Tag Archives: Wayne T. Dowdy

What We Know by Wayne T. Dowdy

The following article was my submission for possible publication in a book that I submitted over a year ago. I include excerpts from some of my published materials and blogs that relate to the topic of recidivism, returning to old behaviors. My writing was not accepted for inclusion in the book but I do want my thoughts and ideas to be read, so I am posting it for the world see. 🙂

Though parts of the former submission may be outdated, the principles and concepts that I present are not, since not a lot has changed, per se. Millions of people remain in prison across the United States of America; especially, those who suffer from mental conditions and addiction problems.

Maybe something I wrote will encourage someone to do something that leads to changes in the status quo of mass incarceration in America.

What We Know

What we know is that America has a severe problem with recidivism that costs victims of recidivist immeasurable amounts of pain and suffering, and American citizens billions of dollars.  My story shows the high-cost of recidivism and major problems within our Criminal Justice System and its policies.  How do we reduce recidivism rates?  Does the answer lie in reentry initiatives, preventative measures, sentencing factors?  All the above, perhaps?

In 1988 I recidivated and spent thirty-years in federal prison and am part of the problem.  I offer a unique perspective to help change the status quo.  My goal is to use my vast experience in corrections to become part of the solution in penance of my debt to society.

First, to establish my qualifications to write on the selected subject, I’ll summarize selected points of my extensive criminal history, which began with my first arrest in 1969 for the burglary of a school, at the age of twelve, and continued until my last arrest on August 18, 1988, for the charges that I will write about later.

My criminal activities as a child lead to at least twenty arrests as a juvenile; all arrests related to my drug and alcohol problem, the true reason behind me costing taxpayers over a million dollars that I will show in association with me spending most of my life confined behind barbwire fences lined with rows of razor wire.  For clarity and to offer an excuse for the negative behaviors I displayed for decades of life, when I was eleven-years-young, I began using LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) and other mind-altering substances.  My life of substance abuse continued for 26 years, 3 months, 18 days (I stopped using April 5, 1995).  From the time of my first childhood arrest, I did not stay out of jail or some type of confinement for more than six months, until 1976 after release from my first adult prison sentence, when I served thirteen months in prison for a burglary to steal guns.  That time I almost made it two years without an arrest.  On August 28, 1978, I landed in jail for stealing a car and robbing three drug stores at gunpoint.

Two armed robberies and the car theft happened in Dekalb County, Georgia.  The other robbery occurred in Paulding County, Dallas, Georgia.  Though not charged for assault with a dangerous weapon and discharging a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence, during the Paulding County robbery, the pharmacist refused to comply with my demands and I struck him upside the head with a pistol that discharged a round into the wall, crimes of which if committed today and if charged with then, would have kept me caged for life.  

I suffered from mental illness back then.  I went to trial and a psychiatrist testified that I could not differentiate between right and wrong.  The jury didn’t accept the guilty by reason of insanity defense and found me guilty as charged.  I did not receive help for my psychiatric issues.  The judge sentenced me to twenty-years, serve eight, balance probated and then I went to Dekalb County to face charges.  Though I planned to stay out of prison upon release after the first time, I did not, because I returned to using drugs and made terrible decisions.  Drug addiction lead to me robbing those drug stores in 1978 and the courts sentencing me to multiple sentences for a total of fifteen-years to serve and five-years of probation.  I didn’t complete the original sentences before picking up additional charges for new crimes committed while in prison.

In 1981 I assaulted two correctional officers while they were trying to get another prisoner under control, the prisoner of whom went into the gymnasium bathroom to pick up drugs stashed for him to pick up.  He owed me two ounces of marijuana.  For that incident, the disciplinary committee sentenced me to two-consecutive, fourteen-day sentences in solitary confinement.  The State of Georgia charged me with two counts of mutiny in a penal institution.  I laughed when the person serving the warrants told me of the charges.

“Mutiny, I wasn’t on a battleship,” I said.

I didn’t laugh when sentenced to two more years for committing the crimes.

After I got out of the hole for those charges, I got into more trouble and ended up back in the hole and then when I went to trial, and the jury found me guilty of the charges I’ll discuss next, the court sentenced me to four consecutive years.  The two-year sentence for the mutiny charges ran concurrent with the four, consecutive to the original sentences.

For the Dekalb County crimes, I accepted a 15-year plea agreement after a psychiatric examination proved more harmful than helpful.  At twenty-one-years old, those fifteen years seemed like life imprisonment when I calculated being thirty-six before getting out.  My plan was to leave when possible.  I did.  Three years into the sentence, I escaped from Coastal Correctional Institution in Garden City, Georgia.

In June of 1981, several prisoners planned to escape Saturday night.  An associate asked if I wanted to escape with them?  I declined.

They didn’t leave on Saturday, and then on Sunday when I didn’t get a planned visit, I became depressed and changed my mind about leaving.  On Sunday night, myself and ten others escaped by climbing two chain link fences.  The first fence, five feet high, the other twelve with an inward facing arm, three feet long and strung with barbwire.  The arm of the extension set at a forty-five-degree angle, facing the institution.  To get to the fences, a prisoner nicknamed Tiny lured a guard into a trap.  The guard stood above six feet tall, Tiny near five, so it is logical to assume the guard didn’t feel threatened by him and violated the security protocol by opening the Control Room door to hand Tiny an electric razor.  Tiny grabbed and held him until reinforcements arrived who were hid in a blind stairway.  I waited in another corridor for the takeover and the opening of the doors.  Moment later, the outside doors opened.

I ran five-to-six hundred yards across a field to the fences.  Before I made it to the first fence, a correctional officer driving a security vehicle had stopped and was firing a shotgun at the other escapees who had cleared the tallest fence.  I barely slowed until I landed in the sand trap between the two fences.  I climbed the second one, the tallest.  When I reached the three-foot extension, I grabbed hold of its arm and pulled my body up to the barbwire strands, and then used my hands to swing from strand to strand until I reached the top row.  I threw my right arm over the top strand.  A barb pierced my bicep.  I jumped after clearing the wire. 

The guard fired again.  A pellet struck Tiny in his foot and caused him to stumble before he fell to the ground.  The gun bucked from the blast.  I ran a few feet before I hit the ground awaiting the buck of the gun from the next blast, which hit another prisoner in his shoulder.  He staggered from the impact but continued running to the woods.  Tiny jumped up and ran with me into the woods before the guard could fire again.  The guard may have had to reload, but whatever the case may be, I got away without taking any lead with me into the Woodline.

I separated from the rest of the escapees.  Running through the woods, I tripped over vines and fell into a gulley in the dark forest, but I still get away before the hound dogs arrived.  A helicopter flew above the forest shining a light through the treetops.  To avoid detection, I stayed in the shadow of the trees and once had to pull bushes over myself to avoid detection as the helicopter passed over.  Helicopters did not have heat sensors in those days.

I made it out of the woods a few hours later, where I stole a car from the parking lot of an aircraft manufacturer.  I would have stolen an airplane if I had known how to fly one.  Soon thereafter, I saw a railroad crossing with two guards posted waving for me to stop.  I didn’t.  I almost ran over them instead.  A mile down the road, I did the same thing.  A chase car got behind me when I made it to the next road.  A high-speed chase followed but not for long. The car I stole only ran a little over a hundred miles per hour, wide-open.  Police cruisers ran a hundred and forty.  The pursuing police officers boxed me in with their cars and captured me.  Before I got out of the car with my hands in the air, a prison van pulled alongside one of the police cruisers.  The cops put me in the prison van and ended my wild escapades.

Those events lead me to the Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, Georgia, where the state kept the worst-of-the-worst, a prison plagued with violence.  Because of all the violence and state officials refusing to follow a federal court order to improve living conditions, stop the racism, and brutality, the federal government implemented processes to begin a takeover.  Part of that process included appointing a federal monitor to oversee the lawsuit and placing a federal warden over the institution.  

Someone cut the tires on the warden’s vehicle.

I assume that the family clans did not like that the Feds sent in a foreigner to disrupt their running of the prison, and wanted to let him know that he wasn’t wanted in those parts of the woods. He did not leave.

Another process formed was the creation of the Staff Inmate Communication Committee (SICC).  White and Black prisoners in each living unit elected a white and black representative to help reduce prison violence.  My peers chose me to represent their interest, thus I became a spokesperson and received copies of all legal documents filed in the litigation.  I fought and succeeded at helping to change the prison, as I am fighting now to change the system.

In 1982 the federal government reported that GSP was the most violent prison in the United States.  I argued the issue with a federal monitor because New Mexico prisoners had rioted and killed more people than prisoners had killed in Reidsville.

The federal monitor replied, “The New Mexico incident was during a time of rioting.  During the normal run of the prison, y’all have had six-murders, fifty inmate-to-inmate attacks, and thirty-five inmate-to-staff attacks, with fewer prisoners than New Mexico.  That is what makes this prison the most violent in the United States.”

Events almost kept me in prison the rest of my life, because another prisoner wanted a transfer to another prison, he and others lied and said I killed a person, one of the six murders in 1982.  I was innocent of the actual murder, but that incident made me realize I needed to change my life, and that’s when I began.  Several years later, I made parole.

