Racism lives and continues to thrive in America and around the world. Police brutality in Minneapolis, Minnesota that resulted in the death of an African-American man named, George Floyd, on May 25, 2020, sparked riots across the United States and caused disruptions around the world.
Reading or watching news isn’t my favorite past time and it took all of the chaos going on in my hometown of Atlanta, Georgia to draw my attention to what is going on in many American cities.
In researching for this blog, I read what one source stated that I know most people will not see the seriousness of one word used in the following statement “terrorist“:
“Officials moved to restore order. Governors called in the National Guard, mayors extended curfews for a third night in some cities and President Trump said he would designate Antifa as a terrorist organization.”
Though I am not an attorney and do not intend this to be legal advice by any standard, I am of the opinion that under American law, terrorism and domestic terrorism carry strict penalties, and when coupled with conspiracy laws, the use of that one word, when tied into legal terminology few can comprehend, many people who are protesting and are in the group of those tied to the violent offenses, may be charged accomplices.
My hope is that the protests do result in needed changes to eliminate racism and police brutality in America and abroad. The reality is that the stereotyping will continue for decades more to follow, because there will always be those who refuse to move away from the past and see each person as they are, rather than by some external element beyond control.
The sad part for me is in knowing that innocent people always get caught in the crosshairs of anger and hate and suffer dire consequences for what others have done. In this case, that will include the innocent protesters who get labeled as terrorists and go to prison for the rest of their lives for only doing what they felt they must do to take a stand against injustice.
Memorial Day in America probably means something different to most Americans than it does to those who hate US for whatever reasons. And should one wonder if the capital “US” is a mistake, no, it is meant to be inclusive, for I am an American and am proud to call myself one, even if not proud of everything that has been done by Americans.
For me, though, Memorial Day is not just about America, even though it is an American holiday. I remain conscious of all who have died from the effect of war or who have died fighting for the lives of others; whether Americans or not, whether for the “right” or “wrong” reasons, human lives are lost, mostly innocent lives lost in the crosshairs of another’s agenda.
Search “Memorial Day” on this site to see other blogs I’ve written on the topic, including some controversial ones where I speak out against the twisting of historical facts and attempts to erase America’s not-so-favorable history.
In the end, though, everything worked out the way it should for whatever reason. I am not in control, and nor I am responsible for what others have done in the name of God or America, but I am proud to be an American and honor those who have died protecting our shores.
Today, I honor those on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19, here in American and all across the world. WE are all in this together, like it or not!
Jeffrey P. Frye never fails to deliver well-written and entertaining stories from his life. His unique background in the legal and illegal professions gives him writing credibility that keeps readers wanting to see what he produces next.
Bank Robber Stories contains humor and a variety of mixed-emotional avenues for readers to experience. A great read for the curious minded about life on the inside of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons and what might lead a person to change professions from the legal to illegal.
Mr. Frye is now in the process of returning to his natural state before his fall from grace. He will confess to “Not Thinking” if asked, “What was you thinking?” Reading this book proves it!
~ Wayne T. Dowdy, author of UNKNOWN INNOCENCE, and ESSAYS AND MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN.
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 seek 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.
In UNKNOWN INNOCENCE, Dowdy takes the reader into the lives of his protagonists, Bobby and Nicole, and tells the story of how it all went terribly wrong. How the forces of bad luck, helped along by a crooked FBI agent and attorney, conspired to take Bobby behind the walls of the United States Federal Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas. Using a pen along with a vivid and epic imagination, Dowdy draws upon his life in the free world, as well as his nearly three decades of walking the line in some of the roughest federal pens in America.
Moving along at a steady pace, UNKNOWN INNOCENCE tells the story of Bobby’s wrongful conviction. Sent up the river for life without parole, Big Bobby never gives up hope though. The one thing that has eluded him for most of his life is the very thing that turns out to be his salvation. Love. UNKNOWN INNOCENCE is a riveting tale that transcends genres. It’s a mystery and a thriller, with a love story woven through its fabric.
Wayne T. Dowdy is a writer for the masses whose voice has purpose. It tells the World, “No matter what happens to me, I will not give up.” This voice takes the broken pieces of a life and combines it with raw talent to bring forth a beautiful mosaic. It’s a voice that says, no matter how guilty I may be, there is still unknown innocence in each and every one of us.
