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!

Sunny Day

Yesterday I roamed the streets of Atlanta, Georgia, on a hot and sunny day.  The sun, heavy backpack, and the day’s events wore me down. I was exhausted by the time I returned to my place of residence, emotionally and physically drained, parts of my body sore from toting a heavy load. My mind on overload from keeping rational thoughts in the driving seat of actions.

I did not have a wonderful day, per se, as I was denied financial aid by the Finance department at Grady Memorial Hospital, because I couldn’t honestly provide a Fulton County address. I could have lied and got what I wanted but I must live by certain principles if I am going to stay out of prison.

Irrational thought process: I snapped at one point when things weren’t working according to Wayne: “That’s why so many people go back to prison. They get tired of dealing with all the BS when having to deal with these kinds of places.”

The lady politely reminded me that I hadn’t been doing what I was told to do to obtain the approval. True. I’m guilty.

This is a short video clip from part of my day, and if you notice the expression on my face, it does not show being thrilled and happy to be here.

Damn the Torpedoes!

I lived to fight another day and will be okay. The medical conditions that I sought financial help for their treatments are not life threatening, today, so life is good. I am a survivor and will survive.

If I believe that everything happens for a reason and that things work the way they are supposed to, which I do, then I must accept that just because the world doesn’t work according to Wayne, does not mean that it is BAD. 

What is GOOD or BAD is a matter of perception. For Me To Still Be Alive and Kicking … is Great!

Prisoners and Society by Wayne T. Dowdy

Each day I devote, or at least attempt to devote, part of my time to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Quora.com. Most often I fail in two or three of those areas.

Most of my posts and online activities relate to prisoners, prison reform, and or criminal justice reform, as well as posting excerpts from the life and times of the infamous Wayne T. Dowdy. Sometimes I address other social issues to let my voice be heard.

I’m a returning citizen, who had never used a cellphone until August 28, 2018, and yet, now I am working at having four websites live before June 2019 arrives. I’m determined to make a difference in the lives of others by doing what I do.

I always want to write my blog posts for straightfromthepen.com and waynedowdy.weebly.com. I just run out of time each day and come up short. 😦

Oh, I forgot, working on revising and writing my books to learn the formatting process to help those caged behind walls, bars and fences and others be published, and as part of one of many planned business adventures.

The point in all the above is that I am a man with a mission who wants to make a difference and to let his voice be heard.

I Write With Blazing Guns on Most Days

I often disagree with viewpoints expressed by others on penological and social issues. I want to believe that change is possible, and that society has became more humane since the Romans ruled the earth. The following debate is one such social issue I posted as an answer and then replied to on Quora.com:

Debate With Quora Follower on Prisoners and Society

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?

The people who believe that prison should be tougher for the inmates, since there are too many luxuries awarded at the expense of taxpayers, need to sign up for a prison stint to learn about FAKE NEWS. Prison life sucks!

Prisoners learn to tolerate and accept the conditions of prison life, regardless of those conditions. Humans adapt to their environments.

Rehabilitation versus punishment has been on the table for decades. Better results come from providing programs to help people change their lives, as is evident by the passage of the First Step Act, which requires the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons to create and provide more evidence-based programs to reduce recidivism.

None of those programs will include having prisoners chained and tortured until they decide to repent and change their evil, wicked ways.

The punitive aspect of prison is removing the person from society; inhumane treatment leads to psychological damage (being in prison under decent living conditions may still lead to the development of psychiatric issues).

Most prisoners return to society. Which is best: to have men and women confined in an environment that breeds more illness than it treats or cures, or to provide an environment where those men and women learn to change behaviors so that they exit the system in better shape than when they arrived?

An experimental prison program in Connecticut (Prison Reform Progress), which is modeled after those in Germany known to provide more humane living conditions, are showing positive results; meaning that perhaps America will change its failed criminal justice system so that men and women who go to prison will leave and not return, but I guarantee that would not happen if society reverted to the days of torturing and mistreating its prisoners.

Follower Comment #1:

Most people on the outside believe that EVERY PERSON INCARCERATED should NEVER get out of prison and that is a fact that is 99% true.

Reply #1:

I’m sure a lot of that is true, which is of course, is based on ignorance of the law and crimes that lead to prison. Stereotyping others also applies.

If those who believe in such a way would attempt to investigate and were intelligent enough to comprehend the complexities of the United States criminal justice system, then they’d know how easy it is for someone to go to prison.

Everyone who goes to prison is not a serial killer, rapist, murderer, robber, or child molester.

I met many men in prison who said, “I never knew I could be put into prison for doing that.”

In Violent Crime Misconception (https://straightfromthepen.com/2016/02/24/violent-crime-misconception/), I refer to the deception of California voters and the absurd laws passed by the California legislatures, who I assure you have a vested interest in high incarceration rates (read “The Truth About Incarceration, Part II” by Wayne T. Dowdy, https://straightfromthepen.com/2015/04/05/the-truth-about-incarceration-part-ii/).

