Monthly Archives: January 2016

LIFE BEYOND THE OBVIOUS

By Wayne T. Dowdy

“He died.  He fell out on the yard with a heart attack and had turned blue by the time the medical department got to him,” a friend said about Frank B.

Yesterday, after I began writing this blog, I saw Frank B. in the library.  He let me read his medical reports, which showed he survived sudden cardiac death on New Year’s Eve of 2016.  Frank and I have been friends for over two decades and is someone I know to be honest and straightforward.  According to Frank, ten years ago a doctor said he’d be lucky to survive another year because he had one-hundred percent blockage in four arteries, and that it was a miracle his heart worked at all without those four arteries.

BEATING THE DEVIL:  The first time I saw him after he had survived the last heart attack, I patted him on the back and said, “You beat the devil one more time, my friend.”

He smiled and then said, “Yeah I did.”

After allowing me to read his medical report, he told about a bright light experience.   “I saw two doors, one was a glowing, bright white, and the other one a fiery red.”

That made a good story to support this blog topic.  He didn’t make it through either door.  He confessed to me the next day that he was joking and hadn’t seen anything.  “It was a scary thing, I’ll tell you,” he said.

His medical reports were legitimate.  He had died and been revived.  Oh, well, the two-door-story would have made a good story if true.  I liked the concept of Good & Evil, Hot & Cold, Heaven & Hell.  I do believe in life after death.  I had my own experience to assure me it is true.

ANGELS AND A CARD:  In the experience I wrote about in “A Prisoner and a Poem for a Princess,”* I became convinced that life existed beyond the obvious–life as we know it in this World.   One part of the essay is “A Card From an Angel.”  The circumstances surrounding that card convinced me that our spirits live on once the body expires and stops its transportation service for the earthly existence.  But you need to read the essay to learn about the message the card contained that convinced me we live to fight another day on different battle grounds.

The last part of that sentence I added for literary reasons.  I am not aware of any fighting after our spirit exits the body.  No more jokes for this blog!

WRITING WITH PURPOSE:  In my prose, I write about personal experiences and express my views and feelings to open the doors of my life, in hope that my writings will impact the reader and somehow help them along this journey of life.  ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN contains meaningful experiences.  One essay is “The Search for Enlightenment.”  I chose an excerpt from that essay for the synopsis on the collection:  The part I used for the synopsis begins the quote below.

As a child I was suicidal.  I went from wanting to die to fighting to live.  In 1978 I almost met my Maker several times because of the lifestyle I lived.  One incident that I am fortunate to have survived, related to my addiction to mind-altering substances and my attempts to achieve the ultimate high, without crossing the Line of No Return, not really caring if I died during the process.  The excerpt comes from an experience where I came close to death.  If I had pushed the syringe’s plunger a fraction of an inch more to get a few more milligrams of pharmaceutical cocaine hydrochloride, it would have busted my heart.  God preserved my life in that and many other experiences.  Today I live without using drugs or alcohol and offer to help others do the same; it gives my life meaning.

FIGHTING TO SURVIVE:  The selected excerpt follows an event I wrote about, where I played chemist by mixing three drugs in search of the elusive tranquility-and-euphoria-mix to make everything feel right.  After doing too much of the mixture, I injected liquid Demerol to keep from dying.

the lonely Spirit.indd

“My Salvation came in the form of a concept:  fighting poison with poison; the same as using Cobra or Rattlesnake venom to save someone bitten by one of the vipers.  I was the viper-bitten by itself.”

It’s amazing how near fatal experiences can give one a desire to live when such a desire did not exist before the experience.  When living, I used to lose interest in life and then go on sprees capable of causing death.  When faced with death I fought to live:  a paradox of my existence.  I lived hard but have yet to die young.  Perhaps, I’m running out of time for that one.  Since I am now in my mid-fifties, maybe I’ve already outran that cliche (“Live Hard, Die Young”).  If Enlightenment has come along the way, perhaps I missed it, or else it came in secret.  I have had those moments of clarity during meditation where I suddenly felt a part of everything; experienced a sense of “Oneness,” in tune with the whole Universe and beyond, suddenly aware of my existence and the realization that it didn’t matter to the world if I lived or died, but Enlightenment, I don’t know.

