Monthly Archives: July 2016

Changing Public Image of Prisoners

by Wayne T. Dowdy

Every major news network feeds the public negative reports about those who commit crimes. Understandably, the negative press induces abhorrence, antipathy and fear towards those who commit crimes and go to prison.

Some of those who receive the negative press are ex-offenders who returned to old behaviors upon release (recidivist), and whose actions do not generate sympathy or concern for those who have fallen short of the glory of society.

PRESS EFFECT: To counteract the negative effect of the press, create a source for providing positive information about prisoners and ex-offenders.

As reported in “Reentry Programs Will Reduce Recidivism,” over 70-million Americans have criminal records. That translates into a vital statistic: millions of prisoners and ex-offenders do not commit, and have not committed violent, aggressive crimes.

All incarcerated individuals are not violent criminals. Read the February 24, 2016, blog post, “Violent Crime Misconception” ( and, for a factual view on “violent crime” labels and terminology misused by politicians.

Factually, the percentage of released prisoners who commit violent, horrendous crimes, is far less than 1% of the 70-million Americans with criminal records, and yet, typically, society stereotypes millions of inmates and ex-offenders based upon the actions of a few (1% for writing purposes).

UNRECOGNIZED SUCCESS STORIES: Millions of ex-offenders get out and become model, productive citizens. Thousands of men and women inside prisons do wonderful things to help change lives and to make the world a better place; e.g., mentoring other prisoners, creating or conducting programs proven to have positive effects on the lives of participants.

Society does not hear about those inside who do good things. The ones who deserve press coverage do not receive it and do not get recognized for what they do; not even the exceptional things get recognized: We have the power to change that.

99% VERSUS 1%: News coverage goes to the 1% whose actions do not represent the majority of the incarcerated or ex-offenders, any more than actions of the Wealthy One-Percenters in America represent average American citizens.

CREATE A PLATFORM FOR CHANGE: These are suggestions for steps to take to promote change in society’s negative perception of prisoners and ex-felons:

1) create a non-profit organization with (a) staff to create and monitor websites to push program agenda; and (b), hire staff or find volunteers committed to change who will provide help at researching prisoners and ex-offenders who do or have done things beneficial for society;

2) run ads in newspapers, magazines, and online, to seek names of candidates (ex-offenders & prisoners) for 1(b), who are willing to tell or to have their stories posted or used in media coverage (signed privacy release needed);

3) post stories on YouTube, Facebook, and other social media networks–invite sharing;

4) use statistics to illustrate the minute percentage of ex-offenders who commit violent, aggressive crimes that cause physical pain and injury, like rapes (especially brutal rapes), malicious murders, robberies containing violent, physical force used to injure victims;

5) invite testimonials for release on media outlets, from those released from prison who have successfully reintegrated into society (set up groups based upon length of time since release from prison);

6) invite testimonials on effects of prison life on prisoners and those affected by lives of prisoners;

7) in the media coverage, address the dehumanization of people through labeling (racial monikers, etc.);

8) offer opportunities for change to the incarcerated and to released offenders through methods outlined in “Reentry Programs Will Reduce Recidivism” (“Providing incarcerated individuals with job and life skills, education programming, and mental health and addiction treatment …”)(“For reentry initiatives to achieve optimal success, it will take funding for the proven programs to reduce recidivism rates in America (mental health care, substance abuse counseling/treatment, educational and employment opportunities, temporary housing assistance, ….”);

9) promote change by informing society with accumulated data;

10) open dialogue between ex-offenders and victims of crime (similar to Victim Impact principles), using anonymous identities to protect each party. Let their voices be heard to facilitate healing and recovery.

CHANGE COMES FROM WITHIN: Each of us must make the decision to change. Statistically, most prisoners probably have a lack of self-esteem; especially, those with substance abuse and mental health issues (read “No Sympathy”* for the overwhelming statistics on the correlation of mental illness, substance issues, and American prisoners).

