Appeal and Irony

Quora Moderation granted my appeal and reposted my answer to the question, “What would happen to the American criminal justice system if no one accepted plea deals and every case had to be resolved in the courtroom?”

Tuesday, March 12, 2019: I replied to a comment and referred to Sammy the Bull and the plea deal made to imprison former Mob Boss, John Gotti.

Ironically, John Gotti’s replacement, Gambino crime boss, Frank (Franky Boy) Cali, was gunned-down on March 13, 2019, the day after I replied and referred to his predecessor, John Gotti.

https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/ny-metro-murdered-gambino-crime-boss-lured-to-death-20190314-story.html

Ironic Reply to Response

For Quora Reader Response, follow thread at https://www.quora.com/What-would-happen-to-the-American-criminal-justice-system-if-no-one-accepted-plea-deals-and-every-case-had-to-be-resolved-in-the-courtroom/answer/Wayne-T-Dowdy

On plea-bargaining: what of situations when a mass-murderer, like Sammy the Bull, receives five-years for murdering nineteen people, because he agreed to say what the government needed said to convict John Gotti?

I have known many men who were in prison because someone lied to put them in prison, in exchange for a more lenient sentence. When most men and women are faced with going to prison or telling lies to put someone else inside in place of themselves, you can believe they will tell a lie and may help put innocent people in prison. That is the flaw in the plea-bargaining system.

On social injustice: Poor people suffer, whether white, black, blue or green. Statistically, based upon percentages, I know those with darker complexions receive longer sentences and are targeted by law enforcement; however, I am white and received a lengthier sentence than many other non-whites who committed more serious crimes.

Before I left prison, an African-American friend asked me to help his people organize movements like Black Lives Matter so that they would be more effective. I replied, “The first thing that needs to happen is to take the color out. All lives matter.”

Martin Luther King, Jr., Spoke Against Social Injustice.

When you add Black, White, Brown, Yellow to any social issue, the color label automatically alienates many of whom would otherwise be supportive if the person pushing the agenda had not made the issue into a racial one.

Click to read associated post: https://straightfromthepen.wordpress.com/2019/03/14/reduce-mass-incarceration/

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Reduce Mass Incarceration

QUORA Moderation Banned my Response to the Question, “What would happen to the American criminal justice system if no one accepted plea deals and every case had to be resolved in the courtroom?”

I’ve appealed the decision! In two days, my answer generated almost two-thousand views and several upvotes, so to me, that says people were interested in my view on the subject.

This Man is Not a Real Politician

The Will of the People Will Not Be Denied!

Official Response by Wayne T. Dowdy

The system would collapse. On September 22, 2003, the Honorable Attorney General, John Ashcroft, “an American lawyer and former politician who served as the 79th U.S. Attorney General (2001–2005), in the George W. Bush Administration,” issued a guidance memorandum to the United States Attorneys (federal prosecutors) and their assistants (AUSA).

The memorandum instructed prosecutors to seek the most serious charges and to stop the practice of dropping charges to get pleas, to still give defendants reduced points for accepting responsibility for their acts, and for their cooperation, but to still seek the most serious charges.

[Click the following links to read a New York Times newspaper article and the Memorandum from the former United States Attorney General, who was correct in his agenda to reduce the disparity in sentencing.]

ASHCROFT LIMITING PROSECUTORS’ USE OF PLEA BARGAINS

#516: 09-22-03 [THE BELOW MEMO WAS DISTRIBUTED TO U.S. ATTORNEYS ON SEPTEMBER 22, 2003, AND THE ATTORNEY GENERAL ANNOUNCED THE POLICY IN MILWAUKEE, WI. REMARKS FROM HIS SPEECH THERE ARE AVAILABLE ON THE ATTORNEY GENERAL�S SPEECHES PORTION OF THE DOJ WEBSITE.]

In a Criminal Law Reporter, I read an article that said the head of the Federal Public Defenders Office, wrote a letter to the then Attorney General, John Ashcroft, and complained about the memorandum.

The article claimed that if those policies were implemented, more attorneys would recommend their clients go to trial, and that for every five-percent decrease in guilty pleas, the courts’ dockets would increase thirty-percent.

Translation: if ten out of every hundred federal defendants went to trial, instead of pleading guilty, the overburdened-judicial-system would have a sixty-percent increase in criminal cases going to trial. That would be an overwhelming number of caseloads for prosecutors to handle, with those cases having to be tried within established time frames under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution that requires a fair and speedy trial. https:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speedy_Trial_Act

Therefore, a lot of the bogus cases would be dismissed so that the more serious criminal cases could be prosecuted.

