The Felonious PhD.

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

My Own Quietly Explosive Here Part 1………………………….I’M Still Mad as Hell!!!!!!

Lately I have dedicated a tremendous amount of my time here at the camp trying to formulate a plan for my next, which includes but is not limited to where will I work? where will I live? how will I keep myself emotionally strong? etc. I know most people feel that we are happier and are more productive when we limit how much we focus on our future issues and remain present in our NOW. Because of this irreverent experience and after I have lost everything, including my right to PERSONAL PHYSICAL FREEDOM, I know that I must prepare for tomorrow, otherwise, what will happen to me?

As usual when I find myself in a major quandary and my emotional, spiritual and physical self are in an uproar in here (whew and I mean a feisty one! lol) I depend on reading and writing for some healing and clarity. My current reality is that I am MAD AS HELL! Simple, there is no sugar coating it, that is my own truth. Anger has always served as a motivating emotion for me. I know that if something has me angry then I need to change it. But being that I am incarcerated at the Federal Prison Camp and legally enslaved in the Federal Criminal Justice System that has served absolutely no purpose, I have no choice but to move with and through my anger. Over the past 18 months I have wrestled with this process and asked the same damn questions. Who benefits? What is the purpose of this incarceration process especially for non-violent, low level offenders? Does anyone really cares that this is going on? Why destroy a persons life and those tethered to them over nothing? Aren’t I an American with value also?

Daily, as I sit in the t.v. room watching the news, my questions continue to be answered as I witness the on-going incarceration of non-violent human beings. When will it end? Some say I should not watch the news or read the newspaper, like that will somehow change the facts. The facts being, as politicians continue to discuss, debate and plan for Criminal Justice reform, the American Justice System, those who are benefactors and stakeholders, continue to advocate and encourage to support the mass incarceration of non violent people. So yes, I am mad! I am mad that there is a continual influx of elderly females into the Federal Prison Camp of all races so it is not just a color thing. I am mad that as Politicians maneuver for political clout and positions, their policies are continuing the mass incarceration of not only hard working people but they too are getting caught in their own Criminal Justice nets and still they refuse to make urgent changes. That is scary to me. I am mad that as legislatures refuse to honestly legislate for real Criminal Justice changes for political reasons many incarcerated non-violent women are dying, getting physically injured, depressed, mentally ill, isolated and just plain forgotten about in this Criminal Justice System. I am mad that Federal Government Agencies, Federal Government Criminal Justice System and those tethered to it are not encouraged to utilize any form of critical analysis when it comes to over-criminalizing those who understand that to make lasting changes in the lives of vulnerable people you CAN NOT operate inside a box, but know that you must use creativity to effect change and that does not make you a FRAUD or a MONEY LAUNDERER! Yes, I am mad.

I am mad because as I sit here serving as a monetary number for the Bureau of Prisons off the backs of tax paying citizens, my son is without his mother, my grandkids are without their grandmother, my siblings are without their sister, my mother is without her daughter, my foster kids are without their mentor, my extended family is without their niece/aunty, my friends are without their friend. The remaining question is…..WHO IN THE HELL IS THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM THAT HAS INCARCERATED ME PROTECTING FROM ME? I am not and never have been a threat to anyone!!!!!! So yes I am mad.

Today I am thankful for the powerful writing of Ms. June Jordan. I have titled one of my books, “My Own Quietly Explosive Here” after this poem she wrote:
In my own quietly explosive here
all silence isolates
to kill the artificial suffocates
a hunger
likely dying underground
in circles hold together
wings
develop still regardless
Thank you Ms. June Jordan because of that poem this week I have been able to breathe deeply. I won’t remain silent about my pain and anger in regards to this Criminal Justice process and I will continue to move forward and RISE in spite and because of it all!
The journey continues………………………..felonious phd. 4/2015

