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.

Adventures of Wayne, Monday, August 12, 2019

Life on the outside sometimes feels as if I am walking through a tunnel, deep into another time zone, right into another life. Well, I reckon that’s what I am doing, straight from the prehistoric era into modern society, acting civilized, not like a pimpin’ caveman.

Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

 Since my release and learning how to capture images with the camera (cellphone), I enjoy walking around and taking photos of anything that catches my eye. Some things I do resist, of course, as it’s not nice to snap a photo of an unsuspecting person, especially as she walks down the street. 🙂 I do respect privacy and am considerate of others on most days.

I have developed a nice collection on my View Bug profile page and have won some awards, even if I do have duplicates because I don’t know how to delete photos I upload, but hey, I’m still in the learning curve for technology. Here’s the link for ViewBug: https://www.viewbug.com/member/WTD4U

Imagine what I could have done if I had had a nice camera to use during those adventures. My favorite shots are often of tall buildings and structures or nature. I love insects, animals, flowers and trees, and not having to get film developed!

 For all of you youngsters, once upon a time people had to carry a roll of camera film to Kodak or Fuji to have it developed or otherwise use a Polaroid camera, something else from the prehistoric era. 

Fighting to be Free by Wayne T. Dowdy

Pastor Eric Payne with Family and Friend

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The fight continues to free Pastor Eric Payne from the Georgia Department of Corrections. I initially wrote about this situation in Criminal Injustice and Pastor Eric Payne. https://straightfromthepen.com/2019/07/10/criminal-injustice-and-pastor-eric-payne/ This blog is a follow-up that includes correspondence from Pastor Eric Payne and his loving and carring wife, who continues to fight for the freedom of her husband.

Please pay attention to the minute amount of cocaine used to sentence him to 15-years. I wrote about a similar situation in Freedom for Another Friend, where a friend was serving life without parole, in part, due to a prior conviction for small amount of cocaine, used to enhance his federal sentence. https://straightfromthepen.com/2016/08/09/freedom-for-another-friend/

Pastor Eric Payne

By now you’re aware of what my attorney did to us in taking our money, NOT doing a thing, at the last minute dropping my case. Further, I’m sure you know about the “cruel, unusual, unjust, unfair, and sadistic punishment and game” the parole chief and State recently played on me and my family.

But I DO have some things to say about receiving 15 years for the victimless and nonviolent crime of Felony Possession of Cocaine (.001 gram/residue).

It was a bad decision, but I went back to “hustling” after a series of unfortunate financial struggles in my personal life, businesses, and church. I felt that I was suffocating and everywhere I turned I received no monetary assistance.

Once arrested I received “no bond” for the first 90 days and then a “$190,000.00 bond” afterwards. My Public Defender consistently expressed that he could not understand why the Chief Asst. District Attorney who handled murders, robberies, sex crimes, and all violent crimes was assigned to prosecute. I couldn’t understand it either especially since prior to this case (2013) I had not been in trouble with the law since 2002 in another state. In fact, I had not even had so much as a “Pedestrian Warning” or traffic ticket in GA!

My Public Defender even tried the slick move of claiming I had a drug problem. I paid to be interviewed by two separate residential drug rehabilitation programs and was accepted. Yet the prosecutor refused to agree with the recommendation. Thus, the judge would not consent to me being sent there in conjunction with long-term probation.

After 10 1/2 months sitting in jail working on various details, never receiving any discipline referrals (write-ups), being a role model inmate, and speaking to youths brought in for speeches, I pled to the mercy of the court.

I had a host of letters, pictures of me doing community service through my church, certifications, my pastor’s license and ordination papers, my church charter certificate, and everything needed to validate the launch of my own church presented to the courts yet it wasn’t enough to sway the judge’s (an African-American who preaches in south GA and who has a son with a history of criminal activity, drug involvement and drug addiction) decision to sentence me to 15 years in prison.

Even after the judge’s decision over 30 Detention Officers signed a petition asking the judge to reconsider because I had worked for them for nearly a year and they witnessed first-hand my character, behavior, and work ethic. The judge ignored their request, turned the petition over to the Sheriff, and all 30 officers were suspended and some prevented from advancing or becoming a deputy.

