Category Archives: Uncategorized

UNCIVIL WARS

by Wayne T. Dowdy

 

Thanks for reading my blogs and for helping to increase the traffic at StraightFromthePen.com.  I picked up more views in a month than what I used to pick up in three.  🙂

workkeys-pyramidI began this blog before learning my WorkKeys scores today (08/15/17), which I will cover in conclusion.  I had written, “I’m sending this one out sooner than anticipated, before I received my WorkKeys scores that I hoped to write about.  World events demand a response before my scheduled blog, straight from the pen, my pen:  Well, actually, straight from the Corrlinks’ keyboard (it’s not my keyboard, I pay to use it to type).  Don’t expect political correctness from me on this stage, even though I will stay within respectful boundaries, this one comes uncut.”

Rodney King said it right during the Riots of L.A. several years ago:  “Why can’t we all just get along?”  The last few days have been dominated with the drama that went on in Charlottesville, VA, which resulted in the deaths of three people and the injury of several others.  The violence erupted during events that began the night before a scheduled protest on August 12, 2017, about the removal of a Confederate era statue:  General Robert E. Lee.

During the protest, one man ran his car through a crowd and killed one woman.  In comparison to a similar event in France, he committed an act of terrorism, the same as an Islamic extremist did when he ran a truck into a crowd of men, women, and children.

Evil is colorblind.  Read my blog, “Love and Evil Are Color-Blind” for more along those lines that I wrote in response to the massacre of nine innocent people at a church in Charleston, SC, by a young man who waved a Confederate flag before committing such an atrocious act.

abc news Charlottesville

BUM RAPS:  I feel many of the participants in the events at Charlottesville were mislabeled as White Nationalist and White Supremacist.  Perhaps some are like me and don’t like anyone erasing history.  I believe the same thing happened with the Marxist in Russia or during one of their revolutionary movements.

08/15/17:  After an investigation, President Trump acknowledged the same on national television (not all participants at the Charlottesville incident were White Supremacist or White Nationalist), and that some were just there to protest taking down the statue.  Common sense demands that conclusion.  Of course, not everyone has common sense, others are incapable of thinking from a rational perspective about a high-emotion event.

I do not know who started the violence and do not express any views on Charlottesville.

After President Trump spoke out about the event, he came under fire because he didn’t say what the media wanted.  His finding that there were wrongs on both sides did not go well.  He also spoke on the removal of statues and monuments and came under fire for that, even though President Obama also expressed the same view.  Those statues are part of American History and represent the ancestors of Americans.

I express my views on the historical aspect of the American Civil War (or War Between the States), in “Southern Pride-Waving a Confederate Flag” (07/06/15), and in “Mothers and Memorial Days” (05/11/17); It’s not about the flag.  It’s about the news media and certain government officials telling lies that the reason behind the Civil War was to free the slaves, a lie used for political purposes to shape public opinion and to support personal agendas.

Most people are too lazy to investigate to learn the truth, and allow the news media to control shape their opinion.  I lay out the facts in my blogs about the men who died fighting behind the Confederate Flag.

ALL LIVES MATTER:  I do not support the violence and the harming of people.  But I do not like it when members of the white race do something and the news media labels them as racist, white supremacists and many other things, when if people of a different ethnic background does the same thing, nothing negative would be said; the group may be praised, even when deaths occur as a result (e.g. Black Lives Matter).

Why can’t all lives matter?  NO ONE should be persecuted or harmed because of their skin tone or religious belief.

I do understand racial profiling and was appalled last year to see the cops in Louisiana murder the black man that five cops held on the ground, when one of them pulled his gun and fired into the man’s rib cage.  That warranted a protest and prosecution of the cop who fired the rounds.  He murdered the man, period.

In retaliation for the murder of the Louisiana man, in my opinion, when another man ambushed other cops, the murder of the innocent cops was unwarranted.  I understand why it happened, but I don’t feel it’s right to punish others for the deeds of others.

We, as a society, need the police; we don’t need rouge cops running around and killing people at the slightest provocation.

WET:  What if television producers came up with White Entertainment Television (WET)?  What is the difference in that and Black Entertainment Television (and for the record, I have watched many movies and events on BET throughout the years, including Black Girls Rock).

What about creating MET (Mexican Entertainment Television)?  Would that be racial?  I’d look at it too, even though I do not understand much Spanish.  The two Spanish television stations I’ve seen do show beautiful women.  I wouldn’t have to understand a word coming from their mouths to enjoy the experience.  😉

DIFFERENT FRIENDS:  To set the record straight, I have a variety of friends: some are black and white separatist, white supremacist; some are Muslim, some are Christian; some are Black, some are Hispanic, some are Native Americans, and some belong to gangs.  I do not discriminate.

One friend in particular is a Black Separatist, of whom frowns on my attraction to women of different ethnic backgrounds; especially, Black women.

To me, if a woman is pretty, she is pretty.  I don’t care about the color of her skin, eyes or hair; or from where she comes, whether that is from the North, South, East, West, Middle East, Far East, American-made, or Mars.  The particulars do not matter.  I see people as God made them.  I go beyond external factors to see the real beauty within everyone.

He, the black separatist, like his white counterparts, just don’t believe in interracial breeding.  That’s OK.  My belief is that things will turn out the way God has planned and that “we,” as humans, cannot change the inevitable.

Another friend is a White Separatist; the two separatist-friends work side-by-side and openly joke about the difference in beliefs.  And even though their beliefs differ, they support each other and show concern if any adverse event occurs, like a health issue or prison drama involving the other.  They’re friends.

I have another friend who is an African-American gangbanger.  He was unaware that I was near when he chastised a peer for using the term “cracker” to describe a white person.

“We’ve got to change,” he said.  “We don’t want people calling us nigger and we shouldn’t call other people racial names.”

My respect for him grew tenfold when I heard him take a stand for what was right.  Going by the stereotypical view of gangbangers, because of his past affiliations, society would look down upon him:  The same is true for my “Separatist Friends” who display exemplary characteristics that others need to adopt.

PRISON POLITICS:  I fit in and get along with most everyone.  In the prison hierarchy, as in totalitarian governments, it’s like George Orwell wrote in Animal Farm [1946]:  “All Animals Are Equal But Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others.”  Well, maybe not exactly the same, because government witnesses, informants, and sexually deviant prisoners; especially, child molesters, are not viewed equal.

I once sponsored an openly-gay, HIV positive, African-American.  I sometimes walked the track with him.  I did not feel comfortable doing so, but I knew I was doing God’s will, and so I did it regardless of how I felt.

