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Frequently Asked Questions and An Anonymous Interview

An incarcerated person asked these questions for Wayne T. Dowdy. Because of privacy concerns, the name of the incarcerated person will remain anonymous.  Straightfromthepen.com gives special thanks and will provide a complimentary copy of Essays and More Straight From the Pen.

Q: Since you have started using this blog, has the sales increased on your books?
A: I haven’t noticed much of an increase in sales since I began writing the blogs. But since my release from prison, I have increased the number of views on the blogs, and the circulation of eBooks on Smashwords.com by making certain eBooks free.

Q: Since you began using this blog, have you talked about your books?
A: Yes, during the first two years I did (I paid to get a website and blog created in 2015), but I haven’t written promotional content in several months.

I got involved with the prison reform movement in 2016, and then later began writing blogs relating to prison reform, but also to help fight my way out of prison. I became an outspoken critic of the former BOP Director (Mark S. Inch), who changed halfway house policies (reducing available placement period from up to one-year to “up to four months”).

On prison reform, I wanted to do my part in creating positive change, so I put my personal writing and sales promotions on the side until I could get out of prison and put things in action. Now I am back. Look out!

Q: How many books have you written?
A: I’ve written four books but only have two I’m marketing. I had a special purpose for UNDER PRESSURE-MOTIVATIONAL VERSION by Mr. D (I added sections to the original UNDER PRESSURE to inspire the aspiring writers). To make it a better value for my readers, I combined the original novel with the sequel and produced UNKNOWN INNOCENCE by Wayne T. Dowdy ($14.95 plus S&H), with the help of Midnight Express Books.

The other book is technically a personal magazine because it combines genres. ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN has 11-essays, 1-short story, and 3-poems, which I’ve discounted the price of at $8.95.

My case manager read it and commented, “Parts of it make you want to laugh, others make you want to cry. There’s a lot of wisdom in it.”

Q: Have you written any fictional books?
A: UNKNOWN INNOCENCE and UNDER PRESSURE are fiction.

Q: When did you start writing?
A: I wrote for decades in personal journals. At the age of twenty-five, while serving a state sentence, I wrote drafts for a series of pornographic literature. I gave my collection to a married woman I was having an affair with and asked her to keep them for me until I got out.

She was jealous. Everything I wrote did not include her. When I got out and wanted my writings, she said they got lost or her husband threw them away, either way, my perverted writings conveniently disappeared.

Maybe I’ll return to that genre if sales don’t improve on what I’m writing now. 🙂 With the success of Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James, there’s  a large market for that type of writing.

Q: Did you go to college to learn to write?
A: Yes, and No. In 1981 I did take Creative Writing in college. In 2006-2008, I took a professional writing course through the Long Ridge Writers Group to learn how to write essays and short stories for magazine publication.

Q: Were you published in any magazines?
A: Yes, but I was published before taking the course. In 2003 I was first published in the A.A. Grapevine under a pseudonym. I’ve been published several times since then; however, none of the publications satisfy my ego, which always wants more.

These are my magazine writing credits:
The Sun (Chapel Hill, NC);
The Iconoclast;
Confrontation magazine, the literary journal of Long Island University;
Savage Kick magazine;
and many others under a pseudonym related to recovery from drugs and alcohol.

Q: How has writing changed your life?
A: Writing, in general, has not changed my life except on an interpersonal level. But writing does help me to formulate ideas and allows me to express myself without interruption. That means a lot to me when I feel the issue is important and needs addressed, whether it’s what people want to hear or not.

One day I hope to answer that question by saying my writing changed the quality of life by making me rich and famous, but in the meantime, I must say it keeps me constructively occupied and that I take pride in knowing my writing impacts the lives of others, as many have said to me throughout the years.

Q: Are you writing another book now?
A: No, but I do have ideas for one coming soon and I am plotting on writing query letters and articles I want to see in print, something my ego loves (seeing my name in print).

Purchase writings by Wayne T. Dowdy from your favorite eStore or bookseller.  Get the best value on eBooks at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy

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.

An Inside View of the Criminal Justice System

[Update August 2, 2020: Prison Law Blog first published this article, which looked much more attractive then. Upon researching for this update, I found it at https://www.prisonerresource.com/bop-policy/an-inside-view-of-criminal-justice/ and improperly attributed to Christopher Zoukis. The technical error occurred during transition between different websites. I understand.

The recidivism numbers changed considerably since I wrote the article. At the end of this post I show an update to a link for more recent numbers that I am sure has also changed by now.]

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons’ inmate population dropped from almost 220,000 in 2013 to 214,277 inmates on October 4, 2014 (on 08/02/2020, the inmate population is less than 160,000, according to BOP’s website). It is unlikely that the B.O.P. had anything to do with the reduction. I am certain that the reduced numbers came from policies implemented by Attorney General Eric Holder to slow the influx of prisoners into the system. The B.O.P. does not have a track record for doing anything to slow or to reduce their prison growth rate.  On paper they do a lot. In actuality they do very little.  At least from my perspective that is how it is, unless another agency successfully puts pressure on them to actually do something. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) noted B.O.P.’s failure to take action in several situations, including those recommended by the OIG.  See OIG December 2013 report on “Addressing the Growing Crisis in the Federal Prison System” (provided by Jeremy Gordon, ESQ (www.gordondefence.com) in his weekly newsletter info@topfederallawyer.com).

The report showed that the B.O.P. consumed $4.3 billion of the Department of Justice budget in 2001 (20%), and that by Fiscal Year 2013, that number ($4.3 billion) had grown to $6.4 billion (25%). The OIG then criticized them for not taking measures to reduce their prison population. Even when Congress provided relief valves for the B.O.P. to use to reduce their prison population, nothing happened. The Compassionate Release program is one example: prisoners usually die before being released for terminal illness. After the revised program statement that added other factors warranting consideration, nothing changed. I could give real life examples to prove the point, many men I knew qualified but were still denied. The revised Program Statement looked good on paper but the B.O.P. ideology stayed the same. The facts prove that B.O.P. officials are not concerned about doing anything to interfere with their job security. Maybe that is why AG Holder took the initiative in August 2013 to change D.O.J. Policies to reduce their budgetary needs, since evidence proved that the B.O.P. would not do anything to thin out their over-populated prison system. Ironically, two of the last three B.O.P. directors, who left the B.O.P. under unfavorable circumstances, went to work for Correctional Corporation of America, the world’s largest private prison industry. The number of prisoners contracted out to CCA increased after Michael Quinlan and Harley Lappin left the B.O.P. and joined CCA. The B.O.P.’s 2014 budget request included $26.2 million for 1,000 contract beds.

By the way, it seems as though anytime an Attorney General comes up with something that works or would work if implemented, they resign or move on shortly thereafter, as will Eric Holder, and as did AG John Ashcroft (after he instructed prosecutors to stop dismissing the most serious charges to get plea bargains, in order to bring practices in line with Congress’ Truth in Sentencing Act designed to reduce sentencing disparities). When AG Ashcroft sent out his memorandum, the biggest complaints came from the Public Defender Association (PDA), who threatened to recommend that more people go to trial. The PDA claimed that for every five percent decrease in guilty pleas, the court’s docket would increase by 30%. Translation: 1 out of 10 more defendants electing for trial would equate into a 60% increase in court dockets and thus overwhelm the system. Quite frankly, attorneys are “Friends of the Courts” and profit more by convincing defendants to plead guilty rather than to go to trial. Going to trial is a time consuming process. The Plea System is a “Wham Bam Thank You Mam” process that allows attorneys to send hundreds of defendants before judges for sentencing each month, versus spending days with each client who goes to trial. If more defendants went to trial, Sentencing laws would have changed years ago. The first report by the U.S. Sentencing Commission (released in 1993), found that just as many people were pleading guilty and the new law was not clogging up the courts, so there was no need to recommend a change. Translation: had more people faced the devil by going to trial, instead of succumbing to the government’s often over-exaggerated threats, the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 would have resulted in mass chaos in the courts and been aborted.

Another example of the B.O.P. not taking action to reduce populations, lies in their ability to give prisoners up to 54-days per year off of their sentences; instead, they choose to give 48-days, based upon their interpretation of the statute Congress created for prisoners to serve 85% of prison sentences (15% off for good behavior is 54-days that no one gets). Some states have taken initiatives to reduce their prison populations, such as California and New York. Maybe the New York success influenced AG Holder to do as he did.

