The Felonious PhD.

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

The Unplanned Journey Part 8………………………………… A Long hard Five years, an even harder 20 months! Life goes on.

As of today I have been physically imprisoned for 20 months! The entire legal ordeal within the Federal Criminal Justice System has taken a lot out of me emotionally. It has seriously been a long hard 5 years, and remarkably, I still have more years to go. The main thing that keeps me motivated towards developing goals and achieving them at a high level is my will and my desire to model for my sons, my friends, and my family, that we all encompass the ability to overcome any and every barrier we may encounter in our lives. I also want to live my life and serve as living proof to other Imprisoned Souls that they can still live a purposeful, loving, peaceful and productive life by simply operating Beyond Resilient. I am also cognizant of the fact that my story is not a special one or unique but it definitely is significant considering how our American Federal Justice System continues to imprison soulful non-violent beings at an alarming rate.

It is clear to me that the next chapter in my life is more about not allowing this part of my colorful journey to represent my entire life story. It truly is a few chapters to be honest. It may be the most depressing, challenging and life changing part, but still it does not complete my life story in its entirety. This stage of my journey has made me stronger and forced me to truly understand and clearly define the American Dream for myself, so that I can authentically share with the youth in my family that with education, Passion, Perseverance, Purpose, a Plan and the belief that all Possibilities are available, you can and will do and be anything you want to be no matter what happens to you. I will continue to tell all of the young people I encounter, love and tethered to that they are loved and capable of infinite possibilities. My hope for a wonderful life has not been stymied but my experience within the Federal Criminal Justice System, it has most definitely been paused, but it has reminded me that we as a Nation has a long, long, long way to go to become the greatest Country on earth.
Today, I am thankful that I am nearly done with the incarceration portion of my journey. I will never understand its purpose, or accept that it was the only option for non violent, non-intending, 1st time offender, loving caring soul. I am grateful that my teenaged son has moved through this process with the care, love and support of family and friends. I am truly thankful that I was born and raised to be who and where I am at any given moment. Life truly is GOOD.

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

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Diary of an Imprisoned Soul Pt. 1……………..Shout out to Marissa Alexander (Super Woman)!

This weekend I was fortunate to watch my favorite news anchor, MSNBC-Melissa Harris Perry’s interview with Marissa Alexander. Marissa Alexander is  black, a woman, and a mother who was the victim of domestic violence in Florida and later became a victim of the Federal Criminal Justice System as well. At least once a month I can count on Melissa Harris Perry doing a segment on Mass Incarceration and the challenges that our communities across the country have with the Criminal Justice System. I often find myself craving any form of dialogue surrounding the subject with hope that most of the conversations would lead into some critical analysis of how we need to seriously look at the formation of the Judicial System in America and proceed expeditiously to make some formidable and courageous changes.

Melissa Harris Perry’s interview with Marissa Alexander was just what this incarcerated, black, woman, mother needed. Marissa spoke with passion about her challenges with the Federal Criminal Justice system and the effects is has had on her life as well as her children’s lives. Her story just validated my core beliefs that it is not anger and bitterness that will free us from our internal pains and challenges, even when we feel we have been treated unfairly and without any regard to the truth, it is truly love and love of self that will set us forever free. When asked what she was going to do next, Marissa did not skip a beat when she stated with confidence, love and joy that her first priority was to reintegrate into the lives of her children who she has been separated from for 2 years. Even though she will continue to deal with her legal battles, she will be afforded the opportunity to do so from home as the Federal Criminal Justice system, instead of correcting its wrong, AMENDED her sentence by providing her the opportunity to do the duration of her next two years on home confinement. There is a lot more to that statement but it does not matter at this moment! What helped me as I listened to Marissa’s story, a mother who should not have been incarcerated, was that she is not focusing on anything other than assisting her children who were now teenagers and need her more than anything at this period of their lives.

As I sat there and looked at the television I saw myself, a woman, a black woman, a black woman mother who was now labeled a felon who was saving her own life so that she could be there for her children, I felt proud. I was also proud to hear and see that our stories can be told and received through the media.

Throughout my 50 years of life I have witnessed first hand how women are often placed in positions where they have to literally fight physically, emotionally and spiritually to stay soulfully alive. After overcoming being a welfare offspring, to spending more than half my life in the profession of Child Welfare and now enduring nearly 5 years with the Federal Criminal justice System I can honestly say with some conviction that I am a “SUPER WOMAN”. It takes someone special and soulful to overcome an experience like this, and that is the truth!

I am thankful that Marissa Alexander is sharing her story. I hope she knows that she too is a “SUPER WOMAN” and I am so happy she is home with her children which is where we all should be! I hope more women who have unfortunately interfaced with the Criminal Justice System share their stories. We truly are the only ones who can save ourselves!!

