Category Archives: Uncategorized

B.O.P. Censorship

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

A 39-year old young lady who worked for the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), died due to contracting the Coronavirus; however, to date, the BOP still does not acknowledge her death as an employee, as is shown in the following quotation taken from the BOP website on April 23, 2020:

COVID-19 Cases

The BOP has 143,136 federal inmates in BOP-managed institutions and 10,331 in community-based facilities. The BOP staff complement is approximately 36,000. As of 04/23/2020, there are 620 federal inmates and 357 BOP staff who have confirmed positive test results for COVID-19 nationwide. Currently, 302 inmates and 53 staff have recovered. There have been 24 federal inmate deaths and 0 BOP staff member deaths attributed to COVID-19 disease.

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

Those numbers are updated each day; however, since Ms. Robin Grubbs died earlier this month, who was a case manager at the United States Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia, died from COVID-19, the BOP website continues to not report her death on their website.

WONDERFULTHINGSDONE

Clients of WonderfulThingsDone and StraightFromthePen.com include incarcerated individuals who receive periodic updates to help them understand why the BOP elected to keep them locked down or otherwise managed under tighter security protocols than normal.

The message posted below was rejected by at least one institution; however, several other institutions do have competent staff who are capable of comprehending legal requirements and have complied with the law and chose not to violate the First Amendment to the United States Constitution that guarantees the Freedom of the Press.

At least two inmates were denied their right to read publicly available information about the world in which they live, which I conclude because I received two of the notifications shown below that will conclude this blog post.

From: admin@inmatemessage.com
Date: 4/21/2020 7:51:14 AM
Subject: Return To Sender: BOP Silenced Death of BOP Employee

Message:
This message informs you that your below electronic message to the above-named Federal prisoner is REJECTED and will not be delivered for the following reason(s): * The content of your message jeopardizes the safety, security, or orderly operation of the correctional facility, or the protection of the public.The prisoner to whom you sent this message is NOT being informed of this rejection.You may appeal this rejection within 15 days of the date of this message by submitting a written request to the warden of the prison where the prisoner is located. You should include a copy of this rejection, an explanation of your appeal request, and any additional documents or information you wish to be considered. See Below for Spanish/Ver abajo para leer en espa?ol

Este mensaje le informa que su mensaje electr?nico al preso federal susodicho FUE RECHAZADO y no ser? entregado por la siguiente raz?n(es):* El contenido de su mensaje compromete la seguridad, o la operaci?n ordenada de la facilidad correccional, o de la protecci?n del p?blico.El preso a quien usted envi? este mensaje NO ser? informado de este mensaje rechazado.Usted puede apelar este rechazo dentro del plazo de 15 d?as de la fecha de este mensaje enviando una petici?n por escrito al guardia de la prisi?n donde se localiza el preso. Usted debe incluir una copia de este rechazo, una explicaci?n de su apelacion, y de documentos o informaci?n adicionales que usted desee ser considerada.

——–Original Message——–

Date: 4/20/2020 9:17:35 PM
From: info@straightfromthepen.com
To: 98612004@inmatemessage.com
Subject: BOP Silenced Death of BOP Employee

The United States Federal Bureau of Prisons does not report the death of this beautiful young lady who died working for them. Robin Grubbs was a case manager but the following BOP Report and all of those issued since Ms. Grubbs death from Coronavirus, do not mention or list her as a staff member who died from the Coronavirus.

“The BOP has 143,705 federal inmates in BOP-managed institutions and 10,225 in community-based facilities. The BOP staff complement is approximately 36,000. As of 04/20/2020, there are 497 federal inmates and 319 BOP staff who have confirmed positive test results for COVID-19 nationwide. Currently, 205 inmates and 33 staff have recovered. There have been 22 federal inmate deaths and 0 BOP staff member deaths attributed to COVID-19 disease.”

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/coronavirus-death-robin-grubbs-atlanta-federal-penitentiary-workers-criticize-covid-19-response/

“She was promoted a month before her death. Coworkers say she was never moved into her new role, away from sick inmates

“By Cassidy McDonald
April 20, 2020 / 6:17 PM / CBS News

“After a 39-year-old federal prison employee died and later tested positive for the new coronavirus, employees are speaking up about what they said are unsafe conditions at the facility where she worked.

“The Bureau of Prisons on Friday confirmed its first staff death potentially due to COVID-19. Robin Grubbs, a caseworker at the United States Penitentiary in Atlanta, was found dead in her home Tuesday and posthumously tested positive for the virus,
a BOP spokesperson said.

“CBS News spoke with four correctional officers at USP Atlanta who complained of insufficient access to protective equipment and inconsistent communication about how many staff and inmates were infected at any given time.

“‘Already, it’s a stressful job. Already, you don’t ever know what you’re walking into, but to add this on, this pandemic, where it could jump on you and just take your life away like that, it’s mind-boggling. It’s terrifying,” said one correctional officer who was a close friend of Grubbs.

“Grubbs’s office, employees said, was located in the “Baker 3” unit, a previously empty area where the facility had begun to house inmates who were sick or exposed to the coronavirus. One friend said Grubbs had talked about not being provided with equipment to stay safe and that she was trying to get out of the unit.

“Grubbs was most recently a case manager and employees remembered her as a hard worker who just last month had scored a promotion to a job helping released inmates transition back into society. The position would have landed her an office in a different building. As the illness spread, she told friends she repeatedly asked to assume her new position and move to her new office but was never able to start her new job.

“Taneka Miller, Grubbs’s colleague and executive secretary of the union representing USP Atlanta employees, said she spoke to Grubbs last week. “She was like, ‘Girl. Oh my God, they won’t let me go for whatever reason. I’m so ready to go. I’m so ready to go,” Miller said.

