the problem.  When he continued to do his job, federal prosecutors put the word out in prisons and jails that they wanted the Mackins and offered reduced sentences to those who provided information.

JAIL BIRDS LIE:  For sentence reductions, the conspirators mostly made false claims against Alonzo and his brother, Willie.  The lies told were payment for the Mackins’ getting people out of jail who law enforcement officials did not want out.

Read “Freedom for a Friend,” subtitle “INFORMATION FOR SALE” (USA TODAY reporter reveals scam in federal prison where inmates sell fabricated information to put other people in prison so the purchaser gets time off sentence); and for more information on conspiracy laws and unreliable information used by prosecutors to put people in prison, sometimes for life without parole in letters, or life without parole in numbers (75-years or more, without parole) straightfromthepen.wordpress.com and waynedowdy.weebly.com.

MONEY:  Alonzo broke both legs in an auto accident and was out of the bonding business for eight months.  During that time, Ron S., a pretrial detainee, whose girlfriend was the daughter of a long-time customer, gave her father $100,000 to deliver to Willie to hold for his bond, until his attorney took care of other pending charges.

BAD DECISION:  Ron S. was in jail for selling drugs.  His bond was one million dollars.  He had a detainer in another jurisdiction that he needed removed to make bond.  (A detainer is a hold placed on a prisoner by law enforcement authorities that prohibits release of the prisoner without notifying the agency who placed the detainer.)

Ron S. agreed to pay  $12,000 to the attorney to have the detainers removed so he could make bond, and asked Willie to pay the attorney for him out of the $100,000.  He did.  Months later, Ron S. asked Willie to give money to the daughter of the man who delivered the $100,000.  He did that, too.

NO BOND:  Willie attempted to make the bond for Ron S. but the jailers would not release him because of the detainer.  That’s when Ron S. instructed Willie to give some money to the girl.

When Alonzo returned to work and received a phone call from Ron S. wanting a refund of his money, Alonzo did not know what he was talking about.  He checked the log and did not find any entry for Ron S., so he asked, “Which bondsman took your money?”

“Willie Mackins,” he said.

“Give me time to investigate,” Alonzo said.  “Call me back later.”

After a meeting with his fellow bondsmen and of learning that Ron S. could not make bond, he told his brother to return the money.  He explained it was short because of him having given the money to the attorney and the girl.  Alonzo knew something wasn’t right.  When Ron S. returned the call, he attempted to set-up Alonzo, who said his money would be refunded, but he first had to sell some rental properties to get the remainder of the balance.

“You can give me the rest in something else,” he said, suggesting drugs.

To paraphrase, Alonzo told him, I don’t know where you got that idea.  I don’t do business like that and neither does anyone else here.  I resent your implications, and I wouldn’t be talking with you right now if my company wasn’t involved.  You will get your money, he said, and hung up the phone.

Ron S. lied in court and claimed the financial transaction involved drugs.  The above conversation never played out in court.  Ron S. received a sentence reduction for telling his lies, as did most others who testified.

GOOD DEEDS MADE BAD:  The fabricated money laundering charge began in the late eighties.  He is uncertain of exactly when, but suspects the theory began when he innocently loaned $11,000 to a woman against her nephew’s Mercedes-Benz, for $2,000 interest on a six-month loan.

Lola claimed they needed the money to put a relative in a nursing home.  No one ever mentioned drugs during any conversation he had with her.

She came to him later with various sad stories and persuaded him into helping her rent vehicles because she needed them to move or transport her relatives or children, and because she didn’t have a credit card to use to rent a vehicle.  Since she had repaid the $13,000 in a little over six-months, and she had brought him and his father a lot of bonding business over the years, he helped her.  Each time he rented her a vehicle, she gave him $50.00.

One of the times that she came asking him to help her get a vehicle, she had tears in her eyes and said a relative had died and she needed help.  He always gave her a helping hand but never knew of any drug transaction or inappropriate use of the vehicles.

In Court, the government claimed he rented Lola the vehicles to transport drugs for her nephew.  She had died by the time he was hauled into court, so she could not tell the truth about their relationship.  He was never involved with her nephew or other family members, other than bonding them out of jail, if Lola stood good for them.

