Tag Archives: Atlanta

REENTRY PLANS & A FRIEND MOVES ON

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

*****

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

*****

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

*****

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

*****

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

guitar 2

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Burning Bridges

by Wayne T. Dowdy

Some terms I use in this blog may be offensive, even though that is not my intent. Political correctness isn’t my cup of tea.  If you are sensitive and feel offended by terms that appear insensitive, please read some of my other blogs. I have a variety to choose from, including some of which stick in my mind:  “From Where Do Writers Root”; “Social Media for Writers”; “Vacation in Prison”; “The Truth About Incarceration”; “Gratitude & More”; “A Spiritual Journey”; “Love & Evil Are Color Blind”; “Southern Pride: Waving a Confederate Flag”; “We Are the Cancer”; “No Sympathy”; “Reentering Reality.”

burning bridge

BURNING BRIDGES: Metaphorically, I burned down many bridges during the early years of my life. I am sure many others will identify with burning down metaphorical bridges; especially, those with a history of drug abuse, alcoholism, and criminal lifestyles.

When a person reaches out to help someone and gets taken advantaged of or injured in the process, a bridge gets torched. Today I work on constructing bridges rather than burning them.

CRACKHEAD: I use the term “crackhead” to paint an image of someone who commits an act or says something that defies logic or doesn’t make sense. The way I use crackhead, it does not necessarily have to do with someone who smokes crack, though most crack smokers do qualify for what the term denotes that others coined for their behavior.

I often say, “He smoked one too many crack rocks.” I do not mean for it to be demeaning, insulting, or belittling, though it sometimes is. I also apply the term to some who never seen a crack rock, whose actions warrant the label.

In this blog, I refer to a person as a crackhead but cannot say he ever smoked crack, even though the media reported that he did. His extensive criminal record helps show he’s a crackhead, regardless of whether he smoked crack; however, he is innocent of the alleged crimes until proven guilty.

Addicts, alcoholics, and criminals burn more bridges in a year than can be built in a thousand. But one crackhead in Atlanta, Georgia, stands accused of burning a bridge so big that locals will remember its burning more so than the telling of General Sherman terrorizing the City during the Civil War, when he marched through it on September 1, 1864, burning buildings to the ground.

TRAITOR OR WISE MAN: When General William Tecumseh Sherman marched through Atlanta, he spared the Peters’ house, an Antebellum era mansion that rests on a city block.

Because of General Sherman’s mercy, I lived in a real mansion for a while. I posthumously thank him for sparing his torch on such a beautiful house.

I reckon I also forgive Mr. Peters for being a traitor when he helped the invaders. I thank him, too, for leaving behind his mansion for me to live in. Well, maybe he didn’t leave it just for me, but because he did leave it behind, I did get to capitalize on his kindness and successful lifestyle, even if just for a moment.

Peters Mansion from Ponce De Leon Ave

A HISTORICAL MANSION IN ATLANTA: “The Mansion” sat on a small hill, surrounded by concrete sidewalks on Myrtle Street, Piedmont Ave., Ponce de Leon Ave., and North Ave. The only other structure on the block was a tiny flower shop called Love for Sale that sat on the corner of Myrtle Street and Piedmont Avenue.

Sherman spared the mansion because of the hospitality shown to him and his soldiers by Mr. Peters.

The Mansion sat up the road from “The Bridge,” allegedly burned down by a crackhead. (Read below for “A CRACKHEAD AND A BURNING BRIDGE.”)

LESS KNOWN ATLANTA HISTORY: In December of 1971, I helped five other “residents” restore the Peters’ Mansion before Dante, the owner of Down the Hatch in Underground Atlanta, bought it for one and a half million dollars to turn into one of Atlanta’s famous restaurants, appropriately named, “The Mansion.”

CHRYSALIS: “a pupa of a butterfly : … : a sheltered state or stage of being or growth.” Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed.

All six residents (three boys and three girls), were adolescent addicts and juvenile delinquents. We were the first members to join Chrysalis–a residential drug program–created by Bob Griffith, who managed to get use of the Mansion to start the program. Three volunteer staff members assisted him at providing us with unconditional love to help us gain control of our lives, to help us change its direction.

I rejected their love and failed. At fourteen-years dumb, as is common for anyone that age who thinks they have all the answers, my decision making ability suffered. Spiritually, I lacked honesty, humility, and the willingness to follow directions, three major components for recovery.

I rebelled against authority and aborted the mission after four months, to go on to spend most of my life confined in correctional facilities, designed to contain and break my rebellious spirit; all of which failed until I became willing to change.

CHANGES: Two and a half decades later, I became teachable and God put people in my life that taught me how to change and to live my life without the use of drugs, alcohol, and criminal behavior.

BAD NEWS:  After three months of intense work at restoring the Mansion, Bob gave us the bad news: Someone bought it.

The place was paradise in the city, with its state-of-the-art, architectural design, and towering oak trees that shaded the yard. As I recall, it had a sun porch, a screened in sun room that sat above the main entrance; turret-like balconies at every upstairs window; spacious rooms, including a massive living room with a wall mirror that span at least fifteen feet across the living room wall; and a stair case, made from red oak that we polished daily.

On the outside, sat a carriage house where the stable buck once lived to care for the horses kept below; a garage to store and service a Model A Ford, and a beautiful swimming pool that we scrubbed for weeks to restore. That list does not include the many parts and features of the mansion that I do not have the architectural vocabulary to describe.