Felonious Ph.D. 2/2015

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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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Happy 15th Birthday……..Sonny!!!

I have never missed one of my son’s birthdays until now. It is truly one of the most difficult moments for me to think that he will celebrate, take pictures, create wonderful memories, and I will be absent. Prior to self-surrendering to Victorville Federal Prison Camp, I sat with my Public Defender while she calculated the period she thought I would be gone. Her calculations with “good time” and 6 months “halfway house” services came to 22 months. In calculating my time away from my son I began categorizing the events that are important in his life that I was going to be absent from during my incarceration. I knew that along with his entire sophomore school and football year I would be missing his 15th birthday.

Mothers at the camp do many things to get through the regular days here, and they also find ways to get through the holidays and birthdays in here. I know it is a day I will not get back and I also know that it will pass; but as I sit in this visceral, non-productive, irreverent, paternalistic environment doing absolutely nothing of value for myself, my community, or my son, I can not help but continue to question the motivation of our US Judicial System. I am missing my son’s birthday and I am acutely aware of the fact that most people think, “If you don’t want to do the time, don’t do the crime.” To that I respond that regardless of the “truth,” our wonderful, resourceful Country has many alternatives to incarcerating, non-violent, low-level, first time offending women, mothers, grandmothers, aunts and sisters.

There is no real intellectual reason for me to be absent from my son’s birthday or any other important parental responsibility that I have always attended to throughout his life. I mean, if a man can punch his wife, render her unconscious and still be free to harm again, that begs me to question why am I here? We all should be asking these questions. Who is privileged to get second chances and why?

The wonderful thing is that my son will have a great birthday even without me. He has an incredible support system and people who love him. We are very fortunate. Now as I approach the second half of this unreal journey in prison, I will have to beg, pray, and attempt to convince the staff here that I need halfway house services so that I can re-enter my community and my son’s life sooner than later.

Over the past 11 months I have learned that the system has no motivation to encourage or enhance mine or any of the women’s ability to re-enter successfully. That will be bad for business, so to speak. There is no fiscal motivation for decarcerating us, there is only monetary motivation for keeping us incarcerated as long as possible, we are numbers and bodies. So re-entry and recidivism will never be a real priority until the Government re-thinks and restructures its financial incentives to the BOP.

Today, I am thankful that I have a son who is intelligent, caring and resilient. He has not lost himself in this crisis and I have to make sure I follow his lead. Happy 15th Birthday, Son. I am so lucky to be your mom.

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Labor Day….5 Chicken Wings and Two Corn Dogs!

For a a brief moment, I was excited!  Honestly, I heard from a very reliable source that we were going to have a special meal for Labor Day.  Most imortantly, I heard it was going to be….drum roll…..my all time favorite….CHICKEN WINGS!!! Now, I am one of the most stubborn, prideful people I know, and I often resist any and every moment requiring me to feel somewhat “okay” with being here. My friends and family can attest to my love for the small chicken delicacy, so when I heard the words, “Chicken Wings,” I have to admit I got a little excited, for a brief (very brief) moment!

If you have been fortunate enough to have never had to interface with the Federal system, you are lucky because everything about the system entails standing in a loooooong line.  I mean as a youth, I clearly remember standing in welfare lines and government cheese lines. So my motivation for striving to remove myself from that system, the same system that I am ironically imprisoned by, was high!  I seriously have to laugh out loud at my journey.  None the less, I usually wait for the correctional officer to call, “Last call!” over the loud speaker before I venture out to the noisy and long, hot, line.  Today, no way!  I did not want to chance them running out of wings.  Shortage of some foods is common  around here, so I made sure I was in that long, hot, government line with the rest of the women.

When we got to the area where they hand you your tray with the featured meat on it, I suddenly felt a kind of disappointment that I don’t recall every having felt as an adult.  We were given FIVE, yes 5, of the smallest chicken wings I have ever seen.  Oh my gosh!!  I honestly cracked up!  What the hell??!!  I am sure that in order to make up for the lack of chicken wings, we were given two corn dogs.  All I could think was how my family would crack up!  So, I took my tray with my five little wings, two corn dogs, and  “apple turnover” and sat down.

As I ate each little, miniature wing, I just told myself to be grateful and thankful even though those wings were just a tease.  I gave my corn dogs away and returned to my bottom bunk bed.

I don’t know if I will remember most of my experiences through this journey, but I am sure that I will be more thankful and careful with my freedom and I will completely enjoy the opportunity to eat what I choose.  I will have some decent chicken wings immediately upon my release.

I am thankful today for my sense of humor and for almost being halfway through this imprisonment.  And I was grateful for those five little wings, believe it or not!

