The Felonious PhD.

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

Diary of An Imprisoned Soul, Part 9……..Life Journey Jackpot!

Diary of An Imprisoned Soul Part 9………………………………………………….Life Journey Jackpot!

Mr. James Baldwin was once asked, in an interview, whether certain issues in his life had hindered him. Mr. Baldwin eloquently responded, “No, I thought I had hit the JACKPOT. It was so OUTRAGEOUS, you had to find a way to USE it.”
I have always closely identified with Mr. Baldwin’s response to that life question for many reasons. Now, as an Imprisoned soulful woman, I truly understand the depth and the complexity of his answer. I also know for certain that it is my purpose to use this incredibly challenging experience, in a powerful manner, as I enter the next chapter in my life journey.
Over the past 5 years, I have tried diligently not to daily focus on the “why?”. “Why did this happen to me and those tethered to me?”. I did not refrain from that abstract, one-word question, because I could not make sense out of what I felt was a very senseless experience, I did not want to continue to ask “why?” because I would be forced to be open and mindful of the answers that would present themselves. Over the past year, I have let go of resisting the answers to the “Why?” question in my life. Not just in regards to this horrific experience but to every aspect of my wonderful life experience up to this point. I truly understand on a personal level that the answers to the “why?” is all a part of my true purpose. I will NEVER understand or accept how incredibly disheartening and irreverent the Criminal Justice System/Prison Industrial Complex, is to human souls and how it has the capacity to destroy wonderful people. However, I do understand more than ever, that I must love more, love hard, love authentically, love with a bit of discern and most of all I have to actively participate in Loving myself fully and I must do that by any means necessary.
As I maneuver through the Federal Criminal Justice System, which encompasses many traits that are completely opposite of my way of being, I mean it has characteristics such as, a space of nothingness, irreverence, insolence, pain, fear, misogyny, darkness, loneliness, and self hate, I have increased my capacity to Love amidst pure darkness, being forced to merge with my shadow self and mindfully acknowledging my own consciousness of truth has empowered me on a level I have never experienced before. I feel Forever Free!
Like Mr. Baldwin I plan to use the entirety of my life story as a testament to others who have faced traumatic, life threatening and soul changing, experiences to build on the layers of my life as I ascend towards all of my infinite possibilities. My journey is full of JACKPOT experiences, that I can access as I catapult myself from being an Imprisoned Soul to Forever Free.
I am thankful that I was born and raised to be who and where I am at any given moment. I am also grateful that I will soon return to my teenaged son, my family and friends life. I deeply miss everyone!

The journey continues…………………………………….felonious phd 6/2015

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Diary of an Imprisoned Soul Part 6………..BEYOND RESILIENT: My 19th month of Incarceration.

Today marks my 19th month of being physically incarcerated at the Victorville Women’s Federal Prison Camp. It has been a long, hard, at times absurd journey to say the least and I am not done yet, whew!!! As I continue to progress onward in this process I try to remain cognizant of how each phase of this unplanned journey has impacted me on all levels-socially, emotionally, personally, spiritually, professionally, politically and financially. My goal is to allow my conscious awareness to mindfully guide me through each phase so that I can authentically share my experience.

     I have to admit that it takes a tremendous amount of self resolve to continue to strive for excellence through this madness. The past few weeks I have spent a huge amount of time formulating and planning how I am going to move past being a survivor of this system, so that I will be able to re-enter my community, family and and sons life effectively. I have to continue to remind myself that regardless of what and how this American Justice System treats me, and even though this has been the most difficult experience I have endured emotionally I will continue to be more of my loving, kind and caring self.

As I look towards the future, I am also reminding myself that despite all that I have lost, I have a Doctorate Degree, a lifetime of work experience, a healthy self esteem and a support system. I know that I will be ok despite how unforgiving and often callous our Society can be to those of us who are often forced to be on the fringes. It is also encouraging knowing that I have done this before, I have overcome, excelled and over achieved, despite my circumstances, I know what can be done with hard work dedication and stubbornness (lol). I am also remaining tethered to the fact that at my core, I am a fighter, an aware and conscientious warrior who will soon be released into the battle for my life and I am more than ready.

