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Bank Robber Stories by Jeffrey P. Frye

by Jeffrey P. Frye

Jeffrey P. Frye never fails to deliver well-written and entertaining stories from his life. His unique background in the legal and illegal professions gives him writing credibility that keeps readers wanting to see what he produces next.

Bank Robber Stories contains humor and a variety of mixed-emotional avenues for readers to experience. A great read for the curious minded about life on the inside of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons and what might lead a person to change professions from the legal to illegal.

Mr. Frye is now in the process of returning to his natural state before his fall from grace. He will confess to “Not Thinking” if asked, “What was you thinking?” Reading this book proves it!

~ Wayne T. Dowdy, author of UNKNOWN INNOCENCE, and ESSAYS AND MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN.

INTRODUCTION by Jeffrey P. Frye

It takes a special kind of person to turn their adversities into success; their sadness into joy that’s used to entertain others.

And it takes a person with tenacity and depth to continue to seek the sunshine when all you’ve ever known is the rain. And it takes a person with natural talent to be able to write a story under these conditions that’s captivating and that you don’t want to put down.

Wayne T. Dowdy is such a person, and UNKNOWN INNOCENCE is such a story.

In UNKNOWN INNOCENCE, Dowdy takes the reader into the lives of his protagonists, Bobby and Nicole, and tells the story of how it all went terribly wrong. How the forces of bad luck, helped along by a crooked FBI agent and attorney, conspired to take Bobby behind the walls of the United States Federal Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas. Using a pen along with a vivid and epic imagination, Dowdy draws upon his life in the free world, as well as his nearly three decades of walking the line in some of the roughest federal pens in America.

Moving along at a steady pace, UNKNOWN INNOCENCE tells the story of Bobby’s wrongful conviction. Sent up the river for life without parole, Big Bobby never gives up hope though. The one thing that has eluded him for most of his life is the very thing that turns out to be his salvation. Love. UNKNOWN INNOCENCE is a riveting tale that transcends genres. It’s a mystery and a thriller, with a love story woven through its fabric.

Wayne T. Dowdy is a writer for the masses whose voice has purpose. It tells the World, “No matter what happens to me, I will not give up.” This voice takes the broken pieces of a life and combines it with raw talent to bring forth a beautiful mosaic. It’s a voice that says, no matter how guilty I may be, there is still unknown innocence in each and every one of us.

Jeffrey P. Frye

September 9, 2015

Edgefield, South Carolina

UNDER PRESSURE-MOTIVATIONAL VERSION by Mr. D

The following excerpt comes from the second book written by Wayne T. Dowdy, under the pseudonym of Mr. D, which he self-published with assistance from Midnight Express Books, to inspire and motivate aspiring writers. The Story Behind the Novel contains links for writing tools to help other writers.

THE STORY BEHIND THE NOVEL

[Updated August 14, 2019: This novel was published while I was in prison and most content remains the same; however, on May 8, 2019, I was released from the custody and control of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons. I removed some of the original content from “The Story Behind the Novel” because it became outdated.]

The story behind the novel may surprise you because I wrote it while serving a 420-month federal prison sentence. Mr. D.” is the pseudonym I used for my first book to avoid any confusion associated with my writings. I am a writer of many genres and am aware that some readers are “profanity-sensitive”; I don’t want anyone to be confused when purchasing my books, essays or short stories. Though not used frequently, profanity is often necessary to capture the personality of a character or to make a scene or setting more realistic; especially, when writing about prison life. A person allergic to profanity may safely read most of my personal essays (inspirational, political, creative nonfiction), but may break out into a rash or go into anaphylactic shock when reading what I write as “Mr. D,” a pseudonym I chose based upon the song, Dancing with Mr. D., by the Rolling Stones, and because my last name begins with “D” and some people call me Mr. D.

Why should the reader find motivation by reading this? It came from the confines of a prison. If I wrote this from inside, without an electronic data storage system, and without access to the Internet, someone “out there” with all of the available technology and resources can really work some magic. This is the story behind the novel:

I am a federal prisoner serving a lengthy prison sentence; to be precise, thirty-five-years, without parole, for armed bank robbery and associated charges. I started on August 18, 1988. I have never used the Internet or seen a cell phone, other than in magazines or on television. I’m somewhat prehistoric, a relic.

In prison, our movement and activities are limited. For instance, I only have until 7:45 pm, Monday through Thursday evenings, to type at the library, which does not begin until my living unit gets released for chow (usually by 6:00 pm). At the library, I use a dumbed-down, AlphaSmart, word processor to type with until the library closes [AlphaSmarts were removed from the library before my release and replaced with the worst typewriters available, with no memory recall capabilities].

Normally, a writer using an AlphaSmart would have an interface cord to connect to their PC to upload what they typed on the AlphaSmart, and would then make modifications to the text in their PC; e.g., change line spacing, font size or style, underline words, or adjust margins. I don’t have a PC to upload what I have typed and cannot modify what I have written, other than typical editing functions, such as copying and pasting, and using spellcheck to correct misspelled words (program does not check grammar or punctuation). Fortunately, the presets include double line spacing, one-inch top, left and right margins, and a 12-pt Times New Roman font. If I want to add an underline to a word or a case cite when doing legal work, I have to create a separate file, count spaces, and then use the underscore key to create an underline. Then I have to run the original document back through a low-quality printer to complete the process.

That gives you an idea of what limited capabilities are when writing and typing from inside a prison (and I am fortunate to be able to do what I do). Some prisons only have ancient typewriters, with no memory storage capabilities. (I authored Under Pressure on such a primitive device.) The only other day I have to work on my writing is on Saturday because the library does not open on Sunday or holidays. During the morning I skip going to eat to type from 7:30 am (or whenever the door opens), until 9:15 am. Then I have to return to the cellblock to be counted. Yes, all of us men must stand up and be counted at 10:00 am, 4:00 pm, and 10:00 pm on weekends and holidays. The 10:00 am Count is a special event: we don’t have one during the week. I often use the break for count to proofread what I’ve written, or to prepare for what I will write.

