Tag Archives: Native American

ROCKY ROAD TO PRISON

two men to a cell.jpgBy Wayne T. Dowdy

Prisoners do not have a choice about which prison authorities place them in, nor can they control who moves in a cell or dormitory where they live.  At least, legally they cannot, but sometimes do.  Those facts often led to prison violence and negative results.  Prison does not have to be negative as a whole.

DANGEROUS CHARACTER:  Five months before I was arrested, a woman gave birth to a child who grew up to be a tall, handsome, muscular, young man.  He moved into the cell with me on September 21, 2016.  I later learned that he was a paid hit man who severed limbs for a living.

He showed no mercy to the living or the dead as he wielded a chainsaw to accomplish his goals; a highly dangerous, Indiana Jones type of fellow.  He used a shovel and stepped outside the boundaries of the law when he chose to dig up remains left behind by people before him in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina.

How can another man close his eyes to rest when knowing he is locked into a 8′ x 10′ x 12′ cell designed for one, housing two men in a bathroom, while knowing the other occupant is so dangerous that he dared to dig deep into the soil for artifacts left behind by Cherokee Native Americans?

HIS CRIME:  Arrowheads, that’s right, arrowheads, rocks; he’s in prison for digging up rocks, approximately thirty feet outside an authorized area.

HIS SENTENCE:  one-year probation for a non-violent crime.  And then he violated the terms of probation and landed in a prison cell with a man serving thirty-five years for violent crimes, a man with a long history of committing crimes of violence.

SHARED HISTORIES:  Both of us have a history of substance abuse.  He still struggles.  I do not.  I have lived clean and sober for almost twenty-two years since he was about seven years old.

On August 1, 1985, I was released from the Georgia prison system.  I was twenty-eight years old, his age.  I read the tea leaves and saw him traveling down the same path that I did.  The path that led to me spending most of my life in prison for committing crimes to get high.

During the past five months, I strived to be a positive influence in his life by showing him parts of my life that lead me to “here.”  My life proves people can change.

My hope is for him to get out and stay out of prison.  He made the mistake of choosing the road of Bad Decisions.  That does not mean that he must continue to travel down that road.

Good people make bad mistakes, too!

MENTORING IN UNLIKELY PLACES:  He has stayed clean and sober while here.  I have mentored and tried to help him avoid making decisions with negative consequences.  He listened more often than not and will leave here next week to go back to the peaceful town at the foothills of the North Carolina mountains, where he has a loving family waiting to help him get on with his life.

WHAT IF:  What if he had been assigned to a cell with a practicing addict or knucklehead who thrived on drama?  Seeing or smelling drugs makes it more difficult for an addict to stay clean; especially, when that addict is trapped in a cage with demons he or she fights every day of their life.

In prison, it is common for peers to encourage violent responses when the actions of others are perceived as being disrespectful.  I encouraged him to think of getting back out to be with his family when dealing with perceived threats to the ego.

What if we had not gotten along and got into fights?  I would have probably got my old ass beat up, maybe even accidentally or intentionally killed, or otherwise have had to commit a serious act of violence to protect myself.

Historically, a lot of youngsters ended up in graveyards by messing with old folks.  Besides that, a person can’t win beating up elders:  they look bad if they beat them up and look bad if the older man or woman beats them up, so it’s best to just leave the old, cantankerous rascals alone with their muscle rub, Tylenol, and multiple medications to treat ailments.

What would have been my cellmate’s chance of using prison as an opportunity to change his life, if he had instead fallen into the darker side of prison life, where men prey upon each other to appease their self-interest, rather than to support changes that increase a prisoner’s chance of getting out to live a better life as a productive member of society?

Many men and women come to prison and never get out because of decisions made before or after incarceration.  Society loses when its citizens perish in prison.

ANOTHER LOST LIFE:  In “A Prisoner’s Story,” I began by writing about the murder of “Bandit.”  He battled with another prisoner inside a cell at U.S.P. Lompoc.  He lost.

I wrote, “I had known him for several years.  He and I were all right with each other, but I knew that by the warped sense of justice, silently written into the prison code by unknown authors, that he had it coming because of what he had done to others.  Bandit was a gangbanger who ran with his affiliates and extorted weaker prisoners so that they could buy heroin with the money.  He was also one of the many who I have seen get out of prison and return, a recidivist.  All he needed to walk out the door as a free man was to survive four more months.”

