Tag Archives: reentry

WAITING

counting the daysI am waiting, waiting for my WorkKeys test scores, waiting for a class to begin on Job Applications & Resumé Writing.  All of that waiting concerns preparation for the day my freedom arrives (read my poem below, “Waiting”).

The past prepares me for today.  Today prepares me for tomorrow; and if given a “tomorrow,” I shall seek opportunities that prepare me for better days.

In preparation of the day my freedom comes, I continue to work on increasing my chance of success upon release, which may be as early as April 25th, 2018.  Well, that is my “almost free” date; the date I may leave here for Dismas Charities (halfway house) in Atlanta, Georgia, my home town.  I’d still technically be in federal custody while at the halfway house but will be allowed to go find a job to pay for my upkeep.  Later on I’d be put on home confinement, where I will stay at home unless at work, always near a phone and monitoring device.

WORKKEYS:  At the beginning and end of the class, we took the TABE Locator test for math.  At the beginning I scored 12.1 out of a possible 12.9, the latter of which I scored upon completion.  Now I am waiting to see if I succeeded at obtaining Platinum certification.  I feel I did.  By the next blog I will know and will proudly boast if I scored the Platinum.  If I did not qualify for it in two out of three categories, I will be shocked.  No doubt I will at least grab the Gold!

PLATINUM:  A flyer about the National Career Readiness Certificate, shows those with Platinum certification (Level 6), are qualified for 99% of jobs; e.g., accountant, technical writer, registered nurse manager, elevator installer and repairer.

GOLD:  those who bring home the Gold (Level 5) qualify for 93% of jobs; e.g., school counselor, pharmacy technician, semi-conductor processor, business executive, electrician.

I like the potential job categories for the Gold (as well as for the Silver or Bronze I do not list), but I prefer the Platinum; it will shine more when I apply for a job with an interested company.

JOB APPLICATIONS & RESUMÉ WRITING

OBJECTIVE:  Secure entry-level position with innovative company and advancement opportunities; demonstrate ability to assist management at maintaining and enhancing customer satisfaction.

I signed up to take the class for one reason:  to participate in a Mock Job Fair upon completion.  As I wrote in “Seeking a Real Job,” June 7, 2017, I completed the World of Work program and worked in personnel at Bankhead Enterprises, Inc.  I know how to complete job applications and how to write a Resumé.

I signed on as a student but when I went to show the instructor my Resumés so he can use them to show the other students how to overcome “missing years” from the workforce, I was asked to help with the class.  I agreed.  Our first class is this week.

EMPLOYMENT PLANNING

ISO 9001: 2008, QUALITY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM AUDIT:  For the last few weeks, I’ve worked on revising the local Quality Manual (QM) used by my employer.  This week, the factory will be audited for compliance with ISO 9001: 2008 requirements.  We will be under close scrutiny by an external auditor from the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI).

I control the documents and am intricate to the auditing process, as I am also an internal auditor for the Quality Management System (QMS), and am the longest-standing QMS employee at this factory.

Our Operations Manager, who began here in 2010 as a trainee for a Q.A. Manager position, upon completion of his training, relocated and then climbed the ranks.  He is now over this factory and two others.  He recently visited and said, “You’re still here? They need to make a monument out of you, you’ve been here so long.”  🙂

TECHNICAL INFORMATION:  Each section in the local QM coincides with the ISO 9001: 2008, Quality Management System requirement; e.g., ISO 9001: 2008, sub-clause 4.3, Control of Documents, is Section 4.3, Control of Documents in the local Quality Manual.  All ISO certified factories must be compliant with the ISO 9001: 2015 standard by September 15, 2018.

I am adding changes to the QM to ease the transitional process (listing parallel requirements, where the two standards coexist), and by adding any additional requirements to comply with the 2015 standard.  Doing that will make the conversion process easier when I revise other associated documents.

My original plan was to retire before this NSAI audit.  I changed my mind to honor my word.  During the February 2017 NSAI audit, the external auditor wanted to know when we’d be ready to apply for certification under the new standard.

