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This post is complimentary to allow his voice to escape the confines of prison walls.
I received and scanned the letter from an anonymous inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution in Petersburg, Virginia. For more information on institutions under the control of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons, clickHere
Content is as submitted. Straight from the Pen does not express any opinion on the subject matter or content or the validity of any statement or claim made.
On the night that I received the medallion displayed above, four members of a twelve-step program sat at a table pulling cards from a deck. I overheard the only male in the small group say, “I don’t want one.”
He didn’t want to pull a card, so I volunteered and exchanged seats, due in part to three lovely ladies sitting at the table where he sat. That is where Master Number 33 comes into play for the topic of this blog, though I didn’t learn that I was a Master Number 33 for several weeks because I recall that I pulled a card containing four images.
The interpreter, Stephanie, then asked me several personal questions before our affair was interrupted for those of us celebrating milestones in recovery to be honored with the presentation of sobriety tokens.
Stephanie made some positive comments about her findings before we had to rearrange our seats for the spectacular events to proceed for which we were gathered.
Months later I asked her what all of that meant that she had said after reading the card, etc. She then sent me the link below on the Master Number 33 and suggested I read it. When I did, I was amazed at the accuracy proven by my history and observation of Number “3” and events in my life, which I will not go into for the purpose of this blog.
In reference to Master Number 33, one example is that in recovery and in life in general, my Higher Power, whom I choose to call God, uses me to help others to find a new way of life. Something I do out of love for others and love doing to compensate for the many dirty deeds I did before my conversion (changing my lifestyle in 1995 and retiring from the Thug Life I lived for several years because I didn’t know how to change what began as a child). Here is a quote from Ganehaspeaks.com to support that fact:
“Master Number 33 Powers and Characteristics
“They seem to possess an unlimited reservoir of spiritual energy which they use extremely liberally to help those around them. The root of 33 that is 6 is a number that is naturally associated with family, love, home, and responsibility.”
I am responsible! I suit up and show up when committed to helping another person find a new way of life.
Matter of Perception: Thirty-three years ago on August 18, 1988, an event occurred that some may view as good while others may see it as bad, meaning not-so-good.
Personally, since I am the Star of the Show, I see it as necessary and a combination of both, good and bad, because if the event had not occurred, I would not be alive to write this blog or to enjoy the life I am blessed with living today. To understand that statement a person needs to read my book to grasp a full understanding.
Though far from the life I imagined and believe is on the horizon, I am doing well in that I have the main essentials for survival (good health, food, shelter), and am still alive and free as a spirit having a human experience.
THE EVENT: Kentucky State Patrol pulled me and an accomplice over in Campbell County, Tennessee, which ultimately led to my arrest and conviction on several federal charges and a 420-month federal prison sentence, all of which I wrote about in Essays & More Straight from the Pen. (Buy paperback for $8.95 or eBook for $0.99)
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.
August 28, 2018: I walked out of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons in Edgefield, South Carolina. That was the first time in 30-years and 10-days that I walked outside the confines of a prison without handcuffs, chains, and shackles.
In Electronic Chain on this site, I wrote about some of my experiences after completion of my federal prison sentence on March 8, 2019. And then in another blog, Prison and Personality Changes by Wayne T. Dowdy, I included an update to my life after release and a recent post on Quora.com, all of which I write in hope of using my experiences to help others.
My goal is to convert my negative experiences into positive ones by sharing my experience, strength, and hope with others, as is common in Twelve Step programs.
In conclusion of this blog, I will end with an excerpt from the Conclusion in Numerology: Master Number 33 that if someone elects to buy and read Essays & More Straight from the Pen, will probably see a substantial contrast in the man I am today versus the person I had become based upon life experiences, and thus see the Power of Change I want others to see in my life:
“People affiliated with this number will be loving, sympathetic, emotional, kind-hearted and zealous in their essence.”
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.
UPDATE (06/10/2021): The referenced program statement for the collection of fines and restitution may be read on the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) website (Inmate Financial Responsibility Program (bop.gov)). Some of the sanctions for NOT meeting financial responsibility are listed on pages 11-13, many of which are severe.
Inmates must pay or be sanctioned for non-participation. If a court ordered the defendant to pay the cost of incarceration, the BOP takes that first.