On August 1, 1985, I completed my commitment to a halfway house in Atlanta, Georgia and made parole.  I did not plan to reoffend.  I wanted to be a successful law-abiding citizen and did well until, once again, I returned to using drugs and that always lead me back to prison.

Now to my last arrest and conviction.  Tennessee state police arrested me August 18, 1988, in Campbell County, Tennessee, for possession of explosives (firecrackers and a hand grenade that was a dud), possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of a firearm and ammunition, and possession of stolen credit cards.  At first, I was under an alias.  No other charges filed, other than me using a stolen credit card to rent and not return the car I was driving when arrested.  The actual charge was theft by taken motor vehicle.

I agreed to extradition to face the Theft by Taken Motor Vehicle charge in Gwinnett County, Lawrenceville, Georgia.  A few days after my arrival in Georgia, agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Georgia Bureau of Investigation called me out for questioning on the armed bank robbery of the Bank of Dawson County, Dawsonville, Georgia.  I refused to cooperate and laughed when the investigating agents tried the Good Guy/Bad Gay routine to elicit a confession. 

A Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent jumped from his seat, knocking it over, and then said, “You think this is funny.  They’re trying to put armed robbery charges on you and I’m going to make sure you get more.”

I laughed again.  I knew my life was over and figured I’d die in prison anyway, so it didn’t matter anymore.  I screwed up really bad this time, I thought.  Within thirty-six hours, I had four counts of armed robbery, two counts of false imprisonment, and two weapon charges to go with the theft by taking motor vehicle charge.  That was before the FBI filed the federal charges.  I knew my life was over and contemplated suicide to shorten the process.  I’m glad I changed my mind and have lived to see this day as I type.

Back to the last crimes and convictions:  On November 10, 1988, a federal jury found me guilty after a four-day trial for the following crimes committed June 21, 1988:

1) armed bank robbery (Title 18 of the United States Code (U.S.C.), §§ 2113(a)(d)); 2) abduction of a person to facilitate commission of an offense (18 U.S.C., § 2113(e)); 3) conspiracy to commit bank robbery (18 U.S.C., § 371) (the charge that lead to convictions on all other counts), and 4) use of a weapon during commission of a crime of violence (18 U.S.C., § 924(c)).

The court delayed sentencing due to a pending case before the United States Supreme Court.  On February 24, 1989, a federal judge sentenced me to 420-months (300-months on Count 1, 360-months on Count 2, sixty-months on Count 3, all concurrent (running together), and sixty-consecutive months on Count 4).  I did not walk out the prison doors without handcuffs on my wrists, a belly-chain around my waist, and shackles on my legs, until August 28, 2018, before I left the institution en route to Dismas Charities in Atlanta, Georgia.  Dismas Charities is a privately-owned halfway house/residential reentry center (RRC).

RECIDIVISM IN AMERICA: WHAT WE CAN DO

Today I write as a professional and have spent hundreds of dollars to make a difference through my writing resources and otherwise, in penance for the harms I caused society with my criminal behavior and lifestyle.  

The Bureau of Justice Statistics released a new study (“2018 Update on Prisoner Recidivism: A 9-Year Follow-up Period (2005-2014),” NCJ250975, May 2018), a follow-up to the 5-year study relied upon for comparison by the ex-director (“Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010,” NCJ244205, April 2014).

The May 2018 study revealed an Eighty-three percent (83%) recidivism rate during the 9-year follow-up period, and that shows the seriousness of recidivism in America and the need for a magic elixir that does not exist.  However, even if there isn’t a magic elixir, we can reduce recidivism by ending financial incentives for politicians who make laws and policies that fuel mass incarceration.  Positive change will be slow until lawmakers stop state and federal funding for private prisons.  In the conclusion I will offer suggestions to reduce recidivism and help to create more productive members of society in the process.

The 2017 annual cost of incarceration for federal prisoners was $36,299.25 ($99.45 per day).  Federal Register, Vol. 78, No. 52 (03/18/13), and Vol. 83, No. 83 (04/30/18). 

TREAT THOSE WITH ADDICTION PROBLEMS & DUAL DISORDERS

In December of 2002, USA TODAY published an article “Study: treat addicts’ mental illness,” by Marilyn Elias, 12/02/02, USA TODAY newspaper.  According to Charles Curie of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, about one third of drug and alcohol abusers have an underlying mental disorder.  In a Pennsylvania state prison study around the same time, researchers determined that 85% of Pennsylvania prisoners had addiction problems, with half of them (42.5%) having an underlying mental disorder.  Mr. Curie stated in the same article, “That’s typical of prison systems nationally.  And we know if these inmates recover from the disorders, they’re unlikely to repeat crimes.”  Think about that statement: “inmates …, unlikely to repeat crimes.”

Those were high numbers to ignore for those wanting to reduce recidivism, considering that reducing it would decrease state and federal deficits.  Of what should be of greater significance to policy makers is helping other human beings to become productive members of society.  With it being 2019, sixteen years passed since the release of that study.  To date, the Federal Bureau of Prisons only has one facility that treats those with dual disorders (Lexington, Kentucky), but some states have implemented more of such programs and seen positive results.

I am one of the fortunate ones from the federal system who received treatment for both disorders while in prison, long before the authors released the study.  My success verifies the study findings.  I was a model prisoner for several years before my release.  I behaved in a constructive manner and helped others learn to live as law abiding citizens by practicing Twelve Step principles.  Now I am a productive member of society because I am applying what I learned in prison.  

Studies on recidivism shown in 1997, that 67.5 percent of prisoners released three years earlier were re-arrested, amounting in a five percent increase from those released in 1983.  The re-arrest rate for drug offenders rose from 50.4 percent in 1993 to 66.7 percent in 1994.  Before the 2018 study, which is a follow up to the 2005-2010 study, showed those numbers increased to 76.9 percent, and then to the staggering eighty-three percent after adding four years to the study period, all of which shows a growing problem within the Criminal Justice System.

In April 2014, the United States Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Statistics, released study NCJ244205 “Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010,” by Matthew R. Durose, Alexia D. Cooper, Ph. D, and Howard N. Snyder, PhD, BJS Statisticians.  The study expanded to include statistics for a five-year period, compared to the typical three-year studies.  The five-year study showed 67.8 percent of prisoners released had been arrested for a “new crime” within three years of release, and 76.6 percent within five years.

Here’s the numbers for relevant offender categories:

1) property offenders 82.1% (burglary (81.8%), larceny/motor vehicle theft (84.1%), fraud/forgery (77.0%), other (83.6%));
2) drug offenders 76.9% (possession (78.3%), trafficking (75.4%), other (78.1%)).
3) public order offenders 73.6% (weapons (79.5%), driving under the influence (59.9%), other (77.9%)).

Ironically, violent offenders came up last: 71.3% for re-offenders (homicide (51.2%); murder (47.9%); non-negligent manslaughter (55.7%); negligent manslaughter (53.0%)’ rape/sexual assault (60.1%); robbery (77.0%); assault (77.1%), and other (70.4%)).

FEDERAL RECIDIVISM STUDY:  In the recidivism study by the United States Sentencing Commission, “The Commission studied offenders who was either released from federal prison after serving a sentence of imprisonment or placed on a term of probation in 2005.”

STUDY NUMBERS: Offense Types and recidivism rates were as follows: Drug Trafficking (41.7%), Fraud (13.6%), Firearms (12.8%), Robbery (4.3%), Larceny (3.9%), Immigration (3.5%), and ALL Other (20.3%).

DEMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS OF RECIDIVISM STUDY: The first numbers are those in the study, whereas the second number represents offenders sentenced in 2014, after the eight-year study period ended: 81.7% – 81.2% were Male offenders.  White offenders led at 43.7% – 38.1%, followed by Blacks at 33.9% – 32.7%, Hispanics at 17.8% – 23.4%, and other races at 4.6% – 5.8%.

EDUCATE TO REDUCE RECIDIVISM: Post-Secondary Education Reduces Recidivism!  In the study, 34.3% did not graduate high school, compared to 36.6% who did; 21.4% had some college, and only 7.5% were college graduates.

OTHER RESULTS OF RECIDIVISM STUDIES: 49.3 percent of those released were rearrested for a new crime or rearrested for a violation of supervised release (e.g., failing to pass a urine analysis, failure to report to the supervised release officer; leaving without permission from a halfway house, perimeter of home confinement area or the state; violating state or federal laws, etc.). “Recidivism Among Federal Offenders: A Comprehensive Overview,” United States Sentencing Commission, March 2016.

The 2014 and 2018 studies show recidivism decreases as age increases.

FUNDING NEW RECIDIVISM REDUCTION PROGRAMS

Releasing qualifying elderly offenders who complete the recidivism reduction programs outlined at the end of this section will save billions of dollars to use for funding other programs with minimal risk to society. Reducing this category saves a lot because incarcerating the elderly costs the most.

This section targets a large segment of inmate populations and thus saves hundreds of billions, even with only marginal success. The cost savings will supply more resources for managing other aspects of the criminal justice system.

Let us assume Mr. Curie is correct (“[W]e know if these inmates recover from the disorders, they’re unlikely to repeat crimes”).  Based upon that premise, if ten percent of released inmates received treatment for dual disorders, while inside and did not recidivate by committing more crimes, then each ex-offender saves the criminal justice system a minimum of $25,000 per years, not including associated savings gathered from not spending money to arrest and re-prosecute the offender.  