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SMOKE AND MIRRORS: We cannot handle the truth

constantly moving
moving in a motionless space
clouded by visions that
are repeatedly put in
our face
governed by laws
that we want to
blame on others
forgetting that we
are
the people
the people who really
are in charge

manifestation of blaming
a disregard for self
reflection
self
respect
self
accountability
in a time
where
our mirrors
are broken
foggy
or non existent
time is here
actually time has never
left
we will perish
we will perish
we will perish
if we dont
stop looking for
answers externally
and believe the
messages within
ourselves
smoke and mirrors
we see in on the tv
smoke and mirrors
we hear in everyday
smoke and mirror
we operate opposite of our
own consciousness
consciously surrendering
to the pressures
the irrelevant
the insignificant
why?
why?
because we
can not
handle the
TRUTH

felonious phd 3/2016

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HAVE NO FEAR!………….A Message of Solace from the Camp

As I enter my 17th month of incarceration at the Federal Prison Camp, there are a few things that I have just become accustomed to for the sake of my maintaining peace of mind for my soulful self. Then there are instances where I am caught off guard and my soul is touched at its CORE.

I have become accustomed to wearing the ugly, green, men’s uniform that is accessorized with the heavy, steel-toed high top boots. I am even accustomed to the oppressive, used green sports bra. I have become accustomed to the fact that this environment has incompetent, irreverent, depressed and often mean-spirited staff that work here. And out of pure survival I have even become accustomed to walking daily, round and round and round in circles on a rocky track. So boring!.

However, I have not become accustomed to how our United States Government Criminal Justice System continues to incarcerate, non-violent, low level offending, frail, elderly women. I know we as a Nation thrive on punishing those who have “done wrong” in the eyes of law. I am also aware of the fact that we have to maintain some level of order as a civilized society. I completely understand all of those concepts, believes and constructs. But what happens when a system is so extremely “FLAWED” and we as a Nation simply continue to ride the “SLIPPERY SLOPE” of mass incarceration without any hesitation or critical analysis into the inhumanness or the ineffectiveness of the process? How can we not act with a sense of urgency when it is apparent that our Criminal Justice system is broken? That sense of complacency is something I can never become accustom to as long as I live.

Today, as I sat in the library, reading and writing about how there are some signs of change on the horizon and how critical and urgent those changes are needed, we get an announcement over the loud speaker that says, “Golf South Mentor come to R&D”. That announcement is a request for one of the women who is a volunteer mentor for new arrivals to come the the R& D office and meet the new arrivals. It also alerts every other woman on the camp that new people are here. Typically, the mentors will take the new arrivals on a tour of the camp before showing them to their bunk area. When the mentor and the new woman arrived to the library, as they walked in I noticed that the Latina woman was “ELDERLY” and that she was trembling like a tree. As the mentor spoke to her and tried to console her she sat down at the table in the middle of the library, put her head down and whispered as her lips trembled, “I AM SO AFRAID!”. O M G! my heart stopped, for a few seconds I was at a complete loss for words. I looked over to the mentor and the other woman that was in the library and they were both standing there with their mouths open and speechless. My immediate reaction was to go give her a hug, but I could sense the complete “FEAR” in her at that moment. I gathered myself and told her softly, “You are very safe here, I promise no one is going to hurt you!”. I asked her if she was thirsty and she nodded yes, I went into the desk drawer and handed her a generic diet soda. I reassured her that the hard part was over. Being here is the easiest part of the Federal Criminal Justice process. Whew!! That was all I could do to not scream or burst out in tears. I am sure that would have scared her to death! After a few minutes she opened the soda took a sip and the other two women began consoling her and talking. I took the opportunity to gather my thing to walk back to the unit. Walking my usual path back to the unit I was trying desperately to find a way to switch emotional gears from pure anger to “March Madness” (lol).

Those are the moments that bring my anger to the surface. Because my own consciousness of truth is that I am forever angered by this process, but these types of days force me to be present in my anger. There is absolutely no way anyone will ever be able to convince me that as United States of America we do not have any other option other than to incarcerate, non violent, low level, women, elderly offenders or anyone who is not a safety risk. I just do not get it! or maybe I get it too well! I have forced myself to succumb and surrender to many things as I progress through my journey. But I will never ever accept how easily it is for our Government officials (fellow citizens), to skillfully and willfully destroy another persons soul with passion and fervor in the name of justice, corrections and rehabilitation. I will also never forget how easily we (Americans) allow these things to happen.

