Tag Archives: Dismas Charities

Life After Release

Jackson Lake, Jackson, Georgia

My past I leave behind as I churn my way into a brighter future, but I cannot forget from where I came because it consumes too much space inside my head. How can anyone forget decades spent inside a cage with thousands of other men, all living in the Insane World of Incarceration in the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons?

Photo by Hert Niks on Pexels.com

Never Forget: September 11, 2001, is a day America cannot forget because each year the media reminds its citizens of the day terrorist used jets to attack the World Trade Center in New York City.

Cannot Forget: I cannot forget because I walked the tiers at the United States Federal Penitentiary in Pollock, Louisiana when the attack occurred, which is the way my brain works (by associating events with my location at the time of occurrence).

Positive Thinking: Though I cannot forget such events and my life inside the prison system, I choose not to allow those thoughts to influence my behavior in a negative manner. I prefer the positive. Had I not been sentenced to prison for the crimes committed on June 21, 1988, I would not be alive today or would have committed even worst crimes if not arrested and put in a cage, which I wrote about in The Price of Change, an essay in one of my books.



In Fence Rows and The Price of Change, I write about a person those who know me today does not see because I am not the same person because I changed my life seven years into a 420-month federal sentence for armed bank robbery and associated charges. Both essays are in the eBook and paperback sold on Amazon Essays & More Straight from the Pen or separately as an eBook at Smashwords.com, originally published by Midnight Express Books.

Excerpt from The Price of Change

I started this sentence in 1988. The fear of prison had left many years before I decided to change. After a while one becomes accustomed to the insane ways of incarceration and the depravations included in prison life. Shutting down emotions helped me cope with the murders and acts of brutality I was exposed to as part of being in prison. I continued to shoot dope and live a miserable existence until 1993 when I sought help through the prison Psychology department at the penitentiary in Atlanta. I had to learn how to be intimate with others. Trusting others was difficult because so many people proved themselves untrustworthy, so I built walls to keep people out. To recover, I tore down the walls and shared the secrets of the soul. It took over a year of therapy for me to make noticeable progress, but I ultimately succeeded in learning how to live with myself without using drugs and alcohol, which I have done since April 5, 1995.

Today, I use my experiences to help others recover and can accept myself; character defects included and have come to terms with my past: it’s overdone with. I can’t change it. I can be a better person by treating others the way I want to be treated, and not the way I may feel they deserve to be treated. If I’m being judgmental of others, which I often am, I think about the biblical parable of the adulterer whom some wanted to stone, and Jesus Christ saying, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone,” and I know I cannot throw any rocks. My ego says I am better than those I wish to judge, but reality says we are all the same—flawed human beings. By accepting others, I can accept myself, flaws, and all.

Another process was praying for people I resented—without making suggestions about what I thought was deserved. Then I became willing to make amends to those I had harmed as suggested in twelve-step programs, and then to forgive others and myself. In a sense, the way I live my life today is one way I make amends to those I cannot make amends to for whatever reason prevents it. An example of my living amends is in this: when I was at a penitentiary in Lompoc, California, I stole loaf bread and bought Ramen Noodle Soups to feed the birds. Some of my friends would come by and joke with me about feeding the birds because of the process that follows feeding them. I often said, “I’m making amends to the ancestors of birds I killed when I was a kid.” And then I would laugh, but I was serious; furthermore, I enjoyed feeding them, as I enjoy the relationships often restored as the result of making amends.

I wish I could honestly write that I no longer experience resentments or anger, but I cannot. I’m still human. However, whenever I experience anger or resentment, I know what to do to find relief: look within myself as I write in my journal. When appropriate, I share it with another person, and when the situation requires it, take the right course of action that coincides with living my life in harmony with the Universe. As a result, I rarely have conflicts.

I am now a model prisoner with a good reputation amongst most staff and prisoners alike. More importantly, I’m loved by my family and friends and am a good human being, which is a priceless gift that I never thought I deserved. People actually like me these days. The price I paid to get here was tough, but it took what it took. And by the way, “here” means alive, not in prison. Prison is just the place my body resides for the time being.