“Before I leave in April of 2018,” I said, since no one else answered.  I have the skills and know the value of knowledge and experience that I’ll gain by helping to convert the QMS over to ISO 9001: 2015; I suspect it will boost my annual salary range by $10,000-$20,000, above the normal pay range for the type of positions I am seeking in the manufacturing sector.

The acquired knowledge also opens the door for freelance opportunities of going into businesses to help prepare them for ISO certification, or simply going in to set up an internal auditing program (several years ago the going rate for setting up an auditing program was 30K).  I can do that!

TECHNICAL WRITER:  Officially, UNICOR does not have a technical writer position; however, I have done and do a lot of it.  While doing an internal audit, I made a finding about the factory not having a manufacturing instruction for a new process.  Because of my superb technical writing skills, and the factory’s lack of qualified personnel in the production department, I became the one to write the needed manufacturing instruction.

I love showcasing my skills by creating visual art with the Microsoft Word 2010 computer program, so I added illustrations to show users how to perform the task.  Years ago, after seeing my work on manufacturing instructions, an external auditor was amazed that I had done it in Microsoft Word.

Now I have more to add to my portfolio.  In many companies these days, employees just take photos and write a brief instruction.  That doesn’t work well for all the other forms of technical writing I do; e.g., writing and editing other administrative documents for my superiors to approve.

AGE BARRIER:  My age was one of my former concerns in finding suitable employment; however, on July 29, 2017, I listened to a portion of a segment on CNN that relieved my worries.  The caption read:  DRUG USE IMPACTS BLUE COLLAR WORKFORCE.

Even though I plan to be a White Collar employee, when I heard that “Four Out of Five Job Applicants Fail Drug Screens,” it convinced me that living clean and sober gives me an edge.  Ironically, the problem that once defeated me in the pursuit of a promising career, has now become a factor to rocket me into a promising future as a productive member of society, as an older and wiser person.

A POEM:  This poem captures the reality of prison living.  This is an existence I eagerly await passing, with no intention of ever returning, other than as a visitor to show others that there is hope of better days.  I wrote Waiting while living with a difficult cellmate, while I practiced humility, breathing in, breathing out; changing my karma.  Instead of getting physical to show my dominance, I stayed composed and effectively resolved the conflict without picking up a new case or causing injury.

It is easy to come to prison and spend the rest of your life for having to resort to violence to deal with a knucklehead.  I make better choices today by responding to conflict rather than reacting, and will continue to do so upon release.

WAITING

Light streams through bars and screen,

Illuminating the gray of a gloomy place.

A place where people weep and pray,

Making way for another day.

 

Another day confined in a bathroom;

Another day held with another person,

In an overcrowded prison, celled together,

Saving tax dollars, space, fighting hate.

 

Hate seeping through pores, poisoning the soul,

Creating a recidivist with its venom;

Venom eating the soul, leaving a shell.

Hate I leave behind today in search of serenity.

 

When will the day come without bars and fences?

Will I walk away upright, proud, free at last?

Will I be rolled out, en route to mortuary?

Will I walk freely, no chains or cuffs, mortified?

“Waiting,” copyright 2011, Wayne T. Dowdy, ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN.

*****

CONCLUSION:  When I do enter the job market, I will succeed at whatever field I choose.  I am also a qualified Q.A. Inspector.  Another field I may go into is counseling drug addicts and alcoholics, helping the mentally ill and others to find an acceptable way of life.  My long-term plan is to create my own company.  Only God knows what I will actually do or whether the day will come that I do walk out the doors as a free man.

Today (August 8th), I will attend a Memorial Service for a friend who could not conquer his addiction and died in a prison restroom.  He also had heart problems and I do not know what he actually died from, but do know he only had sixteen months to walk out the door as a free man, after having served over twenty-three years.

Tomorrow is not promised to anyone, but IF I do see the day I anticipate, I will make a difference on many levels, including the creation of StraightFromthePen.org and StraightFromthePen.net.  Click here (gf.me/u/ba6xjn) to see my GoFundMe page for more on my plans for both websites.

