by Wayne T. Dowdy
For the last month, I thought about writing this blog, twisting my mustache as numerous ideas whirled around inside my head: making a minor correction suggested by a reader; praising women in honor of Women’s History Month; updating the halfway house issue; and my plans for StraightFromthePen.org and .net, including my agenda to help reform the failed policies and practices that fuel mass incarceration in America.
WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH: On March 27, 2017, I wrote “Women Rule the World” in honor of the wonderful women of the world, whom we all owe our lives. Please take a moment to read it on https://straightfromthepen.wordpress.com or http://waynedowdy.weebly.com.
BLOGS: I won’t devote much space to the halfway house issues I wrote about in “Half a Problem” (01/12/18) and the other blog my publisher posted on February 12, 2018: “The Storm and Valentine’s Day Wish” (The Storm).
Two days after The Storm was posted, seventeen victims died and numerous others were wounded from the blasts of an AR-15, while trying to obtain an education.
ANOTHER VALENTINE’S DAY MASSACRE: Ironically, as I wrote in the latter post, when I first sent out “A Winter Storm & Valentine’s Day Wish” on February 12, 2014, two days later, an earthquake struck this area. This time, after posting the modified version of the same story, a mentally-ill young adult permanently affected the lives of the survivors of a school shooting and engrained unpleasant memories on a day for sweethearts and lovers.
THE COWARD WHO POSED AS A PROTECTOR OF THE PEOPLE: I spent many hours thinking of those innocent children who were murdered at a Florida school, as a coward who posed as a security guard from the Broward County Sheriff’s Department, stood trembling outside the doors of the school as the gunman killed his victims. I understand that humans experience a paralyzing fear, but for trained professionals, isn’t that when their training is supposed to kick in, putting them on autopilot to perform their heroic deeds?
The one paid to protect the children and their teachers, had lived most of his life. I don’t understand why he did not risk what remained of his life to help save the lives of those who were just beginning theirs; I’m sure he regrets his inaction on that fatal day.
If one of the world’s most ethical preachers of the gospel had not passed away, I’m sure he, the late Reverend Billy Graham, would have said a prayer and forgave the coward for not protecting those who depended on him to keep the school safe.
HALFWAY HOUSE UPDATE: I am awaiting a response from the Regional Director on my Administrative Remedy Request (BP-10), of which I mailed a certified copy of to BOP Director, Mark S. Inch, and Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC). The Honorable Trey Gowdy chaired the Oversight Committee on the BOP’s changes to its Halfway House program.
I invited Director Inch to read my two blogs and then sent a copy of the blogs to Representative Gowdy. I also wrote, “I refuse to believe that those under you are applying the changes as you intended; if they are, then with all due respect, I feel those policies are an abuse of the discretion provided by Congress in 18 U.S.C. Section 3624(c), Prerelease Custody (Second Chance Act of 2007: Community Safety Through Recidivism Reduction).”
I do expect to succeed at getting additional time in a halfway house, because as everyone has acknowledged, 119-days is not enough for someone who has been in prison for thirty-years.
The Regional response is due April 5, 2018. April 5th is the day I stopped using drugs and alcohol in 1995. I then stopped smoking on that same date in 2004. A friend said, “If you’re ever going to play the lottery, do it on April 5th.” 🙂 I’ve bought my ticket!
CORRECTION: One dedicated reader who attended the event I wrote about in “The Storm & Valentine’s Day Wish,” corrected me about who made a statement that the BOP was running out of prisoners because of changes in the law, and policies made by the former President Obama and Attorney General, Eric Holder.
I attributed the comment to having been made by a BOP spokesperson and at a Union meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event was a conference, not a closed-door meeting, and the speaker was from the Department of Justice, a U.S. Attorney, the reader believed, and not a BOP official.
CONFESSION: I confess to being tough on the BOP and its officials whom have the task of managing the Federal Bureau of Prisons, often without proper funding, and a lack of desire to fulfill its professed commitment to society to protect it from the nation’s most dangerous criminals. The BOP claims to accomplish their mission by helping convicted men and women become law-abiding citizens, by offering self-improvement and employment opportunities.
From my viewpoint, that is supposed to occur while its prisoner remain captive inside the depths of the inherently corrupt federal prison system, whose policies and practices are driven, in part, by the influence of private prison companies. Many of the alleged self-improvement and employment opportunities are items listed on paper and not practiced as required by policy.
Read “The Truth About Incarceration, Part II” for more on the topic of private prison influence on absurd laws and policies.
STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN: On May 4, 2011, I sent out a post about my ideas for StraightFromthePen to be shared on Facebook. This is an updated status report to be posted and shared on social media outlets:
At this point, the Straight From the Pen concept is a dream, a plan to gather the people who will help create a social networking system designed to improve the state of affairs. Prison budgets drain state and federal economies, but more so than that, the prison experience drains life from many and damages the chance of those who wish to succeed after serving time in prison.