The Department of Justice could apply those savings to revamping correctional systems with more psychiatrists, psychologists, and addiction specialists needed to reduce recidivism rates that fuels Mass Incarceration in America.

Using 2,000,000 as a base figure, and $25,000 as the cost of incarceration to accommodate the lower cost of housing healthier prisoners in state-and privately-owned prisons, if 85% of the 2,000,000 prisoners have an addiction problem, that’s 1.7 million prisoners.  If 42.5% of that 1.7 million have an underlying mental disorder, that’s 722,500 prisoners with dual disorders.  If twenty percent of that 722,500 asked for and received treatment, that would be 144,500 people treated and “unlikely to repeat crimes.”  

If Mr. Curie is correct, the following numbers I use would be higher and save more taxpayer dollars.  Again, using a modest $25,000.00 as the annual cost of incarceration, if ONLY ten percent (72,500) of the 722,500 of prisoners with dual disorders were treated, released, and never committed other crimes; taxpayers would save $1,806,250,000 each year.  That doesn’t include money saved from not having to pay law enforcement and the prosecution for associated costs.  If ten percent (14,450) of the twenty percent (144,500) suffering from dual disorders, completed treatment and stayed out of prison, that would be $361,250,000 saved annually.  If that same twenty percent (144,500) stayed clean after release, that would be $3,612,250,000 saved.  More importantly, thousands of citizens would not fall victim to those released from prison in worse shape than when they arrived; another recidivist or death statistic in the making.  Nor do those figures factor in the decreased need of hiring more law enforcement personnel; not having to pay for more buildings and equipment and resources, including not having to build more prisons to warehouse the prisoners.

THE SOLUTION

To reduce recidivism and help protect American citizens, as well as to help the returning citizen to successfully reintegrate, increase the availability of rehabilitative programs.  The programs need to 1) require that participants have at least a twelve-month clear conduct record; 2) require attendance for counseling sessions for any noted mental disorder and or addiction problems; 3) require participants to attend all scheduled educational or trade-related courses.

As part of the reconstructive process, prison official must be required to create more evidence-based programs for reducing recidivism, as the recently passed First Step Act requires for federal officials.  Part of the process should include regularly-scheduled, independent audits performed on a random basis by an external agency and include interviewing twenty-percent of inmate participants, with the goal of assuring compliance.  If prison officials do not comply, sanctions should be issued against prison officials (e.g., monetary sanctions, demotions, and termination for repeated citations for failure to comply).

Incorporating the above processes will change lives and give many men and women trapped behind the walls, bars and fences of the thousands of prisons across the United States, an opportunity to become assets to society rather than tax liabilities. Yes, some will fail. Thousands of other will succeed at becoming better men and women to help make America great again.

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Protests Gone Viral by Wayne T. Dowdy

Photo by Vital1na on Pexels.com

Racism lives and continues to thrive in America and around the world. Police brutality in Minneapolis, Minnesota that resulted in the death of an African-American man named, George Floyd, on May 25, 2020, sparked riots across the United States and caused disruptions around the world.

US cities assess protest damage, await another day of unrest by By TIM SULLIVAN and MATT SEDENSKY

Reading or watching news isn’t my favorite past time and it took all of the chaos going on in my hometown of Atlanta, Georgia to draw my attention to what is going on in many American cities.

In researching for this blog, I read what one source stated that I know most people will not see the seriousness of one word used in the following statement “terrorist“:

“Officials moved to restore order. Governors called in the National Guard, mayors extended curfews for a third night in some cities and President Trump said he would designate Antifa as a terrorist organization.”  

The Wall Street Journal, Officials Look to Restore Order After Riots

Though I am not an attorney and do not intend this to be legal advice by any standard, I am of the opinion that under American law, terrorism and domestic terrorism carry strict penalties, and when coupled with conspiracy laws, the use of that one word, when tied into legal terminology few can comprehend, many people who are protesting and are in the group of those tied to the violent offenses, may be charged accomplices.

If you don’t believe me about the severe criminal penalties for terrorist-related crimes, read what the law states in 18 U.S. Code CHAPTER 113B—TERRORISM

Two of my former blogs also relate to conspiracy laws and how easy men and women may end up spending the rest of their lives in prison. The men I wrote about got lucky when former President Obama commuted their life sentences: https://straightfromthepen.com/2016/01/05/freedom-for-a-friend/ and https://straightfromthepen.com/2016/08/09/freedom-for-another-friend/

My hope is that the protests do result in needed changes to eliminate racism and police brutality in America and abroad. The reality is that the stereotyping will continue for decades more to follow, because there will always be those who refuse to move away from the past and see each person as they are, rather than by some external element beyond control.

The sad part for me is in knowing that innocent people always get caught in the crosshairs of anger and hate and suffer dire consequences for what others have done. In this case, that will include the innocent protesters who get labeled as terrorists and go to prison for the rest of their lives for only doing what they felt they must do to take a stand against injustice.

Happy Memorial Day 2020

Heritage Park, McDonough, Georgia

Memorial Day in America probably means something different to most Americans than it does to those who hate US for whatever reasons. And should one wonder if the capital “US” is a mistake, no, it is meant to be inclusive, for I am an American and am proud to call myself one, even if not proud of everything that has been done by Americans.

For me, though, Memorial Day is not just about America, even though it is an American holiday. I remain conscious of all who have died from the effect of war or who have died fighting for the lives of others; whether Americans or not, whether for the “right” or “wrong” reasons, human lives are lost, mostly innocent lives lost in the crosshairs of another’s agenda.

Search “Memorial Day” on this site to see other blogs I’ve written on the topic, including some controversial ones where I speak out against the twisting of historical facts and attempts to erase America’s not-so-favorable history.

https://straightfromthepen.com/2017/05/11/mothers-memorial-days-by-wayne-t-dowdy/

https://straightfromthepen.com/2019/05/27/give-me-liberty-or-give-me-death/

In the end, though, everything worked out the way it should for whatever reason. I am not in control, and nor I am responsible for what others have done in the name of God or America, but I am proud to be an American and honor those who have died protecting our shores.

Today, I honor those on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19, here in American and all across the world. WE are all in this together, like it or not!

Lee Greenwood says it best in his tribute to America, God Bless the USA

Bank Robber Stories by Jeffrey P. Frye

by Jeffrey P. Frye

Purchase today Click Here

Jeffrey P. Frye never fails to deliver well-written and entertaining stories from his life. His unique background in the legal and illegal professions gives him writing credibility that keeps readers wanting to see what he produces next.

Bank Robber Stories contains humor and a variety of mixed-emotional avenues for readers to experience. A great read for the curious minded about life on the inside of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons and what might lead a person to change professions from the legal to illegal.

Mr. Frye is now in the process of returning to his natural state before his fall from grace. He will confess to “Not Thinking” if asked, “What was you thinking?” Reading this book proves it!

~ Wayne T. Dowdy, author of UNKNOWN INNOCENCE, and ESSAYS AND MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN.

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INTRODUCTION by Jeffrey P. Frye

It takes a special kind of person to turn their adversities into success; their sadness into joy that’s used to entertain others.

And it takes a person with tenacity and depth to continue to seek the sunshine when all you’ve ever known is the rain. And it takes a person with natural talent to be able to write a story under these conditions that’s captivating and that you don’t want to put down.

Wayne T. Dowdy is such a person, and UNKNOWN INNOCENCE is such a story.

In UNKNOWN INNOCENCE, Dowdy takes the reader into the lives of his protagonists, Bobby and Nicole, and tells the story of how it all went terribly wrong. How the forces of bad luck, helped along by a crooked FBI agent and attorney, conspired to take Bobby behind the walls of the United States Federal Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas. Using a pen along with a vivid and epic imagination, Dowdy draws upon his life in the free world, as well as his nearly three decades of walking the line in some of the roughest federal pens in America.

Moving along at a steady pace, UNKNOWN INNOCENCE tells the story of Bobby’s wrongful conviction. Sent up the river for life without parole, Big Bobby never gives up hope though. The one thing that has eluded him for most of his life is the very thing that turns out to be his salvation. Love. UNKNOWN INNOCENCE is a riveting tale that transcends genres. It’s a mystery and a thriller, with a love story woven through its fabric.

Wayne T. Dowdy is a writer for the masses whose voice has purpose. It tells the World, “No matter what happens to me, I will not give up.” This voice takes the broken pieces of a life and combines it with raw talent to bring forth a beautiful mosaic. It’s a voice that says, no matter how guilty I may be, there is still unknown innocence in each and every one of us.

Jeffrey P. Frye

September 9, 2015

Edgefield, South Carolina

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.

The following excerpt comes from the second book written by Wayne T. Dowdy, under the pseudonym of Mr. D, which he self-published with assistance from Midnight Express Books, to inspire and motivate aspiring writers. The Story Behind the Novel contains links for writing tools to help other writers.

THE STORY BEHIND THE NOVEL

[Updated August 14, 2019: This novel was published while I was in prison and most content remains the same; however, on May 8, 2019, I was released from the custody and control of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons. I removed some of the original content from “The Story Behind the Novel” because it became outdated.]

