Tag Archives: prison life

The Truth About Incarceration, Part I


Reposted Content: The Truth About Incarceration was originally published by PrisonLawBlog.com in November 2014, before being posted on StraightfromthePen.com.

On Quora.com I posted The Truth About Incarceration, Part I, in response to a question. Then I received several positive comments, one of whom suggested I start a YouTube channel to inform the public about Life on the Inside. Since then I monetized certain answers on my page and in my Space, Life Inside and Out.

Click Here to visit my more popular profile page and associated content. Thank you for your continued support.


The Truth About Incarceration, Part I

Prison can be rough: It can also be a positive experience for those who seek and receive help for the issues that lead to prison, which does not occur often. A cast of personalities comprise the abyss of prison. From some spring enlightenment, displays of moral fortitude, exemplary characteristics; others demoralization, sexual perversion, denigration, solicitude, debauchery, the darker side of humanity. The truth is that many aspects of prison are degrading and humiliating to those who have maintained their dignity and self-respect; however, prison is not always as portrayed in books and movies. A “snap shot” will not reveal the whole picture. Even documentaries on prisons leave a false impression about the whole of prison life or the prison experience. I know. I have lived most of my life behind steel bars, concrete walls, and fences layered and lined with row upon row of razor wire to separate me and my peers from the civilized society. I write this to assure the youth that there is nothing glamorous about incarceration, since I have read and heard how some juveniles and young adults give props to those who have been to jail, prison or “juvvy,” for having survived the experience.

In some segments of society those returning form prison are given a favorable street-status: a reputation of being a “tough” person, a Gangster who may have had to fight daily to make it out alive; someone solid who rode hard, did not “rat” and did his or her time without taking down the neighborhood. Some may have did similar things and been all of that, but for the most part, very few have that experience. But, with the State of Georgia prison system having thirty-two prisoners and one guard murdered since 2010, it proves that prisons can be a dangerous place. Statistically, though, and in actuality, the vast majority of people who go to prison never have a physical altercation. In relation to “riding hard” and not taking out the neighborhood, an over-whelming number of criminal defendants plead guilty to shorten their sentences; only a small percentage of which do not assist the government by implicating others in crimes in order to get the reduced sentence. (See note below for clarification about guilty pleas.)  Some who testify and make deals are worse than Judas in the Bible who betrayed Jesus Christ and got him executed, because they lie to get a deal. Numerous criminal defendants fabricate higher drug quantities and exaggerate other committed criminal acts so that the prosecution recommends a larger sentence reduction for providing “substantial government assistance.” Personally, I do not see that as honorable, or something that is worthy of praise or favorable recognition.

Most prisoners are not so scandalous as to create crimes to get deals. Though many may make deals with the devil to get time off, only a few are so morally deficient that they create crimes to get the deals. To cooperate with the prosecution is one thing, and maybe it is what is needed to protect society–telling lies against another person for a lesser sentence is an entirely different matter.

Cases like the one against former mob boss, John Gotti, seem to violate ethical codes, when the prosecution uses testimony from a serial murderer like “Sammy the Bull,” who confessed to almost twenty murders for a five-year plea deal to testify against John Gotti, who received a life sentence and later died in prison.

NOTE: Not all who plead guilty make a deal to testify on others: some just do it because of the evidence stacked against them and the unlikelihood of winning if going to trial.  Either way, though, the prosecution makes a deal for a shorter sentence to avoid spending the time, money, and resources necessary for taking a defendant to trial. That fact proves something a lot of criminals in prison hate to admit–pleading guilty is helping the state or government. Ninety-six percent of federal defendants plead guilty: state court plea bargain averages are probably the same. Unfortunately, many of those who plead guilty actually take a plea on charges they are not guilty of committing because it was part of the deal with the prosecuting authorities to “clear the books.” Throughout the years I have met a few who pled guilty to multiple crimes as a package deal for a reduced sentence.

PRISON POLITICS:  As reported on a televised documentary, even though John Gotti was a powerful figure on the streets of New York, prison predators zoomed in to make him pay for protection. No one is guaranteed amnesty from prosecution by those enforcing silent prison codes written by unknown authors: Not even a mob boss when left to fend for himself.

Someone sent to prison for murdering someone may actually be a coward and be victimized while in prison. It is easier to stand fifteen feet away and blast someone with a gun than it is to go toe-to-toe in a knife fight or other forms of hand-to-hand combat. It does not take a lot of courage to gun down defenseless or unsuspecting people. It takes a lot of courage to deal with a combatant on equal terms. Please do not misunderstand what I wrote. That is not applicable to everyone in prison for such crimes. Some prisoners are notorious and extremely dangerous; however, most of those find themselves locked in a cage twenty-three hours per day, often after assaulting or killing another prisoner or prison guard. Nevertheless, very few prisoners have to physically defend themselves while serving time in the vast majority of American prisons. The point is, everyone does not have to be skilled in hand-to-hand combat to survive in prison. If such skills were required for survival, only a few would make it out alive. In general, survival in prison depends more upon the personality of the person and the nature of their crimes that lead to prison, more so than it does upon their size or combat skills. A petite person with a strong personality, who the more dominant prisoners respect, may get out of prison unscathed, while a larger, ostracized person with a weak personality, becomes prey to the predators. Truthfully, a larger person is more apt to be physically challenged than someone not so large. Prisons are filled with staff and inmates suffering from a “Napoleon’s Complex” (an inferiority complex rooted in insecurities and the lack of physical stature, which leads to the afflicted going to extremes to prove that he or she is “tough,” and do so at the expense of others).

