Tag Archives: returning citizens

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

A New Life

I Often Wondered If I’d Live Long Enough to See Such Beauty Again

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!

Prison Privatization and Recidivism

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.

See the source image

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.

Perhaps private prison corporations can lead the way of prison reform with new cell construction, improved prison living conditions, and programs to mimic those in Norway, the nation with the world’s lowest recidivism rates. https://phys.org/news/2016-08-norwegian-prisons-criminal.html

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.

Returning Citizens Open Doors For Companies Providing Resources

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.

Help Returning Citizens


Question from a Concerned Citizen on Quora.com

[Modified Answer for Blog Post]

How can we support people just released from prison so they can get on track to a productive life instead of going back to crime?

https://www.quora.com/How-can-we-support-people-just-released-from-prison-so-they-can-get-on-track-to-a-productive-life-instead-of-going-back-to-crime/answer/Wayne-T-Dowdy

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]

A New Chapter of Life Began When I Walked Out the Prison Doors

Excerpt from Reentry Programs Will Reduce Recidivism (July 21, 2016)

https://straightfromthepen.com/2016/07/21/reentry-programs-will-reduce-recidivism/

https://www.fairshake.net/

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:

Fair Shake
P.O. Box 63
Westby, WI 54667
If you have Corrlinks, email outreach@fairshake.net.

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);
  • Employment Support;
  • 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:

HelpForFelons.org. https://helpforfelons.org/reentry-programs-ex-offenders-state/

RZero.org to research a variety of data: http://rzero.org/resource-database-2