Tag Archives: reentry

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.

Labor Day and A Personal Memorial Day

Beautiful Flowers for Bob P. from his Children

IF you prefer to read more about Labor Day, select the link/URL below. I write this blog to honor a loved one and to share my first experience at a memorial service in over thirty years, as a free citizen since my release from federal prison on August 28, 2018.

What is the meaning of Labor Day?

“Do you get weekends off work? Lunch breaks? Paid vacation? An eight-hour workday? Social security? If you said ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you can thank labor unions and the U.S. labor movement for it. Years of hard-fought battles (and the ensuing legislation they inspired) resulted in many of the most basic benefits we enjoy at our jobs today. On the first Monday in September, we take the day off to celebrate Labor Day and reflect on the American worker’s contributions to our country.” https://nationaltoday.com/labor-day-2019/ [errors corrected by this author]

America celebrates Labor Day in honor of the working men and women who make America great. I will work today at a Goodwill of North Georgia store in McDonough, Georgia.

The work I do does not compare to work done by those who serve in the military, in America and abroad, as well as the emergency responders and all others who serve and protect the public. Pro-war, anti-war, anti-government, or whatever, in my opinion, those brave men and women deserve praise and to be honored; especially, the fallen men and women we celebrate on Memorial Day who gave their lives.

Georgia National Cemetery, Canton, Georgia

My personal Memorial Day began on August 17, 2019, when a loved one took that flight to a special place in the sky, high above the clouds. I had awakened during the early hours and knew his day had come, so I sent him a text message and one on Messenger to say my farewell to Bob, my brother-in-law, and friend of over fifty years.

He moved on to another life within twelve hours.

Bob P., Proudly Represented the United States Air Force

Bob P. served in the United States Air Force during the Vietnam Era. He left the United States en route to Vietnam, and then a miracle happened: President Richard Nixon began the de-escalation of troops in Vietnam to end the war, so Bob went to Korea and, then later, to Japan instead of Vietnam.

He fought many health battles after his return, many illnesses which were caused by exposure to chemicals used during that period. He survived cancer and then had his first heart attack at the age of thirty-nine, likely caused by drugs used to treat cancer developed from exposure to the chemicals.

Photo provided courtesy of the family.

The Air Force honored Bob at the Memorial Service. I fought tears and lost several battles during the service, but when the soldier began playing the Taps, the streams began to flow.

Final Resting Place for Cremains of some of those who served our Country
The Same Pastor Conducted the Funeral Services of My Other Loved Ones

Many men and women trapped inside prison walls cannot attend funeral services. Some can but many cannot. I was one who could not because I was viewed as a security risk.

While in prison, I lost my mother and one of my younger brothers. From inside prison, though difficult to deal with the loss of loved ones, whose funerals I could not attend because of my security level, I was somewhat shielded from the emotional effects of death. I wanted to go to their funerals and to be there for them, but couldn’t because of the mistakes I had made decades before.

I had never attended a military funeral but suspect Bob’s won’t be my last. Military or not, I do not like attending such an event; however, I love the survivors enough to deal with my personal discomfort to be there to support them with love and compassion.

The ones I loved and cared for, whose services I attend, have left the body or remains and may be watching and wondering, “Why are they crying, don’t they know I am free and at peace?”

To all who gave their lives!

Life on the Outside

Antique Timex Indiglo Watch I Bought in 1995

Time keeps ticking no matter what goes on in my life. My desire to succeed never slows or diminishes, as I remain determined to succeed on a professional level, just as I have done on an interpersonal level.

My life on the outside has been a challenge in many respects, as it took me eleven months to find a job, other than the non-paying positions I have as a writer and a blogger.

Trying to fit back into society after serving thirty-years, six-months, and eighteen days of my life inside the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons, has also been a challenge, since my not having a job or a place of my own has interfered with having normal, healthy relationships with females. At least, not in the romantic sense: I have healthy-relationships without romantic involvement.

Without the love and support of my friends and a loving family, life would be much rougher for me and more of a challenge to successfully reintegrate into society.

On July 18, 2019, I began working for Goodwill of North Georgia as an Environmental Services Technician, a long title for a janitor, a humble servant.

I am happy to have a regular income and do enjoy getting to do something constructive (cleaning floors, toilets, helping others and doing whatever needs done to keep the building clean and as sanitary as I can).

My position at Goodwill is a way for me to give back to the community because Goodwill does things to help a whole lot of people to have and to do things that otherwise would not be possible. I love Goodwill!

Go to Goodwill of North Georgia and get a job and I’ll love them more if you tell them Wayne T. Dowdy from the McDonough, Georgia store referred you so that I get a $50 bonus. 🙂

Being a servant keeps me humble, a spiritual trait I need because my EGO was out to kill me when I allowed it to run out of control. Today, I remain clean and sober to keep the Ego under control and out of the driver’s seat.

