Provide Treatment for Addiction Problems to Reduce Recidivism
July 11, 2021: I am reposting this blog because of its importance to me and millions of others. Had I not changed my life in 1995 while inside the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons, I would never have lived long enough to walk out of the prison doors. Today I have a life worth living because I dealt with the interpersonal issues I had that kept me caught up in my addition and in prison for the majority of my life.
I am evidence that miracles happen.
In December 2002, a study author stated that eighty-five percent of prisoners had addiction problems, and of those, half had an underlying mental condition (42.5%). To me, that study shows a critical need for providing resources to help treat addiction problems, if we plan to reduce recidivism.
Thirty Percent of Men and Women with Addiction Problems Have Underlying Mental Health Conditions.
Combine Treatment for Both Issues to Change Lives.
I am one who falls within the study findings and attest to the accuracy of the study finding; however, I don’t live that way anymore. The August 2008 publication from Readers Write in The Sun magazine, helps explain why that remains true: https://www.thesunmagazine.org/issues/392/up-all-night
(For more on the study and its findings, read “No Sympathy” on this site)
Note: I am now free and living my life as a productive member of society and reside in metro Atlanta, Georgia.
The Sun magazine Readers Write topic: Up All Night
I have spent many nights wide awake on methamphetamine, cocaine, LSD, and Ecstasy. In the late seventies, I used to go on PCP benders and lose days of my life to blackouts. As a result, I cannot honestly say what I have or have not done.
I am currently serving a thirty-five-year federal sentence for armed bank robbery and associated charges. For the first seven years of my sentence, I did cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, or some combination of the above as often as I could. When the guards came around to count us after lights out, I’d fake being asleep to avoid getting a urinalysis the next day. In the morning I’d begin the search for another fix.
Then I began seeing a prison psychologist. I wanted to stop shooting
drugs, but I had failed at it so many times that I didn’t have much
hope. The psychologist arranged sessions with a drug-treatment
specialist. After about a month, she decided that the core of my
addiction was shame, and she gave me a homework assignment: to write
about the most shameful event in my life.
I decided to give her more than she had bargained for. I wrote from 5:30 P.M. until 5:30 A.M.,
committing to paper all the sick secrets that I had vowed to take with
me to my grave. I filled sixteen yellow, legal-size pages.
The following day the drug counselor read what I’d written and
predicted that I would never use again. For thirteen years her
prediction has held true. But I keep in mind that my reprieve from my
addiction is contingent on my spiritual condition from day to day. To
stay healthy I have to attend twelve-step meetings and continue to write
about what’s going on in my life. Staying up all night writing, instead
of doing drugs, has helped me to reach beyond the walls and razor wire
and into the lives of others.
I found the inscription on the medallion shown above in the photo to be inspiring and true: “If nothing ever changed there would be no butterflies.”
Several years ago, I was published in an international magazine and was quoted as having said something like, “I was antisocial until AA turned me into a social butterfly.”
Butterflies are free and so am I!
On April 5, 2021, a doctor called me on the phone and thanked me for a personal magazine/book that I gave her: Essays & More Straight from the Pen. She said it changed her life by allowing her to understand more about how one’s experiences in life shape the person they become (or something along those lines. I’m paraphrasing from memory).
For such a compliment to come from someone as prestigious and intelligent (and pretty) as her, I was moved deeply and more thankful for her call than she probably realized. Knowing how busy she is in her profession and that she was so thoughtful that she took the time from her busy schedule to call me, meant a lot.
She began the conversation by saying she hoped that it was a good time for her to call, and by acknowledging that she knew the day was a special one for me (the last day I used mind-altering substances in 1995). Then she thanked me for my very well written book and for writing openly and honestly about the sensitive content from my past.
When I promised to give her a copy, I asked that she please remember me as the person she met versus the person she reads about inside the book.
I felt honored that she had remembered me as the man she met and was so grateful that she called to thank me for the truthful content inside the pages, a lot of which I am not proud of having done decades before.
People can change the same as butterflies do when metamorphosing from a caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly. Read about the man who did in Essays & More Straight from the Pen.
Essays & More Straight from the Pen by Wayne T. Dowdy
Essays and More Straight from the Pen shows the power of
change, gives hope to readers wanting a different life.
The well-written essays take readers deep inside the life of
the 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.
My life after release continues to be in the present, as I have not become a recidivist who got out of prison only to return with a new charge(s) or for a technical violation on supervised release. For me it is easy since I don’t do anything I’m not supposed to do: I don’t get high, don’t run the streets, get permission before going out of the area, and just do the right thing by living in harmony with the Universe on most days.
In these types of blogs, I write from my personal experience and perspective, more so than from a broader, more general perspective of life after incarceration, or about my life while inside.
However, issues affecting those of us released, as well as those left inside, remain important to me, as will be shown if you search this website for “recidivism,” “returning citizens,” “Federal Bureau of Prisons,” “Incarceration,” where I have written numerous blogs relating to those issues. I contribute the following paragraph as a great resource for information.
PRISON POLICY INITIATIVES
For those interested in a more technical aspect of issues relating to Returning Citizens and recidivism or other prison-related issues, the Prison Policy Initiative contains volumes of important research information. I am personally grateful for Peter Wagner who devotes time and energy towards making a difference in the lives of others.
Fairshake.net is one of the best, if not the best, resource for returning citizens who need a broad base of information to help them carve their way into a bright future.
The owner of Fairshake.net invited me to write a few sentences for the Fair Shake New Year’s Eve Edition. This is what I was published:
“‘Miracles happen every day but what I learned is that sometimes I must do my part to make a miracle happen. I do what I believe to be the right thing and then get out of the way. I refused to give up my fight for freedom and fought 14-years to get Good Conduct Time. My last victory allowed me to leave for a halfway house on 08/28/2018, instead of 12/26/2018. My hope for better days got me through the dark days spent inside the dungeons of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons. Today, hope keeps me moving in a positive direction in pursuit of the many goals I remain focused on achieving. Never lose hope!'”