If you are a woman, sister, grandmother, aunt or mother who finds herself pending incarceration at a Federal Prison Camp, I want you to know that “YOU WILL BE SAFE”. Don’t get caught up in shows like “Lock Up” that are televised to brainwash US citizens into thinking we need prisons. Or believe everything about “Orange is the New Black” which is entertainment first and is very creative. The women here at the camp are people you know. “We are all people you know!” So trust me when I say you have nothing to fear in here.

I am so thankful that my time here at the Federal Prison Camp is almost over. It is a challenge everyday to wake up and renew my passion for being a loving, caring, soulful Black American Woman Mother. I am also thankful that I was born and raised to be who and where I am at any and every given moment!

The Journey continues…………………………felonious phd-3/201

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An Unplanned Journey……..Part 1

Over the past three months I have spent a good amount of my time reading memoirs, and several books that are somewhat synonymous with my own  journey. Most of the books that I have chosen are non-fiction genre explicitly tell the story of women who have overcome, excelled and lived to tell about their journeys through the written word.

One of my favorites, of course, is “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou. Her journey, by far, most closely resembles mine.  Not only because she was a black woman, writer, and mother, but also because her journey,like mine, and many others was “unplanned”. There was no road map, no safety net, no financial security, or guarantee of anything. Maya’s journey, like mine, was purely based on stepping out on faith and pure resilience and love.

“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” is the most prolific self help book that I could ever read as a black woman . Its prose is filled with words of empowerment, courage and fearlessness. It just signifies for me the importance of giving truth to our realities so that those behind us will have an authentic testimony of all of the experiences we may encounter as women. This is why I am determined to present this journey and write, share and speak the truth of my journey for others who may find themselves in circumstances that truly question all that you are and forces you to look deep inside yourself for strength and realize that it is there.

As I sit here imprisoned and shackled, not physically but intrinsically, I can not help but feel compelled to fight for my own liberation, emotionally, physically and spiritually. In doing so I hope to provide a written means for anyone in need to find peace in my words and let my story serve as a mirror to their own journey. This part of my legal journey has forced me to question my ability and passion for wanting to live a life where I can love all unconditionally and forgive without question. The “unplanned journey” is one that has shaken my soul and at times brought me to tears. At the same time, as I sit in the stillness and silence of this library filled with the smell of stale books, I think to myself, “I could never plan this isolation, solitude and silence.” I think out loud that I have to do something with this “disgusting gift,” the gift of time filled with nothingness and void of responsibility.

Then I read the LA Times and in the Calendar section there is a story on the movies coming to theaters soon. One of the movies is called “Wild” a movie from the Memoir of Cheryl Straub. I read the book and connected, not particularly with the planned part of her journey which entailed hiking the Pacific Coast trail, no way, but I connected with all of the unplanned experiences that occurred to her throughout her planned trip. Seeing that article validated my feelings that I must find a way to tell my story, give a clear picture of my complete journey, not just my incarceration. I was not afforded the opportunity to plan a journey that would provide me a foundation for my transformation, exploration of self, and liberation. I am imprisoned in this visceral and dehumanizing Federal Prison Camp setting for another 11 months. But! I do have complete access to a pen and paper and determination as well as the will of a bull to overcome, overachieve and excel beyond my dreams.

My resiliency is affording me the opportunity to think beyond making lemonade out of lemons. I am encouraged to move myself and others from an imprisoned self to a felon self to “FREE SELF”. My “unplanned journey” will be my liberation from imprisonment of all forms. I will write myself FREE!

I am thankful for the brave, courageous and resilient women who have told their stories. I am equally thankful for the organizations, publishers, agents and editors that gave them the chance to share their truths. Now I have to find someone willing to assist me with “SHARING MINE!”. It must be told.
Felonious Ph.D. 12/2014

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I Still Cannot Believe I Am In Prison…..10 Months Later!