Of course, the old saying is if you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans.  This time, I hope mine and God’s plans coincide.

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Support the author’s writings by purchasing ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN ($8.95 USD) from your favorite bookseller; available in eBook and paperback.  Visit StraightFromthePen.com and Https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy for other writings by Wayne T. Dowdy.  If you prefer to buy direct, purchase his novels and essay collection from Midnight Express Books, P.O. Box 69, Berryville, AR 72616  Email:  MEBooks1@yahoo.com.  Midnight Express Books helps prison authors to achieve their publishing dreams.

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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.

REENTERING SOCIETY

by Wayne T. Dowdy

When my day comes in the near future, I will be approaching the free society like the Columbia Space Shuttle reentering the atmosphere without all of its protective tiles, or like a meteor heading straight for a collision course with the earth:  I will burn up because of the friction created in the atmosphere of society, caused by my reentry into a distant world of free citizens, unless I proceed with caution and the protection of knowledge, draped in a determination to succeed against the odds.

I must remain constantly aware of the transitional aspect of my journey and how I am affected by all that has changed since my departure three decades ago.  Upon my reentry into a time-warp-zone, I will fail to become a productive member of society if I do not take advantage of the available help now available to prisoners, which will help me ease into a normal life, whatever a normal life may be “out there.”

After my release, death will be inevitable but I will have a choice on whether it will come to me while I am a free man, or as a recidivist who returns to prison because of his thug lifestyle, or as a drug addict who dies because of his addiction and lifestyle, or as a man who fought to change and succeed at changing his life.  My choice is the latter.

COVER.inddIn “No Sympathy” I wrote about my transition into society after serving seven years in the State of Georgia’s prison system and my eventual return to prison (recidivism).  I use my experience to show others that it did not have to be that way:  I did not have to return to prison.  I made choices that led me to where I now write.  I use my story to promote change in a broken criminal justice system and am pleased to see that some of the issues I pushed for over the years have come into existence.

In May 2015, I had my publisher to send Georgia Governor, Nathan Deal, an email for me and an electronic copy of my blog (“Snake vs. Politics,” 03/13/15).  In my blog, in the section subtitled, “Political Promises & Incarceration,” I praised Governor Deal for what he had done and planned to do in the Georgia Criminal Justice system and its prison system.  I know his action will lead to favorable results; e.g., his creating re-entry programs for those released from prison and juvenile diversion programs to stop the flow of juveniles becoming career offenders.

In another essay I wrote and then posted on my blogs (The Truth About Incarceration, Part II); in a subtitled section, “Reentry & Recidivism,” I wrote about the Honorable Eric Holder, former U.S. Attorney General and President Obama for creating reentry initiatives to help ex-offenders find employment, treatment for drug, alcohol problems and mental health issues.

Those reentry initiatives are more of what I pushed for and know will have a positive impact on the lives of those released from prison, as well as for American society as a whole.  (We are all a part of “one,” whether we want to be or not.)  I cried out for all of that in “No Sympathy” when I revised it in June 2014 before I put it in my personal magazine (ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN) and posted it online as an eBook and then on my blog for everyone to read for free.

I have written other blogs that mention recidivism rates and my experiences over the years that will increase my chances of getting out and staying out when released.  Some blogs contain humorous parts but still draw attention to important issues.

In “Rain, Blogs, Frogs & Politics” (November 3, 2015), and in “Vacation in Prison” (April 8, 2015), I wrote about my position in the Federal Prison Industries (trade name UNICOR).  My experiences and skills learned in the organization will help me to secure employment upon release.  I have been fortunate to have obtained legal skills foreign to most prisoners.

Then in “Teaching Cons New Tricks–Creative Writing and Q.A. Apprenticeship Program” (April 15, 2015), I did the same (wrote about skills learned to help me reintegrate into society).

UNICOR is a non-profit organization set up by Congress in the mid-thirties to make various cotton duck cloth items, originally strictly for the military and other government agencies.  The business structure of UNICOR operates similar to the United States Postal Service by generating its own funding, rather than depending on Congressional budgets.

