Tag Archives: Recidivism

Looking for a Prince or Princess?

Kiss Me Baby!

Handsome, huh? Who thinks he (or she) becomes a prince or princess with a kiss from that special person, the one with magic lips? Not me. Sorry, I don’t believe in fairy tales.

Sometimes I feel like a rejected frog who is a real prince but I refuse to allow emotions to control me to the extent that I lower my standards to just get laid by taking advantage of a woman simply for sex and thus risk picking up something I may not be looking for (STDs). I turn down a lot of opportunities, because I know the right one for me is out here somewhere. If not, oh well, I have survived decades without being romantically involved with anyone, so maybe that is how I will remain.

My focus remains on building a successful future that does not include reverting to old behaviors that would led me back to life on the “Inside,”(prison), as happens to thousands of others each year. Anyways, ….

Whether looking for a prince or princess, what happens often is that the best ones may get away. The article I link explains it better than I, so rather than write long excerpts from the article, if you want to read about the topic, click to read, “Why Do Nice Guys Really Finish Last? Here’s Why Women Go For Bad Boys According To A Matchmaker.”

August 19, 2021, Update: Ironically, the day after I posted this blog I noticed a book being thrown away at the Goodwill Store and Donation Center where I work.

Maybe I found Love at Last, a cute little frog I must kiss to get my Princess.

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).”

Successful Returning Citizen

The bridge between successful reentry for returning citizens and recidivism may be a narrow path to follow but those who chose to become productive members of society learn to cross it and to stay focused on living a new way of life.  Dr. K. and I are only two examples of those who continue to be success stories by choosing not to return to old behaviors.

In this blog I am giving props to Dr. K., because I am proud of him for satisfying the full term of his court mandated supervised release. Supervised release in the federal system is the same as parole in state systems.

Dr. K. is a man I helped a few years ago to win a post-conviction relief motion. 

He won his case in federal court and left the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons several years before his original release date.  He remains a free man and is living his new life as a truck driver/owner/operator.

In one of my favorite blogs, Out of Many (Out of Many | STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN), I mentioned Dr. K. for giving me one of his magazines to read that I used to write the blog.  He also used to encourage me to write from a more positive perspective, rather than the negative one I used to shoot daggers into an issue or public individual I found offensive.

Dr. K., like me, walked out of the prison doors with a goal in mind related to helping others to successfully reintegrate into society.  I sought to use straightfromthepen.org and straightfromthepen.net to challenge the status quo of mass incarceration, and he the creation of a non-profit organization geared toward providing resources to help returning citizens.  After our release, mine of which came much later, both of us ran into an issue of not having public support to accomplish our goals.  That hasn’t stopped either from continuing to live our lives in a productive manner that does not include committing crimes.

Prison life often divides people because of its racial nature.

He is an African American and I am of the lighter persuasion.  Our racial and cultural differences never interfered with our bond as friends while working in the Quality Management office for an ISO certified factory, or when walking an asphalt track to discuss events or to plot the next legal move in his case. 

The main thing today is that we remain free and strive to be successful as returning citizens to show others that positive change is possible and that our past does not define who we are today.  Our lives show that returning citizens can stay out of prison to become part of the solution (being a positive role in society) instead of part of the problem (another number in the recidivism column for Mass Incarceration).

I’ll close with an excerpt from Out of Many

“UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL:  Our beliefs and values may unite or divide us; whether based on racial or cultural differences or similarities, religion, politics, fears, sexual preference or identity, and a whole array of other reasons.  

“How do we keep from falling?  Join hands and accept each other so we can work together to survive this thing we call life.  If each of us represents a ‘cell’ of the humanity organism, those who damage and injure others are the cancers of society, driven by hate and indifference.” Wayne T. Dowdy, Out of Many.

Life After Release-6

LIFE AFTER RELEASE

My life after release continues to be in the present, as I have not become a recidivist who got out of prison only to return with a new charge(s) or for a technical violation on supervised release. For me it is easy since I don’t do anything I’m not supposed to do: I don’t get high, don’t run the streets, get permission before going out of the area, and just do the right thing by living in harmony with the Universe on most days.

In these types of blogs, I write from my personal experience and perspective, more so than from a broader, more general perspective of life after incarceration, or about my life while inside.

However, issues affecting those of us released, as well as those left inside, remain important to me, as will be shown if you search this website for “recidivism,” “returning citizens,” “Federal Bureau of Prisons,” “Incarceration,” where I have written numerous blogs relating to those issues. I contribute the following paragraph as a great resource for information.

PRISON POLICY INITIATIVES

For those interested in a more technical aspect of issues relating to Returning Citizens and recidivism or other prison-related issues, the Prison Policy Initiative contains volumes of important research information. I am personally grateful for Peter Wagner who devotes time and energy towards making a difference in the lives of others.


Fairshake.net

Fairshake.net is one of the best, if not the best, resource for returning citizens who need a broad base of information to help them carve their way into a bright future.