My popularity continues to climb on Quora.com, where I have written several articles/answers about my experiences relating to life in prison and other related topics. The bulleted list that follows this screenshot of my statistics, shows the most read and upvoted content. These days I don’t have much time to devote to writing on Quora, but if interested in any of the topics, visit my profile page on Quora.com to access my Answers (https://www.quora.com/profile/Wayne-T-Dowdy).
How are new inmates treated when they first come to prison?·
If you’ve spent a long time in prison, what technology did you find hardest to adjust to when you were released?·
As someone who has been to prison, what are the most common inaccuracies about prison life portrayed in movies?·
How does serving time in federal prison compare to state prison?·
In prison, inmates yell “12” to alert other inmates when an officer is present. Why is the number 12 used when they alert each other (or does this only happen in Georgia prisons)?·
When does the day start for inmates in federal prison?·
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?·
Do all men in prison have sex with other men?·
If you were imprisoned, how comfortable would you be without any privacy?·
Is it true that people get sprayed with water in prison, when they first get there?·
What is a secret which you would not tell anybody in real life, but would on Quora using anonymity?·
What incentives do inmates have to behave well, especially those in for life? Do they care about their quality of life while on the inside knowing that they’re not ever getting out?·
People believe that prison should be tougher for the inmates, since there are too many luxuries awarded at the expense of taxpayers. Is being in prison as good as people think it is or worse than people could imagine?·
Are jail/prison inmates treated differently based on the crime they committed?·
Did anyone attempt a prison escape while you were an inmate?·
Can you survive and stay healthy on food provided to you in prison? Is the food clean and nutritious enough, or do you need to order out like the rest of the inmates?·
How many people who attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings stay sober over 5 years?·
What were you in prison for?·
What is something you’ve seen that you wish you hadn’t seen?·
Does “giving yourself up or turning yourself in” really give you a lighter jail sentence?·
I have more to say but don’t have time to write it, so I will close by asking those who like or want to invest and trade stocks, to read Massive Change by Wayne T. Dowdy. Watch the two YouTube videos by Stock Moe to learn something you didn’t know. 🙂
Sign up for a Webull account and fund it with at least $100 to get an free stock ranging in value. That will help me to earn two free stocks, too. 🙂 I thank you in advance!
Massive Change for me involves all my recent activities by trading in the stock market, as well as taking more time to work on my websites to create more traffic in hope of earning additional income. In this blog, I am dedicating most of it to promote Stock Moe, a great person who helps others.
Stock Moe taught me to use the word “Massive” in a title for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which is what bloggers and others use to make their website more visible to search engines, such as Google and Bing.
Stock Moe used Massive about YouTube videos but that doesn’t mean it only works for YouTubers. I am using a SEO technique in this blog by repeatedly using his name and placing his name in headings.
Stock Moe qualifies as my favorite YouTuber because his actions prove that he wants to help others and isn’t doing the YouTube videos strictly for profit.
Stock Moe does promote WEBULLto get free stocks to help support the channel, as will I if someone uses the link in this paragraph to go to Webull to create a stock trading/investing account, and then funds it with a minimum of $100.00.
Get free stocks by signing up now, and then if you also promote WeBull, you will get more free stocks when a referral opens and funds the account within the specified time range with $100 or more.
WEBULL Promotion Good Until March 1, 2021
In myWEBULL promotional case, I am assuming that I will reap a benefit if someone uses the above link (or that one) to create and fund an account. Because I just posted it for the first time and have never used it in this type of communication, I am not sure. Please leave a comment if you do sign up so I will know I am being credited for the referral. Thank you in advance!
NOTE: From my limited understanding, most Penny Stocks classified as so not because they sell for pennies, but because of their overall price or corporate value. Over the Counter (OTC) stocks, meaning that they aren’t listed on the NASDQ or other stock exchanges, are not available on Webull. Several trading platforms do not allow users to purchase OTC stocks. My personal favorite for buying OTC stocks is Charles Schwab.
STOCK MOE THE PRO
Watch and listen to this YouTube video by Stock Moe and then you will know why I used the heading, Stock Moe the Pro. He is someone who knows what he is talking about on the YouTube channel, as a former teacher, stock broker, etc. A very impressive person, him and his Tesla Cat!
To understand Tesla Cat, please watch Stock Moe’s YouTube presentations, then you will know what I mean. 🙂
Listening to the second video will reveal more about the Real Stock Moe who also hangs out on Twitter, where I, too, also post links to these blogs.
I am learning more tricks of the stock market trading and investing practices from Stock Moe and a few other people who do YouTube videos. In the near future I will promote some other favorites that I find reliable but Stock Moe does hold the title as The Best!
Stock Moe Teaches
Marketing and learning Search Engine Optimization is a big part of any successful website or social media platform used to make money. Stock Moe explains more about the processes in his teaching platform. Enjoy!
Yep, it happened again. The Hand of the Censor closed the door of communications between the Freedom of the Press and a captive held inside the mighty United States Federal Bureau of Prisons.
I send in the same content to over one hundred federal captives held in several institutions, without an issue. And then on occasion, at least one incompetent screener who cannot comprehend the context of my blogs or messages, decides that what I write or do is a threat to institutional security.
Maybe it was due to me offering to build him a website in another message. I don’t know.
In this case, the Censor at the Federal Detention Center in Miami, Florida seemed to have stopped one of my blogs that I sent in to a high-profile captive who is a subscriber whom I have published articles for, even though he is of a different faith and belief than me.
I do not believe or feel the same as this particular person on many issues but that is irrelevant. What is important, is that I believe in treating others with the same respect and in giving the same consideration that I would want from someone who didn’t agree with my position on an issue or event.
It is not about me and what I believe in regards to religion or politics: it is about him having a right to believe as he wishes and for me to give him and others a voice to shout out from behind the walls, bars and fences that holds the body but cannot control the mind.
That is, unless the administration pumps the person full of anti-psychotic medication, which actors within the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons and other prison systems have been known to do to control captives who fail to conform. At least, so I have heard and seen the results of when a person begins to walk and talk different because of the heavy dosing of medication.