Coincidently, I felt important by knowing I was “Here” for a reason, even though I did not know what that reason was and still don’t!  At that moment, it didn’t matter if I lived or died because I knew I would be okay either way, and yet, I did not want to die.  All I wanted was “To Be”; To be in Harmony with all living things, at peace with my environment; to be at peace with the “Man in the Mirror,” and then I was okay being nobody, somebody special, or just another body.  Life become joy.  I became alive!  Alive, content being Here, although still insignificant to the world, my life no more meaningful than a Jaguar roaming the jungle, or a Tarpon chasing its prey through the emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico, or the fish about to be the Tarpon’s meal, I was okay.  Nothing else mattered; the material value of life had disappeared.  I had entered the spiritual realm of existence.  Freed from EGO, physical properties were meaningless.  With no material or emotional attachments anchoring my spirit, all was well, no resentment or self-pity to poison me; accepting each element of existence equal:  each  valuable, yet, equally insignificant.  I was OK.  Enlightened, though?  Don’t think so.

Now I wonder about Karma. …..”

MORE ON THE SEARCH FOR ENLIGHTENMENT:  I conclude the essay with this:

“Whatever is bestowed upon me, I am okay with however this thing called life ends or begins with the next journey.  Each day is a gift, because I know there is no physiological explanation for my existence.  When the viper struck with its massive shots of venom, I know I should have died, many times over.  For over twenty-five years I acted insane by doing such things, but I am still here.  I am here because I am supposed to be.  When I accept everything as the way it’s supposed to be, or as it was supposed to have been, then I am blessed with serenity.  Life is good today.

Suicide is not an option or the solution.  I am convinced that I can’t go until it’s my time, anyway, so why try to rush the process?  I get high on life these days without drugs or alcohol.  I’m okay without them.  That was then, this is now.”

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If you like what you read above, read the rest of the story in “The Search for Enlightenment,” as part of the collection in ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN, Midnight Express Books ($8.95).  Available from your favorite bookstore, eStore, or from StraightFromthePen.com.  EBook available as Reader Sets Price from Smashwords.com, $4.95 from other eBook retailers.  “The Search for Enlightenment” may be purchased as an individual essay for $0.99 in eBook format only.

*****

I chose the above topic in memory of my Mother who passed onto the next phase of existence on January 16, 2016.  Her spirit lives forever.  She loved to fish before dementia took control of her life.  She still remembered fishing until electroconvulsive therapy damaged her memory and the ability to speak without garbled words.  I’ve written an essay to share with the world about the process I feel accelerated her deterioration:  “Euthanized With Love.”  I plan to submit the essay for publication to various International magazines to help prevent the same thing from happening to another person’s loved one.  If no magazine accepts the essay for publication, I will self-publish it because the information it contains will benefit those dealing with end of life choices.

Perhaps Mother is swimming with tarpons and porpoises, splashing water to create a rainbow of colors in the Sun as she moves on to where spirits go.  Whether it’s called Heaven, or not called anything at all, wherever her spirit roams, I hope she finds comfort and peace over the horizon.  Maybe she rides atop of Tornados she feared in her humanly form.

* ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN contains “A Prisoner and a Poem for a Princess”; read the essay for free in eBook format from Smashwords.com and other eBook retailers.  “The Lonely Spirit,” included in the collection and available as an individual eBook, is the only short story that I wrote along similar lines about life beyond the ordinary, based upon my experience in “A Prison and a Poem for a Princess.”

DESPICABLE CHARACTERS by Wayne T. Dowdy

FRONT COVER.jpgUNKNOWN INNOCENCE contains a variety of characters with various traits and characteristics. When I wrote UNDER PRESSURE by Mr. D, now at the core of UNKNOWN INNOCENCE, I needed to create a character everyone would hate so that when Karma delivered its blow, the reader would rejoice or feel he got what he deserved. I thought of two degenerate, despicable, sick and evil serial killers, executed for their repulsive crimes: Ted Bundy, a necrophiliac (performed sex on deceased victims); and John Wayne Gacey, who raped, tortured, and murdered children before burying them under his house.