Jeffrey P. Frye
September 9, 2015
Edgefield, South Carolina
Essays and More Straight from the Pen shows the power of change. The well-written essays take the reader deep inside the life of their author who overcame circumstances and obstacles that kept him chained to a life of drugs and crime. The stories inspire and motivate people to not give up or lose hope, and to fight for a new life.
The following excerpt comes from the second book written by Wayne T. Dowdy, under the pseudonym of Mr. D, which he self-published with assistance from Midnight Express Books, to inspire and motivate aspiring writers. The Story Behind the Novel contains links for writing tools to help other writers.
THE STORY BEHIND THE NOVEL
[Updated August 14, 2019: This novel was published while I was in prison and most content remains the same; however, on May 8, 2019, I was released from the custody and control of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons. I removed some of the original content from “The Story Behind the Novel” because it became outdated.]
The story behind the novel may surprise you because I wrote it while serving a 420-month federal prison sentence. Mr. D.” is the pseudonym I used for my first book to avoid any confusion associated with my writings. I am a writer of many genres and am aware that some readers are “profanity-sensitive”; I don’t want anyone to be confused when purchasing my books, essays or short stories. Though not used frequently, profanity is often necessary to capture the personality of a character or to make a scene or setting more realistic; especially, when writing about prison life. A person allergic to profanity may safely read most of my personal essays (inspirational, political, creative nonfiction), but may break out into a rash or go into anaphylactic shock when reading what I write as “Mr. D,” a pseudonym I chose based upon the song, Dancing with Mr. D., by the Rolling Stones, and because my last name begins with “D” and some people call me Mr. D.
Why should the reader find motivation by reading this? It came from the confines of a prison. If I wrote this from inside, without an electronic data storage system, and without access to the Internet, someone “out there” with all of the available technology and resources can really work some magic. This is the story behind the novel:
I am a federal prisoner serving a lengthy prison sentence; to be precise, thirty-five-years, without parole, for armed bank robbery and associated charges. I started on August 18, 1988. I have never used the Internet or seen a cell phone, other than in magazines or on television. I’m somewhat prehistoric, a relic.
In prison, our movement and activities are limited. For instance, I only have until 7:45 pm, Monday through Thursday evenings, to type at the library, which does not begin until my living unit gets released for chow (usually by 6:00 pm). At the library, I use a dumbed-down, AlphaSmart, word processor to type with until the library closes [AlphaSmarts were removed from the library before my release and replaced with the worst typewriters available, with no memory recall capabilities].
Normally, a writer using an AlphaSmart would have an interface cord to connect to their PC to upload what they typed on the AlphaSmart, and would then make modifications to the text in their PC; e.g., change line spacing, font size or style, underline words, or adjust margins. I don’t have a PC to upload what I have typed and cannot modify what I have written, other than typical editing functions, such as copying and pasting, and using spellcheck to correct misspelled words (program does not check grammar or punctuation). Fortunately, the presets include double line spacing, one-inch top, left and right margins, and a 12-pt Times New Roman font. If I want to add an underline to a word or a case cite when doing legal work, I have to create a separate file, count spaces, and then use the underscore key to create an underline. Then I have to run the original document back through a low-quality printer to complete the process.
That gives you an idea of what limited capabilities are when writing and typing from inside a prison (and I am fortunate to be able to do what I do). Some prisons only have ancient typewriters, with no memory storage capabilities. (I authored Under Pressure on such a primitive device.) The only other day I have to work on my writing is on Saturday because the library does not open on Sunday or holidays. During the morning I skip going to eat to type from 7:30 am (or whenever the door opens), until 9:15 am. Then I have to return to the cellblock to be counted. Yes, all of us men must stand up and be counted at 10:00 am, 4:00 pm, and 10:00 pm on weekends and holidays. The 10:00 am Count is a special event: we don’t have one during the week. I often use the break for count to proofread what I’ve written, or to prepare for what I will write.
Once the count clears and the prison staff begin feeding the noon meal, I often skip chow to go type some more. I am usually typing by 11:30 am until I have to turn in the AlphaSmart at 3:15 pm. Fridays and Sundays are my days of forced rest from typing at the library: the only place I can type personal projects.