At any rate, I will end this post with the Message from the Censor:
This message informs you that you have been blocked from communicating with the above-named federal prisoner because the Bureau has determined that such communication is detrimental to the security, good order, or discipline of the facility, or might facilitate criminal activity. The prisoner with whom you were communicating is being informed of this block. You may appeal this block within 15 days of the date of this message by submitting a written request to the Warden of the prison where the prisoner is located. You should include a copy of this notice, an explanation ofyour appeal request, and any additional documents or information you wish to be considered.
Este mensaje le informa de que ha sido bloqueado de comunicarse con los citados presos federales porque laAgencia de Administraci?n federal de prisiones ha determinado que dicha comunicaci?n es perjudicial para laseguridad, buen orden, o la disciplina de la instituci?n, o podr?a facilitar actividad delictiva. El recluso con quienusted se ha estado comunicando ser? informado de este bloqueo.Usted puede apelar este bloque dentro de los siguientes 15 d?as de la fecha de este mensaje mediante lapresentaci?n de una solicitud por escrito al alcalde de la prisi?n donde el recluso se encuentra. Usted debeincluir una copia de este aviso, una explicaci?n de su solicitud de apelaci?n, y cualquier otro documento oinformaci?n que usted desea sea considerado.
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Though this post begins different than some of my others, it does relate to life after release by showing my adaption to the technological advances made since I walked out the prison doors on August 28, 2018.
A walk in the Park on a cool and cloudy, Southern day. What a pleasure it was to see a great blue heron spread its majestic wings and soar across the water. Had I not been trigger-happy on my smartphone, I would have left the park with a nice video of it flapping its wings to lift itself above the water to fly off into the trees after I disturbed its peace by walking too close for its comfort.
When I pressed the spot on my phone to start the video, I didn’t think it worked so I pressed again. The second press stopped the video that had slowly started, so I got a one-second video and another slightly longer one that tracked it as it neared the trees, too far away for a good image.
SMARTWATCH WITH PHISHING LINK INCLUDED
Two weeks ago, I ordered a smartwatch online that has the capability of connecting to the camera in my smartphone. My plan was to use the smartwatch to take a selfie or group photo with me in the picture without having to hold the phone in my hand.
When my smartwatch arrived from China, I scanned the QR Code on the miniature user’s guide to connect my smartphone. Not just any smartphone, a real smartphone with the latest technology. The Android 10 update removed bugs and improved security.
No Connection: I aborted the download when Google Chrome and my security system warned that a phishing link was detected in the app: “IhzI666.com/fundo/download.html Phishing Website” (actual URL).
I contacted the company that I bought the watch from and told them that the watch, simply labeled as SMARTWATCH, came with the phishing link in the QR code and should be removed from inventory and that the company should contact and warn all customers who purchased that brand.
Fortunate for me, a couple of days before my devilish smartwatch arrived, fully loaded to catch a phish, I checked my phone for updates and saw Android 10 was available. Had I not have taken the time to update my phone, my finances may have dwindled, even though I do use two-factor authentication to protect access to anything I use with important information contained therein.
ALWAYS BE ON ALERT FOR SCAMS
Within a month of my release from prison, I ran into a scammer who posed as a hiring manager for a company offering a work-from-home opportunity. A little too late (after giving personal information), I figured out what was going on, but kept the person on the wire for over a week playing games with him, her, or IT, because I had already done what I could to protect myself and didn’t have anything of value to be taken, other than my fine name associated with a long history of criminal convictions.
ALERTED: The email address ended with @gmail.com. The company he, she or IT claimed to represent, came before the @gmail.com. Any official business will use their company email account, not gmail.com, hotmail.com or anything other than something like @amazon.com or @straightfromthepen.com.
I immediately contacted the credit reporting agency, Esperian, and froze my credit reports and alerted the FCC about the Scam-in-Process. After letting the idiot think for a week that a phish was online, I sent a text and revealed what I had done and said, “You need to find you a real job. I’ve been in federal prison for thirty-years and don’t have anything for you to steal. I’m out here starting my life over. Find something else to do that is more constructive before you end up going to where I just left.”
He, she, or IT was one of many scammers that I have dealt with since my release. Because of my popularity as an author, blogger, photographer (Google Guide-almost 4,000,000 views of my photos in Google Maps), etc., my social presence makes me a target.
Before my release, and afterwards, if I had not taken the time to learn about security, and the advancements in technology, my life would be different than what it is today.
To repay my debt to society, I use those negative experiences to help others avoid being caught in the same traps by forewarning them and posting blogs like this to enlighten others because life out here isn’t always a Walk in the Park.
But life is good, especially when I am blessed with seeing the beauty of God’s creation as it spreads its wings to fly into the sunset or across a body of water.
September 6, 2020, Update: Many things changed since I wrote this blog on August 10, 2018. The biggest change being that I walked out of the prison doors of the Federal Correctional Institution in Edgefield, SC on August 28, 2018.
The realities of life after incarceration have been different than what I had imagined life would be upon release. In hope of helping to prepare others of the realities of life after release from decades of imprisonment, I am working on a blog, Life After Release, which is about things that contrasted with reality and what I thought before I walked out the doors.
In this updated post of Returning Citizens, I’ve added a Notification at the end of the post to reflect recent changes in my plans due to the lack of support.
Check out Life After Release on September 11, 2020.
Returning Citizens, August 10, 2018
I see the worm hole up ahead. Entering the worm hole, I’ll be traveling at warp speed as I race toward the future. Images zooming by so fast that I’ll only see blurs of the present as thoughts and ideas for the future bombard the senses.
The future that glitters on the other side of the worm hole is a place I never expected to see, back when I began this voyage into Never Never Land. I sat in jail contemplating suicide because of the extreme dissatisfaction I felt in myself.
Love for my family kept me alive. Despair ravaged my soul and whole sense of being because of what I had done that put me in another jail cell. Miraculously, I thought of the effect my death would have on my loved ones and cared enough about them to decide not to end the life I had ruined, at least, so I thought (that I had ruined my life).
Never lose hope. Life changes. Circumstances change. Life is good today.