I show in my essays that UNICOR reduces recidivism by teaching inmates marketable job skills.  Even though in recent years, UNICOR seems to have lost focus of the fact that Congress created the organization as a work program for inmates; not as a conglomerate to become a good-ole-boys fraternity or undercover, profit-generating organization, where profits must disappear into staff bonuses and purchases of elaborate office furnishings or maybe into expense paid trips justified as business necessities.

By their Program Statement, UNICOR has an Inmate Scholarship Award where UNICOR contributes funds to assist inmate employees in paying for college courses; however, the budget for the Inmate Scholarship Awards disappeared, probably into some lavish furniture or extra large bonus for Washington Officials who stripped the funding from the program.  Imagine that, misuse of government funding:  Spend funding on unnecessary items rather than on maintaining a program known to reduce recidivism.

Programs that allow inmates to learn new skills, improve their education, and to learn a new way of life benefit inmates and society:  It is a cost-effective way to reduce recidivism and to help create more productive and constructive members of society.  In “Snake vs. Politics,” I challenged all politicians to read “No Sympathy” when deciding on what is needed to reduce recidivism rates in America.  Maybe some of them actually took me up on the offer.  I feel reasonably assured that Governor Nathan Deal accepted the challenge.  He continues to strive toward making prisons do what society needs done to shut the well-known “revolving door” of recidivist that plague the nation.

CONCLUSION

I will write a more technical blog on Reentry and Recidivism next time I have time to write.  Most of my time has been going toward legal work to help other prisoners file post-conviction relief motions, in an effort to help them obtain their freedom.  I won two out of the last five and hope to go five and O.  🙂  Now, due to a long-shot chance I have at obtaining my own freedom, I must rush to seek permission to file a motion to challenge my own conviction before the June 26, 2015, deadline.  Recent changes in law due to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (June 26, 2015) is what has changed.  As I wrote in “Violent Crime Misconception,” Johnson invalidated a provision of the Armed Career Criminal statute, known as the “Residual Clause.”  Some courts are rightfully applying it to other similar provisions in various statutes, such as Title 18, Section 924(c)(2)(B), which is where “crime of violence” is defined and contains similar language, as does the statute for immigration (18 U.S.C., Section 16(b)).  I have to show armed bank robbery is not “categorically” a crime of violence because a person can commit the crime without rising to the level of violence required to show it is a violent crime. A lot of legal jargon with lots of meaning for those fighting to live another day as free men and women.

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09012015002004Purchase “No Sympathy” as one of eleven essays in the collection, ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN by Wayne T. Dowdy, $8.95 USD, available from all major bookstores and eBook retailers.  Read No Sympathy for free online or by downloading the individual essay from Smashwords.com and other eBook retailers.

Due to technical issues, the release of UNKNOWN INNOCENCE was postponed.  The pagination was reduced and the book reformatted.  The tentative plan for release is June 15, 2016.  The listed price is $14.95, USD.  At 85,000-words, that is a deal:  Two books in one.  Those without Internet access may purchase it from Midnight Express Books, P.O. Box 69, Berryville, AR 72616 (email:  MEBooks1@yahoo.com).  All others may buy it from their favorite bookstores or eBook retailers, including the AppleiBookstore.

Follow my blogs at straightfromthepen.wordpress.com and waynedowdy.weebly.com.  Send comments to waynedowdy@straightfromthepen.com.  I will respond when my publisher forwards them to me, when a response is permissible.

 

 

Legends Never Die by Wayne T. Dowdy

Merl HaggardMerle Haggard, Chyna, and Prince, all engrained memories in the minds of their fans and foes. Regardless of any flaw painted in history by the news media about either of their lives, each of them accomplished more in life than most of us ever will before the lights are dimmed and we exit the stage, with far less glory than the contestants did on American Idol who left without the prize.

AN INSPIRING EX-CON: Country Legend, Merle Ronald Haggard [April 6, 1937-April 6, 2016], knew the “Working Man’s Blues.” He began his life as a troubled youth. His “Mama Tried” to steer him right, but he still “turned twenty-one in prison [not] doing life without parole.”