As shown with Mr. Gotti, powerful people may be preyed upon by the unknowns of society. On the other hand, an unknown may become recognized or powerful inside prison for a variety of reasons: being a “Stand Up” person (not informing on others, standing their ground in physical altercations, fighting for what is right, standing behind their word); being ruthless, yet honorable, reliable; maybe even for changing their lives, helping others, and ironically, by staying out of the mix. To become powerful in prison requires getting involved in the mix (running drug and or gambling operations, participating in prison politics (determining who can stay in general population, who has to go, who gets “hit” (piped or stabbed or both), or by organizing prison disturbances (food or work strikes, violent protest against prison administrations, etc.), behaviors which carry major consequences). But, in my opinion, no matter who they are, what they have done or claim to have done, every prisoner deals with degradation and humiliation. It is the nature of the beast. All prisoners have to get strip-searched (must remove all clothes at the command of a guard who inspects and views private areas to look for hidden items); get told when to go to the chow hall, when to stand for security counts, who can visit or who they can call on the phone and for how long they can speak. Many prisoners are stripped of far more than their clothes (pride, dignity, integrity, self-respect ….).

A prisoner may be recognized in society and prison by writing a book, or by doing something constructive, such as creating or teaching programs to help others, or by learning and teaching life skills to help others become better people. The press never hears about those prisoners because the press goes to prisoners who cause trouble or who get out and commit horrendous crimes, and thus become poster-children for the politicians who push “Tough-on-Crime” bills. Those bills are often written by members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), whose contributors include officials from the private prison industries that profit from high incarceration rates.

In Part II I will write about the influence of the private prison industry on prisoners and the politicians who vote to push the agenda that assures high incarceration rates in America.

Essays & More Straight from the Pen by Wayne T. Dowdy



Essays & More Straight from the Pen shows the power of change with captivating content to keep readers turning the pages. Get your copy today on Amazon or from your favorite bookseller. Available in print and as an eBook.

FCI Petersburg and COVID-19

Disclaimer: The owner of this website acts as an affiliate for Life Extension Foundation, Discount Electronics, and PriceWaiter. If you use the links provided and purchase a product, the owner may receive a small commission.

This post is complimentary to allow his voice to escape the confines of prison walls. 

I received and scanned the letter from an anonymous inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution in Petersburg, Virginia. For more information on institutions under the control of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons, click Here

Content is as submitted. Straight from the Pen does not express any opinion on the subject matter or content or the validity of any statement or claim made.




Anonymous Letter: FCI Petersburg

1 of 5
2 of 5
Shop Discount Electronics Pawn Shop!
3 of 5
4 of 5
PriceWaiter: Hot Deals on Electronics (and more)!
5 of 5

Prison and Personality Changes by Wayne T. Dowdy

In the last few years I have written a lot of content relating to prison life and its effect on people, including myself. My writings help me to share life experiences, good and not-so-good, with others who may be interested in reading a different perspective on a variety of topics.

My objective in most of my writings is to educate others, or to otherwise express views to fuel thought processes.  One platform I use is Quora.com, and as can be seen in the following screenshot, a lot of people read what I write.  One of my more popular answers related to challenging technology after release.  https://www.quora.com/If-you-ve-spent-a-long-time-in-prison-what-technology-did-you-find-hardest-to-adjust-to-when-you-were-released/answer/Wayne-T-Dowdy?

Click the image below to go to my Quora Profile.

The latest contribution is in response to the question, “Do you feel that confinement has changed your personality?

I will end this blog post with my answer to the question that includes a link to a blog I wrote before my release and an excerpt:

“No Doubt! Decades in prison changed my personality.  In prison a person often must behave in a different manner than he or she normally would do, especially when interacting with others. 

“In the more dangerous prisons, such as some of which I’ve lived, a person becomes desensitized to external stimuli and learns to do what needs or doesn’t need to be done to survive. Sometimes that may be not responding when seeing an act of violence that the more humane side wants to stop or by getting involved in a situation that he or she doesn’t want to be involved in (participating in a violent confrontation between groups or individuals).  Only those who have lived in the insane world of incarceration may understand what that means. 

“Some of the behaviors learned to survive may involve violent reactions/responses to a situation that a sane person would simply walk away from, whereas in prison, if a person walks away, he or she may become a target for the predators if viewed as weak or a coward, and then have to deal with more unpleasant situations than wanted, examples too vast to go into for the purpose of this answer.