Personally, while on the Inside, I was fired three times from my position in UNICOR for not paying restitution that the court ordered to be PAID UPON RELEASE FROM IMPRISONMENT. Eventually, I won the battle and the BOP stopped extorting me.
Based upon the above, I do not find the attached article reliable, even though I am sure the reporter only stated what he had been told, much of which was misleading in my opinion.
I wish reporters who report this type of articles were more knowledgeable about laws and prison policies. Maybe The Washington Post will find better reporters. The BOP has a policy for collecting restitution and other debts owed by prisoners.
The fact is, though, that the BOP often collects the money from prisoners each month and then holds it in the BOP account and draws interest on the money collected.
In this case, then, the Villain is the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Yep, it happened again. The Hand of the Censor closed the door of communications between the Freedom of the Press and a captive held inside the mighty United States Federal Bureau of Prisons.
I send in the same content to over one hundred federal captives held in several institutions, without an issue. And then on occasion, at least one incompetent screener who cannot comprehend the context of my blogs or messages, decides that what I write or do is a threat to institutional security.
Maybe it was due to me offering to build him a website in another message. I don’t know.
In this case, the Censor at the Federal Detention Center in Miami, Florida seemed to have stopped one of my blogs that I sent in to a high-profile captive who is a subscriber whom I have published articles for, even though he is of a different faith and belief than me.
I do not believe or feel the same as this particular person on many issues but that is irrelevant. What is important, is that I believe in treating others with the same respect and in giving the same consideration that I would want from someone who didn’t agree with my position on an issue or event.
It is not about me and what I believe in regards to religion or politics: it is about him having a right to believe as he wishes and for me to give him and others a voice to shout out from behind the walls, bars and fences that holds the body but cannot control the mind.
That is, unless the administration pumps the person full of anti-psychotic medication, which actors within the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons and other prison systems have been known to do to control captives who fail to conform. At least, so I have heard and seen the results of when a person begins to walk and talk different because of the heavy dosing of medication.
At any rate, I will end this post with the Message from the Censor:
This message informs you that you have been blocked from communicating with the above-named federal prisoner because the Bureau has determined that such communication is detrimental to the security, good order, or discipline of the facility, or might facilitate criminal activity. The prisoner with whom you were communicating is being informed of this block. You may appeal this block within 15 days of the date of this message by submitting a written request to the Warden of the prison where the prisoner is located. You should include a copy of this notice, an explanation ofyour appeal request, and any additional documents or information you wish to be considered.
Este mensaje le informa de que ha sido bloqueado de comunicarse con los citados presos federales porque laAgencia de Administraci?n federal de prisiones ha determinado que dicha comunicaci?n es perjudicial para laseguridad, buen orden, o la disciplina de la instituci?n, o podr?a facilitar actividad delictiva. El recluso con quienusted se ha estado comunicando ser? informado de este bloqueo.Usted puede apelar este bloque dentro de los siguientes 15 d?as de la fecha de este mensaje mediante lapresentaci?n de una solicitud por escrito al alcalde de la prisi?n donde el recluso se encuentra. Usted debeincluir una copia de este aviso, una explicaci?n de su solicitud de apelaci?n, y cualquier otro documento oinformaci?n que usted desea sea considerado.
For those with a loved one inside the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), and I suspect many state institutions; if you cannot contact or hear from your loved one, friend, affiliate or associate held inside the prison system, it may be because of a national lockdown, meaning that the men and women will be restricted to limited activities as a precautionary measure.
IN my opinion, regarding BOP captives, many of the prison staff will be at the White House or local government buildings in response to the possible threat of violence during the Presidential Inauguration. Inside the BOP, a high percentage of staff are former or current military personnel and or members of the National Guard, as I feel may also be true for state correctional officials.
(BOP) – For the majority of the past twelve months, the BOP has been operating under a modified operational model to promote social distancing and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. We recognize that this pandemic has placed a heavy burden on inmates and their families in terms of limited movement and the public’s restrictions in being able to freely visit with loved ones. However, in light of current events occurring around the country, and out of an abundance of caution, the decision has been made to secure all institutions. This measure is being taken to maintain the security and orderly running of our institutions, as well as to ensure the continued safety of staff, inmates, and the public.