California and New York legislators deserve praise, and with that coming from me, that says a lot. I am a federal prisoner serving a 35-year prison sentence for driving a second getaway vehicle in an armed bank robbery and associated charges.  As a result of my part in the crimes, I will have served thirty-years and nine months by the time I am released on April 24, 2019, whereas numerous rapists, child molesters, murderers, and an assortment of other violent offenders were released within a few years of committing their crimes. Legislatures helped create the absurd laws that have kept me in prison since August 18, 1988; therefore, I normally do not give legislators much praise because of my belief that most operate more on financial initiates than on moral convictions. Maybe the same was true for those in New York and California who voted to change policies and laws. I do not know. Either way, New York legislators did well by changing the Rockefeller drug laws to slow the influx of prisoners pouring into the system, and offering early release programs for non-violent offenders to help lower deficits.

In 1991 the New York prison population was at 71,500. Since then it has dropped by 25%, which has led to the closure of several prisons and jails. Of course, when state officials announced their plan to close and sell some of those old prisons and jails, it created opposition from unionized prison workers and local residents who relied on the prisons for financial security. I do not blame anyone for not wanting to lose a job or business, but I am happy that some people got out of prison and have not had to return to feed the appetite of those who thrive off others’ misery. Those actions by NY’s legislators also helped many drug addicts hustling to get high, who no longer had to serve decades of their lives in prison for what most people seemed to view as minor offenses. The benefit for the State came from being able to reduce their prison population and then closing human warehouses for the poor and mentally ill (prisons). Taxpayers benefit through reduced tax liabilities and maybe even by gaining co-taxpayers, should those who committed sins against the state not reoffend and then become productive members of society.

My praise for California legislators comes from another article I read in the June 2014 issue of PRISON LEGAL NEWS (“Consequences of California’s Realignment Initiative,” by Christopher Petrella and Alex Friedmann), which said, “[t]he Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to proceed with plans to demolish the Men’s Central Jail …. [which] holds 19,000 prisoners.” The area that remains after the demolition of the jail will become “[a] treatment facility for offenders with substance abuse and mental health problems.” Treating prisoners with dual or co-occurring disorders (substance abuse & mental illness) will have a substantial effect on lowering recidivism rates. Even though some criticize the plan for various reasons, the politicians deserve praise because of the long-term effect that the treatment facility will have at reducing recidivism and giving the offenders another shot at life. A study reported in the December 2, 2002, edition of USA TODAY illustrates the seriousness of those suffering from co-occurring disorders (“Study: Treat addicts’ mental illness,” by Marilyn Elias).*  Specialists have known for years that it took combining treatment for addiction problems and mental illness for successful treatment, and that treating those for dual disorders would reduce recidivism when the afflicted did not return to prison.

Recidivism is the return to old behaviors, such as a recovering addict or alcoholic who relapses and returns to using a mind-altering substance, or an ex-convict who returns to criminal or delinquent behaviors upon release. Unfortunately,  an overwhelming percentage of prisoners recidivate: 76.6% return with a new charge within five-years of their release.**  Many individual categories exceed 75%; e.g., larceny/motor vehicle theft (84.1%); burglary (81.8%); for drug offenders, 78.3% who were in for possession, and 75.4% who were in for trafficking. With such a high return rate, the numbers prove that the Get-Tough-On-Crime policies only succeed at maybe increasing the wealth of politicians and others who invest in private prison industries or companies providing goods and services to the Prison Machine. If the Incarceration of America worked, it would seem as though a higher percentage of released prisoners would not recidivate; especially, if their captors had provided treatment options for problems that led them to prison. Providing educational opportunities is another proven method to reduce recidivism but rarely acted upon.

When prison administrators failed to take action in response to the 2002 study about treating co-occurring disorders, it illustrated a lack of concern for reducing recidivism; understandably, though, since prisoners are their commodity. (It has been over twelve years since that study. To date, the B.O.P. has one small unit in Lexington, KY where treatment is combined.) In response to the study findings, Dr. Charles Curie, Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, said, “And we know if these inmates recover from the disorders, they’re unlikely to repeat crimes.”  Maybe that standing alone does not carry much of an impact, but when combined with the other numbers concerning the number of prisoners suffering from dual disorders who need help and are not getting it in prison, it knocks a tremendous hole in any defense the B.O.P. or any other “incarceration agency” might make to defend not taking action years ago. From that same article, Ms. Elias reported that “[a] recent study of the Pennsylvania state prison system found that 85% of inmates had addiction problems, and half of them mental disorders as well.  ‘That’s typical of prison systems nationally,'” Dr. Currie said. That equates into 42.5% of prisoners having dual disorders. Considering that the United States has approximately 2.3 million prisoners, 42.5% is a lot of prisoners and a lot of tax dollars that could have been saved if prison administrations had acted to provide treatment for those who wanted to fight their co-occurring disorders. One would think that those concerned with protecting the public would have concentrated their efforts to help reform and rehabilitate prisoners who would be released back into society, so that those released would not get out and collect victims by committing more crimes.

______________

NOTES:

Updated 07/27/2020:  * In one of my personal essays, I wrote about the findings reported in USA TODAY and show by the numbers how my life of crime has cost American taxpayers well over a million dollars. I also show the effect of recidivism on society from a personal standpoint. I added “No Sympathy” to ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN by Wayne T. Dowdy, $8.95 USD). 

I tell part of my personal history in dealing with addiction problems and a mental illness, from which I have been in recovery for over twenty-five years.

** NCJ244205, April 2014, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Statistics, “Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010,” Mathew R. Durose, Alexia D. Cooper, Ph.D, and Howard N. Snyder, Ph.D, BJS Statisticians. [A follow-up study was done after this one that showed a more severe problem with recidivism. For more on it read the following post: https://straightfromthepen.com/2019/07/16/experimental-prison-project-by-wayne-t-dowdy/ ]

Since I wrote this blog, many things have changed. Number One, I am now a free man which numerous blog posts illustrate. 🙂 Search “Recidivism” to find more on the topic.

Inside Info

COVID-19 entered the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons without chains or restraints in early 2020. Since then the United States Attorney General ordered the BOP to place more inmates on home confinement to reduce the risk of exposure to vulnerable inmates but judges ordered the release of more of the incarcerated than the BOP.

As is normal for the Backwards On Purpose agency, very few inmates at risk were placed on home confinement, many who have now died because of the incompetence of their keepers.

Several of my incarcerated subscribers expressed concerns over the lack of response by BOP officials to protect them from contracting the virus. I sent in copies of memorandums and reported claims presented to the public about all that the BOP was doing to comply with CDC guidelines to prevent/control the spread of COVID-19.

Numerous subscribers responded and stated that the information was all lies, that staff wasn’t wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves, even while feeding the meals, some openly coughing while serving food. Various media sources reported staff complaints about not having PPE and feeling at risk because of the lack of PPE and mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic inside the confines of the BOP.

BOP officials basically ignored Attorney General Barr’s instruction to release more inmates on home confinement. That is the same behavior as BOP officials had displayed when eligible prisoners were dying inside the system, rather than being released, when Congress urged the BOP to expand their Compassionate Release program, long before COVID-19 kicked in the doors and began taking the lives of the captives.

The BOP changed the controlling policy but did not change their practices. The latest revision of the Compassionate Release program statement is as follows:

Policy Statement NUMBER 5050.50
DATE January 17, 2019,
Compassionate Release/Reduction in Sentence: Procedures for Implementation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 3582 and 4205(g)

That is the same BS mentality of the BOP officials, who did modify the Compassionate Release/Reduction in Sentence program statement but did not follow its guidance, which has now lead to the deaths of over 105 of their captives and the infection of several thousand.

Court officials have often stepped in and ordered the release of ill prisoners the BOP had refused to release, since Congress also passed into la the First Step Act that gave the federal courts jurisdiction (the power to act) to intervene when petitioners filed claims to challenge the denial of their request for compassionate release.

Prior to about 2016, the courts were powerless because the governing statutes gave the final say to BOP officials, the same ones who take an oath to keep men and women inside prisons for the duration of the given sentences, until death do they part.

(Because it is not relevant to this blog and is information easily found by those reading this online, I won’t list articles or sources of information on the above content.)

INFORMATION FOR THE INCARCERATED

I am concluding this blog with some of the actual information I sent in to my subscribers on August 1, 2020 (I send in a variety of information but COVID-19 reports are now regular based upon popular demand).

Because of limits in Corrlinks (see Corrlinks Process on this website), I have to modify the information I collect from the BOP website and other sources to make content Corrlinks’ friendly. With this post, I sent the content inside in two parts because it wouldn’t fit into one email.

The information-starved, incarcerated individuals, often express gratitude for the content I send in free of charge to keep them informed about what is going on outside of their restricted environments. I am happy to be of service to those I sympathize with because of my history on the Inside.

08/03/2020: If viewing the following on a cellphone, the landscape view corrects data shown in what may be distorted rows and columns. I apologize for the inconvenience.

