The Felonious PhD.

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

Forever Free Part 1…………..One month free, life is good.

Today marks a month of my being free from the auspices and ridiculousness of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Even though I remain captive in the Judicial system for another three years on Supervised Release, nothing compares to being free from the belly of the beast. My probation officer has been a pleasant part of this journey. Mainly because every interaction I have had with her up to this point, she has treated me with dignity and respect without skipping a beat to do her job. So I know it is possible for our system and those who work within it to do better. I am witnessing it first hand.

Now I have to complete my 100 hours court ordered community service hours, and try diligently in the conservative town of Reno, Nevada, to secure adequate employment. I know I have a challenge ahead of me, but that is not a new way of being for me. Nothing or no one could ever disrupt my spirit and steal my joy again, so I will continue to push forward lovingly and with purpose. Truly, this is the only way I know how to operate.

These days I ask myself this question, “What do I want?” I ask that question in regards to all aspects of my life. I have decided that Professionally I want to work in the college setting. I love that environment and the energy that young people who are learning and finding their way have. I am not sure if that is possible with my being a felon but that is what I am striving for, and that has always been my long-term goal. Personally, I only want peace and will not allow anyone within my space that does not want the same thing or try to infiltrate my peaceful and loving environment. I am now free to live and build the life that I want and I am not going to miss this opportunity.

This unplanned journey has been so surreal and often foreign to me. I know that only time will move me past the trauma I have personally experienced, and I will continue to remain mindful of everything that I have gone through and overcome so that I can share those experiences with other women whom unfortunately find themselves in the Federal Criminal Justice system. I left several incredible friends behind in the camp and will not forget them either. I want them to know that they are not invisible, alone or unworthy.

There is nothing like being free. Lately I have been trying to organize my many blogs that have not been posted, as I attempt to piece together my life over the past few years. I want to write a book that will clearly tell not just my story but one that will provide a window into the stories of many of the women, mothers, aunts, sisters, daughters and friends that were incarcerated when truthfully there were other options. So for the next year that’s my goal. I will never forget how I felt as an incarcerated soul, so that I will forever live my life FREE! Peace.

The journey continues………………..feloniousphd 4-4-16

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KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

girl with raised hands and broken chains

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

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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, continued………..My Last Imprisoned MARCH MADNESS!!!

It’s MARCH!!! Not only is it a new month, which is always a major milestone for an Imprisoned Soul,  but also each day that passes pushes you closer to your being “physically free.” After being incarcerated I am very clear on the various levels of “freedom” and I am equally aware of how I am empowered and encouraged on all levels. Along with my being closer to being home, as a feverish hoop junkie, March signifies the beginning of the most important sports event ever………MARCH MADNESS!!! This is my last imprisoned March Madness and although I can not wait till next year to celebrate with all of those I love as we sit in the Peppermill Casino in Reno Nevada, I want to tell everyone that I am planning to enjoy this one also.

 

As I endured this Federal Criminal justice process and fought my way through depression, sadness and deep dark places, I also lost my love for basketball. This year signifies my absolute return to ME! I have always been an athlete and more importantly a “hoop junkie” so to once again feel the joy from the noisy sneakers and the love of the incorrect/correct whistles from the refs, to the ongoing bouncing of that wonderful hope-filled basketball and the 40 minutes of intense action whew!. Oh yes! I love the game like no other and it has saved my life time and time again.

 

As I sit in the TV room in the unit at the Federal Prison Camp I am planning to enjoy every minute. I continue to miss being home and loving on my son and as the months gets closer and closer to my returning home I am beginning to feel more and more empowered to not just put this part of my journey behind me but to completely merge with it and help me Soar. Time has definitely passed on and I truly do not remember much about last March Madness, so thank goodness I am a writer and have a written record of the past 5 years. I like to think my lack of memory has to do with my extreme means of coping, but at the wonderful age of 50 it may just be a way of life. Which makes it even more important that I continue to write about this process not just for others but for my own fading memory, lol.

 

I am thankful for the women in the unit who are also hoop junkies or understanding of the process and make it easy for me to view the games. I am also thankful that this is my last imprisoned March Madness. I am so over this ridiculous process and ready to return to a life that will allow me to be my loving, productive, positive, happy, fun, authentic, beautiful self. All I can say is look out next year. March Madness 2016!!!!!!!! It is on!!!!!!!

