Bureau of Prisons and Private Prisons

Photo by Ron Lach on Pexels.com

Great news! This morning I read this article and was happy to see that private prison doors for federal prisoners were closing. BOP finalizes moving inmates from private prisons. My hope is that the BOP will improve and provide each of those inmates an opportunity to prepare themselves for successful reentry into society. Most private prisons were not recognized for providing such programming to prisoners, according to what I had read and heard from others. Please read the following links posted below for more on the subject and for some of my previous content. Thanks!

When I first read the above article this morning, I posted a brief article on Quora, which went to my accidental page that I created early on in my writing career for Quora. To stray from the topic for this blog, the page on Quora that I link below was “accidental” because when I first posted content to respond to answers, I did not realize that I was doing so on a different page than the one I had intentionally created under my profile: https://www.quora.com/profile/Wayne-T-Dowdy.

I was fresh out of prison and wasn’t up on all the technology after having been inside for over thirty years and having never even used a cellphone or been online without depending on someone else to post blogs for me.

Wayne Dowdy-2 on Quora, BOP finalizes moving inmates from private prisons.

Promotion: Subscribe to Quora+ for answers to questions for any topic. Please use my referral code so that I may earn a small commission. Quora+

Here’s a free subscription code to my Space on Quora where you may read a variety of answers to questions myself and other contributors have answered. Act soon before it expires in one week from the date of this blog, I think: Life Inside and Out.

The blogs I am linking below were ones that I wrote relating to the effects of going to prison and returning citizens, based upon my personal experience. However, because of my security level and history frowned upon by prison administrators (read Essays & More Straight from the Pen for more on that statement), I was too big of a security risk to be placed in a private prison). Though I may not be considered an expert by some, I do have firsthand experience in the field. I do appreciate you reading my blogs on this website or listening to my podcasts on Spotify.

Turkey Day 2022 by Wayne T. Dowdy


Happy Thanksgiving Day to those who celebrate the American holiday! And even to those who don’t celebrate holidays, I hope each of you are filled with gratitude for all you have in life to be thankful for: start with the functioning body parts and the air you breath to see another day.

Turkey Day USA! For me, I celebrate each day because of the life I’ve been blessed with living, which is less than what I want, but is much better than what I had when I posed for that picture inside the Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, Georgia in the 80’s.

Healthwise, I was in much better physical condition back then than I am now, of course, but in regards to what really counts, today I am in better overall condition.

The positive aspect from that experience and others I was fortunate to have survived, is that I did walk out the prison doors and lived to fight another day. And decades later, continue to have a life worth writing about, which I do often in hope of inspiring others or to otherwise affect a positive change.

The most success in my writing career has become writing on Quora.com where I have over 1.2 million views on my profile page and Life Inside and Out. Should you decide to subscribe or to check out a free subscription, I am paid a small commission. Visit my profile to learn more: Wayne T. Dowdy or click Here to subscribe to Quora Plus.

Should I focus on writing about the negative, I could write for days and still fail to tell everything that I dealt with throughout the years. A wonderful thing is that I could also write for days about the good things that I have experienced and feel fortunate to still be able to sit before my computer screen and type.

Finding the bright side of life can be a challenge if filled with self-pity because life is not happening the way I feel it should. But when I stop for a moment to remember where I came from, and then accept that things are working the way that the God of my understanding wants it to be, then I can breathe in a be grateful for the moment, knowing that I am blessed to have been around for all these years and to have accomplished the things that I have during the last few years.

My plan for the next few months is to focus on changing several things that I have the power to change in pursuit of accomplishing more than I have since my release from the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons on August 28, 2018. Then maybe next Turkey Day I will write about some spectacular events; however, I am probably going to stop paying for this website and end it for several reasons I may write about in an upcoming post as Revising A Life or Life After Release.

In reflection of 2022, I am grateful for many things, including being given the opportunity to appear on a public television station, which you may watch the YouTube version of by clicking the link in Revising a Life-10 for a Steadfast Journey-Bridging the Gap, with the lovely, Dr. Micshell Milsap, or by clicking the following links where I appeared in Wisdom Episode 10 and another Walking With God. Please check them out and click to like and subscribe to her channel. Thanks!

May your heart be filled with more gratitude this year than most, even though the World affairs have deteriorated. If you pray, remember Ukraine and those who suffer around the world.

Personal Magazines-2

Original Rear Cover

Personal Magazine by Wayne T. Dowdy

October 15, 2022, Update: Since I last updated this I posted an interview on Smashwords.com, which still needs work because the automated links to my previously published books shows two books not available in their Premium Catalog for expanded distribution because I use links to Amazon.com (Rivals). Under Pressure and Under Pressure-Motivational Version may be purchased on Smashwords, but all of my other books are distributed to numerous eBook retailers.

The reason all of my books do not appear under the Interview is because I am listed as the publisher of all of my other books, which is true, but I am also the author. Just a matter of technical issues. If you want to read my interview, please click HERE.

March 1, 2021, Update: My publisher posted this blog for me while I was held inside the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons. Before writing it, I learned that the technical aspects (content) is what determines whether a publication is a magazine versus a book.

My concept of a book was based on physical characteristics (e.g., a compilation of text and or photos bound in a spine and cover, rather than text and or pictures on pages stapled together in the center).

I learned what constituted a magazine after Confrontation Magazine, the Literary Journal of Long Island University, published a submission of mine that the editor chose to publish as a Letter to the Editor, titled, Prison and Khordorkovsky.

The content, not the binding and cover or other physical characteristics, makes a publication a magazine. By combining genres, I unintentionally made Essays and More Straight from the Pen a magazine instead of a book. 🙂

Here is a modified version of what was originally posted before my release.


I own a magazine, two actually. Imagine that, having a personal magazine for the world to read. When I created ESSAYS AND MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN with Midnight Express Books, I did not think about it as a magazine, but that’s what it is, regardless of what I thought. All it takes to have a magazine these days is a website to post them on, or some system to publish it by putting it in print for everyone to read.

What was I thinking? Well, I was thinking that I had twelve superb essays to share with all who wanted to read about a variety of topics that involved the infamous “Me.”

ESSAYS ABOUT WHAT? Essays about survival against the odds; essays about love and pain; essays about the cost of crime on human lives from a personal perspective; essays to inspire, to shed light on life from a different perspective; essays that show life inside the American criminal justice system; essays that show the price I paid to become a better man; essays, poetry, and a short story that offers something unique to the reader.

FREE ESSAYS: I periodically make some essays available for free, one of which is “No Sympathy,” at this time. Check my authors page for an additional ones. Make a request and I will offer a free coupon code (https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy).

For your taking time to read this blog, I offer another free essay for your reading pleasure. Use Smashwords Coupon Code MQ86S to download a free copy of “An Airport Ate the Neighborhood” from my author’s page (click on the link listed in the above paragraph). Enter the coupon code near the end of the process as if you are purchasing the essay. The free offer is only available at Smashwords.com and valid until December 31, 2022.

You may also purchase the essay for $0.99 at several online outlets. For downloading on a personal computer, use the html format option.

WHAT’S THE “MORE” IN THE TITLE? I wanted to give my readers more for their money, so I added three select poems and one short story, which is what converted my essay collection into a magazine by definition. My personal magazine. I hope you start reading it today by downloading a copy from your favorite eBook retailer. If not that, at least order yourself a paperback from Amazon.com or from your favorite bookstore, which I will really appreciate.

A Federal Bureau of Prisons case manager read Essays and More Straight from the Pen and commented that it contained a lot of wisdom, has parts to make you laugh, and others that were touching; a well-written book and good read. He said he read in a couple of days. For that to come from a prison staff member, it’s a great compliment and one that made me proud of what me and Midnight Express Books put together.

Treat yourself by reading it today and then share it with others.* Many people have told me they found something to identify with in it and that it helped improve their outlook upon life.

I did a similar experiment with my first novel, UNDER PRESSURE by Mr. D. Things haven’t worked out as I planned. When I created UNDER PRESSURE-MOTIVATIONAL VERSION by Mr. D., I accidentally turned it into a magazine, too. For more on that one, if you haven’t done so already, please read my other blog post, “PUBLISHING & UNKNOWN INNOCENCE.” So, I own two magazines. 🙂

How to erase all of the data Google knows about you

Once again I am experimenting with processes to use on my websites to benefit my followers and readers.  In particular, I am posting an article that shows others how to delete all of the information on you used by Google to track you for various reasons.

This experiment is with using, Press This, a WordPress feature used to post a link to an online article directly into a blog post.  And, yes, if I am blessed with you taking the time to read this post, I am including you as one of my readers and hopefully a follower (please sign up below if you are not a follower).

The linked article on “How to Erase All of the Data Google Know About You” may be of interest, even if your participation on this website is related to issues surrounding mass incarceration in America, affiliate marketing, social issues, or any other topics I write about on StraightfromthePen.com.  For instance, such as the blog I wrote to help others to be more informed about some of the scams and threats related to online activities: The Phish Who Got Away | STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN

Thanks for reading and for following me on StraightfromthePen.com.  Here is the article you may find useful if concerned about the data mining used by Google.  If you prefer not to use this link, you can find the article by Digital Goddess, Kim Komando from USA TODAY who wrote the article by searching KimKomando.com.

“You’d be shocked to find out just how much data Google has on you. Thankfully you can delete almost everything you’ve shared with Google.”

Source: How to erase all of the data Google knows about you

Blogs – WonderfulThingsDone

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Electronic Chain-2019

Update APRIL 10, 2021: Many things in my life have changed since I wrote Electronic Chain over two years ago after I finally completed a 420-month federal prison sentence. That day was a long-time coming and one I often wondered if I would live long enough to see as a free man.

When I look at the photo that I took of Dismas Charities in Atlanta, Georgia, on the day of my release, I am reminded of the times I had to have permission to walk out the doors and through the gates to walk down the street to catch a bus to go to an approved location, such as the Georgia Department of Labor to continue my fruitless job search, or to Grady Memorial Hospital or to the Mercy Care Clinic for health-related issues.

Free at Last, Kind of

The first time I got a pass to leave the premises, when I was kind of free at last for a few hours, I remember standing at the end of the street at a bus stop, feeling like a dog must feel when freed from its leash.

It had been thirty calendar years since I had walked in the free society without a chain strapped around my waist, handcuffs on my wrists, and leg shackles biting at my ankles as I tried to act normal while wearing such unfashionable jewelry.

Returning to Dismas Charities was not always as bad as what one may think for a man who spent decades of his life bound by chains, who lived behind concrete and steel walls, with the outside perimeters decorated with row-upon-row of razor wire designed to slice the flesh of anyone crossing over it into a different world.

Sometimes it was a relief to walk back inside the gates of the halfway house, after walking up a long hill in one of the less-favorable neighborhoods of Atlanta, where the prostitutes and dope fiends hustled the streets to meet their needs for survival in a cruel world.

For me, returning to the boundaries of Dismas Charities was a relief because I was back into a more familiar atmosphere, where I didn’t feel like an alien or caveman.

Behind the gates was where I was supposed to be until told I could leave and not return; the day I longed for but somewhat feared because of the risk of returning to a jail cell if I failed to meet the expectations of the United States Department of Justice or any of the many local law enforcement agencies in Metro Atlanta.

I thank God daily for me not having to live in that environment anymore, where my activities were governed and regulated by program statements and policies, often interpreted by people who lacked the required intelligence to grasp the concept behind broadly-written words.

However, to be fair, I need to clarify that not everyone in authoritative positions lacked intelligence or abused their authority because the policies gave them the power to do so.

Some were good men and women who did all they could to help me and others to walk out of the prison doors and to become better individuals.

I am grateful for several staff members who fell into the latter category, as well as for the ones I have dealt with since my release, none of whom have shown any ill-intent toward me and have helped me to successfully reintegrate into society.

LIFE ON THE OUTSIDE

Today, I live and eat well and don’t have to do a lot of walking to go to and from desired locations. That is because I own and drive a vehicle; work 40-hour per week, have automotive, life, medical, dental, and vision insurance. The walking I do is by choice, or necessity, not because it is my only option.

Alexander West Park, McDonough, Georgia

I am ending this update with a few photos to show that life is good and with the hope of inspiring others who have been released from prison to never give up and to work towards finding a better way to live out here, even when times get rough.

It took me eleven months to find a job, more so because of my age than criminal history, but I never gave up or thought about reverting to my old behaviors.

The God of my understanding has bigger plans for me than being in a cage, and for that I am grateful.


The Night Before I Lose An Electronic Chain

Dismas Charities, Atlanta, Georgia, Residential Reentry Center
March 8, 2019
Dismas Charities, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia

Anticipation may be one word to describe what a person experiences in knowing he or she awaits the finish line of a challenge that took thirty-years, six-months, and twenty-two-days, to reach.

MY DAY: March 8, 2019: On the day of my total release from the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons, my weary mind recalled sleeping from about 1:00 am until 3:30 am.

My eyes popped open and refused to close, so I succumbed to the pressure and got out of bed to begin a day I had awaited; a day I didn’t think I’d ever see after my arrest on August 18, 1988.

Miracles Do Happen! I believed I would die in prison or be killed escaping. I was wrong! 

When I went to sleep on March 8, 2019, I slept longer than I had in years, maybe because of having completed my 420-month federal prison sentence. Being relieved of the pressure from carrying a heavy burden for three decades of my life, lightened my load.

Not having to worry about getting up to charge an ankle monitor helped me sleep better, too, I’m sure.

(I viewed the ankle monitor strapped to my ankle as an electronic-chain, which I had to wear to go on home confinement. If I had not agreed, I would have had to stay at the halfway house (Residential Reentry Center.))

That morning I signed some papers and a staff member at Dismas Charities removed the electronic-chain. From that point on I was technically freed from the custody of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons, an agency I spoke out against for years while under its control.

Leaving Dismas Charities, a loved one invited me to a celebratory meal at a Waffle House. I accepted! He treated me to steak and eggs, with hashbrowns smothered and covered.

And high-dollar coffee, in comparison to the cost of a cup in 1988!

Not at Starbucks!

I was shocked to learn a cup of coffee cost $1.50 at a Waffle House!

[Breaking News: On March 13th, I drank coffee at a Waffle House in downtown Atlanta and paid $2.00 for a cup. My brother-in-law said the previous cup was $1.90, not $1.50] Much cheaper than StarBucks!

Then the next day, I ate even better. I’ve been treated so well by family and friends since my release, it’s hard to say when I ate the best. I have eaten a lot of tasty food, at a lot of high-dollar-restaurants, none of which served better food than what I ate during family gatherings on Thanksgiving and Christmas Days.

March 9, 2019: Food-wise, I liked the food at a couple other restaurants better than what I ate at an Outback Steakhouse, where we celebrated my return to the family, but I enjoyed the experience tremendously.

That is because of the time I spent with most of my loved ones, and without me having an electronic-chain strapped around my ankle.

Having an electronic-chain strapped around my ankle, embarrassed me when it showed while I was out in the public; however, I preferred dealing with embarrassment over the alternative (sitting at the halfway house or in prison).

Family Time Made Everything Wonderful!

Celebrating my Special Day Entering a New Life

From FaceBook: I am blessed to have a family who still loves me. This Yummy, Great American Cookie was the final part of my special night out at an Outback Steakhouse to celebrate having closed one chapter of my life and for beginning a new one.

The evening meant a lot because it was the first family outing I experienced in decades without an electronic-chain strapped to my ankle.

There were other loved ones who couldn’t attend for various reasons, but I do want to say that the Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings were really special to me because I got to meet relatives I had never met and to just really experience the gratitude of love.

God blessed me with a wonderful family and I love ’em all!

Roaming the Streets Without an Electronic-Chain

UNLEASHED: My day in the Big City without an electronic-chain

City of Atlanta, Georgia, March 8, 2019

Leaving the Waffle House, my brother-in-law carried me downtown to the Grady Memorial Hospital for medical appointments.

80 Jesse Hill, Jr., Drive, SW, Atlanta, Georia
Grady Memorial Hospital Sits in the Background

“Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Ga. is rated high performing in 1 adult procedure or condition. It is a general medical and surgical facility. It is a teaching hospital.

“Rankings and Recognitions

“To help patients decide where to receive care, U.S. News generates hospital rankings by evaluating data on nearly 5,000 hospitals in 16 adult specialties, 9 adult procedures and conditions and 10 pediatric specialties. To be nationally ranked in a specialty, a hospital must excel in caring for the sickest, most medically complex patients. …”

https://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals/area/ga/grady-memorial-hospital-6380130

Grady Memorial Hospital held the Top-Spot for U.S. Trauma Centers for decades, and still does, I believe.

The above I wrote because of how impressed I’ve been with the level of health care provided at Grady, where I had to go upon release from prison because I had health issues and did not have insurance and could not afford it. I still can’t afford insurance because I’m unemployed!

[My experience at Grady does not coincide with other patient ratings. August 7, 2019: Since writing this post in March 2019, my opinion of Grady has lessened but I still give it props for the greater good the hospital serves to the Atlanta area.]

Though my brother-in-law was willing to wait, I did not want to hold him up as I went about my scheduled affairs. Leaving Grady I needed to check in with the United States Probation Office.


U.S. Probation Office Inside this Massive Structure

I left Grady Memorial and walked to the Richard B. Russell Federal Building. Many things changed in society since 1988.

Going into the building I ran into a metal detector, with several government officials guarding its entrance. I had to surrender my possessions, including my SmartWatch, SmartPhone, and backpack filled with a variety of items I knew I needed to venture into the Big City.

Once I cleared the metal detector, all of my possessions were returned, except for the cellphone, which I had to leave with the staff members guarding the entrance. I was given a numbered-token to hold in exchange of my phone until I was ready to leave.

As it turned out, I wasted my time going into the Richard B. Russell Federal Building, because I learned I had to report to another office on Monday, in another town.

While in Atlanta, I gave a urinalysis, but still had to give another one at the correct United States Probation Office. It’s all good, though, I’ve been clean and sober since April 5, 1995.

At the Atlanta office, I did get to speak with the most beautiful probation officer I’d ever seen.

Iplanned to attend a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous that night, but I was so tired by the time I got home at 6:30 pm, after having run around the city and walking over five-miles, that I didn’t even do my typical social media activities.

Maybe all the walking lead to me sleeping as well as I did, without the burden of that electronic-chain and all of the associated factors strapped around my mind and my ankle.

Crypto Is Coming

Crypto is Coming Ready or Not.

Photo by Alesia Kozik on Pexels.com

08/12/2022, Update: The linked article at the end of this blog to Yahoo.com Finance presents strong evidence about the presence and growth of cryptocurrencies around the world.

Several financial institutions have been investigating how to implement cryptocurrency to plan for what is to come, ready or not (I’m not writing about that aspect of Crypto).

Numerous things have changed since I originally posted this blog last year, including big losses in the crypto and stock markets; however, in recent weeks the markets regained some of its lost territory.

Of significance to this blog, BlackRock, an American multinational management corporation, and the largest asset manager, partnered with Coinbase to make cryptocurrency trading more available to financial institutions. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/blackrock-teams-coinbase-crypto-market-120000847.html

The Metaverse

The Digital World continues to expand with the Metaverse plans into the future, where trillions of dollars will be made as people venture into a virtual world.

At the end of this blog, I embedded a YouTube video for more information about how the Metaverse will work and affect the world in which we live.

In anticipation of the Metaverse, companies like Facebook/Meta will lead the way into the new world, unless something changes.

Cryptocurrencies will play a large role in the Metaverse as payment plans and numerous other necessary functions for something so vast that most of our minds cannot grasp its magnitude.

FREE STOCKS

At no cost to our valued customers, we receive a small commission for products and services purchased through this website. Paid commissions do not necessarily influence decisions to advertise or promote products or services. Nothing contained in any content on this website is intended to be taken as financial or medical advice.

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Stocks with Josh on YouTube

Stocks with Josh is one of my favorite YouTubers who I believe is legit and does NOT Pump and Dump cryptocurrency or stocks (influence purchases to increase prices and then sell personal shares). He teaches his viewers how to read the charts and seems to truly want to help others.

I am not paid to promote him or the others on YouTube that I sometimes refer to in my blogs.

TOP METAVERSE STOCKS

According to many, the Metaverse is the future. Personally, I have bought a few coins that will find a place inside the Metaverse. Right now I own small quantities of Sandbox (SAND), Decentraland (MANA), and Enjin Coin (ENJ), which should play some role in the Metaverse.


https://finance.yahoo.com/news/us-beats-china-digital-currency-space-race-circle-ceo-212552244.html Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire told Congress on Wednesday that trillions in U.S. dollar stablecoin transactions place the United States ahead of China in the digital…



Revising a Life-10

Life continues to amaze me as I move along the road to Happy Destiny, wherever that road may lead. Thus far, my life continues to be different from what I imagined before my release.

