Happy Independence Day

Last year I wrote a more formal blog on Independence Day in America. Most of the facts and sentiments remain the same, so if you want to read about that, click Here.

For this post, I am writing about my personal independence that is more important to me than any celebrated holiday in America or anywhere else.

Sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Patriotic, my Independence Day comes first: I won’t grab a gun and run out to get shot defending some political enemy of no interest to me.

Now, if an invader came to America and the United States government didn’t want to put me in prison for the rest of my life for picking up a firearm, then Yes, I would pick up a weapon to defend this nation. But that is not the case today.

My Independence Day began when I stopped allowing my addictions to control my behavior back in 1995. Twenty-five years later, I maintain that sense of freedom that I gained when I put down the spike and stopped trying to take myself out, one day at a time.

Today I live my life, one day at a time and don’t feel the need to use any mind-altering substance to alter my perception of life.

I like seeing things as they are and don’t need to alter my perception to deal with all of the BS going on in America today and around the world.

It is what it is and I can’t change anything outside myself.

So today, that is my Independence: freedom from the chains of addiction that kept me enslaved to finding a way and means to get more that was never enough.

When I ran out, I felt worse than miserable, and the problem was that I did run out and could not get what I wanted when I wanted it, and that really pissed me off and made me a really difficult person to deal with who I grew to despise when I looked in the mirror.

NOW that I am free and have come to terms with my past, life is good and I just do the next right thing and know that everything will work out just the way it is supposed to for me.

And so today and every day, I celebrate my independence and am thrilled and happy to be here, with “here” meaning still in existence, because I know that it is only by the grace of God, my higher power, that I lived to fight another day and come out the victor in my battle of addiction that went on for over twenty-five years before I got the courage to stand up and fight for my right to be free. I broke the chains and ran into a bright new future: free.

COVID-19 AND BOP

Photo by Edward Jenner on Pexels.com

The United States Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) reported having a new deputy director on June 5, 2020. Though not said, I suspect the former deputy director exited due to his mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic in the federal prison system. After the BOP Director testified before Congress on June 2, 2020, the appointment of the new Deputy Director was reported three days later. Read the BOP Director’s written statement before Congress here.

To show the severity of COVID-19’s effect inside the BOP, I showed a comparison between COVID-19 cases in Henry County, Georgia, and the BOP.

On June 28, 2020, the website for the Georgia Department of Public Health reported the top five counties in Georgia for COVID-19 cases as follows. (See the latest update by clicking the link below the chart.)

CountyConfirmed CasesHospitalizations Deaths
Gwinnett7685985169
Fulton66101058311
DeKalb5448870171
Cobb4607848240
Non-Georgia Resident441020243
https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Dekalb County, Georgia had 759,297 residents on July 1, 2019.

Dekalb County, with over 550,000 more people than the UNITED STATES FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS, staff included, has had 171 deaths due to COVID-19.

On June 28, 2020, 89 inmates and one reported BOP staff member had died due to COVID-19.

“06/28/2020 – The BOP has 131,667 federal inmates in BOP-managed institutions and 13,436 in community-based facilities. The BOP staff complement is approximately 36,000. There are 1,422 federal inmates and 137 BOP staff who have confirmed positive test results for COVID-19 nationwide. Currently, 5,114 inmates and 574 staff have recovered. There have been 89 federal inmate deaths and 1 BOP staff member death attributed to COVID-19 disease.” WWW.BOP.GOV

Hopefully, the incoming BOP Director will be proactive about halting the spread of the Coronavirus inside the system. Several inmates have reported to me about the BOP’s continued practice of putting inmates who tested positive for COVID-19 in the same living areas with those who were not infected. This is especially true at the complex in Butner, NC that has had a combined total of twenty-three inmate deaths and the one staff death.

Click here for books related to COVID-19


Unreported Truths about COVID-19 and Lockdowns: Part 1: Introduction and Death Counts and Estimates by Alex Berenson (Author)

COVID-19: The Pandemic that Never Should Have Happened and How to Stop the Next One by Debora MacKenzie (Author)

George Floyd Matters

Yes, George Floyd mattered.

Photo by Life Matters on Pexels.com

What happens to one person may happen to another and another and another, until those of us who do not fit into the perfect mold or preferred social class no longer exists. That is one reason why the death of George Floyd and others matter who died because of police brutality or other unjustified reasons/causes.

A fellow blogger who is incarcerated and others have written negatively about the media focus and social uprisings related to the death of George Floyd, a convicted felon, a person who was alleged to have been violating the law before his untimely and wrongful death.

A man with a colorful past wrote a poem that tells why people should be concerned about George Floyd’s death, and all of the other men and women who died at the hands of other people; whether by law enforcement officials, at the hands of racists, by gang violence, being on the wrong side of group protests, or by any other method that deprived someone of their right to live.

Pastor Martin Niemöller, a former part of Nazi Germany who changed his ways and beliefs, wrote the following poem. Interchange any of the labels with the others often given to dehumanize other people:

“They” may be any person belonging to a group or who has a belief system based on race, religion, sex, sexual preference, political affiliations, or any group whose favor one does not fall, whether based on skin tone, socio-economic status, or any other factor used to justify wrongful actions.

This is a poem that I first heard as No Else Around (apparently based on First They Came), which I will use to show why George Floyd and those who differ, or who otherwise come from a different socio-economic class, should matter to everyone who qualifies as a member of the human race.

First they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Christians, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Christian.

Then they came for the prisoners, and I did not speak out—because I was not a prisoner.

Then they came for the Blacks, and I did not speak out—because I was not Black.

Then when they came for me there was no one else around to speak for me.

******

We are all in this together, what happens to one may happen to another. All lives matter who belong to the human race.


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What We Know by Wayne T. Dowdy

The following article was my submission for possible publication in a book that I submitted over a year ago. I include excerpts from some of my published materials and blogs that relate to the topic of recidivism, returning to old behaviors. My writing was not accepted for inclusion in the book but I do want my thoughts and ideas to be read, so I am posting it for the world see. 🙂

Though parts of the former submission may be outdated, the principles and concepts that I present are not, since not a lot has changed, per se. Millions of people remain in prison across the United States of America; especially, those who suffer from mental conditions and addiction problems.

Maybe something I wrote will encourage someone to do something that leads to changes in the status quo of mass incarceration in America.

What We Know

What we know is that America has a severe problem with recidivism that costs victims of recidivist immeasurable amounts of pain and suffering, and American citizens billions of dollars.  My story shows the high-cost of recidivism and major problems within our Criminal Justice System and its policies.  How do we reduce recidivism rates?  Does the answer lie in reentry initiatives, preventative measures, sentencing factors?  All the above, perhaps?

In 1988 I recidivated and spent thirty-years in federal prison and am part of the problem.  I offer a unique perspective to help change the status quo.  My goal is to use my vast experience in corrections to become part of the solution in penance of my debt to society.

First, to establish my qualifications to write on the selected subject, I’ll summarize selected points of my extensive criminal history, which began with my first arrest in 1969 for the burglary of a school, at the age of twelve, and continued until my last arrest on August 18, 1988, for the charges that I will write about later.

My criminal activities as a child lead to at least twenty arrests as a juvenile; all arrests related to my drug and alcohol problem, the true reason behind me costing taxpayers over a million dollars that I will show in association with me spending most of my life confined behind barbwire fences lined with rows of razor wire.  For clarity and to offer an excuse for the negative behaviors I displayed for decades of life, when I was eleven-years-young, I began using LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) and other mind-altering substances.  My life of substance abuse continued for 26 years, 3 months, 18 days (I stopped using April 5, 1995).  From the time of my first childhood arrest, I did not stay out of jail or some type of confinement for more than six months, until 1976 after release from my first adult prison sentence, when I served thirteen months in prison for a burglary to steal guns.  That time I almost made it two years without an arrest.  On August 28, 1978, I landed in jail for stealing a car and robbing three drug stores at gunpoint.

Two armed robberies and the car theft happened in Dekalb County, Georgia.  The other robbery occurred in Paulding County, Dallas, Georgia.  Though not charged for assault with a dangerous weapon and discharging a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence, during the Paulding County robbery, the pharmacist refused to comply with my demands and I struck him upside the head with a pistol that discharged a round into the wall, crimes of which if committed today and if charged with then, would have kept me caged for life.  

I suffered from mental illness back then.  I went to trial and a psychiatrist testified that I could not differentiate between right and wrong.  The jury didn’t accept the guilty by reason of insanity defense and found me guilty as charged.  I did not receive help for my psychiatric issues.  The judge sentenced me to twenty-years, serve eight, balance probated and then I went to Dekalb County to face charges.  Though I planned to stay out of prison upon release after the first time, I did not, because I returned to using drugs and made terrible decisions.  Drug addiction lead to me robbing those drug stores in 1978 and the courts sentencing me to multiple sentences for a total of fifteen-years to serve and five-years of probation.  I didn’t complete the original sentences before picking up additional charges for new crimes committed while in prison.

In 1981 I assaulted two correctional officers while they were trying to get another prisoner under control, the prisoner of whom went into the gymnasium bathroom to pick up drugs stashed for him to pick up.  He owed me two ounces of marijuana.  For that incident, the disciplinary committee sentenced me to two-consecutive, fourteen-day sentences in solitary confinement.  The State of Georgia charged me with two counts of mutiny in a penal institution.  I laughed when the person serving the warrants told me of the charges.

“Mutiny, I wasn’t on a battleship,” I said.

I didn’t laugh when sentenced to two more years for committing the crimes.

After I got out of the hole for those charges, I got into more trouble and ended up back in the hole and then when I went to trial, and the jury found me guilty of the charges I’ll discuss next, the court sentenced me to four consecutive years.  The two-year sentence for the mutiny charges ran concurrent with the four, consecutive to the original sentences.

For the Dekalb County crimes, I accepted a 15-year plea agreement after a psychiatric examination proved more harmful than helpful.  At twenty-one-years old, those fifteen years seemed like life imprisonment when I calculated being thirty-six before getting out.  My plan was to leave when possible.  I did.  Three years into the sentence, I escaped from Coastal Correctional Institution in Garden City, Georgia.

In June of 1981, several prisoners planned to escape Saturday night.  An associate asked if I wanted to escape with them?  I declined.

They didn’t leave on Saturday, and then on Sunday when I didn’t get a planned visit, I became depressed and changed my mind about leaving.  On Sunday night, myself and ten others escaped by climbing two chain link fences.  The first fence, five feet high, the other twelve with an inward facing arm, three feet long and strung with barbwire.  The arm of the extension set at a forty-five-degree angle, facing the institution.  To get to the fences, a prisoner nicknamed Tiny lured a guard into a trap.  The guard stood above six feet tall, Tiny near five, so it is logical to assume the guard didn’t feel threatened by him and violated the security protocol by opening the Control Room door to hand Tiny an electric razor.  Tiny grabbed and held him until reinforcements arrived who were hid in a blind stairway.  I waited in another corridor for the takeover and the opening of the doors.  Moment later, the outside doors opened.

I ran five-to-six hundred yards across a field to the fences.  Before I made it to the first fence, a correctional officer driving a security vehicle had stopped and was firing a shotgun at the other escapees who had cleared the tallest fence.  I barely slowed until I landed in the sand trap between the two fences.  I climbed the second one, the tallest.  When I reached the three-foot extension, I grabbed hold of its arm and pulled my body up to the barbwire strands, and then used my hands to swing from strand to strand until I reached the top row.  I threw my right arm over the top strand.  A barb pierced my bicep.  I jumped after clearing the wire. 

The guard fired again.  A pellet struck Tiny in his foot and caused him to stumble before he fell to the ground.  The gun bucked from the blast.  I ran a few feet before I hit the ground awaiting the buck of the gun from the next blast, which hit another prisoner in his shoulder.  He staggered from the impact but continued running to the woods.  Tiny jumped up and ran with me into the woods before the guard could fire again.  The guard may have had to reload, but whatever the case may be, I got away without taking any lead with me into the Woodline.

I separated from the rest of the escapees.  Running through the woods, I tripped over vines and fell into a gulley in the dark forest, but I still get away before the hound dogs arrived.  A helicopter flew above the forest shining a light through the treetops.  To avoid detection, I stayed in the shadow of the trees and once had to pull bushes over myself to avoid detection as the helicopter passed over.  Helicopters did not have heat sensors in those days.

I made it out of the woods a few hours later, where I stole a car from the parking lot of an aircraft manufacturer.  I would have stolen an airplane if I had known how to fly one.  Soon thereafter, I saw a railroad crossing with two guards posted waving for me to stop.  I didn’t.  I almost ran over them instead.  A mile down the road, I did the same thing.  A chase car got behind me when I made it to the next road.  A high-speed chase followed but not for long. The car I stole only ran a little over a hundred miles per hour, wide-open.  Police cruisers ran a hundred and forty.  The pursuing police officers boxed me in with their cars and captured me.  Before I got out of the car with my hands in the air, a prison van pulled alongside one of the police cruisers.  The cops put me in the prison van and ended my wild escapades.

Those events lead me to the Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, Georgia, where the state kept the worst-of-the-worst, a prison plagued with violence.  Because of all the violence and state officials refusing to follow a federal court order to improve living conditions, stop the racism, and brutality, the federal government implemented processes to begin a takeover.  Part of that process included appointing a federal monitor to oversee the lawsuit and placing a federal warden over the institution.  

Someone cut the tires on the warden’s vehicle.

I assume that the family clans did not like that the Feds sent in a foreigner to disrupt their running of the prison, and wanted to let him know that he wasn’t wanted in those parts of the woods. He did not leave.

Another process formed was the creation of the Staff Inmate Communication Committee (SICC).  White and Black prisoners in each living unit elected a white and black representative to help reduce prison violence.  My peers chose me to represent their interest, thus I became a spokesperson and received copies of all legal documents filed in the litigation.  I fought and succeeded at helping to change the prison, as I am fighting now to change the system.

In 1982 the federal government reported that GSP was the most violent prison in the United States.  I argued the issue with a federal monitor because New Mexico prisoners had rioted and killed more people than prisoners had killed in Reidsville.

The federal monitor replied, “The New Mexico incident was during a time of rioting.  During the normal run of the prison, y’all have had six-murders, fifty inmate-to-inmate attacks, and thirty-five inmate-to-staff attacks, with fewer prisoners than New Mexico.  That is what makes this prison the most violent in the United States.”

Events almost kept me in prison the rest of my life, because another prisoner wanted a transfer to another prison, he and others lied and said I killed a person, one of the six murders in 1982.  I was innocent of the actual murder, but that incident made me realize I needed to change my life, and that’s when I began.  Several years later, I made parole.

On August 1, 1985, I completed my commitment to a halfway house in Atlanta, Georgia and made parole.  I did not plan to reoffend.  I wanted to be a successful law-abiding citizen and did well until, once again, I returned to using drugs and that always lead me back to prison.

Now to my last arrest and conviction.  Tennessee state police arrested me August 18, 1988, in Campbell County, Tennessee, for possession of explosives (firecrackers and a hand grenade that was a dud), possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of a firearm and ammunition, and possession of stolen credit cards.  At first, I was under an alias.  No other charges filed, other than me using a stolen credit card to rent and not return the car I was driving when arrested.  The actual charge was theft by taken motor vehicle.

I agreed to extradition to face the Theft by Taken Motor Vehicle charge in Gwinnett County, Lawrenceville, Georgia.  A few days after my arrival in Georgia, agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Georgia Bureau of Investigation called me out for questioning on the armed bank robbery of the Bank of Dawson County, Dawsonville, Georgia.  I refused to cooperate and laughed when the investigating agents tried the Good Guy/Bad Gay routine to elicit a confession. 

A Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent jumped from his seat, knocking it over, and then said, “You think this is funny.  They’re trying to put armed robbery charges on you and I’m going to make sure you get more.”

I laughed again.  I knew my life was over and figured I’d die in prison anyway, so it didn’t matter anymore.  I screwed up really bad this time, I thought.  Within thirty-six hours, I had four counts of armed robbery, two counts of false imprisonment, and two weapon charges to go with the theft by taking motor vehicle charge.  That was before the FBI filed the federal charges.  I knew my life was over and contemplated suicide to shorten the process.  I’m glad I changed my mind and have lived to see this day as I type.

Back to the last crimes and convictions:  On November 10, 1988, a federal jury found me guilty after a four-day trial for the following crimes committed June 21, 1988:

1) armed bank robbery (Title 18 of the United States Code (U.S.C.), §§ 2113(a)(d)); 2) abduction of a person to facilitate commission of an offense (18 U.S.C., § 2113(e)); 3) conspiracy to commit bank robbery (18 U.S.C., § 371) (the charge that lead to convictions on all other counts), and 4) use of a weapon during commission of a crime of violence (18 U.S.C., § 924(c)).

The court delayed sentencing due to a pending case before the United States Supreme Court.  On February 24, 1989, a federal judge sentenced me to 420-months (300-months on Count 1, 360-months on Count 2, sixty-months on Count 3, all concurrent (running together), and sixty-consecutive months on Count 4).  I did not walk out the prison doors without handcuffs on my wrists, a belly-chain around my waist, and shackles on my legs, until August 28, 2018, before I left the institution en route to Dismas Charities in Atlanta, Georgia.  Dismas Charities is a privately-owned halfway house/residential reentry center (RRC).

RECIDIVISM IN AMERICA: WHAT WE CAN DO

Today I write as a professional and have spent hundreds of dollars to make a difference through my writing resources and otherwise, in penance for the harms I caused society with my criminal behavior and lifestyle.  

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 May 2018 study revealed an Eighty-three percent (83%) recidivism rate during the 9-year follow-up period, and that shows the seriousness of recidivism in America and the need for a magic elixir that does not exist.  However, even if there isn’t a magic elixir, we can reduce recidivism by ending financial incentives for politicians who make laws and policies that fuel mass incarceration.  Positive change will be slow until lawmakers stop state and federal funding for private prisons.  In the conclusion I will offer suggestions to reduce recidivism and help to create more productive members of society in the process.

The 2017 annual cost of incarceration for federal prisoners was $36,299.25 ($99.45 per day).  Federal Register, Vol. 78, No. 52 (03/18/13), and Vol. 83, No. 83 (04/30/18). 

TREAT THOSE WITH ADDICTION PROBLEMS & DUAL DISORDERS

In December of 2002, USA TODAY published an article “Study: treat addicts’ mental illness,” by Marilyn Elias, 12/02/02, USA TODAY newspaper.  According to Charles Curie of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, about one third of drug and alcohol abusers have an underlying mental disorder.  In a Pennsylvania state prison study around the same time, researchers determined that 85% of Pennsylvania prisoners had addiction problems, with half of them (42.5%) having an underlying mental disorder.  Mr. Curie stated in the same article, “That’s typical of prison systems nationally.  And we know if these inmates recover from the disorders, they’re unlikely to repeat crimes.”  Think about that statement: “inmates …, unlikely to repeat crimes.”

Those were high numbers to ignore for those wanting to reduce recidivism, considering that reducing it would decrease state and federal deficits.  Of what should be of greater significance to policy makers is helping other human beings to become productive members of society.  With it being 2019, sixteen years passed since the release of that study.  To date, the Federal Bureau of Prisons only has one facility that treats those with dual disorders (Lexington, Kentucky), but some states have implemented more of such programs and seen positive results.

I am one of the fortunate ones from the federal system who received treatment for both disorders while in prison, long before the authors released the study.  My success verifies the study findings.  I was a model prisoner for several years before my release.  I behaved in a constructive manner and helped others learn to live as law abiding citizens by practicing Twelve Step principles.  Now I am a productive member of society because I am applying what I learned in prison.  

Studies on recidivism shown in 1997, that 67.5 percent of prisoners released three years earlier were re-arrested, amounting in a five percent increase from those released in 1983.  The re-arrest rate for drug offenders rose from 50.4 percent in 1993 to 66.7 percent in 1994.  Before the 2018 study, which is a follow up to the 2005-2010 study, showed those numbers increased to 76.9 percent, and then to the staggering eighty-three percent after adding four years to the study period, all of which shows a growing problem within the Criminal Justice System.

In April 2014, the United States Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Statistics, released study NCJ244205 “Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010,” by Matthew R. Durose, Alexia D. Cooper, Ph. D, and Howard N. Snyder, PhD, BJS Statisticians.  The study expanded to include statistics for a five-year period, compared to the typical three-year studies.  The five-year study showed 67.8 percent of prisoners released had been arrested for a “new crime” within three years of release, and 76.6 percent within five years.

Here’s the numbers for relevant offender categories:

1) property offenders 82.1% (burglary (81.8%), larceny/motor vehicle theft (84.1%), fraud/forgery (77.0%), other (83.6%));
2) drug offenders 76.9% (possession (78.3%), trafficking (75.4%), other (78.1%)).
3) public order offenders 73.6% (weapons (79.5%), driving under the influence (59.9%), other (77.9%)).

Ironically, violent offenders came up last: 71.3% for re-offenders (homicide (51.2%); murder (47.9%); non-negligent manslaughter (55.7%); negligent manslaughter (53.0%)’ rape/sexual assault (60.1%); robbery (77.0%); assault (77.1%), and other (70.4%)).

FEDERAL RECIDIVISM STUDY:  In the recidivism study by the United States Sentencing Commission, “The Commission studied offenders who was either released from federal prison after serving a sentence of imprisonment or placed on a term of probation in 2005.”

STUDY NUMBERS: Offense Types and recidivism rates were as follows: Drug Trafficking (41.7%), Fraud (13.6%), Firearms (12.8%), Robbery (4.3%), Larceny (3.9%), Immigration (3.5%), and ALL Other (20.3%).

DEMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS OF RECIDIVISM STUDY: The first numbers are those in the study, whereas the second number represents offenders sentenced in 2014, after the eight-year study period ended: 81.7% – 81.2% were Male offenders.  White offenders led at 43.7% – 38.1%, followed by Blacks at 33.9% – 32.7%, Hispanics at 17.8% – 23.4%, and other races at 4.6% – 5.8%.

EDUCATE TO REDUCE RECIDIVISM: Post-Secondary Education Reduces Recidivism!  In the study, 34.3% did not graduate high school, compared to 36.6% who did; 21.4% had some college, and only 7.5% were college graduates.

OTHER RESULTS OF RECIDIVISM STUDIES: 49.3 percent of those released were rearrested for a new crime or rearrested for a violation of supervised release (e.g., failing to pass a urine analysis, failure to report to the supervised release officer; leaving without permission from a halfway house, perimeter of home confinement area or the state; violating state or federal laws, etc.). “Recidivism Among Federal Offenders: A Comprehensive Overview,” United States Sentencing Commission, March 2016.

The 2014 and 2018 studies show recidivism decreases as age increases.

FUNDING NEW RECIDIVISM REDUCTION PROGRAMS

Releasing qualifying elderly offenders who complete the recidivism reduction programs outlined at the end of this section will save billions of dollars to use for funding other programs with minimal risk to society. Reducing this category saves a lot because incarcerating the elderly costs the most.

This section targets a large segment of inmate populations and thus saves hundreds of billions, even with only marginal success. The cost savings will supply more resources for managing other aspects of the criminal justice system.

Let us assume Mr. Curie is correct (“[W]e know if these inmates recover from the disorders, they’re unlikely to repeat crimes”).  Based upon that premise, if ten percent of released inmates received treatment for dual disorders, while inside and did not recidivate by committing more crimes, then each ex-offender saves the criminal justice system a minimum of $25,000 per years, not including associated savings gathered from not spending money to arrest and re-prosecute the offender.  

The Department of Justice could apply those savings to revamping correctional systems with more psychiatrists, psychologists, and addiction specialists needed to reduce recidivism rates that fuels Mass Incarceration in America.

Using 2,000,000 as a base figure, and $25,000 as the cost of incarceration to accommodate the lower cost of housing healthier prisoners in state-and privately-owned prisons, if 85% of the 2,000,000 prisoners have an addiction problem, that’s 1.7 million prisoners.  If 42.5% of that 1.7 million have an underlying mental disorder, that’s 722,500 prisoners with dual disorders.  If twenty percent of that 722,500 asked for and received treatment, that would be 144,500 people treated and “unlikely to repeat crimes.”  

If Mr. Curie is correct, the following numbers I use would be higher and save more taxpayer dollars.  Again, using a modest $25,000.00 as the annual cost of incarceration, if ONLY ten percent (72,500) of the 722,500 of prisoners with dual disorders were treated, released, and never committed other crimes; taxpayers would save $1,806,250,000 each year.  That doesn’t include money saved from not having to pay law enforcement and the prosecution for associated costs.  If ten percent (14,450) of the twenty percent (144,500) suffering from dual disorders, completed treatment and stayed out of prison, that would be $361,250,000 saved annually.  If that same twenty percent (144,500) stayed clean after release, that would be $3,612,250,000 saved.  More importantly, thousands of citizens would not fall victim to those released from prison in worse shape than when they arrived; another recidivist or death statistic in the making.  Nor do those figures factor in the decreased need of hiring more law enforcement personnel; not having to pay for more buildings and equipment and resources, including not having to build more prisons to warehouse the prisoners.