Once the count clears and the prison staff begin feeding the noon meal, I often skip chow to go type some more. I am usually typing by 11:30 am until I have to turn in the AlphaSmart at 3:15 pm. Fridays and Sundays are my days of forced rest from typing at the library: the only place I can type personal projects.

Where am I during the week when not at the library? Working. I work as the document control clerk in a textile factory of the Federal Prison Industries, Inc., trade name UNICOR. My meager MONTHLY salary averages near $200.00. I used that income to pay for my enrollment in the Long Ridge Writers Group on January 8, 2007. The course is outlined for completion within two years. On July 7, 2008, I graduated. During the same time that I was taking their writing course, I wrote the short story, “Under Pressure.” I attempted its publication by submitting my 6,158-word manuscript (typed on the ancient typewriter mentioned earlier), to various magazines, college literary journals, and entered it in PEN’s Prison Writing contest. It didn’t win. Then on January 1, 2012, my ambition was born to convert the short story into a novel, the hard way, almost five years from the date of when I enrolled in the Long Ridge Writers Group to learn how to write and market short stories and essays. One year after I decided to turn the short story into a novel, it was available worldwide.

My biggest problem in getting started with converting the short story into a novel came from not having any way to electronically store data. When I finished typing at the prison library to return to the cellblock, everything I had typed was deleted according to policy. I knew having memory storage would ease the pain of the revision process (some pages I retyped up to five times to correct a typo, verb tense, or to replace or to add “one” word). I solicited help from my family and friends to have my manuscript scanned and stored on a disk or CD as a word.doc format for the manipulation of data. One of my two sisters, who was not real computer savvy, did go to different places attempting to find what I needed, but the best she could find was someone to scan and save it as a pdf file, which I didn’t think would allow her to alter the text back then (now converters are available that allows a person to modify Portable Document Format files).

I began the conversion process in light of the troubled waters ahead before I learned about the publisher, Midnight Express Books (MEB). Approximately six months after I had surrendered the idea of finding an easier, softer way to write the novel, I discovered MEB through an ad in the Education Behind Bars Newsletter (EBBN). EBBN ran an ad in Prison Legal News and asked for submissions. I submitted an essay and began receiving complementary copies of the newsletter. In the last issue I received, I noticed an ad for MEB, whom works exclusively with prisoners seeking publication [the publisher retired].

At that point, I had decided to go the traditional publishing route, so I passed along the information to another aspiring writer. MEB sent him a brochure. He asked me to read it and asked that I give him my opinion. I was sold when I read about MEB’s optical character reader and computer program for scanning manuscripts, and then being able to digitally alter the text. I immediately added their contact information to the system provided for e-mailing and recording addresses (TRULINCS & http://www.corrlinks.com). Thus, began the correspondence that lead to MEB helping me publish my first novel.

On January 14, 2013, CreateSpace.com released UNDER PRESSURE for sale to the public as a print-on-demand book. [Note:  Amazon closed CreateSpace, which was a self-publishing division for paperback books. Now authors must use Kindle Direct Publishing and pay Amazon twice the amount of commission for books sales.]

The following day Amazon.com posted UNDER PRESSURE. Now it is available worldwide upon demand through the following sources:

Amazon Books

(http://www.amazon.com/Under-Pressure-Mr-D/dp/098576869X )

Amazon.com

(http://www.amazon.com/Under-Pressure-ebook/dp/B00B1ZI00K/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1366854587&sr=8-1&keywords=under+pressure+Mr.+d )

and

Smashwords.com

(https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/275053 )

Smashwords is an eBook distributor who distributes eBooks in various formats to eBook retailers for use on e-readers like the Barns & Noble Nook, and the various applications through Apple products and the Apple iBookstore. When I write other books, essays, or short stories, I will have them posted on my SmashWords’ Author’s page:

https://smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy

If the product in your hands (or before your eyes) came from inside a federal prison, with the assistance of MEB, imagine what you can do “out there” with all of the available technology. For example, Microsoft Word (https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/word/cfq7ttc0k7c7?=&OCID=AID2000136_SEM_O2CceKEP&MarinID=sO2CceKEP%7c340719598991%7cmicrosoft+word%7ce%7cc%7c%7c64346372608%7caud-473968998633%3akwd-10582150&lnkd=Google_O365SMB_NI&gclid=Cj0KCQjwv8nqBRDGARIsAHfR9wAPF2bA3yAzCZsudqoAjxNPQjR62TD52dyGZH6AUYTJAhNWtpHglkgaAtpzEALw_wcB&activetab=pivot%3aoverviewtab); 

Word Perfect X9 (www.corel.com ); and some writers’ tools: Character Writer 4.0 (http://www.characterpro.com/characterwriter/index.html); writing tools from Master Writer (https://masterwriter.com/creative_writers/); for screenplays: Power Structure and Power Writer for writing novels and screenplays (https://www.powerstructure.com/).

Maybe one day I will find out. For you, though, if you are an aspiring writer or just a reader with ambitions, apply yourself to the task and reach for your dreams: they may be closer than you imagine.

Perseverance Pays!

Best regards,

Wayne T. Dowdy aka, “Mr. D.”

I welcome all comments, and will respond to all questions as soon as possible, which may vary according to the number received, but I will respond.