This is my view on those who are different:  it is better if I make myself available to do God’s will and help another person change his life, than it is for me to stay in my comfort zone, or to worry about public opinion.  God judges.  Not me.

If God uses me to help a person change, then maybe he will get out of prison and never commit another crime against another individual.  If that person is a child molester, maybe my selfless-action will prevent another child from being victimized.  That would be a wonderful thing!

NORTH KOREA & VENEZUELA:  Years ago when that lunatic ruling North Korea threatened to turn the United States into a “Lake of Fire,” had I been in charge, I would have first given “his people” the option of removing him from power.  If no one did so, even though I normally don’t believe in going into other countries to drop bombs, I would have had his little ass trying to put out a Big Fire.  I’d sent so many bombs that the whole country would have dropped below sea level.

My opinion is that President Obama erred by not taking aggressive action against him.  If he had been more stern, then perhaps the United States and its allies would not be having to deal with such BS right now.

President Trump promised swift retaliation against any further aggressive action by North Korea.  To defuse the situation, China stepped in and publicly announced that it would side with North Korea if the U.S. was the aggressor, but if North Korea committed the aggressive act, they’d remain neutral.  Great move!

I am glad Russia and China stepped in to help resolve the conflict before North Korea did something that caused fire and destruction throughout the region.

As for Venezuela, if the country asks for help from a tyrant causing havoc, then maybe it would be the right thing to step in and provide military support.  Unfortunately, innocent people still die.

To go into another country for humanitarian motivation is one thing, but far too often, the true motivation of U.S., China, or Russian intervention, is based on the resources to be gathered during the process.  If no natural resources exist, it is less likely that the major Super Powers will provide assistance, and that is a depressing truth!

On another note, to topple a government that robs and starves its people, would not be bad if it could be accomplished without killing innocent citizens.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all just get along and stop killing each other and the world in which we live?  Hell, yeah!

WORKKEYS:  I received GOLD CERTIFICATION (two Platinum Levels and one Gold).  The quotes come from my ACT WorkKeys Official Skill Report:

Applied Mathematics:  (I scored Level-6 in a 3 to 7 Level range.)  “Individuals with Level 6 skills can set up and solve problems containing extraneous information or information presented out of logical order and involving multiple-step calculations on a mixture of whole numbers, fractions, decimals, or percentages.”

Locating Information:  (I scored Level-5 in a 3 to 6 Level range.)  “Individuals with Level 5 skills can correctly use complicated workplace graphics, such as complex forms and tables, multivariable graphs, and detailed diagrams, to compare trends and main points, and/or summarize information within a single graphic or across more than one graphic representing related information.”

Reading for Information:  (I scored Level-7 in a 3 to 7 Level range.)  “Individuals with Level 7 skills can apply concepts from densely detailed selections, such as excerpts from complex regulatory and legal documents, to new situations.  They can understand difficult concepts and complex procedures containing jargon and technical terms whose definitions must be derived from context.  Level 7 is the highest level measured by this test.”

To qualify for a National Career Readiness Certificate, a person must have at least a Level 3 in each category.  Learn more about ACT WorkKeys Level Scores at http://www.act.org/workkeys/pdf/forms/interp.pdf.

In sum, I brought home the Gold.  I shall return to test again in my pursuit of Platinum Certification.  Perhaps receiving it will help me show others how we can all get along and treat each other as equals, without having to resort to Uncivil Wars.

____________________________

Wayne T. Dowdy writes at StraightFromthePen.com.

BLOGS & MORE

BLOG

by Wayne T. Dowdy

 

A friend read a few books and magazines on Positive Psychology and become a psychologist, at least, in his mind he did.  He does offer some periodic, beneficial advice.  In a conversation about my blogs and desire to increase the web traffic, he suggested I blog on more positive topics.

 

I learned a similar principle about writing when I took a writing course through the Long Ridge Writers Group, almost ten years ago.  Life contains enough pain and negativity for each of us; many read to escape the realities of life, or want to read things to make them feel good about themselves or their environment.

 

Doom and gloom feeds the news channels, so why doesn’t it work for bloggers?  Well, maybe it works for some.  Not me.  Actually, I don’t feel I write much doom and gloom in my blogs; however, I do confess that many are based on negativity.  Hey, to create lightning, it takes a negative charge.  Did I hear it thunder?

 

BLOG:  According to Mr. Google, a blog is a “regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.”

 

I write in an informal and conversational style.  I get a lot of local conversation based upon my blog content, unfortunately, my biggest audience cannot go online to click to “Like” or comment on my blog posts.  Hundreds of my readers can only read my blogs from the “inside view,” through TRULINCS, and cannot access the Internet because most prisons prohibit us from doing so.  (TRULINCS is the system Federal prisoners pay to use for emailing and phone services.)

 

HELP!  My fan base continues to grow but I need your help to make it grow enough to attract advertisers so the blog pays me instead of me having to pay to blog (I pay $0.05 per minute to type the blogs to send to my publisher/friend, who converts it into the proper format and posts it online for you to read).  Please share my link with others.  Thanks!

 

BLOGGING FOR DOLLARS:  In 2015 I wrote a blog titled the same.  I am still working on how to blog for dollars, but as stated, I do need your help to increase traffic/page views, because without the web traffic, advertisers will not want to pay to advertise on my sites.

 

Bloggers may use Google Adsense to attract advertisers.  If you are reading this on straightfromthepen.wordpress.com, you may see a periodic ad posted by different businesses.  I am not sure about the waynedowdy.weebly.com blog.

 

Maybe my publisher already listed the website with Google Adsense and I’m earning a few nickels to help pay the bills and I just don’t know it.  🙂

 

WHAT DOES BLOG MEAN?  The Internet Slang says, “BLOG means ‘Weblog, online diary.'”

 

A log of online posts/Web entries, I reckon it is, something burned into the memory of the deep blue web, where “WEblog.”

 

The Acronym Finder shows BLOG as an acronym for “Web Log,” “Better Listing on Google,” “Buy Locally Owned Group (Canada),” and my favorite, “Big Load of Gossip.”  Copyright 1988-2014, AcronymFinder.com.

 

With the help of one of my dear sisters, I investigated what a blog is because numerous people have asked me over the years.  I knew what a blog was and what it meant to me, since I have blogged for the last few years, but I was unaware of the actual meaning or if “BLOG” was an acronym for some mysterious online organization.

 

Now that we know the official definition for “Blog” (according to the referenced sources), I present a blog on my Independence Day at this facility (holiday events vary between prisons).

 

INDEPENDENCE DAY & GRATITUDE:  One blog a lot of people liked in the free society and on the inside, staff and inmates alike, is “Gratitude & More” (12/19/16).  I wrote it from a positive perspective, so maybe what my friend suggested is true?