“For me, one of the ways that prison life changed my personality is how I function in a relationship and interact with others.  Even though I may appear to be normal on the surface, on the inside I may feel more restrained to behave the way that I would have before my incarceration where the display of affection is concerned.

“I was released on August 28, 2018, after serving 30-years and 10-days in the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons. Though I have successfully reintegrated because I decided to change my life in 1995 by getting clean and sober, I still cannot let go of the effects of decades in prison.

“In 2015, long before my release, I paid my publisher to create a website for me because I wanted my voice to reach outside the bars, walls, and fences. On my website I posted a blog, Damage and Prison that I will post a link to below. Some of the effects of decades in prison continue this day. The difference is that I refuse to allow my old behaviors and past to control my actions today. I focus on making healthy decisions as I continue my quest for a better life and to help others to know that change is possible.

DAMAGE and PRISON

Excerpt from Damage and Prison by Wayne T. Dowdy

“Upon release, I will have to undo decades of damage done by the prison experience: suppressing healthy emotions and needs. I must learn to be normal, whatever that may be in an imperfect world filled with broken toys, damaged from life experiences.

[I continue to work on behaving as I normally would do as a free citizen, if not for the damage caused by the extensive incarceration. I still struggle when it comes to relationships. I am a decent, loving, kind, and gentle human being, who doesn’t have to pretend to be bullet proof.]

“I sent out the following message to a friend who posted it on social media for me. A lot of people liked it so I will share:

’03/05/17: To all my Faithful Friends: I hope March brings each of you lots of love and success or whatever your hearts desire. For me, I’d be happy to be able to walk through a park or to sit on a lake to listen and observe the beauty of nature; to give someone a hug, kiss someone special, or to just be able to sit and watch animals; or to pet a dog, cat, rabbit, or a chicken. 🙂

“Hell, I’d be happy to watch some fish swim around in an aquarium. I am looking forward to going to the Georgia Aquarium to see some really big fish! So much in life people take for granted until it’s gone. One day soon I will be reentering the human race. Then I will be able to interact with each of you like a normal person. Have a great day! Wayne’

“[Georgia Aquarium: I walked by the Georgia Aquarium en route to a job fair at the City of Refuge, but have not been to watch the fish swim. I will go soon now that I’m working and can afford to buy the tickets. Everything is expensive!

“Update 08/02/2020: I did visit the Georgia Aquarium with loved ones and enjoyed the experience but was shocked by the entry-cost and food prices.]

“The above indicates the desensitization of prisoners. For over 28-1/2 years, my physical contact with other humans and mammals has been severely restricted. That is definitely true on an intimate level about lovers and sexual intercourse! During this sentence, I have resisted romantic-relationships. I’ve only been involved in three since 1988, and only one of those included physical contact (hugs and kisses on a visit).”

Federal prisoners hold $100 million in government-run accounts, shielded from some criminal scrutiny and debt collection – The Washington Post

UPDATE (06/10/2021): The referenced program statement for the collection of fines and restitution may be read on the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) website (Inmate Financial Responsibility Program (bop.gov)). Some of the sanctions for NOT meeting financial responsibility are listed on pages 11-13, many of which are severe.

Inmates must pay or be sanctioned for non-participation. If a court ordered the defendant to pay the cost of incarceration, the BOP takes that first.

Personally, while on the Inside, I was fired three times from my position in UNICOR for not paying restitution that the court ordered to be PAID UPON RELEASE FROM IMPRISONMENT. Eventually, I won the battle and the BOP stopped extorting me.

Based upon the above, I do not find the attached article reliable, even though I am sure the reporter only stated what he had been told, much of which was misleading in my opinion.

*****************************************

I wish reporters who report this type of articles were more knowledgeable about laws and prison policies. Maybe The Washington Post will find better reporters. The BOP has a policy for collecting restitution and other debts owed by prisoners.

The fact is, though, that the BOP often collects the money from prisoners each month and then holds it in the BOP account and draws interest on the money collected.

In this case, then, the Villain is the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/bureau-of-prisons-bank-system/2021/06/08/2aff9766-c3d1-11eb-8c18-fd53a628b992_story.html

How Much to Send Prisoners Varies

Federal Prison Industries, Inc., UNICOR, INMATE EARNING STATEMENT

The amount a person may want to send an incarcerated individual, depends on many factors. He or she has shelter, and though it may be lacking at times, most prisoners do have food and the essentials of survival, whereas some loved ones or friends may be struggling to survive on their income.
 
If the free citizen needs to pay rent, buy food, or otherwise take care of themselves and family, in my opinion, as a former prisoner, I’d rather have gone hungry than for my loved ones to have sent me money that was needed to provide for themselves. My comfort came in second compared to theirs.