August 1, 2020, COVID-19 Update

Confirmed active cases at 106 BOP facilities and 43 Residential Reentry Centers (No RRCs included in this report)

https://www.bop.gov/coronavirus/

08/01/2020 – The BOP has 128,595 federal inmates in BOP-managed institutions and 13,806 in community-based facilities. The BOP staff complement is approximately 36,000. There are 2,308 federal inmates and 503 BOP staff who have confirmed positive test results for COVID-19 nationwide. Currently, 8,253 inmates and 708 staff have recovered. There have been 105 federal inmate deaths and 1 BOP staff member death attributed to COVID-19 disease. Of the inmate deaths, 4 occurred while on home confinement.

[To read numbers: the left column under the facility is Inmate confirmed cases (I), next is Staff (S), the third from left is Inmate Deaths (ID), the fourth column is Staff Deaths (SD); the fifth column is Inmates Recovered (IR) and the last Staff Recovered (SR).

Facility   I.P.      S.P.     I.D.     S.D.    I.R.      S.R.       City       State

Butner Low FCI  77         2          16         1          575       14         Butner   NC

Seagoville FCI    549       12         3          0          769       14         Seagoville         TX

Carswell FMC     244       2          3          0          296       1          Fort Worth        TX

Coleman Low FCI           174       19         0          0          4          2          Sumterville        FL

Coleman Medium FCI     129       29         1          0          11         0          Sumterville        FL

Miami FCI          95         23         0          0          3          0          Miami   FL

Miami FDC        86         15         1          0          1          20         Miami   FL

Victorville Medium I FCI  78         7          0          0          71         0          Victorville          CA

Butner Low FCI  75         1          16         1          575       15         Butner   NC

Marion USP       71         1          0          0          4          2          Marion  IL

Edgefield FCI     65         20         0          0          0          1          Edgefield          SC

Elkton FCI          63         2          9          0          938       51         Lisbon   OH

Victorville Medium II FCI 48         8          0          0          2          2          Victorville          CA

Victorville USP   46         12         0          0          46         1          Victorville          CA

Forrest City Low FCI       38         3          0          0          641       4          Forrest City        AR

Beaumont Low FCI         35         1          0          0          469       0          Beaumont          TX

Lewisburg USP   35         0          0          0          0          1          Lewisburg         PA

Coleman I USP   28         23         0          0          0          2          Sumterville        FL

Loretto FCI        19         6          0          0          8          1          Loretto  PA

Yazoo City USP  18         7          1          0          56         12         Yazoo City         MS

Oklahoma City FTC        16         5          1          0          85         0          Oklahoma City   OK

Beaumont Medium FCI   15         6          0          0          45         0          Beaumont          TX

Guaynabo MDC 15         0          0          0          0          0          Guaynabo         PR

Tucson FCI         15         6          0          0          0          1          Tucson  AZ

Manchester FCI  14         9          0          0          33         0          Manchester       KY

Three Rivers FCI 11         0          0          0          79         0          Three Rivers      TX

Forrest City Medium FCI 9          10         0          0          3          5          Forrest City        AR

San Diego MCC 9          1          0          0          2          0          San Diego         CA

Fairton FCI         8          0          0          0          95         7          Fairton  NJ

Fort Worth FMC 8          8          12         0          579       6          Fort Worth        TX

Lompoc USP      7          0          2          0          164       24         Lompoc CA

New York MCC  7          5          0          0          16         41         New York          NY

Tallahassee FCI  7          8          0          0          0          1          Tallahassee       FL

Atlanta USP       6          8          0          0          14         8          Atlanta  GA

Butner FMC       6          2          0          0          5          13         Butner   NC

Talladega FCI     6          6          0          0          2          7          Talladega          AL

Englewood FCI   5          0          0          0          4          1          Littleton             CO

Houston FDC     5          5          0          0          7          0          Houston            TX

Aliceville FCI      4          8          0          0          10         9          Aliceville            AL

Bastrop FCI        4          5          0          0          0          2          Bastrop TX

Jesup FCI           4          16         1          0          252       3          Jesup    GA

Oakdale I FCI     4          8          7          0          206       20         Oakdale            LA

Atwater USP      3          6          0          0          0          3          Atwater CA

Memphis FCI     3          2          0          0          6          12         Memphis           TN

Pollock FCI        3          2          0          0          0          1          Pollock  LA

Pollock USP       3          9          0          0          0          2          Pollock  LA

Springfield MCFP           3          1          0          0          1          0          Springfield        MO

Terminal Island FCI         3          5          10         0          645       17         San Pedro         CA

Beaumont USP  2          3          0          0          0          1          Beaumont          TX

Bennettsville FCI            2          7          0          0          7          5          Bennettsville      SC

Butner Medium I FCI      2          2          9          0          202       30         Butner   NC

Florence FCI      2          1          0          0          0          3          Florence            CO

Fort Dix FCI       2          0          0          0          37         5          Joint Base Mdl   NJ

Los Angeles MDC          2          3          0          0          2          2          Los Angeles       CA

Milan FCI           2          1          3          0          98         55         Milan    MI

Sheridan FCI      2          0          0          0          0          0          Sheridan           OR

Waseca FCI        2          2          0          0          2          0          Waseca MN

Allenwood Low FCI        1          0          0          0          0          0          Allenwood         PA

Berlin FCI           1          0          0          0          0          0          Berlin    NH

Chicago MCC    1          5          0          0          138       26         Chicago IL

Danbury FCI      1          2          1          0          89         61         Danbury            CT

Devens FMC      1          1          2          0          50         6          Ayer      MA

Dublin FCI         1          3          0          0          0          3          Dublin   CA

Greenville FCI    1          4          0          0          1          0          Greenville          IL

Herlong FCI       1          0          0          0          0          3          Herlong CA

Honolulu FDC    1          0          0          0          0          0          Honolulu           HI

La Tuna FCI        1          5          0          0          0          7          Anthony            TX

Leavenworth USP           1          1          0          0          0          5          Leavenworth      KS

Marianna FCI     1          7          0          0          0          1          Marianna          FL

McCreary USP   1          3          0          0          1          2          Pine Knot          KY

Montgomery FPC           1          1          0          0          0          2          Montgomery     AL

Otisville FCI       1          1          0          0          26         14         Otisville NY

Pekin FCI           1          0          0          0          0          0          Pekin    IL

Philadelphia FDC            1          2          0          0          3          3          Philadelphia       PA

Phoenix FCI       1          5          0          0          19         9          Phoenix AZ

Sandstone FCI    1          0          0          0          0          0          Sandstone         MN

Schuylkill FCI     1          0          0          0          0          0          Minersville         PA

SeaTac FDC       1          1          0          0          0          0          Seattle  WA

Williamsburg FCI            1          4          0          0          0          0          Salters  SC

Yazoo City Medium FCI  1          5          0          0          7          10         Yazoo City         MS

Allenwood Medium FCI  0          0          0          0          0          1          White Deer        PA

Allenwood USP  0          1          0          0          0          1          Allenwood         PA

Ashland FCI       0          0          0          0          0          1          Ashland KY

Beckley FCI        0          0          0          0          0          1          Beaver  WV

Big Sandy USP   0          2          0          0          0          0          Inez      KY

Big Spring FCI    0          6          0          0          0          0          Big Spring         TX

Brooklyn MDC   0          1          0          0          12         41         Brooklyn           NY

Bryan FPC          0          2          0          0          1          0          Bryan    TX

Butner Medium II FCI     0          1          0          0          3          1          Butner   NC

Canaan USP       0          0          0          0          0          4          Waymart           PA

Coleman II USP  0          14         0          0          2          2          Sumterville        FL

Cumberland FCI 0          0          0          0          6          5          Cumberland     

08/01/2020 Part II

Duluth FPC        0          0          0          0          1          0          Duluth   MN

El Reno FCI        0          6          0          0          1          1          El Reno OK

Estill FCI            0          10         0          0          0          0          Estill      SC

Gilmer FCI         0          0          0          0          5          0          Glenville            WV

Hazelton FCI      0          3          0          0          0          2          Bruceton Mills   WV

Hazelton USP    0          5          0          0          0          5          Bruceton Mills   WV

Lee USP 0          1          0          0          0          1          Pennington Gap VA

Lexington FMC  0          0          8          0          227       11         Lexington          KY

Lompoc FCI       0          1          2          0          809       16         Lompoc CA

McDowell FCI    0          0          0          0          0          2          Welch   WV

Mendota FCI      0          6          0          0          1          3          Mendota           CA

Morgantown FCI            0          0          0          0          0          1          Morgantown     WV

Oakdale II FCI    0          8          1          0          7          6          Oakdale            LA

Oxford FCI         0          3          0          0          1          1          Oxford  WI

Pensacola FPC   0          2          0          0          0          1          Pensacola          FL

Petersburg Low FCI        0          0          0          0          0          2          Hopewell           VA

Ray Brook FCI    0          0          0          0          12         10         Ray Brook         NY

Rochester FMC  0          1          0          0          0          1          Rochester          MN

Safford FCI        0          2          0          0          0          0          Safford AZ

Terre Haute FCI  0          0          0          0          1          2          Terre Haute       IN

Terre Haute USP            0          0          1          0          8          0          Terre Haute       IN

Texarkana FCI    0          3          0          0          0          2          Texarkana         TX

Thomson USP    0          0          0          0          3          1          Thomson           IL

Tucson USP       0          4          0          0          0          2          Tucson  AZ

Yazoo City Low FCI         0          4          2          0          96         9          Yazoo City         MS

Private Facilities

Privately-managed prisons are secure institutions operated by private companies under contract and oversight of the BOP. The majority of federal inmates in private prisons are sentenced criminal aliens who will be deported upon completion of their sentence. Unlike federal inmates housed in BOP facilities, the contractor is responsible for the medical care and the costs associated with providing those services.

