The Felonious PhD.

White Collar Female PhD. Felon, Prison Camp, Re-Entry, Criminal Justice Reform. Women, Lesbian

ON MY WAY HOME SOON!…………….I can not believe the time has finally come. 

The past week I have been waking up at 3 am on the dot. At first I attributed it to my new, 28 year old, loud snoring roommate, that sleeps below me in the bottom bunk, as I have been forced to sleep on the top bunk, because she has a bullet in her back. A story for a later date lol. But now as I am laying here typing this blog entry, I have realized that this is the exact same pattern I had prior to my incarceration. Only then my angst was in regards to entering a prison camp and wondering about all of the unknown intricacies of that environment. Today I think my anxiety has to do with returning home to a life that is different than the one I had prior to my in investigation, indictment and incarceration.  

I will be returning home in a few weeks. I have already fielded such questions as “what are you going to do?! What business are you going to open?! And honestly I have no answers to any of those questions. The only thing I know for sure is that I will be free. My only clear plan is to engage my son as much as a 16 year old will allow me to do so and assist him with achieving his goals for the future. This has been a long journey and I was trying to remember, well I was attempting to consciously connect with a period in my life when this was not a part of my life. I want to remember how that felt. I need to know how that felt so that I can maintain a peaceful balance in my soul. I will be leaving the Tenderloin soon and I am so ready for that. I hope to one day be able to extrapolate many of the lessons and stories I have learned in a palatable manner. I say that because truly the tragedy and the absurdity of our Criminal Justice System needs to be told and not just from a perspective of fear. But from a perspective of awareness and clarity and purpose. And I want to be able to visually tell this story from a human perspective not a legal one. This chapter in my life has seen a bit cloudy, heavy and dark at times and at the same time I have learned a tremendous amount about myself and those tethered to me. 

Once again I am so thankful I was born and raised to be who and where I am at any given moment. For once in my life it was not just my strength and stubbornness that got me through it was my ability to utilize the Art of Resiliency. Peace. 

The journey continues……………….Felonious PhD 1/2016

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Ready to get to NEXT………..Re-Entry and Recidivism!

I have spent the past 5 years discussing my frustrations and disheartenment with our US Criminal Justice System and its long arduous, life changing process. As I began my transition out of the incarceration portion of this process, I have consciously decided that I want to focus more on how I will now reach for and achieve my dreams and aspirations despite how detrimental this process has been on me and all that are tethered to me.

As I plan to re-enter my life within the next month from the halfway house in the Tenderloin, I will honestly admit that I have gained a tremendous amount of insight into the issues of recidivism, re entry and trauma. This experience will forever be imprinted on my soul.

I am currently waiting to enter the home confinement phase of this process for the last month of my incarceration. I was eligible for home confinement in November, but because Reno, Nevada does not have a Re entry transitional living center, I could not participate fully in the transitional process as defined and structured by the Bureau of Prisons. My current target date for home confinement from the Tenderloin Halfway House is February 4, 2016. Keep your fingers crossed!.  Nothing is certain in this system, other than your final BOP date. If I am not approved soon to leave on an ankle monitor in February, I will be fully done with my incarceration and the Bureau of Prisons on March 5, 2016.  Yes! So no matter what I am nearly complete with this part of the process.

My experience with maneuvering through the halfway house process has had its challenges for sure. But honestly despite the location and environment of the Center, this phase has provided me with an opportunity to move from the “pause” phase of my life into the I must “get busy” phase. Especially since I have so many professional and social barriers ahead of me. The halfway house setting has not been ideal but it has been beneficial to me emotionally.

I am thankful I am almost home to my teenaged son.  There is a tremendous amount of uncertainty in regards to my future and again I am embracing that way of being and just planning to move forward as best as I can.

I am forever grateful that I was born and raised to be who and where I am at any given moment.   And happy this is almost over.  Life is Good.

Peace
The journey continues…………..felonious phd 1/2016

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A BRAND NEW ME……..Happy New Year 2016 is finally here! 

     I have anxiously waited for the year 2016 to come. Not only because I will officially be free from the clutches of the Bureau of Prisons on March 5 2016, but also because I promised myself that In 2016 no matter what was going on in my life, I was going to re-commit myself to LOVE. To fully loving and embracing life and all that it has to offer.  

