by Wayne T. Dowdy
Seriously, what kind of idiot would steal or destroy a manuscript and face federal time in prison for doing so? I would like to know the answer to that one, since it was two copies of my manuscripts that were stolen or destroyed. A manuscript worth going to jail over must be a testament to the quality of the writing. 🙂
Title 18, Section 1709 of the United States Code is “Theft of Mail Matter by Officer or Employee,” which states, “Whoever, being a Postal Service officer or employee, embezzles any letter, postal card, package, bag, or mail, or any article or thing contained therein entrusted to him or which comes into his possession intended to be conveyed by mail, or carried or delivered by any carrier, messenger, agent, or other person employed in any department of the Postal Service, or forwarded through or delivered from any post office or station thereof established by authority of the Postmaster General or of the Postal Service; or steals, abstracts, or removes from any such letter, package, bag, or mail, any article or thing contained therein, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.”
I know I write well and produce high-quality materials, but is what I write worth going to jail and prison over for up to five-years? Must be, though, personally, I disagree. I do feel sorry for the idiot who gets caught for doing it. Risking five-years in prison for stealing a manuscript in the mail takes a real devious person, or someone who is just downright ignorant or stupid. However, if the person does get caught and goes to prison, I would not weep if he or she experiences extreme levels of physical and sexual abuse by prisoner predators. Tampering with someone’s mail is a killing offense for some of those confined inside American prisons. For a person convicted of committing such a crime, to be raped and brutalized would be letting them off easy. I do not approve or endorse predatory behaviors, but in this case, Karma seems to demand an exception.
INFERIOR INTELLIGENCE: How does it make an inferior person feel to see a prisoner perform the complex task of writing and having a book published, knowing deep inside that he or she does not have the intellectual capacity to do what a man from prison has accomplished against the odds? The man or woman seen in the mirror must shout, You are a failure! An idiot. Worthless scum. A degenerate. Lower than any of those cast inside prisons for crimes against humanity. Becoming a prisoner would be an upgrade for such a low-life.
COUNT ONE: On July 22, 2014, I mailed the manuscript for ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN to Midnight Express Books (MEB). A week later, the large envelope arrived in Berryville, Arkansas, with only a photo of my smiling face. I had put the photo inside a smaller envelope that I included with the manuscript. That made me understand the concept of “Going Postal,” a special term created after incidents inside the USPS drove people to acts of violence, sometimes extreme.
The photo of my smiling face may be seen at my contact page on StraightFromthePen.com, along with the cover of ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN. The thief failed to stop me. I always keep extra copies of anything mailed, so I did succeed at having my work published back then and will do so with the next one.
Be the first to say that you have your personalized copy of the book someone risked going to prison for ($8.95, plus shipping and handling at http://www.straightfromthepen.com or from your favorite bookstore).
I filed a complaint with the local postmaster and completed all of the appropriate forms to track lost mail. Not a page, or the cover letter or first page of most essays that contained my full name and address, were ever returned.
COUNT TWO: On February 10, 2016, I mailed a corrected copy of my UNKNOWN INNOCENCE draft to MEB. MEB had mailed the draft to me inside a USPS, flat rate envelope, for me to go over and correct errors. To return the draft, I placed it inside the original flat rate envelope, and then placed that inside a larger envelope, properly addressed, with postage attached for mailing back to the publisher. Two weeks later, the USPS in Atlanta, Georgia notified MEB that an empty flat rate envelope arrived, addressed to me from them. The thief struck again!
The draft contained “Wayne T. Dowdy” and “UNKNOWN INNOCENCE,” on each of the 400-plus-pages (four pages per sheet, front and back), meaning that the rightful owner is easy to find. Search “Wayne T. Dowdy” online and you find volumes of links, so it is not as if I am an infamous person, with no history and no way to locate. I am easy to find online for those who want to find me. I don’t reckon the thief wanted to find me. I do want to find him or her so we can get acquainted.
If not stolen or intentionally destroyed, both being a federal crime, at least one of those pages would have shown up inside the Edgefield County Post Office in South Carolina, or at one of the USPS Destination Facilities in Augusta or Atlanta, Georgia. The stamped and addressed 9 1/2″ x 12 1/2″ envelope that I put the flat rate envelope in, never showed up: more evidence that a crime was committed, rather than an accident.
DELAY OF PLANS: If not for the deviant individual who caused the corrected draft of my manuscript to not make it back to the publisher on time, UNKNOWN INNOCENCE would now be available for your reading pleasure. I am sorry for the delay and will rejoice when able to report that it has been released for sale, March 2016, I hope. You know that for the manuscript to be worth risking prison time for stealing, that it will be worth your wait.
SUPPORT FOR WRITERS: Writers cannot live by words alone. If you like what you read, buy their books, essays, poems, or short stories to help them continue to write for your reading pleasure; especially, self-published authors and those in prison who pay money to type and send blogs through Corrlinks.com or other paid services, in order to get those words from inside the walls and bars into your life.
For the incarcerated men and women who want to post a blog, email Midnight Express Books (MEBooks1@yahoo.com) for more information. For a small monthly fee, they offer this service as well as others. Send it in an e-mail (MEBooks1@yahoo.com) or by snail mail to Midnight Express Books, P.O. Box 69, Berryville, AR 72616. MEB assists prisoners with self-publishing their books. In addition, they also expertly design websites, blogs, and perform many other services to benefit prisoners. Contact them for more information on services provided.
Wayne T. Dowdy writes StraightFromthePen. He is the author of numerous published articles, essays, blogs and books. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Be patient in waiting for a response. He will respond as soon as possible.