I am like my first sponsor in a Twelve Step program who said, “I have a head that thinks it can kill the body and keep on living.”

Good thing that I know it lies!

In Conclusion: I will make my living with the business I am creating. I will remain humble and do what I can to help the community, online and in person, as I continue my journey of life on the outside.

Here’s a short video clip from the Adventures of Wayne at the Clayton County Reservoir, where I went to a retirement party with a loved one. I hope you enjoy the beauty of the scenery as much as I and can appreciate having eyes to see.

Could Be Me

But for the Grace of God There Go I

Provide Treatment for Addiction Problems to Reduce Recidivism

In December 2002, a study author stated that eighty-five percent of prisoners had addiction problems, and of those, half had an underlying mental condition (42.5%). To me, that study shows a critical need for providing resources to help treat addiction problems, if we plan to reduce recidivism.

Thirty Percent of Men and Women with Addiction Problems Have Underlying Mental Health Conditions.

Combine Treatment for Both Issues to Change Lives.

I am one who falls within the study findings and attest to the accuracy of the study finding; however, I don’t live that way anymore. The August 2008 publication from Readers Write in The Sun magazine, helps explain why that remains true: https://www.thesunmagazine.org/issues/392/up-all-night

(For more on the study and its findings, read “No Sympathy” on this site https://straightfromthepen.com/2019/05/02/no-sympathy/)

Note: I am now free and living my life as a productive member of society and reside in metro Atlanta, Georgia.

The Sun magazine Readers Write topic: Up All Night

I have spent many nights wide awake on methamphetamine, cocaine, LSD, and Ecstasy. In the late seventies, I used to go on PCP benders and lose days of my life to blackouts. As a result, I cannot honestly say what I have or have not done.

I am currently serving a thirty-five-year federal sentence for armed bank robbery and associated charges. For the first seven years of my sentence, I did cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, or some combination of the above as often as I could. When the guards came around to count us after lights out, I’d fake being asleep to avoid getting a urinalysis the next day. In the morning I’d begin the search for another fix.

Then I began seeing a prison psychologist. I wanted to stop shooting drugs, but I had failed at it so many times that I didn’t have much hope. The psychologist arranged sessions with a drug-treatment specialist. After about a month, she decided that the core of my addiction was shame, and she gave me a homework assignment: to write about the most shameful event in my life.

I decided to give her more than she had bargained for. I wrote from 5:30 P.M. until 5:30 A.M., committing to paper all the sick secrets that I had vowed to take with me to my grave. I filled sixteen yellow, legal-size pages.

The following day the drug counselor read what I’d written and predicted that I would never use again. For thirteen years her prediction has held true. But I keep in mind that my reprieve from my addiction is contingent on my spiritual condition from day to day. To stay healthy I have to attend twelve-step meetings and continue to write about what’s going on in my life. Staying up all night writing, instead of doing drugs, has helped me to reach beyond the walls and razor wire and into the lives of others.

Wayne T. Dowdy
Edgefield, South Carolina

Swimming

Lake Blue Ridge

One thing I gave up when I went to prison was swimming because prisons don’t have swimming pools. At least, none I know of in the United States.  Some kiddy camps may have them, but because a knucklehead would drown someone, I understand why prison authorities don’t want swimming pools for prisoners.

Oh, I forgot, prisons are for punishing the inhabitants (in the two Youth Development Centers I was in as a juvenile, we did have swimming pools, but I don’t think they have swimming pools anymore in the Georgia Juvenile Justice system because a child drown years ago).

While in prison, I often wished for a large body of water on hot days, whether a lake, swimming pool, or ocean. Even a bathtub would have been a pleasure. Taking a bath was a rare occasion (I only had a couple while in a local hospital at Leavenworth, Kansas), so when I got home and used the bathtub to take a bath, it was the first bath I’d had in decades.  😊

I loved to swim! I swam like a fish three decades ago, Olympic-type swimming, rhythmic breathing and all of that, where the swimmer uses proven techniques to increase speed and to reduce fatigue. For instance, controlling the motion of the head when coming up for air during set intervals (I believe it’s every third stroke); holding the hands in a certain position, bringing them close to the body, and keeping legs straight while kicking to propel themselves through the water.

At a Youth Development Center, a staff member taught us how to swim like an Olympian, like a fish. Today I went swimming for the first time in three decades and did well, but struggled to get back into  the rhythmic breathing and ran out of air too fast when trying to swim like a fish under water, but … it was great to jump in a big body of water!  Life is wonderful!

Today

Moving slowly back into society, one day at a time. Nine months ago today, I walked out of federal prison after having served thirty-years and ten-days.

Today was a hot one that I was happy to enjoy as a free man, physically able to walk around, alone, without assistance, and without chains dangling from my wrists and ankles.

Before leaving a Twelve Step meeting today, I shared with a man I sponsor that, when I find myself disgruntled about my circumstances, I try to meditate on my favorite saying: “I complained of having no shoes until I met a man with no feet.” Then I become grateful for what I have and stop complaining about what I don’t have but want. I have all I need to survive, so Life Is Great!

Sunny Day

Yesterday I roamed the streets of Atlanta, Georgia, on a hot and sunny day.  The sun, heavy backpack, and the day’s events wore me down. I was exhausted by the time I returned to my place of residence, emotionally and physically drained, parts of my body sore from toting a heavy load. My mind on overload from keeping rational thoughts in the driving seat of actions.

I did not have a wonderful day, per se, as I was denied financial aid by the Finance department at Grady Memorial Hospital, because I couldn’t honestly provide a Fulton County address. I could have lied and got what I wanted but I must live by certain principles if I am going to stay out of prison.

Irrational thought process: I snapped at one point when things weren’t working according to Wayne: “That’s why so many people go back to prison. They get tired of dealing with all the BS when having to deal with these kinds of places.”

The lady politely reminded me that I hadn’t been doing what I was told to do to obtain the approval. True. I’m guilty.

This is a short video clip from part of my day, and if you notice the expression on my face, it does not show being thrilled and happy to be here.

Damn the Torpedoes!

I lived to fight another day and will be okay. The medical conditions that I sought financial help for their treatments are not life threatening, today, so life is good. I am a survivor and will survive.

If I believe that everything happens for a reason and that things work the way they are supposed to, which I do, then I must accept that just because the world doesn’t work according to Wayne, does not mean that it is BAD. 

What is GOOD or BAD is a matter of perception. For Me To Still Be Alive and Kicking … is Great!

Atlanta Hilton Speech

Google Knows A Star When It Sees One

Google Search Result Deemed Delay in Posting Blog and Justified Revision

Before I posted this blog, I checked to see where the photo image might show up, since I had used it a few years ago in a profile, and on the waynedowdy.weebly.com website, as well as on Facebook.

I never knew me and Bond, James Bond, looked similar, but Google Search apparently thinks we do. 🙂 You Go, Google!

Screenshot Proves It: Wayne T. Dowdy Is a Star!

Ironically, during the period of this photo, I thought of becoming a model and went to an interveiw with the PIZZAZZ Modelling Agency, who was advertising its search for models.

The agent gave me a contract to review, sign, and return with my portfolio. I chose to do cocaine instead of signing the contract to pursue a career in acting, modelling for catalogs, and commercials, by rationalizing that, “They just want to get in my pants, anyway.” Sick!

World of Work Graduation Ceremony, Class of 1985

Who’s that dude wearing my three-piece suit?  He looks like he thinks he’s on top of the world, standing up there at that podium with the pretty lady beside him, giving his speech before 500-plus at the Hilton Hotel in the Big City of Atlanta, Georgia.  A Big Shot!

The World of Work program trained him and the other participants to be entrepreneurs, how to succeed in the business world, and how to perform during job interviews. 

Though he was a convicted felon, he landed his first job at one of the Top 100 Atlanta companies; within two-years, he received seven promotions, and increased his salary by fifty-percent.

During that infamous speech at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Atlanta, he was the last of the graduates to give a presentation.
 
He spoke a few moments to express gratitude for being allowed to take part in the World of Work program, then concluded by saying,

“Nine out of ten released prisoners go back to prison.”
 
The audience stilled. His words captured their attention.

He paused and then said, “I am the one who won’t!”

The audience erupted with cheers and a standing ovation.
 
Pride engulfed his demeanor and spirit, as he returned to his seat on the stage for the closing of the graduation ceremony.

Many Faces of Wayne T. Dowdy

He lied!  Not knowingly at the time he made the statement, but he did because he became one of the nine instead of the one to not become a recidivist.

Recidivism: a tendency to relapse into a previous condition or mode of behavior; repeated relapse into criminal or delinquent habits. Recidivism: a tendency to relapse into a previous condition or mode of behavior; repeated relapse into criminal or delinquent habits.  

https://straightfromthepen.com/2019/05/02/no-sympathy/

For more on the man wearing my three-piece suit, read Essays & More Straight from the Pen by Wayne T. Dowdy

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1794396829

Record Breaker

The Quora answer I’m posting has soared to a new level by engaging my audience. I’ve received several positive comments from readers, and that makes me Happy! 🙂

[Note: May 28, 2019: 55.4 thousand views and 1,343 Upvotes]

Within twelve hours, the numbers had soared: 17.5-thousand views and 400-upvotes.  Within forty-eight hours of its posting, those numbers doubled and continue to climb. Wow!

I love breaking records!

Many viewers signed up to Follow me on Quora.com and on this website. I hope you will, too. I need all the followers, likes, and hits that I can get to climb the ladder of Internet Stardom.

First Translation:  One reader messaged me and asked permission to translate the post and then translated it into Italian. I was grateful and impressed!

In italiano: Risposta di Alessio Renzetti a: A quale tecnologia ti sei abituato con piu’ difficoltà dopo essere uscito di prigione?

This blog post is a modified reproduction of the orginal version posted on Quora.com. To read the Quora version, click the following link:

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?ch=99&share=cc938591&srid=x5UbO

If you’ve spent a long time in prison, what technology did you find hardest to adjust to when you were released?

This may not be the typical answer in response to the question, but it does relate, and it’s my story so I’m posting in on here and as a blog on one of my websites:

After leaving the halfway house for my first adventure into the free society, three decades later, on a timed-pass for my first trip to downtown Atlanta, I paid $2.50 to ride the bus to the train station (Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority).

METRO ATLANTA RAPID TRANSIT AUTHORITY (MARTA)

I was shocked having to pay $2.50 for the bus fare that used to be much less.

The bus arrived at the train station. To enter the train terminal, I attempted to go through a turnstile that wouldn’t open. I looked at a MARTA employee and said, “It won’t work.”

“You need to buy a Breeze card,” she said.

“I gotta pay to get in here?”

She nodded. I turned took a few steps and glanced around the terminal. I didn’t see a store or anywhere to buy it from, so I said, “Where at?”

She pointed to an area where I saw several machines embedded in a wall of the terminal. I stood and gazed at one of the machines and tried to figure out how to use it: Too many buttons and features for a mind that had been exempt from using most technological-creations for the last thirty years!


BREEZE CARD MACHINE

For a few moments I continued to stand and stare at the machine, stressed out and overwhelmed because I couldn’t figure out how to operate it (My stress level had more to do with that than the actual technology involved).

Dismiss Charities, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia (Halfway House)

I was in a rush because I didn’t want to be late. I had to call in to the halfway house every time I arrived at an approved destination, or risked being put on escape status and being sent back to prison.

I didn’t have time to figure out how to use the Breeze Card Machine, so I looked for help. I saw a man who worked for MARTA and walked up to him and pointed at the machines and then asked, “Do you know how to operate those?”

“Sure,” he said and began walking toward them with me.

“I’ve been in prison for thirty years and need help.”

Moments later, I was on my way to board the train and before the day was over, a woman at another downtown MARTA train station asked me if I knew how to operate the machine so she could buy train fare.

“Sure,” I said and then shared the wealth and we were on our way to our separate designations.

METRO ATLANTA RAPID TRANSIT AUTHORITY TRAIN

I’ve adapted well to most technology, as is evident by me having several websites now and my using the cellphones I had never used until August 28, 2018, but that darn Breeze Card Machine was just too much for me to comprehend when feeling like a caveman running around in modern society.

Update: I appreciate each response to this answer, all of the upvotes, thousands of views, and a request for permission to translate.

The word “Gratitude” doesn’t express the magnitude of my emotions attached to this experience.

For those who visited my listed website (straightfromthepen.com) and viewed some of my post, most of which were done before my release, please know my publisher created the blog for me, because I had never been online until I went to the halfway house on August 28, 2018.

I explained the publication process in “About Straight from the Pen” (straightfromthepen.com/about-your-host).

Around mid-December 2018, I began managing my websites, blogs, and book revisions. To say the associated technology is challenging would be an understatement. But, hey, for a Caveman, I’m doing great!

Thanks again to each of you for making this a wonderful experience for me.

Essays & More Straight from the Pen

Get your copy today! Paperback ($9.95) or eBook ($2.99) from Amazon.com or from your favorite booksellers. Autographed copies available from the author (see Contact Page)


https://www.amazon.com/dp/1794396829/ref=rdr_ext_tmb

On the Road Video

Another post from the life of Wayne. 

https://photos.app.goo.gl/UuDi82myGJ8ExHBt8

In the famous words of Willie Nelson, “On the Road Again.”

The audio produced by Google Assistant isn’t the best and a lot of my statements were incomplete, the most important being one where I commented on how I felt being able to walk around; essentially, that most people don’t understand what a privilege it is to go out and walk, to look into moving water in a stream, to walk up or down a road, to stop and enjoy the scenery without having someone towering nearby with a gun telling you to “Move On!”

Take It Easy, The Eagles

I have moved on. Freedom may be an illusion in the sense that humans are not free if controlled by societal norms and concerns about what others may think, but I am happy to have what I perceive as Freedom from Within and Freedom from the Walls and Bars that kept me chained as a captive inside the Bureau of Prisons for thirty-years, and ten-days.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said it best:

Photo by Julian Jagtenberg on Pexels.com

Free at Last!