The story behind the novel may surprise you because I wrote it while serving a 420-month federal prison sentence. Mr. D.” is the pseudonym I used for my first book to avoid any confusion associated with my writings. I am a writer of many genres and am aware that some readers are “profanity-sensitive”; I don’t want anyone to be confused when purchasing my books, essays or short stories. Though not used frequently, profanity is often necessary to capture the personality of a character or to make a scene or setting more realistic; especially, when writing about prison life. A person allergic to profanity may safely read most of my personal essays (inspirational, political, creative nonfiction), but may break out into a rash or go into anaphylactic shock when reading what I write as “Mr. D,” a pseudonym I chose based upon the song, Dancing with Mr. D., by the Rolling Stones, and because my last name begins with “D” and some people call me Mr. D.

Why should the reader find motivation by reading this? It came from the confines of a prison. If I wrote this from inside, without an electronic data storage system, and without access to the Internet, someone “out there” with all of the available technology and resources can really work some magic. This is the story behind the novel:

I am a federal prisoner serving a lengthy prison sentence; to be precise, thirty-five-years, without parole, for armed bank robbery and associated charges. I started on August 18, 1988. I have never used the Internet or seen a cell phone, other than in magazines or on television. I’m somewhat prehistoric, a relic.

In prison, our movement and activities are limited. For instance, I only have until 7:45 pm, Monday through Thursday evenings, to type at the library, which does not begin until my living unit gets released for chow (usually by 6:00 pm). At the library, I use a dumbed-down, AlphaSmart, word processor to type with until the library closes [AlphaSmarts were removed from the library before my release and replaced with the worst typewriters available, with no memory recall capabilities].

Normally, a writer using an AlphaSmart would have an interface cord to connect to their PC to upload what they typed on the AlphaSmart, and would then make modifications to the text in their PC; e.g., change line spacing, font size or style, underline words, or adjust margins. I don’t have a PC to upload what I have typed and cannot modify what I have written, other than typical editing functions, such as copying and pasting, and using spellcheck to correct misspelled words (program does not check grammar or punctuation). Fortunately, the presets include double line spacing, one-inch top, left and right margins, and a 12-pt Times New Roman font. If I want to add an underline to a word or a case cite when doing legal work, I have to create a separate file, count spaces, and then use the underscore key to create an underline. Then I have to run the original document back through a low-quality printer to complete the process.

That gives you an idea of what limited capabilities are when writing and typing from inside a prison (and I am fortunate to be able to do what I do). Some prisons only have ancient typewriters, with no memory storage capabilities. (I authored Under Pressure on such a primitive device.) The only other day I have to work on my writing is on Saturday because the library does not open on Sunday or holidays. During the morning I skip going to eat to type from 7:30 am (or whenever the door opens), until 9:15 am. Then I have to return to the cellblock to be counted. Yes, all of us men must stand up and be counted at 10:00 am, 4:00 pm, and 10:00 pm on weekends and holidays. The 10:00 am Count is a special event: we don’t have one during the week. I often use the break for count to proofread what I’ve written, or to prepare for what I will write.

Once the count clears and the prison staff begin feeding the noon meal, I often skip chow to go type some more. I am usually typing by 11:30 am until I have to turn in the AlphaSmart at 3:15 pm. Fridays and Sundays are my days of forced rest from typing at the library: the only place I can type personal projects.

Where am I during the week when not at the library? Working. I work as the document control clerk in a textile factory of the Federal Prison Industries, Inc., trade name UNICOR. My meager MONTHLY salary averages near $200.00. I used that income to pay for my enrollment in the Long Ridge Writers Group on January 8, 2007. The course is outlined for completion within two years. On July 7, 2008, I graduated. During the same time that I was taking their writing course, I wrote the short story, “Under Pressure.” I attempted its publication by submitting my 6,158-word manuscript (typed on the ancient typewriter mentioned earlier), to various magazines, college literary journals, and entered it in PEN’s Prison Writing contest. It didn’t win. Then on January 1, 2012, my ambition was born to convert the short story into a novel, the hard way, almost five years from the date of when I enrolled in the Long Ridge Writers Group to learn how to write and market short stories and essays. One year after I decided to turn the short story into a novel, it was available worldwide.

My biggest problem in getting started with converting the short story into a novel came from not having any way to electronically store data. When I finished typing at the prison library to return to the cellblock, everything I had typed was deleted according to policy. I knew having memory storage would ease the pain of the revision process (some pages I retyped up to five times to correct a typo, verb tense, or to replace or to add “one” word). I solicited help from my family and friends to have my manuscript scanned and stored on a disk or CD as a word.doc format for the manipulation of data. One of my two sisters, who was not real computer savvy, did go to different places attempting to find what I needed, but the best she could find was someone to scan and save it as a pdf file, which I didn’t think would allow her to alter the text back then (now converters are available that allows a person to modify Portable Document Format files).

I began the conversion process in light of the troubled waters ahead before I learned about the publisher, Midnight Express Books (MEB). Approximately six months after I had surrendered the idea of finding an easier, softer way to write the novel, I discovered MEB through an ad in the Education Behind Bars Newsletter (EBBN). EBBN ran an ad in Prison Legal News and asked for submissions. I submitted an essay and began receiving complementary copies of the newsletter. In the last issue I received, I noticed an ad for MEB, whom works exclusively with prisoners seeking publication [the publisher retired].

At that point, I had decided to go the traditional publishing route, so I passed along the information to another aspiring writer. MEB sent him a brochure. He asked me to read it and asked that I give him my opinion. I was sold when I read about MEB’s optical character reader and computer program for scanning manuscripts, and then being able to digitally alter the text. I immediately added their contact information to the system provided for e-mailing and recording addresses (TRULINCS & http://www.corrlinks.com). Thus, began the correspondence that lead to MEB helping me publish my first novel.

On January 14, 2013, CreateSpace.com released UNDER PRESSURE for sale to the public as a print-on-demand book. [Note:  Amazon closed CreateSpace, which was a self-publishing division for paperback books. Now authors must use Kindle Direct Publishing and pay Amazon twice the amount of commission for books sales.]

The following day Amazon.com posted UNDER PRESSURE. Now it is available worldwide upon demand through the following sources:

Amazon Books

(http://www.amazon.com/Under-Pressure-Mr-D/dp/098576869X )

Amazon.com

(http://www.amazon.com/Under-Pressure-ebook/dp/B00B1ZI00K/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1366854587&sr=8-1&keywords=under+pressure+Mr.+d )

and

Smashwords.com

(https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/275053 )

Smashwords is an eBook distributor who distributes eBooks in various formats to eBook retailers for use on e-readers like the Barns & Noble Nook, and the various applications through Apple products and the Apple iBookstore. When I write other books, essays, or short stories, I will have them posted on my SmashWords’ Author’s page:

https://smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy

If the product in your hands (or before your eyes) came from inside a federal prison, with the assistance of MEB, imagine what you can do “out there” with all of the available technology. For example, Microsoft Word (https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/word/cfq7ttc0k7c7?=&OCID=AID2000136_SEM_O2CceKEP&MarinID=sO2CceKEP%7c340719598991%7cmicrosoft+word%7ce%7cc%7c%7c64346372608%7caud-473968998633%3akwd-10582150&lnkd=Google_O365SMB_NI&gclid=Cj0KCQjwv8nqBRDGARIsAHfR9wAPF2bA3yAzCZsudqoAjxNPQjR62TD52dyGZH6AUYTJAhNWtpHglkgaAtpzEALw_wcB&activetab=pivot%3aoverviewtab); 

Word Perfect X9 (www.corel.com ); and some writers’ tools: Character Writer 4.0 (http://www.characterpro.com/characterwriter/index.html); writing tools from Master Writer (https://masterwriter.com/creative_writers/); for screenplays: Power Structure and Power Writer for writing novels and screenplays (https://www.powerstructure.com/).

Maybe one day I will find out. For you, though, if you are an aspiring writer or just a reader with ambitions, apply yourself to the task and reach for your dreams: they may be closer than you imagine.

Perseverance Pays!

Best regards,

Wayne T. Dowdy aka, “Mr. D.”

I welcome all comments, and will respond to all questions as soon as possible, which may vary according to the number received, but I will respond.

Contact Info:

E-mail: waynedowdy@straightfromthepen.com or wtdowdy57@gmail.com

Mailing Address: Wayne T. Dowdy, P.O. Box 2608, McDonough, GA 30253

Follow me on StaightfromthePen.com https://straightfromthepen.com

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY EVERY DAY in 2020 by Wayne T. Dowdy

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Years may change but the concept remains the same: Every Day is Mothers’ Day!

Mother’s Day is a Special Day, Not Just Today but Everyday

Mothers are Always Special!

Each year I wish all of the mothers of the world a Happy Mother’s Day and add something different to my previous wishes.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you wonderful and deserving mothers of the world. You bore the pain for months, suffered immensely, and sacrificed a lot to give your child life. 