“Jacquetta Rosemond, union treasurer and paint worker supervisor at USP Atlanta, was surprised that Grubbs hadn’t moved to a different floor. As a case manager for the Baker unit, Grubbs would have been assigned to work with inmates on the first two floors of the building, but not with the sick and isolated inmates in Baker 3, Rosemond said.

“‘She didn’t even get to go to her new job,” Rosemond said. “There was really no reason for her to stay on that unit Those particular inmates in that unit were not on her caseload.”

“‘Everything was on backorder”

“A former colleague said that when the illness first hit the federal prison system, Grubbs tried to purchase her own mask. “All she kept telling me was that she didn’t want to catch the COVID-19. So she personally bought some masks, but, you know, everything was on backorder,” the colleague said.

“Miller said even surgical masks weren’t readily available until last week when the prison began providing them weekly to each staff member. Three employees who ran into Grubbs in other units in the facility the week before she died said they saw her wearing either no mask or a surgical mask, and none said they had seen her with an N-95 mask.

“Employees said that each USP Atlanta staff member would have had access to at least one N-95 mask starting around the end of March, but they needed to be fit-tested first. But Rosemond and Miller said that some officers weren’t tested until April, while others were unwilling to reuse their single N-95 mask day after day..

“When asked about the availability of masks, claims of inconsistent communication and when Grubbs was scheduled to assume her new role, a Bureau of Prisons spokesperson on Sunday sent the following statement: “We can acknowledge the death of an employee at USP Atlanta, however, there is no information or evidence relating to a cause of death.” The agency declined to comment on the specific concerns raised by staff.

“Rosemond and Miller told CBS News in March that Atlanta employees many of whom are charged with patting down hundreds of inmates per day could not reliably access gloves. Some staff members would purchase and wear their own gloves, Miller said, but many didn’t own their own gloves and would use bare hands to pat-search inmates.

“Rosemond and Miller said management distributed more PPE this month, but access remains inconsistent and many staff wished it had come sooner.
“Word of mouth”

“For weeks, Atlanta employees have told CBS News they wished management would notify them more frequently about the number of staff and inmate cases at the facility.

“‘The communication is horrible. It’s late, it’s last minute, and it’s not full information,” Miller said. “It’s like they’re sitting on the information.”

“Miller said 13 days after she was allegedly exposed to the virus on the job, a member of the medical staff contacted her and informed her that she’d been exposed. Because the incubation period was only 14 days and she hadn’t experienced any symptoms, the staff member told her that she should come back to work for her next shift.

“‘I was highly pissed off,” Miller said. “I come home to a 2-year-old every day who does not have the best immune system.”

“After the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Medical Examiner’s Office informed BOP that Grubbs had posthumously tested positive for COVID-19, Woods sent a memo Friday to notify staff.

“A BOP spokesperson said that Grubbs’s official cause of death has not yet been determined, as her autopsy is not yet complete.

“Prior to last week, three staff members told CBS News they were only officially informed of one inmate and two staff cases of COVID-19 at the Atlanta prison. On Thursday, Woods said in an email to staff that the facility had “six staff and 12 inmate positive cases for COVID-19.” On Friday, the BOP publicly reported three staff and eight inmate positive cases.

“Atlanta employees said they were confused by the discrepancy. Other than those two emails, Rosemond said, “everything else was word of mouth.”

“‘I don’t feel safe,” another correctional officer said. “We’re not being informed of how the numbers have changed.”

“When asked about the discrepancy, a BOP spokesperson said, “The positive test numbers are based on the most recently available confirmed lab results involving open cases from across the agency as reported by the BOP’s Office of Occupational Health and Safety. BOP field sites may report additional updates throughout the day. Data on the dashboard is subject to change based on additional reporting by field sites.”

“As of Sunday, the Bureau of Prison said 495 federal inmates and 309 staffers have tested positive for COVID-19 nationwide. A total of 155 inmates and 29 staff have recovered from the disease, while 21 inmates have died. Since Attorney General William Barr encouraged the use of home detention on March 21, a total of 1,280 inmates have been sent to home confinement.

“Rosemond said that as a case manager, Grubbs was at level 11 in the federal service pay scale, which would have put her annual salary somewhere between $67,437 and $87,667.

“Earlier this month, the union that represents prison staff, as well as 700,000 other federal employees, filed a class-action lawsuit against the BOP and other agencies for Hazard Pay, which would increase their hourly wage by up to 25%. The BOP declined to comment on the lawsuit.

“The lawsuit alleges a pattern of employee exposure to COVID-19 due to lax safety standards. The complaint highlights the case of one BOP employee at FCI Oakdale who was given only gloves to wear as personal protective equipment while escorting an inmate to a nearby hospital. The employee later learned the inmate was sick with COVID-19.

“Grubb’s final days
“Grubbs’s colleagues described her as someone who savored life. She was a passionate Atlanta Falcons fan and loved trying new restaurants, a work friend said, especially if seafood was involved. She traveled often and was constantly looking forward to her next trip, according to the friend, who said they’d recently fantasized about taking a trip to Belize this fall after the pandemic calmed down.

“Grubbs was an Army veteran and leaves behind her brother, parents, two grandmothers, and her beloved Yorkie named Louie.

“On April 10, she posted a video of her parents after they had dropped off a “Corona Care Package” filled with cough medicine, ginger ale and hand sanitizer. She wrote, “Airhugs because Corona is everywhere at this point… How did I get so lucky?'”

LEVIATHAN – Giving Name to the Prison Industrial Complex

By Abdul-Jalil Rashid Al-Imarah (S. Baptiste)

Paid content is as submitted, other than minor editorial changes. Straight from the Pen does not express any opinion on the subject matter or content or the validity of any statement or claim made.

