Category Archives: Prisoners reentering society

Successful Returning Citizen

The bridge between successful reentry for returning citizens and recidivism may be a narrow path to follow but those who chose to become productive members of society learn to cross it and to stay focused on living a new way of life.  Dr. K. and I are only two examples of those who continue to be success stories by choosing not to return to old behaviors.

In this blog I am giving props to Dr. K., because I am proud of him for satisfying the full term of his court mandated supervised release. Supervised release in the federal system is the same as parole in state systems.

Dr. K. is a man I helped a few years ago to win a post-conviction relief motion. 

He won his case in federal court and left the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons several years before his original release date.  He remains a free man and is living his new life as a truck driver/owner/operator.

In one of my favorite blogs, Out of Many (Out of Many | STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN), I mentioned Dr. K. for giving me one of his magazines to read that I used to write the blog.  He also used to encourage me to write from a more positive perspective, rather than the negative one I used to shoot daggers into an issue or public individual I found offensive.

Dr. K., like me, walked out of the prison doors with a goal in mind related to helping others to successfully reintegrate into society.  I sought to use straightfromthepen.org and straightfromthepen.net to challenge the status quo of mass incarceration, and he the creation of a non-profit organization geared toward providing resources to help returning citizens.  After our release, mine of which came much later, both of us ran into an issue of not having public support to accomplish our goals.  That hasn’t stopped either from continuing to live our lives in a productive manner that does not include committing crimes.

Prison life often divides people because of its racial nature.

He is an African American and I am of the lighter persuasion.  Our racial and cultural differences never interfered with our bond as friends while working in the Quality Management office for an ISO certified factory, or when walking an asphalt track to discuss events or to plot the next legal move in his case. 

The main thing today is that we remain free and strive to be successful as returning citizens to show others that positive change is possible and that our past does not define who we are today.  Our lives show that returning citizens can stay out of prison to become part of the solution (being a positive role in society) instead of part of the problem (another number in the recidivism column for Mass Incarceration).

I’ll close with an excerpt from Out of Many

“UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL:  Our beliefs and values may unite or divide us; whether based on racial or cultural differences or similarities, religion, politics, fears, sexual preference or identity, and a whole array of other reasons.  

“How do we keep from falling?  Join hands and accept each other so we can work together to survive this thing we call life.  If each of us represents a ‘cell’ of the humanity organism, those who damage and injure others are the cancers of society, driven by hate and indifference.” Wayne T. Dowdy, Out of Many.

Life After Release-6

LIFE AFTER RELEASE

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

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!'”

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

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?· 

CONCLUSION

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!

RETURNING CITIZEN by Wayne Dowdy

broken chain

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?’

“‘Yes.’

“‘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:  info@straightfromthepen.com.  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 in Fight 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 the PayPal account (dowdy.wayne@yahoo.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 (info@straightfromthepen.com) is to provide information to some inside the federal system. My primary email address for that purpose is info@wtd4u.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.

Swimming

Lake Blue Ridge

One thing I gave up when I went to prison was swimming because prisons don’t have swimming pools. At least, none I know of in the United States.  Some kiddy camps may have them, but because a knucklehead would drown someone, I understand why prison authorities don’t want swimming pools for prisoners.

Oh, I forgot, prisons are for punishing the inhabitants (in the two Youth Development Centers I was in as a juvenile, we did have swimming pools, but I don’t think they have swimming pools anymore in the Georgia Juvenile Justice system because a child drown years ago).

While in prison, I often wished for a large body of water on hot days, whether a lake, swimming pool, or ocean. Even a bathtub would have been a pleasure. Taking a bath was a rare occasion (I only had a couple while in a local hospital at Leavenworth, Kansas), so when I got home and used the bathtub to take a bath, it was the first bath I’d had in decades.  😊

I loved to swim! I swam like a fish three decades ago, Olympic-type swimming, rhythmic breathing and all of that, where the swimmer uses proven techniques to increase speed and to reduce fatigue. For instance, controlling the motion of the head when coming up for air during set intervals (I believe it’s every third stroke); holding the hands in a certain position, bringing them close to the body, and keeping legs straight while kicking to propel themselves through the water.

At a Youth Development Center, a staff member taught us how to swim like an Olympian, like a fish. Today I went swimming for the first time in three decades and did well, but struggled to get back into  the rhythmic breathing and ran out of air too fast when trying to swim like a fish under water, but … it was great to jump in a big body of water!  Life is wonderful!

Today

Moving slowly back into society, one day at a time. Nine months ago today, I walked out of federal prison after having served thirty-years and ten-days.

Today was a hot one that I was happy to enjoy as a free man, physically able to walk around, alone, without assistance, and without chains dangling from my wrists and ankles.

Before leaving a Twelve Step meeting today, I shared with a man I sponsor that, when I find myself disgruntled about my circumstances, I try to meditate on my favorite saying: “I complained of having no shoes until I met a man with no feet.” Then I become grateful for what I have and stop complaining about what I don’t have but want. I have all I need to survive, so Life Is Great!