THE SOLUTION

To reduce recidivism and help protect American citizens, as well as to help the returning citizen to successfully reintegrate, increase the availability of rehabilitative programs.  The programs need to 1) require that participants have at least a twelve-month clear conduct record; 2) require attendance for counseling sessions for any noted mental disorder and or addiction problems; 3) require participants to attend all scheduled educational or trade-related courses.

As part of the reconstructive process, prison official must be required to create more evidence-based programs for reducing recidivism, as the recently passed First Step Act requires for federal officials.  Part of the process should include regularly-scheduled, independent audits performed on a random basis by an external agency and include interviewing twenty-percent of inmate participants, with the goal of assuring compliance.  If prison officials do not comply, sanctions should be issued against prison officials (e.g., monetary sanctions, demotions, and termination for repeated citations for failure to comply).

Incorporating the above processes will change lives and give many men and women trapped behind the walls, bars and fences of the thousands of prisons across the United States, an opportunity to become assets to society rather than tax liabilities. Yes, some will fail. Thousands of other will succeed at becoming better men and women to help make America great again.

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Protests and Prison

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Ironically, the paperback edition of the tenth anniversary publication of THE NEW JIM CROW: MASS INCARCERATION IN THE AGE OF COLORBLINDNESS by Michelle Alexander, was released on January 7, 2020. Now you must wait to get a copy on Amazon, as I type because it is temporarily out of stock; however, the eBook is available. Click here to order.

Doubt does not reside in my mind about hundreds of people going to prison because of their involvement in the current protests going on in America. Not for the protesting, per se, but because of related activities going on around the protest, by the thug element that always finds its way into such events as an opportunity to “Come Up” by looting and committing other crimes under the false pretension of seeking justice, retribution for an act committed.

As I wrote in my most recent blog, Protests Gone Viral, quoting from The Wall Street Journal, President Trump said he would designate Antifa as a terrorist organization.

The United States Department of Justice will prosecute under Title 18 of the United States Code (18 U.S. Code CHAPTER 113B—TERRORISM) and rely on the definition stated below for Domestic Terrorism to prosecute those labeled as members or accomplices (conspirators) of Antifa:

(5) the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that—

(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;

(B) appear to be intended—

(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;

(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or

(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and

(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States;”

[18 U.S.C. § 2331 (2)(5), Definitions]

The penalties are stated in 18 U.S. Code § 2332. Criminal penalties, and range from “not more than ten years” for some criminal acts included, and up to life for others, meaning until carried out in a box, since there is no parole in the federal system.

Many people who commit state crimes have no idea that the Feds may step in to use a multitude of laws to get jurisdiction to prosecute in federal court. Believe me, I met several who were in federal prison for crimes of that nature, especially drug cases and violent crimes that involved guns or money that crossed state lines.

The thousands of laws on the books in the States and Federal systems are the ammunition used to create Mass Incarceration in America, where thousands of others profit from the incarceration industry (read The Truth About Incarceration, Part II for more information related to that topic).

Even though an alarming number of those who find their way into jail cells are people of color, as Michelle Alexander wrote about in her book, prison systems across the United States mainly consist of poor people who cannot afford to fight their cases or who are given bad advice to enter a plea of guilty, and then live to regret it when that plea leads to more time in a jail cell than ever imagined.

Many protestors will fall into that category, not because of what they do, but because of what those around them do that erodes the effect of a worthy cause.

Protests Gone Viral by Wayne T. Dowdy

Photo by Vital1na on Pexels.com

Racism lives and continues to thrive in America and around the world. Police brutality in Minneapolis, Minnesota that resulted in the death of an African-American man named, George Floyd, on May 25, 2020, sparked riots across the United States and caused disruptions around the world.

US cities assess protest damage, await another day of unrest by By TIM SULLIVAN and MATT SEDENSKY

Reading or watching news isn’t my favorite past time and it took all of the chaos going on in my hometown of Atlanta, Georgia to draw my attention to what is going on in many American cities.

In researching for this blog, I read what one source stated that I know most people will not see the seriousness of one word used in the following statement “terrorist“:

“Officials moved to restore order. Governors called in the National Guard, mayors extended curfews for a third night in some cities and President Trump said he would designate Antifa as a terrorist organization.”  

The Wall Street Journal, Officials Look to Restore Order After Riots

Though I am not an attorney and do not intend this to be legal advice by any standard, I am of the opinion that under American law, terrorism and domestic terrorism carry strict penalties, and when coupled with conspiracy laws, the use of that one word, when tied into legal terminology few can comprehend, many people who are protesting and are in the group of those tied to the violent offenses, may be charged accomplices.

If you don’t believe me about the severe criminal penalties for terrorist-related crimes, read what the law states in 18 U.S. Code CHAPTER 113B—TERRORISM

Two of my former blogs also relate to conspiracy laws and how easy men and women may end up spending the rest of their lives in prison. The men I wrote about got lucky when former President Obama commuted their life sentences: https://straightfromthepen.com/2016/01/05/freedom-for-a-friend/ and https://straightfromthepen.com/2016/08/09/freedom-for-another-friend/

My hope is that the protests do result in needed changes to eliminate racism and police brutality in America and abroad. The reality is that the stereotyping will continue for decades more to follow, because there will always be those who refuse to move away from the past and see each person as they are, rather than by some external element beyond control.

The sad part for me is in knowing that innocent people always get caught in the crosshairs of anger and hate and suffer dire consequences for what others have done. In this case, that will include the innocent protesters who get labeled as terrorists and go to prison for the rest of their lives for only doing what they felt they must do to take a stand against injustice.

Happy Memorial Day 2020

Heritage Park, McDonough, Georgia

Memorial Day in America probably means something different to most Americans than it does to those who hate US for whatever reasons. And should one wonder if the capital “US” is a mistake, no, it is meant to be inclusive, for I am an American and am proud to call myself one, even if not proud of everything that has been done by Americans.

For me, though, Memorial Day is not just about America, even though it is an American holiday. I remain conscious of all who have died from the effect of war or who have died fighting for the lives of others; whether Americans or not, whether for the “right” or “wrong” reasons, human lives are lost, mostly innocent lives lost in the crosshairs of another’s agenda.

Search “Memorial Day” on this site to see other blogs I’ve written on the topic, including some controversial ones where I speak out against the twisting of historical facts and attempts to erase America’s not-so-favorable history.

https://straightfromthepen.com/2017/05/11/mothers-memorial-days-by-wayne-t-dowdy/

https://straightfromthepen.com/2019/05/27/give-me-liberty-or-give-me-death/

In the end, though, everything worked out the way it should for whatever reason. I am not in control, and nor I am responsible for what others have done in the name of God or America, but I am proud to be an American and honor those who have died protecting our shores.

Today, I honor those on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19, here in American and all across the world. WE are all in this together, like it or not!

Lee Greenwood says it best in his tribute to America, God Bless the USA

BOP COVID-19 Cases v. Henry County GA, Part II

When I posted the original version of this blog, I used statistics from May 7, 2020, for the COVID-19 cases in the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), and May 8, 2020, for Henry County, Georgia. Numbers from both groups changed, but those from the BOP soared, especially Inmate Deaths. In Part II, I am including updated numbers and dates in bold and in parenthesis behind the original numbers.

In this post, I include correspondence from one inmate, who gave me permission to use because he wants the public to be made aware of the conditions inside that particular institution, which I feel certain is an accurate representation of many institutions inside the BOP because other subscribers have mimicked his statements and concerns.

PART II, COVID-19 Numbers Grow

Numbers used in statistics often do not mean much without other numbers to compare to or may even otherwise be used to distort reality. In this case, the severity of COVID-19 in the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) does not seem as severe when looked at in isolation (confined to the statistical data of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons).  A comparison to the Henry County, Georgia COVID-19 statistics highlights the severity of the infection rate in the BOP.

In Georgia, the Henry County COVID-19 numbers rank as number Eleven for confirmed cases.

COVID-19 IN THE UNITED STATES FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS

This is the information/numbers given for the COVID-19 report on the BOP website for May 7, 2020 (https://www.bop.gov/coronavirus/):

[Group I]

“05/07/2020 (05/16/2020) – The BOP has 140,369 (138,363) federal inmates in BOP-managed institutions and 11,161 (11,674) in community-based facilities. The BOP staff complement is approximately 36,000. There are 2,646 (2,280) federal inmates and 244 (283) BOP staff who have confirmed positive test results for COVID-19 nationwide. Currently, 591 (1,091) inmates and 278 (287) staff have recovered. There have been 44 (56) federal inmate deaths and 0 BOP staff member deaths attributed to COVID-19 disease.”

[Group II]

[UPDATE: Here are the statistics for the BOP for May 8, 2020, which shows substantial growth in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases:

“05/08/2020 – The BOP has 140,119 (138,363) federal inmates in BOP-managed institutions and 11,331 (11,674) in community-based facilities. The BOP staff complement is approximately 36,000. There are 3,082 (2,280) federal inmates and 248 (283) BOP staff who have confirmed positive test results for COVID-19 nationwide. Currently, 619 (1,091) inmates and 279 (287) staff have recovered. There have been 45 (56) federal inmate deaths and 0 BOP staff member deaths attributed to COVID-19 disease.”]

The reduction in confirmed COVID-19 positive cases may be due to the lack of testing and inmates being kept in private prisons. Private Prison representatives often refuse to provide requested information to journalists and others.

From bop.gov/coronavirus, the BOP reports the following:

“Due to the rapidly evolving nature of this public health crisis, the BOP will update the open COVID-19 confirmed positive test numbers, recoveries, and the number of COVID-19 related deaths daily at 3:00 p.m. The positive test numbers are based on the most recently available confirmed lab results involving open cases from across the agency as reported by the BOP’s Office of Occupational Health and Safety at 11:00 a.m. each day. BOP field sites may report additional updates throughout the day. Data is subject to change based on additional reporting.

“The BOP has begun additional testing of asymptomatic inmates to assist in slowing transmissions within a correctional setting. As such, our data reflects an increase in the number of COVID-19 positive tests reflected in the table below [see the table at bop.gov/coronavirus]. The BOP is able to better utilize this information for the management of an outbreak at the relevant, affected facility.

“The inmate totals listed do not include inmates participating in the Federal Location Monitoring program 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.”

Many men incarcerated across the nation inside the confines of the BOP have complained about the lack of testing for COVID-19, and some staff’s failure to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE); e.g., face masks and gloves.

Straight From the Pen of the Incarcerated

The information below comes from an inmate at one of the federal prisons in Butner, North Carolina, where other inmates in the complex have reported the same situation (lack of testing, CDC recommendations not followed (social distancing and failure to wear PPE), as have inmates in Terre Haute, Indiana, and U.S.P. Victorville in California.

(I’ve reorganized paragraphs for ease of reading. The provided information is posted as provided, other than minor spelling and punctuation corrections. Additional information is included in brackets. Some content isn’t intelligible but is irrelevant for this post. The inmate often uses “jail” instead of “prison” when he is referring to the institution.)

5/14/2020: If I write a blog later in relation to the lack of testing, not following safety protocols, etc., do you want me to post this?

[Inmate Name Removed to Protect Privacy] May 15, 2020:

“Yes, it needs to be known what Butner is doing to the inmates and how they aren’t doing anything to fight the infections. Most of the guards don’t even wear mask. The guards are bringing it [COVID-19] in the jail and it seems like a norm to them its two blocks left that has no infection. Out of 8 blocks 6 blocks have been infected and the numbers are going up five more just was quarantined today.”

[Inmate Name Removed to Protect Privacy] 5/14/2020:

“Granville a is quarantined and the just had an inmate on Vance [?] a test positive don’t know how many he affected the took him out of here this jail isn’t doing anything for our safety the have me working in the kitchen for 11 hours a day fixing the meals for the rest of the jail there is no social distancing we are all working don’t know who is infected and who ain’t they only check your temperature there has not been one single test administered on this compound and the virus is spreading at a rapid pace and all they do is put you in the shu [Segregated Housing Unit] for 14 days don’t test you and after the 14 days they put you right back in population there is no structure for fighting this virus they are not follow no guidelines and this is sad there is so many people they are deliberately placing in harm’s way and they don’t even care and that’s why is so sad.”

****************************************************************

Friday, May 15, 2020:
RE: RE: 05/12-13/2020 (Numbers keep growing)

[Inmate Name Removed to Protect Privacy]

“This is all lies there is a total of 58 that are quarantined in the shu as we speak I know because I make the trays for the shu and the still have us working together in the kitchen not social distancing and [UNICOR, Federal Prison Industries, Inc.] is still working without social distancing. This place just doesn’t care.

“There is no 40 that has recovered they are only keeping them in the shu for 14 days and sending them right back to the block to infect other people this jail has no compassion it just doesn’t matter to them we have been locked down since march we are trapped on a block with no ventilation the same air is just blowing the same infected air throughout the jail.”

5/14/2020:

All you can do is follow the recommendations, and especially about washing your hands before touching your face after being on the computer or phone, which should be done at any time. Here’s what was on the bop.gov website yesterday for Butner institutions (Butner Low has 22 confirmed cases, and 40 who have recovered):

Facility
Inmates Positive
Staff Positive
Inmate Deaths
Staff Deaths
Inmates Recovered
Staff Recovered
Butner FMC
5
5
0
0
0
2
Butner Medium I FCI
166
13
7
0
82
12
Butner Low FCI
22
3
0
0
40
4

[Inmate Name Removed to Protect Privacy] on 5/14/2020 5:49:59 PM wrote

“Things are getting bad here and Butner low there are 8 dorms and the virus is in three they have Durham b they are on quarantined.”

DENIAL/NOT SO COVERED UP STATISTIC: The BOP is in denial or is trying to cover-up the death of one of its staff members who died from COVID-19 (39-year-old, Ms. Robin Grubbs, Case Manager). I suspect the failure to acknowledge the death of one of their own from COVID-19 is a failed attempt to cover-up the incident due to the bad publicity about the BOPs failure to provide staff and inmates with proper protective equipment for months. https://www.ajc.com/news/local/employee-death-raises-questions-about-conditions-inside-federal-pen/3Enh61w6Di8rcT9YuY5PPK/

[In the above examples, the BOP still does not acknowledge the death of Ms. Robin Grubbs as being due to COVID-19. In the referenced article about her death reported in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the inmate stated what mirrors the statements of many inmates who expressed concerns to me through correspondence (staff not wearing personal protective equipment because it isn’t available or otherwise does not wear any).]

COVID-19 IN HENRY COUNTY GEORGIA

“Henry County, Georgia Population 2020

“Henry County, Georgia ‘s estimated population is 225,508 with a growth rate of 1.95% in the past year according to the most recent United States census data. Henry County, Georgia is the 9th largest county in Georgia.”  https://worldpopulationreview.com/us-counties/ga/henry-county-population

The B.O.P. only has a total of 151,530 (150,037) individuals held captive in the prison system (numbers include inmates in Residential Reentry Centers), along with 36,000 staff who work for the BOP, for a total of 187,530 (186,037) people, but the BOP had 44 (56) inmate deaths, and a total of 2,890 (2,280) confirmed COVID-19 cases on May 7, 2020; however, if the number of confirmed cases and those who have recovered are included, the total COVID-19 cases that were in the BOP is 4,800.

As mentioned above, Henry County ranks 11 in Georgia for the COVID-19 case, with Henry County’s 225,508 people, only 559 (700) confirmed COVID-19 cases, and 14 (18) deaths, as reported on May 8, 2020 (May 17, 2020).  In the BOP with far fewer people, the death rate is much higher (56/18). The difference in infection rates enormous (4,800/700).

The point being that the BOP COVID-19 pandemic within the system is serious and demands attention, as does the handling of the COVID-19 crisis in all of the many other prison systems across the United States and other parts of the world, many of the latter which are likely worse than the situation in the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons. 

CONCLUSION

With the substantial increase in BOP COVID-19 deaths and the number of confirmed cases that were within the system (4,800 total), it reveals a more significant issue than the numbers viewed in isolation, buried within the walls, bars, and fences of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons.

The inactions and failure of prison officials to implement processes and to comply with CDC recommendations have killed 56 federal inmates, and most likely, hundreds more in State prisons.

Many other deaths and COVID-19 cases are probably hidden within the privately managed prisons across the United States.

Will the day come when legislatures enact laws to hold prison administrators accountable for actions or inactions when it leads to the deaths of other humans? Unlikely.

[Note: The focus of this blog is not about private prison officials’ refusal to provide information to journalists, so I won’t expound on the topic, but do know that it has always been an issue that is hidden inside BOP contracts with private prison representatives.]

The False Narrative – Islam is to Blame by Abdul-Jalil Rashid Al-Imarah

This blog post contains religious content. Paid content is as submitted, other than minor editorial changes. Straight from the Pen does not express any opinion on the subject matter or content or the validity of any statement or claim made, as the posted content is expressly that of the author.

by Abdul-Jalil Rashid Al-Imarah

The false narrative that exists which is circulated by the Zionist, Western, establishment and Anti-Islamic media is that Islam is an intolerant misogynistic religion that allows no debates and stifles the free exchange of ideas. In furtherance of continuing their perpetuation of this falsehood they allege that Islam does not allow the challenge to its doctrines or practices and cannot operate in an open honest playing field. This isn’t true. For the self-containing vices, they embody forces their want to blemish and launch their own characteristics as attacks on Islam. the West is the one feeling challenged and is suffering an identity crisis. Any Islamist would be willing to honestly debate their secular counterpart but such is never allowed by the ‘freedom-loving people’ because they view this as giving an opportunity to ‘spread hate’ or rather ‘infect’ others.

Yet it is the West that demonizes Islam, spends billions of dollars to misportray it or show it in an alternative light suitable to their objectives[1] and motives, have called for re-interpretation of its scriptures and practices and promoting or rather creating fake dissidents whom they could promote. If there was any television network that allowed any dialogue to be aired about political Islam, it would censor parts of such and only portray segments that fit a certain narrative. Islamists fully quote and refute opposing intellectuals, policymakers, and others and directly challenge the premise which they stand on while the other side manufactures stereotypes to combat and engage with, omitting facts and statements, promoting outright fabrications and never quoting from any Islamist themselves or Islamic texts.

Thus, we are hen only left with the claim that either Islam is an evil religion or a faith that has been ‘hi-jacked’ or ‘misinterpreted’ by ‘extremists’ and ‘fundamentalists.’ Yet they bring forth no proof to their claims. Islamists quote from Islamic scriptures and classical ‘orthodox’ scholars while the opposition (western critics of Islam) is ignorant and unwilling to do such. They do not present viable arguments or opinions from the texts all Muslims agree on, rather they bring their deviant, secularized, ‘modern’ scholars who themselves do not quote from what was mentioned. So, we are left with the ‘they hate our freedoms’ nonsense or ‘they simply want to kill all infidels’.

The clash of civilization is not so. One side is actually engaging its adversary directly while the other is fighting and engaging phantoms and figments of its own imagination. So where are the two civilizations clashing? The truth is that Islam wishes to be heard without censorship and give the listener an opportunity to make an informed choice. As there is ‘no compulsion in religion'(Qur’an 2:256). So, for this reason, Islam takes it upon itself to combat those hindering the free propagation of its faith or erecting obstacles in its path. Islam sees itself as freeing mankind from the servitude of others to that of God, Allah, the Divine. Islam stands for the upholding of justice and the removal of all types of tyranny and oppression. And it views the greatest oppression as shirk (polytheism; worshipping inanimate or animate creation; judging by or the creation of manmade legislation without due right).

Islam wishes the ability to uphold the sanctity of Muslims ‘ rights and honor and to defend them. The propagation of Islam is not like the violent exportation or imposition of ‘Democracy’. The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) called to Islam for a period of 13 years in Makkah patiently, while his call was slandered, belied, and demonized. He and the Muslims then proceeded to migrate to Madinah which accepted the call of Islam.

And here lies the beginning of the origin of enmity and hatred shown by idolaters, secularists, and satanic forces against Islam. The Qur’an tells us that ‘they wish to extinguish Allah’s light with their mouths but Allah wills only perfect His light [Islam; Monotheism] however much the deniers of truth abhor it’.[9:32]. the polytheists of Makkah hated the idea of a Muslim state living in accordance with the principles of Islam. The fact that there existed people who had the audacity to willfully, consciously, and voluntarily forsake the ‘freedoms’ of immorality and promiscuity for chastity, who forsake the ‘freedoms’ of intoxicants for sobriety, who forsake interest-based capitalism for a non-usurious one, who forsake the ‘freedom’ to legislate or enact laws in accordance with the whims of the masses for Divine rule according to their religious scripture, this enraged them.

They felt that possibly others would also be ‘radicalized’, ‘brain-washed’, or ‘infected’. So to ‘protect’ the world from such, the forces of polytheism and idolatry descended upon Madinah the city lit by the divine light and it resulted in the decisive battle of Badr at which point the Muslims were victorious. They ignored the promise of Allah that stated that Islam would ‘prevail [ideologically, militarily, legislatively, and all other ways] over every other religion however much the idolaters hate this’. [9:33].

From Madinah, the Muslims continued calling to and propagating their faith at which point multitudes flocked to it. When emissaries or preachers of this faith were harmed or killed then the Muslim State of Madinah retaliated on their behalf and for the faith. When the Romans mobilized and began inching forward to destroy this call and new polity then Islam also mobilized its men to push back the possible coming onslaught. As time went by the Muslims continued to send emissaries and preachers to distant lands inviting to the faith. Those countries or tyrant rulers that blocked humanity from the opportunity to respond to this call or deliberately kept the people ignorant from it were fought.

Armies were mobilized to make sure this call was protected, to give strength to it, and pave the way for it, but never to impose it. It was for the freedom to deliver the message, the freedom to respond to this message, and freedom to live in accordance with this message that these battles were fought and every opposer and hinderer was hit in the head with the sword and left as garbage to be abhorred in the pages of history. For there were countries of shirk such as Roman territory and lands of Christendom that allowed this preaching to go on while even speaking against it or launching intellectual challenges due to their difference of religious inclinations yet history shows that they were not fought, instead there were peace treaties between them and the Muslims. Muslims even had tax-paying Christians within their own lands who preferred to live under the justice and Islamic system of government. They did not deny Islam its voice even if they made their ruckus, shouts, and another cacophony of sounds.

Now think about the situation that we are all faced today concerning the violent exportation of democracy. No one is ignorant of democracy today for the cold war seen to that. Yet despite all of the incitement, funding, and incentives promised by the US government and Western countries there are those who willingly reject democracy. So, in Egypt today you find traditionalists, Islamists, Marxists, and those calling for democracy. The same in turkey, Pakistan, and others. even in China! Yet it is not to safeguard democracy and to provide it voice[that they fight or go out for], for it is the loudest voice of all the many different types of political systems. Know that it is western hegemony and imperialism that is the true motive behind the false call of democracy.

They topple governments solely for being ‘undemocratic’ yet they have not taken on Communist China, Autocratic Russia, Monarchist Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Morocco. Why is that? Islam didn’t differentiate as to who it confronted in pursuit of its message. So the weak clans and polytheistic tribes of Arabia were fought with the same vehemence as the paganistic Roman empire, which Islam caused to weaken and collapse, and the Persian empire which is caused to be totally wiped from existence along with others, for its claim was sincerely held. So at the dawn of the Islamic Revival when the Soviets were defeated and IsraHell remained as the occupier and the West, after destroying the Islamic Caliphate(de facto; Ottoman not de jure), was demonizing Islam and interfering with Muslims attempt to abide by Islam in Algeria, Tunisia, and others seeking it by the mirage of democratic elections[what did they expect?].

And after the atrocities Muslims endured in Chechnya, Bosnia, Palestine, and others, doesn’t it make sense that the conclusion the Muslims would come to is that the West is enemy? Wouldn’t the logical conclusion be to go after the West for its defiling the sanctity of Muslims’ honor and blood and hindering Islam? So, what is the clash of civilizations that they speak of? Is it the US invasion of Iraq or Afghanistan? Or is it after Bush and Cheney said, ‘with us or against’ and then proceeded to label it a crusade? Is it their support of the Zionist entity? Or is it their ‘War on Terror’? Or is it recently begin when an Islamic state rose with Raqqah declared as its capital?