My personal opinion is that most prisoners should be able to get by on $50-$100 per month and even less if no one from the outside can help. Unfortunately, many fall into a trap trying to get by and revert to various ways of survival I won’t address. And some of those who have money coming in may be extorted by the stronger prisoners or gangs and still do without.

Prison life is sometime Survival of the Fittest. Not always, though. Read The Truth About Incarceration, Part I to learn more about prison life.

Prisons are commercialized and charge inmates for many things that were once given to those under their care. Because of that, if the incarcerated receives funds and owes for services provided, the institution may freeze the inmate account and take funds sent in by a person’s family or friend.

Most systems have policy or program statements that define what the law allows, which may be challenged through the Administrative Remedy process and the courts. In most cases, courts rule in favor of the prison administrators but not always. Therefore, money sent in to someone for food items, etc., gets taken and the person has to get by without the funds but will normally survive, even if it means going hungry or not having what he or she wants or needs.

UNICOR HELPED ME PROVIDE FOR MYSELF

In the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons, I was happy to provide for myself by working and not having to be dependent on others to provide funds for my wants and needs.

Many of my peers were different, especially if on drugs and wanted to get high, the same as I did until 1995. I understood their actions because I know what it was like for me when I lived the life of an addict, so I am not condemning those who still live the life I once did.

When I first entered the system, after having served time in the Georgia Department of Corrections, where I was not paid for working, I felt good earning the low-wages ($0.12 per hour) then paid to federal prisoners who did not work for UNICOR.

UNICOR is the trade name for the Federal Prison Industries, Inc. that has changed considerably since when I began my federal sentence over three decades ago in 1988.

Please note that all prisoners do not get paid for working, or get paid as much to work in places like the Federal Prison Industries, Inc.

I was one of the highest-paid, hourly-rate, inmate employees who worked for UNICOR, and rarely made over $200.00 per month. In the copy of the paystub above, I earned $189.14 for the month of May in 2018.

On average, by working in the Federal Prison Industries (UNICOR), I earned enough to spend $64.00 on the phone, $50.00 on writing/emailing blogs, etc., and $45–50.00 on commissary items, based on cost in the Federal Prison System.

To do the things I wanted to do, I made sacrifices, such as to pay for the creation and upkeep of my website, STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN, and my blogging expenditures that added up when considering I paid five cents per minute to use the emailing system provided by Corrlinks.com. To print my drafts, of which there were many for some of my more lengthier blogs, I paid fifteen cents per page. That is in the federal system, which operates different than Corrlinks does in some state or private prisons.

In deciding what to send, a person may want to see what type of information is posted on the prison system website. The United States Federal Bureau of Prisons posts inmate handbooks and even the commissary lists for institutions.

I checked the page for the Federal Prison at Edgefield, SC to see the commissary list that seems current. As for the Inmate Handbook, old and outdated. View the Commissary List by clicking HERE.

I hope the above information helps to make informed decisions.

Cellmates by Wayne T. Dowdy

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

__________________________________________________________
Purchase the latest paperback novel by Wayne T. Dowdy,
Guns, Drugs and Thugs: Drug Store Spree, $6.95 USD at Amazon.com

https://www.amazon.com/Guns-Drugs-Thugs-Store-Spree/dp/1797068466/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=guns%2C+drugs+and+thugs&qid=1551122394&s=gateway&sr=8-1

prisoner entering prisons in America

Prison Life by Wayne T. Dowdy

[Use Control-End to go to the bottom of this page to sign-up and follow all posts on this blog if you like what you read.]

The following post originally appeared on Quora.com in response to the question, “How are new inmates treated when they first come to prison?”

In less than twenty-four hours the response has gotten 3.6k views and ten upvotes.
https://www.quora.com/How-are-new-inmates-treated-when-they-first-come-to-prison/answer/Wayne-T-Dowdy

Prison Life

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.

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.

______________________________________________

Purchase the writings of Wayne T. Dowdy on the secured website, StraightFromthePen.com (https://www.straightfromthepen.com) or from your favorite bookseller.  For best prices and free eBooks periodically, go to his authors’ page on Smashwords.com (https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy).

BLOGS and MORE

blogging for dollars 2

by Wayne T. Dowdy

Originally posted July 7, 2017

[Update April 8, 2019: I am taking two online courses now to learn how to generate an income from blogging.  What I’ve learned thus far is that it takes money to update my WordPress and Weebly blogs with all the tools I need to monetize the blogspots.  I am accepting all personal donations.  Contact me by email to contribute: waynedowdy@straightfromthepen.com, if interested.  Thanks!]

A friend read a few books and magazines on Positive Psychology and become a psychologist, at least, in his mind he did.  He does offer some periodic, beneficial advice.  In a conversation about my blogs and desire to increase the web traffic, he suggested I blog on more positive topics.

I learned a similar principle about writing when I took a writing course through the Long Ridge Writers Group, almost ten years ago.  Life contains enough pain and negativity for each of us; many read to escape the realities of life, or want to read things to make them feel good about themselves or their environment.