In securing the facilities, the hope is that this prudent measure is for a short period and that operations will be restored to their prior status as soon as practical. We will continue to monitor events carefully and will adjust operations accordingly as the situation continues to evolve. Recognizing that communication with families is important, although it will be limited, inmates will be provided with access to telephones and email.
There is no specific information that triggered this decision. This action is precautionary, and is not in response to any significant events occurring inside our facilities. We appreciate everyone’s cooperation and assistance during this period and encourage the public to monitor this website for updated information on visiting schedules and institution operations.
LIMITED TIME: Based upon my experience during the hundreds of lockdowns I went through, sometimes for months at a time, if the person has access to Corrlinks or any other similar system for communicating with the outside world, access to the system will be severely, if not completely, restricted. That includes access to telephones.
INSIDE PERSPECTIVE: if living in a cellblock, even though allowed to be out of the cell with several others on the tier, range, or however released for as little as an hour to shower, use the phone, and or computer (Trulincs/Corrlinks); with an overpopulated prison system, and numerous inmates attempting to do the same things at once, many men did not have the time or patience to wait in line for a shower and then use the phone or computer.
He or she may want to call or contact loved ones but cannot do so because of the unavailability of the resources during the limited time out of the cell, or because of some inmates being inconsiderate by breaking in front of others waiting in line, and the lack of control by a limited number of staff who have multiple tasks to accomplish during the times that the doors are opened and cannot oversee everything happening at one time.
During the early nineties when I was at the United States Penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia, a female staff member who used to be a lieutenant at the Federal Prison Camp, said to me,
“One time when I was doing my rounds in the units, an inmate came up to me and pointed to another guy on the phone. He told me to make him get off the phone because he had been on longer than he was supposed to have been. I told him, ‘You go make him get off. You have a mouth.'”
She laughed and said, “I called them Crooklets because they hadn’t grown up to be crooks.”
The point is that if you do not hear from someone you know on the inside, he or she may not be allowed access to the system or cannot get to it to call or email you as he or she would normally do.
Brighten his or her day by mailing a letter or postcard to show you have not forgotten them. Hearing one’s name at mail call means a lot.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Straight from the Pen!
Santa Clause is Coming to Town!
Ice and snow settle across parts of the United States as Santa moves in to deliver gifts and toys to all of the good little boys and girls.
Naughty girls and boys get gifts, too, because Santa doesn’t want to be sued for discrimination and lose his reindeers and sled in court.
For me, I haven’t felt the Christmas spirit in 2020, even when it began to look a lot like Christmas before this day arrived, with Santa packing weapons to defend himself against those who wish to take his goodies. (See photos of Santa’s Anti-Terrorist Sled.)
What I do feel is gratitude for my health, family and friends, and for having an opportunity to walk the streets or to get in my car to drive wherever I wish, or to go to the refrigerator to get anything I want to eat, at whatever time I chose.
My life changed a lot since I began this blog several years ago to get my voice outside of the walls and rows of barbwire that held my body but couldn’t dampen my desire to succeed upon release.
For my freedom, I fought many battles against demons and dragons and slayed them all, one at a time, until victory opened the doors.
I held my head up as I walked away, with no desire to ever return.
Years later, I sit at a computer writing blogs that I often send in to a select few inside the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons. My hope is to encourage and inspire others to change their life to become better men and to have a more fulfilling life, and so that if the day comes to walk out the doors, that they, too, will be able to live a life that does not include crime or behaviors that will put them back into prison or the graveyard.
Uh, oh, I hear Santa cruising the neighborhood so I need to get in bed and act like I am asleep so that he will stop and leave my presents because I have been really good this year. 🙂
Check out these two older blog posts and you will see Santa’s High-Performance and Heavily Armed sled that will get him put in prison for life if the Feds catch up with him.
When the year 2020 began, I believed it was going to be a wonderful year, and as in other things, it is a matter of perception of whether it has or has not been a wonderful year. For me, I lived to fight many more days and continue to be thrilled and happy to be “here,” with here meaning Alive, alive and still Kickin’ after all these years, which is a miracle, indeed. For that I am grateful. Some things I wished to have been different but … I am not in control of life. I am happy to be a part of it.
I am Blessed by the Best!
Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate the holiday, and to all of those who do or do not, please take a moment to reflect on the positive aspects of life today. Personally, I begin with the obvious, my health, including all body parts that remain intact and fully functional; especially, my Eyes to See and Ears to Hear, as well as my mouth and fingertips to express what I want the world to hear and read.
The most import is Love
Of all things I am grateful for, the most important is LOVE, love from above and love from my many friends and the few loved ones who remain alive and in my life. Should I list all things for which I am grateful, this blog would take more time to write than I have before posting it in time for people to read before Thanksgiving celebrations begin in America.
I’m late according to my schedule but on time spiritually.
FROM THE INSIDE
Two days ago, I received a Corrlinks email from a person who shared his feelings on the holiday. Here is what Chuck wrote, who is serving an excessive federal prison sentence:
“I wanted to wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving, and to remind everyone that this time of year is an excellent time to reflect on family & friends, as well as community and the world. We are in challenging times now and can often not see the beauty in others around us because of our situations. To be thankful for what we have, as well as what we have learned about those closest to us are experiences that should not be overlooked. To see the trivial things that we otherwise might have missed because of the daily hustle and bustle of our hectic lives is reason enough to give thanks during this holiday. Those smiles and conversations that arise out of the extra time that we spend because of our closeness are opportunities that may only come once. So, embrace them and cherish them … give thanks for them and the people that they originate from.
Note: if you would like to correspond with the author, his address is as follows:
CHARLES R DENNING, # 21317-045
USP TERRE HAUTE
P.O. BOX 33
TERRE HAUTE, IN 47808
In the original draft of Too Late for Torrick, I began by using the dictate function in latest update for Microsoft Word 2016. Two reasons kept me from including a section titled, Positive Note; the first being something that a friend once said about using the talk-to-text function for sending emails.
He wrote, “I can’t get it to understand Southern.”
The second reason related to the amount of time it would take for me to decipher the convoluted dictation, and my deciding that it would be best to wait to include the positive perspective of the Corrlinks correspondence in a separate blog and that proved to be a better idea because of the events that followed.
My plan was to include the convoluted dictation as humor; however, I will spare my readers and conclude with the blog my friend sent and authorized me to post on his behalf. I also sent his blog into the prison system and received several favorable comments from those Inside who needed to read good news.
The devastation caused by COVID-19 from inside the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons did have a positive side, in that the courts intervened and ordered the release of hundreds of prisoners that the prison officials refused to release on their own initiative after given authorization to do so by the United States Attorney General.
A person who I have known for years and who wrote an Introduction to Unknown Innocence, recently wrote that he was granted his release because of the Court’s intervention related to his request for Compassionate Release because of the threat of COVID-19.
He sent me an email and wrote, “Thank you for all you have done for me recently. The daily stats helped me present my case.” That made me feel great and assured me that the time I take from my schedule to provide information and meaningful content to those on an approved Corrlinks contact list, is a worthy cause, for which I am grateful for being able to do.
On Monday, November 30, 2020, Jeffrey P. Frye, will be released because of his having a competent public defender who assisted him, and a federal judge who granted his motion and ordered his release.
Miracles happen! Never lose hope.
Leaving Shawshank (last blog from prison)
Jeffrey P. Frye
In June 2020, two months into the national lockdown in the Federal Bureau of Prisons, I made a strong cup of coffee and took 10 sheets of paper and I sat in my cell and penned a Motion for Compassionate release to the court in Charleston, South Carolina. I cited the COVID-19 epidemic and its devastating effects on the inmate population, especially for people with my medical conditions of COPD, asthma, and hypertension… However, for somebody with my history, and given the fact that I was given 20 years for robbing seven banks (w/out wearing a mask), and given the fact that Judge Norton had actually whacked me with 7-20 yr. sentences (one for each bank), I figured it a stretch. But time and pressure sometimes make a jailhouse lawyer…so I fired off the motion anyway. And in what has turned out to be the smartest move I made, I sent a copy to the Federal Public Defender in Charleston, Ms. Ann W., to ask her if she would represent me on this filing.
After about a month I had still heard nothing back from the court or the Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) on my case. Nor had I heard from the public defender’s office. I found this to be odd, because usually at least the AUSA would deny my filings in short shrift. I waited, all while the outbreak back here for worse and people started dropping like flies. I have a friend named Wayne T. Dowdy who had started sending me daily reports from the BOP’s website (bop.gov) of which institutions had cases and how many people had died. When we came out for our hour on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I would write these down. It was sobering. The numbers were climbing all while the BOP told Congress and the media that it was getting better.