Where am I during the week when not at the library? Working. I work as the document control clerk in a textile factory of the Federal Prison Industries, Inc., trade name UNICOR. My meager MONTHLY salary averages near $200.00. I used that income to pay for my enrollment in the Long Ridge Writers Group on January 8, 2007. The course is outlined for completion within two years. On July 7, 2008, I graduated. During the same time that I was taking their writing course, I wrote the short story, “Under Pressure.” I attempted its publication by submitting my 6,158-word manuscript (typed on the ancient typewriter mentioned earlier), to various magazines, college literary journals, and entered it in PEN’s Prison Writing contest. It didn’t win. Then on January 1, 2012, my ambition was born to convert the short story into a novel, the hard way, almost five years from the date of when I enrolled in the Long Ridge Writers Group to learn how to write and market short stories and essays. One year after I decided to turn the short story into a novel, it was available worldwide.
My biggest problem in getting started with converting the short story into a novel came from not having any way to electronically store data. When I finished typing at the prison library to return to the cellblock, everything I had typed was deleted according to policy. I knew having memory storage would ease the pain of the revision process (some pages I retyped up to five times to correct a typo, verb tense, or to replace or to add “one” word). I solicited help from my family and friends to have my manuscript scanned and stored on a disk or CD as a word.doc format for the manipulation of data. One of my two sisters, who was not real computer savvy, did go to different places attempting to find what I needed, but the best she could find was someone to scan and save it as a pdf file, which I didn’t think would allow her to alter the text back then (now converters are available that allows a person to modify Portable Document Format files).
I began the conversion process in light of the troubled waters ahead before I learned about the publisher, Midnight Express Books (MEB). Approximately six months after I had surrendered the idea of finding an easier, softer way to write the novel, I discovered MEB through an ad in the Education Behind Bars Newsletter (EBBN). EBBN ran an ad in Prison Legal News and asked for submissions. I submitted an essay and began receiving complementary copies of the newsletter. In the last issue I received, I noticed an ad for MEB, whom works exclusively with prisoners seeking publication [the publisher retired].
At that point, I had decided to go the traditional publishing route, so I passed along the information to another aspiring writer. MEB sent him a brochure. He asked me to read it and asked that I give him my opinion. I was sold when I read about MEB’s optical character reader and computer program for scanning manuscripts, and then being able to digitally alter the text. I immediately added their contact information to the system provided for e-mailing and recording addresses (TRULINCS & http://www.corrlinks.com). Thus, began the correspondence that lead to MEB helping me publish my first novel.
On January 14, 2013, CreateSpace.com released UNDER PRESSURE for sale to the public as a print-on-demand book. [Note: Amazon closed CreateSpace, which was a self-publishing division for paperback books. Now authors must use Kindle Direct Publishing and pay Amazon twice the amount of commission for books sales.]
The following day Amazon.com posted UNDER PRESSURE. Now it is available worldwide upon demand through the following sources:
Smashwords is an eBook distributor who distributes eBooks in various formats to eBook retailers for use on e-readers like the Barns & Noble Nook, and the various applications through Apple products and the Apple iBookstore. When I write other books, essays, or short stories, I will have them posted on my SmashWords’ Author’s page:
Maybe one day I will find out. For you, though, if you are an aspiring writer or just a reader with ambitions, apply yourself to the task and reach for your dreams: they may be closer than you imagine.
Wayne T. Dowdy aka, “Mr. D.”
I welcome all comments, and will respond to all questions as soon as possible, which may vary according to the number received, but I will respond.
E-mail: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Mailing Address: Wayne T. Dowdy, P.O. Box 2608, McDonough, GA 30253
When I posted the original version of this blog, I used statistics from May 7, 2020, for the COVID-19 cases in the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), and May 8, 2020, for Henry County, Georgia. Numbers from both groups changed, but those from the BOP soared, especially Inmate Deaths. In Part II, I am including updated numbers and dates in bold and in parenthesis behind the original numbers.
In this post, I include correspondence from one inmate, who gave me permission to use because he wants the public to be made aware of the conditions inside that particular institution, which I feel certain is an accurate representation of many institutions inside the BOP because other subscribers have mimicked his statements and concerns.