Contact Info:

E-mail: waynedowdy@straightfromthepen.com or wtdowdy57@gmail.com

Mailing Address: Wayne T. Dowdy, P.O. Box 2608, McDonough, GA 30253

Follow me on StaightfromthePen.com https://straightfromthepen.com

Cellmates by Wayne T. Dowdy

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

One of my answers on Quora.com recently received a lot of attention, not a record breaker, but 17.6 thousand views is not insignificant. (What happens in prison if you don’t get along with your cellie and it is a dangerous situation? Can you request a new cellmate or a transfer to a different cell?)

There are many other answers to the above question and to following question that people may want to read at Quora.com.

In response to a comment written about my answer to the question, Are Jail-Prison Inmates Treated Differently Based on the Crime they Committed, I wrote:

Thanks for the comment, Annie. Nature drives curiosity, and I am sure that leads to many prison staff doing what is forbidden by policy, in the case of investigating criminal histories of inmates. For case managers, though, it’s necessary to know the criminal offenses of an inmate on their caseload. I am sure that the criminal histories of some prisoners are so terrible that most case managers feel the need to discuss what he or she saw in a case file (jacket).

For me, when I lived a different life, I sometimes suggested to prison staff (and my peers) who offended or challenged me, to “Read my jacket”; MR EGO at large, like, “Don’t you know who you’re messing with,” as if I were a notorious criminal, when in truth I was not, even though my “jacket” didn’t look so nice because of several violent crimes (armed robberies, mutiny in a penal institution, escape, assault on staff, etc.).

Federal prisoners were once allowed to keep their Presentence Investigation Report (PSR) that listed criminal histories and personal characteristics used by the court to determine a defendant’s sentencing range.

In about 2003, the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons made a rule that prohibited prisoners from having their PSR because of sensitive information contained therein, such as financial information and criminal histories and whether that person testified against someone else for a sentence reduction. The prohibition was due to some inmates being assaulted, murdered, and or extorted because of PSR information.

After I changed my life, during a scheduled review, a case manager placed her hand on my extensive file and said, “The person I see in here is not the person I see sitting before me.”

I smiled and said, “Yeah, I changed a little.” 🙂

Since my conversion, I have written about my life and many parts of my criminal history, a lot of which I am not proud of, but write about to show the power of change. People who know me now would never guess that I once lived the Thug life because I am a different man.

Before my release, I gave my case manager a copy of Essays & More Straight from the Penby Wayne T. Dowdy. He, too, had seen my file and knew from years of being my case manager, that the man who sat before him no longer behaved the way he did before. In response to reading my book, he said, “Part of it makes you laugh, and some of the stories make you want to cry. There’s a lot of wisdom in it. It was a great book to read.” And then he thanked me for letting him read it.

In my case, my previous behaviors and history kept me safer in prison than most. I was not an informant, did not testify or cooperate with authorities, and had shown to be someone who would stand up and fight. For most people entering the prison systems across America, that is not the case and their histories or personal characteristics may make them targets for abuse. In rare cases, staff members will manipulate prisoners to retaliate against another prisoner who offended him or her or is just someone they do not like. Though rare, it does happen.

What happens in prison if you don’t get along with your cellie and it is a dangerous situation? Can you request a new cellmate or a transfer to a different cell?

In the federal system, on most occasions, a person could request to be moved to another cell and usually was, but not always. Some staff would just say, “Work it out.”

In critical situations, a cellmate refuses to go back in the cell and seeks protective custody or does something stupid to be removed from the situation, may even stab or use a combination lock or weapon to assault the cellmate.

In 2002, at the United States Penitentiary in Pollock, Louisiana, an older white man who the whites had run off the yard at the U.S.P. Lompoc, because he was in prison for crimes against children, was given a choice to leave the yard at Pollock or suffer the consequences.

He went to the Segregated Housing Unit (SHU) seeking protection by the staff. No whites allowed him in the cell with them inside the SHU.

A friend who was in the cell next to a black man, who the guards were forcing the older white man into the cell with, told me he heard the black man tell the guards, “If you put him in here with me I am going to kill him.”

The guards opened the door and pushed the older white man into the cell.

The older white man was carried out of the cell on a gurney the next morning. He had been beaten and strangled to death.

The black man said to the guards, “I told y’all I was going to kill him if you put him in here with me.”

Typically, though, that’s not the way it works. Most men work out the issues or a counselor or lieutenant approve for one of the cellmates to move, rather than to force them into living with each other.

There are always exceptions to the rule. Sometimes cellmates just have to fight and go to the hole (SHU) to resolve the issue which doesn’t always end there: it may result in the death or severe injury of one or the other when he arrives at another prison. That’s life inside. 17.6k views 

What happens in prison if you don’t get along with your cellie and it is a dangerous situation? Can you request a new cellmate or a transfer to a different cell? Wayne T. Dowdy, Lived inside American Prisons for Decades Answered June 15, 2019

Passed

No Worries

A proudly posted photo of the drug screen results as seen on Facebook, along with the following caption:

Living Clean and Sober has its Benefits. Those tiny bottles once caused me lots of stress! They also lead to me going to the hole (segregated housing unit) on more than one occasion, over 25-years ago.

I am grateful for the life I am blessed with living today that does not include the use of mind-altering substances, unless a person wants to include caffeine into that category. I do drink coffee but that’s better than other substances I used to think I could not live without.

Today I am free because I gave up my former behaviors that kept me locked in cages away from the civilized society.

If I can do it so can anyone else who makes the decision to change their lives, one day at a time.

While I was at the United States Penitentiary in Pollock, Louisiana (2001-2004), a member of Twelve Step programs wrote me and said that he had also learned that he did not have to return to prison, one day at a time. True.

We, those of us who have been in prison, usually have a choice to make that will allow us, as returning citizens, to remain in the free society.

I choose freedom!