Enter Ms. Ann W, Esq.
The judge appointed her to investigate the validity of my claims. I kept piping her info through snail mail, and filing addendums to my original brief, and asked her to amend these to my pro se filing if she thought it relevant. In America, a lot of defendants have an incorrect assumption about public defenders. They assume that they are the bottom of the barrel or lawyers who are just on their way to something better. They also mistakenly believe (at least in federal court) that if they hire a high-priced lawyer that they’ll get a better deal. Maybe these opinions have at least a little validity in state court but not in federal court. In the feds, the public defender’s office is the best one to have because all they do is federal law, day in and day out. Subsequently, they are the smartest lawyers in the pack; the best to have.
Ms. Ann W. is the cream of the federal crop.
After sending her a second addendum telling her how bad things were, she filed an amazingly excellent 20 page brief that used recent reports from the Department of Justice’s Office of The Inspector General (OIG), and from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that refuted the BOP’s claims. She blended this with my medical history, my new-found career as a writer, and a couple of character letters the info on the place I would live if the motion were granted (this is paramount). Then after she’d threw all these things into the pot, she stirred it using her own narrative of me and my life. I have often commented that writing is like making sauce in that you throw in a bunch of different things and stir, hoping that the reader loves your creation. And much like feeding people and the ones you love; you hope that the reader likes your sauce. We, I am here to tell you that Ann W. makes a damn good sauce. She also included something else that I found to be pretty cool.
She included you guys. My blog readers for the last eight years and the people who have purchased my books. How cool is that? She also attached letters penned by the two people who have been great friends to me and that have been instrumental in my career to this point. Steve Hussy, Owner of Murder Slim Press and Jonathan J. (a.k.a., Alexius Rex), creator and pilot of my website bankblogger.weebly.com. Two people who have been very kind to me over the last eight years, and who, strangely enough, that I have never seen in person or even spoke to on the phone during these years. At the end of The Love Fest section of her sauce, Ms. W. listed my transition from the genre of “Hey look at the dumb criminal,” to the mainstream by mentioning The Life of Riley Book 1 (now available and seriously underpriced on Amazon). But in spite of her awesome brief (I’m almost out of stupendous adjectives to describe her work), there was still no word from the judge. Until two days ago.
I was standing on the inside of my cell door staring out into the abyss of abject criminal nothingness while practicing what I refer to as “Anti-social distancing.” This involves me strapping on my MP3 and ear buds and pretending that the music is playing, even though it’s not. This tactic prevents me from having to talk to my psycho cellie, the one whose face, head and neck are completely tattooed; the one that I have had to fight at 5am three frigging times in the last three months.
As I stood in my door feeling every bit the Nowhere Man living in my nowhere land, staring into nothing, while listening to absolutely nothing, I spied the back area of the staff offices open up and watched as my case manager hustled towards my cell with a sheaf of papers in his right hand. I found this to be extremely odd because most days, I couldn’t find this dude with a search warrant. He walked up to my house and opened my cell door, and said, “The judge has granted your compassionate release and commuted your sentence to Time Served. We have up to 14 days to get you out of here and on a flight to Chicago, all we’re waiting on is Probation in Illinois to verify your release residence, then you’re out of here.”
And just like that…this 12-year nightmare is over. I’m going free.
Now it’s two days later and what should be extended joy and elation is only fear. I have no money to speak of; No clothes; and until I can get to the food stamp office like a good liberal, I don’t even have any food. At least here at Shawshank I had Cheeseburger Day to look forward to every Wednesday. I was the guy who could write about Cheeseburger Day. Now I don’t even have that anymore. But in a few short days, you know what I will have?
Freedom. A brand-new beautiful life. A chance not to die here.
So, very soon I will be sitting in a terminal at Orlando International waiting to catch a flight To Chicago, where I will be met by my sister and brother in law with love. I will have on my lap all of my possessions; a mesh bag with the hand-written copy of The Life of Riley Books 1-4, and two other books I have penned and not decided what to do with yet. Ironically, I will be wearing a mask. Go figure.