PART II, COVID-19 Numbers Grow
Numbers used in statistics often do not mean much without other numbers to compare to or may even otherwise be used to distort reality. In this case, the severity of COVID-19 in the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) does not seem as severe when looked at in isolation (confined to the statistical data of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons). A comparison to the Henry County, Georgia COVID-19 statistics highlights the severity of the infection rate in the BOP.
In Georgia, the Henry County COVID-19 numbers rank as number Eleven for confirmed cases.
COVID-19 IN THE UNITED STATES FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS
“05/07/2020 (05/16/2020) – The BOP has 140,369 (138,363) federal inmates in BOP-managed institutions and 11,161 (11,674) in community-based facilities. The BOP staff complement is approximately 36,000. There are 2,646 (2,280) federal inmates and 244 (283) BOP staff who have confirmed positive test results for COVID-19 nationwide. Currently, 591 (1,091) inmates and 278 (287) staff have recovered. There have been 44 (56) federal inmate deaths and 0 BOP staff member deaths attributed to COVID-19 disease.”
[UPDATE: Here are the statistics for the BOP for May 8, 2020, which shows substantial growth in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases:
“05/08/2020 – The BOP has 140,119 (138,363) federal inmates in BOP-managed institutions and 11,331 (11,674) in community-based facilities. The BOP staff complement is approximately 36,000. There are 3,082 (2,280) federal inmates and 248 (283) BOP staff who have confirmed positive test results for COVID-19 nationwide. Currently, 619 (1,091) inmates and 279 (287) staff have recovered. There have been 45 (56) federal inmate deaths and 0 BOP staff member deaths attributed to COVID-19 disease.”]
The reduction in confirmed COVID-19 positive cases may be due to the lack of testing and inmates being kept in private prisons. Private Prison representatives often refuse to provide requested information to journalists and others.
From bop.gov/coronavirus, the BOP reports the following:
“Due to the rapidly evolving nature of this public health crisis, the BOP will update the open COVID-19 confirmed positive test numbers, recoveries, and the number of COVID-19 related deaths daily at 3:00 p.m. The positive test numbers are based on the most recently available confirmed lab results involving open cases from across the agency as reported by the BOP’s Office of Occupational Health and Safety at 11:00 a.m. each day. BOP field sites may report additional updates throughout the day. Data is subject to change based on additional reporting.
“The BOP has begun additional testing of asymptomatic inmates to assist in slowing transmissions within a correctional setting. As such, our data reflects an increase in the number of COVID-19 positive tests reflected in the table below [see the table at bop.gov/coronavirus]. The BOP is able to better utilize this information for the management of an outbreak at the relevant, affected facility.
“The inmate totals listed do not include inmates participating in the Federal Location Monitoring program or being held in privately managed prisons. Additionally, the reference to the FCI Butner Low below refers to an isolation unit that is physically separated from the rest of the LSCI.”
Many men incarcerated across the nation inside the confines of the BOP have complained about the lack of testing for COVID-19, and some staff’s failure to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE); e.g., face masks and gloves.
Straight From the Pen of the Incarcerated
The information below comes from an inmate at one of the federal prisons in Butner, North Carolina, where other inmates in the complex have reported the same situation (lack of testing, CDC recommendations not followed (social distancing and failure to wear PPE), as have inmates in Terre Haute, Indiana, and U.S.P. Victorville in California.
(I’ve reorganized paragraphs for ease of reading. The provided information is posted as provided, other than minor spelling and punctuation corrections. Additional information is included in brackets. Some content isn’t intelligible but is irrelevant for this post. The inmate often uses “jail” instead of “prison” when he is referring to the institution.)
5/14/2020: If I write a blog later in relation to the lack of testing, not following safety protocols, etc., do you want me to post this?
[Inmate Name Removed to Protect Privacy] May 15, 2020:
“Yes, it needs to be known what Butner is doing to the inmates and how they aren’t doing anything to fight the infections. Most of the guards don’t even wear mask. The guards are bringing it [COVID-19] in the jail and it seems like a norm to them its two blocks left that has no infection. Out of 8 blocks 6 blocks have been infected and the numbers are going up five more just was quarantined today.”
