Category Archives: Prison Living

ONE MORE FROM THE ROAD

one more from the roadMy favorite version of Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd, is on ONE MORE FROM THE ROAD, recorded at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, GA, one block from my birthplace.  This Freebird en route to Atlanta got one more lockdown in for the road.  More will be revealed.

 

The 35-year sentence that I began on August 18, 1988, has finally reached its end.  Well, at least, close to its end.  When I leave August 28th, as it now stands, I have 192-days in the halfway house and 5-years on supervised release, following satisfaction of the 420-month term of imprisonment imposed by the court.

 

This blog contains mixed topics; some written from a positive perspective, others from a not-so-positive perspective.  I’ll tell some of what my last month has been like living in an institution ran by the most absurd federal prison administration I’ve ever lived under for the last thirty-years.

 

DEPARTING:  I’m leaving behind many friends, a lot of good men, and a lot more defeated by an over-abundance of suboxene and bug poison (K-2/Spice) that flooded this compound within 6-months of this warden taking command.  Based upon statements made by inmates at the last institution she ran, the same thing happened there:  she reduced alcohol consumption that resulted in an increase in demand and availability of K-2 and suboxene.

 

Concerning wardens that Washington officials began referring to as Chief Executive Officers (CEO), because of, in my opinion, the federal prison system becoming a business-venture, more so than a place to help its men and women become law-abiding citizens.

 

The Congressional budgeting system allows wardens and executive staff to take home hefty bonuses by cutting operating cost, often at the expense of the safety and health of staff and inmates alike.

 

Throughout the years, I’ve met many good men and women who worked for the BOP, a few of whom helped save the lives of myself and others by offering their time to provide needed services to help prisoners learn life-skills; especially, for those in programs designed to help addicts and alcoholics learn to live life without the use of drugs and alcohol.

 

JOURNALING INTO A NEW LIFE:  This time 23-years ago, I was writing in journals about my newfound way of life (living without using drugs and alcohol, and working on becoming a better man who lived by different spiritual principles).  Here’s two excerpts I hope will inspire others:

 

August 23, 1995:  “This new lifestyle is a lot more simple and easier to live by in this environment, because I don’t have to worry about getting a U.A. [urine-analysis], going to the hole for being stupid, or having to try so hard to get by.  I used to have to hustle to support my dope habit, but not anymore.  I never had food in my locker, but kept the lockers of dope men well-stocked.  Now I have food to eat, good shoes to wear, and can afford to send money to my family as gifts or to buy other things I want or need.  I have time for Wayne and I care about Wayne.  Wayne deserves to be cared for, because he’s a worthy human being, and really is not a bad guy, so I’m no longer trying to destroy him.  I’m trying to ‘set him free.’  He deserves that!”

 

September 13, 1995:  “I have began my pursuit of freedom, which could end up being a fruitless search from me on the legal angle, but if God wants to see me free, I will be free.  If not legally, in spirit, which is most important.  I would like to be legally free, because I know I can make it out there now, and know I have a lot of valuable experience, wisdom, and knowledge to offer certain segments of society.  For that reason, I deserve another chance.”

 

LEGALLY SPEAKING:  The legal pursuit of my freedom proved fruitless and a waste of time, energy, and thousands of dollars, but it did keep me occupied and I learned a lot.  If you consider the success I had getting my halfway house date changed and the knowledge gained, it was beneficial.  I also helped free others.

 

During the legal Pursuit of Freedom process, I damn sure learned that what the law says doesn’t matter:  If the courts want to follow the law, they do.  If not, they use their power and ignore the law.  After I build straightfromthepen.net, I will post court documents from my case and others to prove what I just wrote.

 

ALONG SPIRITUAL LINES:  I know everything worked out the way it was supposed to, and that if the courts had followed the laws passed by Congress, and the court decisions I relied upon during my direct appeal process, I would not be alive today.  I had a bad drug problem and ill intent for several years after my conviction.  Today I don’t have either and will live the rest of my days in peace, clean & sober, and, for the most part, healthier than when I arrived in 1988.

 

LIFE NOT ACCORDING TO WAYNE:  Most of these last few days of my life in prison have not went according to my plan.  I planned to attend the last few A.A. and N.A. meetings; to quit my job on August 17th, and then spend some time outside on the recreation yard to exercise and tone up my body, and to work on my suntan in preparation for all the fat-butt-girls waiting to chase me.  😉

 

The warden closed the recreation yard over three weeks ago and spoiled my Suntan Plan.

 

RECENT EVENT:  The warden’s closure of the recreation yard indirectly resulted in a clash between two ethnic groups in the Chow Hall on Sunday, August 12, 2018.  When tension builds amongst an inmate population, and one ethnic group gets punished and suffers because of an action by another group, a tender box is born; complements of the warden, captain, or other prison official, who implemented unnecessary punitive actions in response to an issue, such as is the case at hand.