More on Amazing Life: For instance, when released on August 28, 2018, no one would have probably imagined that I would be appearing on an Atlanta television show without a Wanted Poster in the background. 🙂

Leaving my old life behind as I walked out the prison gates, I had never even used a cellphone. This blog was started by my publisher/friend, who I paid to help me self-publish my books and to start this blog to promote my books, as well as to let my voice be heard beyond prison walls.

Should anyone be wondering, Nope, I was not featured on the cover of the magazine shown above: it was a scam artist’s work who tried to convince me that I had won the Facebook Lottery. I didn’t go for it but did confiscate the photo. 🙂

August 3, 2022, Update: I appeared on a television show in Atlanta and shared part of my story in hope of helping others, not once, but twice. You may view the first filming on YouTube at A Steadfast Journey (Bridging the Gap), which was televised Monday, July 25, 2022, between 11:00-11:30 PM, Eastern Standard Time.

WATC 57.1 may also be viewed on Facebook.

Steadfast Journey, WATC 57.1 Stream

New Life: Well, I knew my new life did not include any planned activities that involved the risk of my mugshot landing on a Wanted Poster. That is because I changed my life in 1995 by making a decision to turn my will and life over to the care of the God of my understanding, as suggested in Step Three of Twelve Step programs, which I did not belong to during the early days of my new life.

After the first filming, someone at the television station asked Dr. Milsap, “Where did you find that guy?” and expressed an interest on me possibly appearing on the regular show:

Atlanta’s 57, WATC-TV

Ironically, the name of the city and year correlates to my birthdate: In 1957 I was born in Atlanta, Georgia. And then as I was preparing to post this blog, I noticed that it was draft #57. 🙂

Draft #57 WordPress.com

WAYNE T. DOWDY AND QUORA.COM

I have written several blogs here about Quora and my content where I now have over One Million Views. One blog is Quora Monetarized and Cryptocurrency, where I include links to my space, Life Inside and Out. If interested in learning more by reading answers or asking questions to a variety of questions, please follow Life Inside and Out on Quora.com. Click Here. Feel free to ask any questions and to voice opinions in comments to all content.

Closing: Though I have a lot more to write about, I have a forty-hour job I must report to today so I can pay my bills. My popularity has not earned me very much, but it does stroke my ego and makes me proud to be in a position to report positive aspects about my Life After Release, which I write to show others that we can change our lives if willing to put in the work.

For me, I just continue to do the next right thing and to Let Go and Let God, then I know it will be okay if I stay focused on traveling along the road to Happy Destiny.

Happy Independence Day-2022



Happy Independence Day to those in America who celebrate its independence.

Two years ago, I wrote about my personal Independence Day worthy of celebration. Click Here to read or search Independence Day for that post or others in relation to this special day, whether celebrating America’s Independence or your Independence from something meaningful.

Coming Soon

My plan for the last couple months has been to post another Life After Release. The last one I posted was in December 2021. Life After Release-10 is Coming Soon.

Since Life After Release-9, a lot of things have changed in my life on many levels. More will be revealed, including the story behind the photo I posted above, which was one of those God Shots I’ve experienced throughout the years.

Right now, though, I have to get ready to go to my Forty Hour job at Goodwill of North Georgia.

For those with an interest in prison life and the issues surrounding prisons and the lives of those trapped within their walls, bars and fences, please check out Life Inside and Out (quora.com). Thanks!

Oh, I forgot to mention one of the most important things, please check out my podcasts and let me know what you think. Click Here to go to my page for the podcasts. I do appreciate you!

Podcast Experiment

Once again, I am experimenting with technology and having fun doing so with a live audience. Speaking of the such, I will soon post a link to my first appearance on a television show, Atlanta’s 57, WATC 57.1 Stream. My mugshot has been televised before, as in If You See This Man Call …

This time I am sharing my story in a positive light. Anyways, please check out some of the podcasts I have added to many of my former blogposts and post a brief comment or click to Like. Thanks!

Life After Release-9

Antique Bowl Used to Prepare Meal After Work

Update: June 29, 2022: I’m adding podcasts to many of my blogs and when I do, the system may send it out as a new post. If so, please take a moment to listen to one of the podcasts and let me know what you think. Thank you!

My life after release includes the Bowl shown in the above photo. Just as that bowl traveled with me since I purchased it at the United States Federal Penitentiary (U.S.P.) in Leavenworth, Kansas in 1989, so do the memories associated with how I served decades of my life in a cage.

LIFE AFTER RELEASE

Two days ago, I made a Ramen Noodle soup in the bowl inside the comforts of the house in which I live, unlike how I did in the small prison cells of the huge federal prisons I lived (U.S.P. Leavenworth, KS; U.S.P. Atlanta, Atlanta, GA; U.S.P. Lompoc, Lompoc, CA; U.S.P. Pollock, Pollock, LA, and at the Federal Correctional Institution in Edgefield, SC)

As Christmas 2021 approaches, I remain grateful for the life I live today as a free man who tries to make a difference in the lives of others. I’ve always been one to leave a lasting impression in the minds of those I came in contact with but not always in a positive way, the difference now is that I don’t leave a bad taste in the memory banks of those I meet.

An Attitude of Gratitude

When the world refuses to act according to Wayne, I must stop and remember that things work according to God’s will for my life and then be grateful for all I have instead of sad for all I don’t have but want.

Click this for more on Gratitude

PERSONALLY: Because I used to live the life of a dope fiend and a thug, I harmed many people, even those I loved. Today I do not live in the same way and do not harm others, even those I may not like. Regardless of how I feel, I treat people with love and kindness, at least, in most cases.

However, if angered my words may not be nice, but I still refrain from causing physical pain by walking away. On most occasions, I walk away before using words with the intention of causing emotional pain. I’m far from perfect.

ALONG SPIRITUAL LINES: Thus far I’ve failed to achieve spiritual perfection but have progressed along spiritual lines throughout the two and a half decades of my new life that allows me to sit in front of this computer typing this blog.


Now I am working on providing more content for Life After Release on Quora.com. Please check it out and subscribe. I will provide free access in requested.

Affiliate Marketing and Promotional Content

Disclaimer: At no additional cost to you, I may receive a small commission for products and services purchased through this website. Paid commissions do not necessarily influence decisions to advertise or promote products or services. Nothing contained herein is intended to be financial advice, as I am not a financial adviser.

Another part of my life after release is trying to find a way to generate additional income. Unfortunately, my success with affiliate marketing is lacking.

One of the main reasons for my lack of success has been my failure to devote the necessary time and energy to succeed, as well as not using more advertising to get the word out about what I am promoting.

In the future I plan to get into flipping goods (buying and selling items on eBay, Poshmark, etc.), or to become an Amazon third party seller.

My main objective in anything I do is to remain focused on remaining a productive member of society instead of the cancer I was before I changed my life in 1995. If interested in learning more about the changes I made, please read The Price of Change, included in this book:

If you cannot afford to purchase a copy, send me a message through the info on the contact page and I will gladly provide so that you can download a free copy of the eBook.

To shop for any eBooks on Amazon, click Kindle


Conclusion

I will conclude with the following temporary promotion that I hope you will decide to accept before it expires, and a link to other blogs I have written as part of my Life After Release, uncaged and coming to you live as a free American citizen and proud to say so, even though I do not agree with American politics.

Don’t miss the following Webull promotion that expires on December 23, 2021. Creating an account gets you one free stock and depositing as little as $1.00 gets four more, and then you can do as I am doing: promoting to earn free stocks. 🙂



Personal Magazines-2

The content, not the binding and cover or other physical characteristics, makes a publication a magazine. By combining genres, I unintentionally made Essays and More Straight from the Pen a magazine instead of a book.

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Gratitude 2021

Another Million Views

An Attitude of Gratitude makes a difference in my perception of life in general.  Sometimes I must slow down to look at what matters most to make my attitude change from a negative perspective to the positive.

Having 19-million views on Google Maps does make me feel grateful on one level, but it’s only another number added to my accomplishments as a Returning Citizen.

Promotion Expires 11/30/2021: Limited time offer: Open an account with Webull and get a free stock! Fund it with any amount and get one more!   https://a.webull.com/eSWL4E1qmpYWXvp7T1

Writing about gratitude when not feeling so grateful about life as it is while writing isn’t easy, but I will overcome the negative feelings by writing about the positive aspects of my life. 

I’m not filled with self-pity or dealing with depression.  Things just haven’t been going the way for me the way I had hoped.

Because I am dealing with a personal relationship not turning out the way I had hoped. I’m just not in my typical cheerful mode, as I often am when walking around the store where I work trying to spread cheer by speaking with others. Or when walking in a park enjoying nature, feeling a cool breeze that heightens the senses, or experiencing the joy of seeing something beautiful.

Self-Pity: One saying for feeling self-pity in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous is, “Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me, Pour Me Another Drink.”

The antidote for self-pity is to make a list of all you are grateful for in your life.

Writing and Typing: Right now, I am sitting in front of a computer working on a blog to help brighten the day of those whom I cannot see or do not know.  If this makes you smile, I am grateful for taking the time to do what I am doing. 

Thinking about someone smiling while reading this blog gave me a burst of joy, and gratitude for the God-given ability to use words to help others to experience feelings.

Grateful for What Counts: I am grateful for my good health, for having eyes to see, feet to get me to where I want to go, and even if my two feet hurt, for having two feet to hurt. I’m grateful for the ability to love and for being loved.

Family & Friends: More so than anything else, I am grateful for still having friends and family who love and care for me and who I know would be there for me in times of need.

Tomorrow I will be celebrating with loved ones as we share love and hugs, and then while we eat good food. 🙂

In closing, I am grateful for not being in the same position that I was in back in 2016 when I wrote Gratitude and More from inside the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons. I am grateful for being a free man, a good man.

Now that is something to smile about, to be proud of, and grateful for being in a position to sit in front of this computer doing what I do best: write.

Happy Holidays!

Revising a Life by Wayne T. Dowdy

Image captured at McDonough Goodwill Store and Donation Center

Revising a Life

While walking with a friend at the McDonough Goodwill Store and Donation Center, I snapped the above photo of Kirklands’ Autumn Plaque and two pictures. Snapping quality photos is a natural skill for me, as is evident by my 18-million views on Google Maps displayed in the screenshot below.

Revising a Life by Wayne T. Dowdy relates to a variety of aspects from my life (affiliate marketing, relationships, my writing career, and my overall successful reentry into society). More of which I will write about in Life After Release-9.

On Writing: A month ago I came up with the idea for an eBook, Revising a Life, because that is what I am in the process of doing. I am the author, editor, and creator, at least, to the point of where my Higher Power, whom I choose to call God, allows me.

One day He will elect to End the Story. For now, though, I am writing the story as I go along one day at a time, accepting that everything will be okay.

I am a good writer and will focus more on my writing career than what I have been doing since my release.

Affiliate Marketing

At this point, I am not impressed with the whole affiliate marketing process. I question whether the companies are getting sales from my promotions and not paying me what is due, so …. I am moving on to other companies.

However, I would be more successful at it if I advertised and followed suggestions better than I do when it comes to posting content and mass advertising to market what I promote.

Successful Reentry

Since my release on August 28, 2018, I’ve actually accomplished a lot but don’t feel like I am where I should be in life by this time. However, I know things work according to God’s will, whether I like it or not.

What is of greatest importance is that I continue to work and to live my life without resulting to old behaviors, such as getting high on mind-altering substances, and then becoming a walking crime spree in action.

Not my style anymore. I retired decades ago.

Picture Perfect: At five million photo views on Google Maps, I was in the Top One percent. Now that I am up to 18-million, can’t be too many others who outperform me. Unfortunately, my success in that area only strokes my ego because it hasn’t earned me a cent!

Now, I am in the Top Ten percent as a Google MAPS American Restaurant Reviewer. That stat may benefit me in some areas but still hasn’t made me rich and famous. 🙂

Relationships

Still lacking in that area, too. Maybe I need to quit playing hard to get, and focus more on the women who want me and are worthy of my love, rather than chasing others who are so filled with themselves that there is no room for anyone else.

In A Prisoner and a Poem for a Princess shown below (also available in Essays & More Straight from the Pen), I wrote about the only fiancé that I’ve had in decades, which left me with a broken heart when she died from Congestive Heart Failure at the age of 47.

Broken my heart may be, but I am okay with it. Some things are just meant to be for reasons unknown to me.



Conclusion

Once again, in A Prisoner and a Poem for a Princess, I mention hearing a song that made me wonder if it was what was fixing to happen (losing my lover). At the time I did know know Pearl Jam was the group who had redone the old song I heard in my head, before hearing Pearl Jam’s version on the radio.

If you want to hear a great song and witness something special, click to open the YouTube video where Eddie Vetter and Pearl Jam gives three men a wonderful opportunity who came out of prison after being wrongly convicted.

Pearl Jam Concert, May 27, 2006, Camden, NJ

Watch “Mix – Pearl Jam – Last Kiss” on YouTube

Quora Monetized and Cryptocurrency

Quora+ Life Inside and Out Content

Yep, I am trying to make a few dollars and chose to monetize my Quora.com content, not all but most. From the link to my Quora Profile visitors can elect to subscribe to Life Inside and Out, which will help me cover some of the cost of this website and other associated writing/blogging costs.

Quora+ is offering participants a 30-day free trial then $6.99 per month fee for ad free access to all Quora content (Note: Inflation increased that from $4.99 when I first posted this blog). From my understanding, since I am one of the select few paid creators of Quora content, subscribers to Quora+ will be allowed to read my content free, whereas if a person just subscribes to my Space (Life Inside and Out), they can only read my content, so it is best to subscribe to Quora+ to read mine and other popular content providers.

I thank you in advance for supporting my mission to provide quality content by subscribing to Life Inside and Out or by making a donation of your choice in the box below. A small contribution of $1 helps and will be much appreciated.

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Crypto Crew University

Nothing I write or post is meant to be taken as financial advice in any form, since I am not qualified to offer such advice. All I am doing is sharing my experience and one of the sources of which I feel provides valuable content.

I’ve written some things I do in Trading Apps I Use if interested. Though not recommended by most experts, I have more invested in the more volatile cryptocurrency market than I do in the stock market, also volatile as of late.

Playing in either market is like gambling or loaning money to people. My philosophy for both is the same:

IF YOU CANNOT AFFORD TO LOOSE IT DON’T DO IT!

Steve at Crypto Crew University on YouTube provides a lot of information to help men and women learn about the Cryptocurrency market. He offers some free courses and others for a fee. One thing I like about him is that he offers his courses at a discount or free to those struggling to make it.

I will conclude this blog post with links to his YouTube channel:

Watch “Ultimate Bitcoin Strategy for Beginners | Step by step guide” on YouTube


Life After Release-8

Big Springs Park

I love a walk in the Park! My life after release has not been one. That hasn’t deterred me from continuing to pursue a better life. I’ll clarify.

The World refuses to work According to Wayne’s plans but I continue to feel Blessed by the Best and to maintain an Attitude of Gratitude.

Health

A few doctors have complimented me on my overall health condition at my age: I don’t look or feel my age and don’t have to take several medications to function and stay well.

At work I can run circles around most of the other employees when it comes to strength and endurance.

Relationships

Update: September 26, 2021: Since my release I have been cautious about getting involved in relationships. In the last two months I’ve met three top contenders who captivated my attention, with the last one who celebrated her birthday today.

Another lovely lady continues to keep me in the Friend Zone but there have been signs of progress about our relationship moving in a positive direction. We are good friends and that is important but I want more! 🙂

“What I would like is that special lady who loves me the way I will love her and then perhaps I will perceive my life as great.” Year One of New Life by Wayne T. Dowdy | STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN

Life Goes On and I am okay with the life I have, though it is not how I imagined it would be before I walked out of the prison gates as a free man.

I am fortunate to be alive and in as good of health as I am to complain about anything that happens in relationships. When and if the time comes for me to be in a serious (or a not-so-serious) relationship with a woman, it will happen and my being more celibate than some priest will end as another junction in life begins.

I am okay either way: A fighter and survivor I am!


Finances

My investment plans went great for a few months but then just as for thousands of others, my account values over recent months have gone downhill; however, I am still in the Green in most areas and am grateful to not have been as impacted by the stock market corrections as severely as thousands of investors and traders.

In the rapid changing and volatile Crypto market, devastating is one word to describe activities over the last few months, with over 500 billion lost within a couple of days at one point.

Fortunate for me, I didn’t have that much to lose and retained most of my funds.

To let people know about some of the things I do as a successfully-reintegrated individual, I wrote about the Trading Apps I Use. Last weekend, over the three previous days I had lost between $450-600.00 in Crypto-Trading, a small sum in comparison to typical traders. By Monday at Noon, I recouped the losses. That’s Crypto, up and down, with some swings as drastic as 25-75%.

A few weeks ago I went to a birthday party and swam in a pool alone after the children went back inside with the adults. It was nice having the privilege to get some sun and enjoy being alive and well after all these years.

In the meantime, I will continue to do my normal things to avoid becoming a recidivist, going to Twelve Step meetings to share my experience, strength and hope, remembering where I came from and where I can return if I decide to return to old behaviors.

Though overworked and underpaid by my employer; I remain grateful for my job because it helps to keep me healthy and provides an opportunity for me to meet a lot of lovely ladies I would not otherwise see. One of whom may just be my next wife, whether she drives a Mercedes or not. 🙂

COVID-19 and Forced Vaccination

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on Pexels.com

Disclaimer: nothing in this blog is to be taken or perceived as medical or personal advice. The content is simply the opinion of the author who is not a doctor or expert in the medical field.

Disclaimer: The author/owner is an affiliate marketer for Life Extension Foundation and will be paid a small commission if you purchase a product through a link to the Life Extension Foundation.



COVID-19 CLAIMS

No dispute on whether the COVID-19 virus kills people. It does. However, every illness is not due to COVID-19 but many deaths attributed to COVID-19 are false information.

The man in the embedded video at the end of this post states a lot of what I have heard from others who work in the medical field about the fraudulent COVID-19 claims, how most illnesses are quickly changed from the original complaint to COVID-19.

Shortly after receiving the first or second Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, a total of 32 people died at the facility where this man works.

In my unprofessional opinion, whether a person contracts COVID-19 depends more on genes (DNA) and the person’s immune system. The basis behind my conclusion revolves around three of my family members households and COVID-19.

In group one, the wife worked in a nursing home where several patients died from COVID-19. She contracted COVID-19. She slept in the same bed with her husband, who would be considered High-risk. He did not contract COVID-19.

In group two, a high-risk elderly person lived in the same house and was cared for by relatives and a nurse who came in periodically. The younger, less-risk-caretakers/relatives contracted COVID-19. The High-risk elderly family member did not contract COVID-19.

In Group Three, two children contracted COVID-19. One of the parents fell into the High-risk category. Neither he nor his wife contracted COVID-19.

What are the variables in each of the above examples? Different DNA and gene pools.

09/13/2021, Update: after posting this blog someone on Facebook sent a link that supports my claim about DNA and COVID-19. The idea that COVID-19, AIDS, and the EBOLA viruses were created in a lab as biological warfare is something I have always believed; especially, with AIDS, where in one study, most Rhesus monkeys became infected after the first injection of HIV, whereas some took up to twenty injections of the same strain before testing positive. What was the variable: DNA.

Watch this video:



Fortunately, none of my relatives died from COVID-19. I am sorry to report that several people infected with the same strain of COVID-19 did die, whether from a COVID-19 case or underlying health condition reported as COVID-19.


PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN and COVID-19 Vaccination Mandate for Employers to Force on Employees.

Now President Joe Biden effectively created mass controversies in a recent plan to force businesses with over 100-employees to require that the employees receive a COVID-19 vaccination or to be tested weekly. Companies will be fined for non-compliance. Click Here to read Joe Biden Faces an Avalanche of Vaccine Mandate Lawsuits.

In my unprofessional opinion, the flaw in his plan is evident in that even people who have been vaccinated are still contracting COVID-19. However, the vaccine may reduce the risk of death from COVID-19. BUT what about those who die after taking the vaccine?

I wonder if President Joe Biden owns stock in the companies producing the vaccines or ingredients needed to produce COVID-19 vaccines? Whether he does or does not is irrelevant to me because I am going to be one of the rebels who refuses to be vaccinated or to be tested each week.

That is because I believe that if it is meant or not meant for me to become infected with COVID-19 is what will happen, regardless of what I do or do not do. That’s just my spiritual belief. God is in control of my life, period! Otherwise, I would not have survived my youth. I should have died decades ago. Read Essays & More Straight from the Pen by Wayne T. Dowdy and you will probably agree.