What constitutes a despicable character varies from person-to-person, of course. Some despise drug dealers, others a drug addict or alcoholic, a skid row bum begging for change to buy a fifth of wine or bag of dope to feed the gorilla robbing him or her of life; people who harm animals, thieves, sex offenders, and other criminals who commit horrendous crimes. I concluded that the most likely despised are those who harm children and the elderly. Most all societies despise anyone who physically or sexually abuse children and the elderly. To fill the bill, I created Jake Stephens, based on acts similar to those performed by Bundy and Gacey.

The following is an excerpt from UNKNOWN INNOCENCE, chapter 25 of 39, titled JAKE.* Thousands of you may have read the scene as part of UNDER PRESSURE, so you will know I censored the beginning where Jake committed a horrendous crime, and then helped his brother search where he knew she would not be found by search parties. I will begin with my pick for the most repulsive scene that shows a real despicable character. If you are not one who knows what happened before this part, you must read the book for the rest of the story.**

“He had her stashed in the bushes three counties away. At night he’d go back to her until the stench of rotting flesh kept him from having her again. Then he buried her in a shallow grave and went on to find four more victims during the next five-months, before law enforcement officials sent him to prison on an unrelated charge.

*

He sat in his truck and watched an older lady get out of a van to let her terrier go for a walk on a nature trail in the Blue Ridge Mountains, near one of the Civil War battle grounds. For the last half hour, he had sat smoking cigarettes and nursing a beer while he waited for someone to pull into the roadside park.

“Here comes one,” he mumbled, when he saw her slow to pull off the main road.

After she had stopped and sat for a moment, she glanced his way. He averted his gaze to look at the dashboard. She opened the door and climbed out with the small terrier in her arms.

Nice legs. I hope she doesn’t get spooked. Clothes look expensive. New van. Maybe she’s got some diamonds or gold. I might have some fun with her, even though she is older than I like. Come on granny. There you go. Go on down that trail.

He checked for traffic on the winding road leading to the site. Satisfied no one else was coming, he opened the door, took a deep breath of mountain air, and then followed her into the woods.

Ruff … Ruff, ruff, ruff.

“Shh! Fee Fee. That nice man’s not going to bother us.”

He saw her watching him coming down the trail, his hands in his pockets. “Hey, how you doing, young lady?” he said. He wanted to get closer to make his move. The dog continued to bark.

“Shh! Fee Fee, I told you he was nice,” she said, and then brushed away a wisp of gray hair from her aged face. Her lips were upturned, her face a rosy read; flattered by his compliment. Fee Fee kept barking. “I’m doing well,” she said. “Just trying to stretch my legs and let my baby relieve himself.” She bent down toward Fee Fee. “Hush, now. Momma’s fine,” Then she turned toward Jake, who was ten feet away. “This is my personal protector,” she said, and then giggled.

“Ha, Ha, Ha,” he said. I’ve got this bitch now, he thought. That dog’s getting on my nerves. I can’t wait to break its little neck. “Those are nice to have around. I have a Yorkshire,” he lied. He removed his hands from his pockets.

“Are you from around here?” she asked, then stepped farther away from him.

Fee Fee growled.

He kicked some leaves; his face slick with sweat, adrenaline flooding his veins. “No, I’m from somewhere else.” That dog is going to get more than he wants. “Where you from?” He shifted his eyes, checked the parking area, reached into his back pocket as he moved closer to her.

“Florida. I came to see this National Park.” She turned away and slid her left thumb under the front of her brassiere strap.

He yanked a hawk-bill knife from his back pocket. “Give me all your money and jewelry, old lady, and there won’t be any trouble. I’ll slice you and that mutt into pieces if you don’t.”

She pressed a micro switch in the lining of her bra to activate the alarm, and then slid a small pistol from under her left breast. Two federal agents burst from the back of the van, guns drawn. Both agents dashed down the embankment with their pistols aimed and ready. The larger of the two shouted, “Drop the weapon. Get on the ground!”

When she heard her backup, Agent Loraina spun around and dropped to a crouch, aimed the gun at his puny chest. “Drop the weapon or I’ll shoot!”