I was wrong for selling drugs and being in possession of the .001 gram (residue) of cocaine. But I felt then, as I feel now, that my charge was ridiculous, and my sentence was/is excessive. I’ve seen men who were in possession of WAY more drugs than myself and who were actually caught selling or trafficking drugs receive much less jail or prison time (including house arrest and/or probation) than myself.

I had (and STILL have) a valid, proven, and verifiable history of being an asset and positive contribution to my family, church, community, and society. Whether through personal contact or through Social Media, I’ve been a “plus” in the lives of those I’ve come in contact with.

Daily my wife, 4 minor children, family, friends, and church pray that someone will finally “listen” to us and begin the process of releasing me. At worst, we hope and pray that someone will listen and bring attention to the changes that need to be made on behalf of those in Sates custody and not just Federal custody (where it’s obvious that all of the “breaks” and opportunities go).

My family and I hope someone will help us.

Thank you for listening.

Pastor Eric

Theresa Payne Speaks Out

My husband was paroled to Palm Beach County FL (by approved Interstate Compact) in October 2018 then snatched from our family in February 2018 due to a “clerical error” between the GDOC and Parole system. He worked hard, was active in our community, and committed no new crimes, had not old/active warrants, and violated no conditions of his parole. 

Me and my children have suffered due to this unfairness, injustice, and cruel and unusual punishment. My husband has suffered as well.

On July 23, 2019 I received a call from Chief Hawkins (Albany/Dougherty County) stating my husband had a TPM (Tentative Parole Month) of July 31, 2019. From July 23rd thru July 25th I had several conversations with chief Hawkins and he repeatedly stated and confirmed via his computer that my husband’s TPM was set for July 31, 2019. Again, Chief Hawkins initiated the call to me with the news of my husband’s TPM.

I notified my husband, shared the fantastic news with our four minor children, told many family members (including my husband’s 95 year old mother), church members, and friends and proceeded to make plans and arrangements for my husband’s return home to West Palm Beach, FL.

I confirmed through the GDOC website and through Counselor Palmer (Montgomery State Prison staff member) that my husband did NOT have a TPM – only a PED for July 2020. Further, my husband personally spoke to Senior Counselor Youmans a (MSP) and Counselor Palmer (MSP) whom both confirmed that my husband did NOT have a TPM whatsoever. Yet, Chief Hawkins persisted and remained adamant in saying my Husband’s TPM was July 31, 2019.

On the afternoon of Thursday, July 25, 2019 I spoke with Chief Hawkins who then changed his statement now saying my husband in fact did NOT have a TPM at all and that, all along, my husband on had a PED for July, 2020.

Chief Hawkins has added additional stress, pain, and suffering to our family’s already sad and horrible situation. How can I fully explain this to our children? How do I share this devastating news to our family and friends? How is my husband expected to deal with yet another unwarranted shock and letdown? We did not ask for this unjust treatment.

It’s clear that Chief Hawkins actions have treated me, my children, and my husband with even greater cruel and unusual punishment than we’ve already been experiencing since February 27, 2019. Again, we did not ask for any of this emotional roller-coaster, mental anguish, harsh treatment, nor, frankly, this cruel “game” being played on us at every point in our travesty.

We also had 2 lawyers that advised us that they could help us and within a matter of months, both have dropped the case leaving my husband without any legal representation. 

Who is left who has any type of compassion?

[Mrs. Payne attached a character reference letter from the Mayor of their town that I cannot post until receiving his consent.]

Theresa A. Payne

Co-Founder at New Zion Assembly – The New Church

Founder at Focused On Purpose

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClYHWKWiOjR4T_ZTV3vYZCQ?view_as=subscriber

Like a Virgin by Wayne T. Dowdy

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Sex sells! Ask any of the ladies (or men and children) of the night, if you don’t believe it; especially, in the City of Atlanta, Georgia.

Sex sales has always been popular and a “hot ticket” item in Atlanta. One thing that’s been true about Atlanta since I’ve been alive, is that no matter what a person was into, it was available in Atlanta or someone there could find it for the seeker.

Five years ago, in 2014, Atlanta held the Number One ranking in the United States for Sex Trafficking and still holds strong to its perverted image and statistic.

https://patch.com/georgia/buckhead/atlanta-ranked-no-1-for-sex-trafficking-conventions-to-blame

In 2018, the sex trade in Atlanta was still booming; especially, for sex trafficking children. https://www.wabe.org/sex-trafficking-in-atl-what-you-dont-see-behind-closed-doors/ Many children who are forced into sex trafficking lose their virginity by rape and physical abuse; something no person should have to endure.