The BOP has 14,610 inmates in Privately-Managed Facilities. There are 101 inmates who have open lab-confirmed positive cases. 310 inmates have recovered. Full breakdown and additional details are below:

Facility                IP          ID         IR         City       State

D. Ray James CI 73         0          12         Folkston            GA

Great Plains CI   12         1          85         Hinton   OK

Giles W. Dalby CI           10         1          72         Post      TX

Rivers CI            4          0          20         Winton  NC

McRae CI          2          1          14         Mcrae Helena    GA

North Lake CI    0          2          107       Baldwin MI

All inmates are being appropriately treated and isolated per CDC guidelines.

Corrlinks Process

Photo by izhar khan on Pexels.com

Corrlinks.com is a company that provides electronic services for incarcerated individuals in the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons, some privately-owned, prisons for profit, and a few state prisons.

Learn more about Corrlinks at https://www.corrlinks.com/FAQ.aspx

Quora.com is a great place to go to find a variety of information. I have answered a lot of questions and have had almost a half of a million views, since I began writing content over a year ago.

My specialty is prison-related topics. Check out some of my writings at https://www.quora.com/profile/Wayne-T-Dowdy


The following is a modified version of my answer to this question:

What is the best way to register to Corrlinks with an identification code?

Answer by Wayne T. Dowdy

An inmate must put in a Corrlinks contact request to your email address. Then you receive an automated code from Corrlinks through the email address.

You have a choice to accept or refuse correspondence with the inmate. The following is an actual message I received from Corrlinks:

This is a system-generated message informing you that the above-named person is a federal prisoner who seeks to add you to his/her contact list for exchanging electronic messages. There is no message from the prisoner at this time.

You can ACCEPT this prisoner’s request or BLOCK this individual or all federal prisoners from contacting you via electronic messaging at CorrLinks. To register with CorrLinks you must enter the email address that received this notice along with the identification code below.

Email Address: info@wtd4u.com

Identification Code: H7LKQ3XX

This identification code will expire in 10 days.

By approving electronic correspondence with federal prisoners, you consent to have the Bureau of Prisons staff monitor the content of all electronic messages exchanged.

Once you have registered with CorrLinks and approved the prisoner for correspondence, the prisoner will be notified electronically.

For additional information related to this program, please visit the [URL removed for BOP] FAQ page.

*****************************************

Este es un mensaje generado por el sistema que le informa que la persona mencionada es un preso federal que pretende añadirlo a usted a su lista de contactos para intercambiar mensajes electrónicos. No hay ningún mensaje del preso en este momento.

Usted puede ACEPTAR esta petición del preso o BLOQUEAR a esta persona o a todos los presos federales de contactarlo a usted a través de la mensajería electrónica en CorrLinks. Para inscribirse en CorrLinks debe introducir la dirección de correo electrónico que recibió esta notificación, junto con el código de identificación a continuación.

Dirección de correo electrónico: info@wtd4u.com

Código de identificación: H7LKQ3XX

Este código de identificación expirará en 10 días.

Al aprobar la correspondencia electrónica con presos federales usted esta consientendo a que personal de la Oficina de Prisiones superivse el contenido informativo de todos los mensajes electrónicos intercambiados y cumplir con todas las reglas y procedimientos del Programa.

Una vez registrado en Corrlinks y aprobado para la correspondencia el preso será notificado por vía electrónica.

Para obtener información adicional relacionada con este programa, por favor visite la página de preguntas frecuentes [URL removed for BOP]

___________________________________________________

a) If you wish to accept correspondence, you must open a Corrlinks account through the email address.

b) If the inmate is NOT a federal prisoner, you will need to fund the account because it will cost you to send messages (rates may vary but I pay $0.10 per message to Wisconsin inmates).

If the inmate is a federal prisoner, he or she must pay to access the public messaging system and it won’t cost you anything unless you elect to pay the annual $6.00 fee for Premier Service so that you receive a notification when he or she emails you. Otherwise, you must go to CorrLinks to check for messages because the notification process often fails.

Once you receive the Notification from Corrlinks that an inmate wishes to “exchange electronic messages” with you, do this:

1) copy the automated code as shown above that consists of capital letters and numbers;

2) use a laptop or PC computer to accept the request (not a cellphone because it won’t work for the acceptance process and is very limited for messaging once you’ve established contact with the person). Login to the Corrlinks account with the email address and password, and then prove that you are not a robot through reCAPTCHA by selecting the proper images [a sometimes aggravating process because of distorted images and ones that change and others that appear in a former place you selected].

3) Then you will see a box to enter the Identification Code you copied in Step 1);

4) Enter the code and click GO, and then when the panel opens to the right side of the screen (not shown in this example), click the box to “Enable Email Alert” (which happens to work more often when you pay for the Premier Service);

5) Click “Accept” and then after the inmate receives the notification that you wish to correspond, he or she may message you after depositing funds in the institutional inmate account process, or you may be the first to message, once the incarcerated person accepts the contact connection.

6) To retrieve messages you go to the Mailbox:

Beware: The Corrlinks system will malfunction, so after you type a message, copy it before trying to Save or Send.

I have cursed Corrlinks many times because it logged me out instead of saving or sending my message.

Through WTD4U, I send inmates various information, some of which intelligence-lacking staff at the institutional level, will reject because he or she cannot comprehend rights provided by the First Amendment (Freedom of the Press). Later on, I will send the same message and it gets delivered to the intended inmate.

Some of my more controversial messages have magically disappeared and I’d have to start over, so when I remember I copy and save before clicking Send.

On a laptop or PC, you can save a message as a draft, which closes the screen, but still copy it before trying to save or send. Cellphones are not so user-friendly for doing anything other than reading or sending a message.

Public messaging through Corrlinks can be expensive but I was happy to have an avenue to contact family, friends, etc., once the system was implemented.

On average, I spent close to one-hundred dollars per month on Corrlinks because I wrote blogs to post on this website, short stories, essays, and other forms of content for publication, legal purposes, and for general correspondence.

To learn more about this website and my goal, read About Your Host & Straight from the Pen.

Cycles of Change

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

History may repeat itself but if I am involved, I have a choice about my role

“History repeats itself” is an old cliche’ that fits what I have to say in one sense but not in another. Because even though a similar event occurs, whenever it does, I have another choice that I may make based upon my experience with the first event. I do not have to do as I did before.

From my observations and what I read along metaphysical and esoteric1 lines, life does run in cycles.

1esoteric [ˌesəˈterik] adjective: intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with specialized knowledge or interest.” esoteric philosophical debates” Synonyms: abstruse, obscure, arcane, recherché, rarefied, recondite, abstract, difficult, hard, puzzling; Antonyms: simple, familiar

In my search for meaning, decades ago, I noticed a strong correlation between my life events and ten-year cycles, some of which I wrote about in blogs and other published content.

The following is a modified excerpt from my essay, The Price of Change that I will use to show an example of an event I foresaw but failed to act to avoid what I knew was to come before my last arrest on August 18, 1988:

“When eventually released from prison, I wanted to become a successful law-abiding citizen. I was fortunate enough to succeed at getting a job at one of Atlanta’s Top 100 companies where I quickly climbed the ranks. A year after I had started the job, I was doing better than ever: driving a new vehicle, wearing nice suits, living a respectable life. What I struggled with was doing what is normal to most people, such as having to be responsible: paying bills, balancing a checkbook, and having to work a lot of overtime to make what I needed to pay for the life I wanted. I stressed myself out doing it.