Juvenile Forgiveness

On October 29, 2019, I received a request to sign and post a petition prepared for a man wanting support for his desire to be released from prison for a crime he committed as a child, and responded as you may see below. 

Please sign and repost my petition http://chng.it/cp6CdmCK Thank you

“I signed the petition because I do believe that, we, as humans, make many mistakes in our youth that do not define the man or woman we become as we age. Others are welcome to click the URL to sign too.”

As you may see, I posted the link to his petition but did not post the requested petition as I am now doing because I thought of all the mistakes I made as a child and young adult, and of all the many poor decisions I made that had lead to me living the Thug Life, a life I do not live now and do not care to live again.  The point is, I know from my experience that people do change.  Trusting the process when dealing with others is always a risk, but … so much is life. 

For those reasons, here is the petition for Ezekiel Thomas, whose actions while incarcerated strongly suggest that he, too, has changed his life and deserves the chance to prove himself. This petition was created and posted by Deb Fillers on behalf of Ezekiel:

Re-evaluating these inmates who were charged as juveniles with lengthy prison sentences. Studies prove that the brain does not completely mature until a person is in the mid-twenties.  But there are inmates that were under age 18 and convicted of their crimes violent or nonviolent and sentenced to lengthy, or even life sentences. People change, people mature, over years everyone changes. So, its time these inmates who have fallen under the criminal justice system as youth and given these horrendous sentences need looked at. Ezekiel Thomas who this petition is about is currently 44 years of age and has been incarcerated for 27 years for a crime that he committed at the age of 16. Everyone deserves a second chance. If you agree please sign this petition.

I would like to share my personal story:

My loved ones story begins back in the 90’s. Mr. Ezekiel Thomas was a distraught troubled teen, coming from poverty, racism,  years of physical, emotional, mental and sexual abuse. He committed his violent crime at the age of 16.

Undoubtedly the years of physical, mental, and emotional trauma contributed to Ezekiel’s criminal actions  I feel  as many others that had Ezekiel received the support, therapy and emotional guidance that he needed prior to committing his crime his life story would have had a different outcome.  But as an adolescent faced with the challenges of  poverty, abuse and  racism he had no one else to turn to but himself. However In spite of a troubled past  Ezekiel never the less found the path to redemption. I feel that people like Ezekiel who have made leaps and bounds on self transformation and rehabilitation deserve a chance to prove to others that they are worthy of a second chance. Ezekiel takes full responsibility for his actions and has dealt with a lot of remorse for the trauma and hurt inflicted. He turned his bout with lengthy solitary confinement stays, and all the negative things that happen to a youngster in prison into a positive outcome. He has accepted what he did was wrong and he has overcome the demons that have troubled him .Once he sorted out his young life it gave him insight to become a better man and help other men fix their problems. On his journey to rehabilitation he has completed his GED, as well as 13 other secondary academic Diplomas and certificates. He has completed a six month sex offender course, He has received a favorable psychological eval from the renowned James Garbarino PHd. author, professor child psychology.  Ezekiel has written self-help books he now uses in programs that he has created to help inmates find atonement and redemption, he has become a role model, and a leader. He is a facilitator, a teacher in the re-entry program. Hence Ezekiel who has never been released in 27 years is helping prepare his fellow inmates for release everyday. Ezekiel created the program called the A.D.A.M. Project that he uses daily for his classes, this program is supported by Jeff Hilton of the Lancaster County Police Department. He published his first book, Healing the criminal mind, is now also available on Amazon.

Ezekiel is an amazing guy, very intelligent he is a writer, an artist, a motivational speaker, program creator, coordinator, prison reform activist. Upon his release he wishes to continue his prison reform work. He has a loving home, several job opportunities awaiting him. Ezekiel is a lover of people and God. I believe he deserves a second chance at life.

In 2020 Ezekiel will again appear in front of the parole board. With the help of the public we are hoping he will be granted parole. Please sign this petition to help us get him released.

http://chng.it/cp6CdmCK

FeedBack on StraightfromthePen

On December 3, 2019, I read an article from The Marshall Project about racial disparities in the length of time served in prison by minorities compared to whites. I posted the following comment on Facebook and invited comments and offered to post a blog in response to any viable answers to create a positive change in Criminal Justice and Prison Reform. I received a comment posted on the Contact page for StraightfromthePen.com, which I will post after the following:

“In reading this article on the length of time spent in prison as being greater for African-Americans than white-defendants, with me being white and being caught in the same statistical-data sentencing-factors as ethnic minorities (criminal histories), I find the given reasons as being legitimate. The color of my skin didn’t get me a lesser sentence. Many people with different skin tones received and served a lot less time than I did, because of my criminal history and behavior characteristics. However, I am not saying that people of color do not get targeted and may be arrested and go to prison for crimes others may not: it happens.

“I have witnessed racial profiling so I know it happens, and it may be those types of events that lead to African-Americans spending more time in prison (being watched more and giving incident reports for minor issues whereas others may get a pass). For the most part, though, what happens after an arrest and going to prison depends on behavior. I learned to be responsible for mine, even when I felt I was targeted or suffered more severe consequences than other similarly-situated people did. The question is, what can be done to create a positive change in criminal justice and prison reform? Send me viable answers and I will consider posting a blog on StraightfromthePen (https://straightfromthepen.com).

“Thanks! THEMARSHALLPROJECT.ORG The Growing Racial Disparity in Prison Time A new study finds black people are staying longer in state prisons, even as they face fewer arrests and prison admissions overall.”