     I know that sounds strange to many who are tethered to me because I have and always will operate from a place of love. But my recommitment is a personal one, a conscious promise to myself. One that will transform my experience within the Federal Criminal Justice system and provide me with the will to dig deeper inside myself and heal. And I mean fully heal from the past six years. By doing so my goal is to internally and externally rise like the Phoenix not just professionally, personally or financially but spiritually as well. I am working on being a BRAND NEW ME. Not a changed me but a New me and that is exciting.   

     I have no idea what is ahead of me but at the same time I know I have the capacity, skills, passion and the drive to create a wonderful and loving next for myself. I have always been a winner and even in my losses I have found a way to win. My indictment and incarceration has forced me to let go of my old professional dreams, personal belongings and aspirations. It has also freed me from the worries I carried in regards to the State of the World or Universe and all that it encompasses. This experience has reminded me that I must start with me. Now I can allow myself to simply live life fearlessly and with love. For that I am thankful.

     There are many women, like myself, who are entering this dreadful system and I truly want them to know that they will get through it. All they have to do is make a commitment to self preservation and use the 5 P’s. That’s what got me through and continues to guide me as I began my exit from the incarcerated phase of this Criminal Justice Process. You must know and remind yourself daily that you have PURPOSE and no one or no system can dictate that for you. You also have to know that you still can dream of POSSIBILITIES for yourself. In the darkest and loneliest moments are when those possibilities become clear. Along with that you have to focus on PASSION and love to keep you human and sane and fight to keep your heart soft. Also be committed to using all of your PERSEVERANCE to sustain yourself through it all. And no matter what anyone says or does continue to PLAN for a better day. Even when the clock seems to move slowly and the days are long, you must continue to look towards tomorrow as you are inhabiting your today. 

     This is my year, I am claiming it and every year hereafter. Once again I am thankful and grateful that I was born and raised to be who and where I am at any given moment. This process has not been easy and next is going to be a challenge also. but I am prepared to do me.  

Happy New Year! Peace. 
The journey continues………….January 2016

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Happy Holidays………. I had a FREE Christmas.  

Last year I remember saying to myself, as I sat in the Federal Prison Camp in Victorville California, that Christmas is just another day.   There is nothing like not being with your family and friends or surrounded by that circle of love, or that peaceful, loving feeling you have when you are connected to people.  As human beings that is an innate and natural way of being for us. As women our entire lives are spent ensuring that those connections are nurtured and available.  So when we as a society, continuously imprison non violent human souls like myself, without even assessing the need to utilize alternative methods of punishment, we take the chance of seriously causing trauma to not only the imprisoned souls, but all of those souls that are tethered to them. I think of those imprisoned women souls that I spent the past two Christmas with often and they will forever be in my heart and my thoughts.   
I am thankful for many things these days. My life is far from what I have envisioned or planned but it is good. I am so happy my son is all of himself. There is no feeling or words to express how grateful I am to all of the people in our lives that has taken care of him during this period. I for one understand how many families who have been impacted by the criminal justice system are invisible. It was incredible to be able to spend the holidays with my family’s and friends, as I continue on with this journey, it reminds me that this process is not just about me. So happy this phase is almost over and I can end this chapter in my life. As always I am forever thankful that I was born and raised to be who and where I am at any given moment. Peace. 

The journey continues…………12/2015

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Three months of halfway house………….My next is around the corner!

     I have completed three of my six months of halfway house in the Residential Reentry Center. For me this period has been much more emotionally settling than being totally isolated and invisible at the Federal Prison Camp. Many of the women at the camp are afraid to enter into the halfway house setting for many reasons. I truly feel like it has been a much needed transition for me and I am thankful. This week I was able to visit with my Hometown family of East Palo Alto. They have been a major part of the past five years just as my Reno peeps and all those who are tethered to me have been. But other than my family my EPA peeps truly understand the depth of my angst in regards to being involved in the system. I have seen my sister from another mother and father Meg Sanders. I was able to visit with the “person” Rebecca Reynolds who has help me manage most of my crazy during this process. We were able to visit outside of the camp visiting room and I did not have on green. Too bad she could not earn her MFT hours from me because I am sure she would be done by now. Being able to go home for the first time on thanksgiving was phenomenal. Being able to have consistent phone contact with my family and my friends has assisted me with maneuvering towards my next and it eases my anxiety as I prepare to go home. Now I just need a job in Reno. Not the easiest place to be a felon so this is going to be a bit of a challenge for me but I will just have to see how it goes. Whew! Anyone have one call me! For real. 

