Monthly Archives: January 2020

Cellmates by Wayne T. Dowdy

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

One of my answers on Quora.com recently received a lot of attention, not a record breaker, but 17.6 thousand views is not insignificant. (What happens in prison if you don’t get along with your cellie and it is a dangerous situation? Can you request a new cellmate or a transfer to a different cell?)

There are many other answers to the above question and to following question that people may want to read at Quora.com.

In response to a comment written about my answer to the question, Are Jail-Prison Inmates Treated Differently Based on the Crime they Committed, I wrote:

Thanks for the comment, Annie. Nature drives curiosity, and I am sure that leads to many prison staff doing what is forbidden by policy, in the case of investigating criminal histories of inmates. For case managers, though, it’s necessary to know the criminal offenses of an inmate on their caseload. I am sure that the criminal histories of some prisoners are so terrible that most case managers feel the need to discuss what he or she saw in a case file (jacket).

For me, when I lived a different life, I sometimes suggested to prison staff (and my peers) who offended or challenged me, to “Read my jacket”; MR EGO at large, like, “Don’t you know who you’re messing with,” as if I were a notorious criminal, when in truth I was not, even though my “jacket” didn’t look so nice because of several violent crimes (armed robberies, mutiny in a penal institution, escape, assault on staff, etc.).

Federal prisoners were once allowed to keep their Presentence Investigation Report (PSR) that listed criminal histories and personal characteristics used by the court to determine a defendant’s sentencing range.

In about 2003, the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons made a rule that prohibited prisoners from having their PSR because of sensitive information contained therein, such as financial information and criminal histories and whether that person testified against someone else for a sentence reduction. The prohibition was due to some inmates being assaulted, murdered, and or extorted because of PSR information.

After I changed my life, during a scheduled review, a case manager placed her hand on my extensive file and said, “The person I see in here is not the person I see sitting before me.”

I smiled and said, “Yeah, I changed a little.” 🙂

Since my conversion, I have written about my life and many parts of my criminal history, a lot of which I am not proud of, but write about to show the power of change. People who know me now would never guess that I once lived the Thug life because I am a different man.

Before my release, I gave my case manager a copy of Essays & More Straight from the Penby Wayne T. Dowdy. He, too, had seen my file and knew from years of being my case manager, that the man who sat before him no longer behaved the way he did before. In response to reading my book, he said, “Part of it makes you laugh, and some of the stories make you want to cry. There’s a lot of wisdom in it. It was a great book to read.” And then he thanked me for letting him read it.

In my case, my previous behaviors and history kept me safer in prison than most. I was not an informant, did not testify or cooperate with authorities, and had shown to be someone who would stand up and fight. For most people entering the prison systems across America, that is not the case and their histories or personal characteristics may make them targets for abuse. In rare cases, staff members will manipulate prisoners to retaliate against another prisoner who offended him or her or is just someone they do not like. Though rare, it does happen.

What happens in prison if you don’t get along with your cellie and it is a dangerous situation? Can you request a new cellmate or a transfer to a different cell?

In the federal system, on most occasions, a person could request to be moved to another cell and usually was, but not always. Some staff would just say, “Work it out.”

In critical situations, a cellmate refuses to go back in the cell and seeks protective custody or does something stupid to be removed from the situation, may even stab or use a combination lock or weapon to assault the cellmate.

In 2002, at the United States Penitentiary in Pollock, Louisiana, an older white man who the whites had run off the yard at the U.S.P. Lompoc, because he was in prison for crimes against children, was given a choice to leave the yard at Pollock or suffer the consequences.

He went to the Segregated Housing Unit (SHU) seeking protection by the staff. No whites allowed him in the cell with them inside the SHU.

A friend who was in the cell next to a black man, who the guards were forcing the older white man into the cell with, told me he heard the black man tell the guards, “If you put him in here with me I am going to kill him.”

The guards opened the door and pushed the older white man into the cell.

The older white man was carried out of the cell on a gurney the next morning. He had been beaten and strangled to death.

The black man said to the guards, “I told y’all I was going to kill him if you put him in here with me.”

Typically, though, that’s not the way it works. Most men work out the issues or a counselor or lieutenant approve for one of the cellmates to move, rather than to force them into living with each other.

There are always exceptions to the rule. Sometimes cellmates just have to fight and go to the hole (SHU) to resolve the issue which doesn’t always end there: it may result in the death or severe injury of one or the other when he arrives at another prison. That’s life inside. 17.6k views 

What happens in prison if you don’t get along with your cellie and it is a dangerous situation? Can you request a new cellmate or a transfer to a different cell? Wayne T. Dowdy, Lived inside American Prisons for Decades Answered June 15, 2019

Passed

No Worries

A proudly posted photo of the drug screen results as seen on Facebook, along with the following caption:

Living Clean and Sober has its Benefits. Those tiny bottles once caused me lots of stress! They also lead to me going to the hole (segregated housing unit) on more than one occasion, over 25-years ago.