COMMENTS:

Holly, December 4, 2019

“In response to the question of what can be done differently in our criminal justice system. I saw a prison on a documentary that is in Norway I believe. They have an extremely low repeat offenders I believe it is due to the approach. They focus on having as much as a normal life without freedom to go off the grounds. They had individual apartments jobs and even a grocery store in there if the prisoner didn’t get up and go to work then they were locked in. The focus was changing the mind set of the prisoners teaching them self discipline and structure. Treating them with dignity the officers Shook their hands and was respectful. The documentary was on Netflix under world’s toughest prisons it was the last season last episode.”

Reply by Wayne T. Dowdy

“Thank you for your comment. You are correct. Norway treats its prisoners different and thus has the world’s lowest recidivism rate (people released from prison and returned after committing crimes or violation of parole terms, etc.). Germany also has a lower recidivism rate than the United States of America, as do many other countries. In “Experimental Prison Project” (July 16, 2019), I voiced my opinion on why America has such a high recidivism rate: money, people profiting from high incarceration rates, driven, in part, by the staggering number recidivists. Please read “Experimental Prison Project” and blogs referenced to therein, especially, “Prison Reform Progress” (April 5, 2019), where I write about a prison experiment in Connecticut that is modeled after a prison in Germany, and covered by Bill Whitaker on 60-Minutes. Thanks again for commenting.”

Feel free to voice your opinion on this issue and I will consider posting it if suitable for public viewing. wtd

Happy Holidays from Wayne T. Dowdy

Photo by Evelyn Chong on Pexels.com

The politically correct phrase these days is Happy Holidays, I reckon. That’s okay. If that makes one happy, then that’s fine, but being the rebel I am at heart, I refuse to conform and will continue to wish people Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, or whatever, unless I know that doing so offends that particular person, then I will say Happy Holidays or nothing at all.

I can do that! That’s my right that I take the privilege of applying when my feelings conflict with what may now be deemed socially unacceptable by a group of others who decide how everyone else should live, think, feel, and conduct their lives. I do not wish to offend anyone, but …. I stand my ground!

This morning I remembered where I had been and decided to send a message to those trapped inside the federal prison system who need to know they are not forgotten and that there are people who still love and care for them, even if they have fallen from grace. My hope it that the words I wrote will help someone “out here” to realize all that they have in their lives to be thankful for, even if things are not going the way they prefer. Life goes on and there is always hope for better days! May you find it today.

The following message is what I sent into the prison system through Corrlinks.com, an email system provided to federal and some state prisoners, for a fee. When on the Inside, I spent hundreds of dollars to type and communicate with others and to post the blogs before my release on August 28, 2018.

Happy Thanksgiving to each of you who celebrate. The main thing I always tried to remember was my favorite saying, “I complained of having no shoes until I met a man with no feet.”

Here’s a blog I wrote that some of you may have already read, but it is just as true today as it was when I wrote it, other than I no longer have to deal with having walls and bars to keep me away from society. Today I am free and hope that each of you will one day be able to say the same, even those of you serving excessive sentences. Miracles happen! Never lose hope.

STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN
Topics From Inside For Change

GRATITUDE AND MORE, December 19, 2016

Last year on December 23, 2015, I posted “Plot to Stop Santa by Mr. D.” to add a little humor to the holiday season (read it on straightfromthepen.wordpress.com or waynedowdy.weebly.com and check out Santa’s militarized sled). This year I am writing along personal lines and will share some previous messages I sent out to those on my Corrlinks contact list. My hope is to create a sense of gratitude.

12/25/2011: On Christmas Day, I sat in my cell reading my favorite magazine (THE SUN). “Chow time,” the guard shouted.

I rushed to the chow hall. Inside, I sat at a rectangular table of four with three of my peers. One person stood to leave. Each of us exchanged Christmas greetings, wishing him a Merry Christmas before a 27-year-old youngster sat down to take his place.

The one who sat to the right of the youngster had just complained how the Cornish game hen was small. I had previously tried to maintain the attitude of gratitude at the table by commenting how it was good, though, it was smaller than those we had had in the past. It was still tasty. I simply agreed with the other guy about it being smaller than usual. I labeled it as a “Cornish Game Chick.”

That’s when the youngster sat down. “There sure are a lot of complaining people at this prison,” he said.

His words filled me with guilt. He had once told me that both of his parents were still in state prison. I realized his parents were probably doing worse than all of us at the table.
The youngster’s comment helped redirect the nature of our conversations toward what we were grateful for.

I shared my favorite saying by an author whose name I do know to give him or her their credit due (“I complained of having no shoes until I met a man with no feet.”).

I continued to express gratitude for the well-prepared meal; knowing we were all fortunate to have what sat before us, as we compared our plight to others incarcerated in state and other federal prisons, who probably wished they could eat as good as we were.

This is what we had to complain about: a Cornish game hen, black-eyed peas, which were really good; collard greens, rolls or wheat bread (I chose wheat bread); an individually packaged cherry pie, chocolate cup cake, and some other stuff I probably forgot. I ate my fill.

Each of us walked away feeling more grateful for the meal we had been blessed with because we had stopped for a moment to remember the less fortunate in life. Not only do I have two feet and nice shoes, I have a fat belly filled with gratitude. I hope each of you have a wonderful Christmas meal and feel fortunate for the freedom you share in a less than perfect world.

Sincerely,
Wayne


Along the same theme as above, I wrote this on America’s Turkey Day:

THANKSGIVING DAY 2016: Happy Thanksgiving Day to each of you. If you feel like you don’t have much to be thankful for because of the hardships life has thrown at you this year, stop to think of all you have to be grateful for; perhaps you have food to eat; two feet, two arms, shoes on your feet, and clothes to warm your body, a place to stay and be safe. Feel fortunate.

When I find myself disgruntled for having to wait for an hour in the commissary to purchase a few items, I try to stop and remember those who wish they had my problems, financially able to shop for a few items needed to maintain a decent level of living inside this prison. That makes me feel grateful for the opportunity, rather than disgruntled and agitated for having to wait as I listen to loud mouths shouting to the man next to them, disturbing the peace, killing the sound of silence.