How could any rational legislature vote for a bill that would result in some men and women going to prison for 25-years-to-life for crimes as simple as shoplifting or stealing pizza?

If those people who feel everyone who goes to prison should not be released knew of such laws, would they feel the same? Probably not.

Then again, the Romans and many Rome citizens thought it was okay to feed Christians to the Lions for entertainment, so … has society digressed from what was learned through history about the evil nature of some in power, to endorse such practices as keeping someone in a cage for eternity?

I hope not and know that most do not feel in such a way, or else the legislatures would not be voting different these days.

Follower Comment #2:

Even though you make some good points I stand by my post. Watch any YT video about trials and read the comments of the ignorant and ill-informed if you doubt my thoughts. People get charged with offences such as you mentioned and then get acquitted, but it doesn’t matter in the court of public opinion. You are charged – you MUST be guilty. Lock ’em up and throw away the key. Another “win” for the prosecution!!

Reply #2

YouTube and television programs only represent a small portion of the population. The editors of the program controls content to express their views on the issues, or to be what needs said or shown to get higher ratings.

Even politicians fall victim to the Editor’s Choice, when the politician says many things during an interview that the editor cuts to shape into the program’s viewpoint.

I knew several people in prison who felt the same way as what you state, but they were the same ones who, for a lighter sentence, helped the government put other people in prison.

As I wrote, a lot of the public opinion is based on ignorance. Most continue to sit in front of a television and watch programs designed to increase viewership through sensationalism, ignorant of what is the truth. Ignorance exists because of a lack of information. 🙂

Record Breaker

The Quora answer I’m posting has soared to a new level by engaging my audience. I’ve received several positive comments from readers, and that makes me Happy! 🙂

[Note: May 28, 2019: 55.4 thousand views and 1,343 Upvotes]

Within twelve hours, the numbers had soared: 17.5-thousand views and 400-upvotes.  Within forty-eight hours of its posting, those numbers doubled and continue to climb. Wow!

I love breaking records!

Many viewers signed up to Follow me on Quora.com and on this website. I hope you will, too. I need all the followers, likes, and hits that I can get to climb the ladder of Internet Stardom.

First Translation:  One reader messaged me and asked permission to translate the post and then translated it into Italian. I was grateful and impressed!

In italiano: Risposta di Alessio Renzetti a: A quale tecnologia ti sei abituato con piu’ difficoltà dopo essere uscito di prigione?

This blog post is a modified reproduction of the orginal version posted on Quora.com. To read the Quora version, click the following link:

https://www.quora.com/If-you-ve-spent-a-long-time-in-prison-what-technology-did-you-find-hardest-to-adjust-to-when-you-were-released/answer/Wayne-T-Dowdy?ch=99&share=cc938591&srid=x5UbO

If you’ve spent a long time in prison, what technology did you find hardest to adjust to when you were released?

This may not be the typical answer in response to the question, but it does relate, and it’s my story so I’m posting in on here and as a blog on one of my websites:

After leaving the halfway house for my first adventure into the free society, three decades later, on a timed-pass for my first trip to downtown Atlanta, I paid $2.50 to ride the bus to the train station (Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority).

METRO ATLANTA RAPID TRANSIT AUTHORITY (MARTA)

I was shocked having to pay $2.50 for the bus fare that used to be much less.

The bus arrived at the train station. To enter the train terminal, I attempted to go through a turnstile that wouldn’t open. I looked at a MARTA employee and said, “It won’t work.”

“You need to buy a Breeze card,” she said.

“I gotta pay to get in here?”

She nodded. I turned took a few steps and glanced around the terminal. I didn’t see a store or anywhere to buy it from, so I said, “Where at?”

She pointed to an area where I saw several machines embedded in a wall of the terminal. I stood and gazed at one of the machines and tried to figure out how to use it: Too many buttons and features for a mind that had been exempt from using most technological-creations for the last thirty years!


BREEZE CARD MACHINE

For a few moments I continued to stand and stare at the machine, stressed out and overwhelmed because I couldn’t figure out how to operate it (My stress level had more to do with that than the actual technology involved).

Dismiss Charities, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia (Halfway House)

I was in a rush because I didn’t want to be late. I had to call in to the halfway house every time I arrived at an approved destination, or risked being put on escape status and being sent back to prison.

I didn’t have time to figure out how to use the Breeze Card Machine, so I looked for help. I saw a man who worked for MARTA and walked up to him and pointed at the machines and then asked, “Do you know how to operate those?”

“Sure,” he said and began walking toward them with me.

“I’ve been in prison for thirty years and need help.”