I need to turn over a new leaf and let signs of a positive life flow from my fingertips.

 

Lightning flashes and then it thunders.

 

I began the day with instant coffee and watching videos on CMT and MTV-2.  I’d switch from Country music on CMT to Pop to Rap to Hip Hop, and whatever else MTV plays.

 

COUNT TIME:  at 10:00 AM, we were locked in our cells and then stood to be counted.  During the count, I listened to my antique Sony Walkman radio as I worked on math problems in preparation for the tests I’ll take to graduate WorkKeys next week.  Nineteen Eighty-two was the last time I worked on Advanced Math in college, and trying to relearn it has been a challenge, but one I have accepted and succeeded at handling.

 

After the count cleared and we were released from our cages, I stood around watching but not listening to any of the ten televisions, wondering why our unit hadn’t been released for chow.  Two and a half hours later, we got to go eat.

 

Any change in the regular routine creates drama in here.  The staff are “supposed to” follow a set schedule to let each cellblock out to eat.  The one I live in was supposed to get out fourth in the line of twelve listed on the Weekly Rotation.  The rotation ran awful slow or we didn’t get out in the scheduled order.  I had skipped breakfast and was ready to eat by the time the cellhouse officer yelled, “Main Line.”

 

CHOW TIME:  Over a hundred of us took off walking fast, like a bunch of hungry critters heading for the food trough, trying to outrun the others to get first choice.  I didn’t outrun everyone in this cellblock but I did outrun a few.  🙂

 

I stood in line for the noon meal and was happy to see peaches being served.  I love peaches, especially, Georgia Peaches, the two legged kind and the ones that stimulate the taste buds.

 

The serving line ran out of peaches with the person before me.  Peaches were replaced with watermelon.  I love watermelon!  I can eat half of a large watermelon by myself.  The Inmate Server put a tiny piece on my tray, one so small that the edible content would not fill a 12-ounce glass.  I did not feel grateful.

 

I still smiled and said thank you, as I customarily do, even when I don’t feel so thankful.  I try to be polite and treat people the way I want to be treated, not the way I may feel they deserve to be treated.

 

When I first arrived at this institution in 2004, I noticed ethnically-different, inmate servers, looking up to see who’s next in line.  And if the person was white, and not one who pays for larger portions, sort through the food to select a smaller piece while staff watched.  I experienced violent thoughts about using a serving tray as an assault weapon.  Not now, though.

 

I smile and say thank you and tell myself the person is trying to help me fight high-cholesterol I do not have, by finding a smaller piece of fried chicken or meat to give me and any other non-paying person.

 

THE HOLIDAY MEAL:  For lunch today, I had a chunk of beef so tough that a pit-bull would have struggled to chew it.  Tough or not, it tasted good and I am grateful to have had it to eat.

 

Too many people in the world, who are not in prison, did not have any food to eat yesterday and today.  Why haven’t we figured out how to feed everyone in the world or big cities in America?

 

I also had corn on the cob that I gave away, sour cream, baked potatoes, broccoli, and a tasty little apple pie, to go with the piece of beef and micro-watermelon slice.  Who but a whiny prisoner would complain about a meal like that?

 

Most people who paid for the meal would have wanted a refund on the terribly-tough, tasty beef.  Regardless of that, though, we got fed and filled our bellies, so I can’t rightfully complain, even though I did.

 

Prison is not supposed to be a pleasurable experience.  The meal we had was better than what millions of people around the globe ate that day.

 

GRATITUDE:  While sitting at a table eating, I suffered from Watermelon Envy as I eyed the peaches and slices of watermelon on the trays of my peers, their watermelon slices larger than mine.  A friend must have saw the look in my eyes and gave me his watermelon.  After eating it, I felt better before leaving, my belly full of gratitude for a moment.

 

Leaving the chow hall, I walked with a Mexican and African-American.  We were given a paper sack lunch for our evening meal: cold cut slices of various meat, a slice of cheese, four slices of bread, and pastries.

 

The African-American says, “I got two cinnamon rolls.  Did you get two?”

 

I peeked into my sack and only saw one.

 

The Mexican said, “Yeah, I got two of ’em too.”

 

I said, I only got one.  A cracker ain’t got nothing coming, I somewhat joked.

 

I returned to the cellblock and thought about the experiences during the meal and then remembered the premises I wrote about in Gratitude & More.  As I did so, I took everything out of the bag, then noticed I did have two cinnamon rolls.  The two packages were stuck together, which I didn’t notice when peeking into the bag.

 

GOD-SHOT:  I felt a God-Shot when I realized how things changed when I thought to be grateful for what I had, rather than complain about what I did not.  God gives me lessons each day.  I grow each time He does, if I learn what He wants me to learn.

 

It thunders when He speaks; oftentimes, it takes lightning to get my attention.

 

CONCLUSION:  I spent the latter part of the day studying more math and listening to music, periodically venturing out of my cell to look at the televisions.  Later in the evening, I went to the recreation department to walk the asphalt track and to print a draft copy of an earlier version of this blog.

 

Several of my peers ran the track, others screamed and shouted as they played basketball, softball, handball, and various other games.

 

Dark clouds filled the horizon and approached fast, pushed on by strong winds as a storm approached that caused the staff to close outside recreation.  Children cannot play outside when it storms; especially, those with a history of misbehavior and absconding from justice.  We rushed inside before it rained.

 

I did succeed at printing the draft and walking a few laps before returning to work more on this blog and read legal news on the electronic bulletin board.

 

While on the computer terminal, I watched the movie, Mr. Church, staring Eddie Murphy, in a much different cast.  After the computer kicked me off after 30-minutes, I watched the rest of the movie from my cell.  Some darn gnats or something kept getting in my eyes near the end of the movie when Mr. Church died.  I don’t know where those gnats came from.  🙂

 

My day concluded with a shower, talking with my cellmate, listening to the radio some more, and reading before counting off another day from the calendar.

 

All things considered, it was a good day.  I did something for the mind, body, and spirit.  What more can a person ask for in life?  Well, right now I can think of a few things I’d like to be different, but I will close without complaining.  We get what we need and things work according to God’s will, not Wayne’s.  Darn it!  However, the positive side is that if things went according to Wayne, I wouldn’t be “here” to entertain you with this blog.  Thanks for reading my writings!

______________________________

Note:  I decided to postpone writing the second eBook in the Fiction Crime Series, “Guns, Drugs & Thugs.”  Read the first of the series at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy.