     I can not imagine how emotionally challenging it must be for those individuals who have spent years and years behind bars. I just wish there were more services to assist with being successful in your transition. There Is so much work to be done if this system truly wants to make changes. As many of the older incarcerated souls have entered the halfway house after years of incarceration they are just left to figure things out on their own. Most will tell you they don’t care as long as they are almost free. I just know that eventually they will care and then what? There has been so much about this journey that has me planning to get a job save my money and buy a little shack near a beach town. I guess I have reached a point where I understand that nothing matters but love and peace of mind. Well and a good bottle of wine.  

     I am thankful my time is almost over, I can not say that enough. I am thankful for the people in my life that has walked through this with me. I know we have all endured a lot. I am ready for next. Peace. 

The journey continues………..12/2015

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The Criminal Justice Industrial Complex……Its all about the money! 

I am convinced that we have to continue to actively participate in critically analyzing why ‘Real Criminal Justice Reform’ will not happen easily and without some extreme systemic changes.  And the discussions have to include the financial gains and losses that will most definitely limit ‘real reform’.   We know the truth and have all of the facts.  Now we, Americans, must operate with some courage. Change is not easy but it is necessary…….#realreform!

The journey continues………….feloniousphd 12/15

  

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……….America’s LEAST Wanted!

     Growing  up and entering young adulthood in the 80’s, I often struggled with how I was going to effectively maneuver myself in society as a Black, Gay, Woman. I used to utilize my tri-factor status as a means to fuel my energy and motivation to always do my best to work hard and make no excuses. I often found myself in spaces and places that I was often not welcomed. I did not do this on purpose but I did things such as apply to college in Orange County straight from the hood or attend school at a private southern baptist college because I desperately wanted an education, I did many things without any fear or restraint. I knew an education would propel me through anything and I was determined to earn one at any cost. Truly my role as a ‘sister outsider’ has always empowered me. It honestly forced me to over-achieve.         

     Now as I am about to re enter my life and my community after being an imprisoned woman soul, I am once again preparing myself to present all of me. Understanding fully and knowing realistically, and remembering consciously that at some point I will not be welcomed. Now I am not whining like a little baby or blaming, I am just stating some facts that have never stopped me before. I am authentically aware of the fact that I, Cassandra Denise Little embody almost every quality and title that our United States of America would rather extinguish or ostracize in some prison camp. I Am a BLACK, GAY, WOMAN, FELON and that is my own consciousness of truth. I seriously intersect with every social crisis or talking point in America right now. How incredible is that? Lol. 

     Many of my favorite writers have spoken eloquently about the internal and external battles of always operating as an outsider. I have diligently studied how many of my favorite artist have gone so far as to harm themselves emotionally spiritually or physically because of the ongoing battle with acceptance, belonging and simply needing and wanting to be loved by our Country. I realize now that how simply being alive as yourself places you in the middle of an American Social Crisis daily. The battle will never end. James Baldwin was correct in many aspects of his analysis of how difficult it is for an artist or a conscious individual to live peacefully in America. But after my imprisonment and experience with the Criminal Justice system, 27 years in Child Welfare, college career and childhood. Whew! I feel that I am armed and ready to live my life peacefully as an outsider. I will create my own safe space within the madness. I have lots of practice with doing that.  

     At the wonderful age of 51 years old I am now adding another layer of otherness to my me-ness. I am once again planning to utilize my education, will, tenacity, stubbornness and creative mind to not just survive this ordeal but to excel at a high level. I no longer operate on the premise of having an American Dream. But I do have plans and goals as I enter into late adulthood. Life as I know it is not perfect but it is good. This sister outsider feels phenomenal. 

     As always I am glad I was born and raised to be who and where I am at any given moment. Peace. 
The journey continues……………………feloniousphd 2015 

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The plight of women and the criminal justice system!

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Diary of an imprisoned soul Part 12…………..My free Thanksgiving.