Each of you are special and worthy of praise, even those who failed to be perfect, you still rule the world. 

  https://straightfromthepen.com/2019/03/02/wonderful-women-by-wayne-t-dowdy-3/

Perfection does not exist for us humans. If you erred in your youth or child-rearing practices, you deserve recognition and praise for the pain you endured and thus helped keep the human race alive, popping out babies to face the challenges of life. Some of those children become technological geniuses, innovators, inventors, and the movers and shakers who change the world. Thanks to Moms!

Most of us children become ordinary men and women, but all of us are of equal importance in this thing called life, because each of us are a part of One.  https://straightfromthepen.com/2017/09/09/out-of-many/

God Truly Blessed Man by Creating Those Special Women Who Become Mothers!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Without the strength, love, tolerance and determination of all you wonderful Mothers of the World, our species would be extinct by now, because most men just want to have fun in the breeding process and leave the pain and suffering to you. 

Thanks for doing what all you do!

May Each of You Have a Day so Special that It Lives in Your Mind for the Rest of Your Days as that Extra Special Mothers’ Day of 2020.

Coronavirus Updates and WTD4U for Prisoners

COVID-19

WonderfulThingsDone, doing business as WTD4U, provides limited services to predominantly federal prisoners, those held within the walls, bars, and fences of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons. One service includes sending periodic blog posts to keep the incarcerated informed about events and activities or topics of concern to the inmate population, such as prison or criminal justice reform.

On April 2, 2020, I sent the following information to many prisoners through Corrlinks.com, a service federal prisoners pay to use for sending and receiving emails:

Coronavirus numbers on the inside and outside continue to grow.

“I hope that each of you is staying safe and sane in the ever-changing situation going on with the Coronavirus pandemic.  It’s tough being locked down and feeling helpless over so many aspects of life on the inside and life outside of the prison walls.  But we, as humans, will survive and get past this, one day at a time.

“Staff and inmates alike have a significant issue to deal with as the virus continues to spread inside the walls of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons, as well as for those of us in the free society. And even though it may be tough to deal with the conditions of a lockdown, especially if having to eat sack lunches and having limited access to showers, cleaning supplies, telephones, Trulincs/Corrlinks, and recreational activities, I feel most will agree that the lockdown is necessary to minimize the damage caused by this virus ravaging the population of the world at large.

“Here are the numbers listed today (April 2, 2020) for the B.O.P.  The numbers increased from 57-inmates yesterday to 75 today, and from 37-staff yesterday to 39 today.  https://www.bop.gov/coronavirus/index.jsp

COVID-19 Tested Positive Cases

Inmates:  75

Staff:  39

“(Inmate) 4/02/2020 – USP Atlanta (5); FMC Butner (10); USP Canaan; FCI Danbury (15); FCI Elkton (2); FCC Forrest City (2); FCC Lompoc (12); MCC New York (4); FCC Oakdale (12); FCI Otisville; FCC Yazoo City (4); RRC Brooklyn, NY (4); RRC Janesville, WI; RRC Phoenix, AZ; FLM Guam

“(Staff) 4/02/2020 – Atlanta, GA (3); Brooklyn, NY (4); Butner, NC; Chicago, IL (3); Danbury, CT (4); Leavenworth, KS (no inmate contact); Lompoc, CA; Milan, MI; New York, NY (5); Oakdale, LA (4); Otisville, NY; Ray Brook, NY (2); Talladega, AL (2); Tucson, AZ; Yazoo, MS (3); Central Office, Washington, DC; Grand Prairie, TX; Southeast Regional Office, Atlanta, GA

“Here are some numbers that show the magnitude of the worldwide effect.  The April 2, 2020, updated report issued at 2:35 pm EST, on the spread of the Coronavirus is as follows:

“Total Confirmed Cases:  981,221

“Active cases:  726,386

“Fatal cases:  50,230

Sample of Select Countries Affected:  United States:  235,787; Italy:  115,242; Spain:  110,238; Germany:  84,264; China (mainland):  81,589; France:  56,989; Iran:  50,468; United Kingdom:  33,718; Switzerland:  18,267; Turkey:  18,135; Belgium:  15,348; Netherlands:  14,697; Canada:  11,060; Austria:  10,967; South Korea:  9,976; Portugal:  9,034; Brazil:  7,011; Israel:  6,211; Sweden:  5,568; Australia:  5,136.

“(Numbers from COVID-19 Tracker ( https://www.bing.com/covid ))

“Every day I watch the data grow on reported cases of the Coronavirus, especially in the State of Georgia and local counties therein.  The good thing is that most people who contract the coronavirus will survive and live to fight another day, but that doesn’t negate the seriousness of this social problem affecting almost everyone in some way.  Each one of us can only control our impact and contribution towards the resolution of the pandemic by doing what we can to minimize the spread of the virus, where possible.

“In the prison setting where needed supplies are limited or prohibited, and disinformation runs rampant about what’s being done to stop the spread of the Coronavirus, each person can only do what is within their control:

1) Limit close contact with others where possible (impossible when locked in a cell with another person who may not have sanitary habits).

2) If you cough, cough inside your elbow rather than your hand, since coughing in your hand and touching objects spreads germs.

3) Take precautions by wash hands frequently, and especially before touching the eyes, nose, or mouth, after having touched a surface or other person.

4) And what works for me, take additional vitamin C to help the immune system stay strong, and for throat irritation from a cold or allergy or other illness, use a Lemon Squeeze to add one teaspoon of lemon juice into one cup of water as warm as you can stand it to gargle with, two-three times per day.

5) do regular deep-breathing exercises to increase the oxygen level inside the body (viruses and diseases thrive in low oxygenated environments, including our bodies).

“(If interested in breathing exercises that help reduce stress and improves our health, according to Dr. Andrew Weil, MD, send email to info@wtd4u.com to request more info.)

“I hope some of the above information provides something you can use to stay safe and to help live with better health.  Let me know if you wish to be excluded from this type of email.”

COVID-19 CONTINUES ITS RAMPAGE ACROSS AMERICA

Within a matter of hours after posting the numbers from the COVID-19 TRACKER, by 2:25 am, Eastern Standard Time, the number of those infected topped one million, 245,175 cases in the United States.

Globally, a total of 53,069 known people have died from COVID-19 since health official began tracking the current rampage.

When the United States Bureau of Prisons updates their website at 3:00 pm today (April 3, 2020), I expect those numbers to have also grown.

Statistics cannot show all who have been infected with or died from the Coronavirus, because there is not a way for anyone to know about the devastating effects of a virus that may lay inside a person’s body, undiscovered, infecting those who come near enough to inhale droplets from a cough or sneeze, or who touch an item or surface where the germs cannot be seen with the naked eye.

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to learn more about what may be done to protect yourself from contracting this deadly virus, follow the recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which you may find at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html

Cellmates by Wayne T. Dowdy

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

One of my answers on Quora.com recently received a lot of attention, not a record breaker, but 17.6 thousand views is not insignificant. (What happens in prison if you don’t get along with your cellie and it is a dangerous situation? Can you request a new cellmate or a transfer to a different cell?)

There are many other answers to the above question and to following question that people may want to read at Quora.com.

In response to a comment written about my answer to the question, Are Jail-Prison Inmates Treated Differently Based on the Crime they Committed, I wrote:

Thanks for the comment, Annie. Nature drives curiosity, and I am sure that leads to many prison staff doing what is forbidden by policy, in the case of investigating criminal histories of inmates. For case managers, though, it’s necessary to know the criminal offenses of an inmate on their caseload. I am sure that the criminal histories of some prisoners are so terrible that most case managers feel the need to discuss what he or she saw in a case file (jacket).

For me, when I lived a different life, I sometimes suggested to prison staff (and my peers) who offended or challenged me, to “Read my jacket”; MR EGO at large, like, “Don’t you know who you’re messing with,” as if I were a notorious criminal, when in truth I was not, even though my “jacket” didn’t look so nice because of several violent crimes (armed robberies, mutiny in a penal institution, escape, assault on staff, etc.).

Federal prisoners were once allowed to keep their Presentence Investigation Report (PSR) that listed criminal histories and personal characteristics used by the court to determine a defendant’s sentencing range.

In about 2003, the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons made a rule that prohibited prisoners from having their PSR because of sensitive information contained therein, such as financial information and criminal histories and whether that person testified against someone else for a sentence reduction. The prohibition was due to some inmates being assaulted, murdered, and or extorted because of PSR information.

After I changed my life, during a scheduled review, a case manager placed her hand on my extensive file and said, “The person I see in here is not the person I see sitting before me.”

I smiled and said, “Yeah, I changed a little.” 🙂

Since my conversion, I have written about my life and many parts of my criminal history, a lot of which I am not proud of, but write about to show the power of change. People who know me now would never guess that I once lived the Thug life because I am a different man.

Before my release, I gave my case manager a copy of Essays & More Straight from the Penby Wayne T. Dowdy. He, too, had seen my file and knew from years of being my case manager, that the man who sat before him no longer behaved the way he did before. In response to reading my book, he said, “Part of it makes you laugh, and some of the stories make you want to cry. There’s a lot of wisdom in it. It was a great book to read.” And then he thanked me for letting him read it.

In my case, my previous behaviors and history kept me safer in prison than most. I was not an informant, did not testify or cooperate with authorities, and had shown to be someone who would stand up and fight. For most people entering the prison systems across America, that is not the case and their histories or personal characteristics may make them targets for abuse. In rare cases, staff members will manipulate prisoners to retaliate against another prisoner who offended him or her or is just someone they do not like. Though rare, it does happen.