 

(Read “Politics & Prison” (11/07/16) where I wrote in response to this warden’s use of group-punishment techniques, and show how it creates conflicts in a prison population and is thus not a rational correctional-management tool for all situations:

 

“MORE ON BLANKET PARTIES:  If certain prisoners are 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 have ulterior motives.”)

 

THE CHOW HALL FIASCO lead to 5-prisoners suffering injuries severe enough to justify a trip to the local hospital for treatment.  I was inside the chow hall during the fiasco.

 

NO OUTSIDE RECREATION:  The reason for closing the recreation yard was because staff found homemade wine buried beside an area known as the “Boom Boom Room.”  Prison staff have known about the problem for years, including the whole period of this warden’s stay (about 2-years).

 

Staff have probably dug as much as 50-75 gallons of wine out of the same spot, and yet, instead of being intelligent enough to use available technology (posting surveillance cameras in the area as most competent prison administrators do in problem areas), the warden/prison administration, chose to close the recreation yard to tear down the Boom Boom Room.

 

The recreation yard is a place where men go to exercise or relax, to relieve anger, stress, and tension associated with prison life or just to stay healthy.

 

TINDER BOX:  The closure of the recreation yard created a Tinder Box because a few members of one ethnic group is responsible for its closure, as is the warden.  That put targets on the backs of everyone of that nationality.

 

THE CATALYST:  A inmate who worked the a.m. Food Service shift, stole fruit and hid it in a Dish/Tray Room, where prisoners use a dishwasher to wash food trays, utensils, etc.  When he returned during the next shift and learned his stolen-stash was stolen, he attacked a member of the other ethnic group, known to bury wine.

 

Several members of the latter group attacked and beat down the aggressor and that lead to retaliation by members of the aggressor’s ethnic group.

 

FIASCO RESPONSE:  The staff who responded got medical attention for the aggressor who received minor injuries, and then escorted him and four of his attackers down the walkway toward the medical department and segregated housing unit.

 

I sat at a table near where the ethnic group of the four attackers often sat.  After the incident in the Tray Room, I went to the opposite side of the chow hall and saw those escorted out the rear door of the Tray Room.  I returned to the other side and let my peers know of the events racial nature.  Then myself and most other non-participants moved out of the area to get out of the way of what was sure to follow.

 

Upon leaving with the offenders, staff locked the chow hall doors with approximately 150-200 inmates left alone inside with one food service staff member.  After 5-to-8 minutes of the racial situation brewing, the aggressor’s ethnic group attacked anyone who looked like they may have been of the other ethnic group, thus creating a racial riot inside the chow hall.

 

For approximately 3-4 minutes, food trays soared across the chow hall, injuring those hit; weapons of various types were used to batter opponents; fists and feet used where possible.

 

The food service staff member ran and locked himself in an office inside the chow hall.  I suspect he radioed for assistance, but I never saw him come out of his hiding spot into the Battle Zone, evidence of being a true coward.

 

According to what an associate who stayed in the Battle Zone, one staff member came in through the rear door of the Tray Room, ran in and began spraying all aggressors with Pepper Spray.

 

Two staff members made the wrong turn and came to the non-participant side.  One pointed a camera at us and said, “Get on the ground.”  And then later, “Turn and face the wall.”

 

I knelt down on one knee but did not turn to face the wall.  An injured Hispanic participant had came from the Battle Zone with blood running down his head from different angles and dripped blood on the floor in front of me.  The violence was still in progress twenty-five feet away: I knew not to expose myself to flying trays by turning around when the two dummies did not even notice that those of us standing against the wall were docile.

 

The other staff member who made the wrong turn, used profanity directed toward one man and threatened to spray him with pepper spray.  During this time, you could hear inmates attempting to rip pipes from their fixtures to use as weapons in the Battle Zone, while those two knuckleheads wasted time messing with us.

 

Finally, one of the guys standing against the wall shouted out, “We aren’t the one’s fighting.”

 

The camera man turned and then moved to where the action was going.  The dummy with the pepper spray turned and followed him.  Another staff member came in and said, “Y’all just get down on one knee.  I’m trying to look for injuries.”

 

He pointed to the injured Hispanic and said, “You, get over there.”  Then he said, “Is anyone else injured?”

 

Maybe ten minutes later, the crowd dispersed toward a door and began to exit on the opposite end of the chow hall.  I followed.  We returned to the living units and was locked in our cells for about a week.

 

GOD’S WILL VERSUS MINE:  I also planned to mail out some of my property on Thursday at R&D Open House.  We can only mail outgoing packages, after approval by unit staff, and then during Open House on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

 

A sign on the door showed “No Open House Today,” but if you were to ask the Warden or one of her officials, you’d be told that Open House is opened during all schedules periods; a lie I have been told before.