This past weekend I began reading “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Victor E. Frankl, who was a former prisoner in a German Concentration Camp. A notable quote he used that’s relevant to a prisoner’s experience, as well as in many other facets of our human existence, was one by Nietzsche.
Frankl wrote, “There is much wisdom in the words of Nietzsche: ‘He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.'”
In reading of Frankl’s account of his life in a German concentration camp, I can appreciate the difference of life inside an American prison compared to the life of a prisoner of war in a foreign country.
When I began this sentence, I had a “why to live”; one driven by mass amounts of anger and resentment. But that “why” was killing me. Several years later, when I experienced freedom from those negative emotions, I was liberated.
Another favorite quote of mine is in regards to resentment that also came from Holocaust survivors.
“A former inmate of a Nazi concentration camp was visiting a friend who had shared the ordeal with him.
“‘Have you forgiven the Nazi’s?’
“‘Well, I haven’t. I’m still consumed with hatred for them.’
“‘In that case,’ said his friend gently, ‘they still have you in prison.'”
Ernest Kurtz & Katherine Ketchum, THE SPIRITUALITY OF IMPERFECTION.
August 28, 2018, thirty-years and ten days after I walked in the door of a confined and restricted environment, bound and chained with cuffs on my hands and ankles, I’ll leave en route to a Residential Reentry Center (RRC)/halfway house as a returning citizen, without chains dangling from my aging body.
I received a new RRC date and an increase in my RRC placement period (the former 119-days were replaced with 192). My former date was 12/26/2018: It really pissed me off to have an RRC date for the day after Christmas.
Now I will be home for Christmas! 😉
RETURNING CITIZENS: the Reentry Affairs Coordinator, Ms. P., told me and others in the office that the new term for those exiting prison life is “Returning Citizens,” in place of ex-offenders, or ex-cons.
As a returning citizen, I know I will face many new problems as I forge my way into a bright future. Discouraged, I am not. I am eager to face challenges and to find solutions and conquer all conflicts and obstacles that stand between me and my success as a returning citizen.
A friend who returned to society years ago, once told me during a phone conversation that he sat complaining as he tried to figure out which girl to take on a date. Then the thought occurred, “I bet Wayne would love to have my problem.” 🙂
Yep, Wayne would, just as many of those I’ll leave behind would love to have some of the problems I may encounter along the way toward the future. I’ll try to remember that if my gratitude escapes during times of character-building episodes of Life Happenings.
Perhaps the new experiences I encounter will allow me to learn something to pass on to others who will follow in pursuit of their future.
HOW MY RELEASE DATE CHANGED: Some of this information is redundant from another blog; most is not, which I will share in the words of the famous radio host, Paul Harvey, as “The Rest of the Story.”
A May 10, 2000, Progress Report, showed May 29, 2020, as my Projected Release date; derived from the amount of eligible Good Conduct Time, subtracted from the maximum 420-months of incarceration, set to expire on August 17, 2023.
On January 2, 1990, staff informed me that the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles filed a Temporary Revocation Warrant. I wrote a letter on that same day to request the withdrawal of the warrant because I sat in jail until after my parole expired and was not being given credit off my federal sentence due to that time being applied to my state sentence.
On April 19, 1990, the Parole Board withdrew their warrant. Over a decade later, I used that letter to establish the legal basis of a challenge to the federal jurisdiction relied upon to put me in prison for thirty-five years.
In 2002 the BOP awarded me 188-days of jail credit that it had refused to give for fourteen years. In court, I used the 188-days spent in jail before federal sentencing to establish that the jail time was applied toward a state sentence. Then the BOP credited me with a total of 401-days (from the day of my arrest until the U.S. Marshals took me into federal custody on September 22, 1989).
That changed my date to April 24, 2019, but that still was not right: I just couldn’t figure out how back then, even though I was no longer on drugs.
Only after my case was docketed in the United States Supreme Court, where I was set to prove the Department of Justice unjustly convicted me in a court without jurisdiction by violating Article IV(e) of the Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act, did the BOP decide to give me the jail credit that was due.
LEGAL RESEARCH: While researching the halfway house issues I’ve written about in “Life Inside,” “Half A Problem,” and several other blogs after the BOP modified its halfway house policy (began changing/reducing RRC dates), I learned that Section 3624(b) of Title 18 of the United States Code prohibited the BOP from deducting more than 54-days per year for disciplinary infractions.
As written in “Reentry Plans & A Friend Moves On,” I lost 82-days in 1990. However, when I reviewed my Sentence Computation Sheet, it did show I was not awarded any GCT for 1990, but did not show that the 28-days above 54 (82 minus 28 = 54) came off in 1991.
The Sentence Computation Sheet showed the maximum allowable GCT as 1,576-days. That did not compute, even after I applied the formula used by the BOP as illustrated before the Supreme Court in Barber v. Thomas (2011). I then submitted a request to my case manager for correction. He referred me to the Records Office.
I sent an electronic request to staff to the ISM and relied on the Code of Federal Regulations to challenge the GCT calculation. The issue was resolved during a Release Audit on March 29, 2018. I was given 54-days per year on having served 30-years of the 35-year sentence. Thus comes the confusion in inmates attempting to figure out their Projected Release dates.
On a ten-year sentence (120-months), a prisoner would think he or she would earn 540-days (10 x 54). Not so! The prisoner only earns 470-days because the formula doesn’t allow prisoners to earn time off any portion of a sentence not physically served; therefore, in that example, the GCT earned during the second through eighth years, is deducted from the ten-year total. That eliminates GCT credits for the tenth-year and a portion of ninth.
The remaining portion of the ninth year (less than one-year) is prorated at fifteen percent. In my case, 205-days remained, prorated at 15%, allowed me to earn thirty-one more days, which, by statute, won’t be awarded until the last six-weeks of my sentence.
The corrections are what changed my release date from April 24, 2019, to March 10, 2019. But because March 10th falls on Sunday, I was given the date of March 8, 2019 (that will change to February 5th or 7th during the last six weeks).