I chastised many men who complained about the sentences they were serving, after going into the courtroom to volunteer to be sentenced, some agreeing to twenty-five and thirty-year sentences, rather than taking a chance at fighting their cases. Their cooperation helped fuel mass incarceration practices.

With more guilty pleas and the courts heading for collapse, Congress would have abolished the United States Sentencing Guidelines, enacted into law under the Sentence Reform Act of 1984, which requires substantial sentences under the mandatory minimums. The politicians in Congress may have even reduce some of the ridiculous criminal penalties enacted for a vote.

Push Congress to abolish the plea-bargaining system if you want to end mass incarceration, since the practice violates the anti-bribery statute, Title18 of the United States Code, Section 201(c)(2), which prohibits, “[o]ffers, or promises [of] anything of value to any person, for or because of the testimony under oath or affirmation given or to be given by such person as a witness upon a trial, hearing, or other proceeding, before any court, any committee of either House or both Houses of Congress, or any agency, commission, or officer authorized by the laws of the United States to hear evidence or take testimony, or for or because of such person’s absence therefrom[.]” 18 U.S.C., Sect. 201(c)(2) [alterations added]

President Donald Trump on Michael Cohen’s Testimony

During the plea-bargaining process for Michael Cohen, I recall President Trump saying on television that it should be illegal to show leniency to Michael Cohen for his testimony.

The above excerpt from the United States Code proves it is unlawful to pay someone “anything of value” for their testimony.

Freedom is priceless!

Freedom or Reduced Sentences for Testimony Before a Court is Payment

Three Judges in the United States Court of Appeals ruled it violated 18 U.S.C., Sect. 201(c)(2) for prosecutors to give reduced sentences for testimony by codefendants.

https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/field_document/usvsingleton2.pdf or https://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-10th-circuit/1436412.htm

Singleton v. United States was decided twenty-years ago but the principles and reasoning behind the three-panel decision is as true today as it was then.

Several politicians criticized the decision and intimidated other judges by introducing new bills and all sorts of garbage. The en banc decision (full-court) reversed the three-judge panel decision but the original three-judges held their ground and stood behind their correct opinion, not driven by political influence.

Richard B. Russell Federal Building

On March 8, 2019, I left Dismas Charities, Inc. and went to the Richard B. Russell Federal Building, where I reported with the intent of seeing my probation officer, after my official release from the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons.

I wrote about my experience in Electronic Chain. https://straightfromthepen.wordpress.com/electronic-chain/

Thirty-years of change in a prosperous city like Atlanta, Georgia, makes a Big Difference. I walked in through the swinging glass doors of the massive building, and planned to use the elevator to report to the United States Probation Office, as required by law for those released from prison and starting a term of supervised release.  I had plenty of time to report but I wanted to be prompt.

I did not expect the increased security or to have to surrender my cellphone while inside, or to have to clear a metal detector and the other processes I encountered, just to get up to the Ninth Floor to see my probation officer, whom I did not see because his office is in another town.

No one told me that before I appeared at the semi-wrong place. The release paper I held in my hand said I had seventy-two hours to report to 75 Ted Turner Drive, Atlanta, Georgia. I did.

My experience turned out well, though, even if I wasn’t supposed to necessarily be at that address.

Everyone was kind, polite and professional. I walked out of the Richard B. Russell Federal building, after providing a urinalysis and then speaking with the pretty probation officer I mentioned in Electronic Chain, to go take pictures of the Mercedes Benz Stadium.

While I was away, the Georgia Dome was built and tore down before I returned. Something makes me feel that I was gone entirely too long, but the main thing is that I am back and will be one to fight for change and do my part to make life better for others.

Now please sign up to follow my blogs and then click the link to view my latest page that I accidentally created. https://straightfromthepen.wordpress.com/electronic-chain/

I began with the intent of writing a blog, and when the system didn’t give me the options I should have had, I knew something hadn’t went as I had planned.

However, after I learned I had created the page in place of the blog, I knew it was a wonderful mistake, because Electronic Chain is where I write about exiting the old life and entering the new.