I am not sure where my cool new beautiful life will take me in the coming years, but I do know one place that it will not. To a bank. Ever. From now on, I will be doing all my banking online.
Anytime I receive a message from the Corrlinks automated response that someone on my approved contact list no longer has access to the Trust Fund Limited Inmate Computer System, I assume that the person was put on restriction for a limited time as a disciplinary sanction, or released to the streets or to a halfway house, alive.
That changed on November 20, 2020.
Each week I send a variety of messages to my approved Corrlinks’ contact list. Most of what I send relate to the Coronavirus inside the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) or Wisconsin Department of Corrections, or articles that I find online or write that I feel will be of interest to those trapped Inside the system.
While reviewing a previous newsletter I sent inside with several Press Releases from the BOP for COVID-19 deaths in November 2020, I noticed a name that seemed familiar. I checked and was saddened to see he was who I thought. He had reached out for help, but I did not feel I was qualified; however, this blog post is in his honor.
Though it is a little too late for Torrick, maybe it will inspire others to take action to prevent people on the Inside from having the same fate as Torrick.
Torrick was one of the 141 confirmed deaths on November 20, 2020, inside the BOP from COVID-19 and one of hundreds of inmates that the BOP did not release for health concerns when given authority to do so. He was unfortunate in not having an attorney to fight for his release.
When he contacted me, it would have been too late for an attorney to have done anything for him because of the judicial process, and because he tested positive for COVID-19 six days later.
Within thirty days, he died after requesting I expose the prison for their unsafe practices that exposed staff and inmates to COVID-19 infections, in part, because the Springfield Medical Center for Federal Prisoners’ failed to take proper action to protect its inmates in accordance with CDC guidelines.
CorrLinks Tue, Nov 17, 4:50 AM
Inmate 16873076 – LYLES, TORRICK T no longer has access to the Trust Fund Limited Inmate Computer System; therefore, he/she may not send or receive messages. El preso 16873076 – LYLES, TORRICK T ya no tiene acceso al sistema de computadora limitada de presos del fondo fiduciario; por lo tanto, el/ella no puede enviar o recibir mensajes.
Inmate Locator (bop.gov)
TORRICK T LYLES Register Number: 16873-076 Age: 43 Race: Black Sex: Male Deceased: 11/14/2020
BOP Press Release
The day before I received that automated message from Corrlinks, I sent the following Press Release and others from November in to those on my Corrlinks Contact list:
U.S. Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Prisons FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 16, 2020 Office of Public Affairs Inmate Death at MCFP Springfield WASHINGTON, D.C.:
On Wednesday, October 21, 2020, inmate Torrick Lyles tested positive for COVID-19 and was placed in medical isolation at the Medical Center for Federal Prisoners (MCFP) Springfield, in Springfield, Missouri. He received daily symptom checks and was assigned to a unit with 24-hour nursing staff where he was evaluated for respiratory distress. On Sunday, October 25, 2020, he was transferred to a local for further treatment and evaluation. On Saturday, November 14, 2020, Mr. Lyles, who had long-term pre-existing medical conditions, which the CDC lists as risk factors for developing more severe COVID-19 disease, was pronounced deceased by local hospital staff.
Mr. Lyles was a 43-year-old male who was sentenced in the Western District of Tennessee to an aggregated 358-month sentence for Use of Telephone to Maliciously Convey False Information, Tampering with a Witness, Felon in Possession of a Firearm, Conspiracy to Commit an Offense Against the United States, Conspiracy to Possess With Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance, and Carrying/Using a Firearm During and In Relation to Drug Trafficking. He had been in custody at MCFP Springfield since September 28, 2017. MCFP Springfield is an administrative security facility that currently houses 835 male offenders. The Bureau of Prisons will continue to provide daily updates and information on actions related to COVID-19 at http://www.bop.gov/coronavirus/index.jsp. Additional information about the Bureau of Prisons can be found at http://www.bop.gov.