Providing the Criminal Justice System does evolve into offering treatment for co-occurring disorders, to help those with dual disorders, more prisoners will be able to change and become productive members of society and live normal lives.

For those with or without such issues, who enroll in and complete reentry and other programs, and then become successful upon release, their success becomes testimonials to those on the inside, who may elect to follow in their paths. To be an effective mechanism of change, other prisoners must become aware of their success.

PUBLICATION TO REPORT SUCCESS OF PARTICIPANTS: To transmit the word of success, create a publication approved by prison administrators for circulation inside their prisons. Elect specific volunteers or workers in the organization created to change society’s perception of prisoners, to investigate all legal issues by contacting attorneys (or researching the issue online, if qualified).

PUSH FOR CHANGE: Form a committee to contact legislatures and other politicians about providing funding to prisons for the creation of programs inside the prisons such as those mentioned above. President Obama and the United States Department of Justice has charged the Bureau of Prisons with implementing the five proven programs to reduce recidivism (see #8 in itemized lists).

Push legislatures to continue funding and to pass laws that provide prisoners with incentives for participating in Reentry and other proven programs to reduce recidivism rates in America.

For instance, mandate and specify that B.O.P. or state agencies increase halfway house time to one-year (remove discretion by prison authorities); and offer additional days off prison sentence for successful completion of programs.

Solicit companies to agree to give priority to employment applications from program graduates.

Share the results with others through the publication and online through social media outlets.

The process will take years before measurable results are available, but change will come. When society sees men and women coming out of prison and becoming productive members of society, then their perception of prisoners will change.

* Read “No Sympathy” at, or at The essay is included in ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN ($8.95 USD) in paperback.

Check out UNKNOWN INNOCENCE at Available as Reader Sets Price ($4.95 default price at all other eBook retailers).


by Wayne T. Dowdy

RecidivismThousands of American prisoners are released each year. Statistically, almost half of them will return to prison within eight years of release, costing American taxpayers billions of dollars each year.

The 2014 average cost of incarceration for federal offenders was over $30,000.

On July 10, 2016, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (B.O.P.) population was 195,383. This is a breakdown of confinement/housing categories:

  • Bureau of Prison Managed Facilities: 158,883
  • Private Managed Facilities: 22,670
  • Community-Based Facilities (halfway houses, home confinement, long-term boarders,   juveniles, and jails): 13,830

A modest estimated cost of incarcerating 195,383 federal prisoners is $5,861,490,000 ($30,000 x 195,383 = $5,861,490,000).

During an eight-year follow-up period, 49.3% of federal offenders released in 2005 were rearrested for a new crime or for a violation of supervised release (similar to parole). RECIDIVISM AMONG FEDERAL OFFENDERS: A COMPREHENSIVE OVERVIEW, 2016, United States Sentencing Commission.

Paying the high cost of recidivism costs more than paying for programs to reduce the likelihood of ex-offenders returning to prison with new sentences. Recidivism will decrease if legislatures and politicians focus more on putting money into programs to reduce recidivism and crime, rather than focusing on extensive measures of punishment for offenders, driven, in part, by suggestions from private prison industry officials.

PRESIDENTIAL INITIATIVE FOR CHANGE: The Winds of Change Hit Washington, DC. Read on!

REENTRY INITIATIVES: Thanks to reentry initiatives introduced by President Obama, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and former Attorney General Eric Holder, released offenders now have a better chance at becoming productive members of society; taxpayers, instead of tax liabilities.

Factors that may determine the success of reentry programs are funding (from Congress and State Legislatures), donations and participation in reentry-based programs by concerned citizens and organizations, commitments from companies to employee ex-offenders, and lower recidivism rates.

IMPORTANT NEWS FLASH: “President Obama Establishes Federal Interagency Reentry Council. An estimated 70 million or more Americans have some kind of criminal record. Each year, more than 60,000 individuals are released from Federal and State prisons, and millions more are released each year from local jails.