Upon remembrance of the less fortunate, I find myself grateful for the simple things in life I often take for granted. Be thankful for those you have in your life who love and care for you. Happy Thanksgiving!


For those of you who follow me through other means of social media, you may have read the message below that I wrote after losing one of my brothers, Larry. I once had a mother, father, three brothers and two sisters. I am now down to one brother and two sisters.

In 1978 I lost Stanley, my older brother. In 1982 I lost my father, and then in 2016 I lost my younger brother, Larry, after having lost my mother eight months before him.

The loss of two loved ones in the same year was why I wrote what I did about “the hardships life has thrown at you this year”; including myself in the equation. I write to show we still have things to be grateful for in light of the hardships we experience as the cost of our love for others.

Some people lost their whole family and suffered tragic loss of limbs and even more severe health issues. That makes me grateful to still have family members who remain in my life. I am also grateful for my less-than perfect health.

The families of some prisoners abandon them because they go to prison. My family has stood behind me, even though my actions were unacceptable to them; my actions that landed me in prison. I am fortunate!


September 18, 2016: One of my two younger brothers moved on to the next phase of existence around 3:00 PM today. Larry was the most gentle and innocent of the four sons birthed by our Mother. Not that he was innocent; he wasn’t, but he was not driven by hate or anger and he never intentionally harmed anyone that I know of. Him and Jeff, the youngest of us, were never the rowdy type, whereas me and Stanley were hell raisers.

Larry was a kind and all around good person. It hurts like hell to know he is gone, but I do rejoice in knowing he no longer suffers from his illnesses. He lives without pain in some other place we all must go one day. Maybe he fishes from a rainbow, catching a few rays, as he surfs the ocean in pursuit of eternal peace. I hope he catches an abundance of love and happiness during his journey. No doubt, many here on earth loved and will miss him.

Ironically, he passed away on my ex-wife’s birthday. Our Mother passed away on the birthday of our son, Jonathon. For those of you who believe in God, please keep the family in prayer as we go through a difficult time. Thanks! Wayne


December 18, 2016: Yesterday my remaining siblings came to visit me. We had a good visit. Though each of us are grateful to still have each other in our lives, I sensed the emptiness from the unspoken loss of our loved ones.

Loved ones fill a space in our hearts that no one else can replace. God made that spot just for them, whether our memories and feelings are good or bad, that space is theirs. I am grateful to have been blessed with the love given to me by those, whom that power greater than myself, put into my life.

I am also grateful for my eyes* and other physical features that I use to write and send my words beyond the walls and barbwire fences that surround me at this juncture of my life.

Prison only confines my body: I refuse to allow it to consume my sense of being, or to rob me of my dignity and integrity. I am a man first and a prisoner second.

My mind and spirit are freer today than when I roamed the streets in 1988 before my arrest. God gave me a life worth living.

Better days are on the horizon. When I walk out of these prison doors, Straight From the Pen will come alive, more like straight from the keyboard.

In an upcoming blog, I will share a former prisoner’s inspiring story. Brandon Sample is one who proves people can leave prison and succeed in life, by beginning to build the path toward a better life while inside doing their time.

Miracles happen. Have faith and never lose hope. Hope keeps the world going.

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  • I have an essay titled “Eyes” that I wrote in gratitude of my eyesight that I am fortunate to still have. It is an inspirational story available in ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN.
  • Purchase UNKNOWN INNOCENCE ($10.95 USD) and ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN ($8.95 USD) while the prices are low. Available in paperback at Amazon.com and other eStores, and as eBooks at Smashwords.com, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.Kindle, and other eBook retailers. Visit my Smashwords authors page today https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy.

The Phish Who Got Away

The veterans of today’s online wars don’t have to carry guns and ammo to protect us: they use keyboards and electronic equipment. I praise them, too.

The day after I posted “Happy Veterans Day” with a link to an article from Reader’s Digest about scammers/fraudsters, I received a Wells Fargo email instructing me to call a number if I hadn’t received my new debit card.

(Read the referenced articles inside the Reader’s Digest article to learn more about online scams: [Reader’s Digest published a great article that I read and shared on Facebook and Twitter because of all of the information contained about protecting online identity, by having links to other articles not included in the title, 13 Signs Amazon Seller Can’t Be Trusted. https://www.rd.com/advice/signs-amazon-seller-cant-be-trusted/?_cmp=readuprdus&_ebid=readuprdus10272019&_mid=309700&ehid=8fbcb9fd291744b840632983d832178c40787096 ])

I knew the card was just mailed that morning and suspected a scam. Being the investigative-type of person I am, I called the number to investigate: I was correct!

The speaker said they knew from the phone number what my bank account number was, so all they needed was the last four digits of my social security number.

I hung up, and immediately went online to my bank account that I use the two-step verification process on (my phone must be used in conjunction with the login information), and then turned off my card that was soon to expire (I was waiting for its replacement).

After knowing the card and account was safe, I called the bank number I knew was legit and reported the attempted phishing.

Well, this phish broke the line and got away to fight another day. I don’t reckon they liked my blogging about their scamming.

I stayed up late running various security scans and changing passwords to protect myself. Please read some of the articles in Reader’s Digest to enlighten yourself on how to identify the fraudsters who want to steal your money or identity. Don’t be lazy or so arrogant that you think you do not need to worry about some scandalous son of a bitch who wants to be you long enough to steal your funds and identity: it may happen to anyone.

The following excerpt came from one of the articles I sent out on Facebook and Twitter. It is 100% correct.