“I also had an issue adjusting to family life, having to deal with somewhat normal people, who had their problems I wanted to “fix” but couldn’t. I couldn’t even fix my own. After spending most of my life in prison, I had adjusted to the typical prisoner’s mentality, which is not normal. At least, not for those who have to learn to survive in a violent environment: we become desensitized, stop feeling, stop feeling empathy; become emotionally disconnected after being around years of brutality and helplessness, wanting to help someone, but knowing to stay out of it or suffer dire consequences.

“The avalanche that destroyed my plans to be a successful law-abiding citizen began with a 7-ounce beer. I am an addict and alcoholic and the beer started a chain reaction. I was back to smoking pot within a month. [I’ve now been clean and sober since April 1995.]

“What had happened was that I had gone out with a woman who wanted to seduce me. I didn’t resist. I was nervous because we were in a foreign place, the house of her friend, who had several other people sleeping there, some on the floor. One couple had to give up a guest bedroom so we could have it, so, when we went to have sex, I experienced performance anxiety or something, and drank the beer to help relieve the anxiety. That’s typical behavior for many of us who get out of prison, especially males who listen to the wrong head for advice.

“A year later, I was back to shooting cocaine, plotting, and scheming on ways and means to get more [the same thing that I had been doing ten-years before that lead to me being arrested on August 28, 1978, in Kentucky, within ten days of being exactly ten-years before I was arrested again, pulled over in Tennessee by the Kentucky State Patrol. On the previous and last arrest, I had told both partners who wanted me to carry them to Kentucky that I knew we would be arrested if we went to Kentucky. Ten years before, in 1978, another crime partner from Kentucky, also wanted to return to see his father. I told him we’d be arrested if we did go there, and we were].

“I was insane, as is evidenced by my shooting doses of cocaine so large that I often laid on the floor in convulsions. I’d pray and ask God to save me and promise not to do it again if He would, but then when I survived, I would get right on up and do it all over again.

“It didn’t take long for me to quit my job, and to stop making car payments, which resulted in the repo man taking my car away. By that time, I had begun robbing and stealing, pretending to myself to need money to pay bills, but any money I took went into the arms of me and my associates. I had an insatiable urge to stay high, which lead to my putting cars, houses, and relationships, all into bottomless syringes. [Only by the grace of God did I not contract HIV.] My desire to stay high was more important than any amount of devastation my actions caused in the lives of others. I was one selfish, self-centered, SOB, and a crazy one at that.

A good example of my insanity was in response to my fiancés’ warning. She said, “’Honey if you don’t stop what you’re doing, you’re going to end up back in prison.’”

“’I know baby doll. I just want to do some more cocaine.’” That was the extent of my madness. I knew I was in the middle of a train track, and that the coming train would kill me when it hit, but I was unable to get out of the way. After I ended up in jail for more charges than I ever imagined, I wanted to kill myself because I was disappointed that I failed to succeed and had returned to the lifestyle I vowed not to do. But somehow, I was able to think about how my actions would affect the lives of my loved ones and chose not to put them through such pain.”

THE PRICE OF CHANGE, Essays & More Straight from the Pen

To tie those events into the Rest of the Story for the conclusion of this blog, I will share more of my personal life experiences.

INSURANCE COMPANY ISSUES

Other events that occurred before my arrest in August 1988, was having State Farm Insurance Company to improperly cancel my insurance because of a speeding ticket, which costs me a lot of money when trying to find another insurance carrier.

BANKING ISSUES

On several occasions, I attempted to withdraw funds from an ATM machine. It didn’t give me the money but deducted it from my account which lead to me having overdrawn checks. When I went to the bank and complained, I was told the machine was right, and that no adjustments would be made to my account.

Shortly thereafter, the ATM receipt showed my account balance was over $161,000, which was wrong, of course; however, when I returned to the bank and asked for my $161,000, the machine was wrong.

As long as it was stealing from me it was right but when it tried to give, it was wrong.

Those two experiences made me resent banks and insurance companies.

A Different Man Makes Different Decisions

On July 13, 2020, I received a letter from Nationwide Insurance Company stating my insurance policy would be canceled on July 23, 2020, because I failed to show having insurance coverage for six-months before starting my policy with them.

I did not have a vehicle until January 15, 2020, and had relied on public transportation and family assistance to get from point A to point B. I explained that and expressed how ludicrous it was to require me to have insurance coverage when I did not own and was not driving a vehicle.

After several discussions with Nationwide representatives, who really tried to help me resolve the issue, I was told that the underwriters would not make an exception. I hung up the phone and then went online to return to my former insurance carrier (Root Insurance Company). Within five minutes of hanging up the phone, I was reinsured.

I canceled my Nationwide policy.

******

Pre-certification Letter

I am in the market to buy a home and needed a precertification letter from a bank. I had one from Credit Karma but the real estate agent wanted one from a different financial institution, so I contacted my bank for what I thought would be a simple process since I have good credit and pay my bills on time.

Over a week later, I was still trying to get that darn letter and was not happy about it because I was having to complete forms and provide information for fictitious amounts that I may not even need, for a house in an area I may not even find a house in, so …. I was not happy with dealing with a bank, again.

Different Response, Different Choices, Different Results

This time I weathered the storm and got all I needed. I did have to do a lot of praying for guidance and direction from my higher power, whom I choose to call God, but I did not revert my old behaviors (didn’t use the frustration as a reason to get high or to go and take something that wasn’t mine because I was angry).

Before the end of the week, I had gotten my pre-certification letter for my real estate agent and was happily insured, heading off onto another exciting adventure into the beautiful world, far behind the galaxy that makes up the Universe.

Yes, history repeated itself, in that I experienced problems with two agencies that I had had issues with over thirty years ago, but I chose to respond, rather than to react, and to accept that life happens just as it must. Now I am waiting for that special lady to ride with me into a future so bright we both need to wear shades.

Essays & More Straight from the Pen

Happy Independence Day

Last year I wrote a more formal blog on Independence Day in America. Most of the facts and sentiments remain the same, so if you want to read about that, click Here.

For this post, I am writing about my personal independence that is more important to me than any celebrated holiday in America or anywhere else.

Sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Patriotic, my Independence Day comes first: I won’t grab a gun and run out to get shot defending some political enemy of no interest to me.

Now, if an invader came to America and the United States government didn’t want to put me in prison for the rest of my life for picking up a firearm, then Yes, I would pick up a weapon to defend this nation. But that is not the case today.

My Independence Day began when I stopped allowing my addictions to control my behavior back in 1995. Twenty-five years later, I maintain that sense of freedom that I gained when I put down the spike and stopped trying to take myself out, one day at a time.

Today I live my life, one day at a time and don’t feel the need to use any mind-altering substance to alter my perception of life.

I like seeing things as they are and don’t need to alter my perception to deal with all of the BS going on in America today and around the world.

It is what it is and I can’t change anything outside myself.

So today, that is my Independence: freedom from the chains of addiction that kept me enslaved to finding a way and means to get more that was never enough.

When I ran out, I felt worse than miserable, and the problem was that I did run out and could not get what I wanted when I wanted it, and that really pissed me off and made me a really difficult person to deal with who I grew to despise when I looked in the mirror.

NOW that I am free and have come to terms with my past, life is good and I just do the next right thing and know that everything will work out just the way it is supposed to for me.

And so today and every day, I celebrate my independence and am thrilled and happy to be here, with “here” meaning still in existence, because I know that it is only by the grace of God, my higher power, that I lived to fight another day and come out the victor in my battle of addiction that went on for over twenty-five years before I got the courage to stand up and fight for my right to be free. I broke the chains and ran into a bright new future: free.

COVID-19 AND BOP

Photo by Edward Jenner on Pexels.com

The United States Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) reported having a new deputy director on June 5, 2020. Though not said, I suspect the former deputy director exited due to his mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic in the federal prison system. After the BOP Director testified before Congress on June 2, 2020, the appointment of the new Deputy Director was reported three days later. Read the BOP Director’s written statement before Congress here.

To show the severity of COVID-19’s effect inside the BOP, I showed a comparison between COVID-19 cases in Henry County, Georgia, and the BOP.

On June 28, 2020, the website for the Georgia Department of Public Health reported the top five counties in Georgia for COVID-19 cases as follows. (See the latest update by clicking the link below the chart.)

CountyConfirmed CasesHospitalizations Deaths
Gwinnett7685985169
Fulton66101058311
DeKalb5448870171
Cobb4607848240
Non-Georgia Resident441020243
https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Dekalb County, Georgia had 759,297 residents on July 1, 2019.

Dekalb County, with over 550,000 more people than the UNITED STATES FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS, staff included, has had 171 deaths due to COVID-19.

On June 28, 2020, 89 inmates and one reported BOP staff member had died due to COVID-19.