I want to always provide a realistic and authentic view of how I move through this process. Not for sympathy or anything special, just so I can provide an accurate narrative to voting citizens and Politicians who have a tendency to support and implement policies without critically analyzing the lasting effects they will have on the individual, the community and society as a whole. I want others to understand that our American Criminal justice System has far surpassed just punishing so called wrong doers, it is literally destroying the lives of American citizens, who really want and deserve a real second chance to revitalize, renew and reboot their lives. Our current system places anyone who has interfaced this Criminal Justice process in a position to just “give up”. I know that sounds so extreme but it is the truth, from my position as I sit here within the “belly of the beast” that is only preparing myself and others with less capacity to reinvent themselves, to just get on welfare, social security, food stamps and Obamacare. A lifetime of dependency on a system that leads directly to sorrow, poverty and self-doubt. In the spirit of my grandmother Geraldine, “I rebuke the thought of being a victim of the Prison Industrial Complex and any other systemic oppressive entity”. I will operate being “beyond  resilient” as I approach and enter the next phase of the Federal Criminal Justice process, and openly share with others how I was able to succeed, that is my plan.

I only have a few months left to sit in this visceral, dehumanizing, non-productive environment, and for that I am so very thankful. I am not sure where time has went and I am hoping that I have used it wisely, time will tell. But for now I will continue to plan for my tomorrow and live through this mess today. I am forever thankful that my son is good and doing him without skipping too much of a beat. I am also grateful that I was born and raised to be who and where I am at any and every point and time. But I am ready to leave here!!! (lol).

The journey continues………………………………………………… felonious phd. 5/2015

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Diary of an Imprisoned Soul Part 5……………… “We were never meant to survive!”

I have met several incredible women, mothers, here at the Victorville Federal Prison Camp. Recently I had a wonderful discussion with one of the women I love to talk and laugh with. She was sharing with a small group of us how horrific and challenging her journey has been within the Federal Criminal Justice System. Like myself, Ms. Y.C. is a Black woman, mother, sister, non-violent, first time, white collar offender who worked hard to pave a way for herself and her family and struggled to find solace in how the U.S. Government Criminal Justice System worked diligently to create a narrative that was completely opposite of her reality.

During one of our many discussions, Ms. Y.C. shared with us how she and her family explained her absence from her younger children and her teenaged son, who is autistic. She spoke passionately about her reservations about merging her two worlds by allowing the children to visit within a system that had treated her with such disrespect and disdain. As she explained her reluctance I completely understood how a mother bear would do whatever had to be done to protect her cubs. Well the same is true for an imprisoned mother soul, who has endured and experienced how easily it is for a prison staff (also a human soul) to completely disconnect from another soul and simply choose to be mean-spirited and callous at any moment in time, because they feel they legally can! So, the thought of allowing her children and family into this space was nerve wracking to say the least.

As time went, on Ms. Y.C. ran out of excuses and allowed her children and family to visit, which proved to be very therapeutic for all of them. My favorite part of this story is how she and her sister chose to tell the younger children and her teenaged son, who is autistic, that she was simply away at “FAT CAMP” (lol). OMG! we all laughed and laughed at her description of the story. She then proceeded to tell us that her teenaged son, who was sitting next to her, gently patted her on top of her head and kindly stated, “Sheeeesh mom, it is not working! you must try harder.” That interaction immediately did two things for me. First, it provided me the opportunity to laugh and laugh, a wonderful, deep heart felt, soulful laugh at a soulful, loving story as I stood in the bunk area in a cold, barren warehouse. It felt so good! Second, it solidified my insistence that we must tell our stories. We imprisoned, women, sister, grandmother and friendly souls have to leave a deep, passionate, purposeful and powerful imprint on this process by speaking our truths FEARLESSLY!

I am dedicating my next chapter to making sure I tell all that I can squeeze out of myself. As I have sat here in the Prison Industrial Complex, a systemically oppressive environment, it has been the lives, words, and stories of incredible women that have pushed me through and given me the strength to move onward whole and sane. Once again I have relied on the loving words of Dr. Maya Angelou, the powerful words of June Jordan, the womanist prose of Alice walker, the pain and triumph of Mary J. Blige, the peace and soul of India.arie, the authenticity of Tracy Chapman, the intellect and graceful story telling of Toni Morrison, the real deal of Iyanla Van Zant, the courage of Melissa Harris Perry, and the spirit and power of Oprah Winfrey. Those and many other incredible women have assisted me with being purposeful and mindful in this journey.
Ms. Y.C. will be ending her 3 1/2 years of incarceration in about a week. We have discussed the importance of speaking the truth regarding this process. I remind her as much as I can to PLEASE tell her story, give others the real narrative. To use her sharp sense of humor and keen, aware intellect to tell her truth boldly and with the prideful spirit that she embodies. Our stories are very powerful and necessary as we understand the state of our Criminal Justice System and every other Structural Oppressive entity in our society. We must provide others with a clear and precise narrative that awakens and encourages others to not just empathize but take action in their own lives. We have to tell them over and over, again and again as long as it takes to get our Nation, Communities and Politicians to understand that the system is broken, but we can fix it. There has to be some credible, courageous and honest women at the table telling the truth about this process.