CONCLUSION

In the meantime, no vaccine for me but that is not to say that others should do as I chose. If a person will feel safer taking the jab, then that is what he or she should do. I jabbed myself enough and refuse to be a Guinea Pig.

A publication I used to read (Best Pills Worst Pills) suggested waiting for a new drug to be on the market five years before taking. I recall that it was because it may take that long for the severe side-effects to manifest, and am applying the same standard to vaccines. Either way, though, I do hope that vaccines are effective and prevent more people from dying.

Master Number 33 by Wayne T. Dowdy

Master Number 33

On the night that I received the medallion displayed above, four members of a twelve-step program sat at a table pulling cards from a deck. I overheard the only male in the small group say, “I don’t want one.”

He didn’t want to pull a card, so I volunteered and exchanged seats, due in part to three lovely ladies sitting at the table where he sat. That is where Master Number 33 comes into play for the topic of this blog, though I didn’t learn that I was a Master Number 33 for several weeks because I recall that I pulled a card containing four images.

The interpreter, Stephanie, then asked me several personal questions before our affair was interrupted for those of us celebrating milestones in recovery to be honored with the presentation of sobriety tokens.

Stephanie made some positive comments about her findings before we had to rearrange our seats for the spectacular events to proceed for which we were gathered.

Months later I asked her what all of that meant that she had said after reading the card, etc. She then sent me the link below on the Master Number 33 and suggested I read it. When I did, I was amazed at the accuracy proven by my history and observation of Number “3” and events in my life, which I will not go into for the purpose of this blog.

In reference to Master Number 33, one example is that in recovery and in life in general, my Higher Power, whom I choose to call God, uses me to help others to find a new way of life. Something I do out of love for others and love doing to compensate for the many dirty deeds I did before my conversion (changing my lifestyle in 1995 and retiring from the Thug Life I lived for several years because I didn’t know how to change what began as a child). Here is a quote from Ganehaspeaks.com to support that fact:

“Master Number 33 Powers and Characteristics

“They seem to possess an unlimited reservoir of spiritual energy which they use extremely liberally to help those around them. The root of 33 that is 6 is a number that is naturally associated with family, love, home, and responsibility.” 

https://www.ganeshaspeaks.com/numerology/master-numbers/number-33/


I am responsible! I suit up and show up when committed to helping another person find a new way of life.


Matter of Perception: Thirty-three years ago on August 18, 1988, an event occurred that some may view as good while others may see it as bad, meaning not-so-good.

Personally, since I am the Star of the Show, I see it as necessary and a combination of both, good and bad, because if the event had not occurred, I would not be alive to write this blog or to enjoy the life I am blessed with living today. To understand that statement a person needs to read my book to grasp a full understanding.

Though far from the life I imagined and believe is on the horizon, I am doing well in that I have the main essentials for survival (good health, food, shelter), and am still alive and free as a spirit having a human experience.

THE EVENT: Kentucky State Patrol pulled me and an accomplice over in Campbell County, Tennessee, which ultimately led to my arrest and conviction on several federal charges and a 420-month federal prison sentence, all of which I wrote about in Essays & More Straight from the Pen. (Buy paperback for $8.95 or eBook for $0.99)

Essays and More Straight from the Pen shows the power of change. The well-written essays take the reader deep inside the life of their author who overcame circumstances and obstacles that kept him chained to a life of drugs and crime. The stories inspire and motivate people to not give up or lose hope, and to fight for a new life.


August 28, 2018: I walked out of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons in Edgefield, South Carolina. That was the first time in 30-years and 10-days that I walked outside the confines of a prison without handcuffs, chains, and shackles.

In Electronic Chain on this site, I wrote about some of my experiences after completion of my federal prison sentence on March 8, 2019. And then in another blog, Prison and Personality Changes by Wayne T. Dowdy, I included an update to my life after release and a recent post on Quora.com, all of which I write in hope of using my experiences to help others.

My goal is to convert my negative experiences into positive ones by sharing my experience, strength, and hope with others, as is common in Twelve Step programs.

Conclusion

In conclusion of this blog, I will end with an excerpt from the Conclusion in Numerology: Master Number 33 that if someone elects to buy and read Essays & More Straight from the Pen, will probably see a substantial contrast in the man I am today versus the person I had become based upon life experiences, and thus see the Power of Change I want others to see in my life:

“People affiliated with this number will be loving, sympathetic, emotional, kind-hearted and zealous in their essence.”

Could Be Me

But for the Grace of God There Go I

Provide Treatment for Addiction Problems to Reduce Recidivism

July 11, 2021: I am reposting this blog because of its importance to me and millions of others. Had I not changed my life in 1995 while inside the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons, I would never have lived long enough to walk out of the prison doors. Today I have a life worth living because I dealt with the interpersonal issues I had that kept me caught up in my addition and in prison for the majority of my life.

I am evidence that miracles happen.

In December 2002, a study author stated that eighty-five percent of prisoners had addiction problems, and of those, half had an underlying mental condition (42.5%). To me, that study shows a critical need for providing resources to help treat addiction problems, if we plan to reduce recidivism.

Thirty Percent of Men and Women with Addiction Problems Have Underlying Mental Health Conditions.

Combine Treatment for Both Issues to Change Lives.

I am one who falls within the study findings and attest to the accuracy of the study finding; however, I don’t live that way anymore. The August 2008 publication from Readers Write in The Sun magazine, helps explain why that remains true: https://www.thesunmagazine.org/issues/392/up-all-night

(For more on the study and its findings, read “No Sympathy” on this site)

Note: I am now free and living my life as a productive member of society and reside in metro Atlanta, Georgia.

The Sun magazine Readers Write topic: Up All Night

I have spent many nights wide awake on methamphetamine, cocaine, LSD, and Ecstasy. In the late seventies, I used to go on PCP benders and lose days of my life to blackouts. As a result, I cannot honestly say what I have or have not done.

I am currently serving a thirty-five-year federal sentence for armed bank robbery and associated charges. For the first seven years of my sentence, I did cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, or some combination of the above as often as I could. When the guards came around to count us after lights out, I’d fake being asleep to avoid getting a urinalysis the next day. In the morning I’d begin the search for another fix.

Then I began seeing a prison psychologist. I wanted to stop shooting drugs, but I had failed at it so many times that I didn’t have much hope. The psychologist arranged sessions with a drug-treatment specialist. After about a month, she decided that the core of my addiction was shame, and she gave me a homework assignment: to write about the most shameful event in my life.

I decided to give her more than she had bargained for. I wrote from 5:30 P.M. until 5:30 A.M., committing to paper all the sick secrets that I had vowed to take with me to my grave. I filled sixteen yellow, legal-size pages.

The following day the drug counselor read what I’d written and predicted that I would never use again. For thirteen years her prediction has held true. But I keep in mind that my reprieve from my addiction is contingent on my spiritual condition from day to day. To stay healthy I have to attend twelve-step meetings and continue to write about what’s going on in my life. Staying up all night writing, instead of doing drugs, has helped me to reach beyond the walls and razor wire and into the lives of others.

Wayne T. Dowdy

BUTTERFLIES and CHANGE by Wayne T. Dowdy

I found the inscription on the medallion shown above in the photo to be inspiring and true: “If nothing ever changed there would be no butterflies.”

Several years ago, I was published in an international magazine and was quoted as having said something like, “I was antisocial until AA turned me into a social butterfly.”

Butterflies are free and so am I!

On April 5, 2021, a doctor called me on the phone and thanked me for a personal magazine/book that I gave her: Essays & More Straight from the Pen. She said it changed her life by allowing her to understand more about how one’s experiences in life shape the person they become (or something along those lines. I’m paraphrasing from memory).

For such a compliment to come from someone as prestigious and intelligent (and pretty) as her, I was moved deeply and more thankful for her call than she probably realized. Knowing how busy she is in her profession and that she was so thoughtful that she took the time from her busy schedule to call me, meant a lot.

She began the conversation by saying she hoped that it was a good time for her to call, and by acknowledging that she knew the day was a special one for me (the last day I used mind-altering substances in 1995). Then she thanked me for my very well written book and for writing openly and honestly about the sensitive content from my past.

When I promised to give her a copy, I asked that she please remember me as the person she met versus the person she reads about inside the book.

I felt honored that she had remembered me as the man she met and was so grateful that she called to thank me for the truthful content inside the pages, a lot of which I am not proud of having done decades before.

People can change the same as butterflies do when metamorphosing from a caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly. Read about the man who did in Essays & More Straight from the Pen.

Essays & More Straight from the Pen by Wayne T. Dowdy

He Never Lost Hope. Hope Was All He Had

Essays and More Straight from the Pen shows the power of change, gives hope to readers wanting a different life.

The well-written essays take readers deep inside the life of the author who overcame circumstances and obstacles that kept him chained to a life of drugs and crime.

The stories inspire and motivate people to not give up or lose hope, and to fight for a new life.


Life After Release-7

Patek Philippe

Life After Release continues to be an adventure and a learning experience.  My life on the outside is evidence that those who wish to successfully reintegrate can do it by accepting that things happen that wasn’t in the Pre-release Plans.

I imagined life after release would be much different than it has been for me. 

Expectations of others to support my business endeavors by utilizing links from my websites to purchase items has been a true learning experience. 

What I do know is that Envy Runs Deep, no matter how much a person claims to support the success of a released citizen.  When my success would prove their pessimistic views wrong, I should have known not to expect support, even though the support would not have any negative effect on them or their finances.

One of my favorite sayings is that, “Your actions speak so loud that I can’t hear a word of what you say.”

In one particular case, more than one person close to me has literally bought thousands of dollars worth of items from Amazon, who had been asked to start from the links in my website so that I could earn a commission from the purchase at no cost or risk to them. 

Why would someone NOT support a loved one’s attempt to become a successful affiliate marketer when absolutely NO risk or harm or cost would come to them?

Could it be envy, or a desire to see that person fail, or for some other reason?  Whatever the case may be in this particular situation for me is one that I am certain is not unique to me as a returning citizen. 

I can’t change other people: I can only change how I respond or react to a situation that “I” allow to cause me to experience negative thoughts or emotions. 

By accepting that no one is obligated to help or to support me in any way, allows me to not be angry because that person (or those people) did not act “According to Wayne.”

In the early days of my recovery, I had some affiliates and associates who went to extremes to tempt me into falling back into my evil, wicked ways by offering free drugs, knowing I was trying to not use again because I had a bad problem with stopping once I started; one in particular who would only give it to me to use, not to sell. 

Why?  In my opinion, two reasons, with the main one being that the change in my behavior removed me from helping them to do their dirty deeds. Another relates to the old cliche’ that Misery Loves Company.

When a person (a Hater), has a negative view or image of another person, IF that other person succeeds in an area the Hater has failed or said couldn’t be done, then how would that make the Hater feel?  Not good.

The person who offered free drugs to use, only, died within four years because of his addiction.  He had been one of my partners-in-crime who refused to put forth an effort to change and it cost him his life.

Changes

The above is only one example of many things that I would never have thought would be a reality in my life, even though I knew not to place expectations on others if I wanted serenity in my life. The good thing is that I am aware and know that I must let others be themselves, regardless of how wrong I feel they may be. It’s okay either way. I am only responsible for my side of the equation.

Other examples are my plans to buy a house, sign the contract, and then learn that the house was not a good buy, so then I cancelled the plan and lost $500 in the process. Life goes on.

I got in the stock market and done fairly well for a small time player, and then the stock market goes wild. Though I am still up in the game, and have learned through the drastic swings, I hated losing money I had made. I accepted it and continue to hope for a better outcome in the future.

My plan was to get rich quick. Perhaps I need a better strategy for getting rich or just be grateful for what I have and continue to do the next right thing, not letting the Mighty Dollar take me away from doing the things I need to do to experience more peace of mind, serenity. 🦉

In the near future I am going to write about other aspects of Life After Release that hasn’t worked “According to Wayne” that I refuse to lose sleep over.

Life goes on, and for that I am grateful because I do have what I need, even though I still don’t have all of what I envisioned having before I walked out of the prison gates on August 28, 2018.

PS

That Patek Philippe in the photo is a fake and a terrible time piece that stops keeping time when I lay it down.

Life After Release-5

Image customized by Lilly G.

My Life After Release continues to be an adventure as I continue to live and learn, after my return to society as if being a caveman who walked out of a cave into a bright new world filled with gadgets and devices that were not available in 1988 when thrown into a cage to protect society.

Life is wonderful, full of surprises and a host of challenging situations but only as challenging as I chose to perceive them to be.

The truth is that life just happens, and I make a decision on how to view any event or chain of events. I chose to see challenging situations as an opportunity to learn.

No day passes without me having learned something beneficial.

Though living my life in a respectful manner and focusing on doing the right thing, I still must be on guard for the character defects that ruled my life many years ago; especially, the pride when driven by Mr. EGO, the one who feels the need to defend that scared little boy who grew up fighting to keep the bullies and predators at bay.

If left unchecked, Mr. EGO would have me right back in jail or dead. Fortunately, I have learned when to walk away from a situation to avoid a catastrophe or unpleasant outcome in a dispute. Humility. Not humiliation.

Cheap Smartwatch

In Life After Release-3 I wrote about a Smartwatch with a phishing link, designed to steal personal data. That is a screenshot of the culprit shown above.

When I bought the watch for $14.99 on Woot, an Amazon company, I thought I had gotten a great deal because it was advertised as normally listing for $99.99.

A month later, I find the following when researching to write this blog about learning to deal with life in this new era, and deciding to use the thieving smartwatch as an example that met its match with my smartphone:

Woot must have not known about the 2020 HOT DZ09 Smartwatch shown above that sells for $1.99 on Wish.com, not $99.99 as advertised to sucker people in like me to buy it for a deal.

Who would have guessed that the smartwatch was a thief programmed to steal?

When I received the security warning from Google on my Motorola One Zoom with the Android 10 update, I complained to Woot about the smartwatch having the phishing link included, and though Woot did give me a prompt refund, I later saw the Smartwatch still being sold.

But to be fair to the manufacturer and Woot, the smartwatch I received may have been one of a select group of smartwatches primed to steal personal data when connected to the phone after scanning the QR Code.

I was told to keep the smartwatch. Even though I do not have it connected to my phone, I don’t trust that darn smartwatch because I don’t know just how smart and scandalous it is with today’s technology. I lay it facedown to make sure that the camera isn’t spying on me and sending the data to its operator. 🙂

Affiliate Marketing

Now, as part of me making an honest living, unlike the scandalous individuals behind the thieving smartwatch and many online products, I am learning affiliate marketing to earn small commissions for products and services advertised, if purchased.

For both ads, I watched promotional videos and was impressed with their content.

ProVen is a weight loss product and advertised as time sensitive for purchasing at discounted rates.

I researched for complaints and did not find any complaints about the product. I did learn about bogus websites that use ProVen to scam purchasers. Please check out the referenced information below for WonderfulThingsDone.com to learn more.

Promotional Ads:

PROVEN WEIGHT LOSS SUPPLEMENT

Click Banner for ProVen

For detailed information on Proven and impressive YouTube presentation by users and information regarding scammers who use ProVen and other products to steal funds from online shoppers, please visit https://wonderfulthingsdone.com/review-proven-weight-loss-supplement/

At no cost to the customer, we receive a small commission for a product or service purchased through this website. The commission does not necessarily influence the decision to advertise or promote a particular product or service.


Freight Brokering

Check out Freight Brokers Boot Camp. The Customer Satisfaction rating is 4.8 out of 5.

For those who want to learn how to be a Freight Broker, this appears to be a good course, as it sells often and my research failed to find anything negative about the company who sells the programs.

At no cost to the customer, we receive a small commission for a product or service purchased through this website. The commission does not necessarily influence the decision to advertise or promote a particular product or service.

Life After Release-4 by Wayne T. Dowdy

Life After Release takes on different forms for me each day. One thing I try to remember is not forgetting how I felt trapped inside as a man imprisoned and often helpless to do what I knew I was capable of, such as what I do now: write professionally on a computer and blast words around the world with a few strokes on a keyboard.

Though I blasted a lot from Inside the prison system because I was published in International magazines, and paid to have this website built, and paid to use an expensive and convoluted emailing system to type blogs to send to my publisher for posting, I couldn’t do as I do now as a free man.

For the last week I’ve been working on this website and another to increase loading speed and functioning (still in process).  I upgraded the hosting plan on another website to improve its functioning and security, and worked on it to facilitate my affiliate marketing agenda.

I remain committed to become more successful than I have at this point of life, regardless of my having done well since my release.

Stars Shine Ahead!

GOODWILL Floor Care

Along with the above, I’ve continued to work on my regular job like an Alaskan malamute 1 (dogs commonly seen pulling sleds through snow and ice), cleaning and beautifying floors in Goodwill Stores by sweeping, mopping, removing old wax with chemicals, razor blades, and machines, before waxing to make it sparkle and shine with reflections from the overhead lights.

1 The Alaskan Malamute, one of the oldest Arctic sled dogs, is a powerful and substantially built dog with a deep chest and strong, well-muscled body.  Alaskan Malamute Dog Breed Information


Topics for Change

I often wonder about topics to post that will benefit others in some way, whether by drawing attention to a cause, or simply allowing those trapped behind the walls, bars, and fences of prisons to have their voice heard. 

Yesterday, my course of action became clear when a man Inside reached out for help. I listened to his plea and am sharing the following message from the man who is a contact inside the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.

My hope is for those who care about what goes on Behind Closed Doors to contact the news media personnel provided by the imprisoned individual who cared enough about the COVID-19 situation inside the prison to risk his safety and security by sending an email he knows the prison administration would frown upon and could chose to retaliate against him.

This Door I Refuse to Keep Closed and Am Shouting Out His Plea for Help!

COVID-19 and the Wisconsin Department of Corrections

Received October 3, 2020

Message from Concerned Wisconsin Department of Correction Prisoner

“I hope you are doing well! I’m straight, I think! My test from when the National Guard tested us was negative ( well they didn’t come to my cell door for me or my celly – as of right now. ) However, it is scary right now!!

“Usually, I would send you a memorandum directly from the Warden/etc. so that I don’t relay unconscious bias opinion when I make my objective and personal opinion of the direction of the institution. However, they are not communicating with us of what is going on. If it is not to create hysteria it is having the opposite. Communication would make this that more easily bearable.

“Personally, I understand that Oshkosh is the most populated institutions in the state. That it is practically impossible to isolate the outbreak of positives cases within for the required 14 days. Technically, if you’re having symptoms or have COVID you’re quarantined but what about the in cases of you have it, but your cellmate doesn’t. Well they are still celled together. The negative guy is panicking. Get me out of here. Yesterday they took a guy out on a stretcher to the hospital because his oxygen levels were extremely low.

“We as inmates don’t make it better because we weren’t or not self-reporting if we have or had symptoms.

“We can’t clean rooms, no showers, no phones to communicate with your people.

“I don’t know if you will receive this email, please let me know if you did. Sent 9-3-2020 at 10:22 am! [Date is probably an error: 9-3-2020 is likely meant to be 10/3/2020 as it was received on October 3, 2020).

“People are not allowed private communication with their lawyers!!!!

“Help!!!!

“I know people have been contacting you about issues about state food shortages and portions, hot water for coffee is something we have to sacrifice but safety is supposed to be priority # 1 but to have a positive and a negative celled up is dangerous.

“A few said they are having or have had their people call to the institution for what exactly I don’t know. My position is it’ll do nothing to complain to the person or people that are making the inconsistent decisions to correct them. You must, we must contact local news and or court tv of the mistreatment and mishandling.

“This is a list of possible people that have drawn interest in prison issues: Kia Murray at kmurray@wluk.com  (Northeast Wisconsin fox11news); juliana.falk@nbc26.com Northeast Wisconsin news); Julia Jena @ court tv news # 470-355-8635; Sara Thomsen at sthomsen@wbay.com fox valley local news.

“Without contacting those people to bring awareness things will only get worse! Hoping that this goes away is not the answer. Thanks for your time and I looking forwarded to hearing from you.”

Anonymous Prisoner

[I chose to protect his identity]

Prisoners are human, too, even if some may not behave that way. 

Please do what you can to draw attention to what continues to go on Inside this particular prison and many others around the Nation and abroad.

In the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons, as of October 2, 2020, more than 124 prisoners have died.  Here is a partial report from the actual statistics

(Only facilities with deaths are reported in this blog.  The full list may be seen at http://www.bop.gov/coronavirus).

“The inmate totals listed do not include inmates participating in the Federal Location Monitoring program, inmates supervised under the USPO, or being held in privately managed prisons. Additionally, the reference to the FCI Butner Low below refers to an isolation unit that is physically separated from the rest of the LSCI. References to RRCs include both individuals housed at the RRC and individuals on home confinement under the RRC’s supervision.

