Tag Archives: straight from the pen

RETURNING CITIZEN by Wayne Dowdy

broken chain

I see the worm hole up ahead.  Entering the worm hole, I’ll be traveling at warp speed as I race toward the future.  Images zooming by so fast that I’ll only see blurs of the present as thoughts and ideas for the future bombard the senses.

The future that glitters on the other side of the worm hole is a place I never expected to see, back when I began this voyage into Never Never Land.  I sat in jail contemplating suicide because of the extreme dissatisfaction I felt in myself.

Love for my family kept me alive.  Despair ravaged my soul and whole sense of being because of what I had done that put me in another jail cell.  Miraculously, I thought of the effect my death would have on my loved ones and cared enough about them to decide not to end the life I had ruined, at least, so I thought (that I had ruined my life).

Never lose hope.  Life changes.  Circumstances change.  Life is good today.

This past weekend I began reading “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Victor E. Frankl, who was a former prisoner in a German Concentration Camp.  A notable quote he used that’s relevant to a prisoner’s experience, as well as in many other facets of our human existence, was one by Nietzsche.

Frankl wrote, “There is much wisdom in the words of Nietzsche:  ‘He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.'”

In reading of Frankl’s account of his life in a German concentration camp, I can appreciate the difference of life inside an American prison compared to the life of a prisoner of war in a foreign country.

When I began this sentence, I had a “why to live”; one driven by mass amounts of anger and resentment.  But that “why” was killing me.  Several years later, when I experienced freedom from those negative emotions, I was liberated.

Another favorite quote of mine is in regards to resentment that also came from Holocaust survivors.

“A former inmate of a Nazi concentration camp was visiting a friend who had shared the ordeal with him.

“‘Have you forgiven the Nazi’s?’

“‘Yes.’

“‘Well, I haven’t.  I’m still consumed with hatred for them.’

“‘In that case,’ said his friend gently, ‘they still have you in prison.'”

Ernest Kurtz & Katherine Ketchum, THE SPIRITUALITY OF IMPERFECTION.

August 28, 2018, thirty-years and ten days after I walked in the door of a confined and restricted environment, bound and chained with cuffs on my hands and ankles, I’ll leave en route to a Residential Reentry Center (RRC)/halfway house as a returning citizen, without chains dangling from my aging body.

I received a new RRC date and an increase in my RRC placement period (the former 119-days were replaced with 192).  My former date was 12/26/2018:  It really pissed me off to have an RRC date for the day after Christmas.

Now I will be home for Christmas!  😉

RETURNING CITIZENS:  the Reentry Affairs Coordinator, Ms. P., told me and others in the office that the new term for those exiting prison life is “Returning Citizens,” in place of ex-offenders, or ex-cons.

As a returning citizen, I know I will face many new problems as I forge my way into a bright future.  Discouraged, I am not.  I am eager to face challenges and to find solutions and conquer all conflicts and obstacles that stand between me and my success as a returning citizen.

A friend who returned to society years ago, once told me during a phone conversation that he sat complaining as he tried to figure out which girl to take on a date.  Then the thought occurred, “I bet Wayne would love to have my problem.”  🙂

Yep, Wayne would, just as many of those I’ll leave behind would love to have some of the problems I may encounter along the way toward the future.  I’ll try to remember that if my gratitude escapes during times of character-building episodes of Life Happenings.

Perhaps the new experiences I encounter will allow me to learn something to pass on to others who will follow in pursuit of their future.

HOW MY RELEASE DATE CHANGED:  Some of this information is redundant from another blog; most is not, which I will share in the words of the famous radio host, Paul Harvey, as “The Rest of the Story.”

A May 10, 2000, Progress Report, showed May 29, 2020, as my Projected Release date; derived from the amount of eligible Good Conduct Time, subtracted from the maximum 420-months of incarceration, set to expire on August 17, 2023.

On January 2, 1990, staff informed me that the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles filed a Temporary Revocation Warrant.  I wrote a letter on that same day to request the withdrawal of the warrant because I sat in jail until after my parole expired and was not being given credit off my federal sentence due to that time being applied to my state sentence.

On April 19, 1990, the Parole Board withdrew their warrant.  Over a decade later, I used that letter to establish the legal basis of a challenge to the federal jurisdiction relied upon to put me in prison for thirty-five years.