Frequently Asked Questions and An Anonymous Interview

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

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

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

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

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

Q: How many books have you written?
A: I’ve written four books but only have two I’m marketing. I had a special purpose for UNDER PRESSURE-MOTIVATIONAL VERSION by Mr. D (I added sections to the original UNDER PRESSURE to inspire the aspiring writers). To make it a better value for my readers, I combined the original novel with the sequel and produced UNKNOWN INNOCENCE by Wayne T. Dowdy ($12.95 plus S&H), with the help of Midnight Express Books.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Limited Promotional Offer: 

UNKNOWN INNOCENCE by Wayne T. Dowdy

Promotional price: $0.00
Expires: March 14, 2019

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Prison Privatization and Recidivism

Can Prison Reform Initiatives Work Without Abolishing Private Prisons?

I wrote this post as a creative solution for prison reform. Money controls business decisions, and with most politicians in the pockets of private prison executives, policies remain the same. Prison reform needs allies, not enemies. This plan joins forces.

See the source image

Yes, I feel it is possible. Private prison companies can aid in the transformation of the criminal justice system by putting more resources into effective programs to help reduce recidivism.

Perhaps private prison corporations can lead the way of prison reform with new cell construction, improved prison living conditions, and programs to mimic those in Norway, the nation with the world’s lowest recidivism rates. https://phys.org/news/2016-08-norwegian-prisons-criminal.html

Evidence of decreased recidivism rates will increase profit margins by allowing higher contract prices. Privatization of prisons requires making a profit off those who go to prison. A large component of incarceration is “Reentry” into society upon release, as CoreCivic (previously Corrections Corporation of America), and GEO Group realized and began investing in Residential Reentry Centers.

By creating a component of prison privatization to aid in the reentry process, opens the door for other profits to be gained by an organization.

Market doors open when private prison companies invest in supplying associated services to returning citizens.  For instance,

  • building or investing in treatment centers or other services to treat drug and alcohol problems;

  • providing psychological services (counseling for mental health issues);

  • suitable housing projects;

  • job training classes, vocational skills programs, employment opportunities (e.g., temporary job services, employment agencies, creating divisions for other companies to employ returning citizens).

If a three-year recidivism study shows a substantial reduction in recidivism, then the organization can charge much higher rates, since paying the increased rate saves taxpayers dollars by not having to pay to re-incarcerate returning prisoners.

Additional profits will flow from the organizaton charging a percentage for services provided to the prisoners.  If the established program is voluntary, where any prisoner exiting the system has a choice of whether he or she wishes to participate, any Risk versus Benefit analysis would increase demand for offered services, because such a program would become the Gold Standard and most desired by prisoners leaving the prison system and wanting to successfully reenter society.

Wonderful Women by Wayne T. Dowdy


I love women! Women Rule the World and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. This repost pays respect to all of the women today and from days gone by, who helped shape the world and to give us life as we know it.

The facts have changed as I am now a free man, no longer under control of those in the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons, but I remain grateful for participating in the event that honored Women’s History Month.

WOMEN RULE THE WORLD

 

Womens-History-Month-300x153

I live in an abnormal environment dominated by women–a men’s federal prison. On Tuesday, March 28, 2017, I am a scheduled speaker at an event to honor Women’s History Month in America. I feel inclined to do a powerful presentation. Talk about performance anxiety!

I speak often from the podium and have no fear of public speaking. I will speak from the heart to honor powerful women in history, not just in America.

Most department heads at this institution are African-American women, including the one who rules her domain with whips and chains at the Federal Correctional Institution in Edgefield, South Carolina, the Warden, as well as, one of her two Assistant Wardens. Here is what I have written for the Products of a Woman presentation:

Powerful Women

I am Wayne T. Dowdy, a son, father, grandfather, brother, and an uncle, all the products of a woman, my Mother.

The strength I saw in her and many other women has convinced me that the biggest deception in life began when an intelligent woman convinced man that he was the strongest.

Yeah, right! She says, go fight that bear to protect me, honey. Bring me his meat and we will eat. The man risks his life to please and feed her.

Now I’ll touch on history. In the United States, Women’s History Month traces its beginning back to the first International Women’s Day in 1911.

In 1978, the school district of Sonoma, California participated in Women’s History Week. Different events followed that led to President Jimmy Carter declaring March 8, 1980, as National Women’s History Week, which began a series of Presidential Proclamations of Women’s History Week, up until 1986.

During this trend, Congress got on the bandwagon and passed resolutions for Women’s History Week.