“MARVENT/SHUTTERSTOCK

“’If you receive a suspicious email from a friend’s email address, don’t reply, ‘Is it really you?’ because the fraudster will answer ‘Yes.’ If a suspicious email from your bank contains a phone number, don’t call it. Instead, look up the bank’s phone number in the Yellow Pages or Google it.’” —Mark Gazit, CEO of ThetaRay, a provider of big data analytics solutions.”

https://www.rd.com/advice/work-career/clear-signs-youre-about-to-be-hacked/

As I stated, I knew to call the bank phone number I knew wasn’t a scam.

Then I received my weekly updated email from Wordfence.com that told of a security issue with WordPress Email Subscribers & Newsletters.  Here are some excerpts. I posted the URL to the complete article for those who want to read the full report.

“Multiple Vulnerabilities Patched in Email Subscribers & Newsletters Plugin

This entry was posted in VulnerabilitiesWordPress Security on November 13, 2019 by Chloe Chamberland

“A few weeks ago, our Threat Intelligence team identified several vulnerabilities present in Email Subscribers & Newsletters, a WordPress plugin with approximately 100,000+ active installs. We disclosed this issue privately to the plugin’s development team who responded quickly, releasing interim patches just a few days after our initial disclosure. The plugin team also worked with us to implement additional security measures.

“Plugin versions of Email Subscribers & Newsletters up to 4.2.3 are vulnerable to attacks against all of the vulnerabilities described below, and versions up to 4.3.0 are vulnerable to the SQL injection vulnerability. All Email Subscribers & Newsletters users should update to version 4.3.1 immediately. Wordfence Premium customers received new firewall rules on October 14th to protect against exploits targeting these vulnerabilities. Free Wordfence users receive these rules on November 14th.

“Unauthenticated File Download w/ Information Disclosure

Description: Unauthenticated File Download w/ Information Disclosure
CVSS v3.0 Score: 5.8 (Medium)
CVSS Vector String: CVSS:3.0/AV:N/AC:L/PR:N/UI:N/S:C/C:L/I:N/A:N
Affected Plugin: Email Subscribers & Newsletters
Plugin Slug: email-subscribers
Affected Versions: <= 4.2.2
Patched Version: 4.2.3

“Email Subscribers & Newsletter provides site owners with the ability to create newsletter campaigns that site users can subscribe to. One feature of this plugin is the ability to export all of the site’s subscribers into a single CSV file containing first names, last names, email addresses, mailing lists the subscriber is on, and more. Unfortunately, there was a flaw in this plugin that allowed unauthenticated users to export subscriber lists and gain all of the information provided by subscribers.”

For the complete report go to https://www.wordfence.com/blog/2019/11/multiple-vulnerabilities-patched-in-email-subscribers-newsletters-plugin/?utm_campaign=Wordfence%20Blog%20Emails&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=79364920&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-8BWZWGcayl7CmLA8_0ZOuqUMxFleAxNa1XzLNtcjmm_PWVISfoOeViJk0XBMmja4fUtyG9alUFRXA6PRL4cnymLjx62a0YXm_ZWbqwjxsINMHzwyE&_hsmi=79364920

In the words of a biblical writer, “Be Aware Lest Ye Fall.”

That time I got away by breaking the line before the hook set, and I have maintained heightened security measures since then, adding additional computer security programs to check for malware, spyware, viruses, and all sorts of various poisons used to attack and infect unsuspecting citizens.

Even with all of those measures in place, I know to remain aware, to keep updating computer program security features and processes, and to never get so relaxed that I think those hooks aren’t in the water waiting for some unsuspecting PHISH to come swimming by.

Happy Veterans Day

In America we dedicate this day to those who served and protected our country. I am grateful for those who have and those who do.

For more on Veterans Day click this: https://g.co/kgs/nYi9YG

Many of those who served now lay resting but are never forgotten. The man is the following image is one who was one of my heroes whom I wrote about in Labor Day and a Personal Memorial Day.

https://straightfromthepen.com/2019/09/02/labor-day-and-a-personal-memorial-day/ .

Today we have different wars and battles to fight, one being an invasion by online scammers who want to steal our identities and or resources.

I fight against those trying to invade my space on a regular basis through my websites and by phone calls. Because I need help, I pay and use free versions of antivirus computer programs on my PC and phone because I am constantly bombarded by scammers who want to be me. 🙂

Americans are prime targets of scammers but no one is safe from attack.

Well, maybe more like to want to see what they can steal from me.

Reader’s Digest published a great article that I read and shared on Facebook and Twitter because of all of the information contained about protecting online identity, by having links to other articles not included in the title, 13 Signs Amazon Seller Can’t Be Trusted.

Please read if you want to learn more on how to be safe in a world of scam artists.

The veterans of today’s online wars don’t have to carry guns and ammo to protect us: they use keyboards and electronic equipment. I praise them, too.

Informed Discourse Absent in Prisons by Michael Newman

The following is a complimentary post. StraightfromthePen.com expresses no view or opinion on the issue or comments made by the author, neither agrees or disagrees with content.

Breaking Free Poets

For more from Breaking Free Poets, visit https://breakingfreepoets.com/ and read About Breaking Free Poets by Michael Newman at https://straightfromthepen.com/writings-straight-from-the-pen-2/

Our society is in a collective moment of reckoning with the sins of our past- at least those of us willing to be honest are. Centuries of harm caused by colonialism, slavery, racial oppression and a western world dominated by the interest of white men have culminated into a barrage of modern-day resistance movements and widespread critical discourse on these themes.

One space where this discourse is distorted- if present at all- is within the walls of American prisons, especially male prisons. Here, the historical plagues of racism and misogyny are endemic; centuries of racial hostility manifest into extreme segregation, and a violently toxic masculinity poisons the seeds of any debate about women’s rights or roles in society.