I’m an Islamist if that is the term I must be labeled. I consider myself a muwahid (which means a monotheist) and an orthodox Muslim yet if the term Salafi Jihadist fits better then that is what I am. As such, I oppose honor killings and say that it has no basis in Islam and is a deviant cultural practice that occurs at the hands of people in Muslim lands who are not firmly granted with a proper understanding of Islam. There are penal or capital punishments in Islam that must follow the procedures of Islamic law and executed by officials of an Islamic government. No father, brother, husband, or son has the exclusive right alone to kill their mother, daughter, sister, or wife.

I believe in stoning since it is a divinely legislated Islamic punishment and has been practice as a divinely related ordinance by all the previous Abrahamic prophets, and I have no qualms about it nor am I apologetic about it. Yet Islam grants each person due process in accordance with the statement of the prophet that ‘the burden of proof is upon the claimant and the swearing of an oath for the one who denies[the claim]’ and the Quranic injunction of 4 witnesses in cases of adultery/fornication. With that being the case I believe that the majority, if not all of the sensationalistic Western media frenzy on claims of stoning taking place in rural parts of Muslim lands whether Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, or Iraq, that these took place in opposition and not in conformity with Islamic law so they are thus not Islamic. Many are due to ignorant tribesmen or tribeswomen engaged in un-Islamic behavior that leads to vigilante like justice which Islam condemns. I also believe that some are outright fabrications and simply designed to shock the mind like any other tabloid type news and that the only modern-day proper stoning that ever took place within this century has occurred in the territory controlled by the Islamic State.

I am not misogynistic if the word is to mean that a man has full absolute rights over a woman or that he owns her in the matter of possession of the property and no Islamist I’ve met is a misogynist according to that meaning. Islam says that husbands and wives have rights over each other.

Another stereotype is that Islam or Islamists oppose female education. Every Islamist falls outside of that so-called norm, fully accepting the prophetic narration that ‘seeking knowledge is an obligation on each and every single Muslim male and female’ especially if this Islamist reads ‘Wahhabi’ books which cite this tradition of the Prophet(Peace be upon him) allot. Another claim is Islam enforces or imposes forced marriages. Such is far from the truth since the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has clearly stated that marriage is not valid without a bride’s consent, meaning it will be akin to rape, slavery, or trafficking, in other words, contrary to Islam. There is a verse in the Qur’an which explicitly states that a man cannot take a woman by force or inherit her against her will since the pre-Islamic Arabs upon the death of their fathers would also inherit the widows and such is also a Jewish practice mentioned in the Talmud.

Yet such lies and others are perpetrated by establishment elitist feminists who are demagogues or mouthpieces of Western Imperialism. They feign concern for Muslim women, yet what have they actually done to actually lift her plight besides denigrating and disparaging her prophet and noble religion of Islam?

Muslims do bad things that it not hard to admit. Some treat their children and wives in a horrible fashion, yet such is not reflective of the noble principles of Islam. That is reflective of those individual cultural values and lack of personal ethics.

In a sense, every Islamist is a feminist in the truest sense of the word since an Islamist is against using women as commodities, and against the visual imaginative depiction of a woman in the so-called art of pornography which is none other than a form of passive rape. [They are] against using them as commodities in the fashion industry which demeans the appearance of women and imposes a conformist culture which causes some women to starve themselves to fit a particular mold. [They are] against anti-female capitalism which exploits women for the purpose of using women to market products, lifestyles, and popular culture through music videos, magazines, and others. [They are] against the idea that a woman’s value is solely in her attractiveness and not her intellect or contributions she can make to society and the world at large.

So, what is this clash about? Is it one side defending the chastity and honor of women with the opposing side giving itself the right to enslave them or barter them as pawns for corporate interests? Is it one side advising her to preserve her virginity and chastity for a lifelong intimate relationship with one person who would, honor, love, and respect her while the other side is fighting to impose a ‘freedom’ that incites her to debase herself to catcalls, shattered reputations, broken hearts, manias, and the cycle of men she would succumb to? Is it not that one side wants a ‘market’ of ‘available’ women to date, fornicate with, and for her to be plastered on screens and magazines as an ornament or trinket?

 A clash of civilizations. If that is what the clash is about then surely the hedonistic side will surely implode on its own and would not ever be able to withstand a confrontation on an equal footing. Of course, that is not it for the talking points are obfuscated by one side that refuses to engage with the other. What sort of clash is it that is limited to one participant? For the West alone is the aggressor and the sleeping Muslims are only now awaking to realize and become aware of what is going on. So let it be known that the West is clashing with itself and while being held hostage within it as a casualty of this ‘clash’, I’m the victim of the ‘clash’ and for such views, I have been branded terrorist. Such is the false narrative the courts wish to present to the jurors in their cases against ‘terrorists’ and on the international scene to the global audience in support of its ‘War on Terror’. Such is the false narrative. But then again, I am a Muslim. No wonder they say, ‘Islam is to blame’.

1. Rand Corp has their suggestion of an American or reformed version of Islam which is called ‘Civil Democratic Islam’ which advises the government to promote one type of Islamic tradition over another and to use one sect against another and to give incentives to individuals that they vet. Rand Corp is an American think tank affiliated with the US government focusing on international affairs, counter-terrorism, and US policy and conducts analysis based on such.

By Abdul-Jalil Rashid Al-Imarah, written on the 2nd of December of in the year corresponding to 2018 C.E from the depths of the taghuti prison known as the US criminal justice system and pejoratively as LEVIATHAN.

B.O.P. Censorship

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

A 39-year old young lady who worked for the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), died due to contracting the Coronavirus; however, to date, the BOP still does not acknowledge her death as an employee, as is shown in the following quotation taken from the BOP website on April 23, 2020:

COVID-19 Cases

The BOP has 143,136 federal inmates in BOP-managed institutions and 10,331 in community-based facilities. The BOP staff complement is approximately 36,000. As of 04/23/2020, there are 620 federal inmates and 357 BOP staff who have confirmed positive test results for COVID-19 nationwide. Currently, 302 inmates and 53 staff have recovered. There have been 24 federal inmate deaths and 0 BOP staff member deaths attributed to COVID-19 disease.

https://www.bop.gov/coronavirus/index.jsp

Those numbers are updated each day; however, since Ms. Robin Grubbs died earlier this month, who was a case manager at the United States Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia, died from COVID-19, the BOP website continues to not report her death on their website.

WONDERFULTHINGSDONE

Clients of WonderfulThingsDone and StraightFromthePen.com include incarcerated individuals who receive periodic updates to help them understand why the BOP elected to keep them locked down or otherwise managed under tighter security protocols than normal.

The message posted below was rejected by at least one institution; however, several other institutions do have competent staff who are capable of comprehending legal requirements and have complied with the law and chose not to violate the First Amendment to the United States Constitution that guarantees the Freedom of the Press.

At least two inmates were denied their right to read publicly available information about the world in which they live, which I conclude because I received two of the notifications shown below that will conclude this blog post.

From: admin@inmatemessage.com
Date: 4/21/2020 7:51:14 AM
Subject: Return To Sender: BOP Silenced Death of BOP Employee

Message:
This message informs you that your below electronic message to the above-named Federal prisoner is REJECTED and will not be delivered for the following reason(s): * The content of your message jeopardizes the safety, security, or orderly operation of the correctional facility, or the protection of the public.The prisoner to whom you sent this message is NOT being informed of this rejection.You may appeal this rejection within 15 days of the date of this message by submitting a written request to the warden of the prison where the prisoner is located. You should include a copy of this rejection, an explanation of your appeal request, and any additional documents or information you wish to be considered. See Below for Spanish/Ver abajo para leer en espa?ol

Este mensaje le informa que su mensaje electr?nico al preso federal susodicho FUE RECHAZADO y no ser? entregado por la siguiente raz?n(es):* El contenido de su mensaje compromete la seguridad, o la operaci?n ordenada de la facilidad correccional, o de la protecci?n del p?blico.El preso a quien usted envi? este mensaje NO ser? informado de este mensaje rechazado.Usted puede apelar este rechazo dentro del plazo de 15 d?as de la fecha de este mensaje enviando una petici?n por escrito al guardia de la prisi?n donde se localiza el preso. Usted debe incluir una copia de este rechazo, una explicaci?n de su apelacion, y de documentos o informaci?n adicionales que usted desee ser considerada.

——–Original Message——–

Date: 4/20/2020 9:17:35 PM
From: info@straightfromthepen.com
To: 98612004@inmatemessage.com
Subject: BOP Silenced Death of BOP Employee

The United States Federal Bureau of Prisons does not report the death of this beautiful young lady who died working for them. Robin Grubbs was a case manager but the following BOP Report and all of those issued since Ms. Grubbs death from Coronavirus, do not mention or list her as a staff member who died from the Coronavirus.

“The BOP has 143,705 federal inmates in BOP-managed institutions and 10,225 in community-based facilities. The BOP staff complement is approximately 36,000. As of 04/20/2020, there are 497 federal inmates and 319 BOP staff who have confirmed positive test results for COVID-19 nationwide. Currently, 205 inmates and 33 staff have recovered. There have been 22 federal inmate deaths and 0 BOP staff member deaths attributed to COVID-19 disease.”

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/coronavirus-death-robin-grubbs-atlanta-federal-penitentiary-workers-criticize-covid-19-response/

“She was promoted a month before her death. Coworkers say she was never moved into her new role, away from sick inmates

“By Cassidy McDonald
April 20, 2020 / 6:17 PM / CBS News

“After a 39-year-old federal prison employee died and later tested positive for the new coronavirus, employees are speaking up about what they said are unsafe conditions at the facility where she worked.

“The Bureau of Prisons on Friday confirmed its first staff death potentially due to COVID-19. Robin Grubbs, a caseworker at the United States Penitentiary in Atlanta, was found dead in her home Tuesday and posthumously tested positive for the virus,
a BOP spokesperson said.

“CBS News spoke with four correctional officers at USP Atlanta who complained of insufficient access to protective equipment and inconsistent communication about how many staff and inmates were infected at any given time.

“‘Already, it’s a stressful job. Already, you don’t ever know what you’re walking into, but to add this on, this pandemic, where it could jump on you and just take your life away like that, it’s mind-boggling. It’s terrifying,” said one correctional officer who was a close friend of Grubbs.

“Grubbs’s office, employees said, was located in the “Baker 3” unit, a previously empty area where the facility had begun to house inmates who were sick or exposed to the coronavirus. One friend said Grubbs had talked about not being provided with equipment to stay safe and that she was trying to get out of the unit.

“Grubbs was most recently a case manager and employees remembered her as a hard worker who just last month had scored a promotion to a job helping released inmates transition back into society. The position would have landed her an office in a different building. As the illness spread, she told friends she repeatedly asked to assume her new position and move to her new office but was never able to start her new job.

“Taneka Miller, Grubbs’s colleague and executive secretary of the union representing USP Atlanta employees, said she spoke to Grubbs last week. “She was like, ‘Girl. Oh my God, they won’t let me go for whatever reason. I’m so ready to go. I’m so ready to go,” Miller said.

“Jacquetta Rosemond, union treasurer and paint worker supervisor at USP Atlanta, was surprised that Grubbs hadn’t moved to a different floor. As a case manager for the Baker unit, Grubbs would have been assigned to work with inmates on the first two floors of the building, but not with the sick and isolated inmates in Baker 3, Rosemond said.

“‘She didn’t even get to go to her new job,” Rosemond said. “There was really no reason for her to stay on that unit Those particular inmates in that unit were not on her caseload.”

“‘Everything was on backorder”

“A former colleague said that when the illness first hit the federal prison system, Grubbs tried to purchase her own mask. “All she kept telling me was that she didn’t want to catch the COVID-19. So she personally bought some masks, but, you know, everything was on backorder,” the colleague said.

“Miller said even surgical masks weren’t readily available until last week when the prison began providing them weekly to each staff member. Three employees who ran into Grubbs in other units in the facility the week before she died said they saw her wearing either no mask or a surgical mask, and none said they had seen her with an N-95 mask.

“Employees said that each USP Atlanta staff member would have had access to at least one N-95 mask starting around the end of March, but they needed to be fit-tested first. But Rosemond and Miller said that some officers weren’t tested until April, while others were unwilling to reuse their single N-95 mask day after day..

“When asked about the availability of masks, claims of inconsistent communication and when Grubbs was scheduled to assume her new role, a Bureau of Prisons spokesperson on Sunday sent the following statement: “We can acknowledge the death of an employee at USP Atlanta, however, there is no information or evidence relating to a cause of death.” The agency declined to comment on the specific concerns raised by staff.

“Rosemond and Miller told CBS News in March that Atlanta employees many of whom are charged with patting down hundreds of inmates per day could not reliably access gloves. Some staff members would purchase and wear their own gloves, Miller said, but many didn’t own their own gloves and would use bare hands to pat-search inmates.

“Rosemond and Miller said management distributed more PPE this month, but access remains inconsistent and many staff wished it had come sooner.
“Word of mouth”

“For weeks, Atlanta employees have told CBS News they wished management would notify them more frequently about the number of staff and inmate cases at the facility.

“‘The communication is horrible. It’s late, it’s last minute, and it’s not full information,” Miller said. “It’s like they’re sitting on the information.”

“Miller said 13 days after she was allegedly exposed to the virus on the job, a member of the medical staff contacted her and informed her that she’d been exposed. Because the incubation period was only 14 days and she hadn’t experienced any symptoms, the staff member told her that she should come back to work for her next shift.

“‘I was highly pissed off,” Miller said. “I come home to a 2-year-old every day who does not have the best immune system.”

“After the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Medical Examiner’s Office informed BOP that Grubbs had posthumously tested positive for COVID-19, Woods sent a memo Friday to notify staff.

“A BOP spokesperson said that Grubbs’s official cause of death has not yet been determined, as her autopsy is not yet complete.

“Prior to last week, three staff members told CBS News they were only officially informed of one inmate and two staff cases of COVID-19 at the Atlanta prison. On Thursday, Woods said in an email to staff that the facility had “six staff and 12 inmate positive cases for COVID-19.” On Friday, the BOP publicly reported three staff and eight inmate positive cases.

“Atlanta employees said they were confused by the discrepancy. Other than those two emails, Rosemond said, “everything else was word of mouth.”

“‘I don’t feel safe,” another correctional officer said. “We’re not being informed of how the numbers have changed.”

“When asked about the discrepancy, a BOP spokesperson said, “The positive test numbers are based on the most recently available confirmed lab results involving open cases from across the agency as reported by the BOP’s Office of Occupational Health and Safety. BOP field sites may report additional updates throughout the day. Data on the dashboard is subject to change based on additional reporting by field sites.”

“As of Sunday, the Bureau of Prison said 495 federal inmates and 309 staffers have tested positive for COVID-19 nationwide. A total of 155 inmates and 29 staff have recovered from the disease, while 21 inmates have died. Since Attorney General William Barr encouraged the use of home detention on March 21, a total of 1,280 inmates have been sent to home confinement.

“Rosemond said that as a case manager, Grubbs was at level 11 in the federal service pay scale, which would have put her annual salary somewhere between $67,437 and $87,667.

“Earlier this month, the union that represents prison staff, as well as 700,000 other federal employees, filed a class-action lawsuit against the BOP and other agencies for Hazard Pay, which would increase their hourly wage by up to 25%. The BOP declined to comment on the lawsuit.

“The lawsuit alleges a pattern of employee exposure to COVID-19 due to lax safety standards. The complaint highlights the case of one BOP employee at FCI Oakdale who was given only gloves to wear as personal protective equipment while escorting an inmate to a nearby hospital. The employee later learned the inmate was sick with COVID-19.

“Grubb’s final days
“Grubbs’s colleagues described her as someone who savored life. She was a passionate Atlanta Falcons fan and loved trying new restaurants, a work friend said, especially if seafood was involved. She traveled often and was constantly looking forward to her next trip, according to the friend, who said they’d recently fantasized about taking a trip to Belize this fall after the pandemic calmed down.

“Grubbs was an Army veteran and leaves behind her brother, parents, two grandmothers, and her beloved Yorkie named Louie.

“On April 10, she posted a video of her parents after they had dropped off a “Corona Care Package” filled with cough medicine, ginger ale and hand sanitizer. She wrote, “Airhugs because Corona is everywhere at this point… How did I get so lucky?'”

LEVIATHAN – Giving Name to the Prison Industrial Complex

By Abdul-Jalil Rashid Al-Imarah (S. Baptiste)

Paid content is as submitted, other than minor editorial changes. Straight from the Pen does not express any opinion on the subject matter or content or the validity of any statement or claim made.

“The American Prison System has grown into a leviathan unmatched in human history. The financial costs entailed are staggering, and extent of human suffering endured boggles the mind.” [1]

We live in a complicated world. We are bombarded with questions as well as skepticism regarding our various stances on multiple issues. The world today as we know it is tremendously different than yesterday. It is the age of global activism and advocacy. Where international crisis constantly buzz across our news feed. Atrocities, mayhem, and scandals. A time of global unrest sparked by economic inequality, lack of social justice, climate change, imperial military interventions under the guise of humanitarian intent, terrorism, and civil wars. The new issues we are forced to address by way of them becoming prominent in the media such as #MeToo movement, LGBQT, immigration, genocide, Islamophobia and everything else in the motley menagerie of issues that the talking heads of punditry and demagoguery tells us are important, have multiplied.

Well I’m going to tackle two issues that are significant yet overlooked: Mass incarceration and immigration, sometimes focusing on one more than the other. Mass incarceration has a great and radical impact upon the immigration experience. In a way it even defines and shapes the narrative of such. Especially in a time when the head of the US executive branch is publicly branding the majority of immigrants from Latin American countries as ‘rapists, crooks, thieves, gang members, and murderers,’ and increasing the number of deportations, restrictions on visa criteria, and banning many Africans, Arabs, and South East Asians from Muslim majority nations from entering the US, it becomes of greater importance.

From those detained at the border, sweeps conducted by ICE, all the way to those facing deportation following their arrest, its impact is felt in many ways. The shambles and disarray which we call the ‘American Justice System’ continues to baffle people around the world.[2] Mass incarceration is a monster. A beast. It is more than a system or network of interconnecting policies and agencies. To avoid being overbroad and too general as well as not being too specific enough, we will personify ‘Mass Incarceration’ as simply one entity that we shall term ‘Leviathan’.

 How pervasive is all of this and how far do its tentacles reach? We shall start off by way of introduction to this matter by quoting one reform advocate, “The US has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s prison populations. Congress creates 50 crimes every year. That’s 500 things that were legal a decade ago that are now felonies. It’s no wonder the prisons are full.” [3]

People hailing from countries with progressive policies governing their criminal justice system such as Sweden, Norway, the U.K, Germany and others are appalled by the length and conditions of sentences that prisoners in America are subjected to. [4] Even countries from the so-called third world scratch their heads at things which the US government criminalizes. As one reform advocate noted ‘… The rest of the world looks at us and shakes its collective head, especially our European allies.” [5] 

Many people have begun to grow vocal about prison reform and the plight of prisoners. This is from judges, lawyers, social scientists, legislators, law students, civil liberty groups, all the way up to the president. So, what equips me or makes me fit to discuss this complex and great issue? Firsthand experience. As a first-generation child of immigrants from Haiti, an Islamist activist, political prisoner, a victim and one of the living casualty of Leviathan. Though I am relying on basically the same data used and available to others who speak on this matter, I am bringing to the equation and table a fact which sets me apart; the passion and zeal that only a prisoner can bring.

Crime is basically a violation of enacted laws. Yet manmade laws are fluid and so they constantly change. [6] Laws are what make criminals; the criminalization of acts or activities thus becomes the origin of all criminals. This may seem like circular logic but bear with me and keep reading to see the basis for this claim and others. An example of this is how the FDA treats some controlled substances. Some medicines used in other countries are banned and considered harmful and illegal as controlled substances.[7] Criminal cases stemming from this are not uncommon. Things like counter the narrative of the ‘American Dream’. 

People come to this country for opportunities, yet they have no idea that the monster Leviathan exists until confronted. Individuals are deported for mere traffic violations. Since police are the enforcers of law and have arrest powers, whenever they act within their wide latitude of their discretion into what we know as racial profiling, this has a negative impact on those minority immigrant populations. When a wave of unrest is fomented by arcane laws and incomprehensible legal technicalities you will have law abiding aliens panic about the possibility of their status being revoked or being caught up in a sweep. Many immigrants know of a person who has been deported or ordered removed. Or they have heard of a family or individual within their own ethnic group who have been affected by such.[8]

ICE agents are conducting sweeps and raids like Nazi Germany or Soviet Gestapo’s herding off people to concentration camps. And we shouldn’t be naive and think that that there are not similarities between then and now regardless of the obvious difference in the age we live in from those previous time periods. We’ve learned nothing at all from the war detention of Japanese Americans. During World War II Asians in general and specifically Japanese who were living their lives as law abiding citizens were rounded up and taken to internment camps. Executive order no. 9066 gave the authority that was affirmed by the United States Supreme Court that ‘Japs’ couldn’t be trusted and had to be ‘dealt with’ [9- German/media]

That is an irremovable stain from US history. Since that particular episode, the US government has classified and further detained more American citizens as ‘enemy combatants’ in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba via its executive branch. In illegal maneuvering, it has conducted extra judicial killings of American citizens overseas by way of armed militarized drones in the way and manner dealt to American citizen and popular Muslim cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki in Yemen and countless other Americans in Syria. The psyche of the nation or at least the mentality of its leaders and policy makers has not shifted nor pivoted away from such.

For following the attack on Pearl Harbor, many Japanese Americans were locked up without due process. In the same, more than half a century later Arab Americans, Middle Easterners, Muslims, and Southeast Asians were rounded up after September 11th (9/11). [10] A country that prides itself on being open and free has twice initiated Nazi Gestapo tactics as if it were dispatching SS squads to round up those whom it finds disagreeable in an ideological and racist manner.

“…there are millions of lives being destroyed or distorted because we haven’t fully thought through our process”- Obama [11]

“We already know that the massive waste of life in our prisons is morally troubling’- Kwame Anthony Appiah [12]

The incarcerated (or victims of Leviathan as I prefer) are left broken, chained, and tethered to their fate, which is captivity and detention. Yet in such circumstances there are those who are resilient and use whatever means at their disposal to undermine the titan by which they have been ensnared. From advocacy and raising awareness of discriminatory and repressive policies and laws, highlighting, and spreading word about the reality of incarceration as well as the conditions of prison. These are examples of ways in which the incarcerated resist the system that holds them in captivity. And by way of the same is the intent of this essay. Taking advantage of the impotent reprieve known as the grievance procedure or otherwise ‘Administrative remedies’, along with others, the most constant form of resistance is never giving up or accepting their condition with a sense of resignation or fatalism.

The incarcerated have joined the national dialogue termed ‘prison reformation’ as the most committed advocates. Yet the fact that they have become participants does not mean that they will be effective nor are they guaranteed an audience, as censorship is rife behind the steel heavy bars and concrete wall. Christopher Zoukis and Imam Jamal AL Amin are among whose voices have been heard above the dull crescendo, and they have become prominent yet still remain as constant victims of censorship.

A liberated world would first and foremost mean the complete and final eradication of Leviathan, at least ideally. It would not be some fantastic utopia nor anarchy and chaos. Rather a balance between the two is sought. Human beings will continue to behave recklessly, and some will always seek to trample the rights of others through some sort of transgression. So, there must always exist means to combat these tendencies and behaviors. Whenever crime exists in society there must always be sufficient and just deterrence and punishment. [13]

Alternatives to prisons should seriously be considered for most non-violent offenses and even violent offenses if committed by those suffering from mental illnesses and juveniles who are not yet adults. Within the 94 federal judicial districts there are only 22 alternatives to incarceration programs. [14] Funding should be diverted from other ineffective government programs to fund and create more of these programs. An increase of funding and reform of in-place re-entry program is needed. Pell grants should be restored to prisoners so they can overcome the ignorance of their criminality and open more avenues that will not include a path to crime by being qualified for better jobs and/or careers. Incentives to prosecutors that reward conviction rates and the length of sentences they seek as well as the incentives to judges who are rewarded for the lengthy sentences imposed in the climate of ‘tough on crime’ politics should be eliminated.