I still wake up every day in complete shock!  Well, not really a traumatic type of shock, but the kind of shock where I look around and the fog, my “White Collar Female Fog,” is not yet armed and loaded to get me through the day.  I mindfully will myself into that fog in an effort to keep my analytic mind in neutral.  But when I first open my eyes and gaze up at the exposed pipes, for a moment I am still dazed and confused.

Today, I have a sense of humor about my current state of affairs.  I am in prison and I didn’t even have the opportunity to be a “real felon” and “enjoy” the life that financial crime would have  involved.    No planned business deal where I was conniving and deceitful and living a glamorous life with all the money I supposedly swindled.  I mean, no drug dependency or periods of selling drugs. No murder or aggravated assault.  Truly, it hardly seems fair for someone like me to be called a felon and carry all of the ramifications of being disenfranchised and discriminated against and get NO  “street cred” at all!!  A nerdy felon! So dumb!  Even my criminal story is so boring that I don’t even repeat it anymore because people get a dazed look that says, “You are LYING!”

I have thought about just creating a good criminal history and story to tell when others are talking about why they are here.  But, once again, I do not want to put that type of energy out in the universe.  Then I think, “Heck!  What could happen to me?  I AM IN PRISON!”  Yea, it is a camp!  But the fundamental principles of lost freedom and the burden of a life-long “felon” label will follow this nerdy, peaceful, foster-mom, PhD, forever.

After 10 months, I have surrendered to the fact that I am here.  By surrendering, I mean that instead of daily emotional breakdowns, disgust, and anger, I have infrequent bouts of, “What in the hell is wrong with my country?”  I will never belong here, but like many of the other women here, I will survive and proceed onward to excel somehow.  After everything I have been through in my life, this can’t be the climax of my story!  Whew….at least I hope it is not!

I am thankful for my friend who continues to give me a voice and reminds me to go back into the “fog” on the days that I wake up in shock and struggle to extricate myself from my ever-present disbelief.

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Womanly Smile

WOMANLY SMILE

 

For years and for centuries we have hidden our pain

Tortured, abused, raped and misused

Our strength transcends and our power transforms

A womanly smile tells all……

 

An invisible force within a society minus us, has no foundation

Now imprisoned, in a misogynist storm

Disgraced, dehumanized, defeminized in a structurally oppressive–industry

Daily encouraging, empowering and acknowledging each other with

A womanly smile that connects us all….

 

Our truths, our stories and struggles to maintain our picture perfect lives

Gives strength to our power and passion to look towards our tomorrow

Sitting on pause, existing soulfully and intrinsically on energy of love

Wake up in the morning with nothing to offer, to give, to share but my-

Womanly smile that has the power to heal…….

 

the felonious phd.

August 2014

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A Mother’s Love…..I Got to See my Sonny!!!

I had a wonderful visit this past weekend with my mom, Deb, and most of all my Sonny. Today, as I sit outside here at the Federal Prison Camp, my heart is full. It is full of love and peace. I love being Aaron’s mom, and out of all of my achievements I have to say being his mom is my greatest yet!

During our visit on Saturday and Sunday, all I could think about was how mature he was getting physically as well as emotionally. He is getting so big……or I am shrinking!! lol. As a mother who is incarcerated, the number one stressor is his safety and well-being . Are his basic needs being met? Because of his older brother Daniel and Nicole and the rest of our family I have to say his basic needs are being met and then some. That makes me happy. As a mindful mother, who is also a clinician, I am also concerned about and will remain acutely aware of how this is/will impact him emotionally. Will it make changes to his core self? I have so much experience with young people whose parents were absent, and was a child with absent parents, that I always want to acknowledge and address anything that may arise for him in regards to my incarceration. But thus far, from what I could see and hear during our first visit in nearly nine months, he is truly and consistently himself. For that I am relieved and thankful. Aaron knows he is loved and that I want nothing more than to be home doing whatever he needs done. Including his dirty laundry….which he informs me he will cease doing for himself once I return. lol.