Based upon such experiences, I know how easy it is to make a fatal mistake or to make bad decisions with long consequences.  I made such a decision when I agreed to steal a car to commit a jewelry store robbery that never happened.  I got into the car with two people who became my codefendants in the bank robbery and associated crimes that I am in prison for committing.

It is easy to land in prison for decades or the rest of your life.

I conclude A Prisoner’s Story with, “I have seen many lives devastated by coming to prison for petty crimes and then learning new tricks from old and new prisoners alike, just as I did.  One thing the gullible prisoner fails to consider is the source of the information:  Someone sitting inside of a prison and bragging about how easy it is to get away with crime does not have impressive credentials, considering that they “are” in prison.  If crimes went as planned, then prisons would not be filled to capacity, as they are in the United States.  People have to wait in line to come to prison, because there is a long waiting list, especially for the mentally ill, dope fiends, alcoholics, illegal aliens.”

[Purchase “A Prisoner’s Story” as part of ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN by Wayne T. Dowdy at http://www.straightfromthepen.com or at your favorite online or offline bookseller.

For those who prefer to save trees, download the collection or the essay as a separate eBook (“Authority & A Prisoner’s Story”) at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy.  Read my February 13, 2017, blog “Apple & EBooks” for information about Smashwords.com.]

NOT A TYPICAL SIXTY YEAR OLD:  “You aren’t like other old people are.  You like the same music I do and I can talk to you about how I feel or anything else.”

That’s true.  I am not like a normal man approaching sixty.  Experts say that using drugs arrests a person’s emotional growth and development.  I started using drugs at the age of eleven, so I am really thirty-three going on sixty.

Because of that, we can laugh and joke, or engage in meaningful conversations to show the follies of our pasts that ultimately led us to be in a prison cell together.  By us being able to do so, helps him to see why those behaviors are not productive and give a good reason to avoid doing it again.

A GOD THING:  When he first arrived here, the staff at Receiving & Discharge told him to move to cell #409, which was the cell I had moved from that morning.  A prisoner who practiced Islam influenced the cell house officer to move him into cell #414, the cell where we now reside.

BLESSINGS:  He told his mother about the positive influence I was in his life.  “Mother said God knew I needed to be around an older person that I’d listen to,” he said.  God does work in mysterious ways.

God put him in the cell with me without asking my permission.  How dare He do that!  He gives me what I need, not what I want.  In this case, it turned out to be a rewarding and positive experience.  God answered my prayer.  Before he moved in, I prayed my next cellmate would be someone not into any of the things I do not do.

I am not into drugs, alcohol, weapons, or anything illegal.  I am almost a saint, Saint Wayne, I may be called one day.  I let all cellmates know from the start that I do not get high and do not want any BS around me.  When I told him that, he said, “That’s a blessing because I am trying to change my life.”

We knew God had put him right where he needed to be.  God also put him in the cell with me because he was the type of person I needed to be around because I love helping others who want to change their lives in a positive manner.

In my life, God has always worked in mysterious ways.  Who would think He lived in prisons, too?

TREE SURGEON:  Back to my chainsaw wielding cellmate.  He is a tree surgeon people pay to come cut or trim trees to improve the safety of their homes by removing threatening tree limbs, or to beautify their property by taking out unsightly trees and forage.  Trees hate to see him coming!

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Wayne T. Dowdy writes Straight from the Pen.  Visit http://www.straightfromthepen.com today.  Follow his blogs on straightfromthepen.wordpress.com or waynedowdy.weebly.com.

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SOUTHERN PRIDE-WAVING A CONFEDERATE FLAG

July 4, 2015, Independence Day

by Wayne T. Dowdy

confederate flag for blog

This blog may contain issues sensitive to some.  I am sorry if you are one of them.  If so, I do thank you for stopping by but maybe it is best for you to scroll on to read my many other blogs available for your pleasure, or otherwise find something else to read.  My words Straight From the Pen are not written to please everyone because I know that is an impossible task. A lot of people enjoy politically correct, sugarcoated BS.  That is not my style.  I fly a different flag called Truth.  My intent is not to offend anyone but some things are unavoidable.  So be it!