Speaking of prison, as a matter of principle, I really should not be in prison, but the law is such that if a person fails to jump through the hoops at the proper time, any violation of the law made by the government no longer matters. They call it procedural default to avoid addressing issues in the name of the administration of justice, and since habeas corpus laws changed drastically in 1996 to make it more difficult for a person to obtain relief without satisfying extremely stringent standards, very few ever succeed at obtaining relief through the courts. Spiritually though, I know I am right where I need to be. Had I have won my case, I would most likely be dead by now; therefore, I am grateful for the way things turned out, mostly. 

The Price of Change comes from the collection, ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN [$8.95 USD]

My worst enemy looked me in the face every time I looked into a mirror.

BREAKING NEWS

In Breaking News, I wrote about a variety of issues related to reentry, including recidivism, and the lovely Kim Kardashian standing beside President Donald Trump in the Oval Office inside the White House, after she had assisted Alice M. Johnson with having her federal sentence commuted.

To prepare myself for release and to do what I believed would assist me in obtaining employment upon release, I took a program called WorkKeys that gauges a person’s ability to apply textbook knowledge in the workplace. In other words, a GED or High School Education or College, gives a person a knowledge base.

From my limited understanding, WorkKeys tests a person’s ability to take that knowledge and to apply it in practical situations, as well as to demonstrate his or her ability to solve problems by comprehending written or implied instructions to accomplish a goal. Whatever the case may be, I first scored Gold Certification and then returned to be retested because Gold wasn’t good enough for me.

I wanted and received Platinum Certification!

My certificate verifies that Platinum certification shows that those who receive it have “Skills for 99% of the jobs in ACT’s extensive database”; however, when I walked out of the prison doors with a plan to secure employment by demonstrating my vast amount of accomplishments and skill sets, and a high Grade Point Average in college, none of the things I had accomplished meant anything in regards to getting hired.

On June 17, 2017, my publisher posted my blog, Seeking a Real Job. I wrote it to help others find employment, with a firm conviction that I would not have a problem finding a job because of my education and skill sets. I was wrong!

Since I walked in the prison doors at the age of thirty-one and out of the doors in my sixties, I failed to understand that Age was my enemy, a factor beyond my control.

I posted my resume online with several job sites (Indeed, Monster, LinkedIn, Jobcase, Career Builder, etc.). Job recruiters called often. Many of the recruiters literally hung up the phone after I responded to questions relating to my age.

My criminal history never entered the equation.

Dismas Charities Side Entrance Gate

During the job seeking process while at Dismas Charities, a Residential Reentry Center in Atlanta, an employment counselor at the Georgia Department of Labor suggested I dumb-down my resume and said I was overqualified for most jobs available through them, and that I should start my own business.

Eleven months later, Goodwill of North Georgia hired me as an Environmental Service Technician, which is a long name for a janitor or custodian.

Three months after being given a chance, I was Employee of the Month, and then on the following month, I was featured online in the November 2019, Goodwill Employee Spotlight.

The pay was not providing what I needed to survive on my own. I liked my job because I saw it as a way to help keep customers and employees safer by keeping the environment sanitary.

But on a more personal level, I NEEDED more money to prepare for my future. A few months later, I saw an internal job opportunity that paid a lot more. I applied and was hired as a floor technician and though I work like an Alaskan Malamute, I do get paid more and have better hours.

Business: On my days and time off from that position, I work on a business I started one year ago today, on September 11, 2019.

Now I am investing in the stock market and am working on building affiliate marketing websites to earn money by referring others to quality products and services.

Financial Success Shines Ahead!

Relationships

My plans for getting involved in an intimate relationship are still pending. I’ve had opportunities but turned them down; others who I was interested in turned me down, well, kind of. To get involved in an intimate relationship probably requires asking someone out for a date or at least a Roll in the Sack, but …. I only played around with that aspect of romance.

I got what I had coming by rejecting a couple of cougars who were stalking me: What Goes Around Comes Around!

The truth is that I know I need to focus more on building a financial future, and unless I were to find that special someone who would be an asset in that endeavor, an intimate relationship would be distracting because I’d want to spend more time with her than working toward becoming financially secure.