“06/28/2020 – The BOP has 131,667 federal inmates in BOP-managed institutions and 13,436 in community-based facilities. The BOP staff complement is approximately 36,000. There are 1,422 federal inmates and 137 BOP staff who have confirmed positive test results for COVID-19 nationwide. Currently, 5,114 inmates and 574 staff have recovered. There have been 89 federal inmate deaths and 1 BOP staff member death attributed to COVID-19 disease.” WWW.BOP.GOV

Hopefully, the incoming BOP Director will be proactive about halting the spread of the Coronavirus inside the system. Several inmates have reported to me about the BOP’s continued practice of putting inmates who tested positive for COVID-19 in the same living areas with those who were not infected. This is especially true at the complex in Butner, NC that has had a combined total of twenty-three inmate deaths and the one staff death.

Click here for books related to COVID-19


Unreported Truths about COVID-19 and Lockdowns: Part 1: Introduction and Death Counts and Estimates by Alex Berenson (Author)

COVID-19: The Pandemic that Never Should Have Happened and How to Stop the Next One by Debora MacKenzie (Author)

George Floyd Matters

Yes, George Floyd mattered.

Photo by Life Matters on Pexels.com

What happens to one person may happen to another and another and another, until those of us who do not fit into the perfect mold or preferred social class no longer exists. That is one reason why the death of George Floyd and others matter who died because of police brutality or other unjustified reasons/causes.

A fellow blogger who is incarcerated and others have written negatively about the media focus and social uprisings related to the death of George Floyd, a convicted felon, a person who was alleged to have been violating the law before his untimely and wrongful death.

A man with a colorful past wrote a poem that tells why people should be concerned about George Floyd’s death, and all of the other men and women who died at the hands of other people; whether by law enforcement officials, at the hands of racists, by gang violence, being on the wrong side of group protests, or by any other method that deprived someone of their right to live.

Pastor Martin Niemöller, a former part of Nazi Germany who changed his ways and beliefs, wrote the following poem. Interchange any of the labels with the others often given to dehumanize other people:

“They” may be any person belonging to a group or who has a belief system based on race, religion, sex, sexual preference, political affiliations, or any group whose favor one does not fall, whether based on skin tone, socio-economic status, or any other factor used to justify wrongful actions.

This is a poem that I first heard as No Else Around (apparently based on First They Came), which I will use to show why George Floyd and those who differ, or who otherwise come from a different socio-economic class, should matter to everyone who qualifies as a member of the human race.

First they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Christians, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Christian.

Then they came for the prisoners, and I did not speak out—because I was not a prisoner.

Then they came for the Blacks, and I did not speak out—because I was not Black.

Then when they came for me there was no one else around to speak for me.

******

We are all in this together, what happens to one may happen to another. All lives matter who belong to the human race.


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What We Know by Wayne T. Dowdy

The following article was my submission for possible publication in a book that I submitted over a year ago. I include excerpts from some of my published materials and blogs that relate to the topic of recidivism, returning to old behaviors. My writing was not accepted for inclusion in the book but I do want my thoughts and ideas to be read, so I am posting it for the world see. 🙂

Though parts of the former submission may be outdated, the principles and concepts that I present are not, since not a lot has changed, per se. Millions of people remain in prison across the United States of America; especially, those who suffer from mental conditions and addiction problems.

Maybe something I wrote will encourage someone to do something that leads to changes in the status quo of mass incarceration in America.

What We Know

What we know is that America has a severe problem with recidivism that costs victims of recidivist immeasurable amounts of pain and suffering, and American citizens billions of dollars.  My story shows the high-cost of recidivism and major problems within our Criminal Justice System and its policies.  How do we reduce recidivism rates?  Does the answer lie in reentry initiatives, preventative measures, sentencing factors?  All the above, perhaps?

In 1988 I recidivated and spent thirty-years in federal prison and am part of the problem.  I offer a unique perspective to help change the status quo.  My goal is to use my vast experience in corrections to become part of the solution in penance of my debt to society.

First, to establish my qualifications to write on the selected subject, I’ll summarize selected points of my extensive criminal history, which began with my first arrest in 1969 for the burglary of a school, at the age of twelve, and continued until my last arrest on August 18, 1988, for the charges that I will write about later.

My criminal activities as a child lead to at least twenty arrests as a juvenile; all arrests related to my drug and alcohol problem, the true reason behind me costing taxpayers over a million dollars that I will show in association with me spending most of my life confined behind barbwire fences lined with rows of razor wire.  For clarity and to offer an excuse for the negative behaviors I displayed for decades of life, when I was eleven-years-young, I began using LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) and other mind-altering substances.  My life of substance abuse continued for 26 years, 3 months, 18 days (I stopped using April 5, 1995).  From the time of my first childhood arrest, I did not stay out of jail or some type of confinement for more than six months, until 1976 after release from my first adult prison sentence, when I served thirteen months in prison for a burglary to steal guns.  That time I almost made it two years without an arrest.  On August 28, 1978, I landed in jail for stealing a car and robbing three drug stores at gunpoint.

Two armed robberies and the car theft happened in Dekalb County, Georgia.  The other robbery occurred in Paulding County, Dallas, Georgia.  Though not charged for assault with a dangerous weapon and discharging a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence, during the Paulding County robbery, the pharmacist refused to comply with my demands and I struck him upside the head with a pistol that discharged a round into the wall, crimes of which if committed today and if charged with then, would have kept me caged for life.  

I suffered from mental illness back then.  I went to trial and a psychiatrist testified that I could not differentiate between right and wrong.  The jury didn’t accept the guilty by reason of insanity defense and found me guilty as charged.  I did not receive help for my psychiatric issues.  The judge sentenced me to twenty-years, serve eight, balance probated and then I went to Dekalb County to face charges.  Though I planned to stay out of prison upon release after the first time, I did not, because I returned to using drugs and made terrible decisions.  Drug addiction lead to me robbing those drug stores in 1978 and the courts sentencing me to multiple sentences for a total of fifteen-years to serve and five-years of probation.  I didn’t complete the original sentences before picking up additional charges for new crimes committed while in prison.

In 1981 I assaulted two correctional officers while they were trying to get another prisoner under control, the prisoner of whom went into the gymnasium bathroom to pick up drugs stashed for him to pick up.  He owed me two ounces of marijuana.  For that incident, the disciplinary committee sentenced me to two-consecutive, fourteen-day sentences in solitary confinement.  The State of Georgia charged me with two counts of mutiny in a penal institution.  I laughed when the person serving the warrants told me of the charges.

“Mutiny, I wasn’t on a battleship,” I said.

I didn’t laugh when sentenced to two more years for committing the crimes.

After I got out of the hole for those charges, I got into more trouble and ended up back in the hole and then when I went to trial, and the jury found me guilty of the charges I’ll discuss next, the court sentenced me to four consecutive years.  The two-year sentence for the mutiny charges ran concurrent with the four, consecutive to the original sentences.

For the Dekalb County crimes, I accepted a 15-year plea agreement after a psychiatric examination proved more harmful than helpful.  At twenty-one-years old, those fifteen years seemed like life imprisonment when I calculated being thirty-six before getting out.  My plan was to leave when possible.  I did.  Three years into the sentence, I escaped from Coastal Correctional Institution in Garden City, Georgia.

In June of 1981, several prisoners planned to escape Saturday night.  An associate asked if I wanted to escape with them?  I declined.

They didn’t leave on Saturday, and then on Sunday when I didn’t get a planned visit, I became depressed and changed my mind about leaving.  On Sunday night, myself and ten others escaped by climbing two chain link fences.  The first fence, five feet high, the other twelve with an inward facing arm, three feet long and strung with barbwire.  The arm of the extension set at a forty-five-degree angle, facing the institution.  To get to the fences, a prisoner nicknamed Tiny lured a guard into a trap.  The guard stood above six feet tall, Tiny near five, so it is logical to assume the guard didn’t feel threatened by him and violated the security protocol by opening the Control Room door to hand Tiny an electric razor.  Tiny grabbed and held him until reinforcements arrived who were hid in a blind stairway.  I waited in another corridor for the takeover and the opening of the doors.  Moment later, the outside doors opened.

I ran five-to-six hundred yards across a field to the fences.  Before I made it to the first fence, a correctional officer driving a security vehicle had stopped and was firing a shotgun at the other escapees who had cleared the tallest fence.  I barely slowed until I landed in the sand trap between the two fences.  I climbed the second one, the tallest.  When I reached the three-foot extension, I grabbed hold of its arm and pulled my body up to the barbwire strands, and then used my hands to swing from strand to strand until I reached the top row.  I threw my right arm over the top strand.  A barb pierced my bicep.  I jumped after clearing the wire. 