With me having four granddaughters, when I heard about all of the reports on CNN and other news channels about children sex trafficking in Atlanta, I was thankful I did not know of anyone who had harmed either of my granddaughters, daughter, son or other family members. If someone had done that to a loved one and then been put near me or others inside the system who would volunteer to vindicate the injustice on my behalf, I would not have gotten out of prison.

Yes, that’s called vigilante justice and is unlawful but may sometimes be permissible, at least, by my immoral standards.

In federal prison I knew some of the convicted, Atlanta children sex traffickers, and several other people who committed sex crimes. I practiced living by spiritual principles to avoid being judgmental because of my desire to help them recover from their illness, in hope that my higher power, whom I chose to call God, could use me to help protect a child from future victimization if the person was released.

Struggle: Not to be Holier than Thou. Everyone may claim that he or she would never do something like that! But the truth is that, if, “WE” had experienced the same things in our lives that the other person had, we, too, may behave the same.

Okay, so you may wonder what’s the point of all this about the availability of Sex in the City? Well, from a personal perspective, with all of the available sex in the city, I have remained celibate, by choice, for decades. To me, that should give me the right to claim virginity again.

Most people walk out of prison doors with sex on the mind. I did, too, but knew better than to follow that line of thinking.

I explained my position in a blog I wrote before my release, and in my response to two of the most frequently asked questions: “Reentry Plans & a Friend Moves On

https://straightfromthepen.com/2018/07/16/reentry-plans-a-friend-moves-on/

“MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: What is the first thing you plan to eat? Where are you going to go eat at when you get out? What do you plan to do first? 🙂

“My response: I don’t know. I’m thinking of steak and lobster but when I see the price, I may change my mind to steak and shrimp or a Burger King Whopper or a Blizzard at Dairy Queen. Those prices may make me want to prepare my own meal. Then the grocery store prices may make me want to fast.

“I do plan to find a good paying job with benefits so I can afford to eat the way I prefer (healthy choices on most days).

[The good paying job with benefits hasn’t happened yet, and what I first ate was fruit brought to me by my family, per my request, because I didn’t want to stop to eat en route to the halfway house in Atlanta. I was offered my choice of a meal, steak and lobster or whatever. I chose healthy foods! Now I eat more junk food than anything.]

MOST POPULAR FREE ADVICE: Get a hooker because you’ll fall in love with the first woman you have sex with if you don’t. 🙂

“My response: I’m not walking out the door thinking with my penis. I’ve never paid for sex and I’m not starting when I get out of prison. I’ve been thirty years without getting laid and if I have to wait a little longer, I will survive.”

LADIES HANGING OUT INSIDE MARTA TRAIN STATION, ATLANTA, GEORGIA

Well, I have held strong and stuck to my plans but don’t think that it has been easy because it has not. My body has been willing and my mind eager to explore an intimate relationship, but my circumstances have prevented that from happening, and I don’t want to just use a woman for my sexual pleasures, so …. I remain more celibate than many priests.

I will continue to keep doing as I have: Acting like a virgin for the very first time and playing hard to get with all the beautiful young ladies who want my body. That is, until the right one comes along who is simply irresistible. 😉

Life on the Outside

An Antique Timex Indiglo that I Bought in 1995

Time keeps ticking no matter what goes on in my life. My desire to succeed never slows or diminishes, as I remain determined to succeed on a professional level, just as I have done on an interpersonal level.

My life on the outside has been a challenge in many respects, as it took me eleven months to find a job, other than the non-paying positions I have as a writer and a blogger.

Trying to fit back into society after serving thirty-years, six-months, and eighteen days of my life inside the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons, has also been a challenge, since my not having a job or a place of my own has interfered with having normal, healthy relationships with females. At least, in the romantic sense. I do have heathy relationships but no romantic involvement, not yet.

If not for the love and support of my friends and a loving family …. life would have been much rougher for me and more of a challenge to successfully reintegrate into society.

As of July 18, 2019, I began working for Goodwill of North Georgia as an Environmental Services Technician, which is a long name for a janitor.