“10/02/2020 – The BOP has 126,586 federal inmates in BOP-managed institutions and 14,375 in community-based facilities. The BOP staff complement is approximately 36,000. There are 1,565 federal inmates and 726 BOP staff who have confirmed positive test results for COVID-19 nationwide. Currently, 13,452 inmates and 1,164 staff have recovered. There have been 124 federal inmate deaths and 2 BOP staff member deaths attributed to COVID-19 disease. Of the inmate deaths, 4 occurred while on home confinement.

[I conclude with this section that I modified to reflect content I send inside the Federal Bureau of Prisons to clients subscribed to my email]

[To read numbers: the left column under the facility is Inmate confirmed cases (I.P.), next is Staff (S.P.), the third from left is Inmate Deaths (I.D.), the fourth column is Staff Deaths (S.D.); the fifth column Inmates Recovered (I.R.) and the others are Staff Recovered (S.R.), City and State].

Facility                           I.P.        S.P.      I.D.      S.D.     I.R.      S.R.      City      State

Butner Low FCI           1          1          17        1          627      17        Butner  NC

Fort Worth FMC           5          10        12        0          615      6          Fort Worth       TX

Terminal Island FCI      0          3          10        0          596      23        San Pedro         CA

Butner Medium I FCI    0          1          9          0          186      32        Butner  NC

Elkton FCI       2          0          9          0          942      54        Lisbon OH

Lexington FMC 7          0          9          0          206      13        Lexington        KY

Oakdale I FCI   0          13        7          0          214      21        Oakdale           LA

Carswell FMC  1          3          6          0          522      1          Fort Worth       TX

Seagoville FCI  6          1          4          0          1300    29        Seagoville        TX

Milan FCI         1          1          3          0          85        55        Milan   MI

Yazoo City Low FCI    0          5          3          0          93        9          Yazoo City       MS

Coleman Medium FCI  51        34        2          0          194      1          Sumterville      FL

Devens FMC    0          2          2          0          45        6          Ayer    MA

Lompoc FCI     0          3          2          0          746      16        Lompoc           CA

Lompoc USP    0          4          2          0          156      24        Lompoc           CA

Marion USP     2          8          2          0          133      9          Marion IL

Miami FDC      29        33        2          0          129      21        Miami  FL

Terre Haute USP          3          1          2          0          82        2          Terre Haute      IN

The Geo Group (RRC)  1          0          2          0          3          0          Houston           TX

ACS Corrections (RRC) 0          0          1          0          1          0          Del Valle          TX

Atlanta USP     6          8          1          0          55        8          Atlanta GA

Behavioral Systems SW (RRC) 0          0          1          0          0          0          Phoenix           AZ

Brawley RRC (RRC)    1          0          1          0          3          0          Brawley           CA

Coleman Low FCI        1          24        1          1          219      6          Sumterville      FL

Danbury FCI    2          0          1          0          81        64        Danbury           CT

Dismas Charities (RRC)            0          0          1          0          0          0          Hattiesburg      MS

Edgefield FCI   2          16        1          0          90        10        Edgefield         SC

GEO Care Inc. (RRC)   0          0          1          0          1          0          Brownsville     TX

GEO Care, Inc. (RRC)  2          0          1          0          0          0          Bronx  NY

Jesup FCI         0          19        1          0          251      3          Jesup   GA

Miami FCI        9          25        1          0          122      10        Miami  FL

Oakdale II FCI 1          9          1          0          9          6          Oakdale           LA

Oklahoma City FTC     68        12        1          0          177      6          Oklahoma City OK

San Diego MCC           16        17        1          0          352      7          San Diego        CA

Terre Haute FCI           13        1          1          0          104      8          Terre Haute      IN

Victorville Medium I FCI          9          10        1          0          342      10        Victorville        CA

Volunteers of America TX (RRC)         10        0          1          0          11        0          Hutchins          TX

Yazoo City USP           22        7          1          0          66        12        Yazoo City       MS

___________________________________________

[Nine deaths shown below are not counted in the 124 reported above]

Private Facilities

Privately-managed prisons are secure institutions operated by private companies under contract and oversight of the BOP. The majority of federal inmates in private prisons are sentenced criminal aliens who will be deported upon completion of their sentence. Unlike federal inmates housed in BOP facilities, the contractor is responsible for the medical care and the costs associated with providing those services.

The BOP has 13,932 inmates in Privately-Managed Facilities. There are 105 inmates who have open lab-confirmed positive cases. 547 inmates have recovered. Full breakdown and additional details are below:

Facility I.P.          I.D.   I.R.       City      State

D. Ray James CI           50        3          144      Folkston           GA

Big Spring CI   41        0          46        Big Spring        TX

Great Plains CI 13        1          112      Hinton OK

Reeves III CI    1          0          0          Pecos   TX

Giles W. Dalby CI        0          2          81        Post      TX

McRae CI         0          1          20        Mcrae Helena   GA

North Lake CI  0          2          107      Baldwin           MI

Reeves I & II CI           0          0          12        Pecos   TX

Rivers CI          0          0          25        Winton NC

All inmates are being appropriately treated and isolated per CDC guidelines.

Eyes of Gratitude by Wayne T. Dowdy

Gratitude Drives this Post: Gratitude for Experiencing Sight.

[for other blogs related to Gratitude, click Here]

I posted the original version of this essay on Facebook to help those who follow my posts and who are friends, to understand why the majority of my content concerns a photo or video I make for their entertainment. At the end of this post I will include another video from the Adventures of Wayne.

I hope you enjoy this modified version of the essay I wrote while in prison and used to reach beyond the walls, bars, and fences, lined with rows of razor wire, which held my body but could not bind my mind.

Reading this may help you understand my fascination with taking photos to post online and why I am quick to post images of nature and the natural beauty of God’s creation. I’m grateful for my eyesight:

EYES by Wayne T. Dowdy (excerpt from Essays & More Straight from the Pen).

Seeing the beauty of God’s creation thrills me because I realize how fortunate I am to do so. This story will help you understand why I feel that way.

The sun shined brightly on the day my older brother, Stanley, came home from school with a bright idea that he had formulated from something taught in his science class: recharge a penlight battery with a twelve-volt car battery. I think I was about six-years-old. He was close to eleven.

My mother or dad had left the car battery sitting on the carport. Time has erased my memory of exactly what I was doing when he summoned me to assist him.

“Come here,” he yelled.

In one hand he held two wire coat hangers; in his other one was a double “A” battery, the ones like you might put in a radio, clock, or small flashlight. He had straightened the coat hangers to use as leads: one to make the connection between the negative post of the 12-volt battery and the negative post of the AA, and the other one for connecting the positive sides of each battery.

When I got to where he stood on the carport, he said, “Take this, “and then handed me one of the straightened coat hangers.

He laid down his coat hanger and the AA battery to free his hands as he wrapped the end of my coat hanger around one 12 volt post. Then he wrapped the end of his coat hanger on the opposite post. “Now,” he said, “hold this tight,” having me to grasp one end of the AA to hold to the coat hanger. “When I say let go, you let go. Okay?”

I nodded in agreement. I held the coat hanger tight to the end of the AA as instructed, always wanting to impress my big brother. I watched him hold the end of his coat hanger to the opposite 12-volt post. And then he touched the AA with the opposite end of the coat hanger. My fingers burned instantly from the heat of the coat hanger and AA. “Let it–,” he said.
BOOM!

The AA battery exploded before he completed his instruction. Particles of the battery struck both corneas of my eyes. I screamed, blinded by tears, eyes on fire.

Stanley grabbed me by the arm and led me to the water hose attached to the spigot on the front of our brick house. He sprayed my eyes with water.

“What have you did to that baby?” my grandmother yelled, accustomed to me and him fighting on a daily basis; me getting beat up, usually, though, I did sometimes win when using a weapon. More stories.

My grandmother made him bring me to her for examination. She was in poor health and unable to hurry to me. After inspecting my face and learning about what had happened, she yelled for my sister, Brenda.

“Get the mineral oil and pour some in his eyes,” she said.

My Mother was en route from work when the incident occurred. It was about time for her to get home, so they waited for her to arrive. As soon as she pulled in the driveway, someone ran and told her what had happened. She put me in her station wagon and then rushed me to the Emergency Room at the hospital that was about ten miles away.

The doctor examined me as he used a solution to rinse my eyes. His diagnosis was external damage to the cornea and surrounding tissue, from particles of sulfuric acid and fragments from the battery casing. The prognosis was that I would be okay, to keep putting eye drops in my eyes for the next few days to prevent any infection.

The doctor said to my mother, “If y’all had not put the mineral oil in his eyes, he would have been totally blind by the time you got him here.”

Mineral oil neutralizes acid, whereas water only dilutes it. Diluted sulfuric acid eats flesh and tissue; especially, the tender tissue of a child’s eye.

Ironically, for many years my vision was better than 20/20. I could see two lines below the 20/20 line, which isn’t true today, almost fifty years later. However, my eyes still allow me to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation, without glasses, except for reading.

I had written the above and thought this was ready for submission until I returned from the library to the cellblock where I live as a federal prisoner. Two chain link fences surround the compound, layered and lined with razor wire; several coiled rolls strung in-between the two. Back inside, I looked out the window and saw two mockingbirds fighting inside the compound, flipping and flopping on the ground. Seconds later, one took off and zoomed through a square in the chain link fence, then weaved between strands of coiled razor wire in-between the fences. Then it flew back and forth through squares in the fence closest to me; the other mockingbird hot on its tail. I watched the chase until both birds disappeared down the fence row.

Then I watched a gaggle of geese walk on the other side of the fence; some honking and flapping their wings. Two pair of geese escorted seven goslings, two adults in the front, two in the rear, protecting their offspring from other geese in the procession. I thoroughly enjoyed watching both events and knew I had not finished writing this story.

My feeling was confirmed later. It’s rare to look out the window and see deer. That night I watched six of them graze. I also have a fascination with great blue herons. The next evening I watched for maybe three minutes as one flew outside the fence and then across the compound, right above where I stood amazed.

After those events, I knew I had to write more. When I stand and admire the beauty of the trees and nature, beyond my reach, but within my sight, I feel grateful for having had a grandmother who told my sister to pour the mineral oil in my eyes. I know I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to observe the beauty of God’s creation for all these years.

Another Video from the Adventures of Wayne

BREAKING NEWS

trump and kim

[Update: June 10, 2022: I checked a link to the former BOP director’s testimony before Congress and learned it had been moved, so I corrected the URL, and want to suggest that readers also check out a blog I wrote after my release from the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons, where I added copies of letters to the honorable Mark S. Inch, x-BOP Director, and the Honorable Trey Gowdy, former Congress person. Fight for Change.

I also want to note that achieving Platinum Certification in WorkKeys did not help me get a job. Several job recruiters showed a lot of interest in my impressive credentials until asking when I was born or when did I receive my GED or High School Diploma. Several hung up the phone after I answered. My age knocked me out of more job opportunities than did my criminal history.]


[June 18, 2018] I have good and bad Breaking News. First, I commend President Trump for commuting the life sentence of Alice M. Johnson, a 63-year old grandmother trapped in the federal prison system for 21-years. The lovely Kim Kardashian West interceded on her behalf to President Trump.

Ms. Johnson was not a small-time drug dealer, but … 21-years is enough time in prison for anyone to serve who did not commit mass murders or horrendous crimes.

Now, if President Trump wants to save American taxpayers millions of dollars, he’ll instruct the Attorney General to order the BOP to reinterpret 18 U.S.C., Section 3624 to give federal prisoners the 54-days Congress provided for in the statute (see “INCREDIBLE NUMBERS FOR SEVEN DAYS”).

Other good news is that I succeeded at obtaining WorkKeys Platinum Certification to increase my chance of finding gainful employment upon release: More on that in a moment.

The bad news is that a nine-year study on recidivism was released in May 2018 that showed 83% of released prisoners from 30-states were re-arrested at least once during the study period. I’ll write more on that one, too!

MORE OF THE GOOD NEWS: In “Uncivil Wars” (08/17/17) and in “A Job Affair” (10/03/17), I listed what my ACT WorkKeys Skill Report showed for each of the three ACT skill levels. I scored in the Platinum range for two of the three categories.  The Gold Certification I received was because of the Level 5 score in the Locating Information category (I needed one more correct answer to score as a Level 6), so that’s why I wanted to try again.

During the September 29, 2017, Mock Job Fair, the representative from the South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department strongly suggested I retake the test because I was so close, and because only six percent of students receive the Platinum certification. I followed her advice.

CHANGES: Since I took the ACT tests in August 2017, WorkKeys changed their testing and scoring system. The Levels for Locating Information ranged from 3-to-6. When retested, I learned that Locating Information was replaced with Graphic Literacy.  Students may now score up to a Level-7 in Graphic Literacy, the same as with Applied Mathematics and Reading for Information (also changed). The change made sense and made the testing more consistent.

This is from my ACT WorkKeys Skill Report:

WorkKeys Graphic Literacy:

You scored at Level 6.  People who score at Level 6 have demonstrated all of the Levels 3, 4, and 5 skills. They also demonstrated, using graphics designed at the highly complex level, the following skills:

* Locate information in a graphic using information found in another graphic

* Compare two or more pieces of information

* Identify a trend/pattern/relationship

* Make an inference or decision

* Identify the graphic that accurately represents the data

Additionally, using graphics designed at the high-moderate level, they have demonstrated the following skills:

* Compare two or more trends/patterns/relationships

* Interpret a trend/pattern/relationship

* Make a reasonable inference or decision based on one graphic after finding information in another graphic

* Justify an inference or decision based on information

* Identify the most effective graphic given a defined purpose

* Justify the most effective graphic given a defined purpose

[End Quote] In Graphic Literacy and Applied Mathematics, my scale scores were 82. I did best at Reading for Information (Level 7, scale score of 87).

The above results show 1) I’m capable of interpreting data presented in recidivism studies that rely on graphs and complex data, and 2), I’m qualified to perform mathematical analysis to solve complex problems.

CONFESSION: I failed to perform to my fullest potential when writing “War & Reentry.”

A reader said I was unclear when writing about recidivism numbers and studies. Upon review, I saw I erred in comparison of recidivism numbers relied on by ex-director, Mark Inch. I wrote that he was wrong by stating federal prisoners recidivated at half the rate of state prisoners.

I was incorrect in one sense: If non-citizens were included into the federal study, the numbers would be much different; however, that is not the case. I used an incorrect formula to present the argument. The actual numbers were 67.8% for state prisoners, compared to 33.7% for federal prisoners rearrested within 3-years of release.

If 68-state prisoners and 34-federal prisoners were rearrested after their release during the same study period, the statement by Mark Inch would be true.

THE FACTS prove the statement untrue because the Feds released and deported thousands of illegal immigrants during the study period, many of whom illegally-returned to the United States and were rearrested (recidivated), but were not included in the “Recidivism Among Federal Offenders: A Comprehensive Overview.” Non-citizens were included in the comparison 5-year State study listed below.

Read more on the 2016 federal study in “Recidivism in America” (01/25/17), where I posted a link to the April 2014 comparison state study. Another associated article/blog is “An Inside View of Criminal Justice,” originally published by PrisonLawBlog.com (10/07/14). I show the influence of private prison companies on the BOP and failed policies that fuel mass incarceration.

INCREDIBLE NUMBERS FOR SEVEN DAYS: In “War & Reentry” I showed the millions of dollars American taxpayers will save if the BOP awards its prisoners 54-days per year, instead of the 47-days awarded since 11/01/1987, which resulted in prisoners serving longer prison sentences than intended by Congress.

The numbers listed were that 44,000 federal prisoners get released each year and that if released 7-days earlier, it would equate to an annual savings of thirty-million, six-hundred thirty-thousand, and six-hundred dollars.

Those numbers are correct: $30,630,600 saved by awarding federal prisoners the other 7-days lost in the BOP’s interpretation of federal law.

THE JUSTICES who dissented in Barber v. Thomas, 560 U.S. 474, 130 S.Ct. 2499, 177 L.Ed.2d 1, 13-16 (06/10/2010) cautioned that the majority opinion would add, “[t]ens of thousands of years of additional prison time on federal prisoners …. And if the only way to call attention to the human implications of this case is to speak in terms of economics, then it should be noted that the Court’s interpretation comes at a cost to the taxpayers of untold millions of dollars.”

The majority said the BOP’s interpretation was “reasonable” and that they must give it deference. The Justices did “[n]ot determine the extent to which Congress has granted the BOP authority to interpret the statute more broadly, or differently[;]” therefore, the agency may change their interpretation immediately to comply with the statute, clarified by the House of Representative in passing the FIRST STEP act with a vote of 360-59.

IF the BOP and Attorney General wants to save your taxpayer dollars, they will change their interpretation and give federal prisoners those other 7-days. The truth is, that if changed, the bureaucrats will probably give themselves large bonuses to consume funds saved.

COST OF INCARCERATION INCREASE: Between 2011 and 2017, the cost of incarcerating a federal prisoner rose from $79.16 to $99.45 per day or $28,893.40 to $36,299.25 per year. Federal Register, Vol. 78, No. 52 (03/18/13), and Vol. 83, No. 83 (04/30/18). That will grow.

BE PROACTIVE FOR CHANGE: Demand a change! Contact your Senator and Congressional Representative and ask him or her to push prison reform and a change from draconian sentencing laws that lead to mass incarceration. Demand that BOP (Backwards on Purpose) officials be held accountable and follow the law to reduce recidivism.

BACK TO THE NUMBERS: I questioned the figures when I thought of 44,000 as the number of released federal prisoners, so I went to the source:  transcript of Ex-director, Mark Inch’s testimony before the “Oversight Hearing of the Bureau of Prisons” on April 17, 2018. Inch stated on page two, under subheading “OUR PROGRAMS – REENTRY BEGINS ON DAY ONE” as follows:

“Reentry programming is a critical component of public safety; inmates are much more likely to return to a life of crime and victimization if they leave prison without job training, treatment for mental illness and/or substance abuse, an education, and a general understanding of what it means to be a productive law abiding citizen. It is important that we in the Bureau help ensure the nearly 44,000 inmates who are released back into the communities each year do not repeat their past mistakes.” Inch-Testimony.pdf (house.gov)

EVIDENCE OF MORE RECIDIVISM:  Last month the Bureau of Justice Statistics released a new study (“2018 Update on Prisoner Recidivism: A 9-Year Follow-up Period (2005-2014),” NCJ250975, May 2018), a follow-up to the 5-year study relied upon for comparison by the ex-director (“Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010,” NCJ244205, April 2014).

The 83% recidivism rate revealed in the 9-year follow-up study shows the seriousness of recidivism in America and the need for a magic elixir that does not exist. Until financial incentives end for politicians who continue making policies and laws that fuel mass incarceration, positive change will be slow: It is time to stop state and federal funding for private prisons.

In 2015, former presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders, introduced a bill to bring back federal parole and to stop federal funding for private prisons. Apparently, none of Senator Sanders’ peers were interested in eliminating a source of income from private prison lobbyist, so the bill never made it to the vote stage of legislation.

FLAWED POLITICS: In passing laws and implementing policies and practices, the political trend for decades has been to restrict or prohibit violent felons from receiving time off their sentences for program participation. Criminal laws include increased penalties for career criminals and those who commit violent felonies.

To deny those offenders of program benefits increases the risk on society that those prisoners reoffend. Violent offenders need help, too.

Most violent offenders will be released from prison; therefore, those laws and policies are flawed and need restructured to include anyone who wants to participate and maybe change their lives, if the law-makers want to protect society and to reduce recidivism.

VIOLENT CRIME MISCONCEPTION: All categorically-listed crimes of violence do not contain violence. I addressed the issue in “Violent Crime Misconception” (02/24/16). I believe most people think of violent criminals as those who physically harm or threaten to harm their victims during the commission of crimes like rape, murder, and armed robbery.

Programs that current policy prohibits certain prisoners from receiving benefit from, are programs such as the Residential Drug Abuse Program. And in the event that the Senate approves the FIRST STEP act, any “Evidence-based Recidivism Reduction Program” or activity that reduces recidivism.

For instance, inmates with convictions for “certain” crimes of violence or sex crimes, will be prohibited from earning time off sentences by participating in evidence-based programs; e.g., Federal Prison Industries (UNICOR) that reduces recidivism by 24%; taking educational or vocational classes. Restrictions also apply to those who participate in faith-based or social programs; mentoring or teaching any evidence-based program; participating in cognitive behavior treatment, “victim impact classes or other restorative justice programs.”

Those aspects of legislation needs changed and made retroactive to award prisoners for positive behavior exemplified under dire circumstances. Maybe Kim Kardashian will help get votes in the Senate to change the failed criminal justice policies. Go girl!