Regarding my children and familial relationships, those haven’t worked according to plan either, but … I know that everything is working according to God’s will for my life.

Conclusion

The most important thing is that I have remained free and am in good health. I continue to live my life without using mind-altering substances and strive towards building that bright future I KNOW God has in store for me, one day at a time.

Everything else will fall into place when it is time for me to step into another life. Going for a ride on a pontoon sounds like a great idea, too, so I can watch the water churn behind the boat as we head towards our happy destiny.

A New Life

I Often Wondered If I’d Live Long Enough to See Such Beauty Again

From inside the prison cells I lived for over thirty-years, I could not see the sky through the trees. To simultaneously capture the beauty of the Sun and the Moon shining through trees would have been miraculous, as it was when I snapped the photo on my cellphone.

A loved one gave me the cellphone I used to partake in the experience that I now share the beauty of with the world.

Everything I have for comfort and convenience has been provided by friends or loved ones. I’m Grateful and Blessed by the Best!

A New Life: Important Words and Feelings: Humbling! Fortunate! Blessed!

In Electronic Chain I wrote about the beginning of a new life on March 8, 2019, when I was officially released from the custody and control of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons. https://straightfromthepen.com/electronic-chain

Many things changed since I left Dismas Charities, Inc., most for the good, some not-so-good. The not-so-goods fall under an “Expectations” category, which often creates negative emotions in any living, breathing, human being because things aren’t going according to plan. OUR plan.

For instance, I expected to find a job and to be doing well by now, financially, because I am skilled and knowledgeable in many areas, with documented evidence of skills and a verifiable high Grade Point Average in college. I’m still unemployed, eight months later, and living with relatives I am fortunate to have willing to give me a place to roost.

I didn’t expect to be discriminated against by potential employers and online employment agencies because of my age. I have been, evident by the line going dead when I answer these questions: “When did you graduate or get your GED?” “What year were you born?”

Good things happened more than not-so-good things. I’m still alive and free and that makes life much better for me, and I hope for others, too!

Oddly enough, moments after I began typing this blog a few days ago, Google notified me that I had been officially verified as being me and the owner of the information listed in the Knowledge Panel associated with the name, Wayne T. Dowdy. Though some information Google relied upon is outdated, I’m pleased to be acknowledged as being ME. I’ll work on bringing Mr. Google up to date.

Outside in the sunshine or the moonlight, I feel like me, a free man, a man with choices. A man who knows he is fortunate to walk outside, alone, at night or during the day, without chains and hound dogs chasing him. (Read “The Price of Change” in Essays & More Straight from the Pen [$9.95 USD] and you’ll understand the significance of the last clause of that sentence.) https://www.amazon.com/dp/1794396829/ref=rdr_ext_tmb

Don’t count on WordAds to pay the bills if you pay for an upgrade on a WordPress.com website, unless you have thousands of followers and visitors on your website. Without the traffic, you’ll be paying the monthly fees, as I am doing, but it’s all good, because at least I do get to enjoy the privilege of getting my words spread all over the world.

Now I need to go work on my other websites at waynedowdy.weebly.com or wonderfulthingsdone.com or wonderfulthingsdone.net, to see if I can get those sites working and maybe even generating funds and business, so that I will become an employer and won’t need to work for someone else.

To use truthful rationalization as a coping mechanism, I prefer business partners, anyways.

So, to all you employers who discriminate against us returning citizens who grew old during our draconian sentence, stick that job where the sun and moon won’t shine.

In light of all the above, I know things work according to the will of my Higher Power, whom I chose to call God, and that everything will be okay. Life is a matter of perception!

I’m doing well at adjusting to this new life, it’s just a little different than how I imagined it would be before I walked out of the prison doors. It’s all good! I’m GOOD, too!

WAITING

counting the daysI am waiting, waiting for my WorkKeys test scores, waiting for a class to begin on Job Applications & Resumé Writing.  All of that waiting concerns preparation for the day my freedom arrives (read my poem below, “Waiting”).

The past prepares me for today.  Today prepares me for tomorrow; and if given a “tomorrow,” I shall seek opportunities that prepare me for better days.