“The American Prison System has grown into a leviathan unmatched in human history. The financial costs entailed are staggering, and extent of human suffering endured boggles the mind.” [1]

We live in a complicated world. We are bombarded with questions as well as skepticism regarding our various stances on multiple issues. The world today as we know it is tremendously different than yesterday. It is the age of global activism and advocacy. Where international crisis constantly buzz across our news feed. Atrocities, mayhem, and scandals. A time of global unrest sparked by economic inequality, lack of social justice, climate change, imperial military interventions under the guise of humanitarian intent, terrorism, and civil wars. The new issues we are forced to address by way of them becoming prominent in the media such as #MeToo movement, LGBQT, immigration, genocide, Islamophobia and everything else in the motley menagerie of issues that the talking heads of punditry and demagoguery tells us are important, have multiplied.

Well I’m going to tackle two issues that are significant yet overlooked: Mass incarceration and immigration, sometimes focusing on one more than the other. Mass incarceration has a great and radical impact upon the immigration experience. In a way it even defines and shapes the narrative of such. Especially in a time when the head of the US executive branch is publicly branding the majority of immigrants from Latin American countries as ‘rapists, crooks, thieves, gang members, and murderers,’ and increasing the number of deportations, restrictions on visa criteria, and banning many Africans, Arabs, and South East Asians from Muslim majority nations from entering the US, it becomes of greater importance.

From those detained at the border, sweeps conducted by ICE, all the way to those facing deportation following their arrest, its impact is felt in many ways. The shambles and disarray which we call the ‘American Justice System’ continues to baffle people around the world.[2] Mass incarceration is a monster. A beast. It is more than a system or network of interconnecting policies and agencies. To avoid being overbroad and too general as well as not being too specific enough, we will personify ‘Mass Incarceration’ as simply one entity that we shall term ‘Leviathan’.

 How pervasive is all of this and how far do its tentacles reach? We shall start off by way of introduction to this matter by quoting one reform advocate, “The US has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s prison populations. Congress creates 50 crimes every year. That’s 500 things that were legal a decade ago that are now felonies. It’s no wonder the prisons are full.” [3]

People hailing from countries with progressive policies governing their criminal justice system such as Sweden, Norway, the U.K, Germany and others are appalled by the length and conditions of sentences that prisoners in America are subjected to. [4] Even countries from the so-called third world scratch their heads at things which the US government criminalizes. As one reform advocate noted ‘… The rest of the world looks at us and shakes its collective head, especially our European allies.” [5] 

Many people have begun to grow vocal about prison reform and the plight of prisoners. This is from judges, lawyers, social scientists, legislators, law students, civil liberty groups, all the way up to the president. So, what equips me or makes me fit to discuss this complex and great issue? Firsthand experience. As a first-generation child of immigrants from Haiti, an Islamist activist, political prisoner, a victim and one of the living casualty of Leviathan. Though I am relying on basically the same data used and available to others who speak on this matter, I am bringing to the equation and table a fact which sets me apart; the passion and zeal that only a prisoner can bring.

Crime is basically a violation of enacted laws. Yet manmade laws are fluid and so they constantly change. [6] Laws are what make criminals; the criminalization of acts or activities thus becomes the origin of all criminals. This may seem like circular logic but bear with me and keep reading to see the basis for this claim and others. An example of this is how the FDA treats some controlled substances. Some medicines used in other countries are banned and considered harmful and illegal as controlled substances.[7] Criminal cases stemming from this are not uncommon. Things like counter the narrative of the ‘American Dream’. 

People come to this country for opportunities, yet they have no idea that the monster Leviathan exists until confronted. Individuals are deported for mere traffic violations. Since police are the enforcers of law and have arrest powers, whenever they act within their wide latitude of their discretion into what we know as racial profiling, this has a negative impact on those minority immigrant populations. When a wave of unrest is fomented by arcane laws and incomprehensible legal technicalities you will have law abiding aliens panic about the possibility of their status being revoked or being caught up in a sweep. Many immigrants know of a person who has been deported or ordered removed. Or they have heard of a family or individual within their own ethnic group who have been affected by such.[8]

ICE agents are conducting sweeps and raids like Nazi Germany or Soviet Gestapo’s herding off people to concentration camps. And we shouldn’t be naive and think that that there are not similarities between then and now regardless of the obvious difference in the age we live in from those previous time periods. We’ve learned nothing at all from the war detention of Japanese Americans. During World War II Asians in general and specifically Japanese who were living their lives as law abiding citizens were rounded up and taken to internment camps. Executive order no. 9066 gave the authority that was affirmed by the United States Supreme Court that ‘Japs’ couldn’t be trusted and had to be ‘dealt with’ [9- German/media]

That is an irremovable stain from US history. Since that particular episode, the US government has classified and further detained more American citizens as ‘enemy combatants’ in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba via its executive branch. In illegal maneuvering, it has conducted extra judicial killings of American citizens overseas by way of armed militarized drones in the way and manner dealt to American citizen and popular Muslim cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki in Yemen and countless other Americans in Syria. The psyche of the nation or at least the mentality of its leaders and policy makers has not shifted nor pivoted away from such.

For following the attack on Pearl Harbor, many Japanese Americans were locked up without due process. In the same, more than half a century later Arab Americans, Middle Easterners, Muslims, and Southeast Asians were rounded up after September 11th (9/11). [10] A country that prides itself on being open and free has twice initiated Nazi Gestapo tactics as if it were dispatching SS squads to round up those whom it finds disagreeable in an ideological and racist manner.

“…there are millions of lives being destroyed or distorted because we haven’t fully thought through our process”- Obama [11]

“We already know that the massive waste of life in our prisons is morally troubling’- Kwame Anthony Appiah [12]

The incarcerated (or victims of Leviathan as I prefer) are left broken, chained, and tethered to their fate, which is captivity and detention. Yet in such circumstances there are those who are resilient and use whatever means at their disposal to undermine the titan by which they have been ensnared. From advocacy and raising awareness of discriminatory and repressive policies and laws, highlighting, and spreading word about the reality of incarceration as well as the conditions of prison. These are examples of ways in which the incarcerated resist the system that holds them in captivity. And by way of the same is the intent of this essay. Taking advantage of the impotent reprieve known as the grievance procedure or otherwise ‘Administrative remedies’, along with others, the most constant form of resistance is never giving up or accepting their condition with a sense of resignation or fatalism.