He dropped the knife. “What the fuck is going on?” he said. Then he lay in the leaves; shook his scraggly hair from his face.

“A sting operation,” she said. “We’ve been after you for months for a string of robberies on a federal reservation.”

Fee Fee pranced around him, barking.

“Good job, Loraina,” the case agent said. “You, too, Fee Fee.” He looked at him on the ground and laughed. Then he swatted at a mosquito and said, “Put the cuffs on him and let’s get out of this mosquito den.”

Four months later, he pled guilty to the armed robberies on a federal reservation.

Justice for Marsha and the other little girls, delayed. A year later, the federal marshals escorted him to the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas.” [That concludes the excerpt.]

To create a good character, I made Jake display positive characteristics for the environment in which he lived, as I believe all of us have good and bad traits. Some of his good characteristics in the prison setting may not be viewed as good by some in the free society, but a writer must make their characters fit the plot to make the story believable; especially, since most fiction contains a lot of truth. I wrote Jake’s conclusion in “Karma.” He pays a high-price for his evil, wicked ways. Karma deals him a losing hand. All of my characters possess real traits that make them real, not incredible. I enjoy reading what I can believe. I write the same way. I hope you enjoy my writings and will continue to buy more.

Please send any comments to waynedowdy@straightfromthepen.com. Thank you.

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* UNKNOWN INNOCENCE consumed UNDER PRESSURE to create an exciting, more lengthy novel, full of intrigue and suspense. Read “The Making of a Masterpiece: UNKNOWN INNOCENCE” for more details (http://waynedowdy.weebly.com/) and (https://straightfromthepen.wordpress.com/). I chose not to use my pseudonym for UNKNOWN INNOCENCE.

** The original UNDER PRESSURE by Mr. D. is available from Amazon.com or your favorite bookstore for $6.50 (USD). Both personal magazines (UNDER PRESSURE-MOTIVATIONAL VERSION, and ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN) are now available for $8.95 each (USD). EBooks available as Reader Sets Price from Smashwords.com, $4.95 elsewhere (https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy). All books may be purchased through the website at StraightFromthePen.com (http://www.straightfromthepen.com). Expect UNKNOWN INNOCENCE before March of 2016.

Freedom for a Friend

by Wayne T. Dowdy

balance

In the American Criminal Justice system that falls under the Executive branch of the Federal Government, the President of the United States is over the Department of Justice.  Political campaigns designed to get votes by former presidents declaring War on Drugs and War on Crime, lead to the mass incarceration in America.  The first wave of attacks against the citizens came under the guise of the Sentence Reform Act of 1984, where Congress abolished parole for federal offenders and required that prisoners serve eighty-five percent of their sentences, all of which lead to a boom in the incarceration industry.  Hundreds of politicians lined their pockets with cash as a result of the boom due to the influence of private prison corporations.  [1]

The Honorable Eric Holder, former United States Attorney General, and President Barack Obama implemented programs to reduce the federal prison population, reign in overzealous prosecutors, slow the prison growth rate, and other measures to reduce recidivism.  One plan was Clemency Project 2014.  In it President Obama planned to grant clemency to drug offenders serving unjust sentences.  One to benefit from the project was my friend:  Alphonso D.

obama granting clemencyOn December 17, 2015, President Barack Obama granted clemency to ninety-five federal prisoners and pardoned two; sixty-seven of whom are in prison serving lengthy prison sentences for conspiracy to commit drug offenses and other associated charges, thirty-eight of whom had life without parole.

The next day I stood speaking to a factory supervisor when I was blessed with a unique experience.  My friend strutted in flaunting a larger than normal smile.

“How are you doing?” I asked.

“Great now!  I was granted clemency,” Alphonso said.

A smile erupted on my face as tears of joy filled my eyes.  The news made me almost as happy as if President Obama had granted my petition for commutation of sentence.  I have a release date.  He did not.

Alphonso is a well-mannered, polite, soft-spoken, and respectful man in his mid-fifties.  On February 12, 1996, a judge sentenced him to life without parole for Conspiracy to Violate Narcotic Laws (crack), in the Western District of North Carolina.   (Crack is cocaine base people smoke, which is an alkaloid, and not a hydrochloride like powder cocaine that people snort or inject to get high on.)