 

Visit StraightFromthePen.com for more of my writings.  Purchase ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN ($8.95 USD) and UNKNOWN INNOCENCE ($14.95, USD) from your favorite bookseller; also available as eBooks from Smashwords.com, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.kindle, and many others.

 

Contact Midnight Express Books, P.O. Box 69, Berryville, AR 72616 (email: MEBooks1@yahoo.com) for inmate book publishing needs or to order my books from the “Inside.”  Thanks!

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

WOMEN RULE THE WORLD

by Wayne T. Dowdy

Womens-History-Month-300x153I live in an abnormal environment dominated by women–a men’s federal prison. On Tuesday, March 28, 2017, I am a scheduled speaker at an event to honor Women’s History Month in America. I feel inclined to do a powerful presentation. Talk about performance anxiety!

I speak often from the podium and have no fear of public speaking. I will speak from the heart to honor powerful women in history, not just in America.

Most department heads at this institution are African-American women, including the one who rules her domain with whips and chains at the Federal Correctional Institution in Edgefield, South Carolina, the Warden, as well as, one of her two Assistant Wardens. Here is what I have written for the Products of a Woman presentation:

Powerful Women

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.

Now I’ll touch on history. In the United States, Women’s History Month traces its beginning back to the first International Women’s Day in 1911.

In 1978, the school district of Sonoma, California participated in Women’s History Week. Different events followed that led to President Jimmy Carter declaring March 8, 1980, as National Women’s History Week, which began a series of Presidential Proclamations of Women’s History Week, up until 1986.

During this trend, Congress got on the bandwagon and passed resolutions for Women’s History Week.

Beginning in 1988, each subsequent president issued Presidential Proclamations of Women’s History Month that continues to this day. These women are a fraction of notable women in history:

Cleopatra (69 BCE – 30 BCE), the woman who ruled Egypt.
Joan of Arc (1412 – 1431), a 17-year old woman who inspired a French revolt against the English occupation, and then led the French to victory at Orleans.
Sojourner Truth (1797 – 1883), an African-American, female abolitionist and women’s rights campaigner, whose famous speech against racial inequality, as a woman, I will share upon conclusion.
Susan B. Antony (1820 – 1906), campaigned against slavery and promoted rights for women and workers. Her contribution earned her a mark on a U.S. coin.
Emily Murphy (1868 – 1933), the first woman magistrate in the British Empire. In 1927, she joined forces with four Canadian women who sought to challenge an old Canadian law that said, “[W]omen should not be counted as persons.”
Rosa Parks (1913 – 2005), she refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, an action that indirectly led to the most significant civil rights legislation in American history.
Indira Gandhi (1917 – 1984), first female Prime Minister of India. She was assassinated.
Margaret Thatcher (1925 – 2013), the first female Prime Minister of Great Britain.
Condolesa Rice, Secretary of State under President George Bush, Jr.
Loretta Lynch, United States Attorney General under President Barrack Obama.

An old cliche is that, “Behind every good man is a good woman.” These women are examples:

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884 – 1962), First Lady of President Franklin D. Roosevelt;
Jacqueline Kennedy ( ), First Lady of President John F. Kennedy;
Nancy Reagan ( ), First Lady of President Ronald Reagan;
Hilary Clinton, First Lady of President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State under President Obama, 2016 Presidential Candidate;
Michelle Obama, First Lady of President Barrack Obama, and of African-American decent.

I offer those listed above as examples of thousands of powerful women throughout history. Women are survivors.

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.

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.

Women are fighters, fighting for life, for love, for equality. Ask Beyonce’ Knowles, she tells the truth when she says, “Women Rule the World.”

To celebrate their legacy, a week was not enough, nor is a month, so the fight continues. Women’s History Month allows us to focus on the value of women and reunites the flame to fight for equality in the workplace and in all other aspects of life, because without the woman, there would be no life.

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 the bear to feed her family while the man stayed at home with their children.

Now for, “AIN’T I A WOMAN?” by Sojourner Truth, delivered in 1851 at the Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio:

“Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women of the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most of them sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [member of audience whispers, ‘intellect’] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negroes’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say.”

The fight continues until the day all women are treated equal. Let us remember each day, not just during the Month of March, to celebrate Women’s History. Thank you!

_______________________________________
Wayne T. Dowdy writes Straight From the Pen. Visit the website to purchase his books and essays at http://www.straightfromthepen.com. Follow his blogs at https://straightfromthepen.wordpress.com.

APPLE & EBOOKS by Wayne T. Dowdy

EBook sales of my published works surpassed paperback sales in 2016.  2017 looks to be the same for eBooks.  I have already sold more eBooks, so I delayed doing another paperback until I complete other short stories to combine into a collection.

Book 4 cover.inddMidnight Express Books released GUNS, DRUGS & THUGS:  DRUG STORE SPREE by Wayne T. Dowdy on February 1, 2017, now available on Smashwords.com and other online distributors for $0.99.

FORMATS FOR ALL:  Smashwords is an eBook distributor that makes eBooks available in the following formats and applications:  epub (Apple iPad/Books, Nook, Kobo, Sony Reader, most ereading apps, including Stanza, Aldiko, Adobe Digital editions, and tablets); mobi (Kindle), pdf (Desktop; best for technical, illustrated, or photographic works); irf (Older Sony readers), pdb (Older Palm devices), txt (Archival; contains no formatting), and html for reading online.

PERSONAL PERMISSION TO PRINT:  For those who prefer to hold the words in your hand, download “my” eBooks in the pdf. format to your PC and print.  (Smashwords Support Center FAQ contains instructions on how to download to various eReading devices.)

Two of the twenty-one eBook retailers that receive my eBooks from Smashwords, are the Apple iBookstore and Barnes & Noble.  Most downloads came from the Apple iBookstore.  I have no way of knowing if those downloads were for reading on iPhones, iPads, or other eReading devices.  Barnes & Noble placed second.  (Smashwords’ sales exceeded Amazon Kindle.)

UNKNOWN INNOCENCE by Wayne T. Dowdy and my free essays picked up the majority of downloads from Apple.

Note:  Buy your copy of UNKNOWN INNOCENCE now to avoid the March 2017 price increases of the paperback and eBook.

FICTION CRIME SERIES IN PROCESS:  “Drug Store Spree” is the first of my GUNS, DRUGS & THUGS fiction crime series.  I’m working on the second short story now.  GUNS, DRUGS & THUGS:  PILLS & THRILLS begins with more violence than I normally write.  Some readers commented on the violence in UNKNOWN INNOCENCE.  This series will make it read like a love story in comparison.

The tentative completion date for “Pills & Thrills” is before July 2017.  Read on for a peek into both short stories.