The incarcerated have joined the national dialogue termed ‘prison reformation’ as the most committed advocates. Yet the fact that they have become participants does not mean that they will be effective nor are they guaranteed an audience, as censorship is rife behind the steel heavy bars and concrete wall. Christopher Zoukis and Imam Jamal AL Amin are among whose voices have been heard above the dull crescendo, and they have become prominent yet still remain as constant victims of censorship.

A liberated world would first and foremost mean the complete and final eradication of Leviathan, at least ideally. It would not be some fantastic utopia nor anarchy and chaos. Rather a balance between the two is sought. Human beings will continue to behave recklessly, and some will always seek to trample the rights of others through some sort of transgression. So, there must always exist means to combat these tendencies and behaviors. Whenever crime exists in society there must always be sufficient and just deterrence and punishment. [13]

Alternatives to prisons should seriously be considered for most non-violent offenses and even violent offenses if committed by those suffering from mental illnesses and juveniles who are not yet adults. Within the 94 federal judicial districts there are only 22 alternatives to incarceration programs. [14] Funding should be diverted from other ineffective government programs to fund and create more of these programs. An increase of funding and reform of in-place re-entry program is needed. Pell grants should be restored to prisoners so they can overcome the ignorance of their criminality and open more avenues that will not include a path to crime by being qualified for better jobs and/or careers. Incentives to prosecutors that reward conviction rates and the length of sentences they seek as well as the incentives to judges who are rewarded for the lengthy sentences imposed in the climate of ‘tough on crime’ politics should be eliminated.

I could see a world where applicants for a job would be free to discuss their criminal history during the job interview without fear of automatic disqualification. A world where people will not be in jail for the sole reason of poverty. [15] A world where correctional departments do not shackle pregnant women. A world where after paying their debt to society a prisoner can easily tread up and down the pathway to success. But we are a long way from there. Unfortunately, there are many obstacles. Lack of training, along with the wrong incentives, make probation departments a tool for recidivism and not for re-integration into society. Ex-prisoners are confronted with the reality of their second-class citizen status each and every time that they fill out a job application that immediately places them into one of two categories, those with a prison history and those without,  [16] before they are even considered for the job. A study published by the Prison Policy Initiative has noted that the ex-prisoner rate of unemployment is “higher than the total US unemployment rate during any historical period, including the Great Depression”. [17] The study agrees with the findings that I’ve previously mentioned that ‘formerly incarcerated people want to work, but face structural barriers to securing employment.” “This perpetual labor market punishment creates a counter-productive system of release and poverty, hurting everyone involved: employers, the taxpayers, and certainly formerly incarcerated people looking to break the cycle.” [18]

A proper ‘Justice’ system would truly have a semblance of justice and enable a smooth transition for prisoners into society. This does not mean that Leviathan remains an unchallenged dragon that no valiant knights have confronted. Nay, there many pioneers from private citizens to organizations who attempt to tackle or ease the harmful effects of mass incarceration, but unless this beast is slayed or methodically euthanized it will only continue to spell trouble for millions of people who are victims. 

There exists a parasitic trickle-down pyramid scheme erected for a minority composed of  indifferent legislators, police unions, bail bondsmen, bounty hunters, lawyers (prosecutors and some defense attorneys), judges, probation officers, correctional guards and their unions – who benefit at the expense of the lives of prisoners, their families, and society at large. I don’t doubt that some may be skeptics and doubt just how bad the current makeup of the justice system is, so I will break down some statistics.

Citing one expert familiar with the data: ‘America’s sentences of imprisonment on average are five to ten times longer than those of France, and much longer than those of Germany…. [I]imprisonment has become the moral mode of dealing with crime in America”. [19] The following statistics were selected from public records of California:

*Nearly 70% of female inmates are non-violent offenders

*2/3 are convicted for property or drug related offenses.

*Over 1/2 of males convicted for violent offenses while only 30% of women convicted for the same.

*4/10 [female] inmates were physically or sexually abused before 18

* Approximately 67% of incarcerated women [there] are mothers, most are single parents and primary caregivers.

* [CA] has about 10,000 female inmates – more than other state

* Incarceration rate for female offenders has doubled over last 20 years.

I’ve chosen to highlight data coming out of California for the following reason: 1) It is one of the top 3 states with the largest prison population and highest incarceration rate [20];  2) People often assume that only conservative states or those run by Republicans are the main perpetrators of mass incarceration, 3) Data regarding female offenders was more easily available.

Now take a hard look at the above. Contemplate and ponder how this is perpetuated on a larger level when it comes to the whole prison population including state and federal. How many women (and parents in general) are taken from their children? How many children are themselves led to criminal behavior due to the trauma exacted upon them from having their parent taken away? How many of these children of prisoners are forced into foster homes, while being placed in one increases the likelihood that a person will turn to crime later in life? Americans need to rethink their institutions. The public have been told that there is an ‘Opioid Crisis’ in America.  The so-called ‘War on drugs’ continues despite findings from researchers and independent reporters and mainstream media such as NPR that the people most affected by it are drug users, children, and other relatives. Yet we still see mass incarceration being perpetuated and continue. 

Is Leviathan a beast that is never satisfied and its jaws like an abyss from which there is no way out? Has it become so powerful that there is a real fear of speaking against it? In the textbooks of schools and even university courses focusing on criminal justice, there is no serious thought given to combating mass incarceration. The data is out, yet we talk only about the effects and not the causes. Foolish would be a field of medicine where the doctors discuss only the symptoms of disease, and not its treatment or cure. Suffice to mention its effect on immigrants and minority population is to know that over 60% of prisoners are black or Hispanic (due to census categories this include foreigners from other countries with no slot listed to check). The DOJ has publicly stated that BOP is 38% over-crowded. So there exists not only mass incarceration but over-incarceration as well.

