Returning Citizens Are Misunderstood

The linked YouTube video relates to my experience as a Returning Citizen. Click the above thumbnail to watch the video on one of my YouTube channels that I hope you visit and subscribe, too. Be sure to click the Notification Bell to receive my latest content. Thanks! https://www.youtube.com/@straightfromthepen

Wayne T. Dowdy’s ANSWER TO A QUESTION

In my opinion, many Returning Citizens are Misunderstood by society, in general, because of the negative stereotypes generated by the few returning citizens who return to society and commit horrendous crimes.

Does Society Understand Returning Citizens Aren’t All Bad?

Years ago, it seems I read that (may be less or slightly more) only .25 percent of those released from prison actually committed such crimes, even though a staggering amount are released who are sent back to prison for various reasons. The ones who commit horrendous crimes receive all of the press coverage that leads to a misunderstanding about returning citizens. I don’t feel most people in society understands that only a few are really the bad ones.

For more answers to the question on Quora.com, “As an ex-convict, what are some things you wish more people understood before judging you?”, click the following link. Keep reading for my answer (BTW, that is a photo of me in 1985 at a podium in Atlanta, GA, giving a speech for the World of Work Program):

https://www.quora.com/As-an-ex-convict-what-are-some-things-you-wish-more-people-understood-before-judging-you

Graduation Ceremony for the World of Work in Atlanta, GA, 1985. Photo shown Wayne T. Dowdy

As an ex-convict, what are some things you wish more people understood before judging you?

That people change if they so choose, and that one thing ALL successful people have in common is a lot of failures. I stood at the podium in that photo in 1985 and failed to succeed as the one who did not return to prison, but that was then and this is now. That failure led me to today, where I am alive and free and will succeed to be The One.

And that, because I once lived my life without remorse for my actions, that does not mean I live that way now. That is so because I changed my life when I stopped using drugs and alcohol in 1995 and have since worked on becoming a better man and have succeeded.

Over the years I helped numerous others to change their lives by helping them recover from alcoholism and addiction issues. That is how I should be seen and recognized for, not for the many things I did when I was a young adult, who had a severe substance abuse problem, who made terrible mistakes.

While at the United States Federal Penitentiary in Pollock, Louisiana, I sat in a Twelve Step meeting one Saturday morning in 2004. I had received a meaningful letter from a former member whom I met in prison, and who was then living his life as a free citizen.

In his letter, he thanked me for having helped him learn how to live his life without having to return to prison and expressed gratitude for me and the other members of the group in Lompoc, California, where I had known him.

Before the meeting I let a grandsponcee (the sponcee of a man I sponsored) read the letter. After the meeting had begun, he said, “Wayne, you aren’t going to read the letter to the group?”

Though reluctant to do so, I did. While reading it, I was overcome with gratitude and the tears of gratitude rolled down my cheeks.

During a recess break (I paused to wipe tears and struggled to continue reading), a member said, “Wayne’s becoming human again.”

I rejoined humanity and am a good person who contributes to the betterment of society, and it is for that I should be judged, but … I know there are some who can’t get by my past to see the present, and that is okay. I understand and that it is their loss to be so judgmental and prejudicial.

I’m okay and will succeed regardless of what the insignificants in life think or feel about me.


ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN BY WAYNE T. DOWDY


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