[Inmate Name Removed to Protect Privacy] 5/14/2020:
“Granville a is quarantined and the just had an inmate on Vance [?] a test positive don’t know how many he affected the took him out of here this jail isn’t doing anything for our safety the have me working in the kitchen for 11 hours a day fixing the meals for the rest of the jail there is no social distancing we are all working don’t know who is infected and who ain’t they only check your temperature there has not been one single test administered on this compound and the virus is spreading at a rapid pace and all they do is put you in the shu [Segregated Housing Unit] for 14 days don’t test you and after the 14 days they put you right back in population there is no structure for fighting this virus they are not follow no guidelines and this is sad there is so many people they are deliberately placing in harm’s way and they don’t even care and that’s why is so sad.”
Friday, May 15, 2020: RE: RE: 05/12-13/2020 (Numbers keep growing)
[Inmate Name Removed to Protect Privacy]
“This is all lies there is a total of 58 that are quarantined in the shu as we speak I know because I make the trays for the shu and the still have us working together in the kitchen not social distancing and [UNICOR, Federal Prison Industries, Inc.] is still working without social distancing. This place just doesn’t care.
“There is no 40 that has recovered they are only keeping them in the shu for 14 days and sending them right back to the block to infect other people this jail has no compassion it just doesn’t matter to them we have been locked down since march we are trapped on a block with no ventilation the same air is just blowing the same infected air throughout the jail.”
All you can do is follow the recommendations, and especially about washing your hands before touching your face after being on the computer or phone, which should be done at any time. Here’s what was on the bop.gov website yesterday for Butner institutions (Butner Low has 22 confirmed cases, and 40 who have recovered):
[In the above examples, the BOP still does not acknowledge the death of Ms. Robin Grubbs as being due to COVID-19. In the referenced article about her death reported in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the inmate stated what mirrors the statements of many inmates who expressed concerns to me through correspondence (staff not wearing personal protective equipment because it isn’t available or otherwise does not wear any).]
The B.O.P. only has a total of 151,530 (150,037) individuals held captive in the prison system (numbers include inmates in Residential Reentry Centers), along with 36,000 staff who work for the BOP, for a total of 187,530 (186,037) people, but the BOP had 44 (56) inmate deaths, and a total of 2,890 (2,280) confirmed COVID-19 cases on May 7, 2020; however, if the number of confirmed cases and those who have recovered are included, the total COVID-19 cases that were in the BOP is 4,800.
As mentioned above, Henry County ranks 11 in Georgia for the COVID-19 case, with Henry County’s 225,508 people, only 559 (700) confirmed COVID-19 cases, and 14 (18) deaths, as reported on May 8, 2020 (May 17, 2020). In the BOP with far fewer people, the death rate is much higher (56/18). The difference in infection rates enormous (4,800/700).
The point being that the BOP COVID-19 pandemic within the system is serious and demands attention, as does the handling of the COVID-19 crisis in all of the many other prison systems across the United States and other parts of the world, many of the latter which are likely worse than the situation in the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons.
With the substantial increase in BOP COVID-19 deaths and the number of confirmed cases that were within the system (4,800 total), it reveals a more significant issue than the numbers viewed in isolation, buried within the walls, bars, and fences of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons.
The inactions and failure of prison officials to implement processes and to comply with CDC recommendations have killed 56 federal inmates, and most likely, hundreds more in State prisons.
Many other deaths and COVID-19 cases are probably hidden within the privately managed prisons across the United States.
Will the day come when legislatures enact laws to hold prison administrators accountable for actions or inactions when it leads to the deaths of other humans? Unlikely.
[Note: The focus of this blog is not about private prison officials’ refusal to provide information to journalists, so I won’t expound on the topic, but do know that it has always been an issue that is hidden inside BOP contracts with private prison representatives.]
Perfection does not exist for us humans. If you erred in your youth or child-rearing practices, you deserve recognition and praise for the pain you endured and thus helped keep the human race alive, popping out babies to face the challenges of life. Some of those children become technological geniuses, innovators, inventors, and the movers and shakers who change the world. Thanks to Moms!
God Truly Blessed Man by Creating Those Special Women Who Become Mothers!
Without the strength, love, tolerance and determination of all you wonderful Mothers of the World, our species would be extinct by now, because most men just want to have fun in the breeding process and leave the pain and suffering to you.
Thanks for doing what all you do!
May Each of You Have a Day so Special that It Lives in Your Mind for the Rest of Your Days as that Extra Special Mothers’ Day of 2020.