 

Well, that’s where God’s will versus mine comes to play.  I believe that whenever I’m faced with such obstacles that there’s a reason for it and that it’ll work to my good.  In the past it always has and this time is no different.  The delay gave me more time to sort through my ton of property to lighten my load as I set out to travel the Road to Happy Destiny.  🙂

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More to come from this author at https://straightfromthepen.com  Email:  info@straightfromthepen.com

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GRATITUDE AND MORE

from Wayne T. Dowdy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,
Wayne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AGAPE LOVE

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

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

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

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

PLOT TO STOP SANTA by Mr. D.

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

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

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

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

Go Santa!

 

 

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

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

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

Terrorists will reap eternal suffering for their dirty deeds.

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

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

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

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

Rainy-Day2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FROG NAPPER RETURNS

by Wayne T. Dowdy

On a warm autumn evening another frog went down. This one less than an inch in length, green with black spots; nothing unusual, long muscular legs and toes for its torso, hopping along the same sidewalk that all the other victims had before falling victim to frog predators.

The frog hopped along as it dodged dozens of feet rushing back to where they lived in the rush hour traffic. One prisoner stopped to direct traffic around the frog to protect it from harm, and then the frog nappers moved in to take control of the situation. One tall with close-cropped blonde hair and aqua-blue eyes; the other more squat with more sinister features, brown hair, beady brown eyes, and ruddy cheeks; both on the high-end of middle age, that is, if you consider the fifties to be in that category. Okay, maybe to some they’d be more along the ancient-line of ages, either way, though, old they may be, but slow they were not. They snatched the slippery frog off the sidewalk and ran with it. Well, not in that exact manner. This is how it went down on the prison walkway in front of the education, chapel, and psychology areas.

The frog napper had an accomplice this time. He usually works alone. The shorter of the two reached for the frog as it hopped toward a grassy area in an attempt to escape its abductor. The tiny arboreal amphibian dodge the snatch of that napper and then reversed its direction, only to fall into the hands of the taller of the two perps, who chased the little creature across the sidewalk until he cupped it under his palm, before grabbing it between two fingers. The small frog kicked and squirmed as it tried to escape. The cool and slippery skin failed to aid the escape plan when the defenseless frog couldn’t slip through the grasp of the abductor, who then turned his catch over to Frog-Napper-Frye, a man with a history of napping little frogs.

The last timfrog in pill bottlee I saw the tiny creature, it sat inside a small, orange pill bottle with a white cap on; the bottle, not the frog. Frog-Napper-Frye headed south with the napped frog in tow. He mentioned putting it in the pen with another frog he’s had for one-year.

“I’ll let this one go if it doesn’t get along with Shorty Morgan,” he said.

Shorty Morgan is another frog that he affectionately named, which he goes to great extremes to keep fed, year-round, with a variety of insects he captures inside pill bottles. One day Frog-Napper-Frye reported that he returned to the cell to find Shorty Morgan floating on a piece of paper that hadn’t flushed down the toilet bowl. A federal agent had zoomed in and discovered Shorty Morgan sitting inside his custom-designed pen, all bug-eyed looking, and then the bitter agent attempted to rid society of another dangerous felon by sending it down the river for life. Fortunate for Shorty Morgan, the villainous federal agent failed to wait and see if he survived the flush. Shorty Morgan must have tricked him by swimming back up into the toilet bowl, after being dragged down by the current, deep down into the plumbing pipes, before resurfacing once the coast was clear. Read more about Shorty Morgan on the murderslim.com blogspot I referenced in my June 16, 2015, blog post (“#Nature – Frogs, an Octopus, and #Escapees”).

Local law enforcement officials may have put an all-points-bulletin out to arrest Frog-Napper-Frye. The night of the abduction was the last time I saw him. I’ve heard he’s in federal custody. If they did catch up with him, he’ll probably get another five-to-ten for abduction of frogs, in violation of the federal code for the Amphibian Safety Act.

I confess. I was the accomplice in the frog-napping crime on the sidewalk. I found myself torn between loyalty to my friend with a thirst for frogs, and my desire to let the tiny creature go free after relocating it to safety, as I would have normally done. Loyalty to my friend won. It did make me feel better when he said he might let the new frog go free. Maybe he did. One day I hope to learn what happened to him and the frog he nabbed on that warm autumn evening.

Please follow my blogs and visit the website at http://www.straightfromthepen.com for more of my writings, and to purchase my books, essays and short stories. Thank you. Contact Midnight Express Books, P.O. Box 69, Berryville, AR 72616; e-mail: MEBooks1@yahoo.com), if you prefer not to order online.

Vacation in Prison

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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