In preparation of the day my freedom comes, I continue to work on increasing my chance of success upon release, which may be as early as April 25th, 2018.  Well, that is my “almost free” date; the date I may leave here for Dismas Charities (halfway house) in Atlanta, Georgia, my home town.  I’d still technically be in federal custody while at the halfway house but will be allowed to go find a job to pay for my upkeep.  Later on I’d be put on home confinement, where I will stay at home unless at work, always near a phone and monitoring device.

WORKKEYS:  At the beginning and end of the class, we took the TABE Locator test for math.  At the beginning I scored 12.1 out of a possible 12.9, the latter of which I scored upon completion.  Now I am waiting to see if I succeeded at obtaining Platinum certification.  I feel I did.  By the next blog I will know and will proudly boast if I scored the Platinum.  If I did not qualify for it in two out of three categories, I will be shocked.  No doubt I will at least grab the Gold!

PLATINUM:  A flyer about the National Career Readiness Certificate, shows those with Platinum certification (Level 6), are qualified for 99% of jobs; e.g., accountant, technical writer, registered nurse manager, elevator installer and repairer.

GOLD:  those who bring home the Gold (Level 5) qualify for 93% of jobs; e.g., school counselor, pharmacy technician, semi-conductor processor, business executive, electrician.

I like the potential job categories for the Gold (as well as for the Silver or Bronze I do not list), but I prefer the Platinum; it will shine more when I apply for a job with an interested company.

JOB APPLICATIONS & RESUMÉ WRITING

OBJECTIVE:  Secure entry-level position with innovative company and advancement opportunities; demonstrate ability to assist management at maintaining and enhancing customer satisfaction.

I signed up to take the class for one reason:  to participate in a Mock Job Fair upon completion.  As I wrote in “Seeking a Real Job,” June 7, 2017, I completed the World of Work program and worked in personnel at Bankhead Enterprises, Inc.  I know how to complete job applications and how to write a Resumé.

I signed on as a student but when I went to show the instructor my Resumés so he can use them to show the other students how to overcome “missing years” from the workforce, I was asked to help with the class.  I agreed.  Our first class is this week.

EMPLOYMENT PLANNING

ISO 9001: 2008, QUALITY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM AUDIT:  For the last few weeks, I’ve worked on revising the local Quality Manual (QM) used by my employer.  This week, the factory will be audited for compliance with ISO 9001: 2008 requirements.  We will be under close scrutiny by an external auditor from the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI).

I control the documents and am intricate to the auditing process, as I am also an internal auditor for the Quality Management System (QMS), and am the longest-standing QMS employee at this factory.

Our Operations Manager, who began here in 2010 as a trainee for a Q.A. Manager position, upon completion of his training, relocated and then climbed the ranks.  He is now over this factory and two others.  He recently visited and said, “You’re still here? They need to make a monument out of you, you’ve been here so long.”  🙂

TECHNICAL INFORMATION:  Each section in the local QM coincides with the ISO 9001: 2008, Quality Management System requirement; e.g., ISO 9001: 2008, sub-clause 4.3, Control of Documents, is Section 4.3, Control of Documents in the local Quality Manual.  All ISO certified factories must be compliant with the ISO 9001: 2015 standard by September 15, 2018.

I am adding changes to the QM to ease the transitional process (listing parallel requirements, where the two standards coexist), and by adding any additional requirements to comply with the 2015 standard.  Doing that will make the conversion process easier when I revise other associated documents.

My original plan was to retire before this NSAI audit.  I changed my mind to honor my word.  During the February 2017 NSAI audit, the external auditor wanted to know when we’d be ready to apply for certification under the new standard.

“Before I leave in April of 2018,” I said, since no one else answered.  I have the skills and know the value of knowledge and experience that I’ll gain by helping to convert the QMS over to ISO 9001: 2015; I suspect it will boost my annual salary range by $10,000-$20,000, above the normal pay range for the type of positions I am seeking in the manufacturing sector.

The acquired knowledge also opens the door for freelance opportunities of going into businesses to help prepare them for ISO certification, or simply going in to set up an internal auditing program (several years ago the going rate for setting up an auditing program was 30K).  I can do that!

