September 6, 2020, Update: Many things changed since I wrote this blog on August 10, 2018. The biggest change being that I walked out of the prison doors of the Federal Correctional Institution in Edgefield, SC on August 28, 2018.
The realities of life after incarceration have been different than what I had imagined life would be upon release. In hope of helping to prepare others of the realities of life after release from decades of imprisonment, I am working on a blog, Life After Release, which is about things that contrasted with reality and what I thought before I walked out the doors.
In this updated post of Returning Citizens, I’ve added a Notification at the end of the post to reflect recent changes in my plans due to the lack of support.
Check out Life After Release on September 11, 2020.
Returning Citizens, August 10, 2018
I see the worm hole up ahead. Entering the worm hole, I’ll be traveling at warp speed as I race toward the future. Images zooming by so fast that I’ll only see blurs of the present as thoughts and ideas for the future bombard the senses.
The future that glitters on the other side of the worm hole is a place I never expected to see, back when I began this voyage into Never Never Land. I sat in jail contemplating suicide because of the extreme dissatisfaction I felt in myself.
Love for my family kept me alive. Despair ravaged my soul and whole sense of being because of what I had done that put me in another jail cell. Miraculously, I thought of the effect my death would have on my loved ones and cared enough about them to decide not to end the life I had ruined, at least, so I thought (that I had ruined my life).
Never lose hope. Life changes. Circumstances change. Life is good today.
This past weekend I began reading “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Victor E. Frankl, who was a former prisoner in a German Concentration Camp. A notable quote he used that’s relevant to a prisoner’s experience, as well as in many other facets of our human existence, was one by Nietzsche.
Frankl wrote, “There is much wisdom in the words of Nietzsche: ‘He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.'”
In reading of Frankl’s account of his life in a German concentration camp, I can appreciate the difference of life inside an American prison compared to the life of a prisoner of war in a foreign country.
When I began this sentence, I had a “why to live”; one driven by mass amounts of anger and resentment. But that “why” was killing me. Several years later, when I experienced freedom from those negative emotions, I was liberated.
Another favorite quote of mine is in regards to resentment that also came from Holocaust survivors.
“A former inmate of a Nazi concentration camp was visiting a friend who had shared the ordeal with him.
“‘Have you forgiven the Nazi’s?’
“‘Well, I haven’t. I’m still consumed with hatred for them.’
“‘In that case,’ said his friend gently, ‘they still have you in prison.'”
Ernest Kurtz & Katherine Ketchum, THE SPIRITUALITY OF IMPERFECTION.
August 28, 2018, thirty-years and ten days after I walked in the door of a confined and restricted environment, bound and chained with cuffs on my hands and ankles, I’ll leave en route to a Residential Reentry Center (RRC)/halfway house as a returning citizen, without chains dangling from my aging body.
I received a new RRC date and an increase in my RRC placement period (the former 119-days were replaced with 192). My former date was 12/26/2018: It really pissed me off to have an RRC date for the day after Christmas.
Now I will be home for Christmas! 😉
RETURNING CITIZENS: the Reentry Affairs Coordinator, Ms. P., told me and others in the office that the new term for those exiting prison life is “Returning Citizens,” in place of ex-offenders, or ex-cons.
As a returning citizen, I know I will face many new problems as I forge my way into a bright future. Discouraged, I am not. I am eager to face challenges and to find solutions and conquer all conflicts and obstacles that stand between me and my success as a returning citizen.
A friend who returned to society years ago, once told me during a phone conversation that he sat complaining as he tried to figure out which girl to take on a date. Then the thought occurred, “I bet Wayne would love to have my problem.” 🙂
Yep, Wayne would, just as many of those I’ll leave behind would love to have some of the problems I may encounter along the way toward the future. I’ll try to remember that if my gratitude escapes during times of character-building episodes of Life Happenings.
Perhaps the new experiences I encounter will allow me to learn something to pass on to others who will follow in pursuit of their future.
HOW MY RELEASE DATE CHANGED: Some of this information is redundant from another blog; most is not, which I will share in the words of the famous radio host, Paul Harvey, as “The Rest of the Story.”
A May 10, 2000, Progress Report, showed May 29, 2020, as my Projected Release date; derived from the amount of eligible Good Conduct Time, subtracted from the maximum 420-months of incarceration, set to expire on August 17, 2023.
On January 2, 1990, staff informed me that the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles filed a Temporary Revocation Warrant. I wrote a letter on that same day to request the withdrawal of the warrant because I sat in jail until after my parole expired and was not being given credit off my federal sentence due to that time being applied to my state sentence.
On April 19, 1990, the Parole Board withdrew their warrant. Over a decade later, I used that letter to establish the legal basis of a challenge to the federal jurisdiction relied upon to put me in prison for thirty-five years.
In 2002 the BOP awarded me 188-days of jail credit that it had refused to give for fourteen years. In court, I used the 188-days spent in jail before federal sentencing to establish that the jail time was applied toward a state sentence. Then the BOP credited me with a total of 401-days (from the day of my arrest until the U.S. Marshals took me into federal custody on September 22, 1989).
That changed my date to April 24, 2019, but that still was not right: I just couldn’t figure out how back then, even though I was no longer on drugs.
Only after my case was docketed in the United States Supreme Court, where I was set to prove the Department of Justice unjustly convicted me in a court without jurisdiction by violating Article IV(e) of the Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act, did the BOP decide to give me the jail credit that was due.
LEGAL RESEARCH: While researching the halfway house issues I’ve written about in “Life Inside,” “Half A Problem,” and several other blogs after the BOP modified its halfway house policy (began changing/reducing RRC dates), I learned that Section 3624(b) of Title 18 of the United States Code prohibited the BOP from deducting more than 54-days per year for disciplinary infractions.
As written in “Reentry Plans & A Friend Moves On,” I lost 82-days in 1990. However, when I reviewed my Sentence Computation Sheet, it did show I was not awarded any GCT for 1990, but did not show that the 28-days above 54 (82 minus 28 = 54) came off in 1991.
The Sentence Computation Sheet showed the maximum allowable GCT as 1,576-days. That did not compute, even after I applied the formula used by the BOP as illustrated before the Supreme Court in Barber v. Thomas (2011). I then submitted a request to my case manager for correction. He referred me to the Records Office.
I sent an electronic request to staff to the ISM and relied on the Code of Federal Regulations to challenge the GCT calculation. The issue was resolved during a Release Audit on March 29, 2018. I was given 54-days per year on having served 30-years of the 35-year sentence. Thus comes the confusion in inmates attempting to figure out their Projected Release dates.
On a ten-year sentence (120-months), a prisoner would think he or she would earn 540-days (10 x 54). Not so! The prisoner only earns 470-days because the formula doesn’t allow prisoners to earn time off any portion of a sentence not physically served; therefore, in that example, the GCT earned during the second through eighth years, is deducted from the ten-year total. That eliminates GCT credits for the tenth-year and a portion of ninth.
The remaining portion of the ninth year (less than one-year) is prorated at fifteen percent. In my case, 205-days remained, prorated at 15%, allowed me to earn thirty-one more days, which, by statute, won’t be awarded until the last six-weeks of my sentence.
The corrections are what changed my release date from April 24, 2019, to March 10, 2019. But because March 10th falls on Sunday, I was given the date of March 8, 2019 (that will change to February 5th or 7th during the last six weeks).
Afterwards, my case manager contacted the Residential Reentry Manager and requested a re-adjusted date because the change in my Projected Release date reduced my RRC placement period from 119-days down to 72-days, which would then become 43-days when awarded the prorated portion (31-days).
Now you know the Rest of the Story. 🙂
OFF THE RECORD: I sat in my cell listening to Alice Cooper on Uncle Joe Benson’s, Off the Record, on Sunday morning (08/05/18). As I sat listening, I wondered what my life will be like in September when I am sitting in the halfway house in Atlanta, or at my residence upon my release. Will I take time to listen to such programs? Will I be interested or have other things to do?
One thing I feel certain about, is that I won’t be living the thug life. As I wrote in “Guns, Drugs & Thugs: Drug Store Spree,” I am a retired thug. I hung up my guns and now use words sharper than razors, more powerful than bullets and bombs; softer than butter, sweeter than honey; rough and tough, or kind and gentle, clean and straightforward. Whatever the situation warrants, I’ll use select-words in the construction of sentences and phrases needed to fight battles or to mend wounds caused by my past, straight from the pen, a different pen. 🙂
In September, StraightFromthePen.com will activate a new email address for special deals on books, essays, short stories, and updates on the status of StraightFromthePen.net and .org: firstname.lastname@example.org. Posting will be determined based upon legal aspects and rules governing life in the semi-free society. Expect an update to my author’s page at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy and at other social media sites.
Notification: September 6, 2020: While incarcerated, I paid my publisher to create this website for me so I could fight for change from inside the depths of prison life. I spent a lot of money fighting for a cause in which I believed (Prison Reform).
Unfortunately, what I discovered is that people love to complain about the status quo when it comes to criminal justice and prison reform, but will not do what it takes to bring forth change. Some do fight and will put their money where their mouths are, but none of those contributed to Straightfromthepen.com, or voiced support for what I wanted to accomplish upon release.
I put my personal funds into this blog and website without any monetary return and fought for change before and after my release. On many levels I succeeded, including what I wrote about in Fight for Change, but the outcome has disappointed me in regard to gaining public support to build the other two websites I mentioned above.
No funds were contributed to the PayPal account (email@example.com) for this website for the development of the other two websites and associated domains, so I am not under any legal, moral or ethical obligation to complete what I planned, which I am cancelling because of the lack of private or public support.
The only use for the email listed below (firstname.lastname@example.org) is to provide information to some inside the federal system. My primary email address for that purpose is email@example.com that I use through Corrlinks.com.
Because of all of the above, I am aborting the mission and will only continue to do what I do on this website and for those stuck inside the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons and some state and private institutions that have access to Corrlinks.com.
Essays and More Straight from the Pen shows the power of change. The well-written essays take the reader deep inside the life of their author who overcame circumstances and obstacles that kept him chained to a life of drugs and crime. The stories inspire and motivate people to not give up or lose hope, and to fight for a new life.