I wrote Drug Store Spree based upon real life experiences.  Because of Son of Sam laws that prevents people from making a profit by selling a book or movie written about a crime they committed, I made a few minor changes to convert it into fiction.  The setting is in Georgia, 1978.

Most of what I write in the rest of the series will be fiction with truth woven through its fabric, whereas Drug Store Spree is truth containing fiction.

The following is an excerpt from my latest:

GUNS, DRUGS & THUGS:  DRUG STORE SPREE

11:00 AM, August 14th:  Three thugs cruised through the parking lot of a shopping mall in a small North Georgia town of the southeastern United States.  A sawed-off shotgun laid under the driver’s seat.  The black handle of a semiautomatic pistol protruded from the waistband of the shotgun rider’s pants.  Another gun stretched across the back seat and floorboard at an angle.  A merciless August sun bore down on the Dodge Charger as the thugs eased by the line of stores on the right side of the car.  The rumbling of the headers on the 440-magnum echoed under the canopy where patrons strolled before entering the stores.  A REVCO drug store sat at the end of the long-line of businesses.  I’m one of the thugs, a retired thug.

Nathan drove the car, I rode shotgun, Rodney sat in the backseat.  Each of us had been awake for days, me for over three weeks, other than a four-hour Quaalude-induced nap.  I pointed toward a bank in the far left corner of the plaza, beside where the parking lot met the road.  “When we come out we’ll go that way,” I said.  “Any cops should come from the other direction.”  As we drove by the drug store, I glanced inside to check the layout.  Nothing seemed any different than all of the other REVCOs.  After we passed by, we checked out the route we’d take when leaving, especially if pursued by the law.  No one liked that thought, of course, but I had prepared for it by purchasing a clip-fed, bolt-action, twelve gauge goose gun with a thirty-six-inch barrel, the gun taking up space in the backseat.  With two boxes of shotgun shells, I figured I could change any cop’s mind about pursuing us for long enough to ditch the car and take another one from some unsuspecting victim if needed.  It wasn’t what I wanted to do.  It was what I knew I would do to avoid going to jail. ….

[To read the rest of the story, click https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/700815 to purchase your copy.]

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The following excerpt is edited due to profanity used in the original manuscript.

GUNS, DRUGS & THUGS:  PILLS & THRILLS

Salazar gripped the steering wheel to stop his hands from trembling.  The cargo meant life in prison if found.  They couldn’t stand a shakedown.  He whispered, “Don’t move.  Here he comes.”

Officer Barge shined his flashlight in the rear window of the minivan, rented on a stolen credit card, before he edged toward the front of the vehicle.  His right hand rested on the handle of a .40 caliber Glock.

Kager laid motionless in the fetal position to avoid detection; his finger rested on the trigger guard of his Desert Eagle .44 Auto mag.  The projectile of the chambered round would disfigure steel or destroy any living organism it contacted.  An old military tarpaulin covered his long-limbed, sinewy body and chiseled face.  His face tightened as he held his breath when the light illuminated the van.

Officer Barge stood five feet from the door on the driver’s side.  “Turn off the engine and roll down your window.”

Salazar obeyed.  “What did I do wrong, Officer?”

“You failed to use your turn signal at that last intersection.  I need to see your driver’s license and insurance card.”

“My wallet’s in the glove compartment.”

He moved closer to the window.  “Do you have any weapons, drugs, or anything in the vehicle that I should know about?”

“No, Sir.”  His heart pounded inside its cavity.

“Open it and get your wallet.”

Droplets of sweat gathered on Salazar’s forehead.  “Yes, Sir.”  His hands jittered when he reached to open the glove compartment.  He remembered leaving his wallet at home.  For a couple of seconds, he fumbled with the warranty and other papers.  “It’s not in here.  I must have left it at home.”

Kager wrapped his finger around the trigger.

“Step out of the vehicle, please.”

Before he could open the door, Kager slid from under the tarpaulin and fired through the window.  BOOM!  BOOM!

The first shot whizzed by Barge’s head.  The second one ripped through his left shoulder, obliterating bone, cartilage and muscle tissue.  The impact of the projective spun his body as he crashed to the ground.  Blood gushed from the gaping wound.  He grunted as he rolled over to un-holster his gun.

Salazar covered both ears with his hands.  The blasts had made them ring.  He whirled around to face Kager.  “What the f***, man, you–”

Kager sprang to the front seat and shoved him to the side.  “Move,” he said.

Salazar fell against the dash as more rounds from the Desert Eagle exploded in rapid succession.

BOOM!  BOOM!  BOOM!  All three projectiles ripped through Barge’s body before his gun cleared its holster; two struck him in the chest, the other in the stomach.

“Shot, a, a cop.  You shot a f****** cop.  We’re f***** for sure.”  Sweat poured from every sweat gland in his body.

Kager jumped out of the van to make sure the cop was dead.  Assured that he was, he turned to face his crime partner.  Damn, I gotta shoot him too.  He’ll tell on me if we get caught.  I’ve got to do it.  Not now, though.  I’ll do it later.  “Let’s go,” he said, as he climbed back into the van.  “We’ve got to get the hell out of here and ditch this van before someone identifies us or his backup arrives.  We can’t afford to loose all these pills.”

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I hope you enjoyed the clips and will purchase the eBooks.  More will be revealed.  Thanks for reading my writings!  Wayne

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Visit http://www.straightfromthepen.com for more books, essays, and short stories by Wayne T. Dowdy.  Become a regular follower of his blogs at https://straightfromthepen.wordpress.com.  After connecting to the site, press Ctrl End to go to the end of the current blogs, where you will see how to sign up to be notified of each post.

Click https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy to download his eBooks now.  “No Sympathy” and the most downloaded eBook (“A Prisoner & a Poem for a Princess”) are available for free.  Both essays are part of ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN.  The benefit of the paperback is to see a copy of a Card from an Angel.  🙂

Purchase paperbacks online or offline at your favorite bookseller.  To purchase paperbacks direct from the publisher, contact Midnight Express Books, P.O. Box 69, Berryville, AR 72616 (e-mail: MEBooks1@yahoo.com).  Get his best-selling novel for $10.95 (UNKNOWN INNOCENCE).  Purchase ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN for $8.95 (USD).  Shipping & Handling charges may apply.

Successfully Reentering Society by Wayne T. Dowdy

 

My question-on-applicationopportunity to reenter society approaches faster than additional studies can be produced to predict the likelihood of success for released prisoners. I am prepared for successful reentry. Failure is not an option.

Without thinking of that particular day, I have worked toward it for almost three decades. Even when my release date seemed more distant than the stars that glittered in the night (too far away to see without a telescope), I moved forward on faith of better days.