_________________________________________________

Wayne T. Dowdy writes at StraightFromthePen.com.

WAR and REENTRY

guard stand barbed wire fenceby Wayne T. Dowdy

[Updated with note in text body on March 1, 2019]

GENERAL SURRENDERS: Mark S. Inch, former two-star, retired-general, surrendered his post as BOP Director on May 18, 2018. Attorney General Jeff Sessions appointed Hugh J. Hurwitz as acting BOP Director. Mr. Hurwitz was the Deputy Director of Reentry Services.

Several sources reported Mark Inch resigned because of conflicts with AG Sessions micromanaging his actions, not allowing him to hire staff, and Jared Kushner’s desires for prison reform initiatives.

AG Sessions opposes any actions that benefit prisoners, even those to be enacted to protect society from recidivist. He opposes the FIRST STEP ACT that passed the House by a vote of 360 to 59, introduced by the Honorable Doug Collins (R-GA) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).

FIRST STEP ACT (H.R. 5682): Those 360 votes by congressional representatives represent the “Will of the People.”

The Will of the People shouted in the House of Representatives, but that may not be good enough for Senators driven by personal agendas and the influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that ALWAYS interferes with any bill or policy introduced to reduce prison populations. *

The First Step Act contains provisions that allows federal prisoners to earn additional time off their sentences for taking “Evidence-Based Programs” that reduces recidivism, and thus save taxpayer dollars and spare American citizens of the negative effects of recidivists who fail to reintegrate into society.

IMPORTANT FACT: The bill “clarifies” that federal prisoners earn 54-days per year, not the 47-days the BOP provides because of their interpretation of Title 18, Section 3624(b). Those additional 7-days may not seem like much, but I’ll show it mean a lot.

I sent MR. Inch a letter on 11/20/17 to show how to save money. He didn’t respond. On 03/05/18, I re-submitted it and my BP-10, and then sent Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC) a copy of all I sent Mr. Inch.

I’ve readjusted figures to represent the 2017 average cost of incarceration ($99.45 per day/$36,299.25). An average of 44,000 federal prisoners get released each year.

Those 7-days equate to an annual savings of $30,630,600.00 (7 X $99.45 = $696.15 X 44,000).

Those 7-days put me on the streets 240-days earlier (08/07/18), without going to an RRC, so I have a vested interest in the issue.

* Read “The Truth About Incarceration, Part II” for more on ALEC and their influence, whose members I suspect include AG Sessions, Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Mitch McConnell (R-KY), neither of whom favors prison or sentencing reform.

I agree with Attorney Brandon Sample that the FIRST STEP Act is not perfect because it prohibits too many prisoners from receiving its benefits, but the bill does contain 3-important provisions for all federal prisoners:

  1. The retroactive Good Time fix;
  2. Requiring the BOP to keep prisoners within 500 driving miles of their family members;
  3. Allowing compassionate release motions made by prisoners, DIRECTLY with the court, after exhausting administrative remedies. Brandon Sample Newsletter (email: news@brandonsample.com); read his blog at https://sentencing.net.

SENTENCING REFORM AND CORRECTIONS ACT (S.1917): “Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also wants any [Prison Reform] type bill to include sentencing reform.  Grassley and [Richard] Durbin [D-Ill.] are joint sponsors of the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017, S.1917, that retroactively reduces mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug and gun offenses.  SCRA was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in February, and is awaiting a vote by the full Senate.” Legal Information Legal Services Associates, http://www.lisa-legalinfo.com (email: newsletter@lisa-legalinfo.com).

Some legislatures want sentencing reform added to the FIRST STEP ACT. Some analysts say that adding the SCRA would likely be the death of the bill.

The sponsors re-titled the initial prison reform bill to become the FIRST STEP for good reason: it is a First Step for change.

Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, lets such bills die instead of sending them to the floor for a vote. I’m sure he’s an ALEC member.

If he does not send the First Step act to the floor, let the voters remove him from his seat for ignoring the Will of the People!

EX-BOP DIRECTOR TESTIFIED BEFORE CONGRESS: Mark Inch prepared his statement for those in attendance at the Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations, dated March 16, 2018, presented April 17, 2018.

In his statement, he played with recidivism numbers to present the BOP as complying with its mission of protecting the public. According to Mr. Inch, federal inmates recidivate at about “half” the rate of state prisoners (“[o]ur three-year recidivism rate is nearly half the States’ average. 1”). https://docs.house.gov/meetings/JU/JU08/20180417/108008/HHRG-115-JU08-Wstate-InchM-20180417.pdf

[The following statement clarified and corrected in blog post HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, CORRECTIONS & REENTRY https://straightfromthepen.wordpress.com/2018/05/13/happy-mothers-day-corrections-reentry/ ]

Not so!  34.1% is not almost half; it’s almost one third.  Maybe math is not his strong suit, or maybe he misrepresented the truth to make the BOP appear better than it is at reducing recidivism. (See below:  STATISTICAL JUGGLING OF RECIDIVISM STUDIES.)

In footnote #1, Inch stated, “In 2016, the U.S. Sentencing Commission found that only 34% of the inmates released from the Bureau of Prisons in 2005 were re-arrested or had their supervision revoked over a three-year period.”

I read the 2016 Study and suspect Inch got his data from Table 2, “Rearrest Rates for Recidivism Study Offenders.” That table shows 33.7% of federal prisoners return with a new commitment to pay for their transgressions (that’s almost 34%).

What Inch did not reveal, was that the 2016 Study covered 8-years and showed a 49.3% recidivism rate on page #16 of the study on “Recidivism Among Federal Offenders: A Comprehensive Overview.”

STATISTICAL JUGGLING OF RECIDIVISM STUDIES: The state study used for comparison was reported by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) (“Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005.  Patterns from 2005 to 2010”). That State Study did show 67.8% of state prisoners recidivated within 3-years, compared to the 2016 Study for federal prisoners that showed 33.7% of federal prisoners recidivated during 3-years (a difference of 34.1%).

At 5-years, the numbers are 76.6% for state prisoners, compared to 42.1% of federal prisoners (a difference of 34.5%). Those numbers would not have helped him attempt to bamboozle the United States Congress, who battered him during the April 17th, 2018 Hearing.

Based upon one substantial fact, one cannot rely on the accuracy of comparison between the two studies, because the United States Sentencing Commission’s study DID NOT include “non-citizens,” such as illegal aliens known for running back across the border when deported (“The BJS study also included non-U.S. citizens, a category of offender excluded from the Commission’s study.”), fn. #40, U.S.S.C. 2016 Study.

Relying on the March 5, 2018, “U.S. Sentencing Commission’s, 2017 Sourcebook of Federal Sentencing Statistics,” non-citizens accounted for about 41% of all offenders.

ADD that 41% of non-citizens into the 2016 Study, and the true federal recidivism results would show that the BOP didn’t do any better than states at reducing recidivism; maybe even worse than some, by failing to provide federal prisoners with adequate programs that reduced recidivism, contrary to former Director Mark Inch’s testimony before Congress.

MISLEADING STATEMENTS BY INCH ON RESIDENTIAL REENTRY CENTERS (RRC): In his statement cited above, subheading, “OUR GOAL – EFFECTIVE TRANSITION TO THE COMMUNITY,” Inch wrote, “Despite our continued efforts to seek RRC capacity in new locations and diversify services in existing locations, there remains strong community resistance to RRC’s and few vendors compete for such solicitations.”

Isn’t that the same man whose actions resulted in the non-use of at least 17-RRCs throughout the United States, who then reduced the average placement period to 120-days or less to better utilize resource?

120-days is far below the time allowed by Congress to reduce recidivism and to protect its citizens. Now some inmates get sent to RRC’s in different areas/states than their designated release area, due to his actions.

To justify not renewing contracts, Inch claimed the RRC’s he chose not to extend contracts on were underutilized. Why not keep the contracts to reduce the strain on other RRCs?

Facts prove Ex-Director Inch misrepresented the truth when he testified before Congress.

Read more on halfway house (RRC) issues in these blogs: “Life Inside” (11/20/17); “Half A Problem” (01/12/18), “Storms and a Valentine’s Day Wish” (02/12/18), and “March Madness” (03/20/18).

***** REENTRY SERVICES: Two reentry services provide valuable service to communities by helping to increase the chances of ex-offenders successfully reintegrating into the community: RZero.org and FairShake.net.

[Note 05/05/2021:  RZero.org info removed. No longer related to reentry.  Fairshake.net continues to provide excellent services to those who use their website]

FAIRSHAKE.NET: I cannot write about reentry services without mentioning FairShake.net, whose owner is dedicated to reentry initiatives and provides valuable services. I learned of RZero.org through her Corrlinks newsletter (outreach@fairshake.net).

Read “Reentry Programs Will Reduce Recidivism” (07/21/16) for more on FairShake.net (https://straightfromthepen.wordpress.com). Even better, visit http://www.fairshake.net. She needs volunteers to help with providing more services.

Be a warrior: Fight and reduce recidivism through effective reentry programs.

________________________________

Wayne T. Dowdy writes at https:/straightfromthepen.com. Support his writings by purchasing his books. Visit his Smashwords Author’s Page at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy today.

Out of Many

human genome for WDowdyby Wayne T. Dowdy

When we unite we become stronger, more intelligent, and our chance of survival as a species increases because of unity.  Now with the Internet, billions of us are connected and can share intelligence and a collective conscious.

In social settings, if we focus on what we have in common, it helps us to feel “a part of” that society or group.  If we focus on our differences, we will often feel, well, different, as if we don’t belong and are out of place.

Likeness attracts; the Law of Attraction comes into play to create communities of like-minded people.  Does Evolutionary Biology possibly contain the answer to our survival as a species?  Maybe so.  We’ll see.  A cell biologist provides a lot of food for thought, positive thought.

In A Spiritual Journey (April 1, 2015), I showed how the human body (the way our blood cells work inside of us to provide and fight for life), provided evidence of Divine Creation, and how I believed the theory of evolution and intelligent design coexisted.  This blog follows a similar line of thinking:  The gist of it is that “we” are all part of the human organism.

My aspiring, psychologist-in-the-making friend, Dr. K., shares his books and magazines with me.  He loaned me his Spirituality & Health magazine.  I read something meaningful to share with you that coincides with the sense of Oneness belief system.  One caption read, “We see a human as a single living organism.  In truth, a human is an integrated community of around 50 trillion amoebalike cells.”  Bruce H. Lipton, PhD.  “Why & How to Let Go of Fear,” Spirituality & Health, September/October 2017 ($24.95 per year).

More quotes from the article will be revealed!

According to his brief biography in the magazine, Dr. Lipton is a cell biologist and lecturer who received the prestigious Goi Peace Award (Japan) in 2009 in honor of his scientific contribution to world harmony.  He is the best selling-author of THE BIOLOGY OF BELIEF and THE HONEYMOON EFFECT, and is the coauthor with Steve Bhaerman of SPONTANEOUS EVOLUTION.

Dr. Lipton explains the evolutionary process in comparison to bacterium and its surface area representing its “awareness capacity” and its need to grow to become more aware.  Bacterium receives information from the cell membrane (outer layer of cell-skin) about its environment; it communicates with other bacterium through chemical substances and vibrations, and then joins other bacterium to increase its chance of survival.

Those bacteria joins other bacteria to form a bacteria colony, a community (bacterial films) and becomes larger and more aware of its environment.

THE BIRTH OF AMOEBA:  Bacteria communities become specialized and integrated and continue to multiply to create more surface area; it becomes another living organism–an amoeba with more “consciousness” and an increased ability to communicate and thus increase its chance of survival.

“While the amoeba is recognized as a single cell, in truth it is a modified version of bacterial community.  For the next million or so years, the amoeba was able to continually expand its cell membrane surface area [the skin of the cell used to communicate] to an extent that an amoeba’s awareness is 1,000 times greater than that of a single bacterium.”

Amoebas then multiplied to create an even larger organism with an ability to communicate information collected with its sense of awareness.

“All the visible plants and animals are actually integrated communities of amoeba-like cells.  For example, we see a human as a single living organism.  In truth, a human is an integrated community of around 50 trillion amoebalike cells.”

If you view a human brain, you’d notice its furrows and ridges (folds).  The human organism created “folds” to add more surface area to increase its awareness, consciousness.  The skull limited its capacity for awareness, so then humans experienced another “[e]volutionary jump, … the Internet, a nervous system that can connect 7-8 billion human ‘cells’ into one giant community with shared awareness.

***

“The next leap of human civilization will be the realization of the United States’ logo:  E pluribus unum, ‘out of many, one.’  We are all in this together; we are all cells in the body of an evolving humanity.”

UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL:  Our beliefs and values may unite or divide us; whether based on racial or cultural differences or similarities, religion, politics, fears, sexual preference or identity, and a whole array of other reasons.

How do we keep from falling?  Join hands and accept each other so we can work together to survive this thing we call life.  If each of us represents a “cell” of the humanity organism, those who damage and injure others are the cancers of society, driven by hate and indifference.

This quote comes from a sidebar in Dr. Lipton’s article:

“The Don’ts & Dos of Evolution Because You Are An Energy Field …

“Don’t try to change other people.

If you go in to change negative energy with your positive energy, it’s called destructive interference.  You lose your energy, they lose their energy, and nobody gains anything in the process.

“Do:  Focus on yourself and finding like-minded people to create a community in which all your energies are enhanced.

“Don’t try to change the system.

If you charge in with your wonderful energy to try to change it, your energy will be canceled. You’ll come out with your tail between your legs, asking, What the hell was that all about?

“Do:  Put your energy into constructing a new system.  If you build a better system, people in the old one will gravitate to the new one.

“Don’t spend your life protesting.

Your life is energy.  Too much protesting will cost you your life, because the system is not going to feed the energy you need for your protests.

“Do:  Find out who’s protesting with you.  Gather them together and step out of the system.  Use your energy for construction rather than destruction, and find other compatible communities.  That’s constructive interference, when energies come together and multiply each other.

“Don’t become frightened or angry or burned out.

These responses create walls that block your evolution and everyone else’s.

“Do:  Create the best and healthiest and happiest experience for yourself–and share it with the community.”

END QUOTE.  MY TAKE:  The above seems simple.  My experience shows it is not.  I somewhat agree with all he says and hope to become a more “positive energy” field than I am.

DON’T TRY TO CHANGE OTHER PEOPLE:  I know I cannot change other people.  That doesn’t stop me from trying on occasion; however, my determination and tolerance level has lessened over the years after sponsoring/mentoring numerous people whom I learned to give the right to be wrong.  I realized that no matter what happened because of my sponsorship, good or bad, the result was between them and the God of their understanding.

DON’T TRY TO CHANGE THE SYSTEM:  I am determined that “we” can change the system, perhaps by doing as he wrote (by forming a better one to attract others).  The question is HOW do we accomplish that goal?

I must start with the only one I can change, myself.  Then maybe work on creating a larger community others will join to be with other like-minded people.  Maybe my change will come through an example set by someone else.  Maybe my part will only be putting like-minded people together to begin the process; it may be some of you who reads this blog.  We’ll see.

DON’T SPEND YOUR LIFE PROTESTING:  I don’t and won’t do that, as I prefer to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.  I will voice my opinion on issues, whether the issue is viewed from a negative or positive perspective, I try to put a positive spin on grim or negative topics.  Sometimes I fail.  😦

But I will protest to release a good rant about unjust persons, situations, principles or processes.  I get it out to let it go until I allow some other event to trigger another reaction.

Perhaps silence is golden if the noisemaker chooses to spew negativity:  that even applies when the noise is in the mind.  Silence prevents the spread of negativity.

Let your actions shout by practicing love and acceptance of others.

Why not work together to build a better community that attracts others?

LIKE-MINDED ATTRACTION:  A wonderful example of like-mindedness attracting others manifested itself during Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in the United States.

A radio commentator shared about a group of people using a boat to search the flooded area of Houston, Texas to rescue dogs and other animals suffering in the flood.

The rescuers noticed a woman in need.  When they made it to her, they discovered she had rescued 21-dogs before they arrived to rescue her.  🙂

DON’T BECOME FRIGHTENED OR ANGRY OR BURNED OUT:  World events can create fear and anger, like those going on with North Korea (testing rockets with nuclear capabilities, then testing a hydrogen bomb four-to-five times more powerful than those used by the United States against Japan); the terrorist attacks in the Middle East and Europe, and in the United States and other parts of the world.

In reference to a possible nuclear attack, in 1983, a college professor once told those of us in his class that one thing the Super Powers know is that neither will ever push that button because they know it will annihilate mankind.  The threat of war allows governments to keep the people subservient to them for protection from the “evil empire.”

FAITH:  The opposite of fear is faith, so if I have faith and accept that whatever happens is working according to God’s will, then I can relax and not worry about a possible event I cannot control.

My belief is that we are spirits having a human experience.  As such, our spirits will live on regardless of what happens to the body because of world or personal events.  I continue to persist at building a better life regardless of the circumstances.

I may give out but I won’t give up; however, I don’t see me giving out (mentally, spiritually, or emotionally) until I breathe my last breath, and then my spirit will survive to push the agenda.  Even though I may be short on breath, I shall continue to do the things needed to build a better life.  I am passionate about what I do.

May the day come that each of us will unite to improve life and to make it sustainable for generations to come.  Our children are counting on us, as we are counting on our children and each other.  Our survival as a species depends on it.

______________________________

Wayne T. Dowdy writes at straightfromthepen.com.  Purchase his environmental-friendly eBooks at Smashwords.com.  Check out “Life is an Anvil” and “The Search for Enlightenment” while there, both of which are included in ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN (eBook $2.99, paperback $8.95, USD).

GRATITUDE AND MORE

from Wayne T. Dowdy

PRISONERSLast year on December 23, 2015, I posted “Plot to Stop Santa by Mr. D.” to add a little humor to the holiday season (read it on straightfromthepen.wordpress.com or waynedowdy.weebly.com and check out Santa’s militarized sled). This year I am writing along personal lines and will share some previous messages I sent out to those on my Corrlinks contact list. My hope is to create a sense of gratitude.

12/25/2011: On Christmas Day, I sat in my cell reading my favorite magazine (THE SUN). “Chow time,” the guard shouted.

I rushed to the chow hall. Inside, I sat at a rectangular table of four with three of my peers. One person stood to leave. Each of us exchanged Christmas greetings, wishing him a Merry Christmas before a 27-year-old youngster sat down to take his place.

The one who sat to the right of the youngster had just complained how the Cornish game hen was small. I had previously tried to maintain the attitude of gratitude at the table by commenting how it was good, though, it was smaller than those we had had in the past. It was still tasty. I simply agreed with the other guy about it being smaller than usual. I labeled it as a “Cornish Game Chick.”

That’s when the youngster sat down. “There sure are a lot of complaining people at this prison,” he said.

His words filled me with guilt. He had once told me that both of his parents were still in state prison. I realized his parents were probably doing worse than all of us at the table.

The youngster’s comment helped redirect the nature of our conversations toward what we were grateful for.

I shared my favorite saying by an author whose name I do know to give him or her their credit due (“I complained of having no shoes until I met a man with no feet.”).

I continued to express gratitude for the well-prepared meal; knowing we were all fortunate to have what sat before us, as we compared our plight to others incarcerated in state and other federal prisons, who probably wished they could eat as good as we were.

This is what we had to complain about: a Cornish game hen, black-eyed peas, which were really good; collard greens, rolls or wheat bread (I chose wheat bread); an individually packaged cherry pie, chocolate cup cake, and some other stuff I probably forgot. I ate my fill.

Each of us walked away feeling more grateful for the meal we had been blessed with because we had stopped for a moment to remember the less fortunate in life.

Not only do I have two feet and nice shoes, I have a fat belly filled with gratitude. I hope each of you have a wonderful Christmas meal and feel fortunate for the freedom you share in a less than perfect world.

Sincerely,
Wayne

**********
Along the same theme as above, I wrote this on America’s Turkey Day:

THANKSGIVING DAY 2016: Happy Thanksgiving Day to each of you. If you feel like you don’t have much to be thankful for because of the hardships life has thrown at you this year, stop to think of all you have to be grateful for; perhaps you have food to eat; two feet, two arms, shoes on your feet, and clothes to warm your body, a place to stay and be safe. Feel fortunate.

When I find myself disgruntled for having to wait for an hour in the commissary to purchase a few items, I try to stop and remember those who wish they had my problems, financially able to shop for a few items needed to maintain a decent level of living inside this prison. That makes me feel grateful for the opportunity, rather than disgruntled and agitated for having to wait as I listen to loud mouths shouting to the man next to them, disturbing the peace, killing the sound of silence.

Upon remembrance of the less fortunate, I find myself grateful for the simple things in life I often take for granted. Be thankful for those you have in your life who love and care for you. Happy Thanksgiving!