In 2002 the BOP awarded me 188-days of jail credit that it had refused to give for fourteen years.  In court, I used the 188-days spent in jail before federal sentencing to establish that the jail time was applied toward a state sentence.  Then the BOP credited me with a total of 401-days (from the day of my arrest until the U.S. Marshals took me into federal custody on September 22, 1989).

That changed my date to April 24, 2019, but that still was not right:  I just couldn’t figure out how back then, even though I was no longer on drugs.

Only after my case was docketed in the United States Supreme Court, where I was set to prove the Department of Justice unjustly convicted me in a court without jurisdiction by violating Article IV(e) of the Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act, did the BOP decide to give me the jail credit that was due.

LEGAL RESEARCH:  While researching the halfway house issues I’ve written about in “Life Inside,” “Half A Problem,” and several other blogs after the BOP modified its halfway house policy (began changing/reducing RRC dates), I learned that Section 3624(b) of Title 18 of the United States Code prohibited the BOP from deducting more than 54-days per year for disciplinary infractions.

As written in “Reentry Plans & A Friend Moves On,” I lost 82-days in 1990.  However, when I reviewed my Sentence Computation Sheet, it did show I was not awarded any GCT for 1990, but did not show that the 28-days above 54 (82 minus 28 = 54) came off in 1991.

The Sentence Computation Sheet showed the maximum allowable GCT as 1,576-days.  That did not compute, even after I applied the formula used by the BOP as illustrated before the Supreme Court in Barber v. Thomas (2011).  I then submitted a request to my case manager for correction.  He referred me to the Records Office.

I sent an electronic request to staff to the ISM and relied on the Code of Federal Regulations to challenge the GCT calculation.  The issue was resolved during a Release Audit on March 29, 2018.  I was given 54-days per year on having served 30-years of the 35-year sentence.  Thus comes the confusion in inmates attempting to figure out their Projected Release dates.

On a ten-year sentence (120-months), a prisoner would think he or she would earn 540-days (10 x 54).  Not so!  The prisoner only earns 470-days because the formula doesn’t allow prisoners to earn time off any portion of a sentence not physically served; therefore, in that example, the GCT earned during the second through eighth years, is deducted from the ten-year total.  That eliminates GCT credits for the tenth-year and a portion of ninth.

The remaining portion of the ninth year (less than one-year) is prorated at fifteen percent.  In my case, 205-days remained, prorated at 15%, allowed me to earn thirty-one more days, which, by statute, won’t be awarded until the last six-weeks of my sentence.

The corrections are what changed my release date from April 24, 2019, to March 10, 2019.  But because March 10th falls on Sunday, I was given the date of March 8, 2019 (that will change to February 5th or 7th during the last six weeks).

Afterwards, my case manager contacted the Residential Reentry Manager and requested a re-adjusted date because the change in my Projected Release date reduced my RRC placement period from 119-days down to 72-days, which would then become 43-days when awarded the prorated portion (31-days).

Now you know the Rest of the Story.  🙂

OFF THE RECORD:  I sat in my cell listening to Alice Cooper on Uncle Joe Benson’s, Off the Record, on Sunday morning (08/05/18).  As I sat listening, I wondered what my life will be like in September when I am sitting in the halfway house in Atlanta, or at my residence upon my release.  Will I take time to listen to such programs?  Will I be interested or have other things to do?

One thing I feel certain about, is that I won’t be living the thug life.  As I wrote in “Guns, Drugs & Thugs:  Drug Store Spree,” I am a retired thug.  I hung up my guns and now use words sharper than razors, more powerful than bullets and bombs; softer than butter, sweeter than honey; rough and tough, or kind and gentle, clean and straightforward.  Whatever the situation warrants, I’ll use select-words in the construction of sentences and phrases needed to fight battles or to mend wounds caused by my past, straight from the pen, a different pen.  🙂

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In September, StraightFromthePen.com will activate a new email address for special deals on books, essays, short stories, and updates on the status of StraightFromthePen.net and .org:  info@straightfromthepen.com.  Posting will be determined based upon legal aspects and rules governing life in the semi-free society.  Expect an update to my author’s page at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy and at other social media sites.

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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).