The owner of Fairshake.net invited me to write a few sentences for the Fair Shake New Year’s Eve Edition. This is what I was published:

“‘Miracles happen every day but what I learned is that sometimes I must do my part to make a miracle happen. I do what I believe to be the right thing and then get out of the way. I refused to give up my fight for freedom and fought 14-years to get Good Conduct Time. My last victory allowed me to leave for a halfway house on 08/28/2018, instead of 12/26/2018. My hope for better days got me through the dark days spent inside the dungeons of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons. Today, hope keeps me moving in a positive direction in pursuit of the many goals I remain focused on achieving. Never lose hope!'”

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

My popularity continues to climb on Quora.com, where I have written several articles/answers about my experiences relating to life in prison and other related topics. The bulleted list that follows this screenshot of my statistics, shows the most read and upvoted content. These days I don’t have much time to devote to writing on Quora, but if interested in any of the topics, visit my profile page on Quora.com to access my Answers (https://www.quora.com/profile/Wayne-T-Dowdy).

  • How are new inmates treated when they first come to prison?· 
  • If you’ve spent a long time in prison, what technology did you find hardest to adjust to when you were released?·
  • As someone who has been to prison, what are the most common inaccuracies about prison life portrayed in movies?· 
  • How does serving time in federal prison compare to state prison?· 
  • 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)?·
  • When does the day start for inmates in federal prison?· 
  • 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?·
  • Do all men in prison have sex with other men?·
  • If you were imprisoned, how comfortable would you be without any privacy?·
  • Is it true that people get sprayed with water in prison, when they first get there?· 
  • What is a secret which you would not tell anybody in real life, but would on Quora using anonymity?·
  • What incentives do inmates have to behave well, especially those in for life? Do they care about their quality of life while on the inside knowing that they’re not ever getting out?·
  • People believe that prison should be tougher for the inmates, since there are too many luxuries awarded at the expense of taxpayers. Is being in prison as good as people think it is or worse than people could imagine?·
  • Are jail/prison inmates treated differently based on the crime they committed?·
  • Did anyone attempt a prison escape while you were an inmate?·
  • 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?· 
  • How many people who attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings stay sober over 5 years?·
  • What were you in prison for?·
  • What is something you’ve seen that you wish you hadn’t seen?· 
  • Does “giving yourself up or turning yourself in” really give you a lighter jail sentence?· 

CONCLUSION

I have more to say but don’t have time to write it, so I will close by asking those who like or want to invest and trade stocks, to read Massive Change by Wayne T. Dowdy. Watch the two YouTube videos by Stock Moe to learn something you didn’t know. 🙂

Sign up for a Webull account and fund it with at least $100 to get an free stock ranging in value. That will help me to earn two free stocks, too. 🙂 I thank you in advance!

Personal Progress in 2020 by Wayne T. Dowdy

Top One Percent 2020

Yep, I am making progress on many levels now. To begin, in 2020 I became one of Google’s Top Photographers for Google Maps, with Six Million views of the photos I took with two Motorola cellphones that I own.

Last year for Christmas, I went high tech by purchasing a Motorola One Zoom with four camera lens. [ Read review for Motorola One Zoom on WonderfulThingsDone]

A New Life

Since my release from the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons on August 28, 2018, I first struggled with finding a job because of my age, more so than my felony convictions. In Year One of New Life, I wrote about recidivism and my succeeding in light of the odds against me as a man who spent over thirty consecutive years in the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP).

McDonough Goodwill Store

When Goodwill of North Georgia gave me a chance to prove myself by giving me a job on July 18, 2019, I become the October 2019, Employee of the Month for the McDonough Store and Donation Center. The following month I was selected for Goodwill’s Employee Spotlight.

Then in January of 2020, a loved one gave me a vehicle to help me in all of my endeavors to succeed as a free man. Until then, I depended on my family to get me to and from work, or to the bus stop 20-minutes away from Small Town USA, kind of, even though it is near the Big City of Atlanta, or I walked and loved walking around as a free man.

I am Blessed by the Best and fortunate to have people who love and care for me, and who helped me to successfully reintegrate into society after I walked out of the prison gates feeling like a caveman entering the Modern World in which we live.

Future Home

2021 Coming Up!

My hope for 2021 involves sitting in front of the fireplace in the above photo, as I am awaiting for the loan approval as I type. Whether I purchase this particular home that I have signed the contract for, or some other house if the loan doesn’t go through because of contract-price issues, I will be living in a new place of residence in 2021 to focus more on developing my business(s).

Stars Continue to Shine!

In January 2017 I wrote the following and am thrilled and happy to now be living in the starlight with success since my release:

“My opportunity to reenter society approaches faster than additional studies can be produced to predict the likelihood of success for released prisoners. I am prepared for successful reentry. Failure is not an option.

“Without thinking of that particular day, I have worked toward it for almost three decades. Even when my release date seemed more distant than the stars that glittered in the night (too far away to see without a telescope), I moved forward on faith of better days.” Successfully Reentering Society

My faith in a Higher Power I call God, and my life of sobriety got me where I am today.

Had I not stopped using the drugs and alcohol that helped get me to prison, I would not be alive and would not have been blessed by getting to walk out of the prison doors to begin a new life.

I never dreamed I’d become a Top Photographer with a Smartphone, a device I had never used until August 28, 2018, the day my new life began. And for that I am grateful.