**********

For those of you who follow me through other means of social media, you may have read the message below that I wrote after losing one of my brothers, Larry. I once had a mother, father, three brothers and two sisters. I am now down to one brother and two sisters.

In 1978 I lost Stanley, my older brother. In 1982 I lost my father, and then in 2016 I lost my younger brother, Larry, after having lost my mother eight months before him.

The loss of two loved ones in the same year was why I wrote what I did about “the hardships life has thrown at you this year”; including myself in the equation. I write to show we still have things to be grateful for in light of the hardships we experience as the cost of our love for others.

Some people lost their whole family and suffered tragic loss of limbs and even more severe health issues. That makes me grateful to still have family members who remain in my life. I am also grateful for my less-than perfect health.

The families of some prisoners abandon them because they go to prison. My family has stood behind me, even though my actions were unacceptable to them; my actions that landed me in prison. I am fortunate!

**********
September 18, 2016: One of my two younger brothers moved on to the next phase of existence around 3:00 PM today. Larry was the most gentle and innocent of the four sons birthed by our Mother. Not that he was innocent; he wasn’t, but he was not driven by hate or anger and he never intentionally harmed anyone that I know of. Him and Jeff, the youngest of us, were never the rowdy type, whereas me and Stanley were hell raisers.

Larry was a kind and all around good person. It hurts like hell to know he is gone, but I do rejoice in knowing he no longer suffers from his illnesses. He lives without pain in some other place we all must go one day. Maybe he fishes from a rainbow, catching a few rays, as he surfs the ocean in pursuit of eternal peace. I hope he catches an abundance of love and happiness during his journey. No doubt, many here on earth loved and will miss him.

Ironically, he passed away on my ex-wife’s birthday. Our Mother passed away on the birthday of our son, Jonathon. For those of you who believe in God, please keep the family in prayer as we go through a difficult time. Thanks! Wayne

**********
December 18, 2016: Yesterday my remaining siblings came to visit me. We had a good visit. Though each of us are grateful to still have each other in our lives, I sensed the emptiness from the unspoken loss of our loved ones.

Loved ones fill a space in our hearts that no one else can replace. God made that spot just for them, whether our memories and feelings are good or bad, that space is theirs.

I am grateful to have been blessed with the love given to me by those, whom that power greater than myself, put into my life.

I am also grateful for my eyes* and other physical features that I use to write and send my words beyond the walls and barbwire fences that surround me at this juncture of my life.

Prison only confines my body: I refuse to allow it to consume my sense of being, or to rob me of my dignity and integrity. I am a man first and a prisoner second.

My mind and spirit are freer today than when I roamed the streets in 1988 before my arrest. God gave me a life worth living.

Better days are on the horizon. When I walk out of these prison doors, Straight From the Pen will come alive, more like straight from the keyboard.

In an upcoming blog, I will share a former prisoner’s inspiring story. Brandon Sample is one who proves people can leave prison and succeed in life, by beginning to build the path toward a better life while inside doing their time.

Miracles happen. Have faith and never loose hope. Hope keeps the world going.

________________________________
* I have an essay titled “Eyes” that I wrote in gratitude of my eyesight that I am fortunate to still have. It is an inspirational story available in ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN.

Purchase UNKNOWN INNOCENCE ($12.95 USD) and ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN ($8.95 USD) while the prices are low. Available in paperback at Amazon.com and other eStores, and as eBooks at Smashwords.com, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.Kindle, and other eBook retailers.

Visit my Smashwords authors page today https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy.

THE INTERNET

By Wayne T. Dowdy

Originally posted on SurePleasurez Promotions in November 2013

The Internet is as foreign to me as Australia and Japan: Not by choice, per se.  The federal prison system prohibits our use of most available technology.  I’ve never surfed the deep-blue waves of streaming data bombarding the shores of one’s mind; nor have I been carried away by memory chips and marketing scams generated by computer programs designed to figure out behavior patterns.  Nor have I used a search engine and possibly never will, since search engines may be replaced by an App market.  WIFI connections may be the primary link to the world of electronic data by the time I am released on April 24, 2019.  Maybe before then federal prisoners will be allowed to surf the web on a modified system. We can at least now send and receive emails on such a modified program.

It was 2011 before I communicated by email, other than having my sister to send one for me.  The email system I now use to send this blog is through Corrlinks (www.corrlinks.com).  I pay five-cents per minute to access the public messaging system, which I gladly do with me being a writer who likes to write things for people to read.  🙂  Though modified and watered-down, I can put messages on the wire; however, instantaneous messaging is not permitted.  Due to security controls, it takes at least two-hours (an hour going to the sender and an hour to get a response).  Using the system may also be a hassle to those on the outside unless they purchase the Premium package that eliminates some of the typical hassles one encounters.  For instance, it takes several steps to get to the actual messaging center so they can send the email, and unless they check in the right spot (in the “Account Management” section to receive an “E-mail Notification”), which often fails to work, they have to periodically go to www.corrlinks.com to check for emails.  With the Premium package or mobile app the system notifies them.  Anyway, for me, at least it brings me closer to the technology I hope to one day embrace: talking cars, GPS telling me how to get where I am going, and a computer that thinks for me.

In 2004 I took a computer course for Microsoft Office Applications, through the Louisiana Community and Technical College (I think that’s the correct name), and I made A’s in Word 2000, Excel, and Access, so I am computer savvy.  I also use the Microsoft program at work in a Textile plant where I am an internal auditor and document control clerk, but the system I have to use for security concerns is very restrictive.  It’s part of the Intranet for the federal prison industries; a very limited part of it, where I’m not allowed to do things like send an email, use Wizards, or any type of macro functions.  In 1990, while at the United States Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas, long before the day when Congress removed PELL grant options from prisoners and ended most in-house college programs, I had also taken Computer Science classes through Saint Mary’s College.  Back then, voice activated computers were in the trial stage and experiencing technical difficulties.  Now, phones respond to verbal commands and have become personal computers people tote in their pockets; their owners online at all times.  I’ve never used a cellphone either, and have only seen one up close, which was a BlackBerry belonging to the warden who was kind enough to show it to me during a Re-entry program graduation, where both of us were guest speakers..  I had seen a mobile phone a friend of mine had in his car in 1988 before I was arrested, but never one you could put in your pocket or use to search into the depths of the constant chatter and volumes of data on every topic.

In 1990, about a year and a half after I began serving this sentence at Leavenworth, I sat before a committee reviewing my case (commonly known as the Unit Team).  Because of my high custody and security point scoring, the spokesperson said, “You need to stay out of trouble and not get any disciplinary write ups.”  I snapped.  “I don’t care about the hole or anything you can do to me.  All I care about is my visits and I won’t be getting any out here in Cowboy Country.  By the time I have served thirty years, I won’t care about doing five more.  Besides that, I won’t know how to fly a spaceship in 2020.”  It left them speechless.

Now, twenty-five years into the sentence I never thought I’d live to see the end of, the end is in sight and may be coming sooner than I thought.  I could learn to fly a virtual spaceship if released.  If I could go online, I could go anywhere in the world at the speed on the next computer chip.  No wires needed:  Only a memory chip to navigate the way.

June 15, 2019, Update:  I am now a free citizen and the virtual world dominates reality of life in the society upon which I now live, controlled more by computer chips than humans, in the information age of technology.  Flying cars exist and space travel is available for the wealthy who want to try life in places other than earth.  For me, I’ll remain here and keep doing what I need to do to survive this thing called life, navigating through it with the available technology I can afford. Not much.

AGAPE LOVE

agape love pixPenitentiaries are not the typical place to learn about love; however, I attended Kairos in 2003-2004 while at the United States Penitentiary in Pollock, Louisiana.  Kairos is a prison outreach program where people of different faiths come together to teach the central theme about the love Jesus Christ has for us.  Kairos means in God’s Special Time.

During the gratifying experience, I learned about Agape love.  The mentors taught that Agape love is unconditional, it is how God loves us mere mortals.  I do not have to do anything to receive it, other than to open up my heart and let the love flow in through the portals God opens for me to receive it.

I am loved in light of my many character defects and imperfections.  That is real love, because God is love.

Agape love is a powerful form of love God allows us to share with others, without stipulations or expectations of return, or favors in exchange.  It is free, the best deal around.  I am blessed with serenity when I am able to open up and let the love shine in.   Wayne T. Dowdy, straightfromthepen.com

#NATURE – Frogs, an Octopus & #Escapees

#NATURE–FROGS, AN OCTOPUS & #ESCAPEES

I believe it is natural for most living beings to want to be free, at least, under normal circumstances. Some captives do become institutionalized and prefer captivity over freedom, but most prefer to be free; some will go to any length to have it, even at the risk of being killed in the process of trying to obtain it through unlawful means. I know because I have done that before.

TreeFrog

TREE FROG WITHOUT A TREE: On June 4, 2015, I saved a tiny, dark green, treeless, tree frog from “frog-nappers” or demented, foot-stomping prisoners, waiting to inflict pain or death by foot. I am a converted frog-napper, so I know the profile. I frog-napped another one but only to protect it from harm, not for entertainment purposes. It wasn’t my first one.

I chased the little frog in an unnatural habitat for us both; along a concrete sidewalk inside a federal prison, before I covered it with my hand and captured it for relocation to a safer area. The sidewalk ran in front of several connected buildings: chapel, psychology and education departments, and the Federal Prison Industries factory where I work. I was one of the first to hit the sidewalk en route to a meeting for those who want to live a different life than before.

I walked past the frog before it registered in my mind that a frog sit in the middle of the sidewalk. I backed up and the chase began. The hopping frog was no match for a stepper like me. Fortunate for the frog, I had it in my hand before hundreds of feet raced down the sidewalk. I carried it back to work with me after learning the meeting had been cancelled.

Prior to my freeing the treeless tree frog, inside the factory where I work, I put the frog inside a Styrofoam cup with another cup sitting upside down on top of the cup holding the frog. Moments later I slightly separated the two cups to let some air in, but not wide enough for the frog to escape. I went to work with the cup-of-frog sitting a foot away from me. As I sat typing on the computer, I heard a scratching sound and saw the frog peeping between the crack. I made it jump down and then repositioned the cups to stop it from doing it again. I poked a hole in the top of the top cup so the frog could breathe.

A minute later, the top cup popped off the other cup and fell on the table; the frog still inside, after its escape plan failed.

I put the cups back together. It tried again, this time jumping harder and higher, desperate to obtain its freedom. The cup flipped and fell inside the other cup, on top of the frog. Another failed escape plan. The point is, that not just people want to be free. Everything wants to be free, treeless tree frogs included. I wanted it to be free, too, and changed my plan for its release, which I had planned to do after work by putting it near a drain as I did another frog that I will write about shortly.

FREEDOM FOR A FROG: I released the tiny arboreal amphibian through a one-inch diameter pipe hole in a two-foot-thick, concrete wall where I work, so that it could hop or crawl along safely without being in danger of prisoner abuse. Of course, that is not to say that a snake, crow, or other predator did not lie in wait on the other side of the wall for its next meal to hop to the ground. No one can change fate.

Most prisoners would avoid stepping on a frog but some would stomp one to act macho or perhaps to just see its splattered remains on the sidewalk. Some are sicker than others. Some will capture one to keep it as a pet and then go to great extremes to catch and feed it insects, such as my friend, Jeffrey P. Frye, who blogs at http://bankblogger.weebly.com and http://www.murderslim.com/JeffreyPFrye.html. For an entertaining read, check out his January 2015 blog post, “Welcome to the Jungle.”

FIRST TREELESS TREE FROG RESCUE: Ironically, the last treeless tree frog that I captured inside this prison was not my first one of late; however, I prefer to say that I relocated it to safety, rather than “captured it.” That is because the police captured me and I did not like that at all, even if it did save me from myself. A lot of people probably rejoiced. Anyway, back to the frog. The truth is that I frog-napped it no matter how I justify my actions. I forced it to go with me as the slippery little creature kicked and squirmed inside my hand to try to escape.

Two weeks before the tree frog without a tree, a damsel in distress asked me to catch a treeless tree frog that had chosen the doorjamb in the chapel as a hiding spot. It clung to the steel frame of the door, near the lower hinge. On that day, an attractive Nubian Princess summoned me to the door with a wave of her hand. I obeyed without protest. She said, “Please get that frog and move it somewhere so it won’t get hurt.”

She knew I was a softy and told me so because she was at the scene when me and other prisoners protected the snake I wrote about in “Snake vs. Politics.”

“I called you over because I know you will make sure it doesn’t get hurt.”

I appreciated her vote of confidence. “It sure did pick a strange place to hang out,” I said, as I moved into position to capture the treeless tree frog before the door slammed and squished the little creature.

After capturing it, I relocated it to an area near a storm drain so it could hide from a crow or some other predator, including the infamous frog-nappers and frog-abusers.

BULLFROG: A week before that frog, me and a friend was walking on an asphalt track out on the recreation yard and found a frog sitting on the edge of the pavement. I relocated it to an area beside the perimeter fence. I concluded that that one was a bullfrog, because when I threw it into a puddle of water, it took a dive and I haven’t seen it since.

Tree frogs do not dive under water. I know because I tried the same experiment with the last frog I caught by filling a sink with water, and it just floated when I let it go for a swim. That told me it wasn’t a bullfrog, even though it did look a lot like the one on the recreation yard.

Before those frogs, I saw others within the last month that I helped by removing them from the same sidewalk. I found several others over the years that I relocated from major walkways or asphalt tracks to prevent them from being killed or injured. I like frogs and all living creatures, so I don’t harm any of them. I even avoid stepping on ants or other insects and won’t kill a mosquito because I feel they have as much of a right to be on this earth as I do.

WHAT’S UP WITH THESE FROGS IN PRISON? Maybe they are a sign of some sort. Hmmm. A former fiance’e (Karen, who I wrote about in “A Prisoner and a Poem for a Princess”) said I had frog qualities. Maybe she thought I was a frog waiting to be turned into a prince with a kiss. She had read a book on Native American beliefs to come up with my “frog qualities”; which had something to do with “healing,” or with having an ability to calm people. She also compared me to a shaman. I did not know what a shaman was or what she meant, so I asked a Native American friend who knew me from Twelve Step meetings. He said that he saw a correlation between my behaviors in social circles and those of a shaman.

A shaman? That makes more sense than me being like a frog. I don’t jump around bumping my behind on the ground, and my ego says I look better than any frog, but, to be fair to the frogs, I realize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some little frogs are cute, too, so …. who am I to say? At any rate, I don’t think I would cause warts if I urinated on someone. Maybe I’ll try giving someone a golden shower one day just to see if warts pop up. Then again, I think that is a myth about frogs causing warts, otherwise, I’d be covered in them because numerous frogs have relieved themselves on my hands throughout the years, being the frog-napping type of fellow I am.

octopus

AN OCTOPUS ON THE RUN: On June 6, 2015, I watched “Life Story” on the Discovery channel. It amazed me to see a flounder stalking an octopus. The narrator said that flounders will snatch a meal by biting off one of an octopus’s tentacles.

The octopus crept along the ocean floor to stay ahead of its stalker. Each time the octopus got so far ahead, the flounder readjusted the distance by moving in closer, and then I watched the octopus pick up a half of a coconut shell. It amazed me to see the octopus wrap its tentacles around the half-shell and ease across the ocean floor with it in tow. The flounder continued to stalk its prey.

As some may know, animals and other forms of life do things to make themselves larger when threatened by a predator, the same thing that some experts suggest we do to ward off an attack by a wild animal. I thought that was why the octopus climbed on top of the coconut shell and walked away with it. Maybe that was why it initially picked it up.

Well, moments later, the octopus found the other half of the coconut shell and climbed inside the first half, and then used the second half to encase itself inside of to roll down a slope in the ocean floor to escape its predator. Mission accomplished. An escape by a coconut shell saved the octopus. The flounder discontinued its pursuit of an octopus tentacle as its meal.

See, everything wants to be free; frogs, octopuses, and humans, like those in the recent New York prison escape. It is in our nature to want to be free.

dog pulling cop

ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK: No, not the 1981 movie by that title. Prison escapees causing a siege throughout the state. The most popular criminals in America right now are Richard Matt and David Sweat. Both escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York on June 6, 2015, by using power tools to cut through cell walls and a sewer pipe to leave the prison. Both are convicted murderers and were scheduled to serve the rest of their lives in prison. Over 800 local and federal officials search for them as I type, as well as several other law enforcement agents and concerned citizens across America.

Joyce Mitchell, a female prison worker faces charges for her involvement in their escape. She provided hacksaw blades, drill bits, and chisels to help, and was supposed to be their getaway driver, but changed her mind and didn’t show up, which left them to fend for themselves. Personally, I feel that her not showing up “may” have saved her life. The escapees may or may not have decided to kill her after their escape. Many prisoners do terrible things out of desperation. When on escape, I believe it increases the risk of doing so to avoid going back to the confinement that they hate.

I understand Matt and Sweat’s actions. In 1981 I escaped from a close security prison in the State of Georgia, which I wrote about in “The Price of Change,” available in my magazine (ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN (https://www.straightfromthepen.com) and as an eBook (“Fence Rows & The Price of Change”) from my author’s page at Smashwords.com (https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy)).

The NY escape was considerably different than the one I was involved in, where several of us escaped by taking control of the control room to open the doors before we ran and climbed fences. Two fellow escapees were shot during the process but not fatally. I ran through woods with helicopters and hound dogs in pursuit, and then stole a car, ran through two roadblocks, and was back in prison within a few hours. I paid a heavy price for those actions and would have done the same thing many years ago when I started this sentence in 1988, but I am really grateful that I did not. If I had done so, my life would have ended and I may have harmed others before that happened.

My prayer is that the escapees do not harm anyone, and if caught, that they do not get killed in the process, if that is what they want. In situations such as theirs, death often seems to be a better alternative than returning to prison for the rest of their lives. I know. I felt that way before I was arrested on August 18, 1988, and did not plan for it to happen the way it did. I planned on a big shootout with the cops, etc., etc. It was only by the grace of God that things didn’t work according to my plan, and that I did not commit suicide after my arrest. I thought about it real hard but hung on due the love I had for my family and for other more nefarious reasons.

As long as we are alive there is hope. The hope of one day living a better life has kept me alive throughout all these dark years. Now I can see a bright shining light as the day of my release moves closer each day, and that makes me grateful.

waynedowdy@straightfromthepen.com

Teaching Cons New Tricks–Creative Writing & Q.A. Apprenticeship Program

(Reprint Permission Granted by the Author)

Teaching Cons New Tricks–Creative Writing & Q.A. Apprenticeship Program

THE ART OF CREATIVE WRITING CLASS:  When a person is searching for a theme for an article, short story or novel, some writing professionals suggest that writers take a real life situation and ask “What If?” For instance, what would the U.S. economy be like now if President Obama had been white and his Congress had approved the same economic plan to rebuild the economy, as that of President Roosevelt’s, whose plan Congress endorsed to bring the Nation out of the Great Depression?  What if an impoverished person sat in a creative writing class, inside of a prison classroom, and then wrote a million seller, and never returned to prison after release? Miracles happen!

What if that person simply learned to do something constructive that changed the direction of his or her life? That would be priceless! That is my hope for the students who participate in the Art of Creative Writing class, held for two hours, one night per week, in the education department at the Federal Correctional Institution, in Edgefield, South Carolina. This is the same education department I wrote about in my essay, “Fighting for Rights to Write”; published by PrisonEducation.com in Feb. 2014; posted on straightfromthepen.wordpress.com in March 2015. I was poised and ready to battle in federal Court to defend my First and Fifth Amendment rights to occupy my time constructively by using an AlphaSmart word processor to type my manuscripts for publication, and other forms of writings for reasons other than sending documents to a court, as other federal institutions permit. (Another battle may be looming in a similar fight to write.)

A fellow writer and friend, Jeffery P. Frye (aka Professor Frye), initiated the class by working with the Supervisor of Education. Once the class had been approved, then he invited me and another friend and budding author, S.G. Garwood, to sit in and offer assistance to the aspiring writers. Garwood is nearing completion of a historical fiction novel, The Last Confederate Coin, which is already receiving praise from Civil War buffs (view his writing samples and his magnificently designed webpage at http://www.thelastcharlestonconfederate.weebly.com).

The results of this adventure are yet to be seen, but I feel confident that everyone in the classroom will benefit, including me. As a fellow prisoner and someone who is concerned about the insane recidivism rates in the United States, my hope for everyone involved in the class is for them to be blessed with freedom and success, whether that success be as an author, or through some other method where the discipline learned through becoming a writer assists them in their quest to live a better life and not return to prison.