Doom and gloom feeds the news channels, so why doesn’t it work for bloggers?  Well, maybe it works for some.  Not me.  Actually, I don’t feel I write much doom and gloom in my blogs; however, I do confess that many are based on negativity.  Hey, to create lightning, it takes a negative charge.  Did I hear it thunder?

BLOG:  According to Mr. Google, a blog is a “regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.”

I write in an informal and conversational style.  I get a lot of local conversation based upon my blog content, unfortunately, my biggest audience cannot go online to click to “Like” or comment on my blog posts.  Hundreds of my readers can only read my blogs from the “inside view,” through TRULINCS, and cannot access the Internet because most prisons prohibit us from doing so.  (TRULINCS is the system Federal prisoners pay to use for emailing and phone services.)

HELP!  My fan base continues to grow but I need your help to make it grow enough to attract advertisers so the blog pays me instead of me having to pay to blog (I pay $0.05 per minute to type the blogs to send to my publisher/friend, who converts it into the proper format and posts it online for you to read).  Please share my link with others.  Thanks!

BLOGGING FOR DOLLARS:  In 2015 I wrote a blog titled the same.  I am still working on how to blog for dollars, but as stated, I do need your help to increase traffic/page views, because without the web traffic, advertisers will not want to pay to advertise on my sites.

Bloggers may use Google Adsense to attract advertisers.  If you are reading this on straightfromthepen.wordpress.com, you may see a periodic ad posted by different businesses.  I am not sure about the waynedowdy.weebly.com blog.

Maybe my publisher already listed the website with Google Adsense and I’m earning a few nickels to help pay the bills and I just don’t know it.  🙂

WHAT DOES BLOG MEAN?  The Internet Slang says, “BLOG means ‘Weblog, online diary.'”

A log of online posts/Web entries, I reckon it is, something burned into the memory of the deep blue web, where “WEblog.”

The Acronym Finder shows BLOG as an acronym for “Web Log,” “Better Listing on Google,” “Buy Locally Owned Group (Canada),” and my favorite, “Big Load of Gossip.”  Copyright 1988-2014, AcronymFinder.com.

With the help of one of my dear sisters, I investigated what a blog is because numerous people have asked me over the years.  I knew what a blog was and what it meant to me, since I have blogged for the last few years, but I was unaware of the actual meaning or if “BLOG” was an acronym for some mysterious online organization.

Now that we know the official definition for “Blog” (according to the referenced sources), I present a blog on my Independence Day at this facility (holiday events vary between prisons).

INDEPENDENCE DAY & GRATITUDE:  One blog a lot of people liked in the free society and on the inside, staff and inmates alike, is “Gratitude & More” (12/19/16).  I wrote it from a positive perspective, so maybe what my friend suggested is true?

I need to turn over a new leaf and let signs of a positive life flow from my fingertips.

Lightning flashes and then it thunders.

I began the day with instant coffee and watching videos on CMT and MTV-2.  I’d switch from Country music on CMT to Pop to Rap to Hip Hop, and whatever else MTV plays.

COUNT TIME:  at 10:00 AM, we were locked in our cells and then stood to be counted.  During the count, I listened to my antique Sony Walkman radio as I worked on math problems in preparation for the tests I’ll take to graduate WorkKeys next week.  Nineteen Eighty-two was the last time I worked on Advanced Math in college, and trying to relearn it has been a challenge, but one I have accepted and succeeded at handling.

After the count cleared and we were released from our cages, I stood around watching but not listening to any of the ten televisions, wondering why our unit hadn’t been released for chow.  Two and a half hours later, we got to go eat.

Any change in the regular routine creates drama in here.  The staff are “supposed to” follow a set schedule to let each cellblock out to eat.  The one I live in was supposed to get out fourth in the line of twelve listed on the Weekly Rotation.  The rotation ran awful slow or we didn’t get out in the scheduled order.  I had skipped breakfast and was ready to eat by the time the cellhouse officer yelled, “Main Line.”

CHOW TIME:  Over a hundred of us took off walking fast, like a bunch of hungry critters heading for the food trough, trying to outrun the others to get first choice.  I didn’t outrun everyone in this cellblock but I did outrun a few.  🙂

I stood in line for the noon meal and was happy to see peaches being served.  I love peaches, especially, Georgia Peaches, the two legged kind and the ones that stimulate the taste buds.

The serving line ran out of peaches with the person before me.  Peaches were replaced with watermelon.  I love watermelon!  I can eat half of a large watermelon by myself.  The Inmate Server put a tiny piece on my tray, one so small that the edible content would not fill a 12-ounce glass.  I did not feel grateful.

I still smiled and said thank you, as I customarily do, even when I don’t feel so thankful.  I try to be polite and treat people the way I want to be treated, not the way I may feel they deserve to be treated.

When I first arrived at this institution in 2004, I noticed ethnically-different, inmate servers, looking up to see who’s next in line.  And if the person was white, and not one who pays for larger portions, sort through the food to select a smaller piece while staff watched.  I experienced violent thoughts about using a serving tray as an assault weapon.  Not now, though.

I smile and say thank you and tell myself the person is trying to help me fight high-cholesterol I do not have, by finding a smaller piece of fried chicken or meat to give me and any other non-paying person.

THE HOLIDAY MEAL:  For lunch today, I had a chunk of beef so tough that a pit-bull would have struggled to chew it.  Tough or not, it tasted good and I am grateful to have had it to eat.

Too many people in the world, who are not in prison, did not have any food to eat yesterday and today.  Why haven’t we figured out how to feed everyone in the world or big cities in America?

I also had corn on the cob that I gave away, sour cream, baked potatoes, broccoli, and a tasty little apple pie, to go with the piece of beef and micro-watermelon slice.  Who but a whiny prisoner would complain about a meal like that?

Most people who paid for the meal would have wanted a refund on the terribly-tough, tasty beef.  Regardless of that, though, we got fed and filled our bellies, so I can’t rightfully complain, even though I did.

Prison is not supposed to be a pleasurable experience.  The meal we had was better than what millions of people around the globe ate that day.

GRATITUDE:  While sitting at a table eating, I suffered from Watermelon Envy as I eyed the peaches and slices of watermelon on the trays of my peers, their watermelon slices larger than mine.  A friend must have saw the look in my eyes and gave me his watermelon.  After eating it, I felt better before leaving, my belly full of gratitude for a moment.

Leaving the chow hall, I walked with a Mexican and African-American.  We were given a paper sack lunch for our evening meal: cold cut slices of various meat, a slice of cheese, four slices of bread, and pastries.

The African-American says, “I got two cinnamon rolls.  Did you get two?”

I peeked into my sack and only saw one.

The Mexican said, “Yeah, I got two of ’em too.”

I said, I only got one.  A cracker ain’t got nothing coming, I somewhat joked.

I returned to the cellblock and thought about the experiences during the meal and then remembered the premises I wrote about in Gratitude & More.  As I did so, I took everything out of the bag, then noticed I did have two cinnamon rolls.  The two packages were stuck together, which I didn’t notice when peeking into the bag.

GOD-SHOT:  I felt a God-Shot when I realized how things changed when I thought to be grateful for what I had, rather than complain about what I did not.  God gives me lessons each day.  I grow each time He does, if I learn what He wants me to learn.

It thunders when He speaks; oftentimes, it takes lightning to get my attention.

CONCLUSION:  I spent the latter part of the day studying more math and listening to music, periodically venturing out of my cell to look at the televisions.  Later in the evening, I went to the recreation department to walk the asphalt track and to print a draft copy of an earlier version of this blog.

Several of my peers ran the track, others screamed and shouted as they played basketball, softball, handball, and various other games.

Dark clouds filled the horizon and approached fast, pushed on by strong winds as a storm approached that caused the staff to close outside recreation.  Children cannot play outside when it storms; especially, those with a history of misbehavior and absconding from justice.  We rushed inside before it rained.

I did succeed at printing the draft and walking a few laps before returning to work more on this blog and read legal news on the electronic bulletin board.

While on the computer terminal, I watched the movie, Mr. Church, staring Eddie Murphy, in a much different cast.  After the computer kicked me off after 30-minutes, I watched the rest of the movie from my cell.  Some darn gnats or something kept getting in my eyes near the end of the movie when Mr. Church died.  I don’t know where those gnats came from.  🙂

My day concluded with a shower, talking with my cellmate, listening to the radio some more, and reading before counting off another day from the calendar.

All things considered, it was a good day.  I did something for the mind, body, and spirit.  What more can a person ask for in life?  Well, right now I can think of a few things I’d like to be different, but I will close without complaining.  We get what we need and things work according to God’s will, not Wayne’s.  Darn it!  However, the positive side is that if things went according to Wayne, I wouldn’t be “here” to entertain you with this blog.  Thanks for reading my writings!

______________________________

Note: I postponed writing the second eBook in the Fiction Crime Series, Guns, Drugs & Thugs.  Purchase Guns, Drugs & Thugs: Drug Store Spree in paperback or as an eBook at  https://www.amazon.com/Guns-Drugs-Thugs-Store-Spree/dp/1797068466/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=guns%2C+drugs+and+thugs&qid=1554732767&s=books&sr=1-1

Murder Slim Press also publised Guns, Drugs & Thugs: Drug Store Spree.  Another printed version is available in the magazine, Savage Kick # 9.

Purchase ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN ($8.95 USD) and UNKNOWN INNOCENCE ($12.95, USD) from your favorite bookseller; also available as eBooks from Smashwords.com, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.kindle, and many others.

Autographed copies available through the author.  Contact by eMail: waynedowdy@straightfromthepen.com

RECIDIVISM IN AMERICA by Wayne T. Dowdy

revolving-door(“Like” this blog and sign on at straightfromthepen.wordpress.com to receive future postings. Reprint rights granted.)

January 11, 2017: Three men sat at a corner table in the prison “Chow Hall”; each with a hamburger, a few strands of lettuce leafs, a thin slice of tomato, and “Smiley Faces” (fried, round pieces of oil-saturated, potatoes, with cut out smiley faces, capable of making men frown if not properly fried).

I was one of the three men who sat at the table. My last complete day spent in society was August 17, 1988. (Read “No Sympathy” by Wayne T. Dowdy for details of my arrest and conviction in federal court, by a jury unlike my peers.) I eagerly await the day I leave prison for a halfway house.

Johnny P. sat across from me, his last day free was also over twenty-years ago. He is a good man who made bad decisions in his youth. A youngster sat to his right at the table.

RECIDIVISM: The youngest at the table was released from here three months ago to go to a halfway house. He returned for violating the terms of his supervised release (similar to parole or probation where a man or woman must meet specified conditions to remain free). See below subtitle, “RECIDIVISM DEFINED” for definition.

Johnny grilled the youngster about his return.

The youngster said, “Because I was under Public Law, I could only get a four-hour pass each month. I got tired of seeing everybody else go on passes for the weekend, and me not being able to, so I left a couple weeks later and didn’t go back. They caught me after three weeks. I’ve been locked up ever since.”

Johnny turned his head and locked eyes with the youngster. “I have six life sentences. Do you know how bad I wish I could go home to be with my family for four hours a month?”

Johnny’s words ingrained an image in my mind that influenced me to write this blog.

The youngster acknowledged his mistake, but then rationalized that serving the additional 18-months would kill the remainder of his supervised release.

SUPERVISED RELEASE: Depending on when a person was sentenced, determines whether a sentence for a violation disposes of the remainder of supervised release, or restarts the supervised release term upon release from prison for the violation. I have three terms of supervised release (one for two years, another for three, consecutive to the two, and a concurrent five-year term), each of which is only good for one violation that I do not plan to utilize.

ANTI-CRIME BILLS: The United States Congress has passed several anti-crime bills, with various provisions for controlling offenders captured in the mass incarceration frenzy–created by politicians for the sake of a vote–that ruins lives and costs American citizens billions of dollars each year in taxes.

SENTENCING REFORM ACT OF 1984 (SRA): One such bill was the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984. As part of the SRA, effective November 1, 1987, Congress created the United States Sentencing Commission (“The Commission”) as “an independent agency in the judicial branch of the government.”

More than 1.5 million people have been sentenced under the SRA. The alleged purpose of the SRA was to deter, incapacitate or rehabilitate criminals, and to protect society from future crimes by offenders.

The SRA abolished federal parole and requires federal prisoners to serve 85% of their sentences. Eligible prisoners may earn “up to 54 days” per year under Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 3624(b)(1), Release of Prisoners. The United States Federal Bureau of Prisons (B.O.P.) refuses to give any of their Cash Cows more than 47-days.

The B.O.P. began 2017 with 189,333 prisoners, which is substantially less than the 219,298 reported in 2013.

21,140 of those prisoners are contracted out to private prison companies. The reduction came from legal and legislative changes, not from B.O.P. initiatives. Lobbyists from private prison companies provide hefty campaign contributions to politicians to maintain mass incarceration policies. Read “The Truth About Incarceration, Part II” by Wayne T. Dowdy for more on the topic.

THE COMMISSION: The Commission’s primary purpose was to establish policies, practices, and guidelines for federal judges to use in sentencing federal offenders.

RECIDIVISM DEFINED: Between 2005 and 2013, 25,431 federal offenders were included in a study on Recidivism (“refers to a person’s relapse into criminal behavior, often after the person receives sanctions or undergoes intervention for a previous crime.”)

“The Commission studied offenders who was either released from federal prison after serving a sentence of imprisonment or placed on a term of probation in 2005.”

STUDY NUMBERS: Offense Types and recidivism rates were as follows: Drug Trafficking (41.7%), Fraud (13.6%), Firearms (12.8%), Robbery (4.3%), Larceny (3.9%), Immigration (3.5%), and ALL Other (20.3%).

DEMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS OF RECIDIVISM STUDY: The first numbers represent those in the study, whereas the second number represents offenders sentenced in 2014, after the eight-year study period ended: 81.7% – 81.2% were Male offenders. White offenders led at 43.7% – 38.1%, followed by Blacks at 33.9% – 32.7%, Hispanics at 17.8% – 23.4%, and other races at 4.6% – 5.8%.

EDUCATE TO REDUCE RECIDIVISM: Post-Secondary Education Reduces Recidivism! In the study, 34.3% did not graduate high school, compared to 36.6% who did; 21.4% had some college, and only 7.5% were college graduates.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Maybe President Trump will find a way to reduce prison populations and save billions of dollars by reducing recidivism rates. To help willing ex-offenders become productive members of society, who can help pay back their cost of incarceration by paying taxes, will help to make America great again, instead of shamefully being the Incarceration Capital of the World.

OTHER RESULTS OF RECIDIVISM STUDIES: 49.3 percent of those released were rearrested for a new crime or rearrested for a violation of supervised release (e.g., failing to pass a urine analysis, failure to report to the supervised release officer; leaving without permission from a halfway house, perimeter of home confinement area or the state; violating state or federal laws, etc.). “Recidivism Among Federal Offenders: A Comprehensive Overview,” United States Sentencing Commission, March 2016.

Another study showed recidivism rates for state prisoners were higher than federal counterparts: 76.6% of state prisoners were rearrested within five years. “Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010” (http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/rprts05p0510.pdf).

In adjusting the federal study for a five-year comparison, the examiners removed federal offenders sentenced to probation or fines, which lowered the federal rearrest rate from 49.3% to 44.9%, compared to the 76.6% for state offenders. Comparing recidivism reconviction rates (convictions for new criminal charges), state offenders led at 55.4%, compared to 26.0% for federal offenders.

The difference in rearrest rates were possibly due to higher education levels for federal offenders and more available programs created to reduce recidivism. Locking people up inside overcrowded institutions, without providing opportunities that allow the imprisoned to learn how to improve their circumstances that led to prison, only feeds a system that robs men and women of dignity, integrity, and self-respect.

ANOTHER CHANCE: Providing I see the end of this 35-year sentence of imprisonment, which I anticipate doing, I will have another chance to succeed in society. I plan to be a productive member upon release by sharing my experience, strength and hope to help others learn from my mistakes and success.

I plan to use StraightFromthePen.org to provide a platform to (1) influence legal changes to absurd laws; (2) promote prison and sentencing reform; and (3), to help improve prison systems through legislation that forces prison authorities to provide inmates with resources to help them change their lives. To do so, I will communicate, directly or indirectly, with state and federal legislatures for those I will leave behind.

Of course, an old saying is that if you want to hear God laugh to tell Him your plans, so maybe He is laughing now. Maybe His plan for me entails something other than that, but since I am essentially an expert in the field of corrections by being inside most of my life, I figure my experience can benefit others inside who are heading down the path that led me “here.”

My hope is to help effect a change to allow Johnny and thousands of others who are serving absurd prison sentences, to one day have an opportunity to get out of prison, even if only for a furlough.

MASS INCARCERATION: All of us released from prison and then returned for a new sentence are equally responsible for mass incarceration.

As prisoners, we complain about our conditions and what we deal with as part of the prison experience, and yet, for those fortunate enough to get out, we return to make the Prison Machine grow bigger and stronger by feeding it with our lives. By returning to prison, we make sentencing reform initiatives more difficult to pass.

Many men and women released from prison are forced to return to the same area from which they came, without the benefit of going to halfway houses to prepare for successful reentry. Some revert to crime to survive, rather than seeking help from available social programs; the reason is most likely a lack of knowledge about available programs.

DRUG OFFENDERS: The majority of American prison populations are drug offenders, who are the worst to complain about having unjust sentences for “victimless crimes.” But if addicts die from drugs or commit crimes to buy them, are addicts and those victimized by the addicts to get the drugs, victims?

The same legislatures who passed laws to punish people who rob banks, or kill people, are the same ones who passed drug laws. Whether I agree or not, it is the law and if I don’t want to go to or stay in prison, I do not need to violate the law.

Plans to commit and get away with crimes ultimately fail, as proven by booming prison populations.

I do agree that many prisoners have unjust prison sentences, but not just for drug crimes. Those serving life without parole in cases that did not involve murders or other forms or violence are real unjust.

Life without parole may be spelled with letters or numbers (50, 75, 100 years imprisonment).

Numerous prosecutors and law enforcement officials plot with “cooperating codefendants” of the accused to exaggerate drug quantities or other facts needed to trigger more severe sentencing ranges. Codefendants fabricate drug quantities to receive a lesser sentence for providing “substantial assistance.”

Several foreign countries do not have large prison populations because they execute those who violate laws, including drug laws.

At the United States Penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia, foreign nationals toured the prison. A psychologist told me a prisoner complained to a lady about the severe prison sentence he was serving for a drug offense. She replied, “Sir, why do you complain? In my country, they would execute you.”

Help make America great again by reducing recidivism through proven programs. Imprisoning citizens does not make America great; especially, when slowly executing them by laws that lead to decades or the rest of their lives in prison.

________________________
Wayne T. Dowdy writes at StraightFromthePen.com. Purchase UNKNOWN INNOCENCE ($10.95) and ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN ($8.95), plus S & H charges, at Midnight Express Books, P.O. Box 69, Berryville, AR 72616. Buy online at CreateSpace.com, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and other eStores. Visit his Author’s page at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy to purchase eBooks, or from most available eBook distributors, including the Apple iBookstore. At Smashwords, download your copy in the format that works best for you, including Html or pdf to read on your PC or Smartphone.