Happy Easter to those who believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Each of us, believers and unbelievers of the miracle of the resurrection, may use this special day in the Christian faith to pray to a power greater than ourselves and ask for the spirit of forgiveness; to forgive someone who may have offended or harmed us.
Freedom from resentment, a poison to the soul, opens the door to a better life.
Whether you believe in a power greater than yourself or not, let the day be special by being grateful for the life you have, perfect or not. Know that you are loved for being who you are, regardless of whether you believe or do not believe in a power greater than yourself.
The love is free that flows from a special place in our
hearts where the spirit lives. My hope is that each you get to experience the
pleasure of love today and every day. Wayne
Congressperson Trey Gowdy Chaired the Oversight Committee on the Bureau of Prisons, December 13, 2017.
The then B.O.P. Director, Mark S. Inch, had made changes to the program for operation of the Residential Reentry Centers. His changes resulted in me receiving 119-days in an RRC, instead of the 364-days recommended by my Unit Team because I had been in prison for three decades and needed the additional time to readjust to society.
I fought for change and after Mark Inch resigned, as I wrote about in War and Reentry, my Unit Team resubmitted me for more halfway house placement time because I won an issue on the miscalculation of Good Conduct Time that reduced my outdate.
My situation showed the RRC decision made by Mark Inch conflicted with Congressional directives and would put society in harm’s way, contrary to the purpose and intent of the Second Chance Act of 2007.
I did not hesitate to seek administrative redress and to write letters to Director Inch and Congressperson, Trey Gowdy (R-SC).
The following are copies of the imperfect letters I sent, with all of the supporting I sent along with each of the two letters. I am presenting them to show that it helps to voice opinions and to stand up for what we believe.
I believed Mark Inch’s change in policy screwed me and thousands of other prisoners. I fought for those who could not, would not, or did not, fight for themselves. I was near the door either way but I saw the devastating effect of the new RRC policy and it really pissed me off; especially, after I received 119-days in an RRC that made me think of telling them to keep.
[I struggled with getting the letters converted into a format to use for posting in this blog. The content remained the same. Maybe their content will help energize the fight for Criminal Justice and Prison Reform.]
[Note: Letters replaced with better image: Other Documents Will Be Added.]
Save Millions: Letter to Former B.O.P. Director
The following is a scrap copy of a letter I referred to above in the March 5, 2018, letter to former B.O.P. Director, Mark S. Inch, where I showed how to save millions of dollars each year. I included a copy of both letters with the letter mailed to Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC) .
Politics: Letter to Representative Doug Collins (R-GA)
The First Step Act: Before Passed Into Law
The following letter I sent by certified mail to the Honorable Doug Collins (R-GA), and to the Honorable Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), whom I do appreciate and respect for submitting the First Step Act. Though, neither of whom showed the courtesy of a reply or acknowledgment of receipt, due, in part, I suspect as due to a concern about what their peers may think of their communication with a convicted felon.
Proof of Mailing
Please forgive my frankness, which does not apply to all politicians, because some are courageous men and women, but in my opinion, most politicians lack in courage and are political whores, who dance to the tune of their parties, rather than to stand up as men and women for the issues that got them voted into office.
How much to send a prisoner contains a lot of variables. In my opinion, based more on the life of the donor than on the prisoner.
The answer to how much to send depends on the sender’s financial circumstances and which prison the incarcerated person is confined in; the cost of available resources, such as commissary items, using the phone, emailing if applicable, or other forms of communication.
He or she has shelter, and though it may be lacking at times, food and the essentials of survival.
If the free citizen needs to pay rent, buy food, and otherwise take care of themselves and family, in my opinion, as a former prisoner, I’d rather have done without than for my loved ones to have taken food out of their mouths to provide for me (I was happy to provide for myself by working).
(Many of my peers were different, especially if on drugs and wanted to get high. I understood that because I know what it was like for me when I lived the life of an addict, so I am not condemning those who are different.)
May 2018, MONTHLY PAY SLIP ($189.00):
Federal Prison Industries, Inc. UNICOR
On average, working in the Federal Prison Industries (UNICOR), each month, I spent $64.00 on the phone, $50.00 on writing/emailing blogs, etc., and $45–50.00 on commissary items. That was based on costs in the Federal Prison System.
Please note that all prisoners do not get paid for working, or get to work in places like the Federal Prison Industries. I was one of the highest-paid, hourly-rate prisoners, who worked for UNICOR, and rarely made over $200.00 per month. I made sacrifices to pay for the creation and upkeep of STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN and my blogging expenditures.
In the famous words of Willie Nelson, “On the Road Again.”
The audio produced by Google Assistant isn’t the best and a lot of my statements were incomplete, the most important being one where I commented on how I felt being able to walk around; essentially, that most people don’t understand what a privilege it is to go out and walk, to look into moving water in a stream, to walk up or down a road, to stop and enjoy the scenery without having someone towering nearby with a gun telling you to “Move On!”