 

The journey continues…………………….. 3/2015

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Missing My Son……..Not a Moment Goes By

I honestly have no powerful words to clearly express how deeply my heart and soul are impacted by being separated from my son. Once again, I must say I understand how we, Americans, feel compelled to stand by our laws, regulations, policies. And I understand how we feel we must stand by those who we have chosen to oversee those laws and policies accordingly, to maintain some form of order and control. I get it!! But what I have a distinct problem with is how some individuals or corporations are privy to the flexibility and empathy of OUR laws, policies and regulations and others like myself are NOT.

I miss my son.  I feel that there is no greater job or responsibility in the world than that of a parent or mother. I have always taken my role seriously. I don’t just miss presence, I miss advising him, nagging him, hugging him, encouraging him, laughing with him, and imploring him to be the best him possible in academics and athletics. I just miss him.

As I sit here at the Federal Camp and witness on the news and in the newspapers as ALL of the Banks and Wall Street forces have been literally excused from all of their indiscretion by simply paying out monies and not having to admit to any wrong doing, I began to seriously question OUR fair system. How did my erroneous billing of $82, 000 cause such a danger to my community and encourage those in charge to basically destroy my career, tarnish my credibility, and most of all separate me from my son for 33 months.

I am not saying I was perfect and assume no accountability for billing mistakes, but what I do want to know is why was INCARCERATION of a NON-VIOLENT, LOW-LEVEL, FIRST TIME OFFENDER, WOMAN, MOTHER, the 1st and only option that was chosen for me. Am I NOT an American who has just as much value to OUR Systemic wealth and well-being as the Wall Street professionals and the Banks? That is essentially the question.

I miss my son, I miss him every moment. Not one goes by that I don’t think about him as I sit here in this empty space doing nothing and stuck in a process that literally has nothing to offer me. I never dreamed I would be here and still I am adamant that I do not belong here. BUT! here is where I am and all I can continue to do is remind my son that I love him. I will also be persistent with telling him that this experience does not define me as a woman, professional, mother, or as a loving, caring and giving HUMAN BEING!

I am thankful and grateful that my son is who he is because, like me, he wont let this period deter him from being successful in the future. I love you Son-Keep being you.

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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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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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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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Ms. E…

My first week here, the young Asian woman who is allowing me to briefly share her story, gave me a lesson when she told me to, “Get over it!  This is jail!”  She was obviously joking, but that statement, from a woman who is my kids’ age, resonated with me for several reasons.  First, it will serve as a constant reminder that I am in a pseudo-environment that has its own nuances that will not translate into the real world that we inmates refer to as the “outs.”  Second, it hit my heart to hear that this bright, young, and personable woman has endured this experience during such a critical period in her life.  And no, her social and emotional development will be clearly effected by this sterile system.  But, knowing that she is strong and has overcome this phase of her life is a big plus.

Ms. E is in her 20’s and she was charged with drug trafficking and weapons charges and was sentenced to serve 58 months.  Through that sentence, she has served her time in four different facilities.  Ms. E is very honest and frank about how being incarcerated changed her life for the better.  Prior to being arrested, she states that she “ran the streets,” fearful of being caught and always looking over her shoulder.  She feels that her soul is free despite waking up every day in prison.  She feels that she is free from fear, drugs, gangs, weapons, and crime.  Ms. E. states that she is thankful.  Once she leaves the camp, she will have to serve 10 years on probation.  her goal is to find a job and eventually develop a career for herself.  My hope is that the government or probation department will connect Ms. E with a reentry program that will assist her with achieving her goals.  She is a young woman who knows that she has already overcome the though part of this process and now just needs an opportunity to succeed.

The toughest part of being incarcerated for Ms. E has been the period of time that she has been away from her family.  She states that her ultimate goal is to, “Live a life my Mom would be proud of.”

I honesty feel that Ms. E will find a way to make her mom proud.  That sense of accountability and family connection is a very good foundation.