Others have led the way that shows I can reach the stars by following their paths. One such person is Brandon Sample, Esq., whose inspiring story I will share before conclusion of this blog.

PREPARING TO REENTER: Part of my preparation process included getting help for addiction and associated mental health issues, back in the early to mid-Nineties.

I also worked for the Federal Prison Industries, Inc. (UNICOR, a UNIque CORporation), since December 1, 1989. I learned lucrative job skills to increase my chance of gaining successful employment upon release; e.g., technical writing (writing and editing quality manuals, operating procedures, manufacturing and inspection instructions, training modules, designing & creating forms, etc.); internal auditing, ISO 9001: 2008, Quality Management System requirements; working with NSAI external auditors during the ISO certification processes, and many others.

This week (January 9, 2017), I begin a twelve-week, Non-Residential Drug Abuse Program, which I am taking more so to mentor others than for an interpersonal reasons (I stopped using drugs and alcohol in April of 1995).

POST-RELEASE PLANS: Once I am released, I know to take advantage of all available programs. Websites such as http://www.FairShake.net and http://www.HelpForFelons.org will keep me up to date on resources out there for me to capitalize on. Today, more companies are willing to hire ex-offenders. I list several in my blog, “Reentry Programs Will Reduce Recidivism” (https://straightfromthepen.wordpress.com).

Both FairShake.net and HelpForFelons.org have beneficial links. I am particularly interested in http://www.helpforfelons.org/online-jobs-felons, and am eagerly awaiting the opportunity to surf the Deep Blue Web for the first time.

BRANDON SAMPLE, ESQ.: Brandon ignored the naysayers and moved forward toward his future as an attorney.

As a troubled youth and young adult, he made decisions that led to a 168-month federal prison sentence in 2000, at the age of twenty. During his twelve-year stay in the federal prison system, he “fell in love with the law,” while fighting for his freedom. It was then that he decided to begin college to study law to become an attorney.

Brandon did not pay attention to those who said he could not be an attorney with felony convictions on his record. “When I look back now, that 14-year sentence saved my life. I very well could have ended up dead or caught up in the cycle of going in and out of prison had I not received that serious wake up call. I say that not to suggest that all sentences, no matter how long, are fair and just.

“But the key, for me at least, was that I decided to change. I wanted a new life, a new future with all my being. So many people along the way told me that my dreams were unrealistic. I never listened to any of them and just plowed ahead.”

While incarcerated he paid for correspondence college courses through Adams State University. Upon release in 2012, he walked out the prison doors with his Bachelor’s degree.

In August of 2013, he began classes at Vermont Law School, where he graduated in May of 2016, magna cum laude, and now holds a Juris Doctor degree.

He received his law license from the Vermont Supreme Court in October of 2016. Now he is licensed to practice in the State of Vermont, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Circuits.

Brandon may have lost the battles for his freedom in the courts. But he won the war when those battles led to him successfully becoming Of Counsel for the Law Firm of Jeremy Gordon, Esq., Mansfield, Texas (www.facebook.com/gordondefense).

Brandon’s story proves that prison does not have to be a negative experience. Miracles do happen. My hope is to become additional evidence of that important aspect of life, as many of my peers have proven true over the years; especially, those I met through Twelve-Step Programs. I will not fail!

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Wayne T. Dowdy writes Straight From the Pen. Visit his website at http://www.straightfromthepen.com and his author’s page at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy.

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

**********
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.

________________________________
* 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.

​POLITICS, DEATH AND LOVE

by Wayne T. Dowdy

 

November 26, 2016:  Cuban immigrants party in the streets of Little Havana in Miami, Florida;

 

November 9, 2016:  Protests in America over the election of President-elect, Donald Trump;

 

November 8, 2016:  Television Privileges Restored & Gone Again.

 

CELEBRATING THE DEATH OF A DICTATOR:  On November 25, 2016, at 10:30 PM, EST, Raul Castro announced the death of his older brother.  Fidel Castro died at the age of ninety from natural causes, rather than as some would have preferred, by some excruciating means in compensation for the pain and misery he imposed upon the people of Cuba.

Cuban immigrants and Cuban Americans partied in the streets of Little Havana to celebrate the death of Fidel Castro, whose regime tortured and murdered thousands of men and women; especially, his political opponents.  His henchmen cut off a testicle of one man, an atrocious act of cruelty, but not the worst he committed against Cuban peoples, only one that portrays the nature and evils of Castro’s torture techniques.

 

PRISONER RETURNS:  In 1993 a prison guard at the United States Penitentiary (U.S.P.) in Leavenworth, Kansas, claimed to have assisted the U.S. Marshal Service in the return of Cuban exiles to Cuba.  What happened shocks the senses on one level, but does not when considering that it occurred in the regime of a dictator.

Cuban soldiers directed the plane to an area where stood a tall, concrete wall.  U.S. Marshals escorted the bound and chained prisoners into the hands of the soldiers.

The soldiers committed the return of the hardware and then lead the load of prisoners behind the wall.  A barrage of gunfire erupted moments later.

The guard said, “When the soldiers returned the leg shackles and handcuffs, there was blood all over them.  Then they said for us to bring them more prisoners.”

I am not aware of America returning any others to Cuba for execution by firing squad.

Perhaps Castro’s treatment of returned Cuban citizens influenced a prison riot at U.S.P. Atlanta in 1986.  Cuban prisoners took hostages at the prison and then burned buildings, including the factory owned and operated by the Federal Prison Industries, Inc. (UNICOR), a UNIque CORPoration.

 

TRUMP ON CASTRO & CUBA:  CNN reported on November 27, 2016, that President-elect Trump spoke out against the atrocities of Castro committed against Cubans.  Castro has been out of power for ten years.

President-elect Trump expressed a desire to have better relations with Cuba.  His message gave me hope that he will not unravel what President Obama started–a campaign to restore U.S. and Cuban relations.  Afterwards, the Rolling Stones performed a concert and recorded an album in Havana.

 

TELEVISIONS & THE ELECTION:  In “Politics & Prisons,” I predicted the Presidential Election would be over before my blog posted, and that we would not be allowed to watch the election because some prisoners had had the nerve to violate prison rules.  I erred, twice.

My publisher/friend posted the blog the day before the Election.   Then the Criminal Keeper restored television privileges in time for everyone to watch the controversial election of Donald Trump.

 

November 28, 2016:  Now all television are on the same Black & Beautiful channel again.  Another scoundrel broke the darn rules.  Surprisingly, no one reported him to authorities.  People do confess the sins of others to avoid confessing their own.