Moments later, I was on my way to board the train and before the day was over, a woman at another downtown MARTA train station asked me if I knew how to operate the machine so she could buy train fare.

“Sure,” I said and then shared the wealth and we were on our way to our separate designations.

METRO ATLANTA RAPID TRANSIT AUTHORITY TRAIN

I’ve adapted well to most technology, as is evident by me having several websites now and my using the cellphones I had never used until August 28, 2018, but that darn Breeze Card Machine was just too much for me to comprehend when feeling like a caveman running around in modern society.

Update: I appreciate each response to this answer, all of the upvotes, thousands of views, and a request for permission to translate.

The word “Gratitude” doesn’t express the magnitude of my emotions attached to this experience.

For those who visited my listed website (straightfromthepen.com) and viewed some of my post, most of which were done before my release, please know my publisher created the blog for me, because I had never been online until I went to the halfway house on August 28, 2018.

I explained the publication process in “About Straight from the Pen” (straightfromthepen.com/about-your-host).

Around mid-December 2018, I began managing my websites, blogs, and book revisions. To say the associated technology is challenging would be an understatement. But, hey, for a Caveman, I’m doing great!

Thanks again to each of you for making this a wonderful experience for me.

Essays & More Straight from the Pen

Get your copy today! Paperback ($9.95) or eBook ($2.99) from Amazon.com or from your favorite booksellers. Autographed copies available from the author (see Contact Page)


https://www.amazon.com/dp/1794396829/ref=rdr_ext_tmb

Prison Privatization and Recidivism

Can Prison Reform Initiatives Work Without Abolishing Private Prisons?

I wrote this post as a creative solution for prison reform. Money controls business decisions, and with most politicians in the pockets of private prison executives, policies remain the same. Prison reform needs allies, not enemies. This plan joins forces.

See the source image

Yes, I feel it is possible. Private prison companies can aid in the transformation of the criminal justice system by putting more resources into effective programs to help reduce recidivism.

Perhaps private prison corporations can lead the way of prison reform with new cell construction, improved prison living conditions, and programs to mimic those in Norway, the nation with the world’s lowest recidivism rates. https://phys.org/news/2016-08-norwegian-prisons-criminal.html

Evidence of decreased recidivism rates will increase profit margins by allowing higher contract prices. Privatization of prisons requires making a profit off those who go to prison. A large component of incarceration is “Reentry” into society upon release, as CoreCivic (previously Corrections Corporation of America), and GEO Group realized and began investing in Residential Reentry Centers.

Creating a component of prison privatization to aid reentry processes, opens the door for other profits to be gained by a companies.

Returning Citizens Open Doors For Companies Providing Resources

Market doors open when private prison companies invest in supplying associated services to returning citizens.  For instance,

  • building or investing in treatment centers or other services to treat drug and alcohol problems;

  • supplying psychological services (counseling/treatment for mental health and emotional issues);

  • suitable housing projects;

  • job training classes, vocational skills programs, employment opportunities (e.g., temporary job services, employment agencies, creating divisions for other companies to employ returning citizens).

If a three-year recidivism study shows a substantial reduction in recidivism, then private prison executives can charge much higher rates, since paying the increased rate saves taxpayers dollars by not having to pay to re-incarcerate returning citizens.

Profits margins increase by charging an added percentage for services provided to the former prisoners/returning citizens. 

Providing the established program is voluntary, where prisoners exiting the system have a choice of whether he or she wishes to participate, any Risk versus Benefit analysis would increase demand of offered services, because upgraded-programs would become the Gold Standard and most-desired by prisoners exiting the prison system and wanting to successfully reenter society.

Help Returning Citizens


Question from a Concerned Citizen on Quora.com

[Modified Answer for Blog Post]

How can we support people just released from prison so they can get on track to a productive life instead of going back to crime?

https://www.quora.com/How-can-we-support-people-just-released-from-prison-so-they-can-get-on-track-to-a-productive-life-instead-of-going-back-to-crime/answer/Wayne-T-Dowdy

Great question! I feel it’s important for those who are released to know help is available. Websites such as Fair Shake | Reentry Resource Center and other reentry based websites have collected available resources (including companies who hire ex-offenders/returning citizens), organized by state, if applicable, to help provide hope for success, and to help returning citizens know help is available.  That means a lot, so, I feel it is important to support those types of services, and to then direct returning citizens to them and to any of the organizations mentioned in those sites that supplies suggestions for successful reintegration.

Family and friends may also visit those sites to learn more about what the returning citizen faces upon release. Researching for the returning citizen helps, and during the process, the family members and friends may learn ways to help supply support to returning citizens.

As I state in many of my answers, there are many variables concerning prison life and the thousands of individuals held within the walls of confinement, who are then released back into society—with society sometimes being a foreign environment—because of all the changes that occurred since the departure of the returning citizen.