Through it all, I know that I may not be able to save the World, like I once so naively thought, but I can provide a prescription to those close to me or near me that will give them some hope and promise for their own tomorrow. I clearly understand, as I have stated numerous times, that our Country was not structured with us in mind (us- being all human souls who reside on the fringes) and essentially, “We were never meant to survive, but we do!”.

I am thankful for my many conversations with Ms. Y.C. and I am truly going to miss her. I am going to miss our passionate discussions about race, class, democracy, prison, capitalism and the elusive American Dream. My hope is that our paths will cross again, after probation, of course!. At which time we could continue to laugh like hell and have a couple drinks, well maybe more than a couple after this ordeal, lol. Thanks to Ms. Y.C. …..Always, and I mean Always do you!
I am also thankful that my time here is nearly over. I am beginning to see the rainbow after enduring this tornado. I have labeled myself as being “Beyond Resilient” because this journey has far surpassed simply being in a storm. And that is my own consciousness of truth!

The journey continues…………………………………felonious phd 4/2015

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Recurring Dream…..of FREEDOM!

I often wake up abruptly from happy, joyous, and peaceful dreams of being home.  Last night I had another one of my recurring dreams.  I dreamed I was home in my kitchen, listening to my iPod through my wireless speaker, as India Arie sang through bringing smiles to my heart!  I love the “Beautiful Day” song!

I have experienced spotty flashes of being “Free” and it hurts my soul to even acknowledge that I am, at present, fundamentally enslaved to the criminal justice process.  No matter how mindful I am to remind myself that this is a temporary state of being, I cannot help but accept that, historically, the process of enslavement (and I mean legal enslavement and captivity of any sort) leaves a residue on a soulful, free-thinking human heart.

The recurring dreams I have often include being with my son.  Currently, I miss everything that being his mother involves.  I am particularly missing the opportunity to have an impact on his life as he is transitioning from being a boy to a being a young man.  There are certain things that a son needs to learn from his mother.  i am missing the chance to wear his jersey #74 (he’s so proud it’s the same as Michael Oher’s) at his football games.

I know many would say and feel the same as the rest of the legal system does, “We must make an example of you,” to show others that it does not pay to f@#k with the government.  This is a very scary, fear-based perspective that leaves out so many human factors and perspectives.

I have always dreamed of being a productive force in creating a word that was loving, peaceful, and inclusive.  Now, I write this we an extreme amount of intense love, I dream of FREEDOM!  I feel like my life has come full circle.  As a young girl, growing up in the ghetto, desperately wanting to achieve more, I knew what I was looking to be free from.  Today, I find myself in mid-life (fabulously 50) in prison, separated from my son, grand kids, family and friends, stuck in an environment that has nothing to offer me.  Trapped and contained as a punishment!  Once again I dream of FREEDOM!

I ache and long for the day I will not only walk out of here, but also for the day that I will be completely free from the scrutiny of the Department of “Justice.”  Today, the process has me completely shackled, in a very humbling, depressing, ridiculous and unnecessary experience.  But each night, at 9:45 pm, when I close my eyes as I lay on the bottom bunk with my mp3 music blasting in my ears, I dream of FREEDOM!

I am thankful for the ability to dream.   Through this nightmare, I still dream in rainbows and butterflies, and in color.  Reminding myself that life is always worth living, and when tomorrow comes, it will have wonderful possibilities!

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Life On Pause…..

Every Sunday I try to create a peaceful, positive, and cognizant space in my heart and mind so that I don’t lose sight of who I am and my intrinsic purpose.  I also try to prepare myself for another week that is completely out of my control.

Often, I have conversations with my bunkee who is also intelligent, driven, and a once successful business woman.  Her common theme during many of our conversations has been about how her life is on pause.  I gather that having some element of control over what happens to her in BOP custody  and utilizing the word “Pause” allows her some control over what is to come next.