Afterwards, my case manager contacted the Residential Reentry Manager and requested a re-adjusted date because the change in my Projected Release date reduced my RRC placement period from 119-days down to 72-days, which would then become 43-days when awarded the prorated portion (31-days).
Now you know the Rest of the Story. 🙂
OFF THE RECORD: I sat in my cell listening to Alice Cooper on Uncle Joe Benson’s, Off the Record, on Sunday morning (08/05/18). As I sat listening, I wondered what my life will be like in September when I am sitting in the halfway house in Atlanta, or at my residence upon my release. Will I take time to listen to such programs? Will I be interested or have other things to do?
One thing I feel certain about, is that I won’t be living the thug life. As I wrote in “Guns, Drugs & Thugs: Drug Store Spree,” I am a retired thug. I hung up my guns and now use words sharper than razors, more powerful than bullets and bombs; softer than butter, sweeter than honey; rough and tough, or kind and gentle, clean and straightforward. Whatever the situation warrants, I’ll use select-words in the construction of sentences and phrases needed to fight battles or to mend wounds caused by my past, straight from the pen, a different pen. 🙂
In September, StraightFromthePen.com will activate a new email address for special deals on books, essays, short stories, and updates on the status of StraightFromthePen.net and .org: firstname.lastname@example.org. Posting will be determined based upon legal aspects and rules governing life in the semi-free society. Expect an update to my author’s page at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy and at other social media sites.
Notification: September 6, 2020:While incarcerated, I paid my publisher to create this website for me so I could fight for change from inside the depths of prison life. I spent a lot of money fighting for a cause in which I believed (Prison Reform).
Unfortunately, what I discovered is that people love to complain about the status quo when it comes to criminal justice and prison reform, but will not do what it takes to bring forth change. Some do fight and will put their money where their mouths are, but none of those contributed to Straightfromthepen.com, or voiced support for what I wanted to accomplish upon release.
I put my personal funds into this blog and website without any monetary return and fought for change before and after my release. On many levels I succeeded, including what I wrote about inFight for Change, but the outcome has disappointed me in regard to gaining public support to build the other two websites I mentioned above.
No funds were contributed to thePayPal account (email@example.com) for this website for the development of the other two websites and associated domains, so I am not under any legal, moral or ethical obligation to complete what I planned, which I am cancelling because of the lack of private or public support.
The only use for the email listed below (firstname.lastname@example.org) is to provide information to some inside the federal system. My primary email address for that purpose is email@example.com that I use through Corrlinks.com.
Because of all of the above, I am aborting the mission and will only continue to do what I do on this website and for those stuck inside the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons and some state and private institutions that have access to Corrlinks.com.
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.
COVID-19 entered the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons without chains or restraints in early 2020. Since then the United States Attorney General ordered the BOP to place more inmates on home confinement to reduce the risk of exposure to vulnerable inmates but judges ordered the release of more of the incarcerated than the BOP.
As is normal for the Backwards On Purpose agency, very few inmates at risk were placed on home confinement, many who have now died because of the incompetence of their keepers.
Several of my incarcerated subscribers expressed concerns over the lack of response by BOP officials to protect them from contracting the virus. I sent in copies of memorandums and reported claims presented to the public about all that the BOP was doing to comply with CDC guidelines to prevent/control the spread of COVID-19.
Numerous subscribers responded and stated that the information was all lies, that staff wasn’t wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves, even while feeding the meals, some openly coughing while serving food. Various media sources reported staff complaints about not having PPE and feeling at risk because of the lack of PPE and mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic inside the confines of the BOP.
BOP officials basically ignored Attorney General Barr’s instruction to release more inmates on home confinement. That is the same behavior as BOP officials had displayed when eligible prisoners were dying inside the system, rather than being released, when Congress urged the BOP to expand their Compassionate Release program, long before COVID-19 kicked in the doors and began taking the lives of the captives.
The BOP changed the controlling policy but did not change their practices. The latest revision of the Compassionate Release program statement is as follows:
Policy Statement NUMBER 5050.50 DATE January 17, 2019, Compassionate Release/Reduction in Sentence: Procedures for Implementation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 3582 and 4205(g)
That is the same BS mentality of the BOP officials, who did modify the Compassionate Release/Reduction in Sentence program statement but did not follow its guidance, which has now lead to the deaths of over 105 of their captives and the infection of several thousand.
Court officials have often stepped in and ordered the release of ill prisoners the BOP had refused to release, since Congress also passed into la the First Step Act that gave the federal courts jurisdiction (the power to act) to intervene when petitioners filed claims to challenge the denial of their request for compassionate release.
Prior to about 2016, the courts were powerless because the governing statutes gave the final say to BOP officials, the same ones who take an oath to keep men and women inside prisons for the duration of the given sentences, until death do they part.
(Because it is not relevant to this blog and is information easily found by those reading this online, I won’t list articles or sources of information on the above content.)
INFORMATION FOR THE INCARCERATED
I am concluding this blog with some of the actual information I sent in to my subscribers on August 1, 2020 (I send in a variety of information but COVID-19 reports are now regular based upon popular demand).
Because of limits in Corrlinks (see Corrlinks Process on this website), I have to modify the information I collect from the BOP website and other sources to make content Corrlinks’ friendly. With this post, I sent the content inside in two parts because it wouldn’t fit into one email.
The information-starved, incarcerated individuals, often express gratitude for the content I send in free of charge to keep them informed about what is going on outside of their restricted environments. I am happy to be of service to those I sympathize with because of my history on the Inside.
08/03/2020: If viewing the following on a cellphone, the landscape view corrects data shown in what may be distorted rows and columns. I apologize for the inconvenience.
August 1, 2020, COVID-19 Update
Confirmed active cases at 106 BOP facilities and 43 Residential Reentry Centers (No RRCs included in this report)
08/01/2020 – The BOP has 128,595 federal inmates in BOP-managed institutions and 13,806 in community-based facilities. The BOP staff complement is approximately 36,000. There are 2,308 federal inmates and 503 BOP staff who have confirmed positive test results for COVID-19 nationwide. Currently, 8,253 inmates and 708 staff have recovered. There have been 105 federal inmate deaths and 1 BOP staff member death attributed to COVID-19 disease. Of the inmate deaths, 4 occurred while on home confinement.