I could see a world where applicants for a job would be free to discuss their criminal history during the job interview without fear of automatic disqualification. A world where people will not be in jail for the sole reason of poverty. [15] A world where correctional departments do not shackle pregnant women. A world where after paying their debt to society a prisoner can easily tread up and down the pathway to success. But we are a long way from there. Unfortunately, there are many obstacles. Lack of training, along with the wrong incentives, make probation departments a tool for recidivism and not for re-integration into society. Ex-prisoners are confronted with the reality of their second-class citizen status each and every time that they fill out a job application that immediately places them into one of two categories, those with a prison history and those without,  [16] before they are even considered for the job. A study published by the Prison Policy Initiative has noted that the ex-prisoner rate of unemployment is “higher than the total US unemployment rate during any historical period, including the Great Depression”. [17] The study agrees with the findings that I’ve previously mentioned that ‘formerly incarcerated people want to work, but face structural barriers to securing employment.” “This perpetual labor market punishment creates a counter-productive system of release and poverty, hurting everyone involved: employers, the taxpayers, and certainly formerly incarcerated people looking to break the cycle.” [18]

A proper ‘Justice’ system would truly have a semblance of justice and enable a smooth transition for prisoners into society. This does not mean that Leviathan remains an unchallenged dragon that no valiant knights have confronted. Nay, there many pioneers from private citizens to organizations who attempt to tackle or ease the harmful effects of mass incarceration, but unless this beast is slayed or methodically euthanized it will only continue to spell trouble for millions of people who are victims. 

There exists a parasitic trickle-down pyramid scheme erected for a minority composed of  indifferent legislators, police unions, bail bondsmen, bounty hunters, lawyers (prosecutors and some defense attorneys), judges, probation officers, correctional guards and their unions – who benefit at the expense of the lives of prisoners, their families, and society at large. I don’t doubt that some may be skeptics and doubt just how bad the current makeup of the justice system is, so I will break down some statistics.

Citing one expert familiar with the data: ‘America’s sentences of imprisonment on average are five to ten times longer than those of France, and much longer than those of Germany…. [I]imprisonment has become the moral mode of dealing with crime in America”. [19] The following statistics were selected from public records of California:

*Nearly 70% of female inmates are non-violent offenders

*2/3 are convicted for property or drug related offenses.

*Over 1/2 of males convicted for violent offenses while only 30% of women convicted for the same.

*4/10 [female] inmates were physically or sexually abused before 18

* Approximately 67% of incarcerated women [there] are mothers, most are single parents and primary caregivers.

* [CA] has about 10,000 female inmates – more than other state

* Incarceration rate for female offenders has doubled over last 20 years.

I’ve chosen to highlight data coming out of California for the following reason: 1) It is one of the top 3 states with the largest prison population and highest incarceration rate [20];  2) People often assume that only conservative states or those run by Republicans are the main perpetrators of mass incarceration, 3) Data regarding female offenders was more easily available.

Now take a hard look at the above. Contemplate and ponder how this is perpetuated on a larger level when it comes to the whole prison population including state and federal. How many women (and parents in general) are taken from their children? How many children are themselves led to criminal behavior due to the trauma exacted upon them from having their parent taken away? How many of these children of prisoners are forced into foster homes, while being placed in one increases the likelihood that a person will turn to crime later in life? Americans need to rethink their institutions. The public have been told that there is an ‘Opioid Crisis’ in America.  The so-called ‘War on drugs’ continues despite findings from researchers and independent reporters and mainstream media such as NPR that the people most affected by it are drug users, children, and other relatives. Yet we still see mass incarceration being perpetuated and continue. 

Is Leviathan a beast that is never satisfied and its jaws like an abyss from which there is no way out? Has it become so powerful that there is a real fear of speaking against it? In the textbooks of schools and even university courses focusing on criminal justice, there is no serious thought given to combating mass incarceration. The data is out, yet we talk only about the effects and not the causes. Foolish would be a field of medicine where the doctors discuss only the symptoms of disease, and not its treatment or cure. Suffice to mention its effect on immigrants and minority population is to know that over 60% of prisoners are black or Hispanic (due to census categories this include foreigners from other countries with no slot listed to check). The DOJ has publicly stated that BOP is 38% over-crowded. So there exists not only mass incarceration but over-incarceration as well.

Things are simply messed up and to fix it we must first realize this. As Helen Keller said: “I had once believed that we were all masters of our fate- that we could mold our lives into any form we pleased… and I supposed that everyone could come out victorious if he threw himself valiantly into life’s struggle. But as I went more about the country, I learned that I had spoken with assurance on a subject I knew little about. I learned that the power to rise in the world is not within the reach of everyone.”[21]

Footnotes: 1.Glenn C. Loury & Bruce Western ‘The Challenge of Mass Incarceration in America’ in Daedalus: Journal of the academy of Arts and Science (Summer 2010) 2.-‘ The rest of the world looks at us and shakes its collective head especially our European allies.” John Kirakou 3.- John Kiriakou 4. For the same crimes American are incarcerated 2x long as English prisoners, 3x as long as Canadians, 4x as Dutch, 10x as French and 5x as Swedish prisoners. 5. Quote by John Kiriakou. ‘China is an authoritarian nation with 3x the population of the US yet the U.S still incarcerate more than it. The national incarceration rate of the US is 737 per 100,000 is more than Russia’s 581 per 100,000[and] much higher than those of peer nations with democratic, market-based economies such countries incarcerate between 36 and 196 per 100,000.”- Nicola Lacey ‘American Imprisonment in Comparative Perspective’ in Daedalus Sumer 2010 6. In the era of Prohibition alcohol was banned in the US and declared illegal yet before that period of ‘Prohibition’ and afterwards it was considered licit. This is similar to what is going on with the new pressing issue today to determine if Marijuana (Cannabis) should be a licit drug or not. This is the utter confusion and inconsistency which these laws and system leave the civilian while also baffling its enactors. 7. There was an incident with a man from the Republic of Georgia who came to the US (specifically Miami, FL) for vacation. As he was in Customs, his luggage was being inspected, he was then arrested for possession and ‘trafficking’ of controlled substances. His thyroid medication wasn’t FDA approved and with the quantity he had with him he was charged and arrested for trafficking. 8. ” If the banishment of an alien from a country in which he has been invited, as the asylum most auspicious to his happiness- a country where he may have formed the most tender connexons, where he may have vested his entire property, and acquired property of the real and permanent, as well as the movable and temporary kind; where he enjoys  under the laws a greater share of the blessings of personal security and personal liberty than he can elsewhere hope for [;]… if a banishment of this sort be not a punishment, and among the severest of punishments, it will be difficult to imagine a term to which that name can be applied.’ -James Madison inveighing against Aliens and Sedition Acts.  In ‘Letters and other writings of James Madison’ (Cornell University 2009). The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1778 curtailed many rights that people enjoyed. Woodrow Wilson and Congress something similar in 1918 called the Sedition Act and it has been described as the most serious attack on American civil liberties since 1178 Act which was short lived.  9. Whenever America is at war it demonizes its enemies along with those who look or resemble them in appearance thought, religion, or philosophy. This was done with Native Americans, Japanese Americans, German Americans, Communist, and Muslims. From both World wars, the Cold War until Post 9/11 which we are now in. This is done through their policies implemented at airports, immigration, policing, and the media. Woodrow Wilson and the DOJ allowed what was called the Creel Committee on Public information to publish ads or wanted posters for ‘German spies’. Its perpetuated mass suspicion and employed citizens to report on the activities of their neighbors. Public distrust was at an all-time high. In 1920 President Wilson vetoed a bill that would have abolished the Espionage Act of June 1917 and the 1918 Seditions Act. 10. Policy guides and direct everything that contributes to mass incarceration. As we can see today under the Trump administration where his anti-where policies have caused the arrest of legal and undocumented immigrants to skyrocket. After Bush enacted the PATRIOT ACT the same happened; there was an increase of Muslims and Middle Easterners who were arrested and/or had immigration removal proceeding initiated against them. 11. Michael Scherer Dec 19, 2012 Times 2012 person of the year. 12. The Washington Post, ‘What will future generations condemn us for?’ Sep. 26, 2010 13. Before the American Revolution, colonial courts fashioned sentences with three basic purposes in mind: to punish the offender for his crime, thereby satisfying society’s desire for retribution to deter others from committing the same crime by demonstrating its disadvantageous consequences; and to incapacitate the wrongdoer, so as to protect society from further criminal activity. -United States v. Scroggins 880 F.2d L204, 1206 (11th Cir. 1989). In the 1800’s, penological experts became “dissatisfied with the failure of prisons to rehabilitate inmates,” and rehabilitation became a fourth basis of sentencing. yet America’s system has failed at that objective in a very drastic way. See also Arthur W. Campbell, ‘The Law of Sentencing (2009) 14. Many counties, and states have begun to see the benefit of alternative to prison programs, sadly though the ‘benefits’ they consider is only in regard to taxpayers’ money. Earlier in 2018 the Brennan Center released a criminal justice agenda which offers option for reforming local prosecutors’ incentives. Jan. 2017 Ohio launched T-CAP (Targeted Community Alternative to Prison), under it the state/county pays penalty for every person sent to prison for certain low class felonies and it forces them to reprioritize whom they lock up. Illinois implemented ARI (Adult Redeploy Illinois) in 2009 which works though grants to counties so that they can develop alternatives to incarceration, problem solving courts, enhanced probation, and other alternatives. Such a program on a larger scale can only hope to succeed and a reformed criminal justice system would prioritize programs like this over incarceration. 15. “Liberty is precious to Americans and any deprivation must be scrutinized. To protect public safety and ensure that those accused of a crime will appear at trial, persons charged with breaking the law may be detained before their guilt or innocence can be adjudicated, but that detention must not extend beyond its justifications. Many who are arrested cannot afford a bail bond and remain in jail awaiting a hearing. Though presumed innocent, they lose their jobs and families, and are more likely to re-offend. And if all of this weren’t bad enough, taxpayers must shoulder the cost-a staggering, $1 billion per year.” – The Honorable Nathan L. Hecht, Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court, remarks delivered to the 85th Texas legislature, Feb. 1, 2017. There is a joint lawsuit against Harris County by former inmates alleging that it deprived them, and others similarly situated, of due process and detaining them because of their inability to pay a secured money bond. A 22-year-old single parent was arrested for driving without a valid license.  She had a $2,500 bond which she was not able to pay. She struggled to meet the basic necessities of life and was a recipient the federal welfare program WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) to feed her daughter and lived with a friend because she couldn’t afford housing. She was working a stable job that she held for 7 days at the time. She was released after 3 days due to assistance by a generous individual who heard of her situation. Another 22-year-old pregnant and single woman in worst circumstances who had a child with Down’s syndrome spent 4 days due to her inability to pay a bond. This is the reason that many advocates are demanding a removal of cash bond which the state of California has become one of the first to do so. The aforementioned case is Maranda Lynn O’Donnell V. Harris County (Texas) April 28, 2017. Hostages of Leviathan who are held for ransom, basically. 16. One with a criminal history and one without. Human Rights Defense Center has said that incarceration status should be on list of protected classes when it comes to discrimination such as Race, ethnicity, religion, gender, age, and disability. 17. PPI Study released July 2018 title ‘Out of prison & out of work’, which finds that ‘27% of an estimated 5 million ex-offenders are unemployed or around 1,350,000 compared to national unemployment rate of 4%. 18.Ibid 19. Joshua Kleinfeild, The Concept of Evil in German and American Criminal Punishment http//ssrn.com/author+151440 19. (Working paper Sep.9,2010) 20. They included Florida, Texas, and California. Largest incarceration rate and prison population. 21. Helen Keller [Midstream: My Later Life (New York; Greenwood, 1968 (1929) p.156]

Author Bio: My name is Abdul-Jalil Rashid Al-Imarah (S. Baptiste) and I am a political prisoner unjustly being held in an American prison due to political and religious views. I am an Islamist, Poet, and writer. I also enjoy engaging discussions about social justice, Shari’ah, and political science. I’m an avid reader and can be reached at: Samuel Baptiste #09681-104, FDC Miami, PO BOX 019120,  Miami, FL 33101

Happy Easter in 2020

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

(This blog post has a religious tone, so if that is something anyone finds offensive, then perhaps its best to find another blog to read. Check the different categories to find something of interest. Thanks! )

Easter of 2020 will be remembered for all the wrong reasons, with thousands of people prohibited from assembling in crowds larger than ten people: some will rebel and meet anyways in the name of the Lord.

In 2019 I wrote the blog I will conclude with: a Special Break from the Status Quo. Thousands have died from Coronavirus-related illnesses and the numbers will continue to rise for an unspecified time.

Many countries and states have ordered citizens to stay at home, to practice social distancing, wear face masks, and to take other safety precautions to stop the spread of the Coronavirus.

Hundreds of thousands of families and church members will not assemble on April 12, 2020, to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ or get to go spend time with friends, family, and loved ones.

Thousands of people across the globe are mourning the deaths of loved ones. The Coronavirus has infected almost 500,000 in the United States and killed over 18,500 people.

Some churches will use social media and the Internet to get the word out that Christ has risen from the dead. Other church members will not allow fear to stop them from filling the churches to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The United States Department of Justice warned law enforcement about trying to stop religious gatherings.

Religious gatherings are exempt from the Stay at Home orders.

The United States Constitution guarantees the separation of church and state.

Pope Francis urged people not to yield to fear over coronavirus.

Fear will trump the faith of millions of believers on Easter of 2020.

Each person must do what he or she feels needs to be done to protect life and liberty, including the life and liberty of others entrusted to their care.

Coronavirus Kills! Faith Heals!

And now for a personal message:

A Special Break from the Status Quo

Happy Easter to those who believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Each of us, believers and unbelievers of the miracle of the resurrection, may use this special day in the Christian faith to pray to a power greater than ourselves and to ask for the spirit of forgiveness; to forgive someone who may have offended or harmed us.

Resentment, a poison to the soul; freedom from resentment opens the door for a better life.

Whether you believe in a power greater than yourself or not, let the day be special by being grateful for the life you have, perfect or not. Know that you are loved for being who you are, regardless of whether you believe or do not believe in a power greater than yourself.

The love is free that flows from a special place in our hearts where the spirit lives. My hope is that each you get to experience the pleasure of love today and every day. Wayne

Coronavirus Updates and WTD4U for Prisoners

COVID-19

WonderfulThingsDone, doing business as WTD4U, provides limited services to predominantly federal prisoners, those held within the walls, bars, and fences of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons. One service includes sending periodic blog posts to keep the incarcerated informed about events and activities or topics of concern to the inmate population, such as prison or criminal justice reform.

On April 2, 2020, I sent the following information to many prisoners through Corrlinks.com, a service federal prisoners pay to use for sending and receiving emails:

Coronavirus numbers on the inside and outside continue to grow.

“I hope that each of you is staying safe and sane in the ever-changing situation going on with the Coronavirus pandemic.  It’s tough being locked down and feeling helpless over so many aspects of life on the inside and life outside of the prison walls.  But we, as humans, will survive and get past this, one day at a time.

“Staff and inmates alike have a significant issue to deal with as the virus continues to spread inside the walls of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons, as well as for those of us in the free society. And even though it may be tough to deal with the conditions of a lockdown, especially if having to eat sack lunches and having limited access to showers, cleaning supplies, telephones, Trulincs/Corrlinks, and recreational activities, I feel most will agree that the lockdown is necessary to minimize the damage caused by this virus ravaging the population of the world at large.

“Here are the numbers listed today (April 2, 2020) for the B.O.P.  The numbers increased from 57-inmates yesterday to 75 today, and from 37-staff yesterday to 39 today.  https://www.bop.gov/coronavirus/index.jsp

COVID-19 Tested Positive Cases

Inmates:  75

Staff:  39

“(Inmate) 4/02/2020 – USP Atlanta (5); FMC Butner (10); USP Canaan; FCI Danbury (15); FCI Elkton (2); FCC Forrest City (2); FCC Lompoc (12); MCC New York (4); FCC Oakdale (12); FCI Otisville; FCC Yazoo City (4); RRC Brooklyn, NY (4); RRC Janesville, WI; RRC Phoenix, AZ; FLM Guam

“(Staff) 4/02/2020 – Atlanta, GA (3); Brooklyn, NY (4); Butner, NC; Chicago, IL (3); Danbury, CT (4); Leavenworth, KS (no inmate contact); Lompoc, CA; Milan, MI; New York, NY (5); Oakdale, LA (4); Otisville, NY; Ray Brook, NY (2); Talladega, AL (2); Tucson, AZ; Yazoo, MS (3); Central Office, Washington, DC; Grand Prairie, TX; Southeast Regional Office, Atlanta, GA

“Here are some numbers that show the magnitude of the worldwide effect.  The April 2, 2020, updated report issued at 2:35 pm EST, on the spread of the Coronavirus is as follows:

“Total Confirmed Cases:  981,221

“Active cases:  726,386

“Fatal cases:  50,230

Sample of Select Countries Affected:  United States:  235,787; Italy:  115,242; Spain:  110,238; Germany:  84,264; China (mainland):  81,589; France:  56,989; Iran:  50,468; United Kingdom:  33,718; Switzerland:  18,267; Turkey:  18,135; Belgium:  15,348; Netherlands:  14,697; Canada:  11,060; Austria:  10,967; South Korea:  9,976; Portugal:  9,034; Brazil:  7,011; Israel:  6,211; Sweden:  5,568; Australia:  5,136.

“(Numbers from COVID-19 Tracker ( https://www.bing.com/covid ))

“Every day I watch the data grow on reported cases of the Coronavirus, especially in the State of Georgia and local counties therein.  The good thing is that most people who contract the coronavirus will survive and live to fight another day, but that doesn’t negate the seriousness of this social problem affecting almost everyone in some way.  Each one of us can only control our impact and contribution towards the resolution of the pandemic by doing what we can to minimize the spread of the virus, where possible.

“In the prison setting where needed supplies are limited or prohibited, and disinformation runs rampant about what’s being done to stop the spread of the Coronavirus, each person can only do what is within their control:

1) Limit close contact with others where possible (impossible when locked in a cell with another person who may not have sanitary habits).

2) If you cough, cough inside your elbow rather than your hand, since coughing in your hand and touching objects spreads germs.

3) Take precautions by wash hands frequently, and especially before touching the eyes, nose, or mouth, after having touched a surface or other person.

4) And what works for me, take additional vitamin C to help the immune system stay strong, and for throat irritation from a cold or allergy or other illness, use a Lemon Squeeze to add one teaspoon of lemon juice into one cup of water as warm as you can stand it to gargle with, two-three times per day.

5) do regular deep-breathing exercises to increase the oxygen level inside the body (viruses and diseases thrive in low oxygenated environments, including our bodies).

“(If interested in breathing exercises that help reduce stress and improves our health, according to Dr. Andrew Weil, MD, send email to info@wtd4u.com to request more info.)

“I hope some of the above information provides something you can use to stay safe and to help live with better health.  Let me know if you wish to be excluded from this type of email.”

COVID-19 CONTINUES ITS RAMPAGE ACROSS AMERICA

Within a matter of hours after posting the numbers from the COVID-19 TRACKER, by 2:25 am, Eastern Standard Time, the number of those infected topped one million, 245,175 cases in the United States.

Globally, a total of 53,069 known people have died from COVID-19 since health official began tracking the current rampage.

When the United States Bureau of Prisons updates their website at 3:00 pm today (April 3, 2020), I expect those numbers to have also grown.

Statistics cannot show all who have been infected with or died from the Coronavirus, because there is not a way for anyone to know about the devastating effects of a virus that may lay inside a person’s body, undiscovered, infecting those who come near enough to inhale droplets from a cough or sneeze, or who touch an item or surface where the germs cannot be seen with the naked eye.

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to learn more about what may be done to protect yourself from contracting this deadly virus, follow the recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which you may find at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html

Coronavirus Fear Inside Prisons

Photo by Felipe Vallin on Pexels.com

Coronavirus

Information concerning the coronavirus fills the media all throughout the day and night so I won’t waste words explaining what it is or what it does. To learn more about the coronavirus (COVID-19) and what you can do to prevent contracting it, please visit the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which contains volumes of information on COVID-19 and its status in America and abroad. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Prisons

Many Prison administrators across America have taken action to avoid the spread of the coronavirus inside the prisons, and for good reason: it kills and most prison systems do not have the best medical care available. The effect of the virus in such a closed environment would be devastating to staff and inmates (prisoners).

Though I did not at first find any message posted on the national website (www.bop.gov), I discovered what I knew by clicking on the links for various institutions spread across America: the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons suspended visitation privileges for its inmate population. (The link to the federal bureau of prisons contains the plan for dealing with COVID-19.) https://www.bop.gov/resources/news/20200313_covid-19.jsp

Other sources reported that the administration is taking other precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus inside the prison system, such as restricting the access of other individuals into the living units and theoretically, checking staff members for symptoms of the virus who come into the prisons.

Some prisons are on Lockdown Status, which means that prisoners are confined to their cells or immediate living areas. One institution is feeding its inmates cellblock-by-cellblock, and then supposedly sanitizing the food service area before allowing another cellblock to enter, in an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19. If a prisoner in one cellblock has the virus, then the virus cannot spread to another living area via the dining hall; however, that is only if the dining areas are actually being sanitized and no worker carries the virus.

Prisons often have policies and procedures on paper that are not adhered to in practice.

All prisons do not have cellblocks and use dormitory-types of living quarters to house its prisoners and that would make controlling an outbreak of COVID-19 more troublesome.

The above ends this blog post in relation to prison, per se. The following comes from my experience and strictly based on my unprofessional opinion.

I walked through the grocery aisles of a Walmart in McDonough, Georgia on March 14, 2020, and was surprised to see so many shelves emptied, even though I had viewed another person’s post on FaceBook that showed the same in another grocery department. Panic in America, I thought.

Not that the Coronavirus isn’t serious and the threat of contracting the virus should be ignored: It is real and kills people. Everyone should take precautions to avoid contracting it, if at all possible.

After corresponding with a friend about going out into society in light of the coronavirus-threat, I mentioned a home remedy I knew worked to help eradicate viruses from the throat. Then I decided to do a post on Facebook to share the information with others with the hope of it helping someone to avoid coming down with the coronavirus or other respiratory illnesses.

This roots from that Facebook post and also contains religious beliefs/views. If you find that offensive, please don’t read any further. Thanks for reading my writings.

(This is not intended to be taken as medical advice: I am not a doctor or health professional. I am an opinionated writer and blogger.)

Based upon all I’ve read on the coronavirus, it is my opinion and nothing more, that I don’t believe everyone should hide in a cave and hope the threat goes away.  Use common sense.

I do take the same precautionary measures as I do to avoid or minimize the effects of the flu, common cold, or any other health issue due to the spread of germs (wash my hands after contact with surfaces or possible contaminants before touching my nose, eyes or mouth with unclean hands; take extra vitamin C to keep my immune system strong).

Of most importance, at the first sign of a sore throat, since the coronavirus supposedly starts in our sinuses or mouths to migrate into the lungs through our throats, then I’d do what I KNOW kills any virus in the throat by creating an environment too hostile for the bugs to survive due to acidity:

Gargle with one teaspoonful of lemon juice in a cup of water as hot as you can stand it, two to three times per day to kill the virus before it multiplies and migrates into the lungs.

I learned about that home remedy from a Reader’s Digest book on Home Remedies that Work, and doing as suggested has proven effective EVERY TIME I used it at the onset of throat irritation.  The same is true for many others who used that remedy after I shared it with them.

For me on a personal level, I believe that if it is meant for me to contract an illness or to experience an accident or misfortune, then that is in the will of my higher power, whom I chose to call God, and that it will happen regardless of what I do or do not do. 

If something like that is not in His will, no need for me to worry. I KNOW and faithfully believe that God has my back and has for a whole lot of years.  If not, I’d have died decades ago: I survived many incidents without serious damage that science would claim to be impossible. 

For those who read or have read the Bible, doesn’t is say that with God all things are possible?  I also think it says something along the lines of a believer not being harmed if bitten by a poisonous snake.

I was the snake bitten by itself but I am here to tell about it. 

Anyways, it is wise to use precaution and to avoid high-risk situations.  Just don’t worry yourself sick.  This too shall pass!

Year One of New Life by Wayne T. Dowdy

Stanley and Wayne (Me on the right side, hands on guns)

One year ago today (March 8th), I walked out the doors of Dismas Charities in Atlanta, Georgia, as a man freed from the custody of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons. I wrote Electronic Chain about that experience. https://straightfromthepen.com/electronic-chain

Life hasn’t gone according to the World of Wayne since my release, other than that I have remained a free man and have continued my pursuit of a better life.

Life is good. My plan remains to make it Great!

In many respects my life is great. I have remained clean and sober and chose not to return to the life of crime as thousands of formerly-released men and women have done since August 28, 2018, when I walked out the doors of a Federal Correctional Institution, thirty-years and ten days after my arrest on federal and state charges.