His good deeds got him life without parole when people lied on him in court to get time off their sentences.

SENTENCING ENHANCEMENT FACTORS:  Alonzo went to trial and was found guilty based upon the conspiracy theories.  At sentencing, the prosecutor pushed the judge to give him a life sentence because of 1) their claim that he was a leader and organizer; 2) the alleged drug conspiracy quantities, never proved to a jury, but found by the judge, and 3), his prior conviction for possession of .02 grams of cocaine that a female passenger had dropped between his car seats.

In reference to the incident behind his notorious prior conviction, he said, “I saw her drop it.  I looked everywhere for it and even vacuumed the car.  I still didn’t find it, but when that cop searched the car, he found it.”

I looked at him and smiled before I said, “You are such a dangerous criminal, I don’t know how I have lived around you for so long.”

The judge enhanced his current sentence because he possessed a gun that was found during his arrest for the match head of powder cocaine.  He legally owned and possessed the firearm.  Bondsmen carry guns.

WORKING MAN:  Alonzo works in the cubicle beside me in the business office of the Federal Prison Industries, Inc.  Since news of his commutation circulated the prison network news (Inmate.com), several people came by to congratulate him.  Most everyone said the same thing:  “No one deserved it more than you,” or “It couldn’t have happened to a better man.”

I agree.  He is one of the most humble, respectful, polite and kind people that I know.  When I grow up, I want to be like him.

Three years ago, Alphonso and Alonzo worked within ten feet of each other as Quality Assurance Inspectors on a production line, inspecting small components before installation on military trousers.  I got to know both men by issuing and reviewing their inspection instructions, inspection stamps, and other documents as part of my position as the document control clerk and as an internal auditor.  Both men took pride in their work and were known by staff and inmates as the most reliable Q.A. Inspectors.

GRATITUDE:  Alphonso D. and Alonzo M. deserved the President’s compassion and have expressed their gratitude for him giving them another chance at life.  I am confident that neither one will betray his trust.

I am grateful to President Obama for blessing them with freedom.  Neither man should have been serving a life sentence in federal prison, where they were doomed to die before the President commuted their sentences.  I hope other Presidents will have as much courage as President Obama displayed by standing up for what is right, in light of the controversy his actions have caused with his critics.

JUSTICE ?:  Thousands of others remain in federal and state prisons serving life sentences, many of whom were convicted for Ghost Dope Conspiracies and other similar crimes, where no actual drugs or evidence existed, other than that provided by testifying codefendants or informants, who provided testimony to avoid prison or to shorten their stay.

May justice one day be served by Congress clarifying the law or passing others to prohibit prosecutors from using tainted testimony, paid for by giving witnesses “something of value for their testimony in court,” in violation of Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 201(c)(2), the Anti-bribery statute.

As a three-judge panel in the UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE TENTH CIRCUIT concluded in Singleton v. United States (1998), a person’s freedom is something of value.  An en banc decision (reviewed by all judges on the Tenth Circuit) overturned the original decision, after political pressure consumed the news about the three-judge panel’s decision.  The en banc panel essentially concluded that governments have been giving deals for centuries, so it must be okay.  If asked, I’d said, the Romans fed Christians to the lions and thought that it was okay, too.  Civilization proved otherwise.

Paying a man or woman with freedom, who may be condemned if they do not perform as the prosecutor demands, taints the judicial process and has made a mockery out of the American criminal justice system by allowing dangerous criminals to go free or to be released early from prison for providing unreliable information used to put people in prison.

Paying people for testimony leads to unreliable convictions, as happened in the cases of Alphonso and Alonzo, and thousands of other American citizens.  Most criminal defendants will not hesitate to tell a lie to the tune of a prosecutor, to avoid being fed to
the lions.

Roman Coliseum with lions

_______________________________

Wayne T. Dowdy writes Straight from the Pen.  Purchase his most recent novel today, UNKNOWN INNOCENCE ($14.95) from Midnight Express Books or your favorite bookstore.