Monthly Archives: March 2019

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!

Prison Privatization and Recidivism

Can Prison Reform Initiatives Work Without Abolishing Private Prisons?

I wrote this post as a creative solution for prison reform. Money controls business decisions, and with most politicians in the pockets of private prison executives, policies remain the same. Prison reform needs allies, not enemies. This plan joins forces.

See the source image

Yes, I feel it is possible. Private prison companies can aid in the transformation of the criminal justice system by putting more resources into effective programs to help reduce recidivism.

Perhaps private prison corporations can lead the way of prison reform with new cell construction, improved prison living conditions, and programs to mimic those in Norway, the nation with the world’s lowest recidivism rates. https://phys.org/news/2016-08-norwegian-prisons-criminal.html

Evidence of decreased recidivism rates will increase profit margins by allowing higher contract prices. Privatization of prisons requires making a profit off those who go to prison. A large component of incarceration is “Reentry” into society upon release, as CoreCivic (previously Corrections Corporation of America), and GEO Group realized and began investing in Residential Reentry Centers.

Creating a component of prison privatization to aid reentry processes, opens the door for other profits to be gained by a companies.

Returning Citizens Open Doors For Companies Providing Resources

Market doors open when private prison companies invest in supplying associated services to returning citizens.  For instance,

  • building or investing in treatment centers or other services to treat drug and alcohol problems;

  • supplying psychological services (counseling/treatment for mental health and emotional issues);

  • suitable housing projects;

  • job training classes, vocational skills programs, employment opportunities (e.g., temporary job services, employment agencies, creating divisions for other companies to employ returning citizens).

If a three-year recidivism study shows a substantial reduction in recidivism, then private prison executives can charge much higher rates, since paying the increased rate saves taxpayers dollars by not having to pay to re-incarcerate returning citizens.

Profits margins increase by charging an added percentage for services provided to the former prisoners/returning citizens. 

Providing the established program is voluntary, where prisoners exiting the system have a choice of whether he or she wishes to participate, any Risk versus Benefit analysis would increase demand of offered services, because upgraded-programs would become the Gold Standard and most-desired by prisoners exiting the prison system and wanting to successfully reenter society.

Help Returning Citizens


Question from a Concerned Citizen on Quora.com

[Modified Answer for Blog Post]

How can we support people just released from prison so they can get on track to a productive life instead of going back to crime?

https://www.quora.com/How-can-we-support-people-just-released-from-prison-so-they-can-get-on-track-to-a-productive-life-instead-of-going-back-to-crime/answer/Wayne-T-Dowdy

Great question! I feel it’s important for those who are released to know help is available. Websites such as Fair Shake | Reentry Resource Center and other reentry based websites have collected available resources (including companies who hire ex-offenders/returning citizens), organized by state, if applicable, to help provide hope for success, and to help returning citizens know help is available.  That means a lot, so, I feel it is important to support those types of services, and to then direct returning citizens to them and to any of the organizations mentioned in those sites that supplies suggestions for successful reintegration.

Family and friends may also visit those sites to learn more about what the returning citizen faces upon release. Researching for the returning citizen helps, and during the process, the family members and friends may learn ways to help supply support to returning citizens.

As I state in many of my answers, there are many variables concerning prison life and the thousands of individuals held within the walls of confinement, who are then released back into society—with society sometimes being a foreign environment—because of all the changes that occurred since the departure of the returning citizen.

All released prisoners do not have the same history (amount of time served and under what conditions, which means a lot in considering release-needs; the nature of their offense(s); substance abuse and or mental health issues; what all was lost during the period of incarceration; educational and vocational backgrounds, which may help determine employability; available resources from family and friends. etc.).

The answers to those factors help determine what others may do to help that person successfully reintegrate.

PERSONALLY:  For me, it was important knowing I had the support of my family and friends, emotional support as well as any financial-support I needed, within reason. Having loved ones who provided me with clothing, any needed funds, a place to live, and a cellphone and computer helped more than the words flying from these keys can accurately represent. 

I have been blessed and am fortunate to have walked out of prison, thirty-years and ten-days later, to still have family and friends who were still around and still loved and cared for me.  Most returning citizens are not so fortunate and need help finding a job to support themselves, if able to work; if not, may need help finding where to apply for any available aid, and help in applying for that aid. 