Throughout the years, I wrote a lot about recidivism, of which may be viewed by searching “Recidivism” or by using the dropdown menu to select the Recidivism category on this site. The May 2018 study numbers are the latest released (83% of state prisoners returned within the nine-year study referenced to below):

“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.” Breaking News, June 18, 2018

I refuse to become one of those who return to the system so many vow to hate but continue to return to make it grow bigger and stronger!

On a Personal Level

Since my release, I found a job, even though it took me eleven months of actively seeking one to succeed in that endeavor. On that job with Goodwill of North Georgia, I made Employee of the Month in October 2019, and was then selected for the Employee Spotlight in the following month.

Then on March 2, 2020, I began a different position in Goodwill of North Georgia and increased my salary by over thirty percent. More will follow!

I have a nice vehicle that gets me where I need to go, which a loving person blessed me with after she bought herself a new SUV.

For other aspects of the reentry process, is finding a new place to live and maybe even getting in a meaningful relationship if a special lady comes along.

Before my release, I joked with my peers that I was going to get a fat butt girl with a pecan tan and a Mercedes Benz, but maybe I need to revise that, because that’s being too picky. 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.

What was I thinking? I am free and alive and well! Life is great!

In conclusion, what I didn’t know during the time of the photo posted above when I was about three-years-young, with me with my hands on those toy guns, is that I would make bad decisions in life that would lead me to putting my hands on real guns to commit crimes and to spend most of my life in prison.

I wrote a lot about my life in Essays & More Straight from the Pen to show the power of change, and that, just because I was a recidivist, does not mean I have to be one now. I chose freedom. Thank you!

$8.95 USD, available as a paperback and as an eBook from most book sellers.

Cellmates by Wayne T. Dowdy

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

One of my answers on Quora.com recently received a lot of attention, not a record breaker, but 17.6 thousand views is not insignificant. (What happens in prison if you don’t get along with your cellie and it is a dangerous situation? Can you request a new cellmate or a transfer to a different cell?)

There are many other answers to the above question and to following question that people may want to read at Quora.com.

In response to a comment written about my answer to the question, Are Jail-Prison Inmates Treated Differently Based on the Crime they Committed, I wrote:

Thanks for the comment, Annie. Nature drives curiosity, and I am sure that leads to many prison staff doing what is forbidden by policy, in the case of investigating criminal histories of inmates. For case managers, though, it’s necessary to know the criminal offenses of an inmate on their caseload. I am sure that the criminal histories of some prisoners are so terrible that most case managers feel the need to discuss what he or she saw in a case file (jacket).

For me, when I lived a different life, I sometimes suggested to prison staff (and my peers) who offended or challenged me, to “Read my jacket”; MR EGO at large, like, “Don’t you know who you’re messing with,” as if I were a notorious criminal, when in truth I was not, even though my “jacket” didn’t look so nice because of several violent crimes (armed robberies, mutiny in a penal institution, escape, assault on staff, etc.).

Federal prisoners were once allowed to keep their Presentence Investigation Report (PSR) that listed criminal histories and personal characteristics used by the court to determine a defendant’s sentencing range.

In about 2003, the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons made a rule that prohibited prisoners from having their PSR because of sensitive information contained therein, such as financial information and criminal histories and whether that person testified against someone else for a sentence reduction. The prohibition was due to some inmates being assaulted, murdered, and or extorted because of PSR information.

After I changed my life, during a scheduled review, a case manager placed her hand on my extensive file and said, “The person I see in here is not the person I see sitting before me.”

I smiled and said, “Yeah, I changed a little.” 🙂

Since my conversion, I have written about my life and many parts of my criminal history, a lot of which I am not proud of, but write about to show the power of change. People who know me now would never guess that I once lived the Thug life because I am a different man.

Before my release, I gave my case manager a copy of Essays & More Straight from the Penby Wayne T. Dowdy. He, too, had seen my file and knew from years of being my case manager, that the man who sat before him no longer behaved the way he did before. In response to reading my book, he said, “Part of it makes you laugh, and some of the stories make you want to cry. There’s a lot of wisdom in it. It was a great book to read.” And then he thanked me for letting him read it.

In my case, my previous behaviors and history kept me safer in prison than most. I was not an informant, did not testify or cooperate with authorities, and had shown to be someone who would stand up and fight. For most people entering the prison systems across America, that is not the case and their histories or personal characteristics may make them targets for abuse. In rare cases, staff members will manipulate prisoners to retaliate against another prisoner who offended him or her or is just someone they do not like. Though rare, it does happen.

What happens in prison if you don’t get along with your cellie and it is a dangerous situation? Can you request a new cellmate or a transfer to a different cell?

In the federal system, on most occasions, a person could request to be moved to another cell and usually was, but not always. Some staff would just say, “Work it out.”

In critical situations, a cellmate refuses to go back in the cell and seeks protective custody or does something stupid to be removed from the situation, may even stab or use a combination lock or weapon to assault the cellmate.

In 2002, at the United States Penitentiary in Pollock, Louisiana, an older white man who the whites had run off the yard at the U.S.P. Lompoc, because he was in prison for crimes against children, was given a choice to leave the yard at Pollock or suffer the consequences.

He went to the Segregated Housing Unit (SHU) seeking protection by the staff. No whites allowed him in the cell with them inside the SHU.

A friend who was in the cell next to a black man, who the guards were forcing the older white man into the cell with, told me he heard the black man tell the guards, “If you put him in here with me I am going to kill him.”

The guards opened the door and pushed the older white man into the cell.

The older white man was carried out of the cell on a gurney the next morning. He had been beaten and strangled to death.

The black man said to the guards, “I told y’all I was going to kill him if you put him in here with me.”

Typically, though, that’s not the way it works. Most men work out the issues or a counselor or lieutenant approve for one of the cellmates to move, rather than to force them into living with each other.

There are always exceptions to the rule. Sometimes cellmates just have to fight and go to the hole (SHU) to resolve the issue which doesn’t always end there: it may result in the death or severe injury of one or the other when he arrives at another prison. That’s life inside. 17.6k views 

What happens in prison if you don’t get along with your cellie and it is a dangerous situation? Can you request a new cellmate or a transfer to a different cell? Wayne T. Dowdy, Lived inside American Prisons for Decades Answered June 15, 2019

Passed

No Worries

A proudly posted photo of the drug screen results as seen on Facebook, along with the following caption:

Living Clean and Sober has its Benefits. Those tiny bottles once caused me lots of stress! They also lead to me going to the hole (segregated housing unit) on more than one occasion, over 25-years ago.

I am grateful for the life I am blessed with living today that does not include the use of mind-altering substances, unless a person wants to include caffeine into that category. I do drink coffee but that’s better than other substances I used to think I could not live without.

Today I am free because I gave up my former behaviors that kept me locked in cages away from the civilized society.

If I can do it so can anyone else who makes the decision to change their lives, one day at a time.

While I was at the United States Penitentiary in Pollock, Louisiana (2001-2004), a member of Twelve Step programs wrote me and said that he had also learned that he did not have to return to prison, one day at a time. True.

We, those of us who have been in prison, usually have a choice to make that will allow us, as returning citizens, to remain in the free society.

I choose freedom!

FeedBack on StraightfromthePen

On December 3, 2019, I read an article from The Marshall Project about racial disparities in the length of time served in prison by minorities compared to whites. I posted the following comment on Facebook and invited comments and offered to post a blog in response to any viable answers to create a positive change in Criminal Justice and Prison Reform. I received a comment posted on the Contact page for StraightfromthePen.com, which I will post after the following:

“In reading this article on the length of time spent in prison as being greater for African-Americans than white-defendants, with me being white and being caught in the same statistical-data sentencing-factors as ethnic minorities (criminal histories), I find the given reasons as being legitimate. The color of my skin didn’t get me a lesser sentence. Many people with different skin tones received and served a lot less time than I did, because of my criminal history and behavior characteristics. However, I am not saying that people of color do not get targeted and may be arrested and go to prison for crimes others may not: it happens.

“I have witnessed racial profiling so I know it happens, and it may be those types of events that lead to African-Americans spending more time in prison (being watched more and giving incident reports for minor issues whereas others may get a pass). For the most part, though, what happens after an arrest and going to prison depends on behavior. I learned to be responsible for mine, even when I felt I was targeted or suffered more severe consequences than other similarly-situated people did. The question is, what can be done to create a positive change in criminal justice and prison reform? Send me viable answers and I will consider posting a blog on StraightfromthePen (https://straightfromthepen.com).

“Thanks! THEMARSHALLPROJECT.ORG The Growing Racial Disparity in Prison Time A new study finds black people are staying longer in state prisons, even as they face fewer arrests and prison admissions overall.”

COMMENTS:

Holly, December 4, 2019

“In response to the question of what can be done differently in our criminal justice system. I saw a prison on a documentary that is in Norway I believe. They have an extremely low repeat offenders I believe it is due to the approach. They focus on having as much as a normal life without freedom to go off the grounds. They had individual apartments jobs and even a grocery store in there if the prisoner didn’t get up and go to work then they were locked in. The focus was changing the mind set of the prisoners teaching them self discipline and structure. Treating them with dignity the officers Shook their hands and was respectful. The documentary was on Netflix under world’s toughest prisons it was the last season last episode.”

Reply by Wayne T. Dowdy

“Thank you for your comment. You are correct. Norway treats its prisoners different and thus has the world’s lowest recidivism rate (people released from prison and returned after committing crimes or violation of parole terms, etc.). Germany also has a lower recidivism rate than the United States of America, as do many other countries. In “Experimental Prison Project” (July 16, 2019), I voiced my opinion on why America has such a high recidivism rate: money, people profiting from high incarceration rates, driven, in part, by the staggering number recidivists. Please read “Experimental Prison Project” and blogs referenced to therein, especially, “Prison Reform Progress” (April 5, 2019), where I write about a prison experiment in Connecticut that is modeled after a prison in Germany, and covered by Bill Whitaker on 60-Minutes. Thanks again for commenting.”

Feel free to voice your opinion on this issue and I will consider posting it if suitable for public viewing. wtd

Thankfulness and Gratitude from Inside

I Could Be Sleeping in the Woods

Thanksgiving Day in America always reminds me to be thankful for all I have in life today, which often involves remembering the not-so-good times in my life. That makes me grateful for today.

Today I am okay, even if life is not the way I imagined it would be for me by this time, when I sat in prison thinking of the day I would walk out the prison doors and into my new life, doing all I could to build a better one, as I started life over at the age of sixty-one.

One part of life I chose not to forget is the decades I spent behind bars and how much I disliked the prison experience. Because of that, I choose not to forget those who are held inside jails and prisons and other forms of detainment, all across America and abroad, whose situation helps me remember where I’ve been and will not return because I live a different lifestyle than I did before I went to prison in 1988.

WORKING MAN

When I am at work and feel disgruntled about the pay I receive versus what I feel I should receive for the hard work I do, I stop to remember the days I helped dozens of other Georgia prisoners dig lakes/ponds by using shovels, picks, and wheelbarrows, while a Dragline excavator* (heavy duty equipment) sat on a hill, unoccupied, and not used until the Health Department was coming to perform an inspection.

Health Department officials and auditors always give Prison administrators an advance warning of upcoming inspections.

During the last several years of my incarceration, I wanted to improve my education by going to college, but Congress had suspended the PELL grant for prisoners, and I could not afford to pay for a college correspondence course, while paying for having my books published, website built, and blogs posted.

The other day, I received a message from a Corrlinks client that helped me to remember what it was like on the Inside and how important it had been for me to continue my interpersonal-development by staying focused on doing positive things, such as continuing to learn; paying for a professional writing course that an education supervisor claimed was not educational (really), and thus refused to sign off on a grant approved by all other approving officials in the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Federal Prison Industries, Inc. (UNICOR).

I made sacrifices to pay for the writing course, with my inmate pay of $0.76-$1.45 per hour for doing various tasks; in later years, performing tasks a free citizen would earn six figures for doing. Anyways, ….

After reading his email, I wrote to request his permission to share it with the world. To me it is important for those on the “Outside” to know that many of those on the “Inside” seek programs to help increase their chance of success upon release from prison, so, here is one who does, Mr. Carter:

“On Friday, November 22, 2019, two days shy of the twenty-eighth-year anniversary of the day I was arrested and never saw freedom again, I got the second most exciting news of my life. I am beginning my journey through college for the first time. The Second Chance Pell Grant program being offered through UW-Milwaukee Area Technical College has accepted me as an eligible student to work toward a two-year associates degree in sciences or arts. For me, a man who has been locked up since he was 19 years old, this opportunity is next door to getting released. During my incarceration one thing is obvious to me; education is the foundation of change. People who know better, usually do better; usually. I have always wanted to better with myself since I was a little kid, but I never felt as though I had a real opportunity to do so. There were many opportunities when I was younger, I just never saw them through the storms in my life. Now that I have done everything possible to be a better person, better father, better son, better brother, better man, the storms in my life have subsided and I see life much clearer. I not only know who I am as a person, but what my passions are and what I want do with my life; higher learning is a key part to all that. This is an opportunity I will make the best of and enjoy doing. I just wanted to share this with all the important people in my life. Thank you all for being supportive, motivational, and inspirational. In one form or another you helped me get here. “

“Ivy Carter, @ Redgranite C.I.”

My best wishes for a bright future go out to Mr. Carter as he continues his pursuit of a better life and success upon release.

Throughout the years I learned that gratitude and happiness were an inside job. Today I keep that in mind and continue to be grateful for all things, even pain because the pain reminds me that I am alive. My faith helps me to believe that the pain will go away one day and that all will be well as I rejoice in the absence of pain as I drift into the next dimension.

Today I will relax and be thankful that I no longer have to dig in the dirt and mud while a shotgun boss stands guard waiting for someone with rabbit in their blood to take off into the woods and blast them.

Today, I do not have to sleep in the woods or try to outrun hound dogs in hot pursuit of me as I run for my life to escape the indignities of prison life, as I once did (I escaped from a Georgia prison in 1981, which I have written about **).

And so today, I am grateful that I don’t have to live like that anymore, and can enjoy life, even when the world isn’t working according to Wayne.

________________________________________________

* Dragline excavator

Description

“A dragline excavator is a piece of heavy equipment used in civil engineering and Surface mining. Draglines fall into two broad categories: those that are based on standard, lifting cranes, and the heavy units which have to be built on-site.”  Wikipedia

** Fence Rows and The Price of Change, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TG2WGFA https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/518476

“Fence Rows and The Price of Change” come from the writing collection, Essays & More Straight from the Pen, available in print and as an eBook. These essays captivate the readers attention to carry them through movie-worthy-events.

“Fence Rows” first appeared in the ICONOCLAST magazine, as did “Fences,” included as part of the essays in Essays & More Straight from the Pen.

Inside of “The Price of Change,” read about the event published by the ICONOCLAST, which concerns exciting scenes from a prison escape and other events behind the walls of prisons. Parts of this gripping essay may help the reader to see the devastation of addiction and yet give one hope of living to see a better day. The change came many years later at a heavy price.

Available ebook formats: epub mobi pdf rtf lrf pdb txt html

Purchase your copy today https://www.amazon.com/Essays-More-Straight-Wayne-Dowdy/dp/1502767503/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

The Phish Who Got Away

The veterans of today’s online wars don’t have to carry guns and ammo to protect us: they use keyboards and electronic equipment. I praise them, too.

The day after I posted “Happy Veterans Day” with a link to an article from Reader’s Digest about scammers/fraudsters, I received a Wells Fargo email instructing me to call a number if I hadn’t received my new debit card.

(Read the referenced articles inside the Reader’s Digest article to learn more about online scams: [Reader’s Digest published a great article that I read and shared on Facebook and Twitter because of all of the information contained about protecting online identity, by having links to other articles not included in the title, 13 Signs Amazon Seller Can’t Be Trusted. https://www.rd.com/advice/signs-amazon-seller-cant-be-trusted/?_cmp=readuprdus&_ebid=readuprdus10272019&_mid=309700&ehid=8fbcb9fd291744b840632983d832178c40787096 ])

I knew the card was just mailed that morning and suspected a scam. Being the investigative-type of person I am, I called the number to investigate: I was correct!

The speaker said they knew from the phone number what my bank account number was, so all they needed was the last four digits of my social security number.

I hung up, and immediately went online to my bank account that I use the two-step verification process on (my phone must be used in conjunction with the login information), and then turned off my card that was soon to expire (I was waiting for its replacement).

After knowing the card and account was safe, I called the bank number I knew was legit and reported the attempted phishing.

Well, this phish broke the line and got away to fight another day. I don’t reckon they liked my blogging about their scamming.

I stayed up late running various security scans and changing passwords to protect myself. Please read some of the articles in Reader’s Digest to enlighten yourself on how to identify the fraudsters who want to steal your money or identity. Don’t be lazy or so arrogant that you think you do not need to worry about some scandalous son of a bitch who wants to be you long enough to steal your funds and identity: it may happen to anyone.

The following excerpt came from one of the articles I sent out on Facebook and Twitter. It is 100% correct.

“MARVENT/SHUTTERSTOCK

“’If you receive a suspicious email from a friend’s email address, don’t reply, ‘Is it really you?’ because the fraudster will answer ‘Yes.’ If a suspicious email from your bank contains a phone number, don’t call it. Instead, look up the bank’s phone number in the Yellow Pages or Google it.’” —Mark Gazit, CEO of ThetaRay, a provider of big data analytics solutions.”

https://www.rd.com/advice/work-career/clear-signs-youre-about-to-be-hacked/

As I stated, I knew to call the bank phone number I knew wasn’t a scam.

Then I received my weekly updated email from Wordfence.com that told of a security issue with WordPress Email Subscribers & Newsletters.  Here are some excerpts. I posted the URL to the complete article for those who want to read the full report.

“Multiple Vulnerabilities Patched in Email Subscribers & Newsletters Plugin

This entry was posted in VulnerabilitiesWordPress Security on November 13, 2019 by Chloe Chamberland

“A few weeks ago, our Threat Intelligence team identified several vulnerabilities present in Email Subscribers & Newsletters, a WordPress plugin with approximately 100,000+ active installs. We disclosed this issue privately to the plugin’s development team who responded quickly, releasing interim patches just a few days after our initial disclosure. The plugin team also worked with us to implement additional security measures.

“Plugin versions of Email Subscribers & Newsletters up to 4.2.3 are vulnerable to attacks against all of the vulnerabilities described below, and versions up to 4.3.0 are vulnerable to the SQL injection vulnerability. All Email Subscribers & Newsletters users should update to version 4.3.1 immediately. Wordfence Premium customers received new firewall rules on October 14th to protect against exploits targeting these vulnerabilities. Free Wordfence users receive these rules on November 14th.

“Unauthenticated File Download w/ Information Disclosure

Description: Unauthenticated File Download w/ Information Disclosure
CVSS v3.0 Score: 5.8 (Medium)
CVSS Vector String: CVSS:3.0/AV:N/AC:L/PR:N/UI:N/S:C/C:L/I:N/A:N
Affected Plugin: Email Subscribers & Newsletters
Plugin Slug: email-subscribers
Affected Versions: <= 4.2.2
Patched Version: 4.2.3

“Email Subscribers & Newsletter provides site owners with the ability to create newsletter campaigns that site users can subscribe to. One feature of this plugin is the ability to export all of the site’s subscribers into a single CSV file containing first names, last names, email addresses, mailing lists the subscriber is on, and more. Unfortunately, there was a flaw in this plugin that allowed unauthenticated users to export subscriber lists and gain all of the information provided by subscribers.”

For the complete report go to https://www.wordfence.com/blog/2019/11/multiple-vulnerabilities-patched-in-email-subscribers-newsletters-plugin/?utm_campaign=Wordfence%20Blog%20Emails&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=79364920&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-8BWZWGcayl7CmLA8_0ZOuqUMxFleAxNa1XzLNtcjmm_PWVISfoOeViJk0XBMmja4fUtyG9alUFRXA6PRL4cnymLjx62a0YXm_ZWbqwjxsINMHzwyE&_hsmi=79364920

In the words of a biblical writer, “Be Aware Lest Ye Fall.”

That time I got away by breaking the line before the hook set, and I have maintained heightened security measures since then, adding additional computer security programs to check for malware, spyware, viruses, and all sorts of various poisons used to attack and infect unsuspecting citizens.

Even with all of those measures in place, I know to remain aware, to keep updating computer program security features and processes, and to never get so relaxed that I think those hooks aren’t in the water waiting for some unsuspecting PHISH to come swimming by.

UNDER PRESSURE–MOTIVATIONAL VERSION by MR. D.

UNKNOWN INNOCENCE consumed my first novel, UNDER PRESSURE by Mr. D, and part of my second book published by Midnight Express Books (UNDER PRESSURE–MOTIVATIONAL VERSION). What separated the second novel from the first was the addition of “The Story Behind the Novel” and the addition of the first two chapters of UNKNOWN INNOCENCE.

After writing the sequel, I decided to give readers a better value by allowing the sequel to consume the original novel.

For this blog post, I’m providing a peek into the most important part of the Motivational Version (The Story Behind the Novel ), and one randomly selected chapter that shows one aspect of prison life in some of the more dangerous prison settings, Chapter #6, Let It Go.

Warning: Not Politically Correct! Contains Violence, Profanity

Let It Go

Months later, on a cool spring morning, Stan and Bobby returned from the yard and took their showers before being counted at 10 A.M. Shortly thereafter, they went to eat Spanish omelets, oatmeal, biscuits and gravy for brunch. That afternoon, Stan sat near the center of the TV room watching VH1. The TV room was on the walkway at the rear of the cellblock that joined the tiers. Terry, Jake, and three of Jake’s friends were huddled in the back corner. Two Jamaicans, who were acquaintances of Stan, sat closest to the only door, talking. Stan lowered the volume on his Walkman to hear Jake and Terry’s conversation. A few minutes later his suspicion was confirmed: Terry still planned to involve Wendy.

“She’s coming over the holiday weekend in July and I’ll talk her into bringing in the package,” Terry said.

Stan stood and turned to face all five in the corner. “Keep my sister’s name out of your mouth,” he said.

“Keep out of my business, boy,” Jake said. Him and his three friends stood. Terry stayed seated.

“Don’t try fucking with this boy!” Stan said.

Terry stood. “I won’t let anything happen to her, dude,” he said, his voice a high-pitched tone, almost a shrill.

Rastaman stepped out the door and cleared the corner of the tier to get Big Bobby. At the same moment, Bobby walked out of his cell to go get some hot water. Rastaman saw him and yelled in his Jamaican accent. “Yo, mon, Stan need you.” Bobby slung the cup in his cell.

One of Jake’s partners positioned himself near the door by the other Jamaican, who sat looking toward the television with a know-nothing stare on his face.

“You’re damn right you’re not because you’re not going to pull her into your shit,” Stan said. “Find another way to feed your habit.”

Jake’s other partners tried to position themselves behind Stan, who turned to put the wall behind him. Jake moved closer to him and said, “What’s up? You want to get this out of the way, right now?”

“Smash that punk!” the one by the door said.

Terry edged closer to the door. “Y’all cut this bullshit out, dudes,” he said. “We’ll all go to the hole.”

Jake moved within arm’s reach. Stan shoved him in the chest with both palms. “Get off me, punk,” he said.

Jake stumbled backward. He regained his balance and rushed back to get in Stan’s face. “Want some of this,” he said, and pushed him back.

“Don’t take that from that cunt,” another yelled. “Hit him!”

The one by the door pulled a shank from his waistband. “Let’s stick this bitch,” he said, his back a foot from the door.

Everything changed fast: Big Bobby barged into the room. The door smacked the doorman holding the shank, knocked him into Terry, who shot to the wall near Bobby.

“Hey,” the doorman shouted, as he turned to see who had hit him with the door. His face paled when he saw Bobby. He hurried beside Jake, faced Bobby.

Jake had moved to the corner when Bobby rushed into the room. “What’s up?” Bobby said, his voice coarse.

The two who had surrounded Stan moved with Jake. Terry stood against the wall with his arms crossed. Bobby moved within striking distance of the doorman.

“Let it go, man,” he said. Rastaman had followed him into the room. The other Jamaican stood and positioned himself beside his partner and Bobby.

Stan eyed the two who tried getting behind him, and then he moved near Bobby and the Jamaicans. He looked at the one with the shank. “Put that up before I stick it up your ass,” he said.

“You got the easy part done,” the doorman said.

“Cut the bullshit,” Terry said.

Still winded from rushing down the tier, Bobby said, “All of you need to put this on ice. Nothing good’s going to come from us going to war over whatever the hell y’all got going on in here.”

Jake took a step closer to them. “Tell your boy to keep out of my business, big guy.”