Things are simply messed up and to fix it we must first realize this. As Helen Keller said: “I had once believed that we were all masters of our fate- that we could mold our lives into any form we pleased… and I supposed that everyone could come out victorious if he threw himself valiantly into life’s struggle. But as I went more about the country, I learned that I had spoken with assurance on a subject I knew little about. I learned that the power to rise in the world is not within the reach of everyone.”[21]

Footnotes: 1.Glenn C. Loury & Bruce Western ‘The Challenge of Mass Incarceration in America’ in Daedalus: Journal of the academy of Arts and Science (Summer 2010) 2.-‘ The rest of the world looks at us and shakes its collective head especially our European allies.” John Kirakou 3.- John Kiriakou 4. For the same crimes American are incarcerated 2x long as English prisoners, 3x as long as Canadians, 4x as Dutch, 10x as French and 5x as Swedish prisoners. 5. Quote by John Kiriakou. ‘China is an authoritarian nation with 3x the population of the US yet the U.S still incarcerate more than it. The national incarceration rate of the US is 737 per 100,000 is more than Russia’s 581 per 100,000[and] much higher than those of peer nations with democratic, market-based economies such countries incarcerate between 36 and 196 per 100,000.”- Nicola Lacey ‘American Imprisonment in Comparative Perspective’ in Daedalus Sumer 2010 6. In the era of Prohibition alcohol was banned in the US and declared illegal yet before that period of ‘Prohibition’ and afterwards it was considered licit. This is similar to what is going on with the new pressing issue today to determine if Marijuana (Cannabis) should be a licit drug or not. This is the utter confusion and inconsistency which these laws and system leave the civilian while also baffling its enactors. 7. There was an incident with a man from the Republic of Georgia who came to the US (specifically Miami, FL) for vacation. As he was in Customs, his luggage was being inspected, he was then arrested for possession and ‘trafficking’ of controlled substances. His thyroid medication wasn’t FDA approved and with the quantity he had with him he was charged and arrested for trafficking. 8. ” If the banishment of an alien from a country in which he has been invited, as the asylum most auspicious to his happiness- a country where he may have formed the most tender connexons, where he may have vested his entire property, and acquired property of the real and permanent, as well as the movable and temporary kind; where he enjoys  under the laws a greater share of the blessings of personal security and personal liberty than he can elsewhere hope for [;]… if a banishment of this sort be not a punishment, and among the severest of punishments, it will be difficult to imagine a term to which that name can be applied.’ -James Madison inveighing against Aliens and Sedition Acts.  In ‘Letters and other writings of James Madison’ (Cornell University 2009). The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1778 curtailed many rights that people enjoyed. Woodrow Wilson and Congress something similar in 1918 called the Sedition Act and it has been described as the most serious attack on American civil liberties since 1178 Act which was short lived.  9. Whenever America is at war it demonizes its enemies along with those who look or resemble them in appearance thought, religion, or philosophy. This was done with Native Americans, Japanese Americans, German Americans, Communist, and Muslims. From both World wars, the Cold War until Post 9/11 which we are now in. This is done through their policies implemented at airports, immigration, policing, and the media. Woodrow Wilson and the DOJ allowed what was called the Creel Committee on Public information to publish ads or wanted posters for ‘German spies’. Its perpetuated mass suspicion and employed citizens to report on the activities of their neighbors. Public distrust was at an all-time high. In 1920 President Wilson vetoed a bill that would have abolished the Espionage Act of June 1917 and the 1918 Seditions Act. 10. Policy guides and direct everything that contributes to mass incarceration. As we can see today under the Trump administration where his anti-where policies have caused the arrest of legal and undocumented immigrants to skyrocket. After Bush enacted the PATRIOT ACT the same happened; there was an increase of Muslims and Middle Easterners who were arrested and/or had immigration removal proceeding initiated against them. 11. Michael Scherer Dec 19, 2012 Times 2012 person of the year. 12. The Washington Post, ‘What will future generations condemn us for?’ Sep. 26, 2010 13. Before the American Revolution, colonial courts fashioned sentences with three basic purposes in mind: to punish the offender for his crime, thereby satisfying society’s desire for retribution to deter others from committing the same crime by demonstrating its disadvantageous consequences; and to incapacitate the wrongdoer, so as to protect society from further criminal activity. -United States v. Scroggins 880 F.2d L204, 1206 (11th Cir. 1989). In the 1800’s, penological experts became “dissatisfied with the failure of prisons to rehabilitate inmates,” and rehabilitation became a fourth basis of sentencing. yet America’s system has failed at that objective in a very drastic way. See also Arthur W. Campbell, ‘The Law of Sentencing (2009) 14. Many counties, and states have begun to see the benefit of alternative to prison programs, sadly though the ‘benefits’ they consider is only in regard to taxpayers’ money. Earlier in 2018 the Brennan Center released a criminal justice agenda which offers option for reforming local prosecutors’ incentives. Jan. 2017 Ohio launched T-CAP (Targeted Community Alternative to Prison), under it the state/county pays penalty for every person sent to prison for certain low class felonies and it forces them to reprioritize whom they lock up. Illinois implemented ARI (Adult Redeploy Illinois) in 2009 which works though grants to counties so that they can develop alternatives to incarceration, problem solving courts, enhanced probation, and other alternatives. Such a program on a larger scale can only hope to succeed and a reformed criminal justice system would prioritize programs like this over incarceration. 15. “Liberty is precious to Americans and any deprivation must be scrutinized. To protect public safety and ensure that those accused of a crime will appear at trial, persons charged with breaking the law may be detained before their guilt or innocence can be adjudicated, but that detention must not extend beyond its justifications. Many who are arrested cannot afford a bail bond and remain in jail awaiting a hearing. Though presumed innocent, they lose their jobs and families, and are more likely to re-offend. And if all of this weren’t bad enough, taxpayers must shoulder the cost-a staggering, $1 billion per year.” – The Honorable Nathan L. Hecht, Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court, remarks delivered to the 85th Texas legislature, Feb. 1, 2017. There is a joint lawsuit against Harris County by former inmates alleging that it deprived them, and others similarly situated, of due process and detaining them because of their inability to pay a secured money bond. A 22-year-old single parent was arrested for driving without a valid license.  She had a $2,500 bond which she was not able to pay. She struggled to meet the basic necessities of life and was a recipient the federal welfare program WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) to feed her daughter and lived with a friend because she couldn’t afford housing. She was working a stable job that she held for 7 days at the time. She was released after 3 days due to assistance by a generous individual who heard of her situation. Another 22-year-old pregnant and single woman in worst circumstances who had a child with Down’s syndrome spent 4 days due to her inability to pay a bond. This is the reason that many advocates are demanding a removal of cash bond which the state of California has become one of the first to do so. The aforementioned case is Maranda Lynn O’Donnell V. Harris County (Texas) April 28, 2017. Hostages of Leviathan who are held for ransom, basically. 16. One with a criminal history and one without. Human Rights Defense Center has said that incarceration status should be on list of protected classes when it comes to discrimination such as Race, ethnicity, religion, gender, age, and disability. 17. PPI Study released July 2018 title ‘Out of prison & out of work’, which finds that ‘27% of an estimated 5 million ex-offenders are unemployed or around 1,350,000 compared to national unemployment rate of 4%. 18.Ibid 19. Joshua Kleinfeild, The Concept of Evil in German and American Criminal Punishment http//ssrn.com/author+151440 19. (Working paper Sep.9,2010) 20. They included Florida, Texas, and California. Largest incarceration rate and prison population. 21. Helen Keller [Midstream: My Later Life (New York; Greenwood, 1968 (1929) p.156]

Author Bio: My name is Abdul-Jalil Rashid Al-Imarah (S. Baptiste) and I am a political prisoner unjustly being held in an American prison due to political and religious views. I am an Islamist, Poet, and writer. I also enjoy engaging discussions about social justice, Shari’ah, and political science. I’m an avid reader and can be reached at: Samuel Baptiste #09681-104, FDC Miami, PO BOX 019120,  Miami, FL 33101

Happy Easter in 2020

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

(This blog post has a religious tone, so if that is something anyone finds offensive, then perhaps its best to find another blog to read. Check the different categories to find something of interest. Thanks! )

Easter of 2020 will be remembered for all the wrong reasons, with thousands of people prohibited from assembling in crowds larger than ten people: some will rebel and meet anyways in the name of the Lord.

In 2019 I wrote the blog I will conclude with: a Special Break from the Status Quo. Thousands have died from Coronavirus-related illnesses and the numbers will continue to rise for an unspecified time.

Many countries and states have ordered citizens to stay at home, to practice social distancing, wear face masks, and to take other safety precautions to stop the spread of the Coronavirus.

Hundreds of thousands of families and church members will not assemble on April 12, 2020, to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ or get to go spend time with friends, family, and loved ones.

Thousands of people across the globe are mourning the deaths of loved ones. The Coronavirus has infected almost 500,000 in the United States and killed over 18,500 people.

Some churches will use social media and the Internet to get the word out that Christ has risen from the dead. Other church members will not allow fear to stop them from filling the churches to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The United States Department of Justice warned law enforcement about trying to stop religious gatherings.

Religious gatherings are exempt from the Stay at Home orders.

The United States Constitution guarantees the separation of church and state.

Pope Francis urged people not to yield to fear over coronavirus.

Fear will trump the faith of millions of believers on Easter of 2020.

Each person must do what he or she feels needs to be done to protect life and liberty, including the life and liberty of others entrusted to their care.

Coronavirus Kills! Faith Heals!

And now for a personal message:

A Special Break from the Status Quo

Happy Easter to those who believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Each of us, believers and unbelievers of the miracle of the resurrection, may use this special day in the Christian faith to pray to a power greater than ourselves and to ask for the spirit of forgiveness; to forgive someone who may have offended or harmed us.

Resentment, a poison to the soul; freedom from resentment opens the door for a better life.

Whether you believe in a power greater than yourself or not, let the day be special by being grateful for the life you have, perfect or not. Know that you are loved for being who you are, regardless of whether you believe or do not believe in a power greater than yourself.

The love is free that flows from a special place in our hearts where the spirit lives. My hope is that each you get to experience the pleasure of love today and every day. Wayne

Coronavirus Updates and WTD4U for Prisoners

COVID-19

WonderfulThingsDone, doing business as WTD4U, provides limited services to predominantly federal prisoners, those held within the walls, bars, and fences of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons. One service includes sending periodic blog posts to keep the incarcerated informed about events and activities or topics of concern to the inmate population, such as prison or criminal justice reform.

On April 2, 2020, I sent the following information to many prisoners through Corrlinks.com, a service federal prisoners pay to use for sending and receiving emails:

Coronavirus numbers on the inside and outside continue to grow.

“I hope that each of you is staying safe and sane in the ever-changing situation going on with the Coronavirus pandemic.  It’s tough being locked down and feeling helpless over so many aspects of life on the inside and life outside of the prison walls.  But we, as humans, will survive and get past this, one day at a time.

“Staff and inmates alike have a significant issue to deal with as the virus continues to spread inside the walls of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons, as well as for those of us in the free society. And even though it may be tough to deal with the conditions of a lockdown, especially if having to eat sack lunches and having limited access to showers, cleaning supplies, telephones, Trulincs/Corrlinks, and recreational activities, I feel most will agree that the lockdown is necessary to minimize the damage caused by this virus ravaging the population of the world at large.

“Here are the numbers listed today (April 2, 2020) for the B.O.P.  The numbers increased from 57-inmates yesterday to 75 today, and from 37-staff yesterday to 39 today.  https://www.bop.gov/coronavirus/index.jsp

COVID-19 Tested Positive Cases

Inmates:  75

Staff:  39

“(Inmate) 4/02/2020 – USP Atlanta (5); FMC Butner (10); USP Canaan; FCI Danbury (15); FCI Elkton (2); FCC Forrest City (2); FCC Lompoc (12); MCC New York (4); FCC Oakdale (12); FCI Otisville; FCC Yazoo City (4); RRC Brooklyn, NY (4); RRC Janesville, WI; RRC Phoenix, AZ; FLM Guam

“(Staff) 4/02/2020 – Atlanta, GA (3); Brooklyn, NY (4); Butner, NC; Chicago, IL (3); Danbury, CT (4); Leavenworth, KS (no inmate contact); Lompoc, CA; Milan, MI; New York, NY (5); Oakdale, LA (4); Otisville, NY; Ray Brook, NY (2); Talladega, AL (2); Tucson, AZ; Yazoo, MS (3); Central Office, Washington, DC; Grand Prairie, TX; Southeast Regional Office, Atlanta, GA

“Here are some numbers that show the magnitude of the worldwide effect.  The April 2, 2020, updated report issued at 2:35 pm EST, on the spread of the Coronavirus is as follows:

“Total Confirmed Cases:  981,221

“Active cases:  726,386

“Fatal cases:  50,230

Sample of Select Countries Affected:  United States:  235,787; Italy:  115,242; Spain:  110,238; Germany:  84,264; China (mainland):  81,589; France:  56,989; Iran:  50,468; United Kingdom:  33,718; Switzerland:  18,267; Turkey:  18,135; Belgium:  15,348; Netherlands:  14,697; Canada:  11,060; Austria:  10,967; South Korea:  9,976; Portugal:  9,034; Brazil:  7,011; Israel:  6,211; Sweden:  5,568; Australia:  5,136.

“(Numbers from COVID-19 Tracker ( https://www.bing.com/covid ))

“Every day I watch the data grow on reported cases of the Coronavirus, especially in the State of Georgia and local counties therein.  The good thing is that most people who contract the coronavirus will survive and live to fight another day, but that doesn’t negate the seriousness of this social problem affecting almost everyone in some way.  Each one of us can only control our impact and contribution towards the resolution of the pandemic by doing what we can to minimize the spread of the virus, where possible.

“In the prison setting where needed supplies are limited or prohibited, and disinformation runs rampant about what’s being done to stop the spread of the Coronavirus, each person can only do what is within their control:

1) Limit close contact with others where possible (impossible when locked in a cell with another person who may not have sanitary habits).

2) If you cough, cough inside your elbow rather than your hand, since coughing in your hand and touching objects spreads germs.

3) Take precautions by wash hands frequently, and especially before touching the eyes, nose, or mouth, after having touched a surface or other person.

4) And what works for me, take additional vitamin C to help the immune system stay strong, and for throat irritation from a cold or allergy or other illness, use a Lemon Squeeze to add one teaspoon of lemon juice into one cup of water as warm as you can stand it to gargle with, two-three times per day.

5) do regular deep-breathing exercises to increase the oxygen level inside the body (viruses and diseases thrive in low oxygenated environments, including our bodies).

“(If interested in breathing exercises that help reduce stress and improves our health, according to Dr. Andrew Weil, MD, send email to info@wtd4u.com to request more info.)

“I hope some of the above information provides something you can use to stay safe and to help live with better health.  Let me know if you wish to be excluded from this type of email.”

COVID-19 CONTINUES ITS RAMPAGE ACROSS AMERICA

Within a matter of hours after posting the numbers from the COVID-19 TRACKER, by 2:25 am, Eastern Standard Time, the number of those infected topped one million, 245,175 cases in the United States.

Globally, a total of 53,069 known people have died from COVID-19 since health official began tracking the current rampage.

When the United States Bureau of Prisons updates their website at 3:00 pm today (April 3, 2020), I expect those numbers to have also grown.

Statistics cannot show all who have been infected with or died from the Coronavirus, because there is not a way for anyone to know about the devastating effects of a virus that may lay inside a person’s body, undiscovered, infecting those who come near enough to inhale droplets from a cough or sneeze, or who touch an item or surface where the germs cannot be seen with the naked eye.

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to learn more about what may be done to protect yourself from contracting this deadly virus, follow the recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which you may find at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html

Coronavirus Fear Inside Prisons

Photo by Felipe Vallin on Pexels.com

Coronavirus

Information concerning the coronavirus fills the media all throughout the day and night so I won’t waste words explaining what it is or what it does. To learn more about the coronavirus (COVID-19) and what you can do to prevent contracting it, please visit the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which contains volumes of information on COVID-19 and its status in America and abroad. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Prisons

Many Prison administrators across America have taken action to avoid the spread of the coronavirus inside the prisons, and for good reason: it kills and most prison systems do not have the best medical care available. The effect of the virus in such a closed environment would be devastating to staff and inmates (prisoners).

Though I did not at first find any message posted on the national website (www.bop.gov), I discovered what I knew by clicking on the links for various institutions spread across America: the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons suspended visitation privileges for its inmate population. (The link to the federal bureau of prisons contains the plan for dealing with COVID-19.) https://www.bop.gov/resources/news/20200313_covid-19.jsp

Other sources reported that the administration is taking other precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus inside the prison system, such as restricting the access of other individuals into the living units and theoretically, checking staff members for symptoms of the virus who come into the prisons.

Some prisons are on Lockdown Status, which means that prisoners are confined to their cells or immediate living areas. One institution is feeding its inmates cellblock-by-cellblock, and then supposedly sanitizing the food service area before allowing another cellblock to enter, in an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19. If a prisoner in one cellblock has the virus, then the virus cannot spread to another living area via the dining hall; however, that is only if the dining areas are actually being sanitized and no worker carries the virus.

Prisons often have policies and procedures on paper that are not adhered to in practice.

All prisons do not have cellblocks and use dormitory-types of living quarters to house its prisoners and that would make controlling an outbreak of COVID-19 more troublesome.

The above ends this blog post in relation to prison, per se. The following comes from my experience and strictly based on my unprofessional opinion.

I walked through the grocery aisles of a Walmart in McDonough, Georgia on March 14, 2020, and was surprised to see so many shelves emptied, even though I had viewed another person’s post on FaceBook that showed the same in another grocery department. Panic in America, I thought.

Not that the Coronavirus isn’t serious and the threat of contracting the virus should be ignored: It is real and kills people. Everyone should take precautions to avoid contracting it, if at all possible.

After corresponding with a friend about going out into society in light of the coronavirus-threat, I mentioned a home remedy I knew worked to help eradicate viruses from the throat. Then I decided to do a post on Facebook to share the information with others with the hope of it helping someone to avoid coming down with the coronavirus or other respiratory illnesses.

This roots from that Facebook post and also contains religious beliefs/views. If you find that offensive, please don’t read any further. Thanks for reading my writings.

(This is not intended to be taken as medical advice: I am not a doctor or health professional. I am an opinionated writer and blogger.)

Based upon all I’ve read on the coronavirus, it is my opinion and nothing more, that I don’t believe everyone should hide in a cave and hope the threat goes away.  Use common sense.

I do take the same precautionary measures as I do to avoid or minimize the effects of the flu, common cold, or any other health issue due to the spread of germs (wash my hands after contact with surfaces or possible contaminants before touching my nose, eyes or mouth with unclean hands; take extra vitamin C to keep my immune system strong).

Of most importance, at the first sign of a sore throat, since the coronavirus supposedly starts in our sinuses or mouths to migrate into the lungs through our throats, then I’d do what I KNOW kills any virus in the throat by creating an environment too hostile for the bugs to survive due to acidity:

Gargle with one teaspoonful of lemon juice in a cup of water as hot as you can stand it, two to three times per day to kill the virus before it multiplies and migrates into the lungs.

I learned about that home remedy from a Reader’s Digest book on Home Remedies that Work, and doing as suggested has proven effective EVERY TIME I used it at the onset of throat irritation.  The same is true for many others who used that remedy after I shared it with them.

For me on a personal level, I believe that if it is meant for me to contract an illness or to experience an accident or misfortune, then that is in the will of my higher power, whom I chose to call God, and that it will happen regardless of what I do or do not do. 

If something like that is not in His will, no need for me to worry. I KNOW and faithfully believe that God has my back and has for a whole lot of years.  If not, I’d have died decades ago: I survived many incidents without serious damage that science would claim to be impossible. 

For those who read or have read the Bible, doesn’t is say that with God all things are possible?  I also think it says something along the lines of a believer not being harmed if bitten by a poisonous snake.

I was the snake bitten by itself but I am here to tell about it. 

Anyways, it is wise to use precaution and to avoid high-risk situations.  Just don’t worry yourself sick.  This too shall pass!

Year One of New Life by Wayne T. Dowdy

Stanley and Wayne (Me on the right side, hands on guns)

One year ago today (March 8th), I walked out the doors of Dismas Charities in Atlanta, Georgia, as a man freed from the custody of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons. I wrote Electronic Chain about that experience. https://straightfromthepen.com/electronic-chain

Life hasn’t gone according to the World of Wayne since my release, other than that I have remained a free man and have continued my pursuit of a better life.

Life is good. My plan remains to make it Great!

In many respects my life is great. I have remained clean and sober and chose not to return to the life of crime as thousands of formerly-released men and women have done since August 28, 2018, when I walked out the doors of a Federal Correctional Institution, thirty-years and ten days after my arrest on federal and state charges.

Throughout the years, I wrote a lot about recidivism, of which may be viewed by searching “Recidivism” or by using the dropdown menu to select the Recidivism category on this site. The May 2018 study numbers are the latest released (83% of state prisoners returned within the nine-year study referenced to below):

“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 83% recidivism rate revealed in the 9-year follow-up study shows the seriousness of recidivism in America and the need for a magic elixir that does not exist. Until financial incentives end for politicians who continue making policies and laws that fuel mass incarceration, positive change will be slow: It is time to stop state and federal funding for private prisons.” Breaking News, June 18, 2018

I refuse to become one of those who return to the system so many vow to hate but continue to return to make it grow bigger and stronger!

On a Personal Level

Since my release, I found a job, even though it took me eleven months of actively seeking one to succeed in that endeavor. On that job with Goodwill of North Georgia, I made Employee of the Month in October 2019, and was then selected for the Employee Spotlight in the following month.

Then on March 2, 2020, I began a different position in Goodwill of North Georgia and increased my salary by over thirty percent. More will follow!

I have a nice vehicle that gets me where I need to go, which a loving person blessed me with after she bought herself a new SUV.

For other aspects of the reentry process, is finding a new place to live and maybe even getting in a meaningful relationship if a special lady comes along.

Before my release, I joked with my peers that I was going to get a fat butt girl with a pecan tan and a Mercedes Benz, but maybe I need to revise that, because that’s being too picky. What I would like is that special lady who loves me the way I will love her and then perhaps I will perceive my life as great.

What was I thinking? I am free and alive and well! Life is great!

In conclusion, what I didn’t know during the time of the photo posted above when I was about three-years-young, with me with my hands on those toy guns, is that I would make bad decisions in life that would lead me to putting my hands on real guns to commit crimes and to spend most of my life in prison.

I wrote a lot about my life in Essays & More Straight from the Pen to show the power of change, and that, just because I was a recidivist, does not mean I have to be one now. I chose freedom. Thank you!

$8.95 USD, available as a paperback and as an eBook from most book sellers.

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