[To read numbers: the left column under the facility is Inmate confirmed cases (I), next is Staff (S), the third from left is Inmate Deaths (ID), the fourth column is Staff Deaths (SD); the fifth column is Inmates Recovered (IR) and the last Staff Recovered (SR).
Facility I.P. S.P. I.D. S.D. I.R. S.R. City State
Butner Low FCI 77 2 16 1 575 14 Butner NC
Seagoville FCI 549 12 3 0 769 14 Seagoville TX
Carswell FMC 244 2 3 0 296 1 Fort Worth TX
Coleman Low FCI 174 19 0 0 4 2 Sumterville FL
Coleman Medium FCI 129 29 1 0 11 0 Sumterville FL
Miami FCI 95 23 0 0 3 0 Miami FL
Miami FDC 86 15 1 0 1 20 Miami FL
Victorville Medium I FCI 78 7 0 0 71 0 Victorville CA
Butner Low FCI 75 1 16 1 575 15 Butner NC
Marion USP 71 1 0 0 4 2 Marion IL
Edgefield FCI 65 20 0 0 0 1 Edgefield SC
Elkton FCI 63 2 9 0 938 51 Lisbon OH
Victorville Medium II FCI 48 8 0 0 2 2 Victorville CA
Victorville USP 46 12 0 0 46 1 Victorville CA
Forrest City Low FCI 38 3 0 0 641 4 Forrest City AR
Beaumont Low FCI 35 1 0 0 469 0 Beaumont TX
Lewisburg USP 35 0 0 0 0 1 Lewisburg PA
Coleman I USP 28 23 0 0 0 2 Sumterville FL
Loretto FCI 19 6 0 0 8 1 Loretto PA
Yazoo City USP 18 7 1 0 56 12 Yazoo City MS
Oklahoma City FTC 16 5 1 0 85 0 Oklahoma City OK
Beaumont Medium FCI 15 6 0 0 45 0 Beaumont TX
Guaynabo MDC 15 0 0 0 0 0 Guaynabo PR
Tucson FCI 15 6 0 0 0 1 Tucson AZ
Manchester FCI 14 9 0 0 33 0 Manchester KY
Three Rivers FCI 11 0 0 0 79 0 Three Rivers TX
Forrest City Medium FCI 9 10 0 0 3 5 Forrest City AR
San Diego MCC 9 1 0 0 2 0 San Diego CA
Fairton FCI 8 0 0 0 95 7 Fairton NJ
Fort Worth FMC 8 8 12 0 579 6 Fort Worth TX
Lompoc USP 7 0 2 0 164 24 Lompoc CA
New York MCC 7 5 0 0 16 41 New York NY
Tallahassee FCI 7 8 0 0 0 1 Tallahassee FL
Atlanta USP 6 8 0 0 14 8 Atlanta GA
Butner FMC 6 2 0 0 5 13 Butner NC
Talladega FCI 6 6 0 0 2 7 Talladega AL
Englewood FCI 5 0 0 0 4 1 Littleton CO
Houston FDC 5 5 0 0 7 0 Houston TX
Aliceville FCI 4 8 0 0 10 9 Aliceville AL
Bastrop FCI 4 5 0 0 0 2 Bastrop TX
Jesup FCI 4 16 1 0 252 3 Jesup GA
Oakdale I FCI 4 8 7 0 206 20 Oakdale LA
Atwater USP 3 6 0 0 0 3 Atwater CA
Memphis FCI 3 2 0 0 6 12 Memphis TN
Pollock FCI 3 2 0 0 0 1 Pollock LA
Pollock USP 3 9 0 0 0 2 Pollock LA
Springfield MCFP 3 1 0 0 1 0 Springfield MO
Terminal Island FCI 3 5 10 0 645 17 San Pedro CA
Beaumont USP 2 3 0 0 0 1 Beaumont TX
Bennettsville FCI 2 7 0 0 7 5 Bennettsville SC
Butner Medium I FCI 2 2 9 0 202 30 Butner NC
Florence FCI 2 1 0 0 0 3 Florence CO
Fort Dix FCI 2 0 0 0 37 5 Joint Base Mdl NJ
Los Angeles MDC 2 3 0 0 2 2 Los Angeles CA
Milan FCI 2 1 3 0 98 55 Milan MI
Sheridan FCI 2 0 0 0 0 0 Sheridan OR
Waseca FCI 2 2 0 0 2 0 Waseca MN
Allenwood Low FCI 1 0 0 0 0 0 Allenwood PA
Berlin FCI 1 0 0 0 0 0 Berlin NH
Chicago MCC 1 5 0 0 138 26 Chicago IL
Danbury FCI 1 2 1 0 89 61 Danbury CT
Devens FMC 1 1 2 0 50 6 Ayer MA
Dublin FCI 1 3 0 0 0 3 Dublin CA
Greenville FCI 1 4 0 0 1 0 Greenville IL
Herlong FCI 1 0 0 0 0 3 Herlong CA
Honolulu FDC 1 0 0 0 0 0 Honolulu HI
La Tuna FCI 1 5 0 0 0 7 Anthony TX
Leavenworth USP 1 1 0 0 0 5 Leavenworth KS
Marianna FCI 1 7 0 0 0 1 Marianna FL
McCreary USP 1 3 0 0 1 2 Pine Knot KY
Montgomery FPC 1 1 0 0 0 2 Montgomery AL
Otisville FCI 1 1 0 0 26 14 Otisville NY
Pekin FCI 1 0 0 0 0 0 Pekin IL
Philadelphia FDC 1 2 0 0 3 3 Philadelphia PA
Phoenix FCI 1 5 0 0 19 9 Phoenix AZ
Sandstone FCI 1 0 0 0 0 0 Sandstone MN
Schuylkill FCI 1 0 0 0 0 0 Minersville PA
SeaTac FDC 1 1 0 0 0 0 Seattle WA
Williamsburg FCI 1 4 0 0 0 0 Salters SC
Yazoo City Medium FCI 1 5 0 0 7 10 Yazoo City MS
Allenwood Medium FCI 0 0 0 0 0 1 White Deer PA
Allenwood USP 0 1 0 0 0 1 Allenwood PA
Ashland FCI 0 0 0 0 0 1 Ashland KY
Beckley FCI 0 0 0 0 0 1 Beaver WV
Big Sandy USP 0 2 0 0 0 0 Inez KY
Big Spring FCI 0 6 0 0 0 0 Big Spring TX
Brooklyn MDC 0 1 0 0 12 41 Brooklyn NY
Bryan FPC 0 2 0 0 1 0 Bryan TX
Butner Medium II FCI 0 1 0 0 3 1 Butner NC
Canaan USP 0 0 0 0 0 4 Waymart PA
Coleman II USP 0 14 0 0 2 2 Sumterville FL
Cumberland FCI 0 0 0 0 6 5 Cumberland
08/01/2020 Part II
Duluth FPC 0 0 0 0 1 0 Duluth MN
El Reno FCI 0 6 0 0 1 1 El Reno OK
Estill FCI 0 10 0 0 0 0 Estill SC
Gilmer FCI 0 0 0 0 5 0 Glenville WV
Hazelton FCI 0 3 0 0 0 2 Bruceton Mills WV
Hazelton USP 0 5 0 0 0 5 Bruceton Mills WV
Lee USP 0 1 0 0 0 1 Pennington Gap VA
Lexington FMC 0 0 8 0 227 11 Lexington KY