Forms and processes for obtaining available services can be aggravating and overwhelming to returning citizens without experience in technology. 

Transitioning isn’t easy after decades away.  Seeing the differences in prices have made me say on many occasions that, “They better be glad I changed my ways.”  I felt like I was being robbed and would have wanted to rob-back, had I not changed.

Because of the many difficulties I have faced as an elderly-returning citizen, if I had not focused on changing my life during the last twenty-three of the thirty-years I served, I’d likely have already returned to prison.  Because truthfully speaking, for many of us who have spent most of our lives inside the insane world of incarceration; in many respects, it is easier to survive life inside prison than on the outside. 

On the outside, I have to be more responsible (paying bills, getting insurance, dealing with health-services; (under normal circumstances, finding a place to live), finding transportation and paying for expenses), having to make more decisions (such as what to eat and where to get it), and to learn a whole new way of life.  Thus, comes the term often applied to the long-term aspect of prison life: “institutionalization.”  I am not!

I’m up for the challenge and will succeed, regardless of any factors I am faced with during my transition from walking out of the Dark Ages into the Modern World. [End Quora Post]

A New Chapter of Life Began When I Walked Out the Prison Doors

Excerpt from Reentry Programs Will Reduce Recidivism (July 21, 2016)

https://straightfromthepen.com/2016/07/21/reentry-programs-will-reduce-recidivism/

https://www.fairshake.net/

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 FairShake.net (www.fairshake.net), 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.

Family and friends of the incarcerated may go to http://www.fairshake.net 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 outreach@fairshake.net.

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 http://www.fairshake.net to become part of the solution for reducing recidivism and changing lives: Save lives and taxpayer dollars!

Also available to Returning Citizens for locating valuable resources are these websites:

HelpForFelons.org. https://helpforfelons.org/reentry-programs-ex-offenders-state/

RZero.org to research a variety of data: http://rzero.org/resource-database-2

Appeal and Irony

Quora Moderation granted my appeal and reposted my answer to the question, “What would happen to the American criminal justice system if no one accepted plea deals and every case had to be resolved in the courtroom?”

Tuesday, March 12, 2019: I replied to a comment and referred to Sammy the Bull and the plea deal made to imprison former Mob Boss, John Gotti.

Ironically, John Gotti’s replacement, Gambino crime boss, Frank (Franky Boy) Cali, was gunned-down on March 13, 2019, the day after I replied and referred to his predecessor, John Gotti.

https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/ny-metro-murdered-gambino-crime-boss-lured-to-death-20190314-story.html

Ironic Reply to Response

For Quora Reader Response, follow thread at https://www.quora.com/What-would-happen-to-the-American-criminal-justice-system-if-no-one-accepted-plea-deals-and-every-case-had-to-be-resolved-in-the-courtroom/answer/Wayne-T-Dowdy

On plea-bargaining: what of situations when a mass-murderer, like Sammy the Bull, receives five-years for murdering nineteen people, because he agreed to say what the government needed said to convict John Gotti?

I have known many men who were in prison because someone lied to put them in prison, in exchange for a more lenient sentence. When most men and women are faced with going to prison or telling lies to put someone else inside in place of themselves, you can believe they will tell a lie and may help put innocent people in prison. That is the flaw in the plea-bargaining system.

On social injustice: Poor people suffer, whether white, black, blue or green. Statistically, based upon percentages, I know those with darker complexions receive longer sentences and are targeted by law enforcement; however, I am white and received a lengthier sentence than many other non-whites who committed more serious crimes.

Before I left prison, an African-American friend asked me to help his people organize movements like Black Lives Matter so that they would be more effective. I replied, “The first thing that needs to happen is to take the color out. All lives matter.”

Martin Luther King, Jr., Spoke Against Social Injustice.

When you add Black, White, Brown, Yellow to any social issue, the color label automatically alienates many of whom would otherwise be supportive if the person pushing the agenda had not made the issue into a racial one.

Click to read associated post: https://straightfromthepen.wordpress.com/2019/03/14/reduce-mass-incarceration/

Reduce Mass Incarceration

QUORA Moderation Banned my Response to the Question, “What would happen to the American criminal justice system if no one accepted plea deals and every case had to be resolved in the courtroom?”

I’ve appealed the decision! In two days, my answer generated almost two-thousand views and several upvotes, so to me, that says people were interested in my view on the subject.