I so desperately want to be home actively being his mother. I did get to rub his head!!!! Yay!!! That is my favorite. Although he was tired of my kisses, he welcomed the head-rubbing. My big young man. I miss him deeply. I never took my role as his parent lightly. It has always been serious business to me. Now being away from him and knowing that I will not be able to get these 22 to 27 months back, it encourages me to continue to move through this process lovingly. I do not want to return home to him angry or vengeful. I will leave this camp as I came… a loving, caring, confident, powerful, passionate, woman and mother. I will make sure I am ready to re-enter his life productively despite this environment and this demeaning process.

This environment does nothing to remind women who have children that they are mothers 110% of the time not just when you have visits or when you return home. The art of Mothering is ongoing and requires us to consciously and actively continue to nurture that part of ourselves. I am thankful for my son. I am very thankful to my Mom and Deb for bringing him to visit.

I miss and love you Sonny! Keep being you, you are WONDERFUL!!!

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Should I Feel Lucky?……

As I was standing in yet another line waiting for the commissary to open, a woman who has been here a while began talking to me and asked me a couple of questions regarding the Sentencing Reform bills that are pending approval.  I learned quickly to never assume I know the answers to any legal questions or policy issues, so I don’t offer them when approached for answers.  Our legal system is so confusing and many of the people who have been incarcerated by the Federal System for a long time get very anxious about pending or new legislation.  So, it can be a slippery slope for anyone, especially an inmate, to give any feedback to an inmate regarding laws.

The woman, who happens to be in her late 50’s, was an administrator for a company that billed Medicare and Medicaid.  She went on to clarify her legal case and discussed how her indictment was built on the prosecutor and investigators summary and testimony that she INTENDED to defraud the government.  They then refused to bring to light that she had passed a lie detector test and quite frankly was not in the position to even bill for the services that they alleged she billed in their discovery.  When it was all said and done, she was sentenced to 152 months….yes, over 14 years.  This sentence was based on her intent to conduct fraudulent activities.

I know that many Americans say, well everyone always says they are innocent!  I have not spoken to anyone here who has said they have  not made a mistake, but most of the White collar Women in here, like myself, had no intent to commit the crimes they’re serving time for.  The issues could have easily been remedied without tax payers spending thousands and thousands of dollars for legal costs as well as the $28,000 to $54,o00 a year that it costs per person to house a Federal inmate.

When I hear about these long sentences that have been given to non-violent, law abiding, hard working, first time offending women, I silently ask myself, “Should I feel lucky?”  My 33 month sentence was the end of a loooooong heart-wrenching process.  I think at this point, I only feel lucky that I have survived.

I am thankful that some of the reform bills may assist people who were given outrageous sentences.  The pending reform bills are the only opportunity that some of the non-violent, first-time offenders will have for being free before they are senior citizens.

Please read up on these reform bills and press upon your government officials to act to pass these reforms.  Also, take some time to look at the Federal Government laws that may affect your life and your business dealings.  Some of the new legislation is requiring that the government list all of the laws and codes on their websites for citizens to have access.  I would hate for anyone else to unknowingly break a law that would lead to the destruction of their career, personal life, and finances and ultimately land them in Federal Prison.  It’s not as far-fetched as people think….I’m proof of that!

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Unemployment in the United States….

As I sit in the t.v. room, here at the camp, watching the news and listening to the correspondents speak about President Obama’s plans for solving the unemployment issues in our country, I am silently saying to myself, “Who is going to hire me?”  I know that I am a minuscule part of this  huge crisis we have in our country today.  But because I am no labelled a felon, charged with health care fraud and money laundering, I am going to face a huge challenge when it comes to securing employment.  I have always put myself in a position that makes it difficult for an agency or organization to say “no” to me.  I made sure I had sufficient education, unshakable work ethic, and honed interpersonal skills.  Barriers were there for me to overcome.