I am happy to have a regular income and do enjoy getting to do something constructive (cleaning floors, toilets, and whatever needs done to keep the building nice and clean).

My position at Goodwill is a way for me to give back to the community because Goodwill does things to help a whole lot of people to have and to do things that otherwise would not be possible. I love Goodwill!

Go to Goodwill of North Georgia and get a job and I’ll love them more if you tell them Wayne T. Dowdy from the McDonough, Georgia store referred you so that I get a $50 bonus. 🙂

Being a servant keeps me humble, a spiritual trait I need because my EGO was out to kill me when I allowed it to run out of control. Today, I remain clean and sober to keep the Ego under control and out of the driver’s seat.

I am like my first sponsor in a Twelve Step program who said, “I have a head that thinks it can kill the body and keep on living.”

Good thing that I know it lies!

In Conclusion: I will make my living with the business I am creating. I will remain humble and do what I can to help the community, online and in person, as I continue my journey of life on the outside.

Here’s a short video clip from the Adventures of Wayne at the Clayton County Reservoir, where I went to a retirement party with a loved one. I hope you enjoy the beauty of the scenery as much as I and can appreciate having eyes to see.

Criminal Injustice and Pastor Eric Payne

[Update: Lady Payne now has a UTube Channel and discusses the situation with the re-incarceration of her husband. Follow her at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTGUfI0D7L0&feature=youtu.be In addition, another related blog post is “Fighting for Freedom” https://straightfromthepen.com/2019/08/10/fighting-to-be-free-by-wayne-t-dowdy/ ]

A friend wants attention drawn to the issue of Pastor Eric Payne being put back in prison, after he had been released, and then violated because of a clerical error. I do not know the specifics of this case and do not voice an opinion on the issue of the legalities and facts associated with his return to prison, because of that lack of knowledge.

[Update: July 11, 2019: In response to a comment posted by a reader, I wrote the reply in hope that others will contact the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles to request a commutation of sentence for Pastor Eric Payne]:

State Board of Pardons and Paroles, 2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive SE, Suite 458, Balcony Level, East Tower, Atlanta, Georgia 30334-4909 Telephone: (404) 656-4661 (parole status questions or webmaster@pap.ga.gov)

Media and for public information, call (404) 657 9450   Website: www.pap.georgia.gov

Since I haven’t read Pastor Eric Payne’s sentencing transcripts and do not know the facts of his release, transfer, etc., I cannot say if the State of Georgia released him in error, or if he was transferred from Georgia to Florida under the Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act for disposition of pending charges or for satisfaction of a sentence imposed by the State of Florida, and then Florida released him in error, rather than returning him to the sending state (Georgia).

If the latter is true (Florida released him instead of returning him to Georgia), then if the Georgia sentence imposed by the court had not been satisfied, legally speaking, in my unprofessional opinion, he would owe the remainder of that sentence to the State of Georgia.

However, if the state so chooses, the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles has the power to commute his sentence to time served.

I do note that society seemed to be benefiting more by the man leading the congregation in his church and raising his children, instead of being cast back into prison. Clerical Error or not, is the interest of society best served by his return to prison? Is society safer because Pastor Eric Payne is back in prison? I think not!

I feel other alternatives existed and that if WE, as American citizens and abroad, want to reduce mass incarceration, the public needs to petition the legislatures to implement measures to retrain overzealous prosecutors and law enforcement agents, including probation officers and those associated with criminal justice, to focus more on helping returning citizens to successfully reintegrate into society, rather than sending those people back to prison, unless they pose a threat of injury to others.

Those men and women who are put in prison and then released, who may then fall short of the glory of the criminal justice system, need help in learning how to function as normal, law-abiding citizens. Putting someone back in prison for minor offenses and non-violent crimes, does not help society progress.

Mrs. Theresa Payne on the Reincarceration of Her Loving Husband

Eric Payne and Family

July 1, 2019

My name is Theresa Payne. My husband is Eric Payne. We have four amazing and energetic kids ages 13, 10, 9 and 6. We are ministers and leaders in our community at The Glades (located in Belle Glade, FL). I’d like to share with you the great accomplishments made by my husband from October 2018 until February 2019.