Bobby started to speak. Stan pointed at Terry. “I’ve done told that idiot I didn’t want him involving my sister in your business, buddy,” he said. “If you can’t respect that, we’ve got big problems.”

“You’ve got big problems with all that mouth,” the doorman said. Seconds earlier, he had slipped the blade of the shank in the front pocket of his pants and covered its handle with his hand.

“Look, man, my problem’s not with you but we can make it that way if you don’t back off,” Stan said. He moved closer to him. “I don’t give a damn about you having a shank.”

Bobby stepped between Stan, Jake, and the doorman. The Jamaicans stayed in the background, propped against the wall by the door where Terry stood. The doorman jerked out the shank. Before Bobby could stop him, Stan maneuvered around him and grabbed the doorman’s wrist holding the shank. In a continuous motion, he twisted it behind the man’s back and yanked it to the base of the neck, as he forced him against the rear wall. “What you want to do now, bitch?” Stan growled, keeping the pressure on the back of his prey.

Jake advanced toward Stan. Bobby grabbed him by the shoulders and slung him against the wall, and then turned his head to glance at the other two, making sure they weren’t getting involved. “Stay out of it!” he said.

The Jamaicans, who were much larger than either of the two they faced, had moved between them and Bobby. Both Jamaicans had their arms spread, angled toward the floor, palms opened, inviting war or peace. “We don’t want no trouble,” one of the other two said.

After he had failed to free himself from Stan’s hold, the doorman dropped the shank. It clanged as it struck the floor. “All right, man. You got it,” he said, his voice strained from stress.

Jake stayed still against the wall; fear written on his forehead: Bobby’s massive chest six inches from his nose.

Stan used his foot to slide the shank to the far side of the room. Then he released his hold and stepped away from the doorman. “Let’s all let this shit go and get the fuck out of here before the hacks come and slam us in the hole,” he said.

Everyone exited the television room; their eyes darting one from another, sweat dotting their foreheads. Stan waited until last to leave, motioning for the doorman to get his shank and go. He did so silently, his head held low.

Five minutes after leaving the TV room, Stan had told Bobby all that had gone down before he walked into the drama. They sat in Stan’s cell with their arms crossed, sodas sitting on the floor by each of their legs. Neither one uncrossed their arms except to take a sip from their sodas.

“What you think about it?” Stan said. “You think they’re going to let it go or what?”

Bobby cleared his throat and repositioned himself on the toilet bowl where he sat. “I’d like to think they’ll let it go and leave us alone, but you know how things go in these places. They may claim a truce only to gain an edge for an attack. I’m going to keep an eye on ‘em, for sure.”

“You know I’ll keep an eye on them. And if Terry and Jake don’t leave Wendy out of their plans, they’d better keep an eye on me,” Stan said, and then got up from the edge of his bed. “I’m telling you, man, if they don’t, it’s going to be bad. Wendy may become a widow before it’s over with if they don’t.”

“Well, … we’ll just have to play the cards dealt and play the game well. Let it go if you can,” Bobby said. Then he rose and patted Stan on the back. “Gotta go, Pal. Keep your eyes open. Yell if you need me, okay?”

“Okay, man. I’m sorry I got you into this bullshit.”

“Don’t sweat it. It’ll all work itself out however the hell it’s supposed to turn out.” Then he ducked to leave the cell. He stopped on the tier.

“See you later,” he said and threw up his hand before walking back to his cell.

The Story Behind the Novel

[Updated August 14, 2019: This novel was published while I was in prison and most content remains the same; however, on May 8, 2019, I was released from the custody and control of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons. I removed some of the original content from “The Story Behind the Novel” because it became outdated.]

The story behind the novel may surprise you because I wrote it while serving a 420-month federal prison sentence. Mr. D.” is the pseudonym I used for my first book to avoid any confusion associated with my writings. I am a writer of many genres and am aware that some readers are “profanity-sensitive”; I don’t want anyone to be confused when purchasing my books, essays or short stories. Though not used frequently, profanity is often necessary to capture the personality of a character or to make a scene or setting more realistic; especially, when writing about prison life. A person allergic to profanity may safely read most of my personal essays (inspirational, political, creative nonfiction), but may break out into a rash or go into anaphylactic shock when reading what I write as “Mr. D,” a pseudonym I chose based upon the song, Dancing with Mr. D., by the Rolling Stones, and because my last name begins with “D” and some people call me Mr. D.

Why should the reader find motivation by reading this? It came from the confines of a prison. If I wrote this from inside, without an electronic data storage system, and without access to the Internet, someone “out there” with all of the available technology and resources can really work some magic. This is the story behind the novel:

I am a federal prisoner serving a lengthy prison sentence; to be precise, thirty-five-years, without parole, for armed bank robbery and associated charges. I started on August 18, 1988. I have never used the Internet or seen a cell phone, other than in magazines or on television. I’m somewhat prehistoric, a relic.

In prison, our movement and activities are limited. For instance, I only have until 7:45 pm, Monday through Thursday evenings, to type at the library, which does not begin until my living unit gets released for chow (usually by 6:00 pm). At the library, I use a dumbed-down, AlphaSmart, word processor to type with until the library closes [AlphaSmarts were removed from the library before my release and replaced with the worst typewriters available, with no memory recall capabilities].

Normally, a writer using an AlphaSmart would have an interface cord to connect to their PC to upload what they typed on the AlphaSmart, and would then make modifications to the text in their PC; e.g., change line spacing, font size or style, underline words or adjust margins. I don’t have a PC to upload what I have typed and cannot modify what I have written, other than typical editing functions, such as copying and pasting and using spellcheck to correct misspelled words (program does not check grammar or punctuation). Fortunately, the presets include double line spacing, one-inch top, left and right margins, and a 12-pt Times New Roman font. If I want to add an underline to a word or a case cite when doing legal work, I have to create a separate file, count spaces, and then use the underscore key to create an underline. Then I have to run the original document back through a low-quality printer to complete the process.

That gives you an idea of what limited capabilities are when writing and typing from inside a prison (and I am fortunate to be able to do what I do). Some prisons only have ancient typewriters, with no memory storage capabilities. (I authored Under Pressure on such a primitive device.) The only other day I have to work on my writing is on Saturday because the library does not open on Sunday or holidays. During the morning I skip going to eat to type from 7:30 am (or whenever the door opens) until 9:15 am. Then I have to return to the cellblock to be counted. Yes, all of us men must stand up and be counted at 10:00 am, 4:00 pm, and 10:00 pm on weekends and holidays. The 10:00 am Count is a special event: we don’t have one during the week. I often use the break for the count to proofread what I’ve written, or to prepare for what I will write.

Once the count clears and the prison staff begins feeding the noon meal, I often skip chow to go type some more. I am usually typing by 11:30 am until I have to turn in the AlphaSmart at 3:15 pm. Fridays and Sundays are my days of forced rest from typing at the library: the only place I can type personal projects.

Where am I during the week when not at the library? Working. I work as the document control clerk in a textile factory of the Federal Prison Industries, Inc., trade name UNICOR. My meager MONTHLY salary averages near $200.00. I used that income to pay for my enrollment in the Long Ridge Writers Group on January 8, 2007. The course is outlined for completion within two years. On July 7, 2008, I graduated. During the same time that I was taking their writing course, I wrote the short story, “Under Pressure.” I attempted its publication by submitting my 6,158-word manuscript (typed on the ancient typewriter mentioned earlier), to various magazines, college literary journals, and entered it in PEN’s Prison Writing Contest. It didn’t win. Then on January 1, 2012, my ambition was born to convert the short story into a novel, the hard way, almost five years from the date of when I enrolled in the Long Ridge Writers Group to learn how to write and market short stories and essays. One year after I decided to turn the short story into a novel, it was available worldwide.

My biggest problem in getting started with converting the short story into a novel came from not having any way to electronically store data. When I finished typing at the prison library to return to the cellblock, everything I had typed was deleted according to policy. I knew having memory storage would ease the pain of the revision process (some pages I retyped up to five times to correct a typo, verb tense, or to replace or to add “one” word). I solicited help from my family and friends to have my manuscript scanned and stored on a disk or CD as a word.doc format for the manipulation of data. One of my two sisters, who was not real computer savvy, did go to different places attempting to find what I needed, but the best she could find was someone to scan and save it as a pdf file, which I didn’t think would allow her to alter the text back then (now converters are available that allows a person to modify Portable Document Format files).

I began the conversion process in light of the troubled waters ahead before I learned about the publisher, Midnight Express Books (MEB). Approximately six months after I had surrendered the idea of finding an easier, softer way to write the novel, I discovered MEB through an ad in the Education Behind Bars Newsletter (EBBN). EBBN ran an ad in Prison Legal News and asked for submissions. I submitted an essay and began receiving complimentary copies of the newsletter. In the last issue I received, I noticed an ad for MEB, who works exclusively with prisoners seeking publication [the publisher retired].

At that point, I had decided to go the traditional publishing route, so I passed along the information to another aspiring writer. MEB sent him a brochure. He asked me to read it and asked that I give him my opinion. I was sold when I read about MEB’s optical character reader and computer program for scanning manuscripts, and then being able to digitally alter the text. I immediately added their contact information to the system provided for e-mailing and recording addresses (TRULINCS & http://www.corrlinks.com). Thus, began the correspondence that lead to MEB helping me publish my first novel.

On January 14, 2013, CreateSpace.com released UNDER PRESSURE for sale to the public as a print-on-demand book. [Note:  Amazon closed CreateSpace, which was a self-publishing division for paperback books. Now authors must use Kindle Direct Publishing and pay Amazon twice the amount of commission for books sales.]

The following day Amazon.com posted UNDER PRESSURE. Now it is available worldwide upon demand through the following sources:

Amazon Books

(http://www.amazon.com/Under-Pressure-Mr-D/dp/098576869X )

Amazon.com

(http://www.amazon.com/Under-Pressure-ebook/dp/B00B1ZI00K/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1366854587&sr=8-1&keywords=under+pressure+Mr.+d )

And as an eBook on Smashwords.com (https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/275053)

Smashwords is an eBook distributor who distributes eBooks in various formats to eBook retailers for use on e-readers like the Barns & Noble Nook, and the various applications through Apple products and the Apple iBookstore. When I write other books, essays, or short stories, I will have them posted on my Smashwords’ Author’s page:

https://smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy

[THE POINT IS] If the product in your hands (or before your eyes) came from inside a federal prison, with the assistance of MEB, imagine what you can do “out there” with all of the available technology.

For example, Microsoft Word (https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/word/cfq7ttc0k7c7?=&OCID=AID2000136_SEM_O2CceKEP&MarinID=sO2CceKEP%7c340719598991%7cmicrosoft+word%7ce%7cc%7c%7c64346372608%7caud-473968998633%3akwd-10582150&lnkd=Google_O365SMB_NI&gclid=Cj0KCQjwv8nqBRDGARIsAHfR9wAPF2bA3yAzCZsudqoAjxNPQjR62TD52dyGZH6AUYTJAhNWtpHglkgaAtpzEALw_wcB&activetab=pivot%3aoverviewtab); 

Word Perfect X9 (www.corel.com ); and some writers’ tools: Character Writer 4.0 (http://www.characterpro.com/characterwriter/index.html); writing tools from Master Writer (https://masterwriter.com/creative_writers/); for screenplays: Power Structure and Power Writer for writing novels and screenplays (https://www.powerstructure.com/).

Maybe one day I will find out. For you, though, if you are an aspiring writer or just a reader with ambitions, apply yourself to the task and reach for your dreams: they may be closer than you imagine.

Perseverance Pays!

Best regards,

Wayne T. Dowdy aka, “Mr. D.”

I welcome all comments and will respond to all questions as soon as possible, which may vary according to the number received, but I will respond.

Contact Info: E-mail: waynedowdy@straightfromthepen.com or wtdowdy57@gmail.com

Mailing Address: Wayne T. Dowdy, P.O. Box 2608, McDonough, Georgia 30253

Follow me on StaightfromthePen.com https://straightfromthepen.com

UNKNOWN INNOCENCE by Wayne T. Dowdy, $10.95 USD at Amazon.com

A.F.I.R.E. by Jason Glascock

Photo by Movidagrafica Barcelona on Pexels.com

Please help to spread this idea like a fire to generate support and encourage positive change for fixing the broken criminal justice system. Help Change Lives and Build a Healthier Society. Wayne T. Dowdy

COPYRIGHT © 2019 JASON R. GLASCOCK, All rights reserved. This work is protected under the spirit of the General Public License found at http://www.gnu.org.

You are granted permission to copy, print, and publish any part of this document, but you must give attribution to the author. You may alter this document, but you must denote the changes in some manner. You may not charge for any work where this document makes up the majority of the work’s text. Jason Glascock

A.F.I.R.E.

Adaptable Formula for Integrated Rehabilitation & Education

————————————————————————————————

    Statement of Purpose

A person’s education is an on-going process gained through all of life’s experiences. The environment in which a person is immersed is highly influential in the quality and breadth of education. It, therefore, behooves a society to create such an environment that encourages an individual’s self-development, and this development ought to enrich society with individuality’s ability to adapt.

 Basic Philosophy

The strength of a culture, society, community is based on the strengths of the individuals bring to it. Without the individual, there is no community. Therefore, the individual is a more important aspect that must be protected. The purpose of A.F.I.R.E. is to develop an environment whereby the individual can grow into a being that is solidly independent that can then choose to become interdependent within society.

The A.F.I.R.E. is a long-term project to create an environment that the person is immersed in. The environment is all-encompassing with a carefully and intentionally created effect that is unique to the individual. The person is given access to resources that allow them to guide their own development, with assistance available, in a context that is supportive of self-discovery for the individual to become a fully realized being. The environment offers the person to make the choice, without coercion or force. The environment is reinforcing of the ideas of individuality and the person as the creator of the community.

A.F.I.R.E. is to be instituted in a five-phased process with specific goals. These goals build on the goals of each previous phase. The phases are not set, but intended to be dynamic, adaptable and open to new solutions, but always with the overreaching goal to creating an environment that allows the individual to achieve the greatest benefit of self-empowerment.

Phase 1

Goal: develop a set of personality, aptitude, interest, and metrics that can be used to inform both the person and prison about how to create the most advantageous environment for that person, identify freedom potential factors already extant, and determine what to build upon.

Goal: develop a basic set of self-empowerment resources available in the main libraries.

Phase 2

Goal: develop computer lab resources for extended studies.

Goal: develop staff training programs that encourage healthful interpersonal relations.

Goal: develop prisoner training programs that encourage healthful interpersonal relations.

Phase 3

Goal: develop an industry-supported certification schema for education.

Goal: develop post-release support for reintegration, including:

   – employment

   – housing

   – financial assistance

   – continuing education

   – community support

   – transportation

Phase 4

Goal: develop whole-life skills programs, including:

   – hobbies

   – health

   – meditation

   – household maintenance

   – survival training

   – first aid

   – social development with people of shared interests, i.e. clubs

Goal: develop staff centric incentives program for positive relations

Goal: develop prison diversion programs that begin at arrest.

Phase 5

Goal: develop elementary through high school programs for all students which reduce risk by inspiring healthy psychological growth.

Goal: develop independence schools to encourage freedom potential factors.

A.F.I.R.E. goes much further than the STEM Initiative in creating an entire environment designed to encourage the pursuit of that which grows the individual into a healthy and complete being. STEM is a basic educational paradigm, but AFIRE is about how to live, how to think about living, and how to create the best situation for the person within a prison setting to grow in a positive manner.

Currently, prison is designed to be debilitating. The philosophies of the penological system are to handicap the prisoner and make him/her into an inmate subservient to their will, to take away the individuality and make them nothing but a body. Everything is a punishment from the beds, clothes, food and showers, to relationships with family and support groups. Every opportunity is carefully constructed to ensure failure, encourage strife, and negatively impact the psyche.

A.F.I.R.E. works to change the culture of prison into a healthful experience. Punishment is the separation and periodic denial of close relationships and the freedom of travel, not the denial of educational opportunities, health, and the pursuit of skills that can enrich society. We hurt ourselves when we harm others, and prison is a terrible harm to inflict on our community members. The prisoner is no less part of our community while in prison as they are in the Free World.

ONE MORE FROM THE ROAD

one more from the road

Update: August 28, 2019: I am a Free Bird now and have been for one year today. Things did not go the way I expected upon my release, but it is all good. I have lived to fight another day and have won many interpersonal battles over the last year. I remain a free citizen!

I joined the ranks of many returning citizens who have not become another negative statistic on recidivism. That means a lot to me and to society!

I will post another blog to update events since I walked out the doors of the Federal Correctional Institution in Edgefield, South Carolina, on August 28, 2018, after having served thirty-years and ten-days.

The twenty-four years of sobriety that that medallion represents made my success possible. I do not represent any Twelve Step program but am a proud member!

My favorite version of Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd is on ONE MORE FROM THE ROAD, recorded at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, GA, one block from my birthplace.  This Freebird en route to Atlanta got one more lockdown in for the road.  More will be revealed.

The 35-year sentence that I began on August 18, 1988, has finally reached its end.  Well, at least, close to its end.  When I leave August 28th, as it now stands, I have 192-days in the halfway house and 5-years on supervised release, following satisfaction of the 420-month term of imprisonment imposed by the court.

This blog contains mixed topics; some written from a positive perspective, others from a not-so-positive perspective.  I’ll tell some of what my last month has been like living in an institution run by the most absurd federal prison administration I’ve ever lived under for the last thirty years.

DEPARTING:  I’m leaving behind many friends, a lot of good men, and a lot more defeated by an over-abundance of suboxone and bug poison (K-2/Spice) that flooded this compound within 6-months of this warden taking command.  Based upon statements made by inmates at the last institution she ran, the same thing happened there:  she reduced alcohol consumption that resulted in an increase in demand and availability of K-2 and suboxone.

[“SUBOXONE® (buprenorphine and naloxone) Sublingual Film (CIII) is a prescription medicine used to treat adults who are addicted to (dependent on) opioid drugs (either prescription or illegal) as part of a complete treatment program that also includes counseling and behavioral therapy.”] https://www.suboxone.com/

Concerning wardens that Washington officials began referring to as Chief Executive Officers (CEO), because of, in my opinion, the federal prison system becoming a business-venture, more so than a place to help its men and women become law-abiding citizens.

The Congressional budgeting system allows wardens and executive staff to take home hefty bonuses by cutting operating cost, often at the expense of the safety and health of staff and inmates alike.

Throughout the years, I’ve met many good men and women who worked for the BOP, a few of whom helped save the lives of myself and others by offering their time to provide needed services to help prisoners learn life-skills; especially, for those in programs designed to help addicts and alcoholics learn to live life without the use of drugs and alcohol.

JOURNALING INTO A NEW LIFE:  This time 23-years ago, I was writing in journals about my newfound way of life (living without using drugs and alcohol, and working on becoming a better man who lived by different spiritual principles).  Here’s two excerpts I hope will inspire others:

August 23, 1995:  “This new lifestyle is a lot more simple and easier to live by in this environment, because I don’t have to worry about getting a U.A. [urine-analysis], going to the hole for being stupid, or having to try so hard to get by.  I used to have to hustle to support my dope habit, but not anymore.  I never had food in my locker, but kept the lockers of dope men well-stocked.  Now I have food to eat, good shoes to wear, and can afford to send money to my family as gifts or to buy other things I want or need.  I have time for Wayne and I care about Wayne.  Wayne deserves to be cared for, because he’s a worthy human being, and really is not a bad guy, so I’m no longer trying to destroy him.  I’m trying to ‘set him free.’  He deserves that!”

September 13, 1995:  “I have began my pursuit of freedom, which could end up being a fruitless search from me on the legal angle, but if God wants to see me free, I will be free.  If not legally, in spirit, which is most important.  I would like to be legally free, because I know I can make it out there now, and know I have a lot of valuable experience, wisdom, and knowledge to offer certain segments of society.  For that reason, I deserve another chance.”

LEGALLY SPEAKING:  The legal pursuit of my freedom proved fruitless and a waste of time, energy, and thousands of dollars, but it did keep me occupied and I learned a lot.  If you consider the success I had getting my halfway house date changed and the knowledge gained, it was beneficial.  I also helped free others.

During the legal Pursuit of Freedom process, I damn sure learned that what the law says doesn’t matter:  If the courts want to follow the law, they do.  If not, they use their power and ignore the law.  After I build straightfromthepen.net, I will post court documents from my case and others to prove what I just wrote.

ALONG SPIRITUAL LINES:  I know everything worked out the way it was supposed to, and that if the courts had followed the laws passed by Congress, and the court decisions I relied upon during my direct appeal process, I would not be alive today.  I had a bad drug problem and ill intent for several years after my conviction.  Today I don’t have either and will live the rest of my days in peace, clean & sober, and, for the most part, healthier than when I arrived in 1988.

LIFE NOT ACCORDING TO WAYNE:  Most of these last few days of my life in prison have not went according to my plan.  I planned to attend the last few A.A. and N.A. meetings; to quit my job on August 17th, and then spend some time outside on the recreation yard to exercise and tone up my body, and to work on my suntan in preparation for all the fat-butt-girls waiting to chase me.  😉

The warden closed the recreation yard over three weeks ago and spoiled my Suntan Plan.

RECENT EVENT:  The warden’s closure of the recreation yard indirectly resulted in a clash between two ethnic groups in the Chow Hall on Sunday, August 12, 2018.  When tension builds amongst an inmate population, and one ethnic group gets punished and suffers because of an action by another group, a tender box is born; complements of the warden, captain, or other prison official, who implemented unnecessary punitive actions in response to an issue, such as is the case at hand.

(Read “Politics & Prison” (11/07/16) where I wrote in response to this warden’s use of group-punishment techniques, and show how it creates conflicts in a prison population and is thus not a rational correctional-management tool for all situations:

MORE ON BLANKET PARTIES:  If certain prisoners are given a blanket party or ‘sanctioned’ by their peers for failure to comply with rules or regulations, it may lead to extreme violence; therefore, the ideological control mechanism for military men and women does not work on prisoners, or otherwise has adverse effects; that is, unless the prison administrators really want prisoners to clash.  Many administrators have ulterior motives.”)

THE CHOW HALL FIASCO lead to 5-prisoners suffering injuries severe enough to justify a trip to the local hospital for treatment.  I was inside the chow hall during the fiasco.

NO OUTSIDE RECREATION:  The reason for closing the recreation yard was because staff found homemade wine buried beside an area known as the “Boom Boom Room.”  The prison staff has known about the problem for years, including the whole period of this warden’s stay (about 2-years).

Staff have probably dug as much as 50-75 gallons of wine out of the same spot, and yet, instead of being intelligent enough to use available technology (posting surveillance cameras in the area as most competent prison administrators do in problem areas), the warden/prison administration, chose to close the recreation yard to tear down the Boom Boom Room.

The recreation yard is a place where men go to exercise or relax, to relieve anger, stress, and tension associated with prison life or just to stay healthy.

TINDER BOX:  The closure of the recreation yard created a Tinder Box because a few members of one ethnic group is responsible for its closure, as is the warden.  That put targets on the backs of every one of that nationality.

THE CATALYST:  A inmate who worked the a.m. Food Service shift, stole fruit and hid it in a Dish/Tray Room, where prisoners use a dishwasher to wash food trays, utensils, etc.  When he returned during the next shift and learned his stolen-stash was stolen, he attacked a member of the other ethnic group, known to bury wine.

Several members of the latter group attacked and beat down the aggressor and that lead to retaliation by members of the aggressor’s ethnic group.

FIASCO RESPONSE:  The staff who responded got medical attention for the aggressor who received minor injuries, and then escorted him and four of his attackers down the walkway toward the medical department and segregated housing unit.

I sat at a table near where the ethnic group of the four attackers often sat.  After the incident in the Tray Room, I went to the opposite side of the chow hall and saw those escorted out the rear door of the Tray Room.  I returned to the other side and let my peers know of the events of racial nature.  Then me and most other non-participants moved out of the area to get out of the way of what was sure to follow.

Upon leaving with the offenders, staff locked the chow hall doors with approximately 150-200 inmates left alone inside with one food service staff member.  After 5-to-8 minutes of the racial situation brewing, the aggressor’s ethnic group attacked anyone who looked like they may have been of the other ethnic group, thus creating a racial riot inside the chow hall.

For approximately 3-4 minutes, food trays soared across the chow hall, injuring those hit; weapons of various types were used to batter opponents; fists and feet used where possible.

The food service staff member ran and locked himself in an office inside the chow hall.  I suspect he radioed for assistance, but I never saw him come out of his hiding spot into the Battle Zone, evidence of being a true coward.