“Promoting the rehabilitation and reintegration of individuals who have paid their debt to society makes communities safer by reducing recidivism and victimization; assists those who return from prison, jail, or juvenile justice facilities [to] become productive citizens; and saves taxpayers dollars by lowering the direct and collateral cost of incarceration.

“Providing incarcerated individuals with job and life skills, education programming, and mental health and addiction treatment increases the likelihood that they will be successful when released. ….

“On April 11, 2016, the White House hosted 19 companies to launch the Fair Chance Business Pledge, including American Airlines, Busboys and Poets, The Coca-Cola Company, Facebook, Georgia-Pacific, Google, Greyston Bakery, The Hershey Company, The John Hopkins Hospital and Health System, Koch Industries, Libra Group, PepsiCo, Prudential, Starbucks, Uber, Under Armour/Plank Industries, Unilever and Xerox.

“In the two weeks since these initial companies took the pledge, an additional 93 companies and organizations have joined the pledge, including Microsoft, Best Buy, Lyft, Kellogg Company, Staples, TrueBlue, the Oklahoma City Thunder, Catholic Charities USA, NAACP, Manufacturing Alliance of Philadelphia, American Civil Liberties Union, the American Sustainable Business Council and dozens of small and medium-sized companies from across the country. ….

Companies and organizations interested in joining the pledge can continue to do so by visiting


“The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced its ‘Roadmap to Reentry,’ outlining five evidence-based principles of reform to be implemented by the Bureau of Prisons to ensure DOJ’s commitment to reentry is incorporated throughout incarceration, from intake to release.” Department of Justice, Office of Public Affairs, April 29, 2016, FACT SHEET: DURING NATIONAL REENTRY WEEK, REDUCING BARRIERS TO REENTRY AND EMPLOYMENT FOR FORMERLY INCARCERATED INDIVIDUALS (internal quotation marks altered).

The last initiatives mentioned in the above quote will make a substantial difference in the reduction of recidivism rates if a government watchdog agency closely monitors compliance and Congress provides measures to sanction B.O.P. officials for non-compliance. Programs are often implemented on paper but not practiced.

EXAMPLES OF PAPER LIP SERVICE: After the B.O.P. came under scrutiny for not complying with recommendations by the Office of Inspector General (O.I.G.), the B.O.P. Director testified before Congress and boasted about one of their new program statements for Compassionate Release (see below: NO COMPASSION FOR THE SICK AND ELDERLY).

A prime example of documentation created with a good idea and a sound theory, comes from the following situation: In a December 9, 2013, Memorandum for All Bureau Inmates, Mr. Charles Samuels, Jr., former B.O.P. Director, advised all inmates of his initiative to provide inmates with “[o]pportunities to prepare for a successful return to the community.”

From personal observations, minimal changes occurred as a result of any initiative entrusted to the B.O.P. to reduce their prison population. The O.I.G. issued reports against the B.O.P. for not utilizing the tools Congress gave them to reduce the prison population, and thus reduce the absurd amount of funding consumed by an over-crowded prison system.

In the Sentence Reform Act of 1984, Congress gave B.O.P. officials the authority to allow inmates to earn off of their sentences, fifty-four days per year. The B.O.P. elected to interpret it so that inmates only earned forty-seven days per year.

Congress approved the Second-Chance Act in 2007-08 and provided funding for reentry programs, and gave B.O.P. officials authority to send inmates to Reentry Release Centers (halfway house), for up to one year. Only under exceptional circumstances are inmates approved to receive more than six-months in a halfway house.

NO COMPASSION FOR THE SICK AND ELDERLY: In that same memorandum, Mr. Samuels wrote, “First, we expanded our policy on compassionate release, a sentence reduction mechanism authorized by Title 18, United States Code, Section 3582. Most significantly, we added some non-medical circumstances that could be the basis for requests and we broadened the medical criteria somewhat. The details are explained in the new Compassionate Release Program Statement 5050.49 that is available through the law library.”