To succeed as an author requires discipline, something most of us lacked before coming to prison, and may lack now. Maybe writing will become more than just putting words on paper. Personally, I wrote my way into learning how to live a new life by journaling on a daily basis, so I know from experience that reading and writing has the power to change lives. Words pack a punch, whether written or spoken, words have the power to change or destroy lives. I choose my words carefully and hope the ones I select affect a positive change.

Professor Frye blogs about the Art of Creative Writing class on bankblogger.weebly.com and murderslim.com/BankRobbersBlog. He labels me and S.G. Garwood as Adjunct Professors, and wrote in his #creativeconvicts (blog), “Wayne (aka Adjunct Professor Dowdy) was challenged on the proper use of an adjective in relation to a plural verb. Wayne claimed he was right, while the other guy claimed he was wrong. Things got a little tense there for a few minutes, and as they had a spirited debate, I wondered if Adjunct Professors carried shanks. Wayne finally went to the library and found a GED textbook to prove his point, and to show that he was right. He was. That’s why he’s my adjunct.”

Professor Frye is a gifted writer who tells a great story and is one who usually makes me laugh anytime I read what he writes, especially his blogs. He also types faster than a woodpecker pecking on a tree, which pays off when paying five-cents per minute to use the Corrlinks computer system we use to email these blogs to someone to post on our behalf. I type slower than he does, but still love to write, and have my own style of writing: I’m a more serious, in-your-face type of writer, who often writes on topics to inform, inspire, motivate or educate, more so than to make readers laugh or cry, even though I sometimes do that too. In the classroom setting, as well as in my personal endeavors, I “seek” to find the truth, and usually succeed, whether that truth concerns a historical fact; the proper use of a word; discussing a verb that becomes a present participle after adding “ing” (e.g., “break” versus “breaking”); so that the ex-verb then functions as a noun, not-so-commonly known as a gerund.

Either way, I always want to know the correct answer and will sometimes go to extremes to find it; whether I do or don’t, I still want to find the answer and will continue my quest to do so, long after the thrill of debate has gone. I am also known for calling it as I see it, politically correct or not. I am not. That’s just not me, even though I do try to be considerate of another person’s feelings, I am not one who sprinkles sugar on a pile of poop to claim it is ice cream.

Please pardon my frankness, and my bizarre metaphor, but this is Straight From the Pen, not the Pentagon, and my use of that metaphor certainly paints a picture to stick on a wall, not soon to be forgotten. Perhaps the students in the Art of Creative Writing class will be more selective and less aggressive with words; however, since we are in prison … some may be more vicious with words than an overzealous prosecutor in a murder case. We’ll see.

QUALITY ASSURANCE APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM:  As I wrote in my “Vacation In Prison” blog on April 10, 2015, I work for the Federal Prison Industries, Inc. (UNICOR). I am a tutor in their Quality Assurance Apprenticeship Program, and have been since its inception in 2006. None of the graduates released back into society have become recidivists. That deserves recognition by all standards. I mainly teach Grammar & Writing Skills and other education-related fields of study, as well as helping the students to learn certain aspects about the Quality Management System, which meets the required standards for certification under the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), 9001: 2008 Requirements.

The Quality Assurance Manager realized its importance for the students to learn. He put an emphasis on teaching these students more about ISO principles than the previous students had to learn before becoming certified Quality Assurance Inspectors, who may be able to get out of prison and obtain a position as a Q.A. Manager by going to college to take a few more associated courses. One inmate who learned ISO in prison got out and got a job as a Project Manager for a reputable company. Dreams do come true.

The Apprenticeship program recently expanded to having six students enrolled. I create tests that all of them hate but learn more about the subject by the time they complete their assignments. As in Kindergarten, the only grade I give anyone is an “S” or “U” for satisfactory or unsatisfactory. Basically, the students are given course material and then turned loose to learn all they can. If someone fails to earn an “S” … I take the time to help him learn what he is missing or failing to understand about the procedure or process being taught.

Essentially, one has to refuse to do the assigned task to receive a “U,” which is then up to the Q.A. Manager to decide on where to go from there. Most apply themselves to learn what is being taught. This is a voluntary program, and the only one with anything to loose is the student, so each of them usually does what is required, even though some do complain about the level of difficulty in my tests. I give them tough love because I care enough to challenge their intellectual capacity to get them used to using their head for more than plotting crimes against humanity or for storing effects from illicit substances.

If the person doesn’t want to learn, I tell them not to waste my time. For the eager ones who really want the prize, I offer to teach them “Advanced Grammar & Writing Skills.” In that part of the program I teach the apprentice technical writing so that he will be qualified to write instructional documents; e.g., manufacturing & inspection instructions, quality manuals, policies and procedures. In other words, something more than simply inspecting a product. Technical writing is a very lucrative craft, which I have years of experience at doing in UNICOR. In 1997 I began writing job procedures for constructing missile cables, remote area lighting systems, power distribution boxes, army tank wiring harnesses, and other military products. I literally earn pennies in comparison to what I would earn doing so as a freelance technical writer in society, but at least I have obtained enough knowledge at doing it to share the wealth with others who may one day get to use those skills for the betterment of society.

A FIGHT TO REDUCE RECIDIVISM:  Education is a proven method of reducing recidivism, as  shown in my essay, “Education, the Prisoner, and Recidivism”; published by PrisonEducation.com in May of 2013; posted March 2015 on straightfromthepen.wordpress.com. For both subjects above, writing is an instrumental process, and is one that allows participants to occupy their time in a constructive manner, instead of running around creating drama by plotting on how to get out to commit more crimes and continue to feed the American Mass Incarceration Machine.

Shouldn’t prison administrators want their inmates to be learning something to prepare them for successful reentry into society? Don’t the designated keepers owe it to the public to provide prisoners with needed tools for preparation of release back into society; especially, those who want to learn something so that they can increase their chance of success upon release? Who wants prisoners to reenter society and collect new victims? Don’t we owe it to each other to help the disadvantaged transcend to another level? I feel we do. I do my part, and am sad to say that I often struggle to get support from the staff to do what needs to be done to help my peers get out and not return. That includes having something as simple as regularly held Twelve-Step meetings, or having ample time to use educational tools or equipment needed to help prepare the prisoner for the challenges that lie ahead. Read “No Sympathy” posted on straightfromthepen.wordpress.com for some staggering statistics on recidivism to grasp the seriousness of the situation. I am sure it will leave you wondering why a prisoner must struggle to help others avoid becoming a recidivist.

The looming battle concerns the possibility of the education department not allowing writers and inmates to use the AlphaSmarts for creative and other forms of writing, other than preparing documents to mail to the courts. The use of such a device that has the potential of preventing some prisoners from becoming a recidivist seems worthwhile. If possible, many of us prisoners would buy or rent AlphaSmarts or other similar products to constructively occupy our time and attempt to learn a skill to rehabilitate ourselves. I suggested the same but it fell on deaf ears. Imagine that!

The cost of an AlphaSmart word processor and the associated costs of supplies, cannot compare to the cost of a recidivist. On March 9th, 2015, the B.O.P. Director reported in the Federal Register that the FY 2014 Annual Determination of Average Cost of Incarceration was $30,619.85 per year/$83.89 per day. Based on those numbers, the cost of providing educational tools and equipment is a cost effective measure–money well-spent–an investment far less expensive than re-incarcerating a person for multiple years or possibly for the rest of their lives. The cost of recidivism is human lives.

Follow me on Twitter: @DowdyFromThePen

[Update:  AlphaSmarts were removed for the general population two-years later after the Supervisor of Education changed.  This section modified and address removed due to release from prison on August 28, 2018]

Email:  waynedowdy@straightfromthepen.com.

Purchase my books & essays from my book page on https://www.straightfromthepen.com or https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy or from your favorite bookseller.

From Where Do Writers Root

From where do you root?  Many people want to know the roots of their family, evidenced by the success of such websites as Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org. For authors who write autobiographies, biographies and other nonfiction genres, having correct, verifiable data, enhances their reputation with editors, and incorrect data may ruin or damage it.  Who wants to waste time reading something written by an author who has proven to be unreliable?  Even people who read fiction expect accuracy from the author writing about historical events or scenes based on actual places. Because of that, I added an “AUTHOR’S NOTE” to my novel (UNDER PRESSURE-MOTIVATIONAL VERSION by Mr. D.). After reading part of it, a prison guard said to me, “That is not correct. The B.O.P. does not have TASERs, and SORT wouldn’t have been the one to respond.”  He then went on to explain which emergency response team would have responded to the situation I wrote about in a scene using my literary licenses. (Please go tohttps://www.smashwords.com/books/view/353812 to read my definition of literary licenses in the Author’s Note, which I only use when writing fiction.)

 RESEARCH:  Researching is important in any form of writing for publication. Using numbers and statistics to support a position or hypothesis makes a paper appear authentic and often keeps a reader interested: Writers get the numbers and statistics through research. When an author uses accurate data, the reader becomes more assured that he or she can trust and rely on what the author writes and that the author knows the subject matter.  As most people should realize, all sources of information are not reliable; especially, the volumes of information now available at the touch of a few keystrokes on a computer. Numerous blogs and other forms of media contain incorrect information from unreliable sources, even some websites that the “Curious” frequent for medical information. Reliable sources are vital for a writer to succeed in the highly-competitive, nonfiction, magazine market. For instance, some editors will reject an article if Wikipedia is the source of information, since credentials are not required and a person may post information believed to be true but is not. (Wikipedia does contain a lot of good information for researchers to use.)

 Seasoned writers search various sources to determine which information to use to effectively relay the message they want to convey to their readers. Several methods exist for finding information on most topics. Old School tactics include interviewing those with personal expertise in a field of study, or going to observe a process or event as it is being conducted, rather than sitting at a computer screen surfing the Deep Blue Web. By an author interviewing someone qualified to speak on the subject, or by watching and listening to learn, they may observe or detect something not mentioned in a written document or other source. Nevertheless, other methods of information gathering comes from reading reference books (almanacs, good dictionaries (biographical and geographical sections), encyclopedias, yearbooks, etc.), or books written by those knowledgeable on the subject; searching for related articles in periodicals (e.g., magazines, journals, newspapers); going to a library to speak with a librarian, or going online to search on-line catalogs and other on-line databases. The majority of librarians can offer additional advice on navigating the web or other sources for collecting information to use.

 The Internet has become the main source of information in today’s world, but writers must beware of the source and check to see when the site was last updated, and whether anyone claims authorship and lists their qualifications for writing on the subject. Equally important is the domain name in the URL (the address of the computer). The domain name in the URL indicates the purpose or origin or the website. Here is a list and brief explanation of some meanings:

1) “.com” is commercial, usually trying to sell something;

2) “.gov” is a government site, which may help to update or inform people about events or activities, like bills pending in Congress, or other public information;

3) “.org” shows it is a non-profit organization (an NPO may be wholesome, or may not be, as some scams are operated under the guise of providing something worthwhile or for the betterment of society); and

4) “.edu” for education (probably the most reliable for information overall).

 Even researching for family history can be difficult and misleading. Author Christina Hamlett makes a valid point in an article she wrote about researching, which mentioned obtaining information from Ellis Island Records: the information listed is based upon the interpretation of the port authorities who may have had to guess how to spell the name of an immigrant, and that some immigrants may have intentionally listed false information; e.g., changed names, marital status, or from where they came. She lists several valuable websites for authors to further the search beyond the typical websites that the majority of people will go to when searching from where they came. These sites allow anyone to dig deeper to find family roots or information about a person of interest:

 Census Finder:  www.censusfinder.com

Census Records:  www.censusrecords.com

Cyndi’s List:  www.cindislist.com/categories (select Genealogy)

Dead or Alive:  www.deadoraliveinfo.com

Death Records Online:  www.myheritage.com

Ellis Island Records:  www.ellisislandrecords.org

ObituariesHelp:  http://obituarieshelp.org

SearchSystems:  http://publicrecords.searchsystems.net

United States Vital Records Information:  http://vitalrec.com/index.html

 “Consider the Source:  Fact-Checking” by Christina Hamlett, Writer’s Guide 2014, $23.95, Writer’s Publications,www.writersbookstore.com. (Most links used in this article come from her well-written article.)

 She also lists several websites for checking facts and historical data writers may want to use to verify the accuracy of their primary source of information for an article, blog, book, or essay.  She cautions, “Whenever you decide to incorporate recent or historical dates, never rely 100 percent on your own memory.” Great advice! Memories fail and all human brains malfunction on occasion when storing and retrieving memories. Try these links for verifying data accumulated during your research:

 FactCheck.org:  www.factcheck.org

Politico:  www.politico.com

Snopes:  www.snopes.com/politics/politics.asp

ScamBusters:  www.scambusters.org

The Fact Checker:  www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker

PolitiFact:  www.politifact.com

For history:

Historical Timeline:  www.historicaltimeline.com

HyperHistory:  www.hyperhistory.com/online_n2/History_n2/a.html

Animated Atlas:  www.animatedatlas.com/timeline.html

This Day in History:  www.history.com/this-day-in-history

 ROOTS OF WRITERS: Perhaps the roots of some writers run all the way back to Moses and the Ten Commandments and writers of the best selling book in history: the Bible. “The Gutenberg Bible … was the first major book printed in the West using movable type. It marked the start of the ‘Gutenberg Revolution’ and the age of the printed book in the West. …. Written in Latin, the Gutenberg Bible is an edition of the Vulgate, printed by Johannes Gutenberg, in Mainz, Germany, in the 1450s.” Wikipedia.org, updated 10/22/2014 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gutenberg_Bible). A copy did not reach North America until 1847; available for public viewing at the New York Public Library. The last sale of a complete Gutenberg Bible occurred in 1978 for $2.2 million, and is now kept in Stuttgart (Clausen Books Gutenberg Bible Census (http://www.clausenbooks.com/gutenbergcensus.htm). The estimated value of a complete copy ranges between $25-35 million. The author of that one has bragging rights! Too bad he could not stick around to see the fruits of his labor manifest into something so valuable and miraculous.

 For another notable piece of history about the printed Word, according to the Dictionary of Modern English, Wordsworth Edition, 2005, “[t]he edition of the Bible known as the Authorized Version ([was] first published in 1611 under the aegis of King James I) ….” Lots of readers prefer the King James Version of the Bible, or other variations of it.  Going back farther than that, Socrates (ca 470-399 B.C.) and Plato (ca 428-348 (or 347 B.C.)) also made their mark in history long after they had lived, with their volumes of published philosophical ideals taught in the academic arena to this day.

 The devoted and meticulous writers are a special breed of writers. All writers are not created equal: It takes an internal overdrive and determination to produce exceptional prose. To quote Brandon Royal from THE LITTLE RED WRITING BOOK, $16.99, Writer’s Digest Books (2004), “Most people hate reworking their writing. It is human nature. The pressure and agony of writing is one reason why alcohol has been humorously dubbed ‘the occupational hazard of professional writers.’ It is not the writing per se, but the rewriting and redrafting process that can drive a person to drink. Worse is the reality of knowing before you began to write — no matter how well you write — your writing will require revision.” For instance, before I began writing this little piece of writing, I knew it would take revising several times to get it “close” to the way I truly wanted it before submitting it for publication. What I did not know was that I would be revising it for at least twenty-times (I lost counts days ago), long past the date I had planned for its completion. If I had not stopped drinking many years ago, so I could grow up and become somebody, I would have probably gotten drunk and clicked to send several days ago, rather than to continue to wrestle with the words on this computer screen. Knowing I will never get it to the level of perfection I prefer, I will eventually just say well-enough, and click send to be done with it so I can move on to the next project. So much is the life of the writer. We write and write and write until some of us run into the occupational hazard known common to our craft. Jack London was one of the best writers around, but history tells that it was that occupational hazard that lead him to his end; therefore, I need to keep a clear mind so I can write until I can’t write anymore. I’m a work in progress.

 To wrap this collection of words back around to the same line of thinking that it began, as I learned writers should do, I conclude with this: Writer or not, does anyone truly know from where their roots run?  In particular, all of those writers who write in the many different styles and genres, which include so many ideas and topics that no one could ever effectively count them all before something new popped out of some writer’s mind and onto the pages of a book or computer screen. Anyway, maybe some writers came from another planet or from some place far away; especially, in considering the plots and stories in books and movies these days that stretch the imagination. Who knows from where they came? ANSWER: Only those with a reliable source.

 ______________________________

Wayne T. Dowdy was first published under a pseudonym in 2003.  Later on he decided to become a professional writer.  He then took a college-accredited writing course through the Long Ridge Writers Group where he graduated in 2008.  He has since been published numerous times in magazines and newsletters, mostly under a pseudonym.  His most recent major projects include ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN (https://www.createspace.com/5040976), and the novel UNDER PRESSURE-MOTIVATIONAL VERSION by Mr. D. (https://www.createspace.com/4325313).  Get the paperback versions at Amazon.com, CreateSpace.com, and other online and offline bookstores.  For a limited time, purchase an eBook of the essay collection by using Smashwords coupon code SP43N for a 75% discount off the $9.95 list price.  Visit his author’s page at Smashwords.com (https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy).  Read more of his writings by adding “Wayne T. Dowdy” in your favorite search engine.

The Truth About Incarceration, Part II

Prisoners for profit, human lives a commodity? Imagine that. My life of crime made lots of politicians and investors very rich:  it robbed me of life with my loved ones, including a wife and two children, not to mention the financial ruins caused by my actions. When I am released in 2019, I have to start all over at the age of sixty-two. My living quarters consists of a cell designed for one, housing two. Essentially, I live in a bathroom with another man. That is not exactly the way I planned for life to be, but it is what it is. I put myself in this situation by making bad choices. It didn’t have to be this way. According to a psychologist, who had reviewed results from a battery of aptitude and psychological test that I had taken for Georgia prison officials to determine my intellectual capacity, I could have been a doctor or lawyer. Maybe I could have been a politician capitalizing on prisons being built and by voting to be tough on crime. A lot of people profit from the Incarceration Industry in America. Thousands of men and women serve longer prison sentences because of the Corporate greed and the desire to increase the bottom line at the expense of other humans.

NO SYMPATHY: I am fifty-seven years old as I write and have spent most of those fifty-seven years in prison. On August 18, 1988, I began serving this 35-year federal sentence for driving a second getaway vehicle in an armed bank robbery and associated charges, one being “Abduction of a Person to Facilitate Commission of an Offense.” In a personal essay titled, “No Sympathy,” I wrote about certain aspects of the crime; however, that essay serves a greater purpose. I want the public to see where billions of their tax dollars go. I use my story to show the effect of incarceration and recidivism. ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN is my essay collection that contains several essays about various topics and experiences, but when I wrote No Sympathy, I wrote it with the hope of helping to somehow change the failed criminal justice system.  Due to its purpose, I asked the publisher to make it and a few other ones into separate eBooks for $0.99 each. (Purchase it from my author’s page athttps://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy.) The essay shows data and parts of my history to prove you are reading writings from a man who the government has invested well over one-million dollars in.  If you are an American taxpayer, you help pay for my incarceration. Maybe some of the politicians who have lined their pockets with cash by investing in prisoner commodities will reimburse you. I would if I could, but I am broke so suing me won’t do any good either. Sorry!

RECIDIVISM:  From August 28, 1978, until August 1, 1985, I served state time for robbing three drug stores at gunpoint and stealing a car. While in, I picked up additional charges for escape and mutiny in a penal institution. I wrote about those events in “The Price of Change,” also in the essay collection.  Four of those years were spent at the Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, GA. The feds said it was the most violent prison in the United States in 1982 while I was there. I witnessed prison staff creating racial trouble in an attempt to win a lawsuit (Guthrie v. Evans).  Prisoners died as a result of their games.  Guthrie had filed the lawsuit because of the racism, brutality, and unconstitutional living conditions at the prison before I arrived. The guards created the racial issues in an attempt to convince the courts that we were animals and that they needed their guns and batons to control us. I know because I was privilege to legal documents due to my status as a representative in the lawsuit. I have also seen staff use the same plots in the federal prison system while I was at the United States Penitentiary in Atlanta (also deemed to be the most violent prison in the United States while I was there) and U.S.P. Pollock in Louisiana. The point being that prisoners are no more than pawns in their games. I made it over three-years before I was arrested in 1988–to be exact, three-years and seventeen days after my release from a halfway house in Atlanta, Georgia. By staying out over three-years, I dodged being one of the typical prisoners caught in the more common 3-year recidivism studies. A different study came out in April 2014 that covered a five-year span: it revealed staggering statistics on recidivism from 2005-2010. [1]  An alarming rate of 82.1% of property offenders, 76.9% of drug offenders, and 73.6% of public order offenders returned with new charges within the five-year study period. The numbers make clear that previous (and current) methods of punishment and practices have not yielded favorable results, that is, except for those who profit from high-incarceration rates: things couldn’t have been or be better for them. Because of the explosive prison population caused by draconian sentencing policies and increased punishments for crimes, pushed by those with an ulterior motive, the situation got out of control.