As a gesture of goodwill for buying the house we had grown to love, Dante invited us to Down the Hatch. We accepted his offer. He then treated us to chocolate and cheese fondue.  He even gave us a taste of his most expensive wine, which was far too bitter for my cheap taste. I’d been more happy with Boones Farm Strawberry Hill or Wild Mountain Grape. But I did appreciate his kindness and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of a lifestyle I had not known.

After the sale, Chrysalis moved to a less-attractive house on Boulevard Avenue, near the Atlanta City Zoo. By then, I had walked out the door of The Mansion to abscond from justice.

I was a “Wanted Child,” on the run from the law, a young thug out of control. Read ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN by Wayne T. Dowdy for inspirational stories that prove people change.

I burned a bridge when I walked away from Chrysalis. I was rearrested several weeks later.

I only agreed to go there to avoid returning to the Youth Development Center (YDC). Yes, returning. At fourteen, the judge sentenced me to an indefinite term of confinement for a violation of the Georgia Drug Abuse Act, theft by taking motor vehicle, and burglary.

BURNED BRIDGES: I did seven months at the YDC in Augusta, Georgia, before I got arrested again for drug-related offenses, within six weeks of my release.

Betty R., a beautiful social worker assigned to my case, stuck her neck out to get me in Chrysalis. “Everyone warned me not to help you because I would get burned,” she said.

I did not intentionally burn her, but I did. My history proved I burned bridges.

CRACK PIPE: I sympathize with a 39-year-old man, who allegedly burned down the only “real” bridge I know of being torched by someone smoking crack cocaine. I hope the burning bridge leads to him getting help to regain control of his life before the pipe takes him to his death.

I smoked crack in 1988 before my arrest and do not condemn anyone who smokes crack or does drugs. I would be condemning myself because that was me. I feel regret for those who chose not to seek help and do what it takes to change their lives; however, I understand their reluctance to try changing.

I failed thousands of times before I got it right in 1995. I feared failure and success. My lack of self-esteem kept me from feeling I deserved success. I was double-cursed!

FLAWED THEORY: Crack wasn’t strong enough for me. All it ever made me do was to want powder cocaine to inject into my arm. The government’s theory of the crack-cocaine-epidemic, used to support severe penalties for crack cocaine offenders, was flawed in relation to the dangers of smoking crack. If an addict injected a quarter GRAM of 86% pure, cocaine hydrochloride (powder), he or she would likely die, whereas, if he or she smoked a quarter OUNCE of crack, they’d only want more.

A CRACKHEAD AND A BURNING BRIDGE: Thursday, March 30, 2017: three homeless people entered a restricted area under Interstate 85 to smoke crack cocaine. A fence with a shabby gate surrounded the restricted area, where the city stored construction materials, in particular, a “conduit made from high-density polyethylene, used to protect fiber-optic cables.”  Three hours later the bridge above Piedmont Avenue collapsed. [The Atlanta Journal & Constitution, April 2, 2017.]

Affidavits show Basil E., the thirty-nine-year-old, decided to smoke all the crack without sharing. As the other two were leaving, Barry T. claimed to have seen Basil start a fire. That does not mean Basil did.

Before leaving Basil with his crack pipe, Barry T., said he saw the crackhead put a chair on top of a shopping cart and set it on fire.

QUESTIONS: Could Barry T. have said the above because he was angry at Basil for refusing to smoke the crack with him?  Possible. Could Barry T. have started the fire and blamed it on Basil because of the anger? Also possible.

People will tell lies to retaliate!

(I only use first names to protect anonymity, already exposed by the press.) Basil, reportedly homeless for 15-years, had been arrested 19-times, mostly on drug charges in Fulton County, since 1995.

I celebrate April 6, 1995, because that is the day I began a life of sobriety.

According to CNN, Basil’s arrests were for drugs, battery, assault and other charges. “An April 2014 mugshot shows [Basil] after he was arrested for charges related to the sale and trafficking of cocaine.”

For the bridge, law enforcement officials charged him with criminal damage to property and first degree arson. If convicted, he will go to prison because he refused to give up the crack pipe and allowed it to reek havoc on his life.

I understand. I acted like a crackhead, too, when I walked out of Chrysalis in 1972. I did so even more as an adult when I knew I had a serious drug problem and didn’t try to fight it.

Back then, I didn’t have the strength or courage to do what I needed to change.  Only by the grace of God did I survive long enough to do so. My existence proves people can change.

An anonymous person told the AJ&C that Basil went to a 12-Step program and got kicked out because he became disruptive. I wasn’t there so I don’t know if he was wrong or if the members were wrong for not practicing more love and tolerance, as the program requires.

With him knowing where to find help, I know he can change if he makes the decision to do so. It is a decision I hope he and others make who are suffering from the disease of addiction. Build a bridge to those willing to help.  Show respect by following the path to a better life.  My prayers are with you.

The burning of The Bridge inconvenienced the lives of 250,000 daily travelers. Drug addiction kills more. If you have problem with substance abuse or alcoholism, consider contacting Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous.

________________________________

Wayne T. Dowdy writes StraightFromthePen.  Purchase ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN ($8.95) for more of his writings in relation to his life.  If you do not have access to online distributors, or prefer not to make online purchases, order your copy from Midnight Express Books, P.O. Box 69, Berryville, AR 72616 (E-mail:  MEBooks1@yahoo.com)