It is predictable, even if ironic, that communities of people deemed expendable by society would exhibit the symptoms of the society’s most virulent illnesses. A vast majority of prisoners experienced adverse childhoods in poor, racially segregated pockets of America and many were also witnesses to, or victims of domestic violence. But like any guilty party, America attempts to bury the evidence of it’s most egregious sins, rather than confront them directly. But prisons aren’t burial grounds- not permanent ones, anyways. 19 out of 20 prisoners will eventually return to the society which deemed them unfit.
The lack of exposure to conversations about topics like racism and hyper-masculinity is just one more obstacle to add to the catalogue of stumbling blocks in the path to healthy reorientation and reentry to society.

Outdated and outright appalling narratives about women and ethnic groups are still dominant themes in prison culture. Over- incarceration and overcrowding in prisons has led to unsafe environments and the prioritization of security to the point of apathy towards educational pursuits, leaving little will to address issues like these, which derive from lack of exposure to informed discourse. From the correctional regime’s perspective however, information is the enemy- any force that would empower the population would also make them more of a risk.

If the system’s purpose is to administer “justice” on the behalf of the public, then they are doing a great disservice to the public by sheltering prisoners from intellectual growth with increasingly prohibitive measures. The lack of access to local resources like guest lecturers and volunteer educators leaves a prison population isolated from cultural debates and community engagement which could provide purpose for their lives. These are the types of discussions we need to have if we want to produce anything resembling “justice” within a prison, and build communities of formerly incarcerated people who are ready to make a better future for all of us.

Michael Newman,
co-founder, breakingfreepoets.com
mike@breakingfreepoets.com

Afraid of Hell by Wayne T. Dowdy

Photo by icon0.com on Pexels.com

Excerpt from ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN.

Suicide seemed the solution to end the torment ravaging my soul when I was thirteen years old.

A quarrel between my mother and brother triggered the episode of depression that made me want to die. I don’t remember what the argument was about, only that it ended with my brother slamming the door after he and his wife stormed out of the house, vowing never to return. The incident pushed me over an already frazzled edge.

At the age of eleven, I had begun doing LSD (a hallucinogenic drug), and then started selling it and other drugs to stay high, including phencyclidine, commonly known as PCP. I had been doing a lot of it for a couple of weeks when the above incident occurred. The particular batch that I had been using and selling was extremely potent. As a drug addict; I took advantage of people without giving it much thought. It wasn’t anything personal, just what I had to do to stay high, which I did on a daily basis, whether from alcohol (the oldest drug known to man), or some other drug.

From shaving pills with a razor blade and storing it in a pill bottle, I had accumulated the equivalent of maybe fifty pills. I was in the living room when my brother and his wife left the house. As soon as they were gone, I began to cry and then ran to my bedroom where I kept my drugs and syringes hidden in a coat pocket. I prepared a large shot and injected it into my arm, and then ate the remainder of the PCP in the spoon and pill bottle. Numerous people had died from far less than what I had taken.

My parents had raised me as a Southern Baptist, so I had a concept of heaven and hell in my mind, and I did not want to go to hell for sure, which is where I was afraid that I was heading just as soon as I died.

Well, I went to school with a girl named Sherry, whose father was the pastor of the Riverdale Church of God. They lived three blocks down the road from my parent’s house.

As I recall, as soon as I had eaten the remainder of the PCP, I jogged down the road to their house. I jogged so that I could get there in a hurry, because I believed that I would die when all of the PCP that I had swallowed was absorbed into my system. Since I did not want to go to hell and was afraid that I was going to die quickly, I had to get there fast. I made it to their house and banged on their storm door. The preacher’s wife opened their heavy oak door and looked at me through the safety of the storm door.

“What do you want?” she asked. (I was the neighborhood hoodlum, and she probably thought that I was there to rob or steal something.)

“I want Brother Price to pray for me, because I have taken drugs to commit suicide, and I don’t want to go to hell,” I said. I believed that his prayer would stop me from going to hell, where I had been told that I would be going for the last few years.

“Bingham, someone’s here to see you,” she yelled.

All I remember after she called for him and he came to the door, was repeating what I had told her, and then him opening the door to invite me into his home. I lost consciousness when I walked across the threshold.

When I came back around, Sherry was sitting across from me at a foldout table with a Monopoly game between us. “Are you going to play?” she asked.

“No,” I said, and shook my head.

“Well, you said that you wanted to play,” she said. Then she asked if I wanted to go outside and sit in the swing, which is what we did. I remember telling her that I thought I had damaged my brain, because everything was moving so slow inside my head. Trying to formulate a sentence was difficult for me.

It took some time, but I eventually recovered and went right back to my insane ways for the next twenty-four years. In 1995, I finally stopped using drugs and alcohol by going through three years of therapy to address the personal issues that made me want to drink and use, and then by getting involved with twelve-step programs to learn the spiritual approach. Today, I do service work at the meetings and by sponsoring people. I remain willing to do God’s will in my life by helping others recover. I feel that I am blessed with each day that I wake up, and especially when I see the lives of others transformed through God’s love and power, as was mine.

I am grateful to have survived my suicidal tendencies. I hope and pray that if someone thinking of suicide reads this article, that they change their mind, because suicide is not the solution. Feelings come and go, good and bad ones alike, and if God was able to save me and give me a life worth living, then He will do it for them too.

I realize that it is only by the grace of God that I am still alive and
have a brain that works.

I am thankful that the prayers of Brother Price and his family were more powerful than the mega dose of PCP that I had done. Today, I am glad that I was afraid of hell because if I hadn’t been, I would have stayed in my bedroom and waited for the inevitable.

A great gift to inspire others who struggle with change!