Beginning in 1988, each subsequent president issued Presidential Proclamations of Women’s History Month that continues to this day. These women are a fraction of notable women in history:

Cleopatra (69 BCE – 30 BCE), the woman who ruled Egypt.
Joan of Arc (1412 – 1431), a 17-year old woman who inspired a French revolt against the English occupation, and then led the French to victory at Orleans.
Sojourner Truth (1797 – 1883), an African-American, female abolitionist and women’s rights campaigner, whose famous speech against racial inequality, as a woman, I will share upon conclusion.
Susan B. Antony (1820 – 1906), campaigned against slavery and promoted rights for women and workers. Her contribution earned her a mark on a U.S. coin.
Emily Murphy (1868 – 1933), the first woman magistrate in the British Empire. In 1927, she joined forces with four Canadian women who sought to challenge an old Canadian law that said, “[W]omen should not be counted as persons.”
Rosa Parks (1913 – 2005), she refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, an action that indirectly led to the most significant civil rights legislation in American history.
Indira Gandhi (1917 – 1984), first female Prime Minister of India. She was assassinated.
Margaret Thatcher (1925 – 2013), the first female Prime Minister of Great Britain.
Condolesa Rice, Secretary of State under President George Bush, Jr.
Loretta Lynch, United States Attorney General under President Barrack Obama.

An old cliche is that, “Behind every good man is a good woman.” These women are examples:

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884 – 1962), First Lady of President Franklin D. Roosevelt;
Jacqueline Kennedy ( ), First Lady of President John F. Kennedy;
Nancy Reagan ( ), First Lady of President Ronald Reagan;
Hilary Clinton, First Lady of President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State under President Obama, 2016 Presidential Candidate;
Michelle Obama, First Lady of President Barrack Obama, and of African-American decent.

I offer those listed above as examples of thousands of powerful women throughout history. Women are survivors.

The birth process is evidence of a woman’s strength. Most men would not dare to suffer so much pain to give life, if given the option. No, he is too weak for that kind of pain.

Our species would not have survived if man carried the burden of birth. He may go fight a bear to please her and to feed their children, but he dare not to endure such pain for nine months.

Additional evidence lies in the fact that in long-term marriages, if the woman dies first, the man is soon to follow. If the man dies first, the woman keeps on going to nurture her offspring for generations.

My mother outlived and buried three husbands.

Women are fighters, fighting for life, for love, for equality. Ask Beyonce’ Knowles, she tells the truth when she says, “Women Rule the World.”

To celebrate their legacy, a week was not enough, nor is a month, so the fight continues. Women’s History Month allows us to focus on the value of women and reunites the flame to fight for equality in the workplace and in all other aspects of life, because without the woman, there would be no life.

Yes, maybe most men are physically stronger than most women are; however, the facts show women rule the world. Evidence also suggests that she is more intelligent. If she wasn’t, she’d be the one to go fight the bear to feed her family while the man stayed at home with their children.

Now for, “AIN’T I A WOMAN?” by Sojourner Truth, delivered in 1851 at the Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio:

“Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women of the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most of them sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [member of audience whispers, ‘intellect’] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negroes’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say.”

The fight continues until the day all women are treated equal. Let us remember each day to celebrate Women’s History, not just during the Month of March. Thank you!

_______________________________________
Wayne T. Dowdy writes Straight From the Pen. Purchase his paperbacks from your favorite eStore, including Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. 
Order autographed copies by contacting him at wtdowdy57@gmail.com.
For best deals and some free eBooks, visit his author’s page at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy. 

The Truth About Crime and Karma

Karma Laws Helped Change My Life

Do people who commit or do not commit crimes, make their choices based on moral or legal principles?  Karma helped me decide the answer for myself.

The logical conclusion for why other people do or do not commit crimes is a little or a lot of both (for moral and legal reasons).

I can only share from my perspective, as no one can honestly say why another person did or did not do something, unless told by that person, and then it is debatable because the truth may remain hidden, even from the spokesperson.  The easiest one to lie to is ourselves.

Having committed several crimes and going to prison for them, and not committing any crimes today, I live this way because I got tired of Karma abusing me, and because I learned to treat others the way I want to be treated.

I do not want someone stealing from me or from my friends and loved ones.

I do not want anyone committing unwanted sexual acts against me or my friends and loved ones.

I do not want someone harming me or my friends and loved ones, in any form or manner.

I do not want to suffer the consequences of my actions, so I let my actions fall within the parameters of what is legal and ethical.