  • Launched several ministries
  • President of Glades Family Services (Our Non-Profit, 501c3 Organization)
  • Regularly participated in community feedings with Lighthouse Café
  • Member of the Glades Ministerial Association
  • Member of the Chamber of Commerce
  • Spearheaded (created) 2 fundraisers to address the needs of the homeless and those in poverty in our community (Run to Belle Glade and Pray for The Glades Concert)
  • National presence for the homeless and those in poverty via YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Periscope and LinkedIn
  • Partnered with esteemed religious leaders and business owners in our community
  • Certified Personal Trainer and Business Owner of One-On-One Custom Fitness (providing individual training sessions as well as weekend bootcamps)

As a Parolee who successfully transferred his parole from Georgia to Florida, I would like to also point out that Eric possessed a valid Florida Driver’s License, abided by ALL laws and ALL conditions of his parole and exceeded every expectation of a parolee.

On February 27, 2019, Eric’s Parole Officer called his cell phone and advised him that his Parole Paperwork had arrived from Georgia and that he was needed in her office. What she left out was that he was about to be re-arrested for a clerical error. My husband was re-arrested due to a clerical error from a 2013 sentence; 3 years was served on a concurrent sentence involving his 2013 sentence but we were told was that he was “released by mistake” and must serve 10 more years. Instead of correcting their error, the State of Georgia decided that in order to cover their own tracks, they would take Eric away from his wife and children, his church, his businesses, and his community and take him back to Georgia to serve 10 more years. This is the definition of cruel and unusual punishment. What is the reason for taking him to another state for a clerical error? Why punish him for an error made by the state of Georgia? Why punish him by stripping him away from all he accomplished when he violated no part of his parole agreement?

We have contacted numerous well-known organizations, individuals, and two attorneys with no success. However, we will NOT give up because what has been done to my husband is WRONG! Because of this injustice, I am separated from my husband, our children do not have their father present, our business has stopped, the events planned for May 4th were cancelled, our church members are without a leader and guide, and our community has been impacted by the absence of Pastor Eric. We are devastated to say the least. What can be done? Who will see past this “clerical error” to see the fact that Eric Payne is needed greatly back home and in our community? Who will make it a point to release Eric immediately due to all of the character letters written by many including the Mayor of our city on his behalf to the Board of Pardons and Paroles, to the Clemency Department, to the Governor, to the Chief of Parole, to the Director of Public Affairs and to whomever else we can reach with our requests? My husband has been wronged and there is simply no reason as to why he must sit in prison when he has not only served his time but accomplished just so much. I need my husband. Our children need their father. Our church members need their Pastor. Our community needs Pastor Eric. His strength, wisdom, experience, teachings, compassion and love are needed here at home and in The Glades Community. Please help us get the word out by sharing our story with all who need to know. As well, please share ANY ideas of WHO we may contact and/or HOW I can get my husband released. (I have launched: #releasemypayne, #releasethepayne, and #releaseourpayne on Twitter.) We thank you greatly!

For more on this issue and a letter from Pastor Eric Payne, visit https://sfbayview.com/2019/04/pastor-eric-payne-paroled-then-snatched-from-his-church-wife-four-children-back-to-prison-for-clerical-error/

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 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!

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).

Reentry Challenges

Wayne T. Dowdy, August 6, 2019
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LOVE by Johnnie Burns

Writings Straight from the Pen

Love Makes the World Smile” Wayne T. Dowdy

I remember, back when I was a young impetuous adolescent. Me and my girlfriend were arguing at each other. Then I angrily shoved her by her face. I had instantly regretted putting my hands on her and thought how foul that would be if the females of my family would have seen that, and on top of that her response to my action was so profound and disturbing. I would never forget it! She said, “Nigga, don’t put your hands on me, you don’t love me!”

Now that I am grown, I see other grown men and women alike with that same mind frame, as that impetuous adolescent had all those years ago. Grown people being controlled by their emotions. As opposed to acting like they are grown and controlling their emotions! Yeah, I know that is a radical idea. But, bear with me? As kids and small children, we lack the mental tools of working out problems, and/or being self-reliant. So, they cry and throw tantrums! Any way to act out, because they need the love and guidance of adults (grown people)! And I find it very disturbing to see grown people acting as if they are kids and small children.

So, ‘we’ as grown people are unable to understand the simplest and purest aspects of love. So, we distort it, control, and abuse it. We become dictators and place every imaginable condition on love, until it is unrecognizable. No wonder we believe that there’s a thin line between love and hate. Please think about it for a moment. If love was supposed to hurt, trap you emotionally, mentally scar you, or to take advantage of you then why would you need enemies?