I close with More from My Motorola to Spread Christmas Joy

Town Square, McDonough, Georgia

Yesterday-Update

July 3, 2020, Jackson Lake, Georgia

Update: August 22, 2020: I write this to give hope to others about the power to change and to encourage people to not give up on life when the future doesn’t look too bright.

Yesterday seems so far away

Yesterday as in August 18, 1988, not 2020

Yesterday was the thirty-second anniversary of my last arrest

ON August 18, 1988, I sat in a jail cell not knowing if I’d live to see another day as a free man, even though I was sitting there under an alias and hoping I could find a way to get out on bond before my true identity was revealed.

I didn’t and that was a good thing!

Styx Renegade

I was a wanted man, wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), and local authorities all over the United States because an All Points Bulletin had been circulated wanting to know my whereabouts.

Numerous FBI and GBI agents wanted to kill rather than to arrest me, or at least, so I was told.

I will expound more on the latter in a future blog because now I must get ready to go to work as a working man, who lives a lifestyle that does not mandate arrest or institutionalization.

LATER: In 1988, the FBI, GBI, and five local law enforcement agencies executed a search warrant for my arrest at the home of a known affiliate in Flowery Branch, Georgia, named Charles C.

Very few people knew my whereabouts because I knew better than to let it be known when a reward was publicized for anyone who assisted in my arrest and conviction. Back then, many of us used a Pager to contact others. When paged, I would provide a meeting location and used places I could observe before meeting anyone to make sure the person wasn’t followed.

During the wee hours of the morning, Charles’ wife, Donna, beeped me. One of my affiliates met and escorted her to the house where I was laying low, where she told me about the raid of her house, and the arrests of Charles and a co-defendant in the bank robbery.

I later learned from Charles, after he got out of jail, that an arresting officer who had slammed Charles’ head and face down on the hood of a truck, shouted, “Where’s Dowdy!”

Charles exercised his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and refused to cooperate.

The arresting officer stated to Charles in reference to me, “I believe we’re going to have to kill that Boy. He’s gotten out of a lot of life sentences.”

Well, I thought that maybe Charles had just been geeked up on cocaine because I didn’t want to accept what he said.

A couple of days later, another friend, Harry S., who used to be the Chief of Police in a small town in Georgia, reported to me that the GBI had come to his house and questioned him about his and my affiliation.

He explained that I had always been a friend and a gentleman to him and his family. A GBI agent still asked him to lure me to his house so they could ambush me.

According to Harry, he said, “I told you that Wayne had always been a friend and a gentleman to me, and now you have the nerve to come in here and ask me to set him up to be killed? Get the fuck out of my house and don’t come back unless you have a warrant.”

After hearing that, I knew Charles hadn’t been geeking on cocaine, that some of the law enforcement officials did intend on killing me.

Fortunate for me, I was arrested in another jurisdiction and delivered to detectives from Gwinnett County Georgia in good health. Otherwise, I may not have survived the follies of my youth and been terminated before my life really began.

When I landed in jail and lost hope of getting out, I wanted to commit suicide but didn’t because I didn’t want to cause my family anymore grief than I already had. Today, I am grateful that I was able to get out of myself long enough to think about how my actions would affect others.

In considering my state of mind back then, that is truly evidence that miracles do happen, as is my existence after living the life I once lived.

RECIDIVISM NOT FOR ME: I refuse to become another unfavorable statistic for recidivism, and so now I live my life without committing crimes, without using drugs or alcohol, and in harmony with the universe on most days.

Life is wonderful when I accept that I am not in control and that my higher power, whom I choose to call God, has my back.

Miracles Happen! Never lose Hope!

What We Know by Wayne T. Dowdy

The following article was my submission for possible publication in a book that I submitted over a year ago. I include excerpts from some of my published materials and blogs that relate to the topic of recidivism, returning to old behaviors. My writing was not accepted for inclusion in the book but I do want my thoughts and ideas to be read, so I am posting it for the world see. 🙂

Though parts of the former submission may be outdated, the principles and concepts that I present are not, since not a lot has changed, per se. Millions of people remain in prison across the United States of America; especially, those who suffer from mental conditions and addiction problems.

Maybe something I wrote will encourage someone to do something that leads to changes in the status quo of mass incarceration in America.

What We Know

What we know is that America has a severe problem with recidivism that costs victims of recidivist immeasurable amounts of pain and suffering, and American citizens billions of dollars.  My story shows the high-cost of recidivism and major problems within our Criminal Justice System and its policies.  How do we reduce recidivism rates?  Does the answer lie in reentry initiatives, preventative measures, sentencing factors?  All the above, perhaps?

In 1988 I recidivated and spent thirty-years in federal prison and am part of the problem.  I offer a unique perspective to help change the status quo.  My goal is to use my vast experience in corrections to become part of the solution in penance of my debt to society.

First, to establish my qualifications to write on the selected subject, I’ll summarize selected points of my extensive criminal history, which began with my first arrest in 1969 for the burglary of a school, at the age of twelve, and continued until my last arrest on August 18, 1988, for the charges that I will write about later.