Once tarnished by the “Ex-Con” stigma, it makes it difficult to find jobs and people willing to trust an ex-offender and help him or her get on their feet. Many of those who go to prison lose everything and walk out of the prison gates without any money, family, friends, and a lot of repressed hate and anger that will destroy them and sometimes hurt others who become their victims.
Recidivism rates soar in America: In one study of prisoners released in 1994, 67.5% of prisoners were re-arrested within 3-years of release. A recidivist is a person who returns to old behaviors. Then in the “Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005, Patterns from 2005 to 2010,” on average, 76.6% of state prisoners returned to prison with a new charge.
Federal prisoners fared better than state prisoners. In an eight year study, “Recidivism Among Federal Offenders: A Comprehensive Overview” that the United States Sentencing Commission released in 2016, “almost one-half of federal offenders released in 2005 (49.3%) were rearrested for a new crime or rearrested for a violation of supervision conditions.”
In some categories, over 80% returned to prison after release. The recidivism rate is 80.1% for career criminals who automatically fall in the Criminal History Category of VI by having two prior felony drug and, or violent crime convictions.
THE COST of incarceration in America varies depending on the age and security of prisoners. In the federal system, those rates average between $31,000 for healthy prisoners, and much higher for most of its aging prisoners.
The cost of my incarceration now runs close to $100,000 per year. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to free me?
Straight From the Pen hopes to lower those numbers by helping to change the status quo of the criminal justice systems across America and beyond. Reducing recidivism, crime rates, and the victimization of those who will otherwise fall victim to the recidivist, whether by feeling the pain inflicted from the recidivist or by paying enormous tax rates that supports mass incarceration in America, will make life better for everyone involved. We can make a difference!
My plan is to find those capable and willing to create two social networking sites called StraightFromthePen.org and StraightFromthePen.net. The .org will contain links to every state and federal legislature. Myself or others will draft bills and letters of support on specific issues of interest to society, and demand a vote from the elected officials to support the bills or issues necessary to change the corrupt system fueling mass incarceration.
The participant only has to select the contact information of the legislature, and then click to send the letter or bill of interest, which demands the preferred vote in exchange for another vote during re-election campaigns.
To realize this dream, as the conditions indicate on this date, I need people to handle the technical aspects involved in creating and maintaining the network; some to research issues needed to write effective articles, bills and support letters; others to handle the finances, apply for government grants, receive and channel donations to benefit the organization.
This is the vision for Straight From the Pen:
Straight From the Pen seeks to improve and change the status quo of prison through knowledge and understanding about the beast by enlightening others from the inside of places stereotyped as holding sullen, dejected, and dangerous people. Through open debate and an honest approach, we seek to reduce recidivism, reduce state and federal deficits, and to help change the lives of its participants.
AGENDA: stimulate discussions and actions on the following topics:
1) Prison Reform;
2) How to Reduce Recidivism;
3) Life on the Inside and Its Effect;
4) Lives Affected by Criminals;
6) Laws Leading to Prison;
7) Prison Politics; and
8) Educating Prisoners to Reduce Recidivism and Save Lives.
We can change the mass incarceration rates and the destructive effect of prison with a proactive approach that targets those who make laws and policies. States such as Georgia, Kansas, and Kentucky have already implemented programs that reduce recidivism, which is proof that we can help to create positive change, but not alone. We must work together to come up with solutions to improve the quality of life for everyone involved.
(Send suggestions or comments to [email protected] or [email protected] Put SFTP in the subject line. My response may be slow but I will respond. For snail mail, send it to Wayne T. Dowdy, #39311-019, Federal Correctional Institution, P.O. Box 725, Edgefield, SC 29824-0725)
Seven years after I began working on Straight From the Pen, I have one of three websites available to help generate funds for the other two (http://www.straightfromthepen.com). I also have people in my circle who will help realize the Straight From the Pen dream.
Invest in the future: To support this agenda, purchase eBooks and set the price you wish to contribute on my Smashwords Authors Page at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy, or if you prefer, make donations at GoFundMe (gf/me/u/ba6xjn).
StraightFromthePen.net will provide a platform for a select group of the incarcerated or formerly incarcerated to tell the world their absurd, verifiable stories that lead to unbelievable prison sentences that did not match the crimes. For instance, one friend received a 40-year federal sentence in Florida for 1-gram of cocaine hydrochloride for personal use, and a .357 magnum cartridge that hung on a keychain. Many such horror stories live inside the prisons of the world.
I thank you in advance for your time and contributions toward making a difference in the fight for justice. Wayne