On the contrary, love is supposed to make you fly! It releases your greatest potentials. There’s not a thin line between love and hate, there is an ocean between the two. You cannot stifle love by placing conditions on it! Because love is supposed to breathe and flourish. Love is simply this, in its truest form, giving and asking for nothing in return. So, when our hearts and minds allow this then we have truly found that ever-elusive LOVE! Then and only then would we stop acting as kids – allowing our emotions to control us – by throwing violent tantrums in a fit of jealous rage! All in an effort of controlling our significant other. As if we had the authority to control and bully others.

Yes, we must grow up and release that impetuous adolescent that’s within. Then we can start to release the true power of love.

Peace, love, and blessings,

Johnnie Burns

Experimental Prison Project by Wayne T. Dowdy

The Price of Change” by Wayne T. Dowdy

The following post is rooted in my response to a comment on QUORA.COM that concerned my answer to how does serving time in federal prison compare to state prison?  https://www.quora.com/How-does-serving-time-in-federal-prison-compare-to-state-prison/answer/Wayne-T-Dowdy

Based upon showing a positive difference in my behavior due to more humane living conditions in the Federal prison system, compared to my behavior in the Georgia Department of Corrections, a reader commented on the viability of each state creating a pilot program of prisons to mimic the more humane conditions in the federal system, to see how that affected recidivism. Well, maybe not in those exact words, but the gist of the suggestion is the same.

Thanks for the comment and feedback. In my opinion, yes, if the powers that be wanted to, it would be simple to do as you suggest, to create experimental/study group prison projects to study recidivism reduction, through Prison Reform/Improvement.

Mighty American Dollar

That’s what it’s all about: Money. The mighty dollar! The penal systems in America make a lot of politicians and investors in private prison companies, and in the goods and services provided to the prison machine, a lot of money.

Proven prison systems exist to reduce recidivism by treating people differently during their incarceration, and providing necessary resources/tools to help them transition into a new life.

To prove a point that change in the American Criminal Justice system is possible, I refer to an experimental program in America that is designed after a particular prison in Germany, where prisoners are treated more humanely and are less likely to return to prison after release. Prison Reform Progress

In Prison Privatization and Recidivism, I show how the interest of private prison companies and society may join to reduce recidivism while the investors continue to profit through prison privatization.

My concerns and interests are in returning citizens coming out of prison in better shape than when they went in, and being able to function in society upon release, so that each person may experience a better quality of life and hopefully will pass it on by helping others.

Change is up to each individual. Living under more humane conditions helps to encourage positive changes; opposite of the status quo in most prisons, which explains why more than eighty percent of released citizens return to prison with a new charge within nine years.

An Excerpt from Breaking News

Kim Kardashian in the White House

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

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

https://straightfromthepen.com/2018/06/18/breaking-news/

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

Purchase a copy of Essays & More Straight from the Pen today to read “The Price of Change,” a personal essay about the transformation of the author.
Available in paperback and as an eBook.

Independence Day

Flags Flying Proudly Across America on July 4, 2019

Happy Independence Day to those who celebrate the Fourth of July in America.

Let Freedom Ring

Though I may not be proud of everything America does, I am proud to be an American and am proud of the brave men and women who have fought to keep America safe and as free as what it is in these times of terror and danger.

When Paul Revere galloped on his horse shouting, “The British are coming,” terror may have existed in the hearts of those who feared losing their life, but that did not stop those brave people from going out to fight those who dominated the nation, until America had had enough and took a stand.

Patrick Henry Said it Best: Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!

Independence Day (colloquialthe Fourth of July) is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the Declaration of Independence of the United States on July 4, 1776. The Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies were no longer subject (and subordinate) to the monarch of Britain and were now united, free, and independent states. The Congress had voted to declare independence two days earlier, on July 2, but it was not declared until July 4.

“Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworksparadesbarbecuescarnivalsfairspicnicsconcertsbaseball gamesfamily reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States. Independence Day is the National Day of the United States.” [footnotes omitted]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independence_Day_(United_States)

Flag Proudly Flown High Above the VFW

Let Freedom Ring for Many Years to Come, All Across the World.

Fight for the Right to be Free!