TECHNICAL WRITER:  Officially, UNICOR does not have a technical writer position; however, I have done and do a lot of it.  While doing an internal audit, I made a finding about the factory not having a manufacturing instruction for a new process.  Because of my superb technical writing skills, and the factory’s lack of qualified personnel in the production department, I became the one to write the needed manufacturing instruction.

I love showcasing my skills by creating visual art with the Microsoft Word 2010 computer program, so I added illustrations to show users how to perform the task.  Years ago, after seeing my work on manufacturing instructions, an external auditor was amazed that I had done it in Microsoft Word.

Now I have more to add to my portfolio.  In many companies these days, employees just take photos and write a brief instruction.  That doesn’t work well for all the other forms of technical writing I do; e.g., writing and editing other administrative documents for my superiors to approve.

AGE BARRIER:  My age was one of my former concerns in finding suitable employment; however, on July 29, 2017, I listened to a portion of a segment on CNN that relieved my worries.  The caption read:  DRUG USE IMPACTS BLUE COLLAR WORKFORCE.

Even though I plan to be a White Collar employee, when I heard that “Four Out of Five Job Applicants Fail Drug Screens,” it convinced me that living clean and sober gives me an edge.  Ironically, the problem that once defeated me in the pursuit of a promising career, has now become a factor to rocket me into a promising future as a productive member of society, as an older and wiser person.

A POEM:  This poem captures the reality of prison living.  This is an existence I eagerly await passing, with no intention of ever returning, other than as a visitor to show others that there is hope of better days.  I wrote Waiting while living with a difficult cellmate, while I practiced humility, breathing in, breathing out; changing my karma.  Instead of getting physical to show my dominance, I stayed composed and effectively resolved the conflict without picking up a new case or causing injury.

It is easy to come to prison and spend the rest of your life for having to resort to violence to deal with a knucklehead.  I make better choices today by responding to conflict rather than reacting, and will continue to do so upon release.

WAITING

Light streams through bars and screen,

Illuminating the gray of a gloomy place.

A place where people weep and pray,

Making way for another day.

 

Another day confined in a bathroom;

Another day held with another person,

In an overcrowded prison, celled together,

Saving tax dollars, space, fighting hate.

 

Hate seeping through pores, poisoning the soul,

Creating a recidivist with its venom;

Venom eating the soul, leaving a shell.

Hate I leave behind today in search of serenity.

 

When will the day come without bars and fences?

Will I walk away upright, proud, free at last?

Will I be rolled out, en route to mortuary?

Will I walk freely, no chains or cuffs, mortified?

“Waiting,” copyright 2011, Wayne T. Dowdy, ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN.

*****

CONCLUSION:  When I do enter the job market, I will succeed at whatever field I choose.  I am also a qualified Q.A. Inspector.  Another field I may go into is counseling drug addicts and alcoholics, helping the mentally ill and others to find an acceptable way of life.  My long-term plan is to create my own company.  Only God knows what I will actually do or whether the day will come that I do walk out the doors as a free man.

Today (August 8th), I will attend a Memorial Service for a friend who could not conquer his addiction and died in a prison restroom.  He also had heart problems and I do not know what he actually died from, but do know he only had sixteen months to walk out the door as a free man, after having served over twenty-three years.

Tomorrow is not promised to anyone, but IF I do see the day I anticipate, I will make a difference on many levels, including the creation of StraightFromthePen.org and StraightFromthePen.net.  Click here (gf.me/u/ba6xjn) to see my GoFundMe page for more on my plans for both websites.

Of course, the old saying is if you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans.  This time, I hope mine and God’s plans coincide.

______________________________________

Support the author’s writings by purchasing ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN ($8.95 USD) from your favorite bookseller; available in eBook and paperback.  Visit StraightFromthePen.com and Https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy for other writings by Wayne T. Dowdy.  If you prefer to buy direct, purchase his novels and essay collection from Midnight Express Books, P.O. Box 69, Berryville, AR 72616  Email:  MEBooks1@yahoo.com.  Midnight Express Books helps prison authors to achieve their publishing dreams.