CIVIL WAR:  I raise the Confederate Flag in this blog to rebel against all of the politically correct BS in the news about issues surrounding Southern Heritage.  Some politicians want to stop the celebration of the Confederate Memorial holiday, and to remove from state buildings and grounds: Confederate flags, monuments, statues of Confederate heroes, and other remnants of the American Civil War (1861-1865) because some people find those things offensive.  I find it offensive when people lie about history to support their agenda, such lies as the main reason for the Civil War being slavery.

Was it slavery or was it the economic edge Southern plantation owners had over competitors in Cotton markets, due to the slave labor?   Economics.  Was slavery more of an ideology used by the Union to get the poor to fight their battles?  If the Civil War was fought over slavery, wouldn’t President Lincoln have signed the Emancipation of 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.

I find it offensive for politicians to use the Charleston Church Massacres that I wrote about in “Love and Evil Are Color-Blind,” as justification to remove evidence of the bloodiest and most gruesome war fought on American soil.  The war where smaller bands of Southerners held their own against larger troops of Union Soldiers, until the advent of the repeating rifle, which tilted the war in favor of the Northern troops who had more food, guns, ammunition, and other supplies, because of the economic embargoes placed on the South.  The North won the war but never defeated Southern Pride.  The Confederate flag is a reminder of that, rather than slavery, as has been used to manipulate the masses to take down the flag.

Six-hundred thousand Confederate Soldiers fought against 2,213,363 Union Soldiers.*  The southeastern states were the last to fall.  When the war ended with the surrender of the last Confederate troop on May 26, 1865, there were 646,392 Union casualties, with 140,414 of those casualties being battle deaths, compared to the 133,821 Confederate casualties, 75,524 of which were battle deaths.  After their imprisonment for their part in the war, another 26,000-31,000 Confederate personnel died in Union prisons.  With my long history as a prisoner of such forces, I suspect that most of those died due to disease, lack of medical care, mistreatment, and overall poor living conditions.

REBELS WITH A CAUSE:  Rebels, those Confederate Southern Soldiers were called, the proud label worn by those who refused to conform to ways established by a government not of their choosing.  Rebels, a  part of Southern history and Southern Pride for those who died fighting for a cause; not because of slavery or why the politicians decided to fight the Civil War.  It was about fighting to keep what was theirs, fighting those damned Yankees who come down to take their land, who raped their women, murdered their children, and burned their homes in the name of Justice–the same as had been done to Native Americans by several Union troops.

Most Confederate soldiers who fought in the Civil War never owned a slave and most likely never knew why they had to go out and fight, other than to defend their land and heritage.  Firing a gun, running through the woods, and working hard to survive came more natural to the Southern man who grew up hunting and fishing to survive, than it did to the Union troops. You can believe that when Union forces heard the rebel yell and saw those southern soldiers waving the Confederate Flag and charging like bulls, that it made adrenaline and cortisol levels soar, instilling fear in everyone’s heart before the battle began with a brutality not known to the men and boys who stood fighting for their lives.  Early into battle, Union troops learned to retreat or die when overran by Confederates who fought with a passion to defend their land against the invaders.

No wonder politicians want to remove remnants of the Civil War.  The real reason for wanting to remove the Confederate Flag and other historical relics, probably does not concern the murders of nine innocent people by a gunman who waved a Confederate flag.  Governments do not like Rebels.  The Confederate Flag reminds them of those who refused to conform to their laws and relinquish control of their southern land.

CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA:  Forty-two delegates from South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida gathered in Birmingham, Alabama and formed the government for the Confederate States of America in February of 1861, by electing a provisional president, vice president, and adopting a provisional constitution to secede from the Union.  Other states followed and the Civil War began two months later in South Carolina.

CONFEDERATE FLAG:  The flag adopted by their Congress in 1861 consisted of a “[r]ed field with a white stripe and blue jack with a circle of white stars. Later the more popular flag was the red field with blue diagonal crossbars that held 13 white stars for the 11 states in the Confederacy plus Kentucky and Missouri.”  [THE WORLD ALMANAC AND BOOK OF FACTS, page 507, 2009]  That is the flag in the news that some want to remove from history.  Since the Civil War began at Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, where rebel forces took the fort after two days of fighting, it seems absurd that politicians want to remove the flag from state grounds, as if that will somehow cover the history of a town that attracts tourists who come see where it all began.  If removing the flag would stop hate and racism, then I’d say take it down and burn it, but hate and racism comes from a dark place in the minds of humans, usually from the minds of those who point their fingers at others to call them racists.  The true racist stands behind the pointed finger.