No actual drugs existed in the conspiracy that lead him to prison to live out the remainder of his life, that is, until President Obama intervened and showed compassion by granting his petition for commutation of sentence.  He will be released on April 16, 2016.  The government convicted him under the conspiracy theory for “ghost dope.”  He deserved the President’s compassion.

CRIMINAL CONSPIRACIES:  Conspiracy is a law Congress first enacted in 1909 as the CONSPIRACY ACT (Offenses Against the U.S.), which prosecutors used to convict mobsters and other criminals without any physical or scientific evidence.  In 1948, Congress enacted Title 18 of the United States Code (U.S.C.), Section 371, “Conspiracy to Commit Offense or to Defraud the United States”; then in 1970, added Title 21 U.S.C., Section 846, “Attempt and Conspiracy” to their arsenal to prosecute drug offenses and allow prosecutors to seek the same sentence as provided for the primary offense; e.g., life without parole for certain drug offenses.  Prosecutors use Title 18, Section 2, “Principals,” and other statutes to achieve the same result in other offenses.

A criminal conspiracy may be based on little more than informants or witnesses claiming a defendant planned to or committed a crime.  Under Section 371, if the government convinces the judge or jurors of an overt act used to activate the plan to violate the law, the defendant gets convicted in most cases.

Prosecutors do not have to prove an overt act under Section 846.  Overt acts may be as simple as making a phone call, or instructing someone who to see or where to go to buy illicit drugs, weapons, or anything used to knowingly violate laws.

Under 18 U.S.C., Section 371, the stiffest penalty is five-years imprisonment and a fine.  Under the conspiracy theory, prosecutors may charge defendants for all crimes involved in the conspiracy; e.g., armed bank robbery, through Conspiracy to Commit Armed Bank Robbery.  (See PERSONALLY below.)

BAD DEALS:  When threatened with absurd prison sentences, some defendants plead guilty to crimes they did not commit because it comes as a package deal to help investigators clear the books, or to avoid an excessive sentence when the government refuses to believe their informant is lying.  Some prosecutors use perjured testimony to get convictions.  Numerous people in American prisons have been freed with DNA evidence that proved witnesses lied or made mistakes.  In some cases, prosecutors, and or law enforcement officials, concealed exculpatory evidence to get convictions (exculpatory evidence proves innocence).

In my opinion, conspiracy became the most abused law in American history.  Many unjust incarcerations resulted from prosecutors who abused the law and forced people into providing false testimony to convict another person; prosecutors also use the law to retaliate against those who won’t cooperate.  Law books are filled with incidents where defendants went to prison due to overzealous prosecutors.

INFORMATION FOR SALE:  On December 14, 2012, Brad Heath reported in USA TODAY about a ring of inmates at the United States Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia, selling information to other inmates to use for sentence reductions.  Conspiracy plots were formed inside the prison to fabricate evidence against defendants to get sentence reductions.  Heath stated, “Snitching has become so commonplace that in the past five years at least 48,895 federal convicts, one of every eight, had their prison sentences reduced in exchange for helping government investigators, a USA TODAY examination of hundreds of thousands of court cases found.  The deals can chop off a decade or more off their sentences. …..”

MY CASE:  The government paid the witness against me with eight and a half years, in place of the threatened-life-sentence.  He went inside the bank with a gun.  I sat in a second getaway vehicle, without a gun, down the road from the bank and got sentenced to 420-months.  However, the result in my case does not compare to that of Sammy the Bull and former mob boss, John Gotti.  (Read “The Truth About Incarceration” for more on Gotti and the deal made with Sammy the Bull to testify on him.  [2])

In the Story Highlights, Heath wrote, “Inmates who operated the schemes have alleged that agents knew what they were up to [over] the past five years[.]”  Then he wrote, “Those schemes are generally illegal because the people who buy information usually lie to federal agents about where they got the information.  They also show how staggeringly valuable good information has become; prices ran into tens of thousands of dollars, or up to $250,000 in one case, court records show. …..  Prosecutors have said they were troubled that informants were paying for some of the secrets they passed on to federal agents.  Judges are outraged.  But the inmates who operated the schemes have repeatedly alleged that agents knew all along what they were up to, and sometimes even gave them the information they sold.”