According to what an associate who stayed in the Battle Zone, one staff member came in through the rear door of the Tray Room, ran in and began spraying all aggressors with Pepper Spray.

Two staff members made the wrong turn and came to the non-participant side.  One pointed a camera at us and said, “Get on the ground.”  And then later, “Turn and face the wall.”

I knelt down on one knee but did not turn to face the wall.  An injured Hispanic participant had come from the Battle Zone with blood running down his head from different angles and dripped blood on the floor in front of me.  The violence was still in progress twenty-five feet away: I knew not to expose myself to flying trays by turning around when the two dummies did not even notice that those of us standing against the wall were docile.

The other staff member who made the wrong turn, used profanity directed toward one man and threatened to spray him with pepper spray.  During this time, you could hear inmates attempting to rip pipes from their fixtures to use as weapons in the Battle Zone, while those two knuckleheads wasted time messing with us.

Finally, one of the guys standing against the wall shouted out, “We aren’t the ones fighting.”

The cameraman turned and then moved to where the action was going.  The dummy with the pepper spray turned and followed him.  Another staff member came in and said, “Y’all just get down on one knee.  I’m trying to look for injuries.”

He pointed to the injured Hispanic and said, “You, get over there.”  Then he said, “Is anyone else injured?”

Maybe ten minutes later, the crowd dispersed toward a door and began to exit on the opposite end of the chow hall.  I followed.  We returned to the living units and was locked in our cells for about a week.

GOD’S WILL VERSUS MINE:  I also planned to mail out some of my property on Thursday at R&D Open House.  We can only mail outgoing packages, after approval by unit staff, and then during Open House on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

A sign on the door showed “No Open House Today,” but if you were to ask the Warden or one of her officials, you’d be told that Open House is opened during all scheduled periods; a lie I have been told before.

Well, that’s where God’s will versus mine comes to play.  I believe that whenever I’m faced with such obstacles that there’s a reason for it and that it’ll work to my good.  In the past it always has and this time is no different.  The delay gave me more time to sort through my ton of property to lighten my load as I set out to travel the Road to Happy Destiny.  🙂

________________________________

How Much to Send Prisoners

img_20190401_120426167.jpg

How much to send a prisoner contains a lot of variables. In my opinion, based more on the life of the donor than on the prisoner.

 
The answer to how much to send depends on the sender’s financial circumstances and which prison the incarcerated person is confined in; the cost of available resources, such as commissary items, using the phone, emailing if applicable, or other forms of communication.
 
He or she has shelter, and though it may be lacking at times, food and the essentials of survival.
 
If the free citizen needs to pay rent, buy food, and otherwise take care of themselves and family, in my opinion, as a former prisoner, I’d rather have done without than for my loved ones to have taken food out of their mouths to provide for me (I was happy to provide for myself by working).
 
(Many of my peers were different, especially if on drugs and wanted to get high. I understood that because I know what it was like for me when I lived the life of an addict, so I am not condemning those who are different.)

May 2018, MONTHLY PAY SLIP ($189.00):

Federal Prison Industries, Inc. UNICOR

On average, working in the Federal Prison Industries (UNICOR), each month I spent $64.00 on the phone, $50.00 on writing/emailing blogs, etc., and $45–50.00 on commissary items. That was based on costs in the Federal Prison System.

Please note that all prisoners do not get paid for working, or get to work in places like the Federal Prison Industries. I was one of the highest-paid, hourly-rate prisoners, who worked for UNICOR, and rarely made over $200.00 per month. I made sacrifices to pay for the creation and upkeep of STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN and my blogging expenditures.

Books by Wayne T. Dowdy

Unknown Innocence by Wayne T. Dowdy

Paperback On Sale Now $9.99

eBook $2.99

This Fiction Contains Lots of Truth About Life, Love and Law

Love opens the door to prove his innocence

Military Police finds Roger Johnson slumped over the steering wheel of his Mercedes Benz, a bullet hole in his head. State Senator Leroy Johnson wants swift justice for the murder of his son. The military turns the case over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Special Agent Ward promises Senator Johnson he will find the murderer.

Big Bobby Sanders drank too much the night of the murder. Lost in a blackout when the murder occurs and unable to prove his alibi, DNA evidence put him in jail for killing his friend.  An exotic dancer knows the truth. She gets forced out of town after telling her story to attorney Zachariah Zambroski. Under pressure by Agent Ward to close the case, Zambroski convinces Sanders to plead guilty to avoid the death penalty. In prison he befriends a man who ultimately introduces him to the lovely Nicole Anderson, a former dancer who fights to free him.

“UNKNOWN INNOCENCE is a riveting tale that transcends genres. It’s a mystery and a thriller, with a love story woven through its fabric.” Introduction to UNKNOWN INNOCENCE by Jeffrey P. Frye, author of “ONE CRAZY DAY,” Murder Slim Press (www.murderslimpress.com).

Guns, Drugs and Thugs: Drug Store Spree by Wayne T. Dowdy

Paperback $5.95

eBook $0.99

Though Categorized as Fiction Truth Dominates its Content

When I pulled in front of his rundown, Georgian Revival style house, with a hipped roof, panel door, and yellow gutters, I noticed curtains and drapes covering all windows. That made me feel uneasy, so I popped the hood and then got out to tinker with the breather for a moment, slammed the hood and walked to the trunk. That is where I kept lots of money and drugs that other dope fiends and thugs drooled at when seeing. Many of whom I knew would take it from me if given the opportunity. I stashed more money inside a secret hiding spot I made. Then I walked around the car, stopping to tap on each tire so I appeared to be checking their inflation. I hid the trunk key inside the fender well, on top of the rear tire, away from view of those inside. Then I eased toward the front door of the house. The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd played on a sound system. I knocked. Leonard opened the door ….

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

On Sale Now $8.95

eBook $0.99

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.

Purchase these books today. You won’t be disappointed.

Could Be Me

But for the Grace of God There Go I

Provide Treatment for Addiction Problems to Reduce Recidivism

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 https://straightfromthepen.com/2019/05/02/no-sympathy/)

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
Edgefield, South Carolina

Atlanta Hilton Speech

Google Knows A Star When It Sees One

Google Search Result Deemed Delay in Posting Blog and Justified Revision

Before I posted this blog, I checked to see where the photo image might show up, since I had used it a few years ago in a profile, and on the waynedowdy.weebly.com website, as well as on Facebook.

I never knew me and Bond, James Bond, looked similar, but Google Search apparently thinks we do. 🙂 You Go, Google!

Screenshot Proves It: Wayne T. Dowdy Is a Star!

Ironically, during the period of this photo, I thought of becoming a model and went to an interveiw with the PIZZAZZ Modelling Agency, who was advertising its search for models.

The agent gave me a contract to review, sign, and return with my portfolio. I chose to do cocaine instead of signing the contract to pursue a career in acting, modelling for catalogs, and commercials, by rationalizing that, “They just want to get in my pants, anyway.” Sick!

World of Work Graduation Ceremony, Class of 1985

Who’s that dude wearing my three-piece suit?  He looks like he thinks he’s on top of the world, standing up there at that podium with the pretty lady beside him, giving his speech before 500-plus at the Hilton Hotel in the Big City of Atlanta, Georgia.  A Big Shot!

The World of Work program trained him and the other participants to be entrepreneurs, how to succeed in the business world, and how to perform during job interviews. 

Though he was a convicted felon, he landed his first job at one of the Top 100 Atlanta companies; within two-years, he received seven promotions, and increased his salary by fifty-percent.

During that infamous speech at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Atlanta, he was the last of the graduates to give a presentation.
 
He spoke a few moments to express gratitude for being allowed to take part in the World of Work program, then concluded by saying,

“Nine out of ten released prisoners go back to prison.”
 
The audience stilled. His words captured their attention.

He paused and then said, “I am the one who won’t!”

The audience erupted with cheers and a standing ovation.
 
Pride engulfed his demeanor and spirit, as he returned to his seat on the stage for the closing of the graduation ceremony.

Many Faces of Wayne T. Dowdy

He lied!  Not knowingly at the time he made the statement, but he did because he became one of the nine instead of the one to not become a recidivist.

Recidivism: a tendency to relapse into a previous condition or mode of behavior; repeated relapse into criminal or delinquent habits. Recidivism: a tendency to relapse into a previous condition or mode of behavior; repeated relapse into criminal or delinquent habits.  

https://straightfromthepen.com/2019/05/02/no-sympathy/

For more on the man wearing my three-piece suit, read Essays & More Straight from the Pen by Wayne T. Dowdy

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1794396829

Fight for Change

Rep. Trey Gowdy(R-SC) speaks during the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Russian actions during the 2016 election campaign on March 20, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
/ AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Congressperson Trey Gowdy Chaired the Oversight Committee on the Bureau of Prisons, December 13, 2017.

The then B.O.P. Director, Mark S. Inch, had made changes to the program for operation of the Residential Reentry Centers. His changes resulted in me receiving 119-days in an RRC, instead of the 364-days recommended by my Unit Team because I had been in prison for three decades and needed the additional time to readjust to society.

I fought for change and after Mark Inch resigned, as I wrote about in War and Reentry, my Unit Team resubmitted me for more halfway house placement time because I won an issue on the miscalculation of Good Conduct Time that reduced my outdate.

https://straightfromthepen.com/2018/06/04/war-and-reentry/

My situation showed the RRC decision made by Mark Inch conflicted with Congressional directives and would put society in harm’s way, contrary to the purpose and intent of the Second Chance Act of 2007.

I did not hesitate to seek administrative redress and to write letters to Director Inch and Congressperson, Trey Gowdy (R-SC).

The following are copies of the imperfect letters I sent, with all of the supporting documents I sent along with each of the two letters. I am presenting them to show that it helps to voice opinions and to stand up for what we believe.

I believed Mark Inch’s change in policy screwed me and thousands of other prisoners. I fought for those who could not, would not, or did not, fight for themselves. I was near the door either way but I saw the devastating effect of the new RRC policy and it really pissed me off; especially, after I received 119-days in an RRC that made me think of telling them to keep.

[I struggled with getting the letters converted into a format to use for posting in this blog. The content remained the same. Maybe their content will help energize the fight for Criminal Justice and Prison Reform.]

[Note: Letters replaced with better image: Other Documents Will Be Added.]

Signature and Supporting Documents Not Included/Removed

Signature and Supporting Documents Not Included/Removed

Save Millions: Letter to Former B.O.P. Director

The following is a scrap copy of a letter I referred to above in the March 5, 2018, letter to former B.O.P. Director, Mark S. Inch, where I showed how to save millions of dollars each year. I included a copy of both letters with the letter mailed to Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC) .

T

Politics: Letter to Representative Doug Collins (R-GA)

The First Step Act: Before Passed Into Law

The following letter I sent by certified mail to the Honorable Doug Collins (R-GA), and to the Honorable Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), whom I do appreciate and respect for submitting the First Step Act. Though, neither of whom showed the courtesy of a reply or acknowledgment of receipt, due, in part, I suspect as due to a concern about what their peers may think of their communication with a convicted felon.

Proof of Mailing

Proof of Mailing

On Politics

Please forgive my frankness, which does not apply to all politicians, because some are courageous men and women, but in my opinion, most politicians lack in courage and are political whores, who dance to the tune of their parties, rather than to stand up as men and women for the issues that got them voted into office.

Hope and Humility

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I walk around the city and find homeless people sleeping on the streets of Atlanta on a daily basis, amongst the many multimillion-dollar buildings and structures. Too bad, we, as people, cannot provide resources to allow fellow humans to live with dignity and respect.

A couple months ago, while riding a bus into the city, I saw people sleeping in tents under bridges when temperatures were below freezing.

My heart went out to them as I prayed for their comfort and safety.

Homeless

Homeless and Sleeping By a Church

I sympathize with the less fortunate because that could be me, and in some sense, is, as I do not own a home or have a legal residence. If not for those who love me and have helped me to have a place to sleep and eat, I could be in the same position as the people in the photo.

Another person was sleeping beside the cardboard box shown in the photo.

I would like to think I could be as humble as the men and women I pass sleeping on the streets and under bridges. It’s either be humble, find a solution to my problem, if possible, and then do what I feel I must.

Hopefully, I’d make decisions that did not harm or cause others pain and grief; decisions to show others there is a solution, regardless of how devastating the problem may appear.

Sleeping Amongst Billion Dollar Buildings in Atlanta, Georgia

In prison, I refused to give up my hope for better days. That hope kept me alive and helped me live to fight another day.

That was then, THIS is now.

Shooting for Stars!

Wonderful Women by Wayne T. Dowdy


I love women! Women Rule the World and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. This re-post pays respect to all of the women today and from the past, who shaped the world and gave us Life as we know it.

The facts have changed as I am now a free man, no longer under control of those in the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons, but I remain grateful for participating in the event that honored Women’s History Month.

WOMEN RULE THE WORLD

Womens-History-Month-300x153

I live in an abnormal environment dominated by women–a men’s federal prison. On Tuesday, March 28, 2017, I am a scheduled speaker at an event to honor Women’s History Month in America. I feel inclined to do a powerful presentation.

Talk about performance anxiety!

I speak often from the podium and have no fear of public speaking. I will speak from the heart to honor powerful women in history, not just in America.

Most department heads at this institution are African-American women, including the one who rules her domain with whips and chains at the Federal Correctional Institution in Edgefield, South Carolina, the Warden, as well as, one of her two Assistant Wardens. Here is what I have written for the Products of a Woman presentation:

Powerful Women

I am Wayne T. Dowdy, a son, father, grandfather, brother, and an uncle, all the products of a woman, my Mother.

The strength I saw in her and many other women has convinced me that the biggest deception in life began when an intelligent woman convinced man that he was the strongest.

Yeah, right! She says, go fight that bear to protect me, honey. Bring me his meat and we will eat. The man risks his life to please and feed her.

Now I’ll touch on history. In the United States, Women’s History Month traces its beginning back to the first International Women’s Day in 1911.

In 1978, the school district of Sonoma, California participated in Women’s History Week. Different events followed that led to President Jimmy Carter declaring March 8, 1980, as National Women’s History Week, which began a series of Presidential Proclamations of Women’s History Week, up until 1986.

During this trend, Congress got on the bandwagon and passed resolutions for Women’s History Week.

Beginning in 1988, each subsequent president issued Presidential Proclamations of Women’s History Month that continues to this day. These women are a fraction of notable women in history:

Cleopatra (69 BCE – 30 BCE), the woman who ruled Egypt.
Joan of Arc (1412 – 1431), a 17-year old woman who inspired a French revolt against the English occupation, and then led the French to victory at Orleans.

Sojourner Truth (1797 – 1883), an African-American, female abolitionist and women’s rights campaigner, whose famous speech against racial inequality, as a woman, I will share upon conclusion.

Susan B. Antony (1820 – 1906), campaigned against slavery and promoted rights for women and workers. Her contribution earned her a mark on a U.S. coin.

Emily Murphy (1868 – 1933), the first woman magistrate in the British Empire. In 1927, she joined forces with four Canadian women who sought to challenge an old Canadian law that said, “[W]omen should not be counted as persons.”

Rosa Parks (1913 – 2005), she refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, an action that indirectly led to the most significant civil rights legislation in American history.

Indira Gandhi (1917 – 1984), first female Prime Minister of India. She was assassinated.

Margaret Thatcher (1925 – 2013), the first female Prime Minister of Great Britain.

Condolesa Rice, Secretary of State under President George Bush, Jr.

Loretta Lynch, United States Attorney General under President Barrack Obama.

A true cliche in my opinion, is that, “Behind every good man is a good woman.”

These women are examples:

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884 – 1962), First Lady of President Franklin D. Roosevelt;
Jacqueline Kennedy ( ), First Lady of President John F. Kennedy;
Nancy Reagan ( ), First Lady of President Ronald Reagan;
Hilary Clinton, First Lady of President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State under President Obama, 2016 Presidential Candidate;
Michelle Obama, First Lady of President Barrack Obama, and of African-American decent.

I offer those listed above as examples of thousands of powerful women throughout history.

Women are survivors!

The birth process is evidence of a woman’s strength. Most men would not dare to suffer so much pain to give life, if given the option. No, he is too weak for that kind of pain.

Our species would not have survived if man carried the burden of birth. He may go fight a bear to please her and to feed their children, but he dare not to endure such pain for nine months.

Additional evidence lies in the fact that in long-term marriages, if the woman dies first, the man is soon to follow. If the man dies first, the woman keeps on going to nurture her offspring for generations.

My mother outlived and buried three husbands.

Women are fighters, fighting for life, for love, for equality. Ask Beyonce’ Knowles, she tells the truth when she says, “Women Rule the World.”

To celebrate their legacy, a week was not enough, nor is a month, so the fight continues.

Women’s History Month allows us to focus on the value of women and reunites the flame to fight for equality in the workplace and in all other aspects of life, because without the woman, there would be no life.

Yes, maybe most men are physically stronger than most women are; however, the facts show women rule the world. Evidence also suggests that she is more intelligent. If she wasn’t, she’d be the one to go fight the bear to feed her family while the man stayed at home with their children.

Now for, “AIN’T I A WOMAN?” by Sojourner Truth, delivered in 1851 at the Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio:

“Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women of the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most of them sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [member of audience whispers, ‘intellect’] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negroes’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say.”

The fight continues until the day all women are treated equal. Let us remember each day to celebrate Women’s History, not just during the Month of March. Thank you!

_______________________________________
Wayne T. Dowdy writes at Straight From the Pen. Purchase his paperbacks from your favorite bookstores and eStores, including Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. 
Order autographed copies by contacting him at waynedowdy@straightfromthepen.com.

For best deals on eBooks, visit his Smashwords author’s page https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy.&nbsp;

The Truth About Crime and Karma

Karma Laws Helped Change My Life

Do people who commit or do not commit crimes, make their choices based on moral or legal principles?  Karma helped me decide the answer for myself.

The logical conclusion for why other people do or do not commit crimes is a little or a lot of both (for moral and legal reasons).

I can only share from my perspective, as no one can honestly say why another person did or did not do something, unless told by that person, and then it is debatable because the truth may remain hidden, even from the spokesperson.  The easiest one to lie to is ourselves.

Having committed several crimes and going to prison for them, and not committing any crimes today, I live this way because I got tired of Karma abusing me, and because I learned to treat others the way I want to be treated.

I do not want someone stealing from me or from my friends and loved ones.

I do not want anyone committing unwanted sexual acts against me or my friends and loved ones.

I do not want someone harming me or my friends and loved ones, in any form or manner.

I do not want to suffer the consequences of my actions, so I let my actions fall within the parameters of what is legal and ethical.

I live within the boundaries of a defined set of principles and concepts of what is moral (ethical) and just.

The laws (spiritual and legal), affect where the boundaries were drawn and affects my decision to stay within the established boundaries, whether I agree or disagree with what the law states.

I changed my life because of Karma, after being in prison for seven years (twenty-three years before my release). 

For the first seven years, I continued living my life the way I had lived before being sentenced to prison.  I committed crimes within the prison setting. Being crafty, I got away with a lot of things that could have put me in the hole (locked inside a small cell for 23-hours per day), for a long time.

What I could not escape was the penalties imposed by Karma, so I changed my evil, wicked-ways and learned to live a more righteous life to yield better results.  Now Karma and I get along well.

Man’s laws and penalties had nothing to do with my desire to change my life and to stop committing crimes.

______________________________________________

Purchase paperbacks and eBooks of Wayne T. Dowdy from your favorite bookseller, including Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.

For best price & free eBooks, visit his author’s page at Smashwords.com (https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy).

Mothers & Memorial Days by Wayne T. Dowdy

happy mothers day

TO THE MOTHERS OF THE WORLD:  Two years ago on May 8, 2015, I sent out a message to have posted on FaceBook.  My publisher read and liked it so much that she decided to post it as a blog for me.  This is what I wrote:

“Happy Mother’s Day to all you wonderful women out there who gave your blood and suffered unbearable amounts of pain to give life to the children you brought forth into this thing we call life.  Not to mention all you gave of yourself to raise your children the best way you could by giving them what you had been given.  May those close to you show the same amount of love on your special day.”

To all you Mother’s out there who do or do not follow my blogs, I resubmit to you the same feelings wrapped in words.  Each of you deserve praise for the sacrifices you make for your offspring and loved ones.  I decided to repost it when a friend of mine let me know he planned to plagiarize it last week, after having read a collection of my blogs.

In “Women Rule the World” (March 27, 2017), I used a bear to illustrate that women are the stronger and more intelligent of the human species.  We owe our lives to our mothers, whether she was the best or the worst, she chose not to “abort” the mission of bringing us into this world.  For those who did not read it, I will share a version of my favorite parts that caused the audience to erupt into laughter when I presented it at a special to celebrate Women’s History Month.

“I am Wayne T. Dowdy, a son, father, grandfather, brother, and an uncle, all the products of a woman, my Mother.

“The strength I saw in her and many other women has convinced me that the biggest deception in life began when an intelligent woman convinced man that he was the strongest.

“Yeah, right!  She says, go fight that bear to protect me, honey.  Bring me his meat and we will eat.  The man risks his life to please and feed her. …..

[Men do insane things to please women, some rob banks, write bad checks or worse to win them over.]

“The birth process is evidence of a woman’s strength.  Most men would not dare to suffer so much pain to give life, if given the option.  No, he is too weak for that kind of pain.

“Our species would not have survived if man carried the burden of birth.  He may go fight a bear to please her and to feed their children, but he dare not to endure such pain for nine months.

[Of course, there are those “males” who would love to get pregnant and become rich, but most men I know would mandate prophylactics (rubbers), not because of the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, but because of the risk of pregnancy.]

“Additional evidence lies in the fact that in long-term marriages, if the woman dies first, the man is soon to follow.  If the man dies first, the woman keeps on going to nurture her offspring for generations.

“My mother outlived and buried three husbands.  …..

“Yes, maybe most men are physically stronger than most women are; however, the facts show women rule the world.  Evidence also suggests that she is more intelligent.  If she wasn’t, she’d be the one to go fight that darn bear to feed her family while the man stayed home with their children.”

It made me happy to be able to help others have a pleasant day.  A Psychologist who was present thanked me as I was leaving.  She said, “You had us laughing so hard we had to hold our sides.”  🙂

MOTHERS & GOD GIVE LIFE:  Both parents may have enjoyed the process of putting us children into our mother’s belly, but it was she who suffered the pain of childbirth that allowed us to grow into the person we became in life.  The formation of our life was under her and God’s control.

HIT & RUN:  Some fathers hit and run and left the mothers to bear the pain all alone.  Single parent mothers made even more personal sacrifices to get us the life we now have.

If you know any single parents (male or female), who has children at home, give them a hug and offer to help care for their children long enough for them to go out and get some time alone or time with friends.  Everyone needs a break, sometimes!

*****

confederate flag

REMEMBERING REBELS:  Confederate Memorial Day is April 25, 1866, that is, depending on who you chose to believe.  Various dates and places exists as to where Memorial Day originated.  The same is true about which group of people began the day of remembrance for the soldiers who died during America’s most gruesome war.  Civil War history is convoluted.

The United Daughters of the Confederacy kept memories alive of the Civil War, by raising funds to have monuments constructed to honor soldiers who died during a period of American history that America’s government wishes to forget.

No government likes rebels.  Those darn rebels had the nerve to create their own government, and even worse, to make their own money.  How dare those darn Rebels!  Disgusting Rebels!

monument being removed in NO

ERASING HISTORY:  In New Orleans, Louisiana, local government is in the process of trying to remove memories of the Civil War by removing various Civil War monuments.

On April 24, 2017, “Workers dismantled an obelisk, which was erected in 1891 to honor members of the Crescent City White League who in 1874 fought in the Reconstruction-era Battle of Liberty Place against the racially integrated New Orleans police and state militia, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a statement.”  The New York Times, “New Orleans Begins Removing Confederate Monuments, Under Police Guard” by Christopher Mele (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/24/us/new-orleans-confederate-statute.html?_r=0).

Plans exist to remove other statutes/monuments.  The list includes a bronze statute of General Robert E. Lee, an equestrian statute of P.G.T. Beauregard, a Confederate General, and a statute of Jefferson Davis, who was the president of the Confederacy.  Even the monument of President Andrew Jackson is at risk.

Removing the obelisk is more understandable than removing the other monuments; especially, statutes of real men whose family linage and heritage is rooted; e.g., Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, P.G.T. Beauregard, and President Andrew Jackson.

More of those darn rebels protested when workers and officials attempted the removal of Jefferson Davis’ monument on May 1, 2017.  Five people were arrested; the removal process put on hold.

old glory

MEMORIAL DAY:  The celebrated federal Memorial Day is the last Monday of each May.  Supposedly, Memorial Day got its start when a group of women put flowers on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers.  Regardless of whether they fought for the North or the South, those Civil War soldiers gave their lives fighting for their country, as has all other soldiers before and after the Civil War.