All released prisoners do not have the same history (amount of time served and under what conditions, which means a lot in considering release-needs; the nature of their offense(s); substance abuse and or mental health issues; what all was lost during the period of incarceration; educational and vocational backgrounds, which may help determine employability; available resources from family and friends. etc.).

The answers to those factors help determine what others may do to help that person successfully reintegrate.

PERSONALLY:  For me, it was important knowing I had the support of my family and friends, emotional support as well as any financial-support I needed, within reason. Having loved ones who provided me with clothing, any needed funds, a place to live, and a cellphone and computer helped more than the words flying from these keys can accurately represent. 

I have been blessed and am fortunate to have walked out of prison, thirty-years and ten-days later, to still have family and friends who were still around and still loved and cared for me.  Most returning citizens are not so fortunate and need help finding a job to support themselves, if able to work; if not, may need help finding where to apply for any available aid, and help in applying for that aid. 

Forms and processes for obtaining available services can be aggravating and overwhelming to returning citizens without experience in technology. 

Transitioning isn’t easy after decades away.  Seeing the differences in prices have made me say on many occasions that, “They better be glad I changed my ways.”  I felt like I was being robbed and would have wanted to rob-back, had I not changed.

Because of the many difficulties I have faced as an elderly-returning citizen, if I had not focused on changing my life during the last twenty-three of the thirty-years I served, I’d likely have already returned to prison.  Because truthfully speaking, for many of us who have spent most of our lives inside the insane world of incarceration; in many respects, it is easier to survive life inside prison than on the outside. 

On the outside, I have to be more responsible (paying bills, getting insurance, dealing with health-services; (under normal circumstances, finding a place to live), finding transportation and paying for expenses), having to make more decisions (such as what to eat and where to get it), and to learn a whole new way of life.  Thus, comes the term often applied to the long-term aspect of prison life: “institutionalization.”  I am not!

I’m up for the challenge and will succeed, regardless of any factors I am faced with during my transition from walking out of the Dark Ages into the Modern World. [End Quora Post]

A New Chapter of Life Began When I Walked Out the Prison Doors

Excerpt from Reentry Programs Will Reduce Recidivism (July 21, 2016)

https://straightfromthepen.com/2016/07/21/reentry-programs-will-reduce-recidivism/

https://www.fairshake.net/

FAIRSHAKE REENTRY RESOURCE CENTER: One valuable Reentry Service that is doing its part to promote change by assisting ex-offenders, is the FairShake, Reentry Resource Center. Ms. Sue Kastensen, Founder and Director, created FairShake.net (www.fairshake.net), from her personal resources and commitment to make a difference. She deserves an award!

FairShake. net needs donations to continue to provide a place where people may go to find important information and links to organizations to facilitate the successful reentry of the formerly incarcerated.

Many of those released are like aliens entering a distant world, after having spent decades of their lives confined in cages: Those men and women need all available help to successfully reintegrate into society.

FairShake offers resource information for all to use for successful reentry.

The FairShake Reentry Packet contains useful information to improve the quality of life. Whether just beginning or near completion of his or her sentence, it is a publication worth reading for anyone interested in improving their mind, body and spirit.

Family and friends of the incarcerated may go to http://www.fairshake.net to download and print a free copy of the Reentry Packet to mail into a prison or jail for a loved one or friend. [Check prison or detention center mailroom policies before printing to mail.]

[I regret writing that the following is no longer possible due to a lack of donations to cover the $8.00 per-packet-cost, and because of new regulations in many prison mailrooms that prohibit certain types of paper due to the influx of K-2 (Spice) and Suboxone.]

The electronic Fairshake Newsletter is still available. Those incarcerated may write or email to request a free copy–include your name, Id. No. and address. Send request to this address:

Fair Shake
P.O. Box 63
Westby, WI 54667
If you have Corrlinks, email outreach@fairshake.net.

UNIQUE WEBSITE: Their unique website offers valuable tools to assist members in their transition from the insane world of incarceration into the free society.

The website contains free web pages for members (membership is free to all formerly incarcerated individuals). The website contains five categories of important data:

  • Reentry Resources (State and Local Reentry Guides);
  • Employment Support;
  • Building Computer Skills;
  • Educate Yourself; and
  • Finding Specific Pages.

The Reentry Packet illustrates how to navigate their system. Below a photo, under “Fair Shake Reentry Tool Kit,” is a list of options, including Resource Directory, Reentry Packet, Ownership Manual, Building Computer Skills, Preparing for Work, and Become a Member.

Visit http://www.fairshake.net to become part of the solution for reducing recidivism and changing lives: Save lives and taxpayer dollars!

Also available to Returning Citizens for locating valuable resources are these websites:

HelpForFelons.org. https://helpforfelons.org/reentry-programs-ex-offenders-state/

RZero.org to research a variety of data: http://rzero.org/resource-database-2