MONEY TALKS:  At the United States Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas, I once read confidential reports (three depositions) obtained by Private Investigators in the case of an alleged, wealthy, Canadian Mob Boss (Allan R.), who is in prison for smuggling large shipments of cocaine into America.  Those documents, filed in court, showed where Spanish drug enforcement agents primed a witness with information to tell American authorities about the man the witness first stated he did not know.  After extradition to the State of Texas for a drug case, the informant made a second deposition and claimed to know A.R.

Texas authorities primed him with more information to carry to the State of Florida, where he made a third deposition and agreed to testify against A.R. in an alleged murder of a Florida State Patrol officer.  During the Discovery process, the prosecution only revealed the last deposition made in Florida.  Had A.R. not been a millionaire with International connections, he would have been convicted, but when he proved the government concealed the other two depositions, and proved the witness had lied, the court dismissed the case.

Allan R.’s case is one where justice prevailed, even if it was at the price he paid to hire the Spanish private investigator, and high-powered attorneys in America, needed to obtain information to win against the most powerful criminal justice system in the world.

MORE ON CONSPIRACY:  Reports of corruption in the judicial system by way of paid informants are not new.  Numerous television segments have reported similar incidents, where defendants admitted they lied to get additional time off their sentences, or to get rich.

In 2002, Congress amended one federal statute to put a $500,000 cap on the amount of payment a government informant could receive, without special approval from the Attorney General.  That was because of outrageous reports about “snitches” becoming millionaires by setting people up to get twenty-five percent of seized proceeds.  Prosecutors still used those snitches to get convictions, and more often than not, relied on the conspiracy theory/principles to obtain the conviction to take the defendant’s assets.

REAL CRIMES:  If an actual crime occurs, conspiracy principles apply to the extent that a defendant may be held accountable for all acts committed within the conspiracy, regardless of whether he or she had knowledge of the acts charged in the indictment.  Most criminal offenses require an “intentional” or “willful” act to be proven as an element of the offense, but many prosecutors twist facts to get a conviction by coercing witnesses into saying what is needed to convict the defendant.

A person does not have to voluntarily play a role in the commission of the crime(s).  Perhaps that sounds unbelievable but it is true.  I know hundreds of men in prison due to testimony of people they had not seen or did not know, who helped put them in prison for quantities of drugs that never existed.

PERSONALLY:  I am in prison based upon conspiracy principles, where the government convicted me for all acts because I was with the cohorts who committed crimes I did not agree to commit.  I was involved.  I am not saying otherwise; however, I learned more about the crimes during the jury trial than I knew before the trial began.  Under conspiracy laws, though, I am as guilty as the ones who went inside the bank with guns, even though I did not intend to commit the crimes of conviction when I joined another conspiracy with the cohorts.

(For a brief summary about my involvement,  read “No Sympathy” for free as an eBook or on my blogs [3].  In it I reference “The Price of Change,” which contains excerpts from my trial and past events that changed me.  I also wrote about going to trial with a lunatic.  I combined two essays to make a special eBook:  “Fence Rows & the Price of Change.”  No Sympathy and The Price of Change show my experience with criminal justice and the high cost of recidivism.)

CONCLUSION:  In June 2014, I filed a petition for commutation of sentence; if granted, I plan to help reduce recidivism.  As No Sympathy shows, I am a man with a mission.

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[1] For more on prisons for profit, read “The Truth About Incarceration, Part II” (https://straightfromthepen.wordpress.com/category/prison-politics/); and “An Inside View of the Criminal Justice System,” first published by PrisonLawBlog.com, Oct. 2014.

[2] “The Truth About Incarceration” (Part I), first published on PrisonLawBlog.com, Nov. 2014.

[3] (https://straightfromthepen.wordpress.com/) (http://waynedowdy.weebly.com);

Visit http://www.straightfromthepen.com or https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy to purchase eBooks, essays, or to buy ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN, containing twelve essays, one short story and three poems; also available through Midnight Express Books or from your favorite online or offline bookstore.