My criminal activities as a child lead to at least twenty arrests as a juvenile; all arrests related to my drug and alcohol problem, the true reason behind me costing taxpayers over a million dollars that I will show in association with me spending most of my life confined behind barbwire fences lined with rows of razor wire.  For clarity and to offer an excuse for the negative behaviors I displayed for decades of life, when I was eleven-years-young, I began using LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) and other mind-altering substances.  My life of substance abuse continued for 26 years, 3 months, 18 days (I stopped using April 5, 1995).  From the time of my first childhood arrest, I did not stay out of jail or some type of confinement for more than six months, until 1976 after release from my first adult prison sentence, when I served thirteen months in prison for a burglary to steal guns.  That time I almost made it two years without an arrest.  On August 28, 1978, I landed in jail for stealing a car and robbing three drug stores at gunpoint.

Two armed robberies and the car theft happened in Dekalb County, Georgia.  The other robbery occurred in Paulding County, Dallas, Georgia.  Though not charged for assault with a dangerous weapon and discharging a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence, during the Paulding County robbery, the pharmacist refused to comply with my demands and I struck him upside the head with a pistol that discharged a round into the wall, crimes of which if committed today and if charged with then, would have kept me caged for life.  

I suffered from mental illness back then.  I went to trial and a psychiatrist testified that I could not differentiate between right and wrong.  The jury didn’t accept the guilty by reason of insanity defense and found me guilty as charged.  I did not receive help for my psychiatric issues.  The judge sentenced me to twenty-years, serve eight, balance probated and then I went to Dekalb County to face charges.  Though I planned to stay out of prison upon release after the first time, I did not, because I returned to using drugs and made terrible decisions.  Drug addiction lead to me robbing those drug stores in 1978 and the courts sentencing me to multiple sentences for a total of fifteen-years to serve and five-years of probation.  I didn’t complete the original sentences before picking up additional charges for new crimes committed while in prison.

In 1981 I assaulted two correctional officers while they were trying to get another prisoner under control, the prisoner of whom went into the gymnasium bathroom to pick up drugs stashed for him to pick up.  He owed me two ounces of marijuana.  For that incident, the disciplinary committee sentenced me to two-consecutive, fourteen-day sentences in solitary confinement.  The State of Georgia charged me with two counts of mutiny in a penal institution.  I laughed when the person serving the warrants told me of the charges.

“Mutiny, I wasn’t on a battleship,” I said.

I didn’t laugh when sentenced to two more years for committing the crimes.

After I got out of the hole for those charges, I got into more trouble and ended up back in the hole and then when I went to trial, and the jury found me guilty of the charges I’ll discuss next, the court sentenced me to four consecutive years.  The two-year sentence for the mutiny charges ran concurrent with the four, consecutive to the original sentences.

For the Dekalb County crimes, I accepted a 15-year plea agreement after a psychiatric examination proved more harmful than helpful.  At twenty-one-years old, those fifteen years seemed like life imprisonment when I calculated being thirty-six before getting out.  My plan was to leave when possible.  I did.  Three years into the sentence, I escaped from Coastal Correctional Institution in Garden City, Georgia.

In June of 1981, several prisoners planned to escape Saturday night.  An associate asked if I wanted to escape with them?  I declined.

They didn’t leave on Saturday, and then on Sunday when I didn’t get a planned visit, I became depressed and changed my mind about leaving.  On Sunday night, myself and ten others escaped by climbing two chain link fences.  The first fence, five feet high, the other twelve with an inward facing arm, three feet long and strung with barbwire.  The arm of the extension set at a forty-five-degree angle, facing the institution.  To get to the fences, a prisoner nicknamed Tiny lured a guard into a trap.  The guard stood above six feet tall, Tiny near five, so it is logical to assume the guard didn’t feel threatened by him and violated the security protocol by opening the Control Room door to hand Tiny an electric razor.  Tiny grabbed and held him until reinforcements arrived who were hid in a blind stairway.  I waited in another corridor for the takeover and the opening of the doors.  Moment later, the outside doors opened.

I ran five-to-six hundred yards across a field to the fences.  Before I made it to the first fence, a correctional officer driving a security vehicle had stopped and was firing a shotgun at the other escapees who had cleared the tallest fence.  I barely slowed until I landed in the sand trap between the two fences.  I climbed the second one, the tallest.  When I reached the three-foot extension, I grabbed hold of its arm and pulled my body up to the barbwire strands, and then used my hands to swing from strand to strand until I reached the top row.  I threw my right arm over the top strand.  A barb pierced my bicep.  I jumped after clearing the wire. 

The guard fired again.  A pellet struck Tiny in his foot and caused him to stumble before he fell to the ground.  The gun bucked from the blast.  I ran a few feet before I hit the ground awaiting the buck of the gun from the next blast, which hit another prisoner in his shoulder.  He staggered from the impact but continued running to the woods.  Tiny jumped up and ran with me into the woods before the guard could fire again.  The guard may have had to reload, but whatever the case may be, I got away without taking any lead with me into the Woodline.

I separated from the rest of the escapees.  Running through the woods, I tripped over vines and fell into a gulley in the dark forest, but I still get away before the hound dogs arrived.  A helicopter flew above the forest shining a light through the treetops.  To avoid detection, I stayed in the shadow of the trees and once had to pull bushes over myself to avoid detection as the helicopter passed over.  Helicopters did not have heat sensors in those days.

I made it out of the woods a few hours later, where I stole a car from the parking lot of an aircraft manufacturer.  I would have stolen an airplane if I had known how to fly one.  Soon thereafter, I saw a railroad crossing with two guards posted waving for me to stop.  I didn’t.  I almost ran over them instead.  A mile down the road, I did the same thing.  A chase car got behind me when I made it to the next road.  A high-speed chase followed but not for long. The car I stole only ran a little over a hundred miles per hour, wide-open.  Police cruisers ran a hundred and forty.  The pursuing police officers boxed me in with their cars and captured me.  Before I got out of the car with my hands in the air, a prison van pulled alongside one of the police cruisers.  The cops put me in the prison van and ended my wild escapades.

Those events lead me to the Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, Georgia, where the state kept the worst-of-the-worst, a prison plagued with violence.  Because of all the violence and state officials refusing to follow a federal court order to improve living conditions, stop the racism, and brutality, the federal government implemented processes to begin a takeover.  Part of that process included appointing a federal monitor to oversee the lawsuit and placing a federal warden over the institution.  

Someone cut the tires on the warden’s vehicle.

I assume that the family clans did not like that the Feds sent in a foreigner to disrupt their running of the prison, and wanted to let him know that he wasn’t wanted in those parts of the woods. He did not leave.

Another process formed was the creation of the Staff Inmate Communication Committee (SICC).  White and Black prisoners in each living unit elected a white and black representative to help reduce prison violence.  My peers chose me to represent their interest, thus I became a spokesperson and received copies of all legal documents filed in the litigation.  I fought and succeeded at helping to change the prison, as I am fighting now to change the system.

In 1982 the federal government reported that GSP was the most violent prison in the United States.  I argued the issue with a federal monitor because New Mexico prisoners had rioted and killed more people than prisoners had killed in Reidsville.

The federal monitor replied, “The New Mexico incident was during a time of rioting.  During the normal run of the prison, y’all have had six-murders, fifty inmate-to-inmate attacks, and thirty-five inmate-to-staff attacks, with fewer prisoners than New Mexico.  That is what makes this prison the most violent in the United States.”

Events almost kept me in prison the rest of my life, because another prisoner wanted a transfer to another prison, he and others lied and said I killed a person, one of the six murders in 1982.  I was innocent of the actual murder, but that incident made me realize I needed to change my life, and that’s when I began.  Several years later, I made parole.

On August 1, 1985, I completed my commitment to a halfway house in Atlanta, Georgia and made parole.  I did not plan to reoffend.  I wanted to be a successful law-abiding citizen and did well until, once again, I returned to using drugs and that always lead me back to prison.

Now to my last arrest and conviction.  Tennessee state police arrested me August 18, 1988, in Campbell County, Tennessee, for possession of explosives (firecrackers and a hand grenade that was a dud), possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of a firearm and ammunition, and possession of stolen credit cards.  At first, I was under an alias.  No other charges filed, other than me using a stolen credit card to rent and not return the car I was driving when arrested.  The actual charge was theft by taken motor vehicle.

I agreed to extradition to face the Theft by Taken Motor Vehicle charge in Gwinnett County, Lawrenceville, Georgia.  A few days after my arrival in Georgia, agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Georgia Bureau of Investigation called me out for questioning on the armed bank robbery of the Bank of Dawson County, Dawsonville, Georgia.  I refused to cooperate and laughed when the investigating agents tried the Good Guy/Bad Gay routine to elicit a confession. 

A Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent jumped from his seat, knocking it over, and then said, “You think this is funny.  They’re trying to put armed robbery charges on you and I’m going to make sure you get more.”

I laughed again.  I knew my life was over and figured I’d die in prison anyway, so it didn’t matter anymore.  I screwed up really bad this time, I thought.  Within thirty-six hours, I had four counts of armed robbery, two counts of false imprisonment, and two weapon charges to go with the theft by taking motor vehicle charge.  That was before the FBI filed the federal charges.  I knew my life was over and contemplated suicide to shorten the process.  I’m glad I changed my mind and have lived to see this day as I type.

Back to the last crimes and convictions:  On November 10, 1988, a federal jury found me guilty after a four-day trial for the following crimes committed June 21, 1988:

1) armed bank robbery (Title 18 of the United States Code (U.S.C.), §§ 2113(a)(d)); 2) abduction of a person to facilitate commission of an offense (18 U.S.C., § 2113(e)); 3) conspiracy to commit bank robbery (18 U.S.C., § 371) (the charge that lead to convictions on all other counts), and 4) use of a weapon during commission of a crime of violence (18 U.S.C., § 924(c)).

The court delayed sentencing due to a pending case before the United States Supreme Court.  On February 24, 1989, a federal judge sentenced me to 420-months (300-months on Count 1, 360-months on Count 2, sixty-months on Count 3, all concurrent (running together), and sixty-consecutive months on Count 4).  I did not walk out the prison doors without handcuffs on my wrists, a belly-chain around my waist, and shackles on my legs, until August 28, 2018, before I left the institution en route to Dismas Charities in Atlanta, Georgia.  Dismas Charities is a privately-owned halfway house/residential reentry center (RRC).

RECIDIVISM IN AMERICA: WHAT WE CAN DO

Today I write as a professional and have spent hundreds of dollars to make a difference through my writing resources and otherwise, in penance for the harms I caused society with my criminal behavior and lifestyle.  

The Bureau of Justice Statistics released a new study (“2018 Update on Prisoner Recidivism: A 9-Year Follow-up Period (2005-2014),” NCJ250975, May 2018), a follow-up to the 5-year study relied upon for comparison by the ex-director (“Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010,” NCJ244205, April 2014).

The May 2018 study revealed an Eighty-three percent (83%) recidivism rate during the 9-year follow-up period, and that shows the seriousness of recidivism in America and the need for a magic elixir that does not exist.  However, even if there isn’t a magic elixir, we can reduce recidivism by ending financial incentives for politicians who make laws and policies that fuel mass incarceration.  Positive change will be slow until lawmakers stop state and federal funding for private prisons.  In the conclusion I will offer suggestions to reduce recidivism and help to create more productive members of society in the process.

The 2017 annual cost of incarceration for federal prisoners was $36,299.25 ($99.45 per day).  Federal Register, Vol. 78, No. 52 (03/18/13), and Vol. 83, No. 83 (04/30/18). 

TREAT THOSE WITH ADDICTION PROBLEMS & DUAL DISORDERS

In December of 2002, USA TODAY published an article “Study: treat addicts’ mental illness,” by Marilyn Elias, 12/02/02, USA TODAY newspaper.  According to Charles Curie of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, about one third of drug and alcohol abusers have an underlying mental disorder.  In a Pennsylvania state prison study around the same time, researchers determined that 85% of Pennsylvania prisoners had addiction problems, with half of them (42.5%) having an underlying mental disorder.  Mr. Curie stated in the same article, “That’s typical of prison systems nationally.  And we know if these inmates recover from the disorders, they’re unlikely to repeat crimes.”  Think about that statement: “inmates …, unlikely to repeat crimes.”

Those were high numbers to ignore for those wanting to reduce recidivism, considering that reducing it would decrease state and federal deficits.  Of what should be of greater significance to policy makers is helping other human beings to become productive members of society.  With it being 2019, sixteen years passed since the release of that study.  To date, the Federal Bureau of Prisons only has one facility that treats those with dual disorders (Lexington, Kentucky), but some states have implemented more of such programs and seen positive results.

I am one of the fortunate ones from the federal system who received treatment for both disorders while in prison, long before the authors released the study.  My success verifies the study findings.  I was a model prisoner for several years before my release.  I behaved in a constructive manner and helped others learn to live as law abiding citizens by practicing Twelve Step principles.  Now I am a productive member of society because I am applying what I learned in prison.  

Studies on recidivism shown in 1997, that 67.5 percent of prisoners released three years earlier were re-arrested, amounting in a five percent increase from those released in 1983.  The re-arrest rate for drug offenders rose from 50.4 percent in 1993 to 66.7 percent in 1994.  Before the 2018 study, which is a follow up to the 2005-2010 study, showed those numbers increased to 76.9 percent, and then to the staggering eighty-three percent after adding four years to the study period, all of which shows a growing problem within the Criminal Justice System.

In April 2014, the United States Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Statistics, released study NCJ244205 “Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010,” by Matthew R. Durose, Alexia D. Cooper, Ph. D, and Howard N. Snyder, PhD, BJS Statisticians.  The study expanded to include statistics for a five-year period, compared to the typical three-year studies.  The five-year study showed 67.8 percent of prisoners released had been arrested for a “new crime” within three years of release, and 76.6 percent within five years.

Here’s the numbers for relevant offender categories:

1) property offenders 82.1% (burglary (81.8%), larceny/motor vehicle theft (84.1%), fraud/forgery (77.0%), other (83.6%));
2) drug offenders 76.9% (possession (78.3%), trafficking (75.4%), other (78.1%)).
3) public order offenders 73.6% (weapons (79.5%), driving under the influence (59.9%), other (77.9%)).

Ironically, violent offenders came up last: 71.3% for re-offenders (homicide (51.2%); murder (47.9%); non-negligent manslaughter (55.7%); negligent manslaughter (53.0%)’ rape/sexual assault (60.1%); robbery (77.0%); assault (77.1%), and other (70.4%)).

FEDERAL RECIDIVISM STUDY:  In the recidivism study by the United States Sentencing Commission, “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 are 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.

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.

The 2014 and 2018 studies show recidivism decreases as age increases.

FUNDING NEW RECIDIVISM REDUCTION PROGRAMS

Releasing qualifying elderly offenders who complete the recidivism reduction programs outlined at the end of this section will save billions of dollars to use for funding other programs with minimal risk to society. Reducing this category saves a lot because incarcerating the elderly costs the most.

This section targets a large segment of inmate populations and thus saves hundreds of billions, even with only marginal success. The cost savings will supply more resources for managing other aspects of the criminal justice system.

Let us assume Mr. Curie is correct (“[W]e know if these inmates recover from the disorders, they’re unlikely to repeat crimes”).  Based upon that premise, if ten percent of released inmates received treatment for dual disorders, while inside and did not recidivate by committing more crimes, then each ex-offender saves the criminal justice system a minimum of $25,000 per years, not including associated savings gathered from not spending money to arrest and re-prosecute the offender.  

The Department of Justice could apply those savings to revamping correctional systems with more psychiatrists, psychologists, and addiction specialists needed to reduce recidivism rates that fuels Mass Incarceration in America.

Using 2,000,000 as a base figure, and $25,000 as the cost of incarceration to accommodate the lower cost of housing healthier prisoners in state-and privately-owned prisons, if 85% of the 2,000,000 prisoners have an addiction problem, that’s 1.7 million prisoners.  If 42.5% of that 1.7 million have an underlying mental disorder, that’s 722,500 prisoners with dual disorders.  If twenty percent of that 722,500 asked for and received treatment, that would be 144,500 people treated and “unlikely to repeat crimes.”  

If Mr. Curie is correct, the following numbers I use would be higher and save more taxpayer dollars.  Again, using a modest $25,000.00 as the annual cost of incarceration, if ONLY ten percent (72,500) of the 722,500 of prisoners with dual disorders were treated, released, and never committed other crimes; taxpayers would save $1,806,250,000 each year.  That doesn’t include money saved from not having to pay law enforcement and the prosecution for associated costs.  If ten percent (14,450) of the twenty percent (144,500) suffering from dual disorders, completed treatment and stayed out of prison, that would be $361,250,000 saved annually.  If that same twenty percent (144,500) stayed clean after release, that would be $3,612,250,000 saved.  More importantly, thousands of citizens would not fall victim to those released from prison in worse shape than when they arrived; another recidivist or death statistic in the making.  Nor do those figures factor in the decreased need of hiring more law enforcement personnel; not having to pay for more buildings and equipment and resources, including not having to build more prisons to warehouse the prisoners.

THE SOLUTION

To reduce recidivism and help protect American citizens, as well as to help the returning citizen to successfully reintegrate, increase the availability of rehabilitative programs.  The programs need to 1) require that participants have at least a twelve-month clear conduct record; 2) require attendance for counseling sessions for any noted mental disorder and or addiction problems; 3) require participants to attend all scheduled educational or trade-related courses.

As part of the reconstructive process, prison official must be required to create more evidence-based programs for reducing recidivism, as the recently passed First Step Act requires for federal officials.  Part of the process should include regularly-scheduled, independent audits performed on a random basis by an external agency and include interviewing twenty-percent of inmate participants, with the goal of assuring compliance.  If prison officials do not comply, sanctions should be issued against prison officials (e.g., monetary sanctions, demotions, and termination for repeated citations for failure to comply).

Incorporating the above processes will change lives and give many men and women trapped behind the walls, bars and fences of the thousands of prisons across the United States, an opportunity to become assets to society rather than tax liabilities. Yes, some will fail. Thousands of other will succeed at becoming better men and women to help make America great again.

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Year One of New Life by Wayne T. Dowdy

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

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

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

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

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

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

“2018 Update on Prisoner Recidivism: A 9-Year Follow-up Period (2005-2014),” NCJ250975, May 2018, a follow-up to the 5-year study relied upon for comparison by the ex-director (“Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010,” NCJ244205, April 2014).

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

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

On a Personal Level

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A.F.I.R.E. by Jason Glascock

Photo by Movidagrafica Barcelona on Pexels.com

Please help to spread this idea like a fire to generate support and encourage positive change for fixing the broken criminal justice system. Help Change Lives and Build a Healthier Society. Wayne T. Dowdy

COPYRIGHT © 2019 JASON R. GLASCOCK, All rights reserved. This work is protected under the spirit of the General Public License found at http://www.gnu.org.

You are granted permission to copy, print, and publish any part of this document, but you must give attribution to the author. You may alter this document, but you must denote the changes in some manner. You may not charge for any work where this document makes up the majority of the work’s text. Jason Glascock

A.F.I.R.E.

Adaptable Formula for Integrated Rehabilitation & Education

————————————————————————————————

    Statement of Purpose

A person’s education is an on-going process gained through all of life’s experiences. The environment in which a person is immersed is highly influential in the quality and breadth of education. It, therefore, behooves a society to create such an environment that encourages an individual’s self-development, and this development ought to enrich society with individuality’s ability to adapt.

 Basic Philosophy

The strength of a culture, society, community is based on the strengths of the individuals bring to it. Without the individual, there is no community. Therefore, the individual is a more important aspect that must be protected. The purpose of A.F.I.R.E. is to develop an environment whereby the individual can grow into a being that is solidly independent that can then choose to become interdependent within society.

The A.F.I.R.E. is a long-term project to create an environment that the person is immersed in. The environment is all-encompassing with a carefully and intentionally created effect that is unique to the individual. The person is given access to resources that allow them to guide their own development, with assistance available, in a context that is supportive of self-discovery for the individual to become a fully realized being. The environment offers the person to make the choice, without coercion or force. The environment is reinforcing of the ideas of individuality and the person as the creator of the community.

A.F.I.R.E. is to be instituted in a five-phased process with specific goals. These goals build on the goals of each previous phase. The phases are not set, but intended to be dynamic, adaptable and open to new solutions, but always with the overreaching goal to creating an environment that allows the individual to achieve the greatest benefit of self-empowerment.

Phase 1

Goal: develop a set of personality, aptitude, interest, and metrics that can be used to inform both the person and prison about how to create the most advantageous environment for that person, identify freedom potential factors already extant, and determine what to build upon.

Goal: develop a basic set of self-empowerment resources available in the main libraries.

Phase 2

Goal: develop computer lab resources for extended studies.

Goal: develop staff training programs that encourage healthful interpersonal relations.

Goal: develop prisoner training programs that encourage healthful interpersonal relations.

Phase 3

Goal: develop an industry-supported certification schema for education.

Goal: develop post-release support for reintegration, including:

   – employment

   – housing

   – financial assistance

   – continuing education

   – community support

   – transportation

Phase 4

Goal: develop whole-life skills programs, including:

   – hobbies

   – health

   – meditation

   – household maintenance

   – survival training

   – first aid

   – social development with people of shared interests, i.e. clubs

Goal: develop staff centric incentives program for positive relations

Goal: develop prison diversion programs that begin at arrest.

Phase 5

Goal: develop elementary through high school programs for all students which reduce risk by inspiring healthy psychological growth.

Goal: develop independence schools to encourage freedom potential factors.

A.F.I.R.E. goes much further than the STEM Initiative in creating an entire environment designed to encourage the pursuit of that which grows the individual into a healthy and complete being. STEM is a basic educational paradigm, but AFIRE is about how to live, how to think about living, and how to create the best situation for the person within a prison setting to grow in a positive manner.

Currently, prison is designed to be debilitating. The philosophies of the penological system are to handicap the prisoner and make him/her into an inmate subservient to their will, to take away the individuality and make them nothing but a body. Everything is a punishment from the beds, clothes, food and showers, to relationships with family and support groups. Every opportunity is carefully constructed to ensure failure, encourage strife, and negatively impact the psyche.

A.F.I.R.E. works to change the culture of prison into a healthful experience. Punishment is the separation and periodic denial of close relationships and the freedom of travel, not the denial of educational opportunities, health, and the pursuit of skills that can enrich society. We hurt ourselves when we harm others, and prison is a terrible harm to inflict on our community members. The prisoner is no less part of our community while in prison as they are in the Free World.

Experimental Prison Project by Wayne T. Dowdy

The Price of Change” by Wayne T. Dowdy

The following post is rooted in my response to a comment on QUORA.COM that concerned my answer to how does serving time in federal prison compare to state prison?  https://www.quora.com/How-does-serving-time-in-federal-prison-compare-to-state-prison/answer/Wayne-T-Dowdy

Based upon showing a positive difference in my behavior due to more humane living conditions in the Federal prison system, compared to my behavior in the Georgia Department of Corrections, a reader commented on the viability of each state creating a pilot program of prisons to mimic the more humane conditions in the federal system, to see how that affected recidivism. Well, maybe not in those exact words, but the gist of the suggestion is the same.

Thanks for the comment and feedback. In my opinion, yes, if the powers that be wanted to, it would be simple to do as you suggest, to create experimental/study group prison projects to study recidivism reduction, through Prison Reform/Improvement.

Mighty American Dollar

That’s what it’s all about: Money. The mighty dollar! The penal systems in America make a lot of politicians and investors in private prison companies, and in the goods and services provided to the prison machine, a lot of money.

Proven prison systems exist to reduce recidivism by treating people differently during their incarceration, and providing necessary resources/tools to help them transition into a new life.

To prove a point that change in the American Criminal Justice system is possible, I refer to an experimental program in America that is designed after a particular prison in Germany, where prisoners are treated more humanely and are less likely to return to prison after release. Prison Reform Progress

In Prison Privatization and Recidivism, I show how the interest of private prison companies and society may join to reduce recidivism while the investors continue to profit through prison privatization.

My concerns and interests are in returning citizens coming out of prison in better shape than when they went in, and being able to function in society upon release, so that each person may experience a better quality of life and hopefully will pass it on by helping others.

Change is up to each individual. Living under more humane conditions helps to encourage positive changes; opposite of the status quo in most prisons, which explains why more than eighty percent of released citizens return to prison with a new charge within nine years.

An Excerpt from Breaking News

Kim Kardashian in the White House

“EVIDENCE OF MORE RECIDIVISM:  Last month the Bureau of Justice Statistics released a new study (“2018 Update on Prisoner Recidivism: A 9-Year Follow-up Period (2005-2014),” NCJ250975, May 2018), a follow-up to the 5-year study relied upon for comparison by the ex-director (“Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010,” NCJ244205, April 2014).

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

https://straightfromthepen.com/2018/06/18/breaking-news/

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