Though Mr. Samuels may have been personally committed and serious about the initiate, nothing changed. Within two years, the O.I.G. issued a scathing report about the B.O.P. failing to comply with recommendations designed to reduce the prison population and lower the B.O.P.’s overhead that consumed almost twenty-five percent of the DOJ’s 2015 budget.

An article appeared in the USA TODAY newspaper about the failed Compassionate Release program–most prisoners died waiting for bureaucratic action needed for the approval of a compassionate release. In 2014 only two prisoners were released under the Compassionate Release program statement.

In his defense, Mr. Samuels faced the difficult task of changing the mentality of a system committed to protecting society by keeping prisoners incarcerated. For a compassionate release request to get to him, it first had to clear the hurdles of wardens and regional directors. Change comes slowly.

REENTRY PROGRAM CHALLENGES: Communicating the availability of reentry programs is one challenge; especially, when the news must sometimes pass through the hands of those with a vested interest in large prison populations and high recidivism rates.

Prisoners are a commodity: Read “The Truth About Incarceration, Part II” on or for more on the subject.

For reentry initiatives to achieve optimal success, it will take funding for the proven programs to reduce recidivism rates in America (mental health care, substance abuse counseling/treatment, educational and employment opportunities, temporary housing assistance, etc.), along with the dedication and commitment of inmates and prison staff to make it work.

Some staff and many inmates support and welcome reentry initiatives.

At the Federal Correctional Institution in Edgefield, South Carolina, reentry programs are conducted by a dedicated counselor, determined to make a difference. He makes a reentry and twelve-step program available to inmates, but cannot find other staff to fill in for him when his services are required elsewhere.

At a June 2016, Graduation Ceremony for the Recid-Awareness Reentry Program–a program created by one of the inmate mentors–appreciative graduates presented the counselor and two primary mentors with awards. Several participants expressed their appreciation to executive staff who supported the program.


FAIRSHAKE REENTRY RESOURCE CENTER: One valuable Reentry Service that is doing its part to promote change by assisting ex-offenders, is the FairShake, Reentry Resource Center. Ms. Sue Kastensen, Founder and Director, created (, from her personal resources and commitment to make a difference. She deserves an award!

FairShake. net needs donations to continue to provide a place where people may go to find important information and links to organizations to facilitate the successful reentry of the formerly incarcerated.

Many of those released are like aliens entering a distant world, after having spent decades of their lives confined in cages: Those men and women need all available help to successfully reintegrate into society.

FairShake offers resource information for all to use for successful reentry.

The FairShake Reentry Packet contains useful information to improve the quality of life. Whether just beginning or near completion of his or her sentence, it is a publication worth reading for anyone interested in improving their mind, body and spirit.

[This Section Updated March 19, 2019, to Reflect Changes in Prison Policies & Reentry Packet Availability]

Family and friends of the incarcerated may go to to download and print a free copy of the Reentry Packet to mail into a prison or jail for a loved one or friend. [Check prison or detention center mailroom policies before printing to mail.]

[I regret writing that the following is no longer possible due to a lack of donations to cover the $8.00 per-packet-cost, and because of new regulations in many prison mailrooms that prohibit certain types of paper due to the influx of K-2 (Spice) and Suboxone.]

The electronic Fairshake Newsletter is still available.  Those incarcerated may write or email to request a free copy–include your name, Id. No. and address. Send request to this address:

Fair Shake
P.O. Box 63
Westby, WI 54667
If you have Corrlinks, email

UNIQUE WEBSITE: Their unique website offers valuable tools to assist members in their transition from the insane world of incarceration into the free society.

The website contains free web pages for members (membership is free to all formerly incarcerated individuals). The website contains five categories of important data:

  • Reentry Resources (State and Local Reentry Guides);
  • Employment Support;
  • Building Computer Skills;
  • Educate Yourself; and
  • Finding Specific Pages.

The Reentry Packet illustrates how to navigate their system. Below a photo, under “Fair Shake Reentry Tool Kit,” is a list of options, including Resource Directory, Reentry Packet, Ownership Manual, Building Computer Skills, Preparing for Work, and Become a Member.