Last Correspondence with Torrick
Previously, Mr. Lyles had written to me the following because I sent in a lot of information about COVID-19 and issues affecting prisoners:
“From: TORRICK T LYLES (16873076) Date: 10/15/2020 7:51:49 PM Message:
“They Panicking and Stacking Positive Inmates In One Dorm The News needs to Know This I Suffer from Dialysis and They still Not trying to Release the sick Can you get me some Help Or Put This Prison On The News
“TORRICK T LYLES on 10/15/2020 3:23:16 PM wrote Springfield Missouri Medical Center Is Having a Major Out break 40-Plus inmates Done Tested Positive”
Though I did not know Torrick Lyles on a personal level, learning of his death disturbed me after I realized he had sent me the emails. Perhaps he felt that the end of his life was near and wanted to fight but knew that his failing health could not survive a round with COVID-19.
In retrospect, I wish I had taken the time to write a blog about the institution as he requested, since I knew that, historically, the Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri, had once been plagued with medical malpractice suits that lead to a moratorium being placed on it by the courts.
I may be too late for Torrick to know that his life mattered enough for someone to take the time to do as he suggested, but now that I have, I hope others who cry out for help will know that their lives matter, even if a person cannot do what may be wanted. May Torrick rest in peace in knowing that his life did matter.
Federal Prison Industries, Inc., UNICOR, INMATE EARNING STATEMENT
The amount a person may want to send an incarcerated individual, depends on many factors. He or she has shelter, and though it may be lacking at times, most prisoners do have food and the essentials of survival, whereas some loved ones or friends may be struggling to survive on their income.
If the free citizen needs to pay rent, buy food, or otherwise take care of themselves and family, in my opinion, as a former prisoner, I’d rather have gone hungry than for my loved ones to have sent me money that was needed to provide for themselves. My comfort came in second compared to theirs.
My personal opinion is that most prisoners should be able to get by on $50-$100 per month and even less if no one from the outside can help. Unfortunately, many fall into a trap trying to get by and revert to various ways of survival I won’t address. And some of those who have money coming in may be extorted by the stronger prisoners or gangs and still do without.
Prisons are commercialized and charge inmates for many things that were once given to those under their care. Because of that, if the incarcerated receives funds and owes for services provided, the institution may freeze the inmate account and take funds sent in by a person’s family or friend.
Most systems have policy or program statements that define what the law allows, which may be challenged through the Administrative Remedy process and the courts. In most cases, courts rule in favor of the prison administrators but not always. Therefore, money sent in to someone for food items, etc., gets taken and the person has to get by without the funds but will normally survive, even if it means going hungry or not having what he or she wants or needs.
UNICOR HELPED ME PROVIDE FOR MYSELF
In the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons, I was happy to provide for myself by working and not having to be dependent on others to provide funds for my wants and needs.
Many of my peers were different, especially if on drugs and wanted to get high, the same as I did until 1995. I understood their actions because I know what it was like for me when I lived the life of an addict, so I am not condemning those who still live the life I once did.
When I first entered the system, after having served time in the Georgia Department of Corrections, where I was not paid for working, I felt good earning the low-wages ($0.12 per hour) then paid to federal prisoners who did not work for UNICOR.
UNICOR is the trade name for the Federal Prison Industries, Inc. that has changed considerably since when I began my federal sentence over three decades ago in 1988.
Please note that all prisoners do not get paid for working, or get paid as much to work in places like the Federal Prison Industries, Inc.
I was one of the highest-paid, hourly-rate, inmate employees who worked for UNICOR, and rarely made over $200.00 per month. In the copy of the paystub above, I earned $189.14 for the month of May in 2018.
On average, by working in the Federal Prison Industries (UNICOR), I earned enough to spend $64.00 on the phone, $50.00 on writing/emailing blogs, etc., and $45–50.00 on commissary items, based on cost in the Federal Prison System.
To do the things I wanted to do, I made sacrifices, such as to pay for the creation and upkeep of my website, STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN, and my blogging expenditures that added up when considering I paid five cents per minute to use the emailing system provided by Corrlinks.com. To print my drafts, of which there were many for some of my more lengthier blogs, I paid fifteen cents per page. That is in the federal system, which operates different than Corrlinks does in some state or private prisons.
In deciding what to send, a person may want to see what type of information is posted on the prison system website. The United States Federal Bureau of Prisons posts inmate handbooks and even the commissary lists for institutions.
I checked the page for the Federal Prison at Edgefield, SC to see the commissary list that seems current. As for the Inmate Handbook, old and outdated. View the Commissary List by clicking HERE.
I hope the above information helps to make informed decisions.