The guard fired again.  A pellet struck Tiny in his foot and caused him to stumble before he fell to the ground.  The gun bucked from the blast.  I ran a few feet before I hit the ground awaiting the buck of the gun from the next blast, which hit another prisoner in his shoulder.  He staggered from the impact but continued running to the woods.  Tiny jumped up and ran with me into the woods before the guard could fire again.  The guard may have had to reload, but whatever the case may be, I got away without taking any lead with me into the Woodline.

I separated from the rest of the escapees.  Running through the woods, I tripped over vines and fell into a gulley in the dark forest, but I still get away before the hound dogs arrived.  A helicopter flew above the forest shining a light through the treetops.  To avoid detection, I stayed in the shadow of the trees and once had to pull bushes over myself to avoid detection as the helicopter passed over.  Helicopters did not have heat sensors in those days.

I made it out of the woods a few hours later, where I stole a car from the parking lot of an aircraft manufacturer.  I would have stolen an airplane if I had known how to fly one.  Soon thereafter, I saw a railroad crossing with two guards posted waving for me to stop.  I didn’t.  I almost ran over them instead.  A mile down the road, I did the same thing.  A chase car got behind me when I made it to the next road.  A high-speed chase followed but not for long. The car I stole only ran a little over a hundred miles per hour, wide-open.  Police cruisers ran a hundred and forty.  The pursuing police officers boxed me in with their cars and captured me.  Before I got out of the car with my hands in the air, a prison van pulled alongside one of the police cruisers.  The cops put me in the prison van and ended my wild escapades.

Those events lead me to the Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, Georgia, where the state kept the worst-of-the-worst, a prison plagued with violence.  Because of all the violence and state officials refusing to follow a federal court order to improve living conditions, stop the racism, and brutality, the federal government implemented processes to begin a takeover.  Part of that process included appointing a federal monitor to oversee the lawsuit and placing a federal warden over the institution.  

Someone cut the tires on the warden’s vehicle.

I assume that the family clans did not like that the Feds sent in a foreigner to disrupt their running of the prison, and wanted to let him know that he wasn’t wanted in those parts of the woods. He did not leave.

Another process formed was the creation of the Staff Inmate Communication Committee (SICC).  White and Black prisoners in each living unit elected a white and black representative to help reduce prison violence.  My peers chose me to represent their interest, thus I became a spokesperson and received copies of all legal documents filed in the litigation.  I fought and succeeded at helping to change the prison, as I am fighting now to change the system.

In 1982 the federal government reported that GSP was the most violent prison in the United States.  I argued the issue with a federal monitor because New Mexico prisoners had rioted and killed more people than prisoners had killed in Reidsville.

The federal monitor replied, “The New Mexico incident was during a time of rioting.  During the normal run of the prison, y’all have had six-murders, fifty inmate-to-inmate attacks, and thirty-five inmate-to-staff attacks, with fewer prisoners than New Mexico.  That is what makes this prison the most violent in the United States.”

Events almost kept me in prison the rest of my life, because another prisoner wanted a transfer to another prison, he and others lied and said I killed a person, one of the six murders in 1982.  I was innocent of the actual murder, but that incident made me realize I needed to change my life, and that’s when I began.  Several years later, I made parole.

On August 1, 1985, I completed my commitment to a halfway house in Atlanta, Georgia and made parole.  I did not plan to reoffend.  I wanted to be a successful law-abiding citizen and did well until, once again, I returned to using drugs and that always lead me back to prison.

Now to my last arrest and conviction.  Tennessee state police arrested me August 18, 1988, in Campbell County, Tennessee, for possession of explosives (firecrackers and a hand grenade that was a dud), possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of a firearm and ammunition, and possession of stolen credit cards.  At first, I was under an alias.  No other charges filed, other than me using a stolen credit card to rent and not return the car I was driving when arrested.  The actual charge was theft by taken motor vehicle.

I agreed to extradition to face the Theft by Taken Motor Vehicle charge in Gwinnett County, Lawrenceville, Georgia.  A few days after my arrival in Georgia, agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Georgia Bureau of Investigation called me out for questioning on the armed bank robbery of the Bank of Dawson County, Dawsonville, Georgia.  I refused to cooperate and laughed when the investigating agents tried the Good Guy/Bad Gay routine to elicit a confession. 

A Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent jumped from his seat, knocking it over, and then said, “You think this is funny.  They’re trying to put armed robbery charges on you and I’m going to make sure you get more.”

I laughed again.  I knew my life was over and figured I’d die in prison anyway, so it didn’t matter anymore.  I screwed up really bad this time, I thought.  Within thirty-six hours, I had four counts of armed robbery, two counts of false imprisonment, and two weapon charges to go with the theft by taking motor vehicle charge.  That was before the FBI filed the federal charges.  I knew my life was over and contemplated suicide to shorten the process.  I’m glad I changed my mind and have lived to see this day as I type.

Back to the last crimes and convictions:  On November 10, 1988, a federal jury found me guilty after a four-day trial for the following crimes committed June 21, 1988:

1) armed bank robbery (Title 18 of the United States Code (U.S.C.), §§ 2113(a)(d)); 2) abduction of a person to facilitate commission of an offense (18 U.S.C., § 2113(e)); 3) conspiracy to commit bank robbery (18 U.S.C., § 371) (the charge that lead to convictions on all other counts), and 4) use of a weapon during commission of a crime of violence (18 U.S.C., § 924(c)).

The court delayed sentencing due to a pending case before the United States Supreme Court.  On February 24, 1989, a federal judge sentenced me to 420-months (300-months on Count 1, 360-months on Count 2, sixty-months on Count 3, all concurrent (running together), and sixty-consecutive months on Count 4).  I did not walk out the prison doors without handcuffs on my wrists, a belly-chain around my waist, and shackles on my legs, until August 28, 2018, before I left the institution en route to Dismas Charities in Atlanta, Georgia.  Dismas Charities is a privately-owned halfway house/residential reentry center (RRC).

RECIDIVISM IN AMERICA: WHAT WE CAN DO

Today I write as a professional and have spent hundreds of dollars to make a difference through my writing resources and otherwise, in penance for the harms I caused society with my criminal behavior and lifestyle.  

The Bureau of Justice Statistics released a new study (“2018 Update on Prisoner Recidivism: A 9-Year Follow-up Period (2005-2014),” NCJ250975, May 2018), a follow-up to the 5-year study relied upon for comparison by the ex-director (“Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010,” NCJ244205, April 2014).

The May 2018 study revealed an Eighty-three percent (83%) recidivism rate during the 9-year follow-up period, and that shows the seriousness of recidivism in America and the need for a magic elixir that does not exist.  However, even if there isn’t a magic elixir, we can reduce recidivism by ending financial incentives for politicians who make laws and policies that fuel mass incarceration.  Positive change will be slow until lawmakers stop state and federal funding for private prisons.  In the conclusion I will offer suggestions to reduce recidivism and help to create more productive members of society in the process.

The 2017 annual cost of incarceration for federal prisoners was $36,299.25 ($99.45 per day).  Federal Register, Vol. 78, No. 52 (03/18/13), and Vol. 83, No. 83 (04/30/18). 

TREAT THOSE WITH ADDICTION PROBLEMS & DUAL DISORDERS

In December of 2002, USA TODAY published an article “Study: treat addicts’ mental illness,” by Marilyn Elias, 12/02/02, USA TODAY newspaper.  According to Charles Curie of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, about one third of drug and alcohol abusers have an underlying mental disorder.  In a Pennsylvania state prison study around the same time, researchers determined that 85% of Pennsylvania prisoners had addiction problems, with half of them (42.5%) having an underlying mental disorder.  Mr. Curie stated in the same article, “That’s typical of prison systems nationally.  And we know if these inmates recover from the disorders, they’re unlikely to repeat crimes.”  Think about that statement: “inmates …, unlikely to repeat crimes.”

Those were high numbers to ignore for those wanting to reduce recidivism, considering that reducing it would decrease state and federal deficits.  Of what should be of greater significance to policy makers is helping other human beings to become productive members of society.  With it being 2019, sixteen years passed since the release of that study.  To date, the Federal Bureau of Prisons only has one facility that treats those with dual disorders (Lexington, Kentucky), but some states have implemented more of such programs and seen positive results.

I am one of the fortunate ones from the federal system who received treatment for both disorders while in prison, long before the authors released the study.  My success verifies the study findings.  I was a model prisoner for several years before my release.  I behaved in a constructive manner and helped others learn to live as law abiding citizens by practicing Twelve Step principles.  Now I am a productive member of society because I am applying what I learned in prison.  