I live within the boundaries of a defined set of principles and concepts of what is moral (ethical) and just.

The laws (spiritual and legal), affect where the boundaries were drawn and affects my decision to stay within the established boundaries, whether I agree or disagree with what the law states.

I changed my life because of Karma, after being in prison for seven years (twenty-three years before my release). 

For the first seven years, I continued living my life the way I had lived before being sentenced to prison.  I committed crimes within the prison setting. Being crafty, I got away with a lot of things that could have put me in the hole (locked inside a small cell for 23-hours per day), for a long time.

What I could not escape was the penalties imposed by Karma, so I changed my evil, wicked-ways and learned to live a more righteous life to yield better results.  Now Karma and I get along well.

Man’s laws and penalties had nothing to do with my desire to change my life and to stop committing crimes.

______________________________________________

Purchase paperbacks and eBooks of Wayne T. Dowdy from your favorite bookseller, including Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.

For best price & free eBooks, visit his author’s page at Smashwords.com (https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy).

Quora Posts

These Top Three Posts have the highest number of views on Quora.com, where I’ve had a total of 105 K views (all content) since I began posting answers on December 16, 2018. https://www.quora.com/profile/Wayne-T-Dowdy

Most viewed posts within the last thirty days (01/25/19-02/25/19):


Answered: January 26, 2019, by Wayne T. Dowdy

How are new inmates treated when they first come to prison?

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Prison life has a lot of variables. The older cons often keep a new prisoner at a distance until they learn more about them, such as their criminal history and certain characteristics (e.g., depending on the old-timers, most want to know if they’re a rat, sex offender, coward, drug user, rich or poor).

If the new prisoner gets accepted, he will be looked out for and provided things people need walking in the door with nothing but a blanket roll (e.g., in the federal system: sheets, blanket, mini-care packet with a small packet of soap, deodorant, toothpaste, and a tooth brush).

Then there are those who will befriend a new prisoner to use and take advantage of, while others will truly befriend the new arrival by treating him the same way he wants to be treated.

Most new people are greeted by other prisoners, who will ask questions, with the main ones being, “Where you from?” “Who you run with?” or some variants, thereof, and if accepted, will provide the new prisoner with needed items, such as cosmetics, a few soups, maybe even a radio and headphones, if he has impeccable credentials for life inside prison.

You Gotta Go!

If rejected or from the wrong area or gang, he’ll get run off the compound or carried off after suffering more physical abuse than he may deserve.

21 k Views, 39-Upvotes

(Photo by Lynn Pelham/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

Can you survive and stay healthy on food provided to you in prison? Is the food clean and nutritious enough, or do you need to order out like the rest of the inmates?

Updated: February 19, 2019, by Wayne T. Dowdy

I can only write about my life while serving time in the Georgia Department of Corrections and in the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons. This is what I wrote, in part, on December 19, 2016 in “Gratitude and More”:

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

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

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

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

“His words filled me with guilt. He had once told me that both of his parents were still in state prison. I realized his parents were probably doing worse than all of us at the table.

“The youngster’s comment helped redirect the nature of our conversations toward what we were grateful for.

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

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

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

“Each of us walked away feeling more grateful for the meal we had been blessed with because we had stopped for a moment to remember the less fortunate in life.

“Not only do I have two feet and nice shoes, I have a fat belly filled with gratitude. I hope each of you have a wonderful Christmas meal and feel fortunate for the freedom you share in a less than perfect world.

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

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

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

“Upon remembrance of the less fortunate, I find myself grateful for the simple things in life I often take for granted. Be thankful for those you have in your life who love and care for you. Happy Thanksgiving!” [End Quote] GRATITUDE AND MORE

[2017–2018]: The recent federal budgets reduced available funds to prison administrators. When a warden saves money by operating under the approved budget, he or she may receive a bonus. At the last federal institution I lived at, the warden received hefty bonuses by reducing the operating cost.

Thousands of dollars saved came from her reducing food service expenditures and by reducing staff, much like private prisons operate to theoretically save taxpayer dollars.

Many times I sat eating and feeling regret for those who could not afford to have food in their locker to supplement the meal; however, overall, the food was well-prepared and most of the staff allowed inmates to go through the line twice, because they knew the meal was less than what the menu required to meet dietary requirements for adequate nutrition.

State prisoners are probably fed less but could survive with what is served. Though they could survive, that does not mean they would not walk away hungry and suffer from health-related issues due to dietary deficiencies.