In 1958 his troubles lead to him serving time at the historic San Quentin prison in California, after his convictions for burglary and an attempted escape from the county jail. He was twenty-years-young when he walked into San Quentin, a prison known for its danger and violence.

While there, he played in a prison band, and then in 1959, sat in the audience as the legendary Johnny Cash performed his legendary performance inside San Quentin. After Merle Haggard’s release and climb into the music industry, he appeared on the Johnny Cash Show and confessed his tainted past to the world. People continued to love him and his music; especially, songs like the controversial “Okie from Muskogee.” Some of my favorites were “Mama Tried” (and mine did), “Working Man Blues”; “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive”; “Branded Man,” and many others.

In 1960, two and a half-years after he began his prison sentence, he strolled through the prison gates and began working toward an amazing future. He signed his first music contract in 1962 and never slowed down enough to look back.

He blazed the trails over the next few decades, all the way to the annals of history, by becoming a truly great entertainer and songwriter. He produced thirty-eight number one hits, and performed almost 600-songs, including 250 that he wrote.

By 1977 he was elected to the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. In 1994 he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

In 1972, former President of the United States and Governor of California, Ronald Reagan, granted Merle Haggard a pardon.

For a person who goes to prison, becoming a success after release is an incredible feat: the things he accomplished were an incredible feat for anyone. Merle Haggard inspired musicians and others all around the world and became the idol of many lost souls who dreamed of following his lead.

Merle Haggard set a positive example for people in many ways; especially, those who go to prison and get released. The stigma attached to a prison record that trails an ex-con was much worse when he got out of prison, than it is today, and yet, he proved a person can get out of prison and go on to become a success story.

Each person who gets out and does not return is a success story, regardless of fame and fortune.* The success of Merle Haggard was phenomenal and he deserved a lot more praise than he received.

His last appearance was on April 6, 2016, on his seventy-ninth birthday. His music may fade away as the younger country musicians roll out the hits, but the songs he wrote will forever be preserved in digital heaven.

AmericanIdolAN IDOL DIED: On April the Seventh, the day of my birth, the show that birthed numerous talented musicians, aired its last show. American Idol gave birth to such talented entertainers as Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkston, Jennifer Hudson, Fantasia, Chris Daughtery, Jordin Sparks, Kelly Pickler, and many others.

American Idol was one of the few television shows I watched with any consistency, and now it has moved on into the vaults of digital files. For years to come, millions of loyal fans will not forget the pleasure of watching the show: the experience deeply engrained in the memories of those who enjoyed watching the birth of stars and entertainers.

On the day American Idol died, an extraordinary entertainer, musical genius and legend, performed his last show in Atlanta, Georgia, the place of my birth.

PrinceAN AMERICAN PRINCE: Prince Roger Nelson [June 7, 1958-April 21, 2016], played his final chord and flew away on the lyrics of his last song, two weeks after his last live performance (April 7, 2016, Atlanta, Georgia).

The flamboyant Price dazzled his fans and audiences with spectacular performances that included his mastery of musical instruments and the lyrics he wrote.

He wrote his first song at the age of seven and went on to become a magnificent entertainer, multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, record producer, actor, film director, and an all around influential person who inspired countless others.

He wrote a lot of songs for other artists. To avoid conflicts with the oppressive Warner Brothers, who did not allow him to use his own name, he changed his name several times and wrote “Slave” on his face. I believe he stated on television that he did that because of him not owning rights to his own songs. He rushed to fulfill his contractual obligations to produce a specified number of albums. I heard him say on CNN that when he told children he couldn’t use his own name that his Mother had given him, that they couldn’t believe it. At least, he said something along those lines. He also used various other names for the same reason.

Prince sold over 100-million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling artist of all time, and it is not over yet. His unreleased music lives on with the released hits fans have rushed to buy since his death, taking him to the top once again. Even after his death, innumerable hits will escape their resting place from inside a secret vault, hidden behind a steel door, deep inside his Paisley Park recording studio and home in Chanhassen, Minnesota.