I am grateful for the life I am blessed with living today that does not include the use of mind-altering substances, unless a person wants to include caffeine into that category. I do drink coffee but that’s better than other substances I used to think I could not live without.

Today I am free because I gave up my former behaviors that kept me locked in cages away from the civilized society.

If I can do it so can anyone else who makes the decision to change their lives, one day at a time.

While I was at the United States Penitentiary in Pollock, Louisiana (2001-2004), a member of Twelve Step programs wrote me and said that he had also learned that he did not have to return to prison, one day at a time. True.

We, those of us who have been in prison, usually have a choice to make that will allow us, as returning citizens, to remain in the free society.

I choose freedom!

Juvenile Forgiveness

On October 29, 2019, I received a request to sign and post a petition prepared for a man wanting support for his desire to be released from prison for a crime he committed as a child, and responded as you may see below. 

Please sign and repost my petition http://chng.it/cp6CdmCK Thank you

“I signed the petition because I do believe that, we, as humans, make many mistakes in our youth that do not define the man or woman we become as we age. Others are welcome to click the URL to sign too.”

As you may see, I posted the link to his petition but did not post the requested petition as I am now doing because I thought of all the mistakes I made as a child and young adult, and of all the many poor decisions I made that had lead to me living the Thug Life, a life I do not live now and do not care to live again.  The point is, I know from my experience that people do change.  Trusting the process when dealing with others is always a risk, but … so much is life. 

For those reasons, here is the petition for Ezekiel Thomas, whose actions while incarcerated strongly suggest that he, too, has changed his life and deserves the chance to prove himself. This petition was created and posted by Deb Fillers on behalf of Ezekiel:

Re-evaluating these inmates who were charged as juveniles with lengthy prison sentences. Studies prove that the brain does not completely mature until a person is in the mid-twenties.  But there are inmates that were under age 18 and convicted of their crimes violent or nonviolent and sentenced to lengthy, or even life sentences. People change, people mature, over years everyone changes. So, its time these inmates who have fallen under the criminal justice system as youth and given these horrendous sentences need looked at. Ezekiel Thomas who this petition is about is currently 44 years of age and has been incarcerated for 27 years for a crime that he committed at the age of 16. Everyone deserves a second chance. If you agree please sign this petition.

I would like to share my personal story:

My loved ones story begins back in the 90’s. Mr. Ezekiel Thomas was a distraught troubled teen, coming from poverty, racism,  years of physical, emotional, mental and sexual abuse. He committed his violent crime at the age of 16.

Undoubtedly the years of physical, mental, and emotional trauma contributed to Ezekiel’s criminal actions  I feel  as many others that had Ezekiel received the support, therapy and emotional guidance that he needed prior to committing his crime his life story would have had a different outcome.  But as an adolescent faced with the challenges of  poverty, abuse and  racism he had no one else to turn to but himself. However In spite of a troubled past  Ezekiel never the less found the path to redemption. I feel that people like Ezekiel who have made leaps and bounds on self transformation and rehabilitation deserve a chance to prove to others that they are worthy of a second chance. Ezekiel takes full responsibility for his actions and has dealt with a lot of remorse for the trauma and hurt inflicted. He turned his bout with lengthy solitary confinement stays, and all the negative things that happen to a youngster in prison into a positive outcome. He has accepted what he did was wrong and he has overcome the demons that have troubled him .Once he sorted out his young life it gave him insight to become a better man and help other men fix their problems. On his journey to rehabilitation he has completed his GED, as well as 13 other secondary academic Diplomas and certificates. He has completed a six month sex offender course, He has received a favorable psychological eval from the renowned James Garbarino PHd. author, professor child psychology.  Ezekiel has written self-help books he now uses in programs that he has created to help inmates find atonement and redemption, he has become a role model, and a leader. He is a facilitator, a teacher in the re-entry program. Hence Ezekiel who has never been released in 27 years is helping prepare his fellow inmates for release everyday. Ezekiel created the program called the A.D.A.M. Project that he uses daily for his classes, this program is supported by Jeff Hilton of the Lancaster County Police Department. He published his first book, Healing the criminal mind, is now also available on Amazon.

Ezekiel is an amazing guy, very intelligent he is a writer, an artist, a motivational speaker, program creator, coordinator, prison reform activist. Upon his release he wishes to continue his prison reform work. He has a loving home, several job opportunities awaiting him. Ezekiel is a lover of people and God. I believe he deserves a second chance at life.

In 2020 Ezekiel will again appear in front of the parole board. With the help of the public we are hoping he will be granted parole. Please sign this petition to help us get him released.

http://chng.it/cp6CdmCK