 

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James Baldwin’s Eyes…………………………. 90 years old!

Those eyes-I can see what you feel

and I feel the same

Attempting with all that I am to utilize

the power of words

to liberate my crying soul.

 

Those eyes-Will never allow me to relinquish my power

as an artist

They bestow on me the promise

to dispell my truths

good and bad

at whatever cost

to my self.

 

Those eyes-Are familiar eyes

the ones that I saw as a child

that spoke without speaking

and searched without seeking

only having to stop, listen and be true

to self.

 

Those eyes-Captivate, motivate,

stimulate and galvanize

my inner being

to move past these atrocious moments with

grace, dignity and an intellectual

soul.

 

Those eyes-Articulate excactly what I am enduring

and

provide me with a road map to

securing my own

freedom.

 

Those eyes-embody the power to extract

every last drop

of this experience

no matter if it is

bitter or sweet.

 

James Bladwin’s eyes-Are my mirror, my hope, my dreams,

my history, my present, my future

My Destiny!

 

Aug 2014

the felonious phd.

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Write It…….Someone Will Read It!

Just as I am convinced that my time here is completely meaningless and that I am bombarding my poor, busy, hard-working friend with numerous blogs in the mail that contain my ongoing angst-filled thoughts about my temporary space of nothingness, another woman walks into the camp and asks if anyone knows “The Felonious PhD.”  In the past two weeks, there have been three new campers who have approached me and proceeded to thank me for writing for this blog.  One even stated that my story is inspirational and helped her family with come to terms with the idea of her entering a Federal Prison Camp.  

I have to admit that although I am not happy when I hear the woman, Ms. P., over the intercom ask for a mentor to assist a new camper, it is encouraging to me to hear that the blog is serving some purpose other than providing me a platform to express myself.

It has been a few weeks since these women entered the camp.  They have told me that I explained the process to them on the blog accurately.  Also, that by providing them with some sense of familiarity with a system they have never been a part of has made the process a little easier.  There are a few more things I need to write about for new campers and I plan to do so soon.  my long-term goal is to write a book entitled, “The Indicted Soul,” which will discuss the horrendous emotionally draining process prior to entering the Federal Camp.

I am very thankful for the blog and my steadfast friend, Rebecca.  Friend you are helping more than just me!

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Happy Mothers Day…

Hi Peeps:
I just want to wish everyone a Happy Mothers Day!!! Please enjoy every moment and each other. Without sounding like a jailhouse crazy lady, because most of you know I am who I am no matter where I am, I am encouraging all of the women in my life to take care of themselves! Love yourself and give yourself a pat on the back!! I have not gained much from this experience but I am learning to appreciate the power of ME! I am embraces the reality that as a mother, sister, friend, aunt and many other masks I have worn, that we women have to take the time to appreciate and love ourselves. I will never neglect myself again. I am a woman with infinite POSSIBILITIES and I need to treat myself with respect, love and dignity.

I love you all
HAPPY MOTHERS, WOMEN, DAY!!!!!!!

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A Grown Woman and a Bunk Bed….

Where does a 49-year-old woman begin when discussing the perils of sleeping in a bunk bed?

Quite often I find myself cracking up at how uncomplicated, neurotic and comical my life is right now.  A few nights ago, I decided I was going to climb on top of my bed and listen to my music and read.  Yes! I said climb up to my top bunk!  As I was sitting up there in my BOP shorts, BOP t-shirt, and BOP men’s socks that are way to big, oh, and my green beanie because it’s cold up there, I looked over to Ms. B.B. and said, “Look at me!!”  I was swinging my short legs over the side of my top bunk looking like a 12-year-old boy!  We cracked up!

As much as this experience is frustrating and disheartening, it is equally funny as heck!  At time, this experience is so unreal and ridiculous!  I just keep reminding myself that I have been through worse, or at least that is what I tell myself.  Then, I remind myself of how so many of my foster kids, and kids who didn’t come to me, have endured and overcome similar and even worse experiences.  Then I channel my inner Cynthia, Adrian, Max, Johnny, Daniella, Eddie, Todd, Davonne, Brandon, Richy, and Nick and all the others.  I embrace the PTSD and chaos that my nephew Dee overcame, and I think of his sister and brother.  I honestly incorporate everything I have told them over the years about no whining and blaming others because nobody cares.  I remind myself that I have to define my experience and share it in a way that will encourage and uplift others.  As I have used with them in the past, I will definitely rely on my sense of humor because sometimes laughter is the only healthy alternative.

I am so thankful for my kids.  They have shown me that I have to practice what I have preached!

So, every  night, after 9:30 pm count, I climb my grown woman butt up to the top bunk and say thank you that another day has ended!

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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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