I did not know Prince stood at five-foot-two and wore six-inch heals to make himself taller. His physical stature may have been under average, but he was an above average individual, who inspired and helped numerous others reach the stars.

Prince kept an entourage of lovely women around who often performed in his band. Three of the absolutely captivating Beauties known to be with him, were Vanity, Sheila E, and Carmen Electra. It was he who came up with the stage name for the doll who became “Carmen Electra.”

I fought tears on April 22nd as I watched an interview of CNN with Stevie Wonder, as he struggled to tell about their relationship and the influence Prince had had on his life and the lives of others. The music of Stevie Wonder and Prince, both penetrated racial boundaries and had the power to change lives.

Prince was scheduled to play at the Half-time Show for Superbowl 2007. When the rain began to fall, I believe it was a radio host who called and asked if he knew it was raining because he was wondering if he’d still perform.

“Yes, it is raining,” Prince said. “Can you make it rain harder?”

Most entertainers would have probably cancelled. Prince thrived in Purple Rain.

On April 24, 2016, Renee Montgomery of the Minnesota Linx, shared her story about Prince inviting her and the rest of her team to a party at his mansion after their win. He gave her and numerous others an experience never to be forgotten. He will never be forgotten.

He performed from 1976 until two weeks before his death. The legend of the American Prince will forever live on in the hearts of his millions fans.

Prince was born in the year Merle Haggard went to prison, both musical legends passed on to the next phase of existence within weeks of each other. Several other entertainers gave praise to both men for being an inspiration or helping them become better musicians and entertainers. Both men deserved lots of praise for accomplishing what they did during their lives. Their legacy lives on in the songs they wrote, preserved forever in history on reels of a tape, discs, or some form of electronic media.

ChynaWRESTLER, TEACHER, ENTERTAINER, ACTRESS: Joan Marie Laurer, best known as the female wrestling star, Chyna, who once held the title as the Women’s Champion of the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), fought her final round in the battle of addiction and tapped out on April 20, 2016. She was forty-five.

Originally from Rochester, New York, she moved to Florida and continued her educational pursuits. In her later years, she moved to Japan and taught English.

After her move to Florida, she graduated from the University of Tampa before she entered the World of Wrestling and became a famous person, who accomplished many things in her life.

With a muscular physique and exceptional strength, she was a force to contend with in the ring and never hesitated to challenge a competitor.

Chyna declared herself to be the “9th Wonder of the World.” Her predecessor, Andre the Giant, had already claimed to be the “8th Wonder of the World,” so she respectfully took the next spot, rather than to challenge his claim to greatness.

Chyna left the WWE in 2001 and posed for Playboy, appeared in adult and mainstream films, and reality TV shows like “The Surreal Life,” and “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.”

Read more about this amazing woman’s life in her autobiography, “If They Only Knew,” which made it to the New York Times best-sellers list in 2001.

Chyna was a special woman and too young to leave life to chase whatever title waits upon the other side. She no longer has to fight the demons of her addiction. I hope she left the demons behind and now rests peacefully in a safe place.

* Read my next blog about recidivism and re-entry initiatives to reduce the absurd recidivism rate in the American Criminal Justice system. Fairshake Reentry Resource Center is one program created to help ease the transition back into society for those released from prison. Visit their website at http://www.fairshake.net. For those incarcerated, contact them and request their well-written Reentry Package. Fairshake Reentry Resource Center, P.O. Box 63, Westby, WI 54667. For those with Corrlinks, send them an email to request the reentry information: outreach@fairshake.net.

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Wayne T. Dowdy writes straight from the pen. Purchase his books and essays at StraightFromthePen.com or from your favorite online and offline booksellers. Look for UNKNOWN INNOCENCE in May 2016 ($14.95); over 400-pages of intense scenes, suspense, drama, and excitement. Warning: for Mature Audiences only, contains sex and violence. Available in paperback and eBook formats.

Visit his author’s page on Amazon and Smashwords.com (https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy).