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, in the romantic sense. I do have heathy relationships but no romantic involvement, not yet.
If not for the love and support of my friends and a loving family …. life would have been much rougher for me and more of a challenge to successfully reintegrate into society.
As of July 18, 2019, I began working for Goodwill of North Georgia as an Environmental Services Technician, which is a long name for a janitor.
I am happy to have a regular income and do enjoy getting to do something constructive (cleaning floors, toilets, and whatever needs done to keep the building nice and clean).
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.
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).
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!
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).
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.
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.
From inside the prison cells I lived for over thirty-years, I could not see the sky through the trees. To simultaneously capture the beauty of the Sun and the Moon shining through trees would have been miraculous, as it was when I snapped the photo on my cellphone.
A loved one gave me the cellphone I used to partake in the experience that I now share the beauty of with the world.
Everything I have for comfort and convenience has been provided by friends or loved ones. I’m Grateful and Blessed by the Best!
A New Life: Important Words and Feelings: Humbling! Fortunate! Blessed!
In Electronic Chain I wrote about the beginning of a new life on March 8, 2019, when I was officially released from the custody and control of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons. https://straightfromthepen.com/electronic-chain
Many things changed since I left Dismas Charities, Inc., most for the good, some not-so-good. The not-so-goods fall under an “Expectations” category, which often creates negative emotions in any living, breathing, human being because things aren’t going according to plan. OUR plan.
For instance, I expected to find a job and to be doing well by now, financially, because I am skilled and knowledgeable in many areas, with documented evidence of skills and a verifiable high Grade Point Average in college. I’m still unemployed, eight months later, and living with relatives I am fortunate to have willing to give me a place to roost.
I didn’t expect to be discriminated against by potential employers and online employment agencies because of my age. I have been, evident by the line going dead when I answer these questions: “When did you graduate or get your GED?” “What year were you born?”
Good things happened more than not-so-good things. I’m still alive and free and that makes life much better for me, and I hope for others, too!
Oddly enough, moments after I began typing this blog a few days ago, Google notified me that I had been officially verified as being me and the owner of the information listed in the Knowledge Panel associated with the name, Wayne T. Dowdy. Though some information Google relied upon is outdated, I’m pleased to be acknowledged as being ME. I’ll work on bringing Mr. Google up to date.
Outside in the sunshine or the moonlight, I feel like me, a free man, a man with choices. A man who knows he is fortunate to walk outside, alone, at night or during the day, without chains and hound dogs chasing him. (Read “The Price of Change” in Essays & More Straight from the Pen [$9.95 USD] and you’ll understand the significance of the last clause of that sentence.) https://www.amazon.com/dp/1794396829/ref=rdr_ext_tmb
Don’t count on WordAds to pay the bills if you pay for an upgrade on a WordPress.com website, unless you have thousands of followers and visitors on your website. Without the traffic, you’ll be paying the monthly fees, as I am doing, but it’s all good, because at least I do get to enjoy the privilege of getting my words spread all over the world.
Now I need to go work on my other websites at waynedowdy.weebly.com or wonderfulthingsdone.com or wonderfulthingsdone.net, to see if I can get those sites working and maybe even generating funds and business, so that I will become an employer and won’t need to work for someone else.
To use truthful rationalization as a coping mechanism, I prefer business partners, anyways.
So, to all you employers who discriminate against us returning citizens who grew old during our draconian sentence, stick that job where the sun and moon won’t shine.
In light of all the above, I know things work according to the will of my Higher Power, whom I chose to call God, and that everything will be okay. Life is a matter of perception!
I’m doing well at adjusting to this new life, it’s just a little different than how I imagined it would be before I walked out of the prison doors. It’s all good! I’m GOOD, too!
Can Prison Reform Initiatives Work Without Abolishing Private Prisons?
I wrote this post as a creative solution for prison reform. Money controls business decisions, and with most politicians in the pockets of private prison executives, policies remain the same. Prison reform needs allies, not enemies. This plan joins forces.
Yes, I feel it is possible. Private prison companies can aid in the transformation of the criminal justice system by putting more resources into effective programs to help reduce recidivism.
Evidence of decreased recidivism rates will increase profit margins by allowing higher contract prices. Privatization of prisons requires making a profit off those who go to prison. A large component of incarceration is “Reentry” into society upon release, as CoreCivic (previously Corrections Corporation of America), and GEO Group realized and began investing in Residential Reentry Centers.
Creating a component of prison privatization to aid reentry processes, opens the door for other profits to be gained by a companies.
Market doors open when private prison companies invest in supplying associated services to returning citizens. For instance,
building or investing in treatment centers or other services to treat drug and alcohol problems;
supplying psychological services (counseling/treatment for mental health and emotional issues);
suitable housing projects;
job training classes, vocational skills programs, employment opportunities (e.g., temporary job services, employment agencies, creating divisions for other companies to employ returning citizens).
If a three-year recidivism study shows a substantial reduction in recidivism, then private prison executives can charge much higher rates, since paying the increased rate saves taxpayers dollars by not having to pay to re-incarcerate returning citizens.
Profits margins increase by charging an added percentage for services provided to the former prisoners/returning citizens.
Providing the established program is voluntary, where prisoners exiting the system have a choice of whether he or she wishes to participate, any Risk versus Benefit analysis would increase demand of offered services, because upgraded-programs would become the Gold Standard and most-desired by prisoners exiting the prison system and wanting to successfully reenter society.
Great question! I feel it’s important for those who are released to know help is available. Websites such as Fair Shake | Reentry Resource Center and other reentry based websites have collected available resources (including companies who hire ex-offenders/returning citizens), organized by state, if applicable, to help provide hope for success, and to help returning citizens know help is available. That means a lot, so, I feel it is important to support those types of services, and to then direct returning citizens to them and to any of the organizations mentioned in those sites that supplies suggestions for successful reintegration.
Family and friends may also visit those sites to learn more about what the
returning citizen faces upon release. Researching for the returning citizen
helps, and during the process, the family members and friends may learn ways to
help supply support to returning citizens.
As I state in many of my answers, there are many variables concerning prison
life and the thousands of individuals held within the walls of confinement, who
are then released back into society—with society sometimes being a
foreign environment—because of all the changes that occurred since the
departure of the returning citizen.
All released prisoners do not have the same history (amount of time served
and under what conditions, which means a lot in considering release-needs; the
nature of their offense(s); substance abuse and or mental health issues; what
all was lost during the period of incarceration; educational and vocational
backgrounds, which may help determine employability; available resources from
family and friends. etc.).
The answers to those factors help determine what others may do to help that
person successfully reintegrate.
PERSONALLY: For me, it was important knowing I had the support of my family and friends, emotional support as well as any financial-support I needed, within reason. Having loved ones who provided me with clothing, any needed funds, a place to live, and a cellphone and computer helped more than the words flying from these keys can accurately represent.
I have been blessed and am fortunate to have walked out of prison,
thirty-years and ten-days later, to still have family and friends who were
still around and still loved and cared for me. Most returning citizens are not so fortunate
and need help finding a job to support themselves, if able to work; if not, may
need help finding where to apply for any available aid, and help in applying
for that aid.
Forms and processes for obtaining available services can be aggravating and overwhelming to returning citizens without experience in technology.
Transitioning isn’t easy after decades away. Seeing the differences in prices have made me say on many occasions that, “They better be glad I changed my ways.” I felt like I was being robbed and would have wanted to rob-back, had I not changed.
Because of the many difficulties I have faced as an elderly-returning citizen,
if I had not focused on changing my life during the last twenty-three of the
thirty-years I served, I’d likely have already returned to prison. Because truthfully speaking, for many of us
who have spent most of our lives inside the insane world of incarceration; in
many respects, it is easier to survive life inside prison than on the outside.
On the outside, I have to be more
responsible (paying bills, getting insurance, dealing with health-services;
(under normal circumstances, finding a place to live), finding transportation
and paying for expenses), having to make more decisions (such as what to eat and
where to get it), and to learn a whole new way of life. Thus, comes the term often applied to the
long-term aspect of prison life: “institutionalization.” I am not!
I’m up for the challenge and will succeed, regardless of any factors I am faced with during my transition from walking out of the Dark Ages into the Modern World. [End Quora Post]
Excerpt from Reentry Programs Will Reduce Recidivism (July 21, 2016)
FAIRSHAKE REENTRY RESOURCE CENTER: One valuable Reentry Service that is doing its part to promote change by assisting ex-offenders, is the FairShake, Reentry Resource Center. Ms. Sue Kastensen, Founder and Director, created FairShake.net (www.fairshake.net), from her personal resources and commitment to make a difference. She deserves an award!
FairShake. net needs donations to continue to provide a place where people may go to find important information and links to organizations to facilitate the successful reentry of the formerly incarcerated.
Many of those released are like aliens entering a distant world, after having spent decades of their lives confined in cages: Those men and women need all available help to successfully reintegrate into society.
FairShake offers resource information for all to use for successful reentry.
The FairShake Reentry Packet contains useful information to improve the quality of life. Whether just beginning or near completion of his or her sentence, it is a publication worth reading for anyone interested in improving their mind, body and spirit.
Family and friends of the incarcerated may go to http://www.fairshake.net to download and print a free copy of the Reentry Packet to mail into a prison or jail for a loved one or friend. [Check prison or detention center mailroom policies before printing to mail.]
[I regret writing that the following is no longer possible due to a lack of donations to cover the $8.00 per-packet-cost, and because of new regulations in many prison mailrooms that prohibit certain types of paper due to the influx of K-2 (Spice) and Suboxone.]
The electronic Fairshake Newsletter is still available.Those incarcerated may write or email to request a free copy–include your name, Id. No. and address. Send request to this address:
P.O. Box 63
Westby, WI 54667
If you have Corrlinks, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
UNIQUE WEBSITE: Their unique website offers valuable tools to assist members in their transition from the insane world of incarceration into the free society.
The website contains free web pages for members (membership is free to all formerly incarcerated individuals). The website contains five categories of important data:
Reentry Resources (State and Local Reentry Guides);
Building Computer Skills;
Educate Yourself; and
Finding Specific Pages.
The Reentry Packet illustrates how to navigate their system. Below a photo, under “Fair Shake Reentry Tool Kit,” is a list of options, including Resource Directory, Reentry Packet, Ownership Manual, Building Computer Skills, Preparing for Work, and Become a Member.
Visit http://www.fairshake.net to become part of the solution for reducing recidivism and changing lives: Save lives and taxpayer dollars!
Also available to Returning Citizens for locating valuable resources are these websites:
[Updated with comments on August 9, 2019, a year after walking out of the prison gates (08/28/2018), still attempting to recover from the damage caused by thirty-years and ten-days inside the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons.]
Prison damages people. Those who spend decades in prison are damaged in many ways, all of which I will not go into. For instance, exposure to violence or physical abuse that people deal with, or repressing natural tendencies to fight when having to comply with irrational demands; e.g., like ones I wrote about in “The Truth About Incarceration, Part I” (https:/straightfromthepen.com) and “Authority and a Prisoner’s Story” (https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/508702).
DON’T GET PERSONAL: A less than obvious example of damage, occurs for someone like me — a southern gentleman by nature who likes to assist people I see carrying a heavy load or otherwise look to need help; especially, women, who represses the natural desire to help. To engage in a personal conversation may also create difficulties.
At times, I resist the desire to offer help due to fear of causing a conflict for the damsel in distress. I still offer to help in certain situations. Because of prison regulations and the warped, unwritten code of prison ethics, I may avoid speaking openly about an issue I would normally speak about to a person I feel I can help by offering a suggestion.
The person may or may not accept a helping hand. In such a situation, an inmate may decline assistance at the fear of being seen as weak or vulnerable. A staff member may decline due to fear of another staff member suspecting improprieties between him or her and the compassionate prisoner. Personal conversations and any type of transaction between staff and inmates are viewed as inappropriate by many prisoners and staff alike. Humanity prohibited!
INSTINCTS DENIED: My instinct is to help others. Sometimes I don’t because of the risk I may put the other person in by doing what comes natural. Knowing that my act of kindness may harm the other person, makes me reluctant to offer the assistance my ethics and natural instincts tells me to do, as a decent human being.
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 a normal.
[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!]
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).
At U.S.P. Atlanta, I had one female visitor I got to hug and kiss, and some mice to pet. 🙂
In Lompoc, California, I got to take care of a friend’s pet house sparrow, and to go outside to feed the seagulls, crows, other birds, and ground squirrels. I fed the ground squirrels until the administration poisoned them. 😦
In a relationship, I love to hug and touch, to put my arm around my mate’s waist or shoulder, to sleep with my arm around her to maintain contact. I guess I am by nature, a “touchy-feely” kind of guy. In prison, I sleep alone and touch myself.
SEXUAL REPRESSION: In 1980-81, when I took psychology in college, I seem to recall that a prominent psychologist or psychiatrist wrote about the damaging effect of suppressing sexual feelings and desires. If that is true, I must be more damaged than I realize. Perhaps I need a therapist, now!
In my opinion, sexual repression is a leading causes of mental illness in America.
Around 1997, a Nevada, Holier-than-Thou politician, pushed a bill through Congress that prohibited federal prisoners from receiving magazines or books containing nudity. [Ensign later resigned due to negative publicity about his extramarital affairs.]
CENSORSHIP & COMPLEX REASONING: Several years ago, the prison mail room staff rejected an issue of Smithsonian I subscribed to because it contained nudity. I appealed.
The program statement makes an exception for educational or anthropological content, as one may see in National Geographic; however, understanding an “exception clause” requires cognitive thinking; an ability to comprehend the subject matter and its relation to the provision; to then analyze the situation and decide whether the matter before one’s eye, does in fact, contain what constitutes a permissible exception, a far too complicated process for someone who may not have a GED, I reckon.
The Smithsonian Board of Directors has Supreme Court justices and politicians. If I was wrong in my assertions, the justices and politicians on the Board of Directors support publishing and distributing pornography.
I appealed the decision to reject my Smithsonian. I took it to the highest level in Washington, DC. No one involved comprehended the “exception clause” and upheld the denial of my magazine. Censorship won because I didn’t want to spend $500.00 to litigate the matter in federal court, where someone with the required intelligence could understand the educational/anthropological, “exception clause.”
PERVERSION & THE POLITICIAN: Since that policy took effect, I saw a dramatic increase of inmates put in the hole (confined to a cell 23-hours per day, restricted from purchasing most commissary items, using the phone, email system, etc.) for “gunning down” female staff members (masturbating or exposing genitalia while watching the woman). That may qualify as abnormal behavior.
The politician who sponsored the censorship bill, later came under fire for getting caught cheating on his wife. Throughout the years, many of the politicians who come up with such bills did what prisoners in the Georgia prison system called “Shifting the Heat,” which is to say or to do things to put the focus on other people to keep it away from themselves.
CELIBATE BY CHOICE: In prison, I remain celibate because I choose not to participate in homosexual activities, my only other option since I do not have or attempt to have sexual affairs with staff members. Even if involved in a heterosexual relationship with someone, I still couldn’t engage in sexual activities, even if someone visited me. While visiting, prison rules limit physical contact to hugs and kisses when greeting and leaving. Therefore, I remain celibate and will do so until I reenter that part of humanity upon release from prison.
LOMPOC CA: In 1999, while I was at the United States Penitentiary in Lompoc, California, a tall and pretty, female staff member worked in M-Unit, along with a male staff member known to create drama with staff and inmates alike.
M-Unit is where those of us with high profiles were kept. I lived in it because I was a maximum custody prisoner. The administration scored me as Maximum custody due to violence and an escape in 1981, when I was a 24-year-old knucklehead in the Georgia prison system. Today I am a model prisoner.
PRETTY WOMAN: That tall and pretty woman was a mother of three. The male guard wanted her to sit in a booth where the correctional officers, who worked in the unit, had a phone, small desk, drawers, and a cabinet to store their personal and work-related items.
She rebelled. Instead, she chose to speak with me, within his view. We stood talking on a tier, in an open area, where others could hear our conversation. To learn how she might help raise her children, she asked about my childhood and history, and wanted to know what I thought lead to me spending my life in prison. Our conversation was wholesome, no improprieties of any sort.
The next time I saw her, she asked if I’d be willing to give her an affidavit about our conversation, if she needed it.
“Sure,” I said.
The male guard wrote a complaint against her for fraternizing with an inmate.
Because of that experience, I sometimes avoided conversations with female staff members, who may have only wanted to engage in conversation to ease their tension from working in a male prison.
When sexually attracted, I must resist the impulse to flirt or to make an advance. A rejection might result in a trip to the hole and a damaged ego, the damaged ego being the worst casualty of rejection.
[Today, I resist the urge to flirt or ask for a date because of some of the BS generated through the ME TOO movement, where many people filed complaints and alleged sexual abuse by those in power positions (most of which were legitimate complaints, I suspect). The main reason is because of personal circumstanceand for reasons I wrote about in previous blog posts, and because I don’t think it’s what I need until I become more accustomized to living on the outside.]
As damaged as I may be from the prison experience, I will blend into society when I am released. With a little help from my friends, and maybe a therapist or two, I will be okay and become a success story.
[Returning Citizen: I am a success story, as are all of the men and women who returned to society and have not returned to prison life.]