Now in the present, I feel like public enemy #1.  I am an African-American woman and now a FELON!  Whew!  My loved ones feel confident that i will find a way to reinvent myself.  Actually, at the end of my sentencing hearing even the judge made reference to my resiliency, personality, professional skills, and education by trying to assure me that I will find a way to have a productive life after this travesty!

Although in my heart I know I will find a way, because I have the will, I sure want to say I am nearly 50 years old, worked in the same profession for 27 years, built myself from scratch, and I should not have to start over!  I took my grandfather’s words to heart when he said, “To pull yourself up by your boot straps, a feller has to own a pair of boots.”  I worked hard for my boots!

A lot has been taken from me.  And to my grandpa I will say, “Grandpa, I will have my boots.”  So I guess I will have to start there!  If you have a job opportunity for me, I will be knocking on your door in the next 18 months!

I am thankful for my strength, love for life, and my family history!

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State of the Union……Dream Killers

This year I will turn 50 years old.  It gives me chills to see that number written on this paper.  As an adult, I have always been attentive to politics, the rhetoric, as well as the players.  My interests mainly revolve around the political decisions that effected me and the vulnerable population with whom I was working.

Today, as I try to find cause to ask the t.v. queens if they are going to watch the State of the Union address, I overheard many saying that politicians don’t care about us.  Ironically, I have always felt that way.  This is not a new ideology or paradigm for me.  But, I have always lived by the  premise that i would rather be aware of how my “enemy” feels so that I am prepared.  I have felt the same way not matter if there was a Republican or a Democrat in office.  Where are the real leaders?  Where are the Dream believers?

Naturally, the rhetoric is surrounding how the American Dream is a bust!  I am living proof that the American Dream is possible, but is America prepared to allow it to be sustained?  As I sit in prison for a financial crime where I shared my EARNINGS and where there were NO victims, I have to say an emphatic, NO!  For some reason, our government began panicking when the balance of wealth was being achieved and shared.  The distribution of wealth is not a goal for the wealthy, who truly run our Government.  I have witnessed and participated in how sharing wealth can transform lives, communities, and our society.  Even though it was on a small scale that I was able to accomplish it, it was easy to do!

So, what is the real definition of the American Dream?

I think the definition and model of the American Dream needs to be revamped.  To start, we need to reassess how the government distributes money and create policies & laws to get the results they want.  The American Dream for many hard-working Americans is going to continue to be difficult to maintain, achieve, or define.  I have decided that I will not allow the Government the opportunity to tell me what the American Dream is any longer.  The Dream Killers have far too much power and control as it is.  They cannot have control over my dreams, too.  I am starting over.  I am going to dream like I am 05 years old instead of 50 years old.  Things will be less complicated and more fun that way.

As I sit, incarcerated by the Federal Government with many women like myself, I feel angry, frustrated, and disheartened with our country.  Those women who feel that the state of the union address or politicians do not affect us inmates directly, may be right.  Being an eternal optimist, I like to think differently.  Regardless, I know it is an opportune time to be a spectator.  I have to be here anyways, so as the Government pays to take care of all of my basic needs, I will relax and see what direction our nation goes in the next 19 months.

I am thankful for my ability to forgive my country.  Whew!

Dream Killers

I had a dream

One that consisted of

Providing a space a

Place a

Community full

Of love

Free of poverty, pain

And dismay

Supportive of education

High on motivation and

True to the belief

Of allocation of wealth

Health!

I had a dream

One that believed in

The power of community

Open to diversity

Free from racism

Sexism, homophobia

And ever ism

Ever created

I had a dream

That every person

Could feel love

Give love and

Achieve because

Of love

Dream Killers

Lost in the clouds

Fighting through the

Smoke

Creating invisible

Barriers

Placing limits that can’t

Be overcome

Leaving No options

To pursue a

Breath at

Any cost

Overbearing lost

No gain

Weight on the

Shoulders

Sweat, hot

Worn down

Pain

After the rain

No rainbow

Just floods

Dream killers

Give no hope!

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