What happens in prison if you don’t get along with your cellie and it is a dangerous situation? Can you request a new cellmate or a transfer to a different cell?

In the federal system, on most occasions, a person could request to be moved to another cell and usually was, but not always. Some staff would just say, “Work it out.”

In critical situations, a cellmate refuses to go back in the cell and seeks protective custody or does something stupid to be removed from the situation, may even stab or use a combination lock or weapon to assault the cellmate.

In 2002, at the United States Penitentiary in Pollock, Louisiana, an older white man who the whites had run off the yard at the U.S.P. Lompoc, because he was in prison for crimes against children, was given a choice to leave the yard at Pollock or suffer the consequences.

He went to the Segregated Housing Unit (SHU) seeking protection by the staff. No whites allowed him in the cell with them inside the SHU.

A friend who was in the cell next to a black man, who the guards were forcing the older white man into the cell with, told me he heard the black man tell the guards, “If you put him in here with me I am going to kill him.”

The guards opened the door and pushed the older white man into the cell.

The older white man was carried out of the cell on a gurney the next morning. He had been beaten and strangled to death.

The black man said to the guards, “I told y’all I was going to kill him if you put him in here with me.”

Typically, though, that’s not the way it works. Most men work out the issues or a counselor or lieutenant approve for one of the cellmates to move, rather than to force them into living with each other.

There are always exceptions to the rule. Sometimes cellmates just have to fight and go to the hole (SHU) to resolve the issue which doesn’t always end there: it may result in the death or severe injury of one or the other when he arrives at another prison. That’s life inside. 17.6k views 

What happens in prison if you don’t get along with your cellie and it is a dangerous situation? Can you request a new cellmate or a transfer to a different cell? Wayne T. Dowdy, Lived inside American Prisons for Decades Answered June 15, 2019

Thankfulness and Gratitude from Inside

I Could Be Sleeping in the Woods

Thanksgiving Day in America always reminds me to be thankful for all I have in life today, which often involves remembering the not-so-good times in my life. That makes me grateful for today.

Today I am okay, even if life is not the way I imagined it would be for me by this time, when I sat in prison thinking of the day I would walk out the prison doors and into my new life, doing all I could to build a better one, as I started life over at the age of sixty-one.

One part of life I chose not to forget is the decades I spent behind bars and how much I disliked the prison experience. Because of that, I choose not to forget those who are held inside jails and prisons and other forms of detainment, all across America and abroad, whose situation helps me remember where I’ve been and will not return because I live a different lifestyle than I did before I went to prison in 1988.

WORKING MAN

When I am at work and feel disgruntled about the pay I receive versus what I feel I should receive for the hard work I do, I stop to remember the days I helped dozens of other Georgia prisoners dig lakes/ponds by using shovels, picks, and wheelbarrows, while a Dragline excavator* (heavy duty equipment) sat on a hill, unoccupied, and not used until the Health Department was coming to perform an inspection.

Health Department officials and auditors always give Prison administrators an advance warning of upcoming inspections.

During the last several years of my incarceration, I wanted to improve my education by going to college, but Congress had suspended the PELL grant for prisoners, and I could not afford to pay for a college correspondence course, while paying for having my books published, website built, and blogs posted.

The other day, I received a message from a Corrlinks client that helped me to remember what it was like on the Inside and how important it had been for me to continue my interpersonal-development by staying focused on doing positive things, such as continuing to learn; paying for a professional writing course that an education supervisor claimed was not educational (really), and thus refused to sign off on a grant approved by all other approving officials in the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Federal Prison Industries, Inc. (UNICOR).

I made sacrifices to pay for the writing course, with my inmate pay of $0.76-$1.45 per hour for doing various tasks; in later years, performing tasks a free citizen would earn six figures for doing. Anyways, ….

After reading his email, I wrote to request his permission to share it with the world. To me it is important for those on the “Outside” to know that many of those on the “Inside” seek programs to help increase their chance of success upon release from prison, so, here is one who does, Mr. Carter:

“On Friday, November 22, 2019, two days shy of the twenty-eighth-year anniversary of the day I was arrested and never saw freedom again, I got the second most exciting news of my life. I am beginning my journey through college for the first time. The Second Chance Pell Grant program being offered through UW-Milwaukee Area Technical College has accepted me as an eligible student to work toward a two-year associates degree in sciences or arts. For me, a man who has been locked up since he was 19 years old, this opportunity is next door to getting released. During my incarceration one thing is obvious to me; education is the foundation of change. People who know better, usually do better; usually. I have always wanted to better with myself since I was a little kid, but I never felt as though I had a real opportunity to do so. There were many opportunities when I was younger, I just never saw them through the storms in my life. Now that I have done everything possible to be a better person, better father, better son, better brother, better man, the storms in my life have subsided and I see life much clearer. I not only know who I am as a person, but what my passions are and what I want do with my life; higher learning is a key part to all that. This is an opportunity I will make the best of and enjoy doing. I just wanted to share this with all the important people in my life. Thank you all for being supportive, motivational, and inspirational. In one form or another you helped me get here. “

“Ivy Carter, @ Redgranite C.I.”

My best wishes for a bright future go out to Mr. Carter as he continues his pursuit of a better life and success upon release.

Throughout the years I learned that gratitude and happiness were an inside job. Today I keep that in mind and continue to be grateful for all things, even pain because the pain reminds me that I am alive. My faith helps me to believe that the pain will go away one day and that all will be well as I rejoice in the absence of pain as I drift into the next dimension.

Today I will relax and be thankful that I no longer have to dig in the dirt and mud while a shotgun boss stands guard waiting for someone with rabbit in their blood to take off into the woods and blast them.

Today, I do not have to sleep in the woods or try to outrun hound dogs in hot pursuit of me as I run for my life to escape the indignities of prison life, as I once did (I escaped from a Georgia prison in 1981, which I have written about **).

And so today, I am grateful that I don’t have to live like that anymore, and can enjoy life, even when the world isn’t working according to Wayne.

________________________________________________

* Dragline excavator

Description

“A dragline excavator is a piece of heavy equipment used in civil engineering and Surface mining. Draglines fall into two broad categories: those that are based on standard, lifting cranes, and the heavy units which have to be built on-site.”  Wikipedia

** Fence Rows and The Price of Change, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TG2WGFA https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/518476

“Fence Rows and The Price of Change” come from the writing collection, Essays & More Straight from the Pen, available in print and as an eBook. These essays captivate the readers attention to carry them through movie-worthy-events.

“Fence Rows” first appeared in the ICONOCLAST magazine, as did “Fences,” included as part of the essays in Essays & More Straight from the Pen.

Inside of “The Price of Change,” read about the event published by the ICONOCLAST, which concerns exciting scenes from a prison escape and other events behind the walls of prisons. Parts of this gripping essay may help the reader to see the devastation of addiction and yet give one hope of living to see a better day. The change came many years later at a heavy price.

Available ebook formats: epub mobi pdf rtf lrf pdb txt html

Purchase your copy today https://www.amazon.com/Essays-More-Straight-Wayne-Dowdy/dp/1502767503/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Afraid of Hell by Wayne T. Dowdy

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Excerpt from ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN.

Suicide seemed the solution to end the torment ravaging my soul when I was thirteen years old.

A quarrel between my mother and brother triggered the episode of depression that made me want to die. I don’t remember what the argument was about, only that it ended with my brother slamming the door after he and his wife stormed out of the house, vowing never to return. The incident pushed me over an already frazzled edge.

At the age of eleven, I had begun doing LSD (a hallucinogenic drug), and then started selling it and other drugs to stay high, including phencyclidine, commonly known as PCP. I had been doing a lot of it for a couple of weeks when the above incident occurred. The particular batch that I had been using and selling was extremely potent. As a drug addict; I took advantage of people without giving it much thought. It wasn’t anything personal, just what I had to do to stay high, which I did on a daily basis, whether from alcohol (the oldest drug known to man), or some other drug.

From shaving pills with a razor blade and storing it in a pill bottle, I had accumulated the equivalent of maybe fifty pills. I was in the living room when my brother and his wife left the house. As soon as they were gone, I began to cry and then ran to my bedroom where I kept my drugs and syringes hidden in a coat pocket. I prepared a large shot and injected it into my arm, and then ate the remainder of the PCP in the spoon and pill bottle. Numerous people had died from far less than what I had taken.

My parents had raised me as a Southern Baptist, so I had a concept of heaven and hell in my mind, and I did not want to go to hell for sure, which is where I was afraid that I was heading just as soon as I died.

Well, I went to school with a girl named Sherry, whose father was the pastor of the Riverdale Church of God. They lived three blocks down the road from my parent’s house.

As I recall, as soon as I had eaten the remainder of the PCP, I jogged down the road to their house. I jogged so that I could get there in a hurry, because I believed that I would die when all of the PCP that I had swallowed was absorbed into my system. Since I did not want to go to hell and was afraid that I was going to die quickly, I had to get there fast. I made it to their house and banged on their storm door. The preacher’s wife opened their heavy oak door and looked at me through the safety of the storm door.