This Man is Not a Real Politician

The Will of the People Will Not Be Denied!

Official Response by Wayne T. Dowdy

The system would collapse. On September 22, 2003, the Honorable Attorney General, John Ashcroft, “an American lawyer and former politician who served as the 79th U.S. Attorney General (2001–2005), in the George W. Bush Administration,” issued a guidance memorandum to the United States Attorneys (federal prosecutors) and their assistants (AUSA).

The memorandum instructed prosecutors to seek the most serious charges and to stop the practice of dropping charges to get pleas, to still give defendants reduced points for accepting responsibility for their acts, and for their cooperation, but to still seek the most serious charges.

[Click the following links to read a New York Times newspaper article and the Memorandum from the former United States Attorney General, who was correct in his agenda to reduce the disparity in sentencing.]

ASHCROFT LIMITING PROSECUTORS’ USE OF PLEA BARGAINS

#516: 09-22-03 [THE BELOW MEMO WAS DISTRIBUTED TO U.S. ATTORNEYS ON SEPTEMBER 22, 2003, AND THE ATTORNEY GENERAL ANNOUNCED THE POLICY IN MILWAUKEE, WI. REMARKS FROM HIS SPEECH THERE ARE AVAILABLE ON THE ATTORNEY GENERAL�S SPEECHES PORTION OF THE DOJ WEBSITE.]

In a Criminal Law Reporter, I read an article that said the head of the Federal Public Defenders Office, wrote a letter to the then Attorney General, John Ashcroft, and complained about the memorandum.

The article claimed that if those policies were implemented, more attorneys would recommend their clients go to trial, and that for every five-percent decrease in guilty pleas, the courts’ dockets would increase thirty-percent.

Translation: if ten out of every hundred federal defendants went to trial, instead of pleading guilty, the overburdened-judicial-system would have a sixty-percent increase in criminal cases going to trial. That would be an overwhelming number of caseloads for prosecutors to handle, with those cases having to be tried within established time frames under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution that requires a fair and speedy trial. https:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speedy_Trial_Act

Therefore, a lot of the bogus cases would be dismissed so that the more serious criminal cases could be prosecuted.

I chastised many men who complained about the sentences they were serving, after going into the courtroom to volunteer to be sentenced, some agreeing to twenty-five and thirty-year sentences, rather than taking a chance at fighting their cases. Their cooperation helped fuel mass incarceration practices.

With more guilty pleas and the courts heading for collapse, Congress would have abolished the United States Sentencing Guidelines, enacted into law under the Sentence Reform Act of 1984, which requires substantial sentences under the mandatory minimums. The politicians in Congress may have even reduce some of the ridiculous criminal penalties enacted for a vote.

Push Congress to abolish the plea-bargaining system if you want to end mass incarceration, since the practice violates the anti-bribery statute, Title18 of the United States Code, Section 201(c)(2), which prohibits, “[o]ffers, or promises [of] anything of value to any person, for or because of the testimony under oath or affirmation given or to be given by such person as a witness upon a trial, hearing, or other proceeding, before any court, any committee of either House or both Houses of Congress, or any agency, commission, or officer authorized by the laws of the United States to hear evidence or take testimony, or for or because of such person’s absence therefrom[.]” 18 U.S.C., Sect. 201(c)(2) [alterations added]

President Donald Trump on Michael Cohen’s Testimony

During the plea-bargaining process for Michael Cohen, I recall President Trump saying on television that it should be illegal to show leniency to Michael Cohen for his testimony.

The above excerpt from the United States Code proves it is unlawful to pay someone “anything of value” for their testimony.

Freedom is priceless!

Freedom or Reduced Sentences for Testimony Before a Court is Payment

Three Judges in the United States Court of Appeals ruled it violated 18 U.S.C., Sect. 201(c)(2) for prosecutors to give reduced sentences for testimony by codefendants.

https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/field_document/usvsingleton2.pdf or https://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-10th-circuit/1436412.htm

Singleton v. United States was decided twenty-years ago but the principles and reasoning behind the three-panel decision is as true today as it was then.

Several politicians criticized the decision and intimidated other judges by introducing new bills and all sorts of garbage. The en banc decision (full-court) reversed the three-judge panel decision but the original three-judges held their ground and stood behind their correct opinion, not driven by political influence.