Lompoc FCI 0 1 2 0 809 16 Lompoc CA
McDowell FCI 0 0 0 0 0 2 Welch WV
Mendota FCI 0 6 0 0 1 3 Mendota CA
Morgantown FCI 0 0 0 0 0 1 Morgantown WV
Oakdale II FCI 0 8 1 0 7 6 Oakdale LA
Oxford FCI 0 3 0 0 1 1 Oxford WI
Pensacola FPC 0 2 0 0 0 1 Pensacola FL
Petersburg Low FCI 0 0 0 0 0 2 Hopewell VA
Ray Brook FCI 0 0 0 0 12 10 Ray Brook NY
Rochester FMC 0 1 0 0 0 1 Rochester MN
Safford FCI 0 2 0 0 0 0 Safford AZ
Terre Haute FCI 0 0 0 0 1 2 Terre Haute IN
Terre Haute USP 0 0 1 0 8 0 Terre Haute IN
Texarkana FCI 0 3 0 0 0 2 Texarkana TX
Thomson USP 0 0 0 0 3 1 Thomson IL
Tucson USP 0 4 0 0 0 2 Tucson AZ
Yazoo City Low FCI 0 4 2 0 96 9 Yazoo City MS
Privately-managed prisons are secure institutions operated by private companies under contract and oversight of the BOP. The majority of federal inmates in private prisons are sentenced criminal aliens who will be deported upon completion of their sentence. Unlike federal inmates housed in BOP facilities, the contractor is responsible for the medical care and the costs associated with providing those services.
The BOP has 14,610 inmates in Privately-Managed Facilities. There are 101 inmates who have open lab-confirmed positive cases. 310 inmates have recovered. Full breakdown and additional details are below:
Facility IP ID IR City State
D. Ray James CI 73 0 12 Folkston GA
Great Plains CI 12 1 85 Hinton OK
Giles W. Dalby CI 10 1 72 Post TX
Rivers CI 4 0 20 Winton NC
McRae CI 2 1 14 Mcrae Helena GA
North Lake CI 0 2 107 Baldwin MI
All inmates are being appropriately treated and isolated per CDC guidelines.
UNKNOWN INNOCENCE consumed my first novel, UNDER PRESSURE by Mr. D, and part of my second book published by Midnight Express Books (UNDER PRESSURE–MOTIVATIONAL VERSION). What separated the second novel from the first was the addition of “The Story Behind the Novel” and the addition of the first two chapters of UNKNOWN INNOCENCE.
After writing the sequel, I decided to give readers a better value by allowing the sequel to consume the original novel.
For this blog post, I’m providing a peek into the most important part of the Motivational Version (The Story Behind the Novel ), and one randomly selected chapter that shows one aspect of prison life in some of the more dangerous prison settings, Chapter #6, Let It Go.
Warning: Not Politically Correct! Contains Violence, Profanity
Let It Go
Months later, on a cool spring morning, Stan
and Bobby returned from the yard and took their showers before being counted at
10 A.M. Shortly thereafter, they went to eat Spanish omelets, oatmeal, biscuits
and gravy for brunch. That afternoon, Stan sat near the center of the TV room
watching VH1. The TV room was on the walkway at the rear of the cellblock that
joined the tiers. Terry, Jake, and three of Jake’s friends were huddled in the
back corner. Two Jamaicans, who were acquaintances of Stan, sat closest to the
only door, talking. Stan lowered the volume on his Walkman to hear Jake and
Terry’s conversation. A few minutes later his suspicion was confirmed: Terry
still planned to involve Wendy.
“She’s coming over the holiday weekend in
July and I’ll talk her into bringing in the package,” Terry said.
Stan stood and turned to face all five in
the corner. “Keep my sister’s name out of your mouth,” he said.
“Keep out of my business, boy,” Jake said.
Him and his three friends stood. Terry stayed seated.
“Don’t try fucking with this boy!” Stan said.
Terry stood. “I won’t let anything happen to
her, dude,” he said, his voice a high-pitched tone, almost a shrill.
Rastaman stepped out the door and cleared
the corner of the tier to get Big Bobby. At the same moment, Bobby walked out
of his cell to go get some hot water. Rastaman saw him and yelled in his
Jamaican accent. “Yo, mon, Stan need you.” Bobby slung the cup in his cell.
One of Jake’s partners positioned himself
near the door by the other Jamaican, who sat looking toward the television with
a know-nothing stare on his face.
“You’re damn right you’re not because you’re
not going to pull her into your shit,” Stan said. “Find another way to feed
Jake’s other partners tried to position
themselves behind Stan, who turned to put the wall behind him. Jake moved
closer to him and said, “What’s up? You want to get this out of the way, right
“Smash that punk!” the one by the door said.