“What do you want?” she asked. (I was the neighborhood hoodlum, and she probably thought that I was there to rob or steal something.)

“I want Brother Price to pray for me, because I have taken drugs to commit suicide, and I don’t want to go to hell,” I said. I believed that his prayer would stop me from going to hell, where I had been told that I would be going for the last few years.

“Bingham, someone’s here to see you,” she yelled.

All I remember after she called for him and he came to the door, was repeating what I had told her, and then him opening the door to invite me into his home. I lost consciousness when I walked across the threshold.

When I came back around, Sherry was sitting across from me at a foldout table with a Monopoly game between us. “Are you going to play?” she asked.

“No,” I said, and shook my head.

“Well, you said that you wanted to play,” she said. Then she asked if I wanted to go outside and sit in the swing, which is what we did. I remember telling her that I thought I had damaged my brain, because everything was moving so slow inside my head. Trying to formulate a sentence was difficult for me.

It took some time, but I eventually recovered and went right back to my insane ways for the next twenty-four years. In 1995, I finally stopped using drugs and alcohol by going through three years of therapy to address the personal issues that made me want to drink and use, and then by getting involved with twelve-step programs to learn the spiritual approach. Today, I do service work at the meetings and by sponsoring people. I remain willing to do God’s will in my life by helping others recover. I feel that I am blessed with each day that I wake up, and especially when I see the lives of others transformed through God’s love and power, as was mine.

I am grateful to have survived my suicidal tendencies. I hope and pray that if someone thinking of suicide reads this article, that they change their mind, because suicide is not the solution. Feelings come and go, good and bad ones alike, and if God was able to save me and give me a life worth living, then He will do it for them too.

I realize that it is only by the grace of God that I am still alive and
have a brain that works.

I am thankful that the prayers of Brother Price and his family were more powerful than the mega dose of PCP that I had done. Today, I am glad that I was afraid of hell because if I hadn’t been, I would have stayed in my bedroom and waited for the inevitable.

A great gift to inspire others who struggle with change!

UNDER PRESSURE–MOTIVATIONAL VERSION by MR. D.

UNKNOWN INNOCENCE consumed my first novel, UNDER PRESSURE by Mr. D, and part of my second book published by Midnight Express Books (UNDER PRESSURE–MOTIVATIONAL VERSION). What separated the second novel from the first was the addition of “The Story Behind the Novel” and the addition of the first two chapters of UNKNOWN INNOCENCE.

After writing the sequel, I decided to give readers a better value by allowing the sequel to consume the original novel.

For this blog post, I’m providing a peek into the most important part of the Motivational Version (The Story Behind the Novel ), and one randomly selected chapter that shows one aspect of prison life in some of the more dangerous prison settings, Chapter #6, Let It Go.

Warning: Not Politically Correct! Contains Violence, Profanity

Let It Go

Months later, on a cool spring morning, Stan and Bobby returned from the yard and took their showers before being counted at 10 A.M. Shortly thereafter, they went to eat Spanish omelets, oatmeal, biscuits and gravy for brunch. That afternoon, Stan sat near the center of the TV room watching VH1. The TV room was on the walkway at the rear of the cellblock that joined the tiers. Terry, Jake, and three of Jake’s friends were huddled in the back corner. Two Jamaicans, who were acquaintances of Stan, sat closest to the only door, talking. Stan lowered the volume on his Walkman to hear Jake and Terry’s conversation. A few minutes later his suspicion was confirmed: Terry still planned to involve Wendy.

“She’s coming over the holiday weekend in July and I’ll talk her into bringing in the package,” Terry said.

Stan stood and turned to face all five in the corner. “Keep my sister’s name out of your mouth,” he said.

“Keep out of my business, boy,” Jake said. Him and his three friends stood. Terry stayed seated.

“Don’t try fucking with this boy!” Stan said.

Terry stood. “I won’t let anything happen to her, dude,” he said, his voice a high-pitched tone, almost a shrill.

Rastaman stepped out the door and cleared the corner of the tier to get Big Bobby. At the same moment, Bobby walked out of his cell to go get some hot water. Rastaman saw him and yelled in his Jamaican accent. “Yo, mon, Stan need you.” Bobby slung the cup in his cell.

One of Jake’s partners positioned himself near the door by the other Jamaican, who sat looking toward the television with a know-nothing stare on his face.

“You’re damn right you’re not because you’re not going to pull her into your shit,” Stan said. “Find another way to feed your habit.”

Jake’s other partners tried to position themselves behind Stan, who turned to put the wall behind him. Jake moved closer to him and said, “What’s up? You want to get this out of the way, right now?”

“Smash that punk!” the one by the door said.

Terry edged closer to the door. “Y’all cut this bullshit out, dudes,” he said. “We’ll all go to the hole.”

Jake moved within arm’s reach. Stan shoved him in the chest with both palms. “Get off me, punk,” he said.

Jake stumbled backward. He regained his balance and rushed back to get in Stan’s face. “Want some of this,” he said, and pushed him back.

“Don’t take that from that cunt,” another yelled. “Hit him!”

The one by the door pulled a shank from his waistband. “Let’s stick this bitch,” he said, his back a foot from the door.

Everything changed fast: Big Bobby barged into the room. The door smacked the doorman holding the shank, knocked him into Terry, who shot to the wall near Bobby.

“Hey,” the doorman shouted, as he turned to see who had hit him with the door. His face paled when he saw Bobby. He hurried beside Jake, faced Bobby.

Jake had moved to the corner when Bobby rushed into the room. “What’s up?” Bobby said, his voice coarse.

The two who had surrounded Stan moved with Jake. Terry stood against the wall with his arms crossed. Bobby moved within striking distance of the doorman.

“Let it go, man,” he said. Rastaman had followed him into the room. The other Jamaican stood and positioned himself beside his partner and Bobby.

Stan eyed the two who tried getting behind him, and then he moved near Bobby and the Jamaicans. He looked at the one with the shank. “Put that up before I stick it up your ass,” he said.

“You got the easy part done,” the doorman said.

“Cut the bullshit,” Terry said.

Still winded from rushing down the tier, Bobby said, “All of you need to put this on ice. Nothing good’s going to come from us going to war over whatever the hell y’all got going on in here.”

Jake took a step closer to them. “Tell your boy to keep out of my business, big guy.”

Bobby started to speak. Stan pointed at Terry. “I’ve done told that idiot I didn’t want him involving my sister in your business, buddy,” he said. “If you can’t respect that, we’ve got big problems.”

“You’ve got big problems with all that mouth,” the doorman said. Seconds earlier, he had slipped the blade of the shank in the front pocket of his pants and covered its handle with his hand.

“Look, man, my problem’s not with you but we can make it that way if you don’t back off,” Stan said. He moved closer to him. “I don’t give a damn about you having a shank.”

Bobby stepped between Stan, Jake, and the doorman. The Jamaicans stayed in the background, propped against the wall by the door where Terry stood. The doorman jerked out the shank. Before Bobby could stop him, Stan maneuvered around him and grabbed the doorman’s wrist holding the shank. In a continuous motion, he twisted it behind the man’s back and yanked it to the base of the neck, as he forced him against the rear wall. “What you want to do now, bitch?” Stan growled, keeping the pressure on the back of his prey.

Jake advanced toward Stan. Bobby grabbed him by the shoulders and slung him against the wall, and then turned his head to glance at the other two, making sure they weren’t getting involved. “Stay out of it!” he said.

The Jamaicans, who were much larger than either of the two they faced, had moved between them and Bobby. Both Jamaicans had their arms spread, angled toward the floor, palms opened, inviting war or peace. “We don’t want no trouble,” one of the other two said.

After he had failed to free himself from Stan’s hold, the doorman dropped the shank. It clanged as it struck the floor. “All right, man. You got it,” he said, his voice strained from stress.

Jake stayed still against the wall; fear written on his forehead: Bobby’s massive chest six inches from his nose.

Stan used his foot to slide the shank to the far side of the room. Then he released his hold and stepped away from the doorman. “Let’s all let this shit go and get the fuck out of here before the hacks come and slam us in the hole,” he said.

Everyone exited the television room; their eyes darting one from another, sweat dotting their foreheads. Stan waited until last to leave, motioning for the doorman to get his shank and go. He did so silently, his head held low.

Five minutes after leaving the TV room, Stan had told Bobby all that had gone down before he walked into the drama. They sat in Stan’s cell with their arms crossed, sodas sitting on the floor by each of their legs. Neither one uncrossed their arms except to take a sip from their sodas.

“What you think about it?” Stan said. “You think they’re going to let it go or what?”

Bobby cleared his throat and repositioned himself on the toilet bowl where he sat. “I’d like to think they’ll let it go and leave us alone, but you know how things go in these places. They may claim a truce only to gain an edge for an attack. I’m going to keep an eye on ‘em, for sure.”

“You know I’ll keep an eye on them. And if Terry and Jake don’t leave Wendy out of their plans, they’d better keep an eye on me,” Stan said, and then got up from the edge of his bed. “I’m telling you, man, if they don’t, it’s going to be bad. Wendy may become a widow before it’s over with if they don’t.”

“Well, … we’ll just have to play the cards dealt and play the game well. Let it go if you can,” Bobby said. Then he rose and patted Stan on the back. “Gotta go, Pal. Keep your eyes open. Yell if you need me, okay?”