5.1k Views, 15-Upvotes

Bad Day Way To Start a Day

When does the day start for inmates in federal prison?

Answered: February 4, 2019, by Wayne T. Dowdy

From my experience, when the day starts for federal inmates varies according to the prison and the employment position held by the prisoner. For most of the prisons I was in, which included four United States Penitentiaries and one Federal Correctional Institution, the doors opened by 6:00 am under normal circumstances.

In the lower-security prisons, certain prisoners assigned to food service (chow hall) may leave the unit for work as early as 4:00 am, whereas the majority who work in the chow hall won’t leave until approximately 6:30-7:00 am.

Those schedules and processes vary according to the security rating of the prisoner and institution. For instance, high-security institutions that house inmates assigned as Max. Custody, may not allow those inmates to work in certain positions where more readily-available weapons or tools may be used to aid in an escape plan, or during high-risk periods (when visibility is reduced, such as when foggy or before sunrise or after sunset).

For thirteen of the thirty-years, I was a maximum custody prisoner which required that I stay in a high-security institution; however, the only consistency in management techniques to control me was inconsistency. The way I was managed because of my custody/security rating, varied according to the Captain of the institution.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons’ program statement for Inmate Security Designation and Custody Classification (P.5100.08), approved 09/12/2006, and other referenced documentation, establishes security protocols for management of its prisoners.

In the Federal Prison Industries, Inc. (UNICOR), where I worked for most of the thirty-years I served, we reported to work at 7:30 am. The cell house doors opened at 6:00 am for the general population to begin their day.

2.8k Views, 11-Upvotes

If I add in the fourth, the previous champ comes in with 18.4 K total views and 84-Upvotes.

State versus Federal

How does serving time in a federal prison compare to serving time in a state prison?

(Question Modified) Answered: December 26, 2018, by Wayne T. Dowdy

When I first began my sentence, an old-timer said, “The states control you physically and the feds do it psychologically.”

I found that true. The feds use incentive-mechanisms to control its prisoners (gives prisoners something to lose, recreation privileges, more freedom of movement, better living conditions; something authorities take or restrict access to for misbehavior).

The typical prisoner mentality in the federal system is milder, less violent than many state prisoners. Again, an old-timer gave me a few words of wisdom:

“The federal system lulls people to sleep because it’s more laid-back, and there’s not as much violence every day, so guys forget where they’re at because they get away with so much. And then when one of them does something stupid to the wrong person, he gets stabbed or killed.”

I behaved better in the federal system than when I served time in the State of Georgia, where violence dominates every day activities.

My published writings show the difference between the young knucklehead I was while serving time in Georgia where I didn’t have much to lose, in comparison to the responsible man I become, due in part to the aging process and having programs available to help me change. Read The Price of Change by Wayne T. Dowdy, Midnight Express Books, for an example of the differences in my behaviors in the State versus the Federal system.

Being paid for working in the Federal Prison Industries (UNICOR) made a significant difference because it allowed me to take care of myself, rather than to burden my family for support, and that made me feel better as a human being.

The difference in my behavior illustrates the effectiveness of incentive programs, as well as the difference in the life of a prisoner serving time in a federal or state system; however, prisoner experiences vary.

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The Arrest by Sherry Short, March 21, 2015

[I posted this as a Guest Post, with permission of the author. Now I am posting it as regular post for it to receive more views, because of the value I feel it holds to those who visit this page and others associated with going to prison and related issues.]

Nothing could have prepared me for the day that I got arrested. It was a bleak January morning in 2008 and I was at my rented house with my mom and two of my sons. I was not surprised by my arrest since I knew it was going to happen although just didn’t know what day. The knock on my door filled me with apprehension as I answered it. The moment I laid eyes on the man standing in my doorway, I knew exactly what he had come for. He was accompanied by a couple of police officers and that’s when the exhaustion and relief hit me all at once. I was glad the waiting was finally over while consumed with a fear of the unknown.

The very worst part of that day was not the arrest itself, nor the shame in what I had become. Watching my family, witnessing me get arrested was one of the worst gut-wrenching feelings that I would ever experience and probably never forget. The detective was kind enough to let me tell my then four-year-old son, a lie that he was taking me to the police station to help them out in catching a criminal. It wasn’t entirely a lie, he just wasn’t aware that the criminal was his own mother. The detective didn’t even handcuff me until we were outside by the police car out of sight by my young son. To this day, I will never forget the sorrow, regret and shame that I felt on that day.