I suspect some prisoners expect him to “do the right thing” by owning up to his evil, wicked ways.  Someone will most likely assist him before it’s over.  No one confessed to the crime of stashed homemade wine; no one confessed on his behalf.  In prison and life in general, the right thing to do is a matter of perspective.

Taking a bullet for a cause may be the right thing:  dodging the bullet may be a better option.  Bullets hurt like hell.

Personally, I went over 3 1/2-years at U.S.P. Atlanta without watching T.V. more than three or four times, and then for only brief periods, so I am not concerned with televisions.  I am concerned with laws and matters that “really” affect the lives of others.

I change programs when my options change.  Maybe we all need a moment of meditation to reflect on what we have in life.

 

PEACEFUL TRANSITION:  On November 10, 2016, CNN covered the first meeting between President Obama and President-elect Trump.  After a surprising one and a half hour meeting, both men appeared in good spirits and indicated a positive transformation of power and the unification of our Nation.  A unified nation is a wonderful concept!

Mr. Trump commented that President Obama was a good man and that he would be speaking with him and seeking his advice a lot during the transition of power.  I hope he spoke his true feelings and not just something that sounds good.

 

VOTES THAT AFFECTED PRISONERS

The following clears prisoner misconceptions about political events that restricted or abolished certain rights and privileges.  Source:  2009 WORLD ALMANAC & BOOK OF FACTS.

 

98th Congress (1983-1985)

Under Republican President Ronald Reagan, Republicans controlled the Senate and Democrats controlled the House of Representatives.  Republicans and Democrats alike passed the Sentence Reform Act of 1984 (SRA) that abolished federal parole and required federal prisoners to serve 85% of their sentences.  The federal government forced the same measure on states by withholding federal funding if states refused to require prisoners to serve 85% of their sentences.

Ronald Reagan did not sign the bill.  The SRA was attached as a Rider to a Senate Appropriations Bill that automatically went into effect after ten days.

 

104th Congress (1995-97)

Under Democratic President Bill Clinton, a Republican Senate and House majority passed the Anti-terrorism, Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), which restricted post-conviction relief for federal and state prisoners.  The bill passed in a hurry after the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Federal Office Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Timothy McVeigh pulled a truck in front of the Federal building.  He allegedly killed 168-people after he parked the rental truck and detonated the explosives in retaliation of the United States’ raid of the Branch Dravidian compound near Waco, Texas.

Under the guidance of former Attorney General, Janet Reno, military weapons were used against American citizens on April 19, 1993.  More than seventy members of the Branch Dravidian compound perished when two Army tanks crashed into opposite sides of a building before firing combustible gas canisters that exploded when the gases mixed.  The building caught afire and burned men, women, and children to death.  Those were sad days in American history.

Bill Clinton signed the AEDPA into law; however, even if he had not, a three-quarters majority vote would have overrode a presidential veto.

 

PROTESTS IN AMERICA:  After the results of the 2016 Presidential Election flooded the news channels, thousands of citizens protested in American cities; most protests were peaceful, but some did erupt into violence that caused damage to property.   Police tear-gassed crowds but did not shoot anyone.  Miracles happen!

 

In the paraphrased words of Rodney King, “Why can’t we all just get along?”

 

On April 29, 1992, fifty-three people died during a major riot in Los Angeles, California, after a jury acquitted four L.A. Police officers on all but one count.  Video footage showed the police beating motorist Rodney King.  The violent protest caused millions of dollars in damage, a lot of which was due to some rioters using the event as an opportunity to loot stores and other businesses.  At least the Trump Protest did not spark such violence and destruction.

 

RED NATION:  The Red now reign in America.  Not Native American red, whose plight still continues in North Dakota as they fight to keep and protect land from contamination by an oil pipeline.  The Government gave their land back and forced them to live on the reservation, and now some corporation wants to use the land for profit.

 

History repeats itself.  Pale Face spoke with forked tongue again if the intrusion upon Native American land prevents the people from keeping their water free from contamination.

The nation is Republican Red.  Republicans control the House, Senate and Presidency.  Perhaps the Do-Nothing-Congress will do something positive.  Rebuilding the infrastructure seems to be what most Americans want.  That will help the economy grow and provide more jobs.  Huh, I seem to recall that President Obama wanted to do the same thing?  Congress would not cooperate with him for some reason.  I bet they will cooperate with President-elect Trump.

Prison Reform will likely happen.  Sentencing Reform will probably stall.  Maybe not.  If those For-Profit-Prisons would just stop bribing politicians to vote against it, it might pass.

The Election results made private prison stocks soar the following day:  stock in the largest for-profit-prison, Correctional Corporation of America (CCA), jumped forty-three percent; the second largest, GEO Group, jumped twenty-four percent.  GEO Group contributed $45,000 to Donald Trumps’ campaign as I wrote in “Reentering Reality,” October 6, 2016.

To understand why the stocks jumped, read “The Truth About Incarceration, Part II” by Wayne T. Dowdy that shows the influence of For-Profit-Prisons on mass incarceration rates and “Tough-on-Crime” policies and practices.

CCA announced plans to invest in halfway houses.  Maybe their legislative bribes will lead to the reinstatement of federal parole to boost their halfway house division profits.  The immigration division is booming with Republicans dominating the government.

 

LOVE:  The only short story in ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN is “The Lonely Spirit.”  One reader commented that he thought that the word play I used was my best.

The story is an usual love story.  I will give you a peek into its opening.  Purchase it as part of the collection in paperback or eBook (http://www.straightfromthepen.com), or as an individual essay from my Smashwords author’s page (https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy) or at Amazon.kindle.  Taser lost his true love and went on a mission to find her, after his death.  This is where it begins:  THE LONELY SPIRIT by Wayne T. Dowdy

“Lana and I looked over the edge at the wave crashing against the rocks, two hundred feet below.  My right hand rested on the curve of her delicate waist and adorable hips.  The July sun scorched our skin as an ocean breeze brought the salty smell of seaweed and dead fish to our nostrils.  Several seagulls and pelicans rode the waves; some of the pelicans dived for fish, while other seagulls squawked as they soared above and surfed the convection currents.  I stepped away from her and began a journey into another life.

Lana looked lovelier than ever in her golden string bikini.  “Don’t do it Taser,” she said.