As a child who grew up in the southern state of Georgia, most of us considered the Confederate flag as the Rebel Flag.  I never knew of any peers who waved a Confederate flag in association with slavery or racism; some may have, but most of whom I knew liked the Rebel Flag because of just that, it showed that we were Rebels who refused to conform to the rules of the government, which is why many of us ended up in their prisons.  We fought the law and the law won.

AMERICAN FLAG:  Should we take down the American flag in the name of political correctness because it offends people?  No.  History is just that: history.  We can’t change the past, we can only use it to better the future.  If we are concerned about offending people with our national history, how about all of the evils done in the name of justice by people who waved the American flag?  Do we take down the flag because it reminds them of the evil done by the villains who waved it?  Of course not!  How about those Native Americans who the American flag reminds of the murders of their ancestors and the desecration of their sacred land and places of worship?  How about all of the promises made to their people by government representatives during negotiations that the United States reneged on, repeatedly?  How about those who waved the American flag and put a bounty on a primary food source of many tribes–American buffalos–by claiming to need buffalo hides, but really wanted to starve Native Americans while buffalo carcasses rotted on the plains?  Do we return their land to make amends for our transgressions?

FLAGS:  The above facts are a terrible part of American history that I am a part of by being American, which I am ashamed of in one sense, but proud of in another–being American that is.  I am not proud of the atrocities committed by those before me.  I am proud to be an American and feel we have the best country in the world.  I am equally as proud of being a Southerner who will always wave the Confederate flag on an emotional level, but not physically.

Personally, I don’t care if they take down and burn all flags.  But oh, that would offend someone.  Okay, let’s take down the American flag and put up the Rainbow flag in its place to show the evolution of equal protection rights.  But, oh, that will offend someone, too.  My solution:  Fly all flags with pride that people fought and died for to protect their interests.  Cut the politically correct BS.  Let whiners grow up and deal with their emotions to learn that life doesn’t revolve around feelings.  It takes strength to survive.

My level of political correctness shows when I use BS in place of bullshit and in minimizing the use of profanity in my writings to avoid offending readers.  I feel that the Politically Correct agenda breeds passivity that causes some people to not fight because they have been taught not to offend, sometimes with troubling results when faced with predators who prey on weakness and innocent victims.  I am reminded of the April 16, 2007, Virginia Tech Massacre when college students waited in a line inside of a classroom for a killer to systematically shoot each of them, rather than to fight for their lives by throwing desks or doing what they could to avoid the inevitable.  I did not fault the young adult victims.  I wept for them and their families.  I fault the system that taught them to be passive.  I do not promote violence.  I do promote standing up to fight to protect what is yours.  After all, I am a rebel waving the Confederate flag with Southern pride.  Rebels fight against the odds.

CONCLUSION:  Well, where do we go from here?  Regardless of what one does someone will find a flaw or be offended; someone will complain and want it “their way”; others will give praise over the same action, while some will never be satisfied no matter how hard you try to appease them.  How about diverting our energy and resources towards trying to find and eliminate the root cause in our society that cause people to commit horrendous crimes, like those committed by Dylann Roof who murdered those nine people at the Emanuel AME Church.  People who want to kill will always find a way to carry out their plan.  Politicians would best serve the people by focusing on a solution to eliminate evil minds.  The worse lies are told in silence, not by those waving a Confederate flag.  Taking down the flag will not accomplish anything other than creating more turmoil.  Telling the truth about the real reason the Civil War was fought and what the Confederate flag represents might ease tensions as much as removing it.

I wave the Confederate Flag to honor those brave men and women who died defending their land, the same as I wave the American flag to honor the same type of men and women who defend this country, not to honor those who have committed evil acts in the name of justice.  I apologize if that offends someone but I stand behind all I have written in the name of Southern Pride, straight from the pen.

Wayne T. Dowdy, (waynedowdy@straightfromthepen.com)

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*statistics as reported in the 2009 WORLD ALMANAC AND BOOK OF FACTS.

For other Civil War related readings, go to thelastcharlestonconfederate.weebly.com