RE-ENTRY & RECIDIVISM: Former Attorney General Eric Holder began taking action to reduce the prison growth rate and population: 1) he changed prosecution policies that slowed the flow of federal offenders into prison, and 2), he pushed the agenda for re-entry initiatives to relieve the financial impact of incarceration through a reduction in recidivism. Focusing on providing prisoners with re-entry services should reduce recidivism by helping ex-offenders find employment, and by helping them receive treatment for drug, alcohol, and or, mental health issues. From my observations, very few prisoners receive help for such issues while in prison and that alone increases recidivism. I have not seen many prison administrations truly concerned about providing prisoners with opportunities that increases their likelihood of success upon release.

DETAINMENT FOR PROFITS:  Sadly, for-profit-prison lobbyists spread millions on state and federal legislatures to keep prison populations high, or to otherwise defeat bills introduced to lower the mass incarceration rates in America. “Detainment is a lucrative trade.” [3] The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) members and for-profit prison representatives write bills for politicians to introduce that increases prison sentences through techniques such as changing sentencing guidelines, increasing criminal penalties, or creating new laws. Those actions counter any initiatives introduced to decrease prison populations by giving prisoners more time off for good behavior; re-instating federal parole, or any other bills that, if implemented, would reduce the profits of those with a vested interest in high incarceration rates.  ALEC members sometimes provide alternative bills for their supporters. “Whether the issue is guns, tort reform, immigration, sentencing guidelines, or private prisons, ALEC provides a legislator with a committee-ready one-size-fits-all bill and a playbook to pass it.” [2]

GUIDELINE CHANGES: Other measures taken to undo the effect of previous political actions came from amendments to the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines to reduce sentences for drug offenders; especially, crack cocaine related offenses. The Sentencing Commission is a bipartisan committee whose recommendations stand unless Congress stops them.

POLITICAL INFLUENCE: The funding for the cost of incarceration comes from the taxpayers so why should politicians be concerned about its cost?   Especially when their votes for “Tough on Crime” bills gets them re-elected and fills their pockets with cash. And, not just their pocket, the pockets and purses of those who invest in the Prison Industry (companies who build prisons; those who provide goods and services for their operation, construction, maintenance; those manufacturing or selling security items; e.g., fences, electronic gadgets, weapons, riot gear, and other tactical equipment pushed for security to protect the public from approximately 2.3 million prisoners held in the United States, alone).  Private prison companies grew by convincing those in power that it was more cost effective to house prisoners in privately ran prisons than it was to house them in public prisons. The data did not always support their claims. [6]  In order for private prisons to profit, corporate owners reduce the number of staff, the amount of staff training hours, and pay lesser wages and benefits to their employees. In 2011, compared to state correctional officers, Correctional Corporation of America (CCA), required an average of 240 less training-hours. The less-trained staff salaries were 50% less than those of typical state correctional officers. [3] The lack of staff and inadequate training sometimes resulted in deaths of prisoners and guards, which the 2014 Office of Inspector General report noted in reference to the privately managed Federal Bureau of Prisons (B.O.P.) contract facilities. From other things I have read, only a minimal amount of conditions were required for those private companies to gain lucrative contracts. Since the latest finding by the O.I.G., B.O.P. Director, Charles Samuels, Jr., who is changing things, approved a program statement to govern such facilities. [4] Personally, though, I cannot believe that political connections have not influenced the number of contract beds the B.O.P. uses to house its prisoners. That seem apparent by the fact that in 1980, 12-years before former B.O.P. Director, Michael Quinlan (see next para.) went to CCA, only 2% of the B.O.P. prisoner population was kept in contract facilities. Now with two B.O.P. directors into private prisons, two-percent grew into nineteen and a half percent.

CORPORATE INFLUENCE: “ALEC is a corporate-funded corporate bill mill cross-dressing as an association of state legislatures.” [2] In 2011, ALEC claimed 250 corporations and special interest groups as private sector members. “According to ALEC promotional material, each year member lawmakers introduce an average of 1,000 … pieces of legislation nationwide, 17% of which are enacted.” [5] One member corporation being CCA–the nation’s largest for-profit private prison company (GEO Group is the second largest for-profit prison and is also an ALEC member). [8] Two former B.O.P. Directors went to work for CCA after leaving the B.O.P. under unfavorable circumstances. Harley Lappin “retired” from the B.O.P. after his arrest on a Driving Under the Influence charge in May 2011. He is CCA’s executive vice president and the company’s Chief Corrections Officer. J. Michael Quinlan “retired” in 1992 after a male B.O.P. employee filed a lawsuit and claimed Quinlan had sexual assaulted and sexually harassed him in a motel room during a business trip. He settled the lawsuit out of court. He works as CCA’s senior vice president who oversees CCA’s quality assurance program. Other government officials have equally migrated to private sector companies and carried insider-information with them. [7]  I’m sure that “insider-information” and political connections helped such companies flourish at the expense of the millions of Americans confined in jails and prisons.

Some people have profited from laws and policies that increased prison sentences, many others like me have stayed in prison longer than we would have without those governing factors, which were based on the “bottom lines.” In the meantime, though, I still hope to one day have a healthy relationship with my children, but the miles of highways and barbwire fences that separates us makes it difficult. Things will change. Look for another article on “The Truth About Incarceration.”

                                                                                     BIBLIOGRAPHY

[1] Durose, Matthew, R., Cooper, Alexia D., and Snyder, Howard N.  NCJ 244205, Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States: Patterns from 2005-2010. U.S. Dep’t. of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Statistics, April 2014.

[2] Dubose, Lou. How to Pass Bills and Influence Legislators. The Washington Spectator, May 15, 2011.

[3] Handley, Joel. Divesting From Private Prisons. IN THESE TIMES, August 2011.

[4] Program Statement 7740.02, Oversight of Private Secure Correctional Facilities. November 21, 2014.

[5] Hodia, Beau. Publiscopy Exposed. IN THESE TIMES, August 2011.

[6] Austin, James and Coventry, Garry.  NCJ 181249, Emerging Issues of Privatized Prisons, Bureau of Justice, Feb. 2011.

[7] Anti-Private Prison Group Rips Revolving Door for Federal Employees After CCA Hires Former BOP Director, Prison Legal News, July 2011.

[8] Hodia, Beau. Corporate Con Game. IN THESE TIMES, June 21, 2010.

A Spiritual Journey

A SPIRITUAL JOURNEY by Wayne T. Dowdy

In April of 1995, I began a sober journey into a different life that has continued to this day: a spiritual, not religious journey. Part of that journey included having faith in a power greater than myself, whom I was willing to turn my will and life over to His care, “as I understood him.” I had one concept of God before then, as I was raised Southern Baptist, but, today, I am not so sure about the “Him” or “His” part. That is because I know all such references in the Bible and other spiritual books were written during a time of extreme sexism (which I will continue to use in this writing for illustrative purposes, not beliefs). For instance, in Christianity and some other religions, a woman did not have many rights, not even a right to preach from the pulpit; certainly not the right to be referred to as part of a deity, as being part of a Godhead, except for maybe in something like Greek mythology or non-mainstream, non-traditional religions. The God of my understanding does not have to be of any sexual orientation, even though I do believe in the same God primarily used in Christianity, only with a twist, since I do not accept lots of the dogma and doctrine I have read and learned about throughout the years.

To me, God is God and is a far greater entity than my little mind is capable of grasping or of completely understanding. Scientifically, and perhaps in the beliefs of many humans, there are those who will argue that everything has to have a beginning and an end, but the obvious to me is that something was just “here,” long before mere mortals entered into the equation of life. The first atoms, molecules, or whatever got things started by grouping together to form a mass, had to have came into existence by some other means, and I believe God is the one behind it all, who probably sits back laughing at some of the stupid things that we humans come up with in an effort to make sense out of what we see and have learned along this minute of our existence. Some scientist debate whether we are here by Intelligent Design or through Evolution, but to me, there is nothing to debate. I do not care either way. All I know is that I am here and so are you. How we got here is irrelevant to me. Maybe both are true, in part. But, what I do know from seeing His work in my life and in the lives of others, is that there is a God, a divine being, something much greater than us humans.

My outlook on the deity of Christ, is that if God wanted to come down to Earth, manifest Himself as a human, and walk around to see how people would treat Him, He could do that. It is not difficult for me to grasp, since God, the Creator, has the power to give or to take life or to create a Universe, and at the same time, to be a part of everything. Most of us believe in what someone taught us through our respective religious gatherings or with books written by someone else, whether God inspired or not, so who am I to say who is right or who is wrong? I do not know. I do feel that everyone has a right to believe as they wish, but not the right to kill, harm, or injure someone else because their beliefs do not coincide with theirs, such as often happens with religious sects. When I think of such things I am reminded of the song, “What if God was One of Us.” Isn’t Easter about celebrating the resurrection of the son of God, whom Christians call Jesus Christ, whom died on the cross so that those who believe in Him could have ever-lasting life, whom man nailed to the cross because He professed to be the Son of God? That is what happened when He was one of us!

EVIDENCE IN THE BLOOD

Here is something to think about when wondering if there is a God. In the Merck Manual of Medical Information, 2nd ed., 2003, I read the “Biology of Blood.” I found it fascinating to learn how the proteins and blood cells work in our bodies; especially, the many forms of white blood cells. The Neutrophils kill and ingest bacteria and fungi, while some ingest foreign debris; Lymphocytes have three types, T lymphocytes and natural killer cells help protect against viral infections and can detect and destroy some cancer cells, which are essentially cells that have turned on their peers and multiply until they destroy life; B lymphocytes develop into cells that produce antibodies to help us fight off invaders. Eosinophils kill parasites, destroy cancer cells, but do not ingest them. They are also involved in allergic responses, as are Basophils. Monocytes ingest dead or damaged cells and help defend against many infectious organisms. Perhaps they come behind the Eosinophils to clean up their battle ground, since they don’t eat what they kill, like some humans who kill for entertainment, or with a purpose. Some white blood cells cruise around in our blood streams, while others cling to blood vessel walls, others penetrate walls to enter into tissue. When a white blood cell encounters a problem, such as a parasite or other invader that the white blood cell needs help with defending its territory against, it releases a substance that attracts more white blood cells to come to the rescue. Our white blood cells are our Army and fight to keep us alive and healthy.

Between the red blood cells that work with proteins to deliver oxygen from our lungs to remote areas of our bodies (through the force produced by the beating of our hearts), and the work of the white blood cells, which work in conjunction with our other blood components (plasma and platelets) to assist in all of the functions of our many bones and organs, we are able to have life. That is only one tiny example of the intricacies of our bodies. To me, the fact that the human body keeps on working and reproducing life, proves you cannot just put things into a box, shake it up, and then out jumps a living, breathing, human being, or other form of life.

Maybe there is random selection amongst living organisms: perhaps God does the selecting for all that is to come. It is possible. No doubt in my mind, that there is a God and that all I need to realize is that I am not it. I am a mere mortal and am grateful for that. I have a hard enough time managing my life and don’t have the time or patience to manage the world and far beyond the parameters of existence that my little mind just can not grasp. smile emoticon

 
 

Fighting For The Right To Write

I am in a battle that should not be: with the head of the Education Department and prison authorities over my right to type book manuscripts and other non-legal documents, such as business or personal letters, college course assignments, resumes, etc. (Technically, if something is not illegal, it would actually be “legal.” ) Imagine that — a prisoner fighting his keepers so he can do something to constructively occupy his time. By the way, this is not a national issue, since the majority of prison administrators encourage prisoners to constructively occupy their time by learning new skills, trades, getting a better education, reading, as well as writing business and personal letters to prepare for release from prison.

Writing can be instrumental in the life of a prisoner who needs to establish contacts within the community to help secure employment, housing, and to build family and community ties. Furthermore, federal officials consider an inmate’s family and community ties as a factor in determining the custody and security score of inmates. The staff use that score to determine the level of security necessary to manage the inmate; e.g., placement in low, medium, or high security facilities, each of which have different programs available for inmates to use, and different management techniques for staff to follow.

What I find insane about the situation, is that the Director of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons, Mr. Charles E. Samuels, Jr., encourages his 216,000* inmates to “[p]repare for a successful return to the community.” In his December 9, 2013, MEMORANDUM TO ALL BUREAU INMATES, he wrote, “Our long standing approach that ‘Reentry Begins on the First Day of Incarceration’ is as true today as it has ever been in the past. The Bureau of Prisons provides and searches for new opportunities to help you be as productive as possible while in prison, preparing to return to your family and community as a productive, law abiding citizen.” I believe he means what he wrote. The sad part is that some of those he entrusts to carry out his mission are not on the same page, as many prison officials are stuck in the “old mentality” and would revert to the days of putting prisoners in sweat boxes and beating them, if the laws had not changed to deter them from doing it.

According to the Bureau of Prisons Program Statement P.5350.27, Inmate Manuscripts, dated 07/27/99, which was written to “[e]ncourage inmates to use their leisure time for creative writing …..” In other words, the Program Statement authorizes me to “[p]repare a manuscript for private use or for publication while in custody without staff approval.”

My use of the program statement to support my opposition against the new policy was unsuccessful, never mind the fact that that is one of many program statements that changed because a judge determined that the former program statement contained unconstitutional provisions that violated an inmate’s First Amendment right to the United States Constitution (freedom of speech). Their response was that it does not specify that I can type one, only that I can, so I pointed out that it is an industry standard and known that all manuscripts submitted for publication have to be typed, not handwritten. Personally, I believe the recent change implemented here by the Supervisor of Education and the Associate Warden of Industries, Education, and Recreation, has some root in my speaking out against the system in some of my published works: “Education, the Prisoner, and Recidivism” by Wayne T. Dowdy (www.PrisonEducation.com); UNDER PRESSURE-MOTIVATIONAL VERSION by Mr. D. (Midnight Express Books, $9.99 @ Amazon.com and CreateSpace.com (https://www.createspace.com/4325313)).  Whatever the case may be, I will continue the fight for the right to write, because it is not just about me.  Other prisoners deserve the same privilege and may not have the skills or courage needed to fight Goliath with pens and paper or keys on a keyboard. I do.

Retaliation against those of us who speak out is common, even if not as common as it once was, it still occurs. Doing the right thing often has risks and consequences. Frankly, I cannot allow the fear of possible retaliation to stop me from doing what I feel I should do. Since I am a writer with a vested interest in the situation, what kind of man would I be to not use the skills I have that are needed to possibly resolve the issue? Anyway, I am 30,000-words into the sequel (UNKNOWN INNOCENCE) and have people waiting for its completion, so, I would like to deliver on my promise of putting it in their hands in the near future. I also enjoy occupying my free time writing and helping others learn to write novels, essays, and short stories.

I plan to be victorious in the battle of the fight for the right to write and will not give up until I have exhausted all available options, including bringing a civil action law suit against them, better known as a Bivens Action, when federal officials are being sued in their personal capacities. I do hope to report later that the matter was resolved without a long drawn out legal battle. Wish me luck. Thanks!

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*Based on B.O.P. population report as of January 2014.  The B.O.P. inmate population has declined, which just recently occurred, so some of the political moves initiated by Attorney General Eric Holder may now be working; e.g., instructing his underlings to be less zealous in the methods and techniques used in the prosecution of non-violent drug offenders. (The total inmate population was at 218,849 on November 21, 2013. The total population includes all of those held in private facilities, jails, halfway houses, etc.) The inmate population decline may be due to the prison growth rate slowing, rather than more prisoners being released through changes in programs like Compassionate Release and Reduction In Sentences, which was revised on August 12, 2013, to include additional categories for elderly inmates eligible for a compassionate release or a reduction in sentence. Another category added for eligible inmates are those who have young children, whose caretaker may now be in poor health, and the inmate is the only other person left to care for the child.

Social Media for Writers

[January 11, 2019:  In the future I will update this blog post to make it current, now that I am a free man and am able to do the necessary research to make the content more useful to those of you who wish to improve your social media experience.]

I am sending this out to provide what I hope to be helpful information for interested persons, or for anyone willing to share the information with a new or aspiring writer, who will capitalize on the following social media outlets: Wattpad, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook Fan Pages, Blogs & Press Releases. Readers and social media socialites may equally find something helpful. Feel free to share this with others.

WATTPAD

Wattpad is the social networking site for writers and readers that provides an outlet for writers to post their writings for readers to read for free. Check it out. Wattpad recently started offering users the possibility to raise funds for their projects, like Kickstarter.

TWITTER

Twitter limits messages to 140-characters but has continued to grow in the fast paced world and seems to be a must for many who want to be noticed, as most writers and celebrities do. Mark Haverstock says, “Twitter caters to both the busy and the attention-challenged, with a 140-word maximum microblogging format.” (See Tumblr data for more from Haverstock.) These are links to get you started:

http://michaelhyatt.com/the-beginners-guide-to-twitter.html
https://support-twitter.com/articles/100990-signing-up-with-twitter#
http://inkygirl.com/a-writers-guide-to-twitter
http://www.mitaliblog.com/2009/08/getting-started-on-twitter-quick-guide.html
TUMBLR

According to the Writer’s Guide to 2014 ($23.95, Writer’s Institute Publications), in “Stepping Into the World of Social Media” by Mark Haverstock, “Tumblr is a social media site where users can share anything and everything–blog text, pictures, videos, music files, links, and more. … Tumblr is also chock full of inspiration. You can find anything from full-length blog posts, to poems, awe-inspiring pictures, music and links, to great sites all on this one social media resource. Tags allow you to give your posts a little extra exposure, so you can share them not only with people who follow you, but others who check out those tag threads–definitely a feature worth taking advantage of.” All links come from the same source, except for those in the last section (Blogs & Press Releases). The article lists these three associated links for Tumblr:

http://www.wikihow.com/Create-a-Tumblr-Account
http://www.tumblr.com/register
http://digitalsherpa.com/setting-up-your-tumblr-account-and-getting-started
FACEBOOK FAN PAGES

Most writers will probably benefit from having a Facebook Fan Page, along with their own personal pages on Facebook, which after creating a Fan Page, would conceivably benefit by letting their friends know about their Fan Page to gain more exposure. (I recently read that writers should not use their personal Facebook page for marketing their book, since people who sign on as friends are more interested in the writer’s personal life. It is supposedly okay for the writer to write about events in their life, how these events relate to their writing career or the book, but not to use the personal page as a sales platform.) As a writer who cannot access these sites due to being in prison, and thus cannot use the available tools for marketing books and writings as most writers do, I can attest to the difficulties in generating readers and customers for self-published materials by not having the social media forum I would otherwise have if able to access those sites. I have the skills and the technical knowledge to create web pages, blogs, etc.; however, I cannot actively engage my reading audience through blogging or posting my writings on a website, because I have to depend on others for connecting with the outside world, and none of the people I am currently involved with have the time or know-how to do what I need. (I am still in the process of finding ways to do all of the above.) Here is the info for creating a Fan Page:

https://www.facebook.com/about/pages
Ten-Step quick start: http://www.wikihow.com/Create-a-Facebook-Fan-Page
Detailed instructions: http://computer-howstuffworks.com/internet/tips/how-to-make-fan-page-on-facebook.htm
Here are some writers’ Fan Pages you may view for ideas on design and content:

Stephenie Meyer: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stephenie-Meyer/108380102517046?fref=ts (fan page)
John Green: http://www.facebook.com/JohnGreenfans?fref=ts
E.J. James: http://www.facebook.com/ELJamesAuthor
Gretchen Rubin: http://www.facebook.com/GretchenRubin
BLOGS & PRESS RELEASES

Two free blog sites are WordPress (www.wordpress.com) and Blogspot Platform (www.blogger.com). Since I see it used most often, I suspect that WordPress is the best choice. Both have templates and other accessories to help the writer set up their blog. Blogs are a must have social media platform for the aspiring writer to succeed at getting noticed and getting the word out. Some may choose to set up the blog to interact directly with their followers, while others may be too busy for that type of communication with their fans and, instead, elect to post sample chapters from a novel and post survey questions to engage their audience; e.g., which scene the reader liked most, who is their favorite character, what would they like to see happen, etc. By posting chapters in advance of completing the book, the writer is able to arouse interest in their product and have customers waiting to purchase it upon release.

For those who have a book release, try PRLOG (www.prlog.org), which is a free press release distribution service. Good luck. Wayne T. Dowdy (waynedowdy@StraightFromThePen.com).

Happy Independence Day-2022

Summary

This episode is also available as a blog post: https://straightfromthepen.com/2022/07/04/happy-independence-day-2022/ — Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/wayne-t-dowdy/support

Transcription