I gave her my cross-eyed look, then gulped the contents of my last beer before I smashed its emerald green bottle on the rocks ten feet away.  Lana arched her eyebrows and glared at me as she usually did when I frustrated her with my false bravado.  I burped, smiled, jumped.  The water below was hard and merciless when I hit, arms stretched forward.  Soaring through the stream of bubbles created by the crashing waves, my arms gave into the pressure before my head struck a sharp rock.  I floated to the top, unconscious; only for a moment, though.  The two hundred foot fall was too far, the water too shallow, the waves too rough, my life too short.  My body sank beneath the waves and was smashed against the rocks and covered in seaweed.  I watched as the wind carried me away to some other phase of existence.  Where I went, I do not know.  It’s a place where only spirits can go.  I saw the Earth, foreign stars, unknown galaxies, different universes, beauty beyond imagination, the true paradise visited only in dreams and fantasies.  I left to look for lovely Lana, my life, my dream, my love.”

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Wayne T. Dowdy writes Straight From the Pen.  Visit and click to “Like” his blogs on straightfromthepen.wordpress.com.  Purchase his books online or at your favorite bookstore.  Order by mail from Midnight Express Books, P.O. Box 69, Berryville, AR 72616 (email:  MEBooks1@yahoo.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.

Changing Public Image of Prisoners

by Wayne T. Dowdy

Every major news network feeds the public negative reports about those who commit crimes. Understandably, the negative press induces abhorrence, antipathy and fear towards those who commit crimes and go to prison.

Some of those who receive the negative press are ex-offenders who returned to old behaviors upon release (recidivist), and whose actions do not generate sympathy or concern for those who have fallen short of the glory of society.

PRESS EFFECT: To counteract the negative effect of the press, create a source for providing positive information about prisoners and ex-offenders.

As reported in “Reentry Programs Will Reduce Recidivism,” over 70-million Americans have criminal records. That translates into a vital statistic: millions of prisoners and ex-offenders do not commit, and have not committed violent, aggressive crimes.

All incarcerated individuals are not violent criminals. Read the February 24, 2016, blog post, “Violent Crime Misconception” (straightfromthepen.wordpress.com and waynedowdy.weebly.com), for a factual view on “violent crime” labels and terminology misused by politicians.

Factually, the percentage of released prisoners who commit violent, horrendous crimes, is far less than 1% of the 70-million Americans with criminal records, and yet, typically, society stereotypes millions of inmates and ex-offenders based upon the actions of a few (1% for writing purposes).

UNRECOGNIZED SUCCESS STORIES: Millions of ex-offenders get out and become model, productive citizens. Thousands of men and women inside prisons do wonderful things to help change lives and to make the world a better place; e.g., mentoring other prisoners, creating or conducting programs proven to have positive effects on the lives of participants.

Society does not hear about those inside who do good things. The ones who deserve press coverage do not receive it and do not get recognized for what they do; not even the exceptional things get recognized: We have the power to change that.

99% VERSUS 1%: News coverage goes to the 1% whose actions do not represent the majority of the incarcerated or ex-offenders, any more than actions of the Wealthy One-Percenters in America represent average American citizens.

CREATE A PLATFORM FOR CHANGE: These are suggestions for steps to take to promote change in society’s negative perception of prisoners and ex-felons:

1) create a non-profit organization with (a) staff to create and monitor websites to push program agenda; and (b), hire staff or find volunteers committed to change who will provide help at researching prisoners and ex-offenders who do or have done things beneficial for society;

2) run ads in newspapers, magazines, and online, to seek names of candidates (ex-offenders & prisoners) for 1(b), who are willing to tell or to have their stories posted or used in media coverage (signed privacy release needed);

3) post stories on YouTube, Facebook, and other social media networks–invite sharing;

4) use statistics to illustrate the minute percentage of ex-offenders who commit violent, aggressive crimes that cause physical pain and injury, like rapes (especially brutal rapes), malicious murders, robberies containing violent, physical force used to injure victims;

5) invite testimonials for release on media outlets, from those released from prison who have successfully reintegrated into society (set up groups based upon length of time since release from prison);

6) invite testimonials on effects of prison life on prisoners and those affected by lives of prisoners;

7) in the media coverage, address the dehumanization of people through labeling (racial monikers, etc.);

8) offer opportunities for change to the incarcerated and to released offenders through methods outlined in “Reentry Programs Will Reduce Recidivism” (“Providing incarcerated individuals with job and life skills, education programming, and mental health and addiction treatment …”)(“For reentry initiatives to achieve optimal success, it will take funding for the proven programs to reduce recidivism rates in America (mental health care, substance abuse counseling/treatment, educational and employment opportunities, temporary housing assistance, ….”);

9) promote change by informing society with accumulated data;

10) open dialogue between ex-offenders and victims of crime (similar to Victim Impact principles), using anonymous identities to protect each party. Let their voices be heard to facilitate healing and recovery.

CHANGE COMES FROM WITHIN: Each of us must make the decision to change. Statistically, most prisoners probably have a lack of self-esteem; especially, those with substance abuse and mental health issues (read “No Sympathy”* for the overwhelming statistics on the correlation of mental illness, substance issues, and American prisoners).

Providing the Criminal Justice System does evolve into offering treatment for co-occurring disorders, to help those with dual disorders, more prisoners will be able to change and become productive members of society and live normal lives.

For those with or without such issues, who enroll in and complete reentry and other programs, and then become successful upon release, their success becomes testimonials to those on the inside, who may elect to follow in their paths. To be an effective mechanism of change, other prisoners must become aware of their success.

PUBLICATION TO REPORT SUCCESS OF PARTICIPANTS: To transmit the word of success, create a publication approved by prison administrators for circulation inside their prisons. Elect specific volunteers or workers in the organization created to change society’s perception of prisoners, to investigate all legal issues by contacting attorneys (or researching the issue online, if qualified).

PUSH FOR CHANGE: Form a committee to contact legislatures and other politicians about providing funding to prisons for the creation of programs inside the prisons such as those mentioned above. President Obama and the United States Department of Justice has charged the Bureau of Prisons with implementing the five proven programs to reduce recidivism (see #8 in itemized lists).

Push legislatures to continue funding and to pass laws that provide prisoners with incentives for participating in Reentry and other proven programs to reduce recidivism rates in America.

For instance, mandate and specify that B.O.P. or state agencies increase halfway house time to one-year (remove discretion by prison authorities); and offer additional days off prison sentence for successful completion of programs.

Solicit companies to agree to give priority to employment applications from program graduates.

Share the results with others through the publication and online through social media outlets.

The process will take years before measurable results are available, but change will come. When society sees men and women coming out of prison and becoming productive members of society, then their perception of prisoners will change.

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* Read “No Sympathy” at https://straightfromthepen.wordpress.com, or at waynedowdy.weebly.com. The essay is included in ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN ($8.95 USD) in paperback.

Check out UNKNOWN INNOCENCE at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy. Available as Reader Sets Price ($4.95 default price at all other eBook retailers).