“Okay, man. I’m sorry I got you into this bullshit.”

“Don’t sweat it. It’ll all work itself out however the hell it’s supposed to turn out.” Then he ducked to leave the cell. He stopped on the tier.

“See you later,” he said and threw up his hand before walking back to his cell.

The Story Behind the Novel

[Updated August 14, 2019: This novel was published while I was in prison and most content remains the same; however, on May 8, 2019, I was released from the custody and control of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons. I removed some of the original content from “The Story Behind the Novel” because it became outdated.]

The story behind the novel may surprise you because I wrote it while serving a 420-month federal prison sentence. Mr. D.” is the pseudonym I used for my first book to avoid any confusion associated with my writings. I am a writer of many genres and am aware that some readers are “profanity-sensitive”; I don’t want anyone to be confused when purchasing my books, essays or short stories. Though not used frequently, profanity is often necessary to capture the personality of a character or to make a scene or setting more realistic; especially, when writing about prison life. A person allergic to profanity may safely read most of my personal essays (inspirational, political, creative nonfiction), but may break out into a rash or go into anaphylactic shock when reading what I write as “Mr. D,” a pseudonym I chose based upon the song, Dancing with Mr. D., by the Rolling Stones, and because my last name begins with “D” and some people call me Mr. D.

Why should the reader find motivation by reading this? It came from the confines of a prison. If I wrote this from inside, without an electronic data storage system, and without access to the Internet, someone “out there” with all of the available technology and resources can really work some magic. This is the story behind the novel:

I am a federal prisoner serving a lengthy prison sentence; to be precise, thirty-five-years, without parole, for armed bank robbery and associated charges. I started on August 18, 1988. I have never used the Internet or seen a cell phone, other than in magazines or on television. I’m somewhat prehistoric, a relic.

In prison, our movement and activities are limited. For instance, I only have until 7:45 pm, Monday through Thursday evenings, to type at the library, which does not begin until my living unit gets released for chow (usually by 6:00 pm). At the library, I use a dumbed-down, AlphaSmart, word processor to type with until the library closes [AlphaSmarts were removed from the library before my release and replaced with the worst typewriters available, with no memory recall capabilities].

Normally, a writer using an AlphaSmart would have an interface cord to connect to their PC to upload what they typed on the AlphaSmart, and would then make modifications to the text in their PC; e.g., change line spacing, font size or style, underline words or adjust margins. I don’t have a PC to upload what I have typed and cannot modify what I have written, other than typical editing functions, such as copying and pasting and using spellcheck to correct misspelled words (program does not check grammar or punctuation). Fortunately, the presets include double line spacing, one-inch top, left and right margins, and a 12-pt Times New Roman font. If I want to add an underline to a word or a case cite when doing legal work, I have to create a separate file, count spaces, and then use the underscore key to create an underline. Then I have to run the original document back through a low-quality printer to complete the process.

That gives you an idea of what limited capabilities are when writing and typing from inside a prison (and I am fortunate to be able to do what I do). Some prisons only have ancient typewriters, with no memory storage capabilities. (I authored Under Pressure on such a primitive device.) The only other day I have to work on my writing is on Saturday because the library does not open on Sunday or holidays. During the morning I skip going to eat to type from 7:30 am (or whenever the door opens) until 9:15 am. Then I have to return to the cellblock to be counted. Yes, all of us men must stand up and be counted at 10:00 am, 4:00 pm, and 10:00 pm on weekends and holidays. The 10:00 am Count is a special event: we don’t have one during the week. I often use the break for the count to proofread what I’ve written, or to prepare for what I will write.

Once the count clears and the prison staff begins feeding the noon meal, I often skip chow to go type some more. I am usually typing by 11:30 am until I have to turn in the AlphaSmart at 3:15 pm. Fridays and Sundays are my days of forced rest from typing at the library: the only place I can type personal projects.

Where am I during the week when not at the library? Working. I work as the document control clerk in a textile factory of the Federal Prison Industries, Inc., trade name UNICOR. My meager MONTHLY salary averages near $200.00. I used that income to pay for my enrollment in the Long Ridge Writers Group on January 8, 2007. The course is outlined for completion within two years. On July 7, 2008, I graduated. During the same time that I was taking their writing course, I wrote the short story, “Under Pressure.” I attempted its publication by submitting my 6,158-word manuscript (typed on the ancient typewriter mentioned earlier), to various magazines, college literary journals, and entered it in PEN’s Prison Writing Contest. It didn’t win. Then on January 1, 2012, my ambition was born to convert the short story into a novel, the hard way, almost five years from the date of when I enrolled in the Long Ridge Writers Group to learn how to write and market short stories and essays. One year after I decided to turn the short story into a novel, it was available worldwide.

My biggest problem in getting started with converting the short story into a novel came from not having any way to electronically store data. When I finished typing at the prison library to return to the cellblock, everything I had typed was deleted according to policy. I knew having memory storage would ease the pain of the revision process (some pages I retyped up to five times to correct a typo, verb tense, or to replace or to add “one” word). I solicited help from my family and friends to have my manuscript scanned and stored on a disk or CD as a word.doc format for the manipulation of data. One of my two sisters, who was not real computer savvy, did go to different places attempting to find what I needed, but the best she could find was someone to scan and save it as a pdf file, which I didn’t think would allow her to alter the text back then (now converters are available that allows a person to modify Portable Document Format files).

I began the conversion process in light of the troubled waters ahead before I learned about the publisher, Midnight Express Books (MEB). Approximately six months after I had surrendered the idea of finding an easier, softer way to write the novel, I discovered MEB through an ad in the Education Behind Bars Newsletter (EBBN). EBBN ran an ad in Prison Legal News and asked for submissions. I submitted an essay and began receiving complimentary copies of the newsletter. In the last issue I received, I noticed an ad for MEB, who works exclusively with prisoners seeking publication [the publisher retired].

At that point, I had decided to go the traditional publishing route, so I passed along the information to another aspiring writer. MEB sent him a brochure. He asked me to read it and asked that I give him my opinion. I was sold when I read about MEB’s optical character reader and computer program for scanning manuscripts, and then being able to digitally alter the text. I immediately added their contact information to the system provided for e-mailing and recording addresses (TRULINCS & http://www.corrlinks.com). Thus, began the correspondence that lead to MEB helping me publish my first novel.

On January 14, 2013, CreateSpace.com released UNDER PRESSURE for sale to the public as a print-on-demand book. [Note:  Amazon closed CreateSpace, which was a self-publishing division for paperback books. Now authors must use Kindle Direct Publishing and pay Amazon twice the amount of commission for books sales.]

The following day Amazon.com posted UNDER PRESSURE. Now it is available worldwide upon demand through the following sources:

Amazon Books

(http://www.amazon.com/Under-Pressure-Mr-D/dp/098576869X )

Amazon.com

(http://www.amazon.com/Under-Pressure-ebook/dp/B00B1ZI00K/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1366854587&sr=8-1&keywords=under+pressure+Mr.+d )

And as an eBook on Smashwords.com (https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/275053)

Smashwords is an eBook distributor who distributes eBooks in various formats to eBook retailers for use on e-readers like the Barns & Noble Nook, and the various applications through Apple products and the Apple iBookstore. When I write other books, essays, or short stories, I will have them posted on my Smashwords’ Author’s page:

https://smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy

[THE POINT IS] If the product in your hands (or before your eyes) came from inside a federal prison, with the assistance of MEB, imagine what you can do “out there” with all of the available technology.

For example, Microsoft Word (https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/word/cfq7ttc0k7c7?=&OCID=AID2000136_SEM_O2CceKEP&MarinID=sO2CceKEP%7c340719598991%7cmicrosoft+word%7ce%7cc%7c%7c64346372608%7caud-473968998633%3akwd-10582150&lnkd=Google_O365SMB_NI&gclid=Cj0KCQjwv8nqBRDGARIsAHfR9wAPF2bA3yAzCZsudqoAjxNPQjR62TD52dyGZH6AUYTJAhNWtpHglkgaAtpzEALw_wcB&activetab=pivot%3aoverviewtab); 

Word Perfect X9 (www.corel.com ); and some writers’ tools: Character Writer 4.0 (http://www.characterpro.com/characterwriter/index.html); writing tools from Master Writer (https://masterwriter.com/creative_writers/); for screenplays: Power Structure and Power Writer for writing novels and screenplays (https://www.powerstructure.com/).

Maybe one day I will find out. For you, though, if you are an aspiring writer or just a reader with ambitions, apply yourself to the task and reach for your dreams: they may be closer than you imagine.

Perseverance Pays!

Best regards,

Wayne T. Dowdy aka, “Mr. D.”

I welcome all comments and will respond to all questions as soon as possible, which may vary according to the number received, but I will respond.

Contact Info: E-mail: waynedowdy@straightfromthepen.com or wtdowdy57@gmail.com

Mailing Address: Wayne T. Dowdy, P.O. Box 2608, McDonough, Georgia 30253

Follow me on StaightfromthePen.com https://straightfromthepen.com

UNKNOWN INNOCENCE by Wayne T. Dowdy, $10.95 USD at Amazon.com