I have moved on. Freedom may be an illusion in the sense that humans are not free if controlled by societal norms and concerns about what others may think, but I am happy to have what I perceive as Freedom from Within and Freedom from the Walls and Bars that kept me chained as a captive inside the Bureau of Prisons for thirty-years, and ten-days.
60-MINUTES’ Correspondent, Bill Whitaker, on March 31, 2019, reported one aspect of prison reform in America.
I shared the words of Bill Whitaker with inmates in the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons, in case the ones who signed up for the WTD4U newsletter did not watch the 60-MINUTES’ interview, by Bill Whitaker, with staff and prisoners at the ‘Rock’; a term used to describe many maximum-security prisons in America.
The prison on stage in the excellent coverage by Mr. Whitaker is in Connecticut. After posting parts of the Interview for federal prisoners to read, I discovered a similar program implemented in the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons, at the Federal Correctional Institution in Williamsburg, South Carolina.
A participant in Project L.E.A.D. provided a submission for me to post online. I loved having something positive to share on activities in the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
I praised him for doing his part to help create positive change. I will include my response after his submission, “Ready 4 Redemption.”
I’ve included a brief excerpt and the URL to the following interview with Bill Whitaker:
Bill Whitaker, CORRESPONDENT
“German-style program at a Connecticut maximum security prison emphasizes rehab for inmates
“Taking cues from the prison system in Germany, where the main objective is rehabilitation, a program based on therapy for 18 to 25-year-old offenders is taking shape at a prison nicknamed ‘the Rock.’
“One of the more radical attempts at prison reform is taking place in a foreboding Connecticut prison nicknamed the Rock. It’s a two year old program based on therapy for 18-25 year old prisoners, whose brains, science shows, are still developing, and their behavior more likely to change.”
Greetings! Just like the Project T.R.U.E. Williamsburg just opened up a first time Honor program here in S.C. called Project L.E.A.D. a 12-month cognitive behavior therapy (skill-building) program that helps participants in their decision making, problem solving, social skills and other necessary needs to integrate back into society. We are 10 months in as of today and have psycho educational groups, government meetings amongst each other, assigned mentors and staff facilitated and also inmate facilitated curriculums.
I have been incarcerated for 27 years as of July and I have never been in a better environment. Not even the Challenge program could teach us the leaderships skills we have learned and applied so far in this environment. We also have outside guest that come in our unit regularly, victims’ advocates, USPO’s and various other facilitators have visited our unit and we welcome them with open arms. It’s the only L.E.A.D. program on the yard and has 98 inmates on a 1,400 populated yard.
This program would interest those minds who are curious whether a violent man can change. I’m in for violence and since being involved into CBT, my thought process has changed dramatically. My violent acts have declined and I have not had a violent act committed since 2005. It works. They even allowed me to create my very own curriculum which I instruct in our unit and another outside our unit in education and we are effecting change!
Project L.E.A.D. Participant,
M. R., Federal Correctional Institution, Williamsburg, SC
Response to His Submission from WTD4U
That’s great! I’m proud of you for having the courage to change, and happy for you and your new place in life. Having said that, would you like me to post or otherwise use what you have written in this message? If so, I would have to use your name as anonymously written or have a release of information. Maybe using your first name and initial for your last name would work, like the AA Grapevine does.
Let me know. Thanks for sharing. I love good news to mention about the incarcerated. Take care!
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I walk around the city and find homeless people sleeping on the streets of Atlanta on a daily basis, amongst the many multimillion-dollar buildings and structures. Too bad, we, as people, cannot provide resources to allow fellow humans to live with dignity and respect.
A couple months ago, while riding a bus into the city, I saw people sleeping in tents under bridges when temperatures were below freezing.
My heart went out to them as I prayed for their comfort and safety.
I sympathize with the less fortunate because that could be me, and in some sense, is, as I do not own a home or have a legal residence. If not for those who love me and have helped me to have a place to sleep and eat, I could be in the same position as the people in the photo.
Another person was sleeping beside the cardboard box shown in the photo.
I would like to think I could be as humble as the men and women I pass sleeping on the streets and under bridges. It’s either be humble, find a solution to my problem, if possible, and then do what I feel I must.
Hopefully, I’d make decisions that did not harm or cause others pain and grief; decisions to show others there is a solution, regardless of how devastating the problem may appear.
In prison, I refused to give up my hope for better days. That hope kept me alive and helped me live to fight another day.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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]
Excerpt from Reentry Programs Will Reduce Recidivism (July 21, 2016)
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:
P.O. Box 63
Westby, WI 54667
If you have Corrlinks, email email@example.com.
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);
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: