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Outdated and outright appalling narratives about women and ethnic groups are still dominant themes in prison culture.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.
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.
UNKNOWN INNOCENCE consumed my first novel, UNDER PRESSURE by Mr. D, and part of my second book published by Midnight Express Books (UNDER PRESSURE–MOTIVATIONAL VERSION). What separated the second novel from the first was the addition of “The Story Behind the Novel” and the addition of the first two chapters of UNKNOWN INNOCENCE.
After writing the sequel, I decided to give readers a better value by allowing the sequel to consume the original novel.
For this blog post, I’m providing a peek into the most important part of the Motivational Version (The Story Behind the Novel ), and one randomly selected chapter that shows one aspect of prison life in some of the more dangerous prison settings, Chapter #6, Let It Go.
Warning: Not Politically Correct! Contains Violence, Profanity
Let It Go
Months later, on a cool spring morning, Stan
and Bobby returned from the yard and took their showers before being counted at
10 A.M. Shortly thereafter, they went to eat Spanish omelets, oatmeal, biscuits
and gravy for brunch. That afternoon, Stan sat near the center of the TV room
watching VH1. The TV room was on the walkway at the rear of the cellblock that
joined the tiers. Terry, Jake, and three of Jake’s friends were huddled in the
back corner. Two Jamaicans, who were acquaintances of Stan, sat closest to the
only door, talking. Stan lowered the volume on his Walkman to hear Jake and
Terry’s conversation. A few minutes later his suspicion was confirmed: Terry
still planned to involve Wendy.
“She’s coming over the holiday weekend in
July and I’ll talk her into bringing in the package,” Terry said.
Stan stood and turned to face all five in
the corner. “Keep my sister’s name out of your mouth,” he said.
“Keep out of my business, boy,” Jake said.
Him and his three friends stood. Terry stayed seated.
“Don’t try fucking with this boy!” Stan said.
Terry stood. “I won’t let anything happen to
her, dude,” he said, his voice a high-pitched tone, almost a shrill.
Rastaman stepped out the door and cleared
the corner of the tier to get Big Bobby. At the same moment, Bobby walked out
of his cell to go get some hot water. Rastaman saw him and yelled in his
Jamaican accent. “Yo, mon, Stan need you.” Bobby slung the cup in his cell.
One of Jake’s partners positioned himself
near the door by the other Jamaican, who sat looking toward the television with
a know-nothing stare on his face.
“You’re damn right you’re not because you’re
not going to pull her into your shit,” Stan said. “Find another way to feed
Jake’s other partners tried to position
themselves behind Stan, who turned to put the wall behind him. Jake moved
closer to him and said, “What’s up? You want to get this out of the way, right
“Smash that punk!” the one by the door said.
Terry edged closer to the door. “Y’all cut
this bullshit out, dudes,” he said. “We’ll all go to the hole.”
Jake moved within arm’s reach. Stan shoved
him in the chest with both palms. “Get off me, punk,” he said.
Jake stumbled backward. He regained his
balance and rushed back to get in Stan’s face. “Want some of this,” he said,
and pushed him back.
“Don’t take that from that cunt,” another
yelled. “Hit him!”
The one by the door pulled a shank from his
waistband. “Let’s stick this bitch,” he said, his back a foot from the door.
Everything changed fast: Big Bobby barged
into the room. The door smacked the doorman holding the shank, knocked him into
Terry, who shot to the wall near Bobby.
“Hey,” the doorman shouted, as he turned to
see who had hit him with the door. His face paled when he saw Bobby. He hurried
beside Jake, faced Bobby.
Jake had moved to the corner when Bobby
rushed into the room. “What’s up?” Bobby said, his voice coarse.
The two who had surrounded Stan moved with
Jake. Terry stood against the wall with his arms crossed. Bobby moved within
striking distance of the doorman.
“Let it go, man,” he said. Rastaman had
followed him into the room. The other Jamaican stood and positioned himself
beside his partner and Bobby.
Stan eyed the two who tried getting behind
him, and then he moved near Bobby and the Jamaicans. He looked at the one with
the shank. “Put that up before I stick it up your ass,” he said.
“You got the easy part done,” the doorman
“Cut the bullshit,” Terry said.
Still winded from rushing down the tier,
Bobby said, “All of you need to put this on ice. Nothing good’s going to come from
us going to war over whatever the hell y’all got going on in here.”
Jake took a step closer to them. “Tell your
boy to keep out of my business, big guy.”
Bobby started to speak. Stan pointed at
Terry. “I’ve done told that idiot I didn’t want him involving my sister in your
business, buddy,” he said. “If you can’t respect that, we’ve got big problems.”
“You’ve got big problems with all that
mouth,” the doorman said. Seconds earlier, he had slipped the blade of the
shank in the front pocket of his pants and covered its handle with his hand.
“Look, man, my problem’s not with you but we can make it that way if you don’t back off,” Stan said. He moved closer to him. “I don’t give a damn about you having a shank.”
Bobby stepped between Stan, Jake, and the
doorman. The Jamaicans stayed in the background, propped against the wall by
the door where Terry stood. The doorman jerked out the shank. Before Bobby
could stop him, Stan maneuvered around him and grabbed the doorman’s wrist
holding the shank. In a continuous motion, he twisted it behind the man’s back
and yanked it to the base of the neck, as he forced him against the rear wall. “What
you want to do now, bitch?” Stan growled, keeping the pressure on the back of
Jake advanced toward Stan. Bobby grabbed him
by the shoulders and slung him against the wall, and then turned his head to
glance at the other two, making sure they weren’t getting involved. “Stay out
of it!” he said.
The Jamaicans, who were much larger than
either of the two they faced, had moved between them and Bobby. Both Jamaicans
had their arms spread, angled toward the floor, palms opened, inviting war or
peace. “We don’t want no trouble,” one of the other two said.
After he had failed to free himself from Stan’s hold, the doorman dropped the shank. It clanged as it struck the floor. “All right, man. You got it,” he said, his voice strained from stress.
Jake stayed still against the wall; fear
written on his forehead: Bobby’s massive chest six inches from his nose.
Stan used his foot to slide the shank to the
far side of the room. Then he released his hold and stepped away from the
doorman. “Let’s all let this shit go and get the fuck out of here before the
hacks come and slam us in the hole,” he said.
Everyone exited the television room; their
eyes darting one from another, sweat dotting their foreheads. Stan waited until
last to leave, motioning for the doorman to get his shank and go. He did so
silently, his head held low.
Five minutes after leaving the TV room, Stan
had told Bobby all that had gone down before he walked into the drama. They sat
in Stan’s cell with their arms crossed, sodas sitting on the floor by each of
their legs. Neither one uncrossed their arms except to take a sip from their
“What you think about it?” Stan said. “You
think they’re going to let it go or what?”
Bobby cleared his throat and repositioned himself on the toilet bowl where he sat. “I’d like to think they’ll let it go and leave us alone, but you know how things go in these places. They may claim a truce only to gain an edge for an attack. I’m going to keep an eye on ‘em, for sure.”
“You know I’ll keep an eye on them. And if
Terry and Jake don’t leave Wendy out of their plans, they’d better keep an eye
on me,” Stan said, and then got up from the edge of his bed. “I’m telling you,
man, if they don’t, it’s going to be bad. Wendy may become a widow before it’s
over with if they don’t.”
“Well, … we’ll just have to play the cards
dealt and play the game well. Let it go if you can,” Bobby said. Then he rose
and patted Stan on the back. “Gotta go, Pal. Keep your eyes open. Yell if you
need me, okay?”
“Okay, man. I’m sorry I got you into this
“Don’t sweat it. It’ll all work itself out
however the hell it’s supposed to turn out.” Then he ducked to leave the cell.
He stopped on the tier.
“See you later,” he said and threw up his
hand before walking back to his cell.
The Story Behind the Novel
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.]
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.
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:
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,
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
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 the count to proofread what I’ve written, or to prepare for what I will write.
Once the count clears and the prison staff begins 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.
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
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 complimentary copies of the newsletter. In the last issue I received, I noticed an ad for MEB, who works exclusively with prisoners seeking publication [the publisher retired].
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.]
following day Amazon.com posted UNDER PRESSURE. Now it is available worldwide
upon demand through the following sources:
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:
[THE POINT IS] 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.
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.
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.
Please help to spread this idea like a fire to generate support and encourage positive change for fixing the broken criminal justice system. Help Change Lives and Build a Healthier Society. Wayne T. Dowdy
You are granted permission to copy, print, and publish any part of this document, but you must give attribution to the author. You may alter this document, but you must denote the changes in some manner. You may not charge for any work where this document makes up the majority of the work’s text. Jason Glascock
Formula for Integrated Rehabilitation & Education
Statement of Purpose
A person’s education is an on-going process gained through all of life’s experiences. The environment in which a person is immersed is highly influential in the quality and breadth of education. It, therefore, behooves a society to create such an environment that encourages an individual’s self-development, and this development ought to enrich society with individuality’s ability to adapt.
The strength of a culture, society, community is based on the strengths of the individuals bring to it. Without the individual, there is no community. Therefore, the individual is a more important aspect that must be protected. The purpose of A.F.I.R.E. is to develop an environment whereby the individual can grow into a being that is solidly independent that can then choose to become interdependent within society.
The A.F.I.R.E. is a long-term project to create an environment that the person is immersed in. The environment is all-encompassing with a carefully and intentionally created effect that is unique to the individual. The person is given access to resources that allow them to guide their own development, with assistance available, in a context that is supportive of self-discovery for the individual to become a fully realized being. The environment offers the person to make the choice, without coercion or force. The environment is reinforcing of the ideas of individuality and the person as the creator of the community.
is to be instituted in a five-phased process with specific goals. These goals
build on the goals of each previous phase. The phases are not set, but intended
to be dynamic, adaptable and open to new solutions, but always with the
overreaching goal to creating an environment that allows the individual to
achieve the greatest benefit of self-empowerment.
develop a set of personality, aptitude, interest, and metrics that can be used
to inform both the person and prison about how to create the most advantageous
environment for that person, identify freedom potential factors already extant,
and determine what to build upon.
develop a basic set of self-empowerment resources available in the main
develop computer lab resources for extended studies.
develop staff training programs that encourage healthful interpersonal
develop prisoner training programs that encourage healthful interpersonal
Goal: develop an industry-supported certification schema for education.
Goal: develop post-release support for reintegration, including:
– social development with people of shared
interests, i.e. clubs
develop staff centric incentives program for positive relations
develop prison diversion programs that begin at arrest.
develop elementary through high school programs for all students which reduce
risk by inspiring healthy psychological growth.
develop independence schools to encourage freedom potential factors.
goes much further than the STEM Initiative in creating an entire environment
designed to encourage the pursuit of that which grows the individual into a
healthy and complete being. STEM is a basic educational paradigm, but AFIRE is
about how to live, how to think about living, and how to create the best
situation for the person within a prison setting to grow in a positive manner.
Currently, prison is designed to be debilitating. The philosophies of the penological system are to handicap the prisoner and make him/her into an inmate subservient to their will, to take away the individuality and make them nothing but a body. Everything is a punishment from the beds, clothes, food and showers, to relationships with family and support groups. Every opportunity is carefully constructed to ensure failure, encourage strife, and negatively impact the psyche.
A.F.I.R.E. works to change the culture of prison into a healthful experience. Punishment is the separation and periodic denial of close relationships and the freedom of travel, not the denial of educational opportunities, health, and the pursuit of skills that can enrich society. We hurt ourselves when we harm others, and prison is a terrible harm to inflict on our community members. The prisoner is no less part of our community while in prison as they are in the Free World.
The following is a complimentary post. StraightfromthePen.com expresses no view or opinion on the issue or comments made by the author, neither agrees nor disagrees with content.
The Republican party
platform has always favored smaller government. Consistent with that platform
and true to his business roots, Trump began cutting the fat his first year in
office by eliminating nearly 2000 Bureau of Prisons Jobs. A move that was
quickly followed up by a legislative push for prison reforms.
Ostensibly in support of
that agenda, Attorney General William Barr accompanied BOP director Horowitz on
a visit to the Federal Correctional Institution in Edgefield South Carolina.
The prison received glowing praise from AG Barr and the state and Federal VIP’s
who accompanied him, including Senator Lindsey Graham. AG Barr would go on to
fire Director Horowitz and a Warden in the wake of the Epstein death. However,
the prison he just visited with Director Horowitz and conferred his praise upon
has the same conditions (but to a greater degree) which led to his removal of
A few short weeks after AG bar visited the Edgefield prison it had to be placed on a month-long lock-down (an unprecedented duration for that facility and exceptional for any similarly situated facility). The lock-down was actually the culmination of several lesser lock-downs (one occurring just two weeks prior) and other emergency security measures implemented this year alone. According to internal memorandum the month-long lock-down was necessary due to official’s inability to contain violence and disruptive activities associated with cell phones, drugs and other contraband. For years, the prison has been operating under some form or other of modified operations, according to official documents for this same reason. These modified operations have reduced access to educational/recreational and rehabilitative opportunities (already meager) at the prison. Entire portions of the institution have even had to be made inaccessible completely due to officials’ inability to control those areas; And according, once again, to officials long-sad refrain, for the same reasons cited above.
The prison, one of several in the Carolinas, houses inmates from as far away as New York and Chicago and has been called by some Bureau officials materially and geographically redundant. The prison is in a crisis state of disrepair, a fact concealed by gallons of paint, official sophistry and misdirection. Significant financial infusions have been required to keep critical systems functioning and to amend decades of graft, mismanagement and misappropriation. Decades of this misappropriation include funds being indirectly converted for personal aggrandizement and diverted from maintenance and up-keep. This fraudulent management is systemic, long-standing and has compromised the physical infrastructure and security of the facility. According to internal documents, the dilapidation has been exploited for years by violent criminal gangs for production, storage and dissemination of alcohol, drugs, weapons and other contraband. The recent month-long lock-down was extended, in part, to try to patch-up some of these breeches; However, officials’ efforts were mainly cosmetic and amount to nothing more than a band-aid.
Investigations of these conditions and the fraud and misappropriation occasioning them have been superficial and have not looked deeply enough or high enough. (Regional / Central office level complicity) These investigations are largely high-level cover-ups resulting in a warden or department head being scapegoated.
Speaking of Scapegoats, let’s
get back to Director Horowitz and the Warden of MDC Manhattan….
We will give Attorney General Barr the benefit of the doubt and assume that the BOP mislead and deceived him when he visited its Edgefield facility; But the conditions which caused or permitted the death of Mr. Epstein, and led to the removal of these officials, were not unique to the facility where Mr. Epstein was being housed. They are standard operating procedures deliberately adopted by the BOP as a counter-strategy to the Presidents attempts to reduce the size of government (including the over-bloated, ineffective Bureaucratic monstrosity known as the Federal Bureau of Prisons.)
[lockdowns are not a management tool;
they are a crisis abatement tool; They represent the inability to manage
the prison. institutions like
Edgefield which lurch from crisis to crisis are management failures, these
failures, combined with the
violence, and recidivism record place the bureau in performance category
that no business would tolerate]
This standard operating
procedure has been implemented with similar consequence at BOP facilities
across the country, including FCI Edgefield where AG Barr just visited and gave
the thumbs up to.
Jeffery Epstein was an
identified suicide threat but was not being housed under the heightened
security/treatment protocols established for high-risk prisoners or those
evidencing suicidal ideation. This situation is remarkable only due to the
stature of the prisoner; Such decisions (non-adherence to policy, proven
safety/security protocols and industry standards) have become standard
operating procedure at prisons across the Bureau as local officials grapple
with the ground-zero logistical conundrums created by Bureaucrats too far
removed from their decision to understand their consequences; Or simply
indifferent to them. As a routine matter, local officials have largely
abandoned many of those safety-security protocols in order to complete the
Bureau’s mission within the constraints imposed by a misalignment of human
resources, an over-extended labor force, and tighter budgetary controls.
In 2016 The Trump
Administration reduced the BOP’s labor force by about 2000 employees. A
subsequent hiring freeze, combined with retirements and normal attrition
(turn-over, terminations) have further reduced the labor force. These staffing
changes have deliberately coincided with projected and actual reductions in the
BOP’s prison population. (additional reductions are anticipated but are
contingent upon the BOP’s implementation of Legislation and Administration
policies intended to bring about those reductions) The natural and unavoidable
consequence of these twin developments (reductions in staff and reductions in population)
is a corresponding downsizing of structural and material commitments.
deactivation of some Bureau facilities and the consolidation of populations,
staffing and resources at the remaining facilities is the only competent
operational model that can meet existing and projected needs and policy
objectives. However, instead of conforming its massive footprint to the
shifting policy objectives, shifting political imperatives, shifting
demographics, shifting operational pressures, and the smart-on-crime agenda of
Congress, the President and the public, the BOP is instead trying to fight the
paradigm shift and maintain scale. The BOP has committed to maintaining all of
its properties and physical infrastructure in an active operational capacity.
One of the ways it is accomplishing this is by spreading its staff as thinly as
possible across as many facilities as possible and concentrating inmates within
those institutions into as small a space as possible in order to allow fewer
staff to supervise more inmates. And placing greater restraints on inmates,
which has been shown to adversely impact reintegration into society.
This strategy is
difficult to explain because the Bureau did an exhaustive and rigorous study in
which it concluded that those staff-to-inmate ratios resulted in more violence,
disruption and infraction of the rules; Exactly the type of problem that
Edgefield has been experiencing and was recently on lock-down for. What is even
more inexplicable however, is why is the Department of Justice Hiding money
from the President?
The Federal Bureau of Prisons is the Department of Justice’s second largest and fastest growing budgetary expenditure. The White House recently ordered all agencies to conduct internal audits to identify areas where budgetary compromises could be made to re-purpose funds to meet the President’s national security goals on border-security. Funds for this purpose have been scrounged from some very controversial sources such as the military and FEMA. The DOJ, however, does not have to scavenge its budgets to locate the type of funding the President is looking for. Simple compliance by the BOP with the Presidents unrelated criminal justice/prison reform agenda would liberate enough funds to accomplish the Presidents border-security goals almost by itself. Why is the DOJ concealing this funding source from the President?
The answer, according to
anecdotal reports is that the BOP is quietly engaged in an undeclared
insurrection against the President and his reform agenda. Staff report subtle
pressure from union officials to acquiesce to dangerous and exploitative labor
practices (See: Blog post at straightfromthepen.com)
in order to outlast an administration, which it is convinced will not survive
the 2020 election cycle; An outcome that it is quietly organizing and working
in support of.
In a rare occasion of agreement, union officials and Bureau executive management have united behind the scenes in opposition to efforts by the Trump administration to reform and streamline the agency. The Bureau of Prisons, fed by the funding cornucopia ushered in by the Clinton administration and “big-government style policies, grew into a behemoth organization requiring more of the DOJ’s budget that any other agency but the FBI (and it is fast on the FBI’s heels). However, despite its insatiable appetite for dollars and lives, the BOP under-performs its lesser-funded state counterparts on nearly every metric and has a dismal record on recidivism.
In addition to allowing the
BOP’s mutiny on Criminal Justice/Prison Reform, the DOJ itself is quietly
spending millions of dollars and resources in its own insurrection against the President’s
policies. While the President is touting and being praised for his landmark
legislative victory Mr. Barr’s attorney’s general are busy spending copious
limited resources making sure as many prisoners as possible do not
“actually ” benefit from those reforms. Almost without exception the
Government has summarily opposed every motion submitted to the court seeking
relief under those reforms; Even when the petitioner is clearly entitled to
relief or where the opposition is based solely upon technicalities. The
Government has, in some cases, spent thousands of dollars in time and resources
fighting to deny relief as meager as a few months, and where the petitioners
had already spent decades behind bars and would clearly have received a far
shorter sentence had they been sentenced today.
So, what does any of this have to do with Jeffery Epstein? Everything! The Department of Justice was once an unassailable bastion of public trust. The removal of the Director of the BOP in the fall-out of the Epstein death is the type of swift, decisive accountability which once made American institutions like the DOJ great. However, in the wake of the Attorney General’s actions questions swirl instead about his motivations. Was it political posturing? Deflection? Scapegoating? Or was the Head of the Department of Justice trying to make that American institution great again…. There are mixed messages coming from the DOJ which make it hard to tell. Across the nation the DOJ is spending millions of tax-dollars in a knee-jerk effort to uphold sentences that the people, the Congress and the President say are unjust, fiscally unsound, and which do not reflect who we are as a society. (perhaps the only such political consensus besides 9/11 in over one hundred years)
Perhaps the AG was duped
by the BOP, but the prison (Edgefield FCI) he just visited and sang the praises
of is ripe with the very same problems he just removed Acting Director Horowitz
for. And despite those removals, nothing has been done to address the
If he is indeed trying to
make the DOJ “Great Again”, he has a lot more work to do at the
Departments second most costly, fastest growing, and least effective agency.
But the bottom line is that our prisons are full of people whom the latest
criminal justice research says don’t need to be there; That fiscal imperatives
say we cannot afford to keep there; And that the Congress, the President and
the public say that they don’t want there. The resources which the Department
of Justice and Bureau of Prisons are expending on those people divert resources
and leave wardens and their prisons overextended. It is predictable,
inevitable, and all too common that people will fall thorough those gaps. The
only thing unique about the Jeffery Epstein situation is his celebrity; Other than
that, it is just business as usual for the BOP.
IF you prefer to read more about Labor Day, select the link/URL below. I write this blog to honor a loved one and to share my first experience at a memorial service in over thirty years, as a free citizen since my release from federal prison on August 28, 2018.
“What is the meaning of Labor Day?
“Do you get weekends off work? Lunch breaks? Paid vacation? An eight-hour workday? Social security? If you said ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you can thank labor unions and the U.S. labor movement for it. Years of hard-fought battles (and the ensuing legislation they inspired) resulted in many of the most basic benefits we enjoy at our jobs today. On the first Monday in September, we take the day off to celebrate Labor Day and reflect on the American worker’s contributions to our country.” https://nationaltoday.com/labor-day-2019/ [errors corrected by this author]
America celebrates Labor Day in honor of the working men and women who make America great. I will work today at a Goodwill of North Georgia store in McDonough, Georgia.
The work I do does not compare to work done by those who serve in the military, in America and abroad, as well as the emergency responders and all others who serve and protect the public. Pro-war, anti-war, anti-government, or whatever, in my opinion, those brave men and women deserve praise and to be honored; especially, the fallen men and women we celebrate on Memorial Day who gave their lives.
My personal Memorial Day began on August 17, 2019, when a loved one took that flight to a special place in the sky, high above the clouds. I had awakened during the early hours and knew his day had come, so I sent him a text message and one on Messenger to say my farewell to Bob, my brother-in-law, and friend of over fifty years.
He moved on to another life within twelve hours.
Bob P. served in the United States Air Force during the Vietnam Era. He left the United States en route to Vietnam, and then a miracle happened: President Richard Nixon began the de-escalation of troops in Vietnam to end the war, so Bob went to Korea and, then later, to Japan instead of Vietnam.
He fought many health battles after his return, many illnesses which were caused by exposure to chemicals used during that period. He survived cancer and then had his first heart attack at the age of thirty-nine, likely caused by drugs used to treat cancer developed from exposure to the chemicals.
The Air Force honored Bob at the Memorial Service. I fought tears and lost several battles during the service, but when the soldier began playing the Taps, the streams began to flow.
Many men and women trapped inside prison walls cannot attend funeral services. Some can but many cannot. I was one who could not because I was viewed as a security risk.
While in prison, I lost my mother and one of my younger brothers. From inside prison, though difficult to deal with the loss of loved ones, whose funerals I could not attend because of my security level, I was somewhat shielded from the emotional effects of death. I wanted to go to their funerals and to be there for them, but couldn’t because of the mistakes I had made decades before.
I had never attended a military funeral but suspect Bob’s won’t be my last. Military or not, I do not like attending such an event; however, I love the survivors enough to deal with my personal discomfort to be there to support them with love and compassion.
The ones I loved and cared for, whose services I attend, have left the body or remains and may be watching and wondering, “Why are they crying, don’t they know I am free and at peace?”
Update: August 28, 2019: I am a Free Bird now and have been for one year today. Things did not go the way I expected upon my release, but it is all good. I have lived to fight another day and have won many interpersonal battles over the last year. I remain a free citizen!
I joined the ranks of many returning citizens who have not become another negative statistic on recidivism. That means a lot to me and to society!
I will post another blog to update events since I walked out the doors of the Federal Correctional Institution in Edgefield, South Carolina, on August 28, 2018, after having served thirty-years and ten-days.
My favorite version of Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd is on ONE MORE FROM THE ROAD, recorded at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, GA, one block from my birthplace. This Freebird en route to Atlanta got one more lockdown in for the road. More will be revealed.
The 35-year sentence that I began on August 18, 1988, has finally reached its end. Well, at least, close to its end. When I leave August 28th, as it now stands, I have 192-days in the halfway house and 5-years on supervised release, following satisfaction of the 420-month term of imprisonment imposed by the court.
This blog contains mixed topics; some written from a positive perspective, others from a not-so-positive perspective. I’ll tell some of what my last month has been like living in an institution run by the most absurd federal prison administration I’ve ever lived under for the last thirty years.
DEPARTING: I’m leaving behind many friends, a lot of good men, and a lot more defeated by an over-abundance of suboxone and bug poison (K-2/Spice) that flooded this compound within 6-months of this warden taking command. Based upon statements made by inmates at the last institution she ran, the same thing happened there: she reduced alcohol consumption that resulted in an increase in demand and availability of K-2 and suboxone.
[“SUBOXONE® (buprenorphine and naloxone) Sublingual Film (CIII) is a prescription medicine used to treat adults who are addicted to (dependent on) opioid drugs (either prescription or illegal) as part of a complete treatment program that also includes counseling and behavioral therapy.”] https://www.suboxone.com/
Concerning wardens that Washington officials began referring to as Chief Executive Officers (CEO), because of, in my opinion, the federal prison system becoming a business-venture, more so than a place to help its men and women become law-abiding citizens.
The Congressional budgeting system allows wardens and executive staff to take home hefty bonuses by cutting operating cost, often at the expense of the safety and health of staff and inmates alike.
Throughout the years, I’ve met many good men and women who worked for the BOP, a few of whom helped save the lives of myself and others by offering their time to provide needed services to help prisoners learn life-skills; especially, for those in programs designed to help addicts and alcoholics learn to live life without the use of drugs and alcohol.
JOURNALING INTO A NEW LIFE: This time 23-years ago, I was writing in journals about my newfound way of life (living without using drugs and alcohol, and working on becoming a better man who lived by different spiritual principles). Here’s two excerpts I hope will inspire others:
August 23, 1995: “This new lifestyle is a lot more simple and easier to live by in this environment, because I don’t have to worry about getting a U.A. [urine-analysis], going to the hole for being stupid, or having to try so hard to get by. I used to have to hustle to support my dope habit, but not anymore. I never had food in my locker, but kept the lockers of dope men well-stocked. Now I have food to eat, good shoes to wear, and can afford to send money to my family as gifts or to buy other things I want or need. I have time for Wayne and I care about Wayne. Wayne deserves to be cared for, because he’s a worthy human being, and really is not a bad guy, so I’m no longer trying to destroy him. I’m trying to ‘set him free.’ He deserves that!”
September 13, 1995: “I have began my pursuit of freedom, which could end up being a fruitless search from me on the legal angle, but if God wants to see me free, I will be free. If not legally, in spirit, which is most important. I would like to be legally free, because I know I can make it out there now, and know I have a lot of valuable experience, wisdom, and knowledge to offer certain segments of society. For that reason, I deserve another chance.”
LEGALLY SPEAKING: The legal pursuit of my freedom proved fruitless and a waste of time, energy, and thousands of dollars, but it did keep me occupied and I learned a lot. If you consider the success I had getting my halfway house date changed and the knowledge gained, it was beneficial. I also helped free others.
During the legal Pursuit of Freedom process, I damn sure learned that what the law says doesn’t matter: If the courts want to follow the law, they do. If not, they use their power and ignore the law. After I build straightfromthepen.net, I will post court documents from my case and others to prove what I just wrote.
ALONG SPIRITUAL LINES: I know everything worked out the way it was supposed to, and that if the courts had followed the laws passed by Congress, and the court decisions I relied upon during my direct appeal process, I would not be alive today. I had a bad drug problem and ill intent for several years after my conviction. Today I don’t have either and will live the rest of my days in peace, clean & sober, and, for the most part, healthier than when I arrived in 1988.
LIFE NOT ACCORDING TO WAYNE: Most of these last few days of my life in prison have not went according to my plan. I planned to attend the last few A.A. and N.A. meetings; to quit my job on August 17th, and then spend some time outside on the recreation yard to exercise and tone up my body, and to work on my suntan in preparation for all the fat-butt-girls waiting to chase me. 😉
The warden closed the recreation yard over three weeks ago and spoiled my Suntan Plan.
RECENT EVENT: The warden’s closure of the recreation yard indirectly resulted in a clash between two ethnic groups in the Chow Hall on Sunday, August 12, 2018. When tension builds amongst an inmate population, and one ethnic group gets punished and suffers because of an action by another group, a tender box is born; complements of the warden, captain, or other prison official, who implemented unnecessary punitive actions in response to an issue, such as is the case at hand.
(Read “Politics & Prison” (11/07/16) where I wrote in response to this warden’s use of group-punishment techniques, and show how it creates conflicts in a prison population and is thus not a rational correctional-management tool for all situations:
“MORE ON BLANKET PARTIES: If certain prisoners are given a blanket party or ‘sanctioned’ by their peers for failure to comply with rules or regulations, it may lead to extreme violence; therefore, the ideological control mechanism for military men and women does not work on prisoners, or otherwise has adverse effects; that is, unless the prison administrators really want prisoners to clash. Many administrators have ulterior motives.”)
THE CHOW HALL FIASCO lead to 5-prisoners suffering injuries severe enough to justify a trip to the local hospital for treatment. I was inside the chow hall during the fiasco.
NO OUTSIDE RECREATION: The reason for closing the recreation yard was because staff found homemade wine buried beside an area known as the “Boom Boom Room.” The prison staff has known about the problem for years, including the whole period of this warden’s stay (about 2-years).
Staff have probably dug as much as 50-75 gallons of wine out of the same spot, and yet, instead of being intelligent enough to use available technology (posting surveillance cameras in the area as most competent prison administrators do in problem areas), the warden/prison administration, chose to close the recreation yard to tear down the Boom Boom Room.
The recreation yard is a place where men go to exercise or relax, to relieve anger, stress, and tension associated with prison life or just to stay healthy.
TINDER BOX: The closure of the recreation yard created a Tinder Box because a few members of one ethnic group is responsible for its closure, as is the warden. That put targets on the backs of every one of that nationality.
THE CATALYST: A inmate who worked the a.m. Food Service shift, stole fruit and hid it in a Dish/Tray Room, where prisoners use a dishwasher to wash food trays, utensils, etc. When he returned during the next shift and learned his stolen-stash was stolen, he attacked a member of the other ethnic group, known to bury wine.
Several members of the latter group attacked and beat down the aggressor and that lead to retaliation by members of the aggressor’s ethnic group.
FIASCO RESPONSE: The staff who responded got medical attention for the aggressor who received minor injuries, and then escorted him and four of his attackers down the walkway toward the medical department and segregated housing unit.
I sat at a table near where the ethnic group of the four attackers often sat. After the incident in the Tray Room, I went to the opposite side of the chow hall and saw those escorted out the rear door of the Tray Room. I returned to the other side and let my peers know of the events of racial nature. Then me and most other non-participants moved out of the area to get out of the way of what was sure to follow.
Upon leaving with the offenders, staff locked the chow hall doors with approximately 150-200 inmates left alone inside with one food service staff member. After 5-to-8 minutes of the racial situation brewing, the aggressor’s ethnic group attacked anyone who looked like they may have been of the other ethnic group, thus creating a racial riot inside the chow hall.
For approximately 3-4 minutes, food trays soared across the chow hall, injuring those hit; weapons of various types were used to batter opponents; fists and feet used where possible.
The food service staff member ran and locked himself in an office inside the chow hall. I suspect he radioed for assistance, but I never saw him come out of his hiding spot into the Battle Zone, evidence of being a true coward.
According to what an associate who stayed in the Battle Zone, one staff member came in through the rear door of the Tray Room, ran in and began spraying all aggressors with Pepper Spray.
Two staff members made the wrong turn and came to the non-participant side. One pointed a camera at us and said, “Get on the ground.” And then later, “Turn and face the wall.”
I knelt down on one knee but did not turn to face the wall. An injured Hispanic participant had come from the Battle Zone with blood running down his head from different angles and dripped blood on the floor in front of me. The violence was still in progress twenty-five feet away: I knew not to expose myself to flying trays by turning around when the two dummies did not even notice that those of us standing against the wall were docile.
The other staff member who made the wrong turn, used profanity directed toward one man and threatened to spray him with pepper spray. During this time, you could hear inmates attempting to rip pipes from their fixtures to use as weapons in the Battle Zone, while those two knuckleheads wasted time messing with us.
Finally, one of the guys standing against the wall shouted out, “We aren’t the ones fighting.”
The cameraman turned and then moved to where the action was going. The dummy with the pepper spray turned and followed him. Another staff member came in and said, “Y’all just get down on one knee. I’m trying to look for injuries.”
He pointed to the injured Hispanic and said, “You, get over there.” Then he said, “Is anyone else injured?”
Maybe ten minutes later, the crowd dispersed toward a door and began to exit on the opposite end of the chow hall. I followed. We returned to the living units and was locked in our cells for about a week.
GOD’S WILL VERSUS MINE: I also planned to mail out some of my property on Thursday at R&D Open House. We can only mail outgoing packages, after approval by unit staff, and then during Open House on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
A sign on the door showed “No Open House Today,” but if you were to ask the Warden or one of her officials, you’d be told that Open House is opened during all scheduled periods; a lie I have been told before.
Well, that’s where God’s will versus mine comes to play. I believe that whenever I’m faced with such obstacles that there’s a reason for it and that it’ll work to my good. In the past it always has and this time is no different. The delay gave me more time to sort through my ton of property to lighten my load as I set out to travel the Road to Happy Destiny. 🙂
How much to send a prisoner contains a lot of variables. In my opinion, based more on the life of the donor than on the prisoner.
The answer to how much to send depends on the sender’s financial circumstances and which prison the incarcerated person is confined in; the cost of available resources, such as commissary items, using the phone, emailing if applicable, or other forms of communication.
He or she has shelter, and though it may be lacking at times, food and the essentials of survival.
If the free citizen needs to pay rent, buy food, and otherwise take care of themselves and family, in my opinion, as a former prisoner, I’d rather have done without than for my loved ones to have taken food out of their mouths to provide for me (I was happy to provide for myself by working).
(Many of my peers were different, especially if on drugs and wanted to get high. I understood that because I know what it was like for me when I lived the life of an addict, so I am not condemning those who are different.)
May 2018, MONTHLY PAY SLIP ($189.00):
Federal Prison Industries, Inc. UNICOR
On average, working in the Federal Prison Industries (UNICOR), each month I spent $64.00 on the phone, $50.00 on writing/emailing blogs, etc., and $45–50.00 on commissary items. That was based on costs in the Federal Prison System.
Please note that all prisoners do not get paid for working, or get to work in places like the Federal Prison Industries. I was one of the highest-paid, hourly-rate prisoners, who worked for UNICOR, and rarely made over $200.00 per month. I made sacrifices to pay for the creation and upkeep of STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN and my blogging expenditures.
Life on the outside sometimes feels as if I am walking through a tunnel, deep into another time zone, right into another life. Well, I reckon that’s what I am doing, straight from the prehistoric era into modern society, acting civilized, not like a pimpin’ caveman.
Since my release and learning how to capture images with the camera (cellphone), I enjoy walking around and taking photos of anything that catches my eye. Some things I do resist, of course, as it’s not nice to snap a photo of an unsuspecting person, especially as she walks down the street. 🙂 I do respect privacy and am considerate of others on most days.
I have developed a nice collection on my View Bug profile page and have won some awards, even if I do have duplicates because I don’t know how to delete photos I upload, but hey, I’m still in the learning curve for technology. Here’s the link for ViewBug: https://www.viewbug.com/member/WTD4U
Imagine what I could have done if I had had a nice camera to use during those adventures. My favorite shots are often of tall buildings and structures or nature. I love insects, animals, flowers and trees, and not having to get film developed!
For all of you youngsters, once upon a time people had to carry a roll of camera film to Kodak or Fuji to have it developed or otherwise use a Polaroid camera, something else from the prehistoric era.
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The fight continues to free Pastor Eric Payne from the Georgia Department of Corrections. I initially wrote about this situation in Criminal Injustice and Pastor Eric Payne. https://straightfromthepen.com/2019/07/10/criminal-injustice-and-pastor-eric-payne/ This blog is a follow-up that includes correspondence from Pastor Eric Payne and his loving and carring wife, who continues to fight for the freedom of her husband.
Please pay attention to the minute amount of cocaine used to sentence him to 15-years. I wrote about a similar situation in Freedom for Another Friend, where a friend was serving life without parole, in part, due to a prior conviction for small amount of cocaine, used to enhance his federal sentence. https://straightfromthepen.com/2016/08/09/freedom-for-another-friend/
Pastor Eric Payne
By now you’re aware of what my attorney did to us in taking our money, NOT doing a thing, at the last minute dropping my case. Further, I’m sure you know about the “cruel, unusual, unjust, unfair, and sadistic punishment and game” the parole chief and State recently played on me and my family.
But I DO have some things to say about receiving 15 years for the victimless and nonviolent crime of Felony Possession of Cocaine (.001 gram/residue).
It was a bad decision, but I went back to “hustling” after a series of unfortunate financial struggles in my personal life, businesses, and church. I felt that I was suffocating and everywhere I turned I received no monetary assistance.
Once arrested I received “no bond” for the first 90 days and then a “$190,000.00 bond” afterwards. My Public Defender consistently expressed that he could not understand why the Chief Asst. District Attorney who handled murders, robberies, sex crimes, and all violent crimes was assigned to prosecute. I couldn’t understand it either especially since prior to this case (2013) I had not been in trouble with the law since 2002 in another state. In fact, I had not even had so much as a “Pedestrian Warning” or traffic ticket in GA!
My Public Defender even tried the slick move of claiming I had a drug problem. I paid to be interviewed by two separate residential drug rehabilitation programs and was accepted. Yet the prosecutor refused to agree with the recommendation. Thus, the judge would not consent to me being sent there in conjunction with long-term probation.
After 10 1/2 months sitting in jail working on various details, never receiving any discipline referrals (write-ups), being a role model inmate, and speaking to youths brought in for speeches, I pled to the mercy of the court.
I had a host of letters, pictures of me doing community service through my church, certifications, my pastor’s license and ordination papers, my church charter certificate, and everything needed to validate the launch of my own church presented to the courts yet it wasn’t enough to sway the judge’s (an African-American who preaches in south GA and who has a son with a history of criminal activity, drug involvement and drug addiction) decision to sentence me to 15 years in prison.
Even after the judge’s decision over 30 Detention Officers signed a petition asking the judge to reconsider because I had worked for them for nearly a year and they witnessed first-hand my character, behavior, and work ethic. The judge ignored their request, turned the petition over to the Sheriff, and all 30 officers were suspended and some prevented from advancing or becoming a deputy.
I was wrong for selling drugs and being in possession of the .001 gram (residue) of cocaine. But I felt then, as I feel now, that my charge was ridiculous, and my sentence was/is excessive. I’ve seen men who were in possession of WAY more drugs than myself and who were actually caught selling or trafficking drugs receive much less jail or prison time (including house arrest and/or probation) than myself.
I had (and STILL have) a valid, proven, and verifiable history of being an asset and positive contribution to my family, church, community, and society. Whether through personal contact or through Social Media, I’ve been a “plus” in the lives of those I’ve come in contact with.
Daily my wife, 4 minor children, family, friends, and church pray that someone will finally “listen” to us and begin the process of releasing me. At worst, we hope and pray that someone will listen and bring attention to the changes that need to be made on behalf of those in Sates custody and not just Federal custody (where it’s obvious that all of the “breaks” and opportunities go).
My family and I hope someone will help us.
Thank you for listening.
Theresa Payne Speaks Out
My husband was paroled
to Palm Beach County FL (by approved Interstate Compact) in October
2018 then snatched from our family in February 2018 due to a “clerical
error” between the GDOC and Parole system. He worked hard, was active in
our community, and committed no new crimes, had not old/active warrants, and
violated no conditions of his parole.
Me and my children have suffered due to this unfairness, injustice, and cruel
and unusual punishment. My husband has suffered as well.
On July 23, 2019 I received a call from Chief Hawkins (Albany/Dougherty County)
stating my husband had a TPM (Tentative Parole Month) of July 31, 2019. From
July 23rd thru July 25th I had several conversations with chief Hawkins and he
repeatedly stated and confirmed via his computer that my husband’s TPM was set
for July 31, 2019. Again, Chief Hawkins initiated the call to me with the news
of my husband’s TPM.
I notified my husband, shared the fantastic news with our four minor children,
told many family members (including my husband’s 95 year old mother), church
members, and friends and proceeded to make plans and arrangements for my
husband’s return home to West Palm Beach, FL.
I confirmed through the GDOC website and through Counselor Palmer (Montgomery
State Prison staff member) that my husband did NOT have a TPM – only a PED for
July 2020. Further, my husband personally spoke to Senior Counselor Youmans a
(MSP) and Counselor Palmer (MSP) whom both confirmed that my husband did NOT
have a TPM whatsoever. Yet, Chief Hawkins persisted and remained adamant in
saying my Husband’s TPM was July 31, 2019.
On the afternoon of Thursday, July 25, 2019 I spoke with Chief Hawkins who then
changed his statement now saying my husband in fact did NOT have a TPM at all
and that, all along, my husband on had a PED for July, 2020.
Chief Hawkins has added additional stress, pain, and suffering to our family’s
already sad and horrible situation. How can I fully explain this to our
children? How do I share this devastating news to our family and friends? How
is my husband expected to deal with yet another unwarranted shock and letdown?
We did not ask for this unjust treatment.
It’s clear that Chief Hawkins actions have treated me, my children, and my
husband with even greater cruel and unusual punishment than we’ve already been
experiencing since February 27, 2019. Again, we did not ask for any of this
emotional roller-coaster, mental anguish, harsh treatment, nor, frankly,
this cruel “game” being played on us at every point in our travesty.
We also had 2 lawyers
that advised us that they could help us and within a matter of months, both
have dropped the case leaving my husband without any legal
Who is left who has any type of compassion?
[Mrs. Payne attached a character reference letter from the Mayor of their town that I cannot post until receiving his consent.]