Studies on recidivism shown in 1997, that 67.5 percent of prisoners released three years earlier were re-arrested, amounting in a five percent increase from those released in 1983.  The re-arrest rate for drug offenders rose from 50.4 percent in 1993 to 66.7 percent in 1994.  Before the 2018 study, which is a follow up to the 2005-2010 study, showed those numbers increased to 76.9 percent, and then to the staggering eighty-three percent after adding four years to the study period, all of which shows a growing problem within the Criminal Justice System.

In April 2014, the United States Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Statistics, released study NCJ244205 “Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010,” by Matthew R. Durose, Alexia D. Cooper, Ph. D, and Howard N. Snyder, PhD, BJS Statisticians.  The study expanded to include statistics for a five-year period, compared to the typical three-year studies.  The five-year study showed 67.8 percent of prisoners released had been arrested for a “new crime” within three years of release, and 76.6 percent within five years.

Here’s the numbers for relevant offender categories:

1) property offenders 82.1% (burglary (81.8%), larceny/motor vehicle theft (84.1%), fraud/forgery (77.0%), other (83.6%));
2) drug offenders 76.9% (possession (78.3%), trafficking (75.4%), other (78.1%)).
3) public order offenders 73.6% (weapons (79.5%), driving under the influence (59.9%), other (77.9%)).

Ironically, violent offenders came up last: 71.3% for re-offenders (homicide (51.2%); murder (47.9%); non-negligent manslaughter (55.7%); negligent manslaughter (53.0%)’ rape/sexual assault (60.1%); robbery (77.0%); assault (77.1%), and other (70.4%)).

FEDERAL RECIDIVISM STUDY:  In the recidivism study by the United States Sentencing Commission, “The Commission studied offenders who was either released from federal prison after serving a sentence of imprisonment or placed on a term of probation in 2005.”

STUDY NUMBERS: Offense Types and recidivism rates were as follows: Drug Trafficking (41.7%), Fraud (13.6%), Firearms (12.8%), Robbery (4.3%), Larceny (3.9%), Immigration (3.5%), and ALL Other (20.3%).

DEMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS OF RECIDIVISM STUDY: The first numbers are those in the study, whereas the second number represents offenders sentenced in 2014, after the eight-year study period ended: 81.7% – 81.2% were Male offenders.  White offenders led at 43.7% – 38.1%, followed by Blacks at 33.9% – 32.7%, Hispanics at 17.8% – 23.4%, and other races at 4.6% – 5.8%.

EDUCATE TO REDUCE RECIDIVISM: Post-Secondary Education Reduces Recidivism!  In the study, 34.3% did not graduate high school, compared to 36.6% who did; 21.4% had some college, and only 7.5% were college graduates.

OTHER RESULTS OF RECIDIVISM STUDIES: 49.3 percent of those released were rearrested for a new crime or rearrested for a violation of supervised release (e.g., failing to pass a urine analysis, failure to report to the supervised release officer; leaving without permission from a halfway house, perimeter of home confinement area or the state; violating state or federal laws, etc.). “Recidivism Among Federal Offenders: A Comprehensive Overview,” United States Sentencing Commission, March 2016.

The 2014 and 2018 studies show recidivism decreases as age increases.

FUNDING NEW RECIDIVISM REDUCTION PROGRAMS

Releasing qualifying elderly offenders who complete the recidivism reduction programs outlined at the end of this section will save billions of dollars to use for funding other programs with minimal risk to society. Reducing this category saves a lot because incarcerating the elderly costs the most.

This section targets a large segment of inmate populations and thus saves hundreds of billions, even with only marginal success. The cost savings will supply more resources for managing other aspects of the criminal justice system.

Let us assume Mr. Curie is correct (“[W]e know if these inmates recover from the disorders, they’re unlikely to repeat crimes”).  Based upon that premise, if ten percent of released inmates received treatment for dual disorders, while inside and did not recidivate by committing more crimes, then each ex-offender saves the criminal justice system a minimum of $25,000 per years, not including associated savings gathered from not spending money to arrest and re-prosecute the offender.  

The Department of Justice could apply those savings to revamping correctional systems with more psychiatrists, psychologists, and addiction specialists needed to reduce recidivism rates that fuels Mass Incarceration in America.

Using 2,000,000 as a base figure, and $25,000 as the cost of incarceration to accommodate the lower cost of housing healthier prisoners in state-and privately-owned prisons, if 85% of the 2,000,000 prisoners have an addiction problem, that’s 1.7 million prisoners.  If 42.5% of that 1.7 million have an underlying mental disorder, that’s 722,500 prisoners with dual disorders.  If twenty percent of that 722,500 asked for and received treatment, that would be 144,500 people treated and “unlikely to repeat crimes.”  

If Mr. Curie is correct, the following numbers I use would be higher and save more taxpayer dollars.  Again, using a modest $25,000.00 as the annual cost of incarceration, if ONLY ten percent (72,500) of the 722,500 of prisoners with dual disorders were treated, released, and never committed other crimes; taxpayers would save $1,806,250,000 each year.  That doesn’t include money saved from not having to pay law enforcement and the prosecution for associated costs.  If ten percent (14,450) of the twenty percent (144,500) suffering from dual disorders, completed treatment and stayed out of prison, that would be $361,250,000 saved annually.  If that same twenty percent (144,500) stayed clean after release, that would be $3,612,250,000 saved.  More importantly, thousands of citizens would not fall victim to those released from prison in worse shape than when they arrived; another recidivist or death statistic in the making.  Nor do those figures factor in the decreased need of hiring more law enforcement personnel; not having to pay for more buildings and equipment and resources, including not having to build more prisons to warehouse the prisoners.

THE SOLUTION

To reduce recidivism and help protect American citizens, as well as to help the returning citizen to successfully reintegrate, increase the availability of rehabilitative programs.  The programs need to 1) require that participants have at least a twelve-month clear conduct record; 2) require attendance for counseling sessions for any noted mental disorder and or addiction problems; 3) require participants to attend all scheduled educational or trade-related courses.

As part of the reconstructive process, prison official must be required to create more evidence-based programs for reducing recidivism, as the recently passed First Step Act requires for federal officials.  Part of the process should include regularly-scheduled, independent audits performed on a random basis by an external agency and include interviewing twenty-percent of inmate participants, with the goal of assuring compliance.  If prison officials do not comply, sanctions should be issued against prison officials (e.g., monetary sanctions, demotions, and termination for repeated citations for failure to comply).

Incorporating the above processes will change lives and give many men and women trapped behind the walls, bars and fences of the thousands of prisons across the United States, an opportunity to become assets to society rather than tax liabilities. Yes, some will fail. Thousands of other will succeed at becoming better men and women to help make America great again.

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Protests and Prison

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Ironically, the paperback edition of the tenth anniversary publication of THE NEW JIM CROW: MASS INCARCERATION IN THE AGE OF COLORBLINDNESS by Michelle Alexander, was released on January 7, 2020. Now you must wait to get a copy on Amazon, as I type because it is temporarily out of stock; however, the eBook is available. Click here to order.

Doubt does not reside in my mind about hundreds of people going to prison because of their involvement in the current protests going on in America. Not for the protesting, per se, but because of related activities going on around the protest, by the thug element that always finds its way into such events as an opportunity to “Come Up” by looting and committing other crimes under the false pretension of seeking justice, retribution for an act committed.

As I wrote in my most recent blog, Protests Gone Viral, quoting from The Wall Street Journal, President Trump said he would designate Antifa as a terrorist organization.

The United States Department of Justice will prosecute under Title 18 of the United States Code (18 U.S. Code CHAPTER 113B—TERRORISM) and rely on the definition stated below for Domestic Terrorism to prosecute those labeled as members or accomplices (conspirators) of Antifa:

(5) the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that—

(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;

(B) appear to be intended—

(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;

(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or

(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and

(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States;”

[18 U.S.C. § 2331 (2)(5), Definitions]

The penalties are stated in 18 U.S. Code § 2332. Criminal penalties, and range from “not more than ten years” for some criminal acts included, and up to life for others, meaning until carried out in a box, since there is no parole in the federal system.

Many people who commit state crimes have no idea that the Feds may step in to use a multitude of laws to get jurisdiction to prosecute in federal court. Believe me, I met several who were in federal prison for crimes of that nature, especially drug cases and violent crimes that involved guns or money that crossed state lines.

The thousands of laws on the books in the States and Federal systems are the ammunition used to create Mass Incarceration in America, where thousands of others profit from the incarceration industry (read The Truth About Incarceration, Part II for more information related to that topic).

Even though an alarming number of those who find their way into jail cells are people of color, as Michelle Alexander wrote about in her book, prison systems across the United States mainly consist of poor people who cannot afford to fight their cases or who are given bad advice to enter a plea of guilty, and then live to regret it when that plea leads to more time in a jail cell than ever imagined.

Many protestors will fall into that category, not because of what they do, but because of what those around them do that erodes the effect of a worthy cause.