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Being Mindful of All

The main theme that permeates through this camp about me is, “Is she crazy?”  This constant conversation has really given me a new perspective on mental health, mental stability, coping, and self-preservation.  I have always felt like I had an innate ability to “read” people.  By utilizing my childhood instincts, my young-adult life experiences, and my grown woman awareness I can sum up a person in one conversation.  Then, add my professional training and clinical background, and I can complete a mental health status exam and psych-social summary all in one sitting.  But being here at the camp, I find that almost every individual that I come into contact with has an Axis 1 or 2 diagnosis with PTSD features.  I am constantly laughing with my few crew members here that people probably feel the same about us.  “Am I crazy?”  Haha!

As we discussed the behaviors and conversations of others, I began to realize the similar themes between the women and their experiences.  The common topics are loss, despair, pain, shame, loneliness.  These are topics that resonate when they discuss their indictments, pre-trial experiences, and investigations.  Then I become mindful of how all of that felt to me.  The emotions that surface surrounding the whispers that one hears, the loneliness of being ostracized from the community,and  the fear of prosecution and the future persecution are very familiar.  I have endured and embraced those feelings and, with help, have overcome that part of my journey.

I am mindful now of how I interact with the women here because I too was crazy at some point in this process.  The judicial system and government bullies have caused many women in here severe trauma and they are suffering from PTSD.  This system is so ill-prepared for the intellectual, hardworking, law-abiding women whom they have labelled “Felon.”  Once these former CEO’s and accomplished business-women regain their insight and realize their purpose, things will look different for them.  I am “Living Proof” of that.  And when they are ready to file a civil lawsuit against our government for false imprisonment, emotional distress, business losses, etc…..I will definitely be ready to join.  Until then, I will continue to be mindful of all of them and their stories.

Today I am thankful for my strong mind!

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My New Bunkee……Moving on Up….

I have now reached the mountain top!  I will spend the newt 20-26 months here in the last phase of the housing process. As I have detailed, the crowded and extremely noisy multi-purpose room  is the first stop on the journey.  In there, most people begin on the top bunk when they arrive.  The bottom bunks are prime real estate for several reasons; if you are older (and I, being a young, fresh, vibrant 49, am on the borderline of old in here which is a sad testament to who is in here, so I  began on top) or handicapped the lower bunk is a necessity for safety reasons.  Other reasons have to do with socializing, and that is all I will say about that matter. As I said, I was initially placed, by the intake worker, on a top bunk, but because of the quick thinking mentors, I was able to switch to a lower bunk in the multi-purpose room fairly quickly.  Typically campers remain in the multipurpose room for three months or more so the goal is to move to the bottom bunk during that time because the next step would be to move to a bunk in the “condos.”  This new neighborhood  is a permanent area divided into  6×8 foot spaces by concrete slabs which stand about 5’10” tall.

As the weeks went by, and as people kept coming, and coming, and coming, I was beginning to feel some anxiety about not being able to have any space at all in the multipurpose room.  One of the experienced lead orderlies in the unit told me how and what I needed to do if I wanted to move into the condos more quickly.  Being my stubborn, independently thinking self, I decided to just find a way to move into the smaller multipurpose room with the wonderful older people.  This turned out to be great because I went to sleep the same time as they did (Haha) and they had wonderful stories to tell.  The only downside to that move was that I was right across from one of the t.v. rooms and people were in my room constantly!  After a week there, I decided that I did need to listen to KeKe, the orderly, and request to be moved to a top bunk which would afford me the opportunity to move into the condo area in a matter of days or just a few weeks.  As soon as I spoke to Keke, the request to bunk with my new bunkee, Net, was processed and I was immediately excited.  She and I have had several conversations regarding this process and have briefly discussed our plans for the future.  So, I knew she was a positive thinker and had overcome many obstacles, like me, to become very successful and eventually ended up here on a devastating 10 year sentence which she is planning to have reduced at her appeal.  Now I feel like I can just settle in and do these next 20-26 months with ease.

My bunkee is great!  We both have to refraine from cursing the system and all that are involved in it.  Sometimes we just go through it and laugh.  Throughout my life, there has been several constant themes;  I can do anything I put my  mind to; I always surpass my original goal and always, and I mean ALWAYS, I meet some incredible, talented and caring people along the way.

Today, I am so thankful form my Bunkee.

 

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