by Wayne T. Dowdy
Each year I like to wish all the mothers of the world a Happy Mother’s Day and to add something different to my previous wishes.
Happy Mother’s Day to all you wonderful and deserving mothers of the world. Each of you is special in your own right. Perfect is a fantasy, so even if you made errors in your youth or child rearing practices, you deserve recognition and praise for the pain you endured and thus kept the human race going, popping out babies to face the challenges life presents; some of whom become technological geniuses, innovators, inventors, and the movers & shakers who changed the world. Most of us simply become ordinary men and women, but all of us are of equal importance in this thing called life. We are all connected: It takes each of us to make Life complete.
Should this not be posted before Sunday, May 13th, Happy Belated Mother’s Day!
CHANGES: I must confess once again to writing less than perfect blogs. In my defense, I present that I type on a system without the benefit of any editing features, outside of spell-checking; nothing to check grammar or style, nothing available to check punctuation, or for using special font features (italics, bold, underline, all prohibited).
Whatever I send through Corrlinks.com gets posted, as is, unless I request a change after sending it: I hesitate doing so because I don’t want to burden the person gracious enough to assist me in my mission of getting my words outside the walls and barbwire fences that contain my body but not my mind or fingertips that fly across the pages. However, my messages are limited to 13,000 characters that I often use to get you something of value to read, so that part of me is contained unless I want to do a multipart series. 🙂
After clicking to send my most recent blog, “Changes,” I had to send a request to make four corrections, explaining that with a title like Changes, you might know I’d need to make a few. Well …, then after she made them for me, I find others but chose to let ’em ride until I wrote this blog. Darn it, I hate errors, especially, when I make them!
CORRECTIONS: I listed the title of Ms. Sally Q. Yates as an Assistant United States Attorney. She held a position much more prestigious than that: the former Deputy Attorney General under the Honorable Eric Holder, United States Attorney. Sorry Sally. Okay, I’ll do better. I apologize Ms. Yates.
Then in the opening paragraph, I used “digression” in the first sentence (“Storms ravage the United States: tornados, snow and ice storms, in April, along with the political and technological storms that drive the progression or digression of the nation.”) The proper word is “regression,” because I meant it in the sense that some policies and practices drive us backward instead of forward.
I also improperly credited the Bureau of Prisons’ Psychology department as offering “Health & Wellness” classes (most of which are taught by someone from the medical or recreational departments), and “Job Applications & Resume Writing,” which is taught through the education department. I benefited through my participation in both programs.
Other programs are also available at various institutions that benefit the inmate population that I do not mention. I’ll share later about my personal experience with one such program conducted here on April 25, 2018 (the date my Unit Team requested for me to leave here to a halfway house that was changed to December 26, 2018, at the Residential Reentry Manager’s office in Atlanta, Georgia, because of the political BS and changes in the halfway house policy by the new BOP director).
CORECIVIC/CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA: I recently learned that the correct name of the former CCA is not Correctional Corporation of America. There is no “al” following Correction. I learned the correct former name in the case I indirectly referred to in “Changes” Grae, Individually and on Behalf of All Others Similarly Situated v. Corrections Corporation of America, Damon T. Hininger, David M. Garfinkle, Todd J. Mullenger, and Harley G. Lappin, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 207475; Fed. Sec. L. Rep. (CCH) P99, 936 (M.D., TN 12/18/17), where the Honorable Aleta A. Trauger, United States District Judge, ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and refused to grant CCA’s motion to dismiss.
CLARITY: Also of great importance is that I do not mean to come across as stereotyping all politicians, BOP employees or its prisoners, when I speak negatively about the political spectrum in America, the BOP or the system as a whole. The system has more good men and women than bad (that goes for political parties, too).
Several staff and prisoners helped and, or supported my desire to change and gave me their time, and often shared their knowledge and wisdom that allowed me to advance to another level in life that I now use to help others.
REENTRY SIMULATION: I went to jail for going to an NA meeting high, agreed to pay $40.00 to a bondsman, and then got evicted for not paying my rent on time, but I did go back and pay the bondsman when I got paid in the final quarter. 🙂
“Thank you,” he said. “I pointed at you and told Ms. P (Reentry Coordinator) that you’d slide out of here and not pay me for getting you out of jail.”
The event took a lot of work to put together. Over 50-visitors and 70-inmates attended. To get the visitors inside the secured lines of the institution, required a lot of paperwork to check their backgrounds before they were approved to enter the visiting room, where the event was conducted.
Approximately 10-tables were set up around the perimeter of the visiting room, each of which represented various functions a newly released prisoner may have to deal with (e.g., Probation Office, Courthouse with a Jail next door; Social Services to apply for food stamps, etc.; a Health Department where we could sell blood for $25; Identification and housing departments; and an Employment Service where I needed to go to pick up my $320 pay check that no one had told me about.
In addition, one table was set up for the Church where Narcotics & Alcoholics Anonymous meetings were held, and another table representing a Treatment Center on the opposite side of town.
Institutional staff (correctional counselors, business office personnel, case managers, secretaries) and a few volunteers, manned the tables/departments. Some volunteers participated in the event as if released from prison, while others coordinated the functions of the event.
OUT OF TIME: The event was set up in four 15-minute segments. At the end of each segment the coordinator blew a whistle for us to return to our seats.
Us participants were seated in seats where clear, plastic folders laid, with 5″ x 8.5″ card and other items, including Monopoly money to pay for services. Each card contained a profile and role with a schedule we had to adopt and comply with to successfully complete the event.
We had to pay to go to any of the areas/services, the same as having to pay bus fares or processing fees for services. I often stood in line only to learn I needed more money than I had, and by the time I made it back to where I needed to do whatever, the clock ran out and I failed to do what was required.
My profile was Whitney, a person with a drug problem who had served 10-years in prison for bank robbery and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, the latter of which is a common charge in federal prison.
Before the event concluded, my schedule required that I report to my probation officer, who was not happy because I failed to attend the required treatment sessions, failed a Urine analysis, got evicted from my apartment, and had gotten put in jail.
My response: “I promise I will do better. I’m sorry for not making it to the treatment session. I ran out of time and couldn’t make it, and then when I appeared, the therapist couldn’t work me into her schedule, but I did go to NA meetings and to work.”
“Are you clean now?” he asked.
“Yes, sir. I can pass the UA.” He gave me a break and another chance by not filing charges against me for violating the terms of my supervised release.
WHAT I LEARNED: I get agitated not knowing where I need to go and standing in long lines only to be turned away for lack of funds or for being late for an appointment. I need to be more prepared, allow for more travel time, and to learn the location of everywhere I must go, in advance. Such problems I’ve not faced for thirty years and did not find it entertaining. I did enjoy the experience, though.
OTHER EVENTS: The next day I retook the WorkKeys test for Locating Information. I wanted to try again for Platinum certification. Gold is good but platinum is better. The lady from the South Carolina Department of Vocational Rehabilitation that I mentioned in my blog, “A Job Affair,” strongly suggested I retake the test to go for Platinum because I only missed it by one answer, and because only 6% of participants get Platinum Certification.
In the near future, I hope to write that I succeeded at obtaining Platinum Certification. If not, then I’ll try it again. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” I will do that until I achieve my goal.
In my next blog I will write more about bills pending in Congress, the BOP, and more misinformation presented by the BOP director before Congress during an Oversight Hearing.