It is a disgrace for those in power to attempt to eradicate a part of history.

IMPORTANT DATES:  A misconception pumped into today’s society is that the primary “cause” of the American Civil War was to free the slaves.  Don’t mistake what I write.  I do not like what happened in America during the days of slavery.  No human being deserved to be mistreated the way some slaves were, not even terrorists.

I write that to stress my point:  I do not like Terrorist cowards or predators who kill or injure innocent people because of their ideological belief.  Terrorist deserve to experience extreme amounts of pain for repayment of their acts.  But to treat them the way they deserve to be treated, would make us no better than them.  In my opinion, it would be more humane to execute them rather than torture them to death, as they deserve.

PROOF OF HISTORICAL DECEPTION:  “On July 20, 1862, John Hay, Lincoln’s private secretary, predicted in a letter that the president ‘will not conserve slavery much longer.’  Two days later, Lincoln, wearing his familiar dark frock coat and speaking in measured tones, convened his cabinet in his cramped White House office, upstairs in the East Wing.  He had said, ‘dwelt much and long on the subject’ of slavery.  Lincoln then read aloud a 325-word first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation, intended to free slaves in Confederate areas not under United States authority.”  Louis P. Masur, “Forever Free.”

After writing the draft, President Lincoln was faced with another problem:  “One of the weightiest questions was whether significant numbers of Union soldiers would refuse to fight in a war whose purpose was not only to preserve the Union but also to end slavery.  ‘How Will the Army Like the Proclamation?’ trumpeted a headline in the New York Tribune.'”  Smithsonian magazine, January 2013, “Forever Free” by Louis P. Masur.

If the Civil War was about freeing the slaves, President Lincoln would not have had that concern and the article would not have appeared in the New York Tribune.

Lincoln later “[o]pened the ranks of the Army to blacks, who until then had served only in the Navy.”  He had to do that to get slaves to help the Union fight the Confederate rebels who were kicking their ass on the battle field.

Lincoln did not write the draft of the Emancipation Proclamation until 464-days after the Civil War began on April 12, 1861.  That proves that the American Civil War was not fought to free the slaves.  At least, it did not begin with freeing the slaves on the agenda, only later was it added.

Slave labor allowed the Southern plantation owners to undercut the Northerners in the Cotton market, the same argument presented today by politicians about the Federal Prison Industries, Inc. using inmate labor to produce goods and services, which raises a question of whether the practice violates the Federal Fair Trade and Practice Act (?).  (I will write a blog to cover that issue in the future.)

The Emancipation Proclamation was not signed until January 1, 1863; 165-days after Lincoln wrote the draft on July 20, 1862, which gave freedom to slaves across America, including those in the North.  In other words, wealthy Northerners still had slaves when the war began in the South.

The most liked blog of mine is “Southern Pride-Waving a Confederate Flag” (July 6, 2015).  As stated, “If the Civil War was fought over slavery, wouldn’t President Lincoln have signed the Emancipation Proclamation to free all slaves before the war began on April 12, 1861, instead of on January 1, 1863?  Weren’t the slaves used by the president to fight off Confederate forces who had proved to be a more formidable force than expected by slaughtering his troops in numerous battles?  Yes, is the most logical answer based upon the facts and history of the rich using the poor to fight their battles.”

What would the Mothers of Civil War soldiers think if they could see what is going on today about the war that claimed the lives of their sons?   We should, as a society, honor those who gave their lives to defend our country, even if their lives were lost fighting a war within the United States of America.

Feel free to share this post.  For more on the Civil War, and excerpts from THE LAST CONFEDERATE COIN by S.G. Garwood and Dr. Jonathan Jackson, visit thelastcharlestonconfederate.weebly.com.

_________________________________________

Wayne T. Dowdy writes at StraightFromthePen.com.  Post comments on this site or email them to waynedowdy@straightfromthepen.com or wtdowdy57@gmail.com

DAMAGE and PRISON

solitude

by Wayne T. Dowdy

[Updated with comments on August 9, 2019, a year after walking out of the prison gates (08/28/2018), still attempting to recover from the damage caused by thirty-years and ten-days inside the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons.]

Prison damages people.  Those who spend decades in prison are damaged in many ways, all of which I will not go into.  For instance, exposure to violence or physical abuse that people deal with, or repressing natural tendencies to fight when having to comply with irrational demands; e.g., like ones I wrote about in “The Truth About Incarceration, Part I” (https:/straightfromthepen.com) and “Authority and a Prisoner’s Story” (https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/508702).

DON’T GET PERSONAL:  A less than obvious example of damage, occurs for someone like me — a southern gentleman by nature who likes to assist people I see carrying a heavy load or otherwise look to need help; especially, women, who represses the natural desire to help.  To engage in a personal conversation may also create difficulties.

At times, I resist the desire to offer help due to fear of causing a conflict for the damsel in distress.  I still offer to help in certain situations.  Because of prison regulations and the warped, unwritten code of prison ethics, I may avoid speaking openly about an issue I would normally speak about to a person I feel I can help by offering a suggestion.

The person may or may not accept a helping hand.  In such a situation, an inmate may decline assistance at the fear of being seen as weak or vulnerable.  A staff member may decline due to fear of another staff member suspecting improprieties between him or her and the compassionate prisoner.  Personal conversations and any type of transaction between staff and inmates are viewed as inappropriate by many prisoners and staff alike.  Humanity prohibited!

INSTINCTS DENIED:  My instinct is to help others.  Sometimes I don’t because of the risk I may put the other person in by doing what comes natural.  Knowing that my act of kindness may harm the other person, makes me reluctant to offer the assistance my ethics and natural instincts tells me to do, as a decent human being.

Upon release, I will have to undo decades of damage done by the prison experience:  suppressing healthy emotions and needs.  I must learn to be a normal.

[I continue to work on behaving as I normally would do as a free citizen, if not for the damage caused by the extensive incarceration. I still struggle when it comes to relationships. I am a decent, loving, kind, and gentle human being, who doesn’t have to pretend to be bullet proof.]

I sent out the following message to a friend who posted it on social media for me.  A lot of people liked it so I will share:

“03/05/17:  To all my Faithful Friends:  I hope March brings each of you lots of love and success or whatever your hearts desire.  For me, I’d be happy to be able to walk through a park or to sit on a lake to listen and observe the beauty of nature; to give someone a hug, kiss someone special, or to just be able to sit and watch animals; or to pet a dog, cat, rabbit, or a chicken.  🙂  Hell, I’d be happy to watch some fish swim around in an aquarium.  I am looking forward to going to the Georgia Aquarium to see some really big fish!  So much in life people take for granted until it’s gone.  One day soon I will be reentering the human race.  Then I will be able to interact with each of you like a normal person.  Have a great day!  Wayne”

[Georgia Aquarium: I walked by the Georgia Aquarium en route to a job fair at the City of Refuge, but have not been to watch the fish swim. I will go soon now that I’m working and can afford to buy the tickets. Everything is expensive!]

The above indicates the desensitization of prisoners.  For over 28-1/2 years, my physical contact with other humans and mammals has been severely restricted.  That is definitely true on an intimate level about lovers and sexual intercourse!  During this sentence, I have resisted romantic-relationships.  I’ve only been involved in three since 1988, and only one of those included physical contact (hugs and kisses on a visit).

At U.S.P. Atlanta, I had one female visitor I got to hug and kiss, and some mice to pet.  🙂

In Lompoc, California, I got to take care of a friend’s pet house sparrow, and to go outside to feed the seagulls, crows, other birds, and ground squirrels.  I fed the ground squirrels until the administration poisoned them.  😦

In a relationship, I love to hug and touch, to put my arm around my mate’s waist or shoulder, to sleep with my arm around her to maintain contact.  I guess I am by nature, a “touchy-feely” kind of guy.  In prison, I sleep alone and touch myself.

SEXUAL REPRESSION:  In 1980-81, when I took psychology in college, I seem to recall that a prominent psychologist or psychiatrist wrote about the damaging effect of suppressing sexual feelings and desires.  If that is true, I must be more damaged than I realize.  Perhaps I need a therapist, now!

In my opinion, sexual repression is a leading causes of mental illness in America.

Around 1997, a Nevada, Holier-than-Thou politician, pushed a bill through Congress that prohibited federal prisoners from receiving magazines or books containing nudity. [Ensign later resigned due to negative publicity about his extramarital affairs.]

CENSORSHIP & COMPLEX REASONING:  Several years ago, the prison mail room staff rejected an issue of Smithsonian I subscribed to because it contained nudity.  I appealed.

The program statement makes an exception for educational or anthropological content, as one may see in National Geographic; however, understanding an “exception clause” requires cognitive thinking; an ability to comprehend the subject matter and its relation to the provision; to then analyze the situation and decide whether the matter before one’s eye, does in fact, contain what constitutes a permissible exception, a far too complicated process for someone who may not have a GED, I reckon.

The Smithsonian Board of Directors has Supreme Court justices and politicians.  If I was wrong in my assertions, the justices and politicians on the Board of Directors support publishing and distributing pornography.

I appealed the decision to reject my Smithsonian.  I took it to the highest level in Washington, DC.  No one involved comprehended the “exception clause” and upheld the denial of my magazine.  Censorship won because I didn’t want to spend $500.00 to litigate the matter in federal court, where someone with the required intelligence could understand the educational/anthropological, “exception clause.”

PERVERSION & THE POLITICIAN:  Since that policy took effect, I saw a dramatic increase of inmates put in the hole (confined to a cell 23-hours per day, restricted from purchasing most commissary items, using the phone, email system, etc.) for “gunning down” female staff members (masturbating or exposing genitalia while watching the woman).  That may qualify as abnormal behavior.

The politician who sponsored the censorship bill, later came under fire for getting caught cheating on his wife.  Throughout the years, many of the politicians who come up with such bills did what prisoners in the Georgia prison system called “Shifting the Heat,” which is to say or to do things to put the focus on other people to keep it away from themselves.

[U.S. Senator John Ensign, Author of Ensign Amendment, Falls From Grace, https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/news/2009/nov/15/us-senator-john-ensign-author-of-ensign-amendment-falls-from-grace/ ]

CELIBATE BY CHOICE:  In prison, I remain celibate because I choose not to participate in homosexual activities, my only other option since I do not have or attempt to have sexual affairs with staff members.  Even if involved in a heterosexual relationship with someone, I still couldn’t engage in sexual activities, even if someone visited me.  While visiting, prison rules limit physical contact to hugs and kisses when greeting and leaving.  Therefore, I remain celibate and will do so until I reenter that part of humanity upon release from prison.

LOMPOC CA:  In 1999, while I was at the United States Penitentiary in Lompoc, California, a tall and pretty, female staff member worked in M-Unit, along with a male staff member known to create drama with staff and inmates alike.

M-Unit is where those of us with high profiles were kept.  I lived in it because I was a maximum custody prisoner.  The administration scored me as Maximum custody due to violence and an escape in 1981, when I was a 24-year-old knucklehead in the Georgia prison system.  Today I am a model prisoner.

PRETTY WOMAN:  That tall and pretty woman was a mother of three.  The male guard wanted her to sit in a booth where the correctional officers, who worked in the unit, had a phone, small desk, drawers, and a cabinet to store their personal and work-related items.

She rebelled.  Instead, she chose to speak with me, within his view.  We stood talking on a tier, in an open area, where others could hear our conversation.  To learn how she might help raise her children, she asked about my childhood and history, and wanted to know what I thought lead to me spending my life in prison.  Our conversation was wholesome, no improprieties of any sort.

The next time I saw her, she asked if I’d be willing to give her an affidavit about our conversation, if she needed it.

“Sure,” I said.

The male guard wrote a complaint against her for fraternizing with an inmate.

Because of that experience, I sometimes avoided conversations with female staff members, who may have only wanted to engage in conversation to ease their tension from working in a male prison.

When sexually attracted, I must resist the impulse to flirt or to make an advance.  A rejection might result in a trip to the hole and a damaged ego, the damaged ego being the worst casualty of rejection.

[Today, I resist the urge to flirt or ask for a date because of some of the BS generated through the ME TOO movement, where many people filed complaints and alleged sexual abuse by those in power positions (most of which were legitimate complaints, I suspect). The main reason is because of personal circumstance and for reasons I wrote about in previous blog posts, and because I don’t think it’s what I need until I become more accustomized to living on the outside.]

As damaged as I may be from the prison experience, I will blend into society when I am released.  With a little help from my friends, and maybe a therapist or two, I will be okay and become a success story.

[Returning Citizen: I am a success story, as are all of the men and women who returned to society and have not returned to prison life.]

________________________________________

Purchase books by Wayne T. Dowdy by emailing him at wayne@straightfromthepen.com, or by purchasing them through Amazon.com or your favorite bookstore. Best buys on eBooks go to Smashwords.com (https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy).

Happy Father’s Day-2020

Photo by Josh Willink on Pexels.com

Note: This is a repost from last year that remains as meaningful on this Father’s Day as in 2019

Happy Father’s Day to the Fathers, Stepfathers, and all those good men who took on fathership to fill in for or to be that special person in the life of a precious child or children.

May God Shower You with Many Blessings. Thank you!

Let’s not forget those special men and women who play the role of both parents who give their offspring or the children whose lives became a part of, the love and attention each child deserves.

Thanks for being Extra Special!


*****

Give Dad an Amazon eGift Card to make him smile and to show him how much he is appreciated. Click here

Bank Robber Stories by Jeffrey P. Frye

by Jeffrey P. Frye

Purchase today Click Here

Jeffrey P. Frye never fails to deliver well-written and entertaining stories from his life. His unique background in the legal and illegal professions gives him writing credibility that keeps readers wanting to see what he produces next.

Bank Robber Stories contains humor and a variety of mixed-emotional avenues for readers to experience. A great read for the curious minded about life on the inside of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons and what might lead a person to change professions from the legal to illegal.

Mr. Frye is now in the process of returning to his natural state before his fall from grace. He will confess to “Not Thinking” if asked, “What was you thinking?” Reading this book proves it!

~ Wayne T. Dowdy, author of UNKNOWN INNOCENCE, and ESSAYS AND MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN.

Click here to buy now

INTRODUCTION by Jeffrey P. Frye

It takes a special kind of person to turn their adversities into success; their sadness into joy that’s used to entertain others.

And it takes a person with tenacity and depth to continue to seek the sunshine when all you’ve ever known is the rain. And it takes a person with natural talent to be able to write a story under these conditions that’s captivating and that you don’t want to put down.

Wayne T. Dowdy is such a person, and UNKNOWN INNOCENCE is such a story.

In UNKNOWN INNOCENCE, Dowdy takes the reader into the lives of his protagonists, Bobby and Nicole, and tells the story of how it all went terribly wrong. How the forces of bad luck, helped along by a crooked FBI agent and attorney, conspired to take Bobby behind the walls of the United States Federal Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas. Using a pen along with a vivid and epic imagination, Dowdy draws upon his life in the free world, as well as his nearly three decades of walking the line in some of the roughest federal pens in America.

Moving along at a steady pace, UNKNOWN INNOCENCE tells the story of Bobby’s wrongful conviction. Sent up the river for life without parole, Big Bobby never gives up hope though. The one thing that has eluded him for most of his life is the very thing that turns out to be his salvation. Love. UNKNOWN INNOCENCE is a riveting tale that transcends genres. It’s a mystery and a thriller, with a love story woven through its fabric.

Wayne T. Dowdy is a writer for the masses whose voice has purpose. It tells the World, “No matter what happens to me, I will not give up.” This voice takes the broken pieces of a life and combines it with raw talent to bring forth a beautiful mosaic. It’s a voice that says, no matter how guilty I may be, there is still unknown innocence in each and every one of us.

Jeffrey P. Frye

September 9, 2015

Edgefield, South Carolina

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.

The following excerpt comes from the second book written by Wayne T. Dowdy, under the pseudonym of Mr. D, which he self-published with assistance from Midnight Express Books, to inspire and motivate aspiring writers. The Story Behind the Novel contains links for writing tools to help other writers.

THE STORY BEHIND THE NOVEL

[Updated August 14, 2019: This novel was published while I was in prison and most content remains the same; however, on May 8, 2019, I was released from the custody and control of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons. I removed some of the original content from “The Story Behind the Novel” because it became outdated.]

The story behind the novel may surprise you because I wrote it while serving a 420-month federal prison sentence. Mr. D.” is the pseudonym I used for my first book to avoid any confusion associated with my writings. I am a writer of many genres and am aware that some readers are “profanity-sensitive”; I don’t want anyone to be confused when purchasing my books, essays or short stories. Though not used frequently, profanity is often necessary to capture the personality of a character or to make a scene or setting more realistic; especially, when writing about prison life. A person allergic to profanity may safely read most of my personal essays (inspirational, political, creative nonfiction), but may break out into a rash or go into anaphylactic shock when reading what I write as “Mr. D,” a pseudonym I chose based upon the song, Dancing with Mr. D., by the Rolling Stones, and because my last name begins with “D” and some people call me Mr. D.

Why should the reader find motivation by reading this? It came from the confines of a prison. If I wrote this from inside, without an electronic data storage system, and without access to the Internet, someone “out there” with all of the available technology and resources can really work some magic. This is the story behind the novel:

I am a federal prisoner serving a lengthy prison sentence; to be precise, thirty-five-years, without parole, for armed bank robbery and associated charges. I started on August 18, 1988. I have never used the Internet or seen a cell phone, other than in magazines or on television. I’m somewhat prehistoric, a relic.

In prison, our movement and activities are limited. For instance, I only have until 7:45 pm, Monday through Thursday evenings, to type at the library, which does not begin until my living unit gets released for chow (usually by 6:00 pm). At the library, I use a dumbed-down, AlphaSmart, word processor to type with until the library closes [AlphaSmarts were removed from the library before my release and replaced with the worst typewriters available, with no memory recall capabilities].

Normally, a writer using an AlphaSmart would have an interface cord to connect to their PC to upload what they typed on the AlphaSmart, and would then make modifications to the text in their PC; e.g., change line spacing, font size or style, underline words, or adjust margins. I don’t have a PC to upload what I have typed and cannot modify what I have written, other than typical editing functions, such as copying and pasting, and using spellcheck to correct misspelled words (program does not check grammar or punctuation). Fortunately, the presets include double line spacing, one-inch top, left and right margins, and a 12-pt Times New Roman font. If I want to add an underline to a word or a case cite when doing legal work, I have to create a separate file, count spaces, and then use the underscore key to create an underline. Then I have to run the original document back through a low-quality printer to complete the process.

That gives you an idea of what limited capabilities are when writing and typing from inside a prison (and I am fortunate to be able to do what I do). Some prisons only have ancient typewriters, with no memory storage capabilities. (I authored Under Pressure on such a primitive device.) The only other day I have to work on my writing is on Saturday because the library does not open on Sunday or holidays. During the morning I skip going to eat to type from 7:30 am (or whenever the door opens), until 9:15 am. Then I have to return to the cellblock to be counted. Yes, all of us men must stand up and be counted at 10:00 am, 4:00 pm, and 10:00 pm on weekends and holidays. The 10:00 am Count is a special event: we don’t have one during the week. I often use the break for count to proofread what I’ve written, or to prepare for what I will write.

Once the count clears and the prison staff begin feeding the noon meal, I often skip chow to go type some more. I am usually typing by 11:30 am until I have to turn in the AlphaSmart at 3:15 pm. Fridays and Sundays are my days of forced rest from typing at the library: the only place I can type personal projects.

Where am I during the week when not at the library? Working. I work as the document control clerk in a textile factory of the Federal Prison Industries, Inc., trade name UNICOR. My meager MONTHLY salary averages near $200.00. I used that income to pay for my enrollment in the Long Ridge Writers Group on January 8, 2007. The course is outlined for completion within two years. On July 7, 2008, I graduated. During the same time that I was taking their writing course, I wrote the short story, “Under Pressure.” I attempted its publication by submitting my 6,158-word manuscript (typed on the ancient typewriter mentioned earlier), to various magazines, college literary journals, and entered it in PEN’s Prison Writing contest. It didn’t win. Then on January 1, 2012, my ambition was born to convert the short story into a novel, the hard way, almost five years from the date of when I enrolled in the Long Ridge Writers Group to learn how to write and market short stories and essays. One year after I decided to turn the short story into a novel, it was available worldwide.

My biggest problem in getting started with converting the short story into a novel came from not having any way to electronically store data. When I finished typing at the prison library to return to the cellblock, everything I had typed was deleted according to policy. I knew having memory storage would ease the pain of the revision process (some pages I retyped up to five times to correct a typo, verb tense, or to replace or to add “one” word). I solicited help from my family and friends to have my manuscript scanned and stored on a disk or CD as a word.doc format for the manipulation of data. One of my two sisters, who was not real computer savvy, did go to different places attempting to find what I needed, but the best she could find was someone to scan and save it as a pdf file, which I didn’t think would allow her to alter the text back then (now converters are available that allows a person to modify Portable Document Format files).

I began the conversion process in light of the troubled waters ahead before I learned about the publisher, Midnight Express Books (MEB). Approximately six months after I had surrendered the idea of finding an easier, softer way to write the novel, I discovered MEB through an ad in the Education Behind Bars Newsletter (EBBN). EBBN ran an ad in Prison Legal News and asked for submissions. I submitted an essay and began receiving complementary copies of the newsletter. In the last issue I received, I noticed an ad for MEB, whom works exclusively with prisoners seeking publication [the publisher retired].

At that point, I had decided to go the traditional publishing route, so I passed along the information to another aspiring writer. MEB sent him a brochure. He asked me to read it and asked that I give him my opinion. I was sold when I read about MEB’s optical character reader and computer program for scanning manuscripts, and then being able to digitally alter the text. I immediately added their contact information to the system provided for e-mailing and recording addresses (TRULINCS & http://www.corrlinks.com). Thus, began the correspondence that lead to MEB helping me publish my first novel.

On January 14, 2013, CreateSpace.com released UNDER PRESSURE for sale to the public as a print-on-demand book. [Note:  Amazon closed CreateSpace, which was a self-publishing division for paperback books. Now authors must use Kindle Direct Publishing and pay Amazon twice the amount of commission for books sales.]

The following day Amazon.com posted UNDER PRESSURE. Now it is available worldwide upon demand through the following sources:

Amazon Books

(http://www.amazon.com/Under-Pressure-Mr-D/dp/098576869X )

Amazon.com

(http://www.amazon.com/Under-Pressure-ebook/dp/B00B1ZI00K/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1366854587&sr=8-1&keywords=under+pressure+Mr.+d )

and

Smashwords.com

(https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/275053 )

Smashwords is an eBook distributor who distributes eBooks in various formats to eBook retailers for use on e-readers like the Barns & Noble Nook, and the various applications through Apple products and the Apple iBookstore. When I write other books, essays, or short stories, I will have them posted on my SmashWords’ Author’s page:

https://smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy

If the product in your hands (or before your eyes) came from inside a federal prison, with the assistance of MEB, imagine what you can do “out there” with all of the available technology. For example, Microsoft Word (https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/word/cfq7ttc0k7c7?=&OCID=AID2000136_SEM_O2CceKEP&MarinID=sO2CceKEP%7c340719598991%7cmicrosoft+word%7ce%7cc%7c%7c64346372608%7caud-473968998633%3akwd-10582150&lnkd=Google_O365SMB_NI&gclid=Cj0KCQjwv8nqBRDGARIsAHfR9wAPF2bA3yAzCZsudqoAjxNPQjR62TD52dyGZH6AUYTJAhNWtpHglkgaAtpzEALw_wcB&activetab=pivot%3aoverviewtab); 

Word Perfect X9 (www.corel.com ); and some writers’ tools: Character Writer 4.0 (http://www.characterpro.com/characterwriter/index.html); writing tools from Master Writer (https://masterwriter.com/creative_writers/); for screenplays: Power Structure and Power Writer for writing novels and screenplays (https://www.powerstructure.com/).

Maybe one day I will find out. For you, though, if you are an aspiring writer or just a reader with ambitions, apply yourself to the task and reach for your dreams: they may be closer than you imagine.

Perseverance Pays!

Best regards,

Wayne T. Dowdy aka, “Mr. D.”

I welcome all comments, and will respond to all questions as soon as possible, which may vary according to the number received, but I will respond.

Contact Info:

E-mail: waynedowdy@straightfromthepen.com or wtdowdy57@gmail.com

Mailing Address: Wayne T. Dowdy, P.O. Box 2608, McDonough, GA 30253

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