Terry edged closer to the door. “Y’all cut
this bullshit out, dudes,” he said. “We’ll all go to the hole.”
Jake moved within arm’s reach. Stan shoved
him in the chest with both palms. “Get off me, punk,” he said.
Jake stumbled backward. He regained his
balance and rushed back to get in Stan’s face. “Want some of this,” he said,
and pushed him back.
“Don’t take that from that cunt,” another
yelled. “Hit him!”
The one by the door pulled a shank from his
waistband. “Let’s stick this bitch,” he said, his back a foot from the door.
Everything changed fast: Big Bobby barged
into the room. The door smacked the doorman holding the shank, knocked him into
Terry, who shot to the wall near Bobby.
“Hey,” the doorman shouted, as he turned to
see who had hit him with the door. His face paled when he saw Bobby. He hurried
beside Jake, faced Bobby.
Jake had moved to the corner when Bobby
rushed into the room. “What’s up?” Bobby said, his voice coarse.
The two who had surrounded Stan moved with
Jake. Terry stood against the wall with his arms crossed. Bobby moved within
striking distance of the doorman.
“Let it go, man,” he said. Rastaman had
followed him into the room. The other Jamaican stood and positioned himself
beside his partner and Bobby.
Stan eyed the two who tried getting behind
him, and then he moved near Bobby and the Jamaicans. He looked at the one with
the shank. “Put that up before I stick it up your ass,” he said.
“You got the easy part done,” the doorman
“Cut the bullshit,” Terry said.
Still winded from rushing down the tier,
Bobby said, “All of you need to put this on ice. Nothing good’s going to come from
us going to war over whatever the hell y’all got going on in here.”
Jake took a step closer to them. “Tell your
boy to keep out of my business, big guy.”
Bobby started to speak. Stan pointed at
Terry. “I’ve done told that idiot I didn’t want him involving my sister in your
business, buddy,” he said. “If you can’t respect that, we’ve got big problems.”
“You’ve got big problems with all that
mouth,” the doorman said. Seconds earlier, he had slipped the blade of the
shank in the front pocket of his pants and covered its handle with his hand.
“Look, man, my problem’s not with you but we can make it that way if you don’t back off,” Stan said. He moved closer to him. “I don’t give a damn about you having a shank.”
Bobby stepped between Stan, Jake, and the
doorman. The Jamaicans stayed in the background, propped against the wall by
the door where Terry stood. The doorman jerked out the shank. Before Bobby
could stop him, Stan maneuvered around him and grabbed the doorman’s wrist
holding the shank. In a continuous motion, he twisted it behind the man’s back
and yanked it to the base of the neck, as he forced him against the rear wall. “What
you want to do now, bitch?” Stan growled, keeping the pressure on the back of
Jake advanced toward Stan. Bobby grabbed him
by the shoulders and slung him against the wall, and then turned his head to
glance at the other two, making sure they weren’t getting involved. “Stay out
of it!” he said.
The Jamaicans, who were much larger than
either of the two they faced, had moved between them and Bobby. Both Jamaicans
had their arms spread, angled toward the floor, palms opened, inviting war or
peace. “We don’t want no trouble,” one of the other two said.
After he had failed to free himself from Stan’s hold, the doorman dropped the shank. It clanged as it struck the floor. “All right, man. You got it,” he said, his voice strained from stress.
Jake stayed still against the wall; fear
written on his forehead: Bobby’s massive chest six inches from his nose.
Stan used his foot to slide the shank to the
far side of the room. Then he released his hold and stepped away from the
doorman. “Let’s all let this shit go and get the fuck out of here before the
hacks come and slam us in the hole,” he said.
Everyone exited the television room; their
eyes darting one from another, sweat dotting their foreheads. Stan waited until
last to leave, motioning for the doorman to get his shank and go. He did so
silently, his head held low.
Five minutes after leaving the TV room, Stan
had told Bobby all that had gone down before he walked into the drama. They sat
in Stan’s cell with their arms crossed, sodas sitting on the floor by each of
their legs. Neither one uncrossed their arms except to take a sip from their
“What you think about it?” Stan said. “You
think they’re going to let it go or what?”
Bobby cleared his throat and repositioned himself on the toilet bowl where he sat. “I’d like to think they’ll let it go and leave us alone, but you know how things go in these places. They may claim a truce only to gain an edge for an attack. I’m going to keep an eye on ‘em, for sure.”
“You know I’ll keep an eye on them. And if
Terry and Jake don’t leave Wendy out of their plans, they’d better keep an eye
on me,” Stan said, and then got up from the edge of his bed. “I’m telling you,
man, if they don’t, it’s going to be bad. Wendy may become a widow before it’s
over with if they don’t.”
“Well, … we’ll just have to play the cards
dealt and play the game well. Let it go if you can,” Bobby said. Then he rose
and patted Stan on the back. “Gotta go, Pal. Keep your eyes open. Yell if you
need me, okay?”
“Okay, man. I’m sorry I got you into this
“Don’t sweat it. It’ll all work itself out
however the hell it’s supposed to turn out.” Then he ducked to leave the cell.
He stopped on the tier.
“See you later,” he said and threw up his
hand before walking back to his cell.
The Story Behind the Novel
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.]
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.
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:
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,
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
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 the count to proofread what I’ve written, or to prepare for what I will write.
Once the count clears and the prison staff begins 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.
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
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 complimentary copies of the newsletter. In the last issue I received, I noticed an ad for MEB, who works exclusively with prisoners seeking publication [the publisher retired].
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.]
following day Amazon.com posted UNDER PRESSURE. Now it is available worldwide
upon demand through the following sources:
[Link removed due to agreement with Amazon KDP Select program]
[10/26/2020: Removed several links where sold. eBook sold on Amazon contains all links in updated version, August 14, 2019, NOT original version]
[THE POINT IS] If the product in your hands (or before your eyes) came from inside a federal prison, with the assistance of MEB, imagine what you can do “out there” with all of the available technology.
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.
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.