Visit to become part of the solution for reducing recidivism and changing lives: Save lives and taxpayer dollars!

For a personal perspective on the effect of societal change on an individual, after having spent years in prison before release, and the hidden cost of crime and incarceration, read “The Internet” and “No Sympathy” by Wayne T. Dowdy, online at

“No Sympathy” is available as part of the thought-provoking essays in ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN ($8.95 USD, plus S & H) from or  your favorite bookstore and eBook distributor.

Visit for other writings available by Wayne T. Dowdy, including the recently released novel, UNKNOWN INNOCENCE ($12.95 USD, plus S & H).


By Wayne T. Dowdy

I have a beef with Google for damaging my reputation with inaccurate information. I will explain.

Please do not judge UNKNOWN INNOCENCE based upon what I write in this blog, because the novel is about much more than prison and these repulsive characters.

DESPICABLE CHARACTERS: In one blog I included an excerpt from a chapter about one of my despicable characters: “Zachariah Zambroski, Attorney at Law,” November 13, 2015.

Another despicable character I wrote about was Jake (keep reading for more on him).

Zach was not as bad as Jake, but he was despicable for selling out his client, and thus putting an innocent man in prison to avoid going there himself.

A corrupt agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, coerced Zambroski into throwing Big Bobby’s case, who was framed and went to prison for the murder of a famous senator’s son.

In my January 21, 2016, blog (“Despicable Characters”), I wrote about my most despicable character: Jake, a pedophile and necrophiliac who ends up in prison to meet his fate.

A SICK ONE: The following is part of an excerpt from the chapter, “Jake.” He raped and murdered his niece before going to prison on another charge.

“He had stashed her 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.”

As I explained in the opening paragraph of Despicable Characters, “UNKNOWN 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.”

(That paragraph is behind my beef with Google’s search engine.) After I explained my objective to those who read my draft, each person said I had succeeded at making them hate Jake.

THE PROBLEM: My sister googled “Unknown Innocence by Wayne Dowdy” (she left out the “T” in my name). One search result showed an inflammatory association with my name:

“The draft contained ‘Wayne T. Dowdy’ and ‘UNKNOWN INNOCENCE … (performed sex on deceased victims); and John Wayne … Wayne T. Dowdy is such a person and UNKNOWN …”

APPALLED BY INACCURACY: I was appalled when I read that and wanted to somehow correct the search engine, which seemed to suggest I did what Jake did, but then I thought, maybe the absurdity will make someone want to click to learn more about someone who performed sex on deceased victims. Reading on would vindicate me from the inferred search engine accusation.

Wayne T. Dowdy is innocent. Mr. Google falsely accused him. Jake performed sex on deceased victims, not Wayne T. Dowdy, Mr. Google! Read the book, Sicko!

Dumb Google, do better research next time before you assassinate my fine name and character with inaccurate information!

THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM: The phrase, “Wayne T. Dowdy is such a person and UNKNOWN …” came from the Introduction to UNKNOWN INNOCENCE by Jeffrey P. Frye, who wrote the following:

“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 see 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. ….”

Mr. Frye did such a good job on the Introduction that I chose to include an excerpt from it on the synopsis. He wrote:

“UNKNOWN INNOCENCE is a riveting tale that transcends genres. It’s a mystery and a thriller, with a love story woven through its fabric.”

He described the novel accurately, and in a way I would not have considered if asked to describe what it was about. Read “An Introduction to UNKNOWN INNOCENCE” on this blogspot (June 21, 2015), or by going to my author’s page at (, or preferable, by buying the 85,000-word book for $12.95 from your favorite online or offline bookstore.

Wayne T. Dowdy writes straight from the pen. Follow his blogs on Purchase his books, essays, and short stories from your favorite booksellers, or send him an email:


By Wayne T. Dowdy

Originally posted on SurePleasurez Promotions in November 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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