One of my older sons was there also who was well over the age to understand. I hated that, at 17-years old, he was watching his mom slowly turn into a monster right before his very eyes. Falling from grace in your children’s eyes, in my opinion, is much worse than falling from grace in your mother or father’s eyes. What a way to get to know your mom’s true colors. The darkness and depression on that day was overwhelming and my future was bleak to say the least.

Without going through all the legalities of the charges just yet, in a nutshell, I was arrested for embezzling at my bookkeeping job for a home products company. I thought I had sealed my fate and was headed for several years in prison. At the age of 37, I had lived long enough to understand that I was facing a very difficult future. What hurt me the most was that I stood the chance of not being there to raise my youngest son. That was very important to me because in my mind at the time, he was the last chance I had a being a good mom. I had literally fucked up with all my other kids. I always wanted to be a good mother, but let other things get in the way, including my crazy mind.

I wanted a change so bad at that time in my life. I had been pretending to the world that my life was fine and that I was financially capable of handling everything on my own. I had become exhausted with the pretenses and with the dependency on the extra paychecks that I was illegally writing to myself. That’s why I was relieved that it was over.

Despite my overwhelming sorrow and self-loathing, I mustered up the courage to change my attitude almost from day one. I had decided on my ride in the police car that I was going to do my very best from that day forward. I knew I needed help mentally and emotionally and had made a decision to do my part. What’s that saying in the Bible about sweeping out demons? Something along the lines of when you clean one out, several more come back in. Little did I know that I would be in for experiencing the most challenges that I ever had experienced in my life by deciding to become a criminal.

Early Warning Codes

Prisoners shout various Early Warning Codes to forewarn others.  I recently learned that at some Georgia prisons, the Early Warning Code is “Twelve,” which I learned on Quora.com.  At one prison, other men used Top Rock or Bottom Rock to indicate where the staff member walked (top or bottom tier).

The reason an inmate may shout that (12) is because, for instance,  that a correctional officer or staff member enters a living area at the “12 O’clock” position, or that “12” is just one of the many “Early Warning Codes” used.

Staff may exhibit the same behavior, after getting used to prisoners using the Early Warning Code to let others know they’re on the prowl.

http://www.tattnallcountyga.com/georgia-state-prison.cfm

In the early Eighties I was at the Georgia State Prison (GSP) in Reidsville (The Great White Elephant), where the first version of “The Longest Yard” was filmed that starred Burt Reynolds. We used “Fire in the Hole” as our Early Warning Code to forewarn others that a correctional officer or staff member was entering the cellblock/living area.

Several staff members would walk in the door and shout, “Fire in the Hole.”

That may be because, in 1982, a federal monitor said that the Federal government had declared the prison as the most dangerous prison in the United States. Vincent N., the Federal Monitor appointed to monitor the prison for compliance with a Federal lawsuit (Guthrie v. Evans), made the claim of which I still challenge as factually incorrect.

I was an inmate representative in reformation process, voted in by my peers to represent the Whites for mediation during racial and legal disputes (to help resolve issues without killing each other and to help get the prison in compliance with the court orders).

I said, “How can we be the most violent prison when more people got killed in the New Mexico prison?”

“That was during a time of riot,” he said. “We’re talking about a time of non-riot. During a general run of the prison, y’all had thirty-five inmate-to-officer attacks, fifty inmate-to-inmate attacks, and six-murders.”

I suspect that because of the extreme level of violence, most staff members did not want to walk up on prisoners doing something illegal or unauthorized, which would require an un-favored response that may result in another staff assault.

In the past, one correctional officer had been robbed and killed by prisoners.  One prisoner removed a watch from his arm as he lay dying on the floor from a heart attack.

During my four-year stay at GSP, a male correctional officer was raped by a prisoner, of whom the prisoner had put a knife to his throat and pulled him into the cell, where the unthinkable happened.

The era of violence at that prison ended. Reorganization resulted in the reduced violence, as the more dangerous prisoners are more closely monitored and controlled.

But I am sure there are still those who will shout whatever the trending “Early Warning” signal may be for a staff member entering the area.

https://www.quora.com/In-prison-inmates-yell-12-to-alert-other-inmates-when-an-officer-is-present-Why-is-the-number-12-used-when-they-alert-each-other-or-does-this-only-happen-in-Georgia-prisons/answer/Wayne-T-Dowdy

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