For me, being on pause is a complete waste of time.  As I listen to how this single mother of two boys worked hard to achieve her dream, I become overwhelmed with questions of how can I help women like us once their lives are no longer on pause.

The theoretical formation of living a life on pause can be a bit debilitating.  I was looking at it as if I was viewing a movie and, like I have done many times, I hit the pause button.  Once I returned to viewing the show, was I more or less attentive?  Did I lose excitement after I had paused?  Or, did I just turn it off never to return to view it again?

Life on Pause has happened to many people in our country, not just inmates.  I just know that women who are here for white-collar crimes and who were driven and successful will face a unique situation when reentering their communities.

I want to, once again, be Living Proof that it can be done.  After living my Life on Pause phase, I want to be able to hit the play button and enjoy a happy climax to this story.  I know that if I start there, I can once again help others believe in themselves, even though they are Felons.  We are the new wave of Government Subjugation and we do not have the time to wait for them to once again correct their wrongs.

I am thankful for the hones, open, and sometimes heart-breaking conversations with the women here. It gives me an opportunity to be selfless and attentive to others with challenges and in pain.

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Are you Breaking any Federal Laws?…An Over-Criminalized Country…

Over the past four years, I have learned more about our Federal legal system than I would have ever cared to know.  Ironically, as an undergrad, my goal was to become an attorney.  My Bachelors Degree is in criminal justice.  I had aspirations of working within the legal system because, even then, I always saw our system as broken, biased, and elitist.  Unfortunately, I have been placed right in the middle of a structure that I have despised and avoided for my entire life.

Currently, the system I am “stuck” in is over-crowded and fiscally draining resources that could be utilized to better our society.  Our administration is well aware of this crisis and they have been quietly formed an over-criminalization task force. What the hell?  This is occurring because within the United States Penal Code, there are well over 4,000 offenses that carry criminal penalties.  There are also 10,000 to 100,000 federal regulations that can be criminally enforced.  Are YOU breaking a federal law?  Possible one that you don’t even know you’re breaking?  I can guarantee you that if you get on the Government’s radar for ANY reason, they can and WILL find a way to indict you.  I am not writing this to increase fear.  I just think that those of you who are voting members of the United States public should be aware of certain civil liberties we have given away to our government.  I too have to take responsibility for not actively paying attention to how I voted and what I voted for in all elections.

While our news stations are spending time on stories regarding how other countries apply laws, such as Italy, Korea and now Ukraine, we have not heard the discussions going on with our own Attorney General Eric Holder.  We have a major crisis her in our own back yard where we are able to BE the change.  Where are the discussions with Eric Holder.  I wish Mr. Holder would come to the Victorville Federal camp and have a discussion with me, an average, non-violent citizen with no legal history, professionally educated, and hard-working who was made into a felon.  I have a very intriguing story for Mr. Holder.  I will also ask Mr. Holder if he looked at all of the Federal codes and if he has ever inadvertently broken one of those may laws that are able to be LOOSELY applied to anyone caught in a prosecutors self-serving cross-hairs.

I feel like Marvin Gaye and want to ask, “What is going on?”  I am thankful for our strong history because I am always reminded that this too shall pass and that the United States finds ways to correct its mistakes.

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Seven Days and Counting Down!

I woke up this morning thinking, in a week I will be sitting in a Federal Camp and life for me will be different.  I like to speak of my life being different not difficult. I kept asking myself why was I not afraid.  And myself, (no lie) Lol.   Replied, there is nothing to be afraid of actually.   It is a controlled environment.  I am safer in there than I am in my own community.  So I got that out-of-the-way.  I usually start my days off with a theme.  Mainly because it helps me be purposeful with my day.  So today theme is learning, and the art of thinking.  So to assist with my purposeful day I read some of Zora Neale Hurston‘s book.  I also reread the first chapter of the book I wrote with my sister,  “Black Butterfly Blues”.  I came to the conclusion that I can do better!  Actually I will do better, because I respect, love and honor learning .

So today after my brief discussion with myself I began drafting a plan that will help me continue the process of learning and living purposefully.   Not only will I read to continue to strengthen my critical thinking skills.  I want to exercise my mind the same way as I do with my body.   I want my mind to be stimulated and sharp.

My purpose is clear, at least on a superficial level.  I want to be a learner and a thinker.  I live for both.  The art of writing will give me the opportunity to do both succinctly.  So as I sit here and wait for another day to speed onward.  I am reminded that I will always be a promise and a possibility with a foundation and a desire to live my life purposefully.

 

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