I don’t think the word ‘happy’ fully captures my current way of being. Being able to return home after two years and be welcomed by my friends and family was a moment I can not quite put into words. It felt like a dream. Like the many dreams I would have as I laid on the bottom bunk wishing I was home. Once again I have to say I am thankful. So many things in my life are uncertain and just plain complicated by this process but being loved and loving my friends and family makes it all okay. At Least for the moment.
Now as I sit in the halfway house back amongst the mice and roaches, lol. I could feel a piece of me becoming lonely and wishing this will hurry up and end. Nothing like wishing your time on earth away. Losing your freedom is truly a mind game and if you want to leave this space healthy in all areas of your life you have to force yourself to remain present. My visit was incredible I was reminded by my peeps that I love people. I love the conversations, the laughter, the joy and I love hearing their stories, the good ones as well as the not so good ones. I love my life which causes me to laugh a lot because of my current status but it is the truth.
I was also fortunate enough to spend some time with my son who did not skip a beat with his daily routine of playing call of duty. Life truly goes on that is a real good lesson for me. More importantly he is doing well and that has always been my number one concern.
Now I will prepare for Christmas and once again I will ask for a furlough to go home. This process of being in the middle of middle is very hard but I am grateful that I am able to re enter my life at any capacity considering how crazy this system tends to operate.
Seeing many of my foster boys who are all grown up with beards, families, careers and their own trials and tribulations was life changing. I know now that it does not matter what the judge, prosecutor or IRS agents believed, the fact is I love my kids and they know it.
The next phase of my journey is going to be very challenging and emotional. I fully feel like a blank slate and have so many ideas but no firm foundation. I mean I currently don’t even have a home lol. But knowing that no matter what I have support and Aaron is happy, I will fearlessly overcome any barriers that come my way. As always I am glad I was born and raised to be who and where I am at any given moment. Life is good. Peace

The journey continues……………….feloniousphd 11/2015

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Two Months today…………Halfway House Journey continues!  

Today marks my second month of being halfway free! No matter how much I complain about the Federal Criminal Justice process I want it to be known that I am intensely thankful to be on this end of the process. My journey in the ‘Halfway Home’ phase has its own challenges and I am readily managing those head on daily as I sit in what I call a ‘gray area. I have labeled it the gray area, because I am still limited in my ability to fully reintegrate into my life because Reno Nevada does not have a half way house.  But at the same time as I sit in the Halfway house in San Francisco I have been fortunate enough to meet and converse with several individuals who have spent their entire lives enduring this process. Their stories and their humble spirits remind me just that I must be thankful because it could have been much worse. Not because I deserved worse but just because I am involved in a system that does not see individuals or mothers or loving caring beings, it is built to make sure it has complete justification for rendering other being as insignificant and has the power to do as it pleases without much accountability. So yes I am thankful for my sentence and I am thankful that my heart is still pure, my spirit is bright and my soul is dancing.

I was truly concerned about having residual effects from being incarcerated and stripped of my freedom, but honesty after being in crazy San Francisco in the heart of the “TL” outside of thinking about some of my friends at the camp, I feel nothing about that place or how trapped I felt at times. So I am thankful I only did two years as opposed to 5 or 10 or more like many of the women I have met. And I am thankful that as my grandmother taught me that ‘I never let evil rule my heart’.

Having daily ongoing contact with my family and friends have help tremendously. Being able to speak to and Face time my son has been a life saver. There is not much that the halfway house can offer me I feel in regards to programming or anything else so honestly I am just being housed. But I would not trade this opportunity to be halfway free for anything. Many women in the camps are concerned about being safe in the halfway house because you are housed with majority men. Well I want to reassure anyone who is coming to the San Francisco halfway house that the men are fine. I have never felt unsafe inside of the halfway house. The young ones as well as the older ones are very respectful and actually they are very good story tellers there are lots of wanna be rappers but for the most part everyone is fine lol.

This part of my journey is not ideal but it is moving fast and I am almost done. Once again I am grateful I as born and raised to be who and where I am at any given moment. Whew! Because I have seen some crazy things these last two months in the streets of San Francisco. Lol. I am also grateful that this phase of my journey is nearly over. Life is good. I AM just ready to go home!

The journey continues……………….feloniousphd 11/2015

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