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

image

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

girl with raised hands and broken chains

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

image

Leave a comment »

From the eyes of a butterfly……………………………….Swiftly moving towards next!

I am so pleased to have the opportunity to share my concerns and experiences with others.   This video is part of my lecture for Dr. Susan Chandler’s, “Mass Incarceration” class at UNR on Wednesday.   I am a true believer that education can be transformative and create change agents.  If we don’t tell them our stories, they won’t know.   So I will continue to tell all that I can possibly remember, to all that will listen.  

The journey continues…………………………………….. the feloniosphd  3/2016 

4 Comments »

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

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

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

2 Comments »

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leave a comment »

Paper Roses, Microwave Chocolates and Kool-Aid…………Valentines Day in Prison Camp

Yesterday was the nationally designated day of LOVE. Well needless to say, as I sit here at the Federal Prison Camp, it was a bit of a challenge for me to truly embrace the full meaning of the day. Also, I am not one who feels that one day is sufficient to tell those who are tethered to you that they are loved, to me that is a daily necessity.

The incredible thing about being around 100-plus women in a small area at this time is that I am afforded the opportunity to witness how truly incredible and resilient the woman spirit is no matter what the circumstances are at any given moment. Throughout the unit you could find small gatherings of women either making a variety of microwave chocolates, various colored paper roses or beautifully hand crafted Valentine cards to celebrate the day.

Being that we are in prison or let me clarify the prison camp, everyday is about us being subjected to deprivation, disenfranchisement and isolation from those we love, instead of enjoying our sweet treats with a nice crisp, fruity smelling wine, we are privy to partake in a nice cold plastic filled container of grape kool-aid. Yes, I said grape kool-aid and I have a big smile on my face! Life is good!(lol).

This is a period in my life that I will never ever forget. And I will always remind myself how important it is to love myself and tell others that they should practice self- love too. I will also remain cognizant of how incredibly creative, strong and powerful the woman spirit is no matter what is going on in my life. Being here I am forced to rely on my own strength and sense of self to wake up peaceful, sane and loving.

If you happen on this space and you are enduring a life-changing experience, are alone, isolated and feeling down, I am encouraging you to go buy yourself some Grape Kool-Aid and love on yourself. That is my plan for the day. I am thankful as always that, “I was born and raised to be who and where I am at any and every given moment”.

I LOVE YOU ALL!!!!

Happy Valentines Day!!!!!!

Felonious PhD. 2/2015

Leave a comment »

Diary of an Imprisoned Soul Part 2…….The Soundtrack of My Present Life

When I was in the first 6 months of this crowded, loud, chaotic and often disorganized setting called a Federal Prison Camp, I often found myself debilitated by the ongoing chatter, loud speaker announcements and daily noise from being in a small space with over 150 women of all ages.   The constant noise, complete lack of silence (ever), and little to no time alone was far from normal to me.

As a youth growing up with a challenging childhood, I have always found ways to cope and maneuver through chaos and confusion.  As I grew older I always found time and space for quiet and peace.   Now as I sit here in the Federal Prison Camp in Victorville, California nearly every waking moment is filled with some sort of noise.  I honestly feel as though I have grown some super human powers, because often in this environment all of my senses seem to be heightened and on overload.  As a Counselor, Foster Parent, and a mother I have spent my entire life actively listening to others.  So I am used to the constant conversations.   Now as I am involuntarily trapped within this warehouse space where there is no where to go for solitude, I find myself silently screaming, “PLEASE BE QUIET”.  Whew! Women sure can talk, talk and talk, lol!

Instead of chancing a nervous breakdown or needing to take myself to the “pill line,” I decided, after the first 6 months here, that I must get passed my stubborn resistance to buying any of the FBOP endorsed products.  I had to purchase one of the OVERPRICED MP3 players and download some music.  For me music, sports, and the written word has always provided me a sense of peace, inspiration, and joy.  What I now realize is that I should not have waited so long to make that critical purchase.

Once I downloaded some of my favorite songs and a group of meditation songs and loaded the OVERPRICED MUSIC on my MP3 I felt an immediate shift in my mood, body and my soul.  My daily mindful walks became my therapy and I began feeling a certain level of connectedness with my experience.  I have always relied on words in all forms to assist with providing me clarity, a sense of self and a way to exude the passion I have for life.  So after purchasing my MP3 and music I got my groove back quickly.

Over the past 16 months I have downloaded many OVERPRICED songs onto my MP3 player, each song signifying something deep and meaningful to me.   I refuse to move through this process pretending that it is normal for me.  I am not capable of resisting or pretending that it does not encompass many of the structurally oppressive means I have despised and endured my entire life.  But my music is providing me a balance and a means to remain connected to the CORE of me.  The isolation and loneliness I am experiencing is often neutralized by my being attentive to the written word and music.  The music gives me the connection that I crave, to all that was, all that is present, and gives me the soulful energy move happily towards my tomorrow.

Daily I listen to artist such as, Tracy Chapman who reminds me that, “I Am Born to Fight”.  And as I fight through this process I can and must “Dream of a World”, that is worthy of my fight.  Then I transition into India.Arie who encourages me that, no matter what, every day I wake up is a “Beautiful Day”.  Her words hug me as she whispers, so soulfully, that “This too Shall Pass”.  While all I need to do is tap into my, “Strength, Courage and Wisdom” and always remain cognizant that no matter what, “There’s Hope.”  As I wind down my evening with my after dinner walk on the “track of tears” and hit the first corner of the track, Mary J. Blige belts out through the darkness that “I Can See in Color” and passionately share with my soul that like her I am “Living Proof” that a loving, caring, soulful, woman, mother can and will endure anything and be her Super Woman self.  Going into my last lap as I visually witness the beautiful sunset and the bright, translucent Moon shine, I blast and I mean I blast in my ear, Pharrell’s song “Happy.”   Whew, Life is worth living!

I am not in control of much in my life at this moment.  Being acutely aware of that, tears at my soul every moment of every day.  But I can control most of the noise that goes into my brain, touches my heart, and directly hugs my soul. That is exactly what my music and MP3 provides for me daily.  Once again words soothe, nurture and put me right in the middle of my happy place.  I will never take words for granted.

If you are unfortunately interfacing with the Federal Criminal “Justice” System or any major life changing crisis, I am telling you right now to create a “Soundtrack for your Life!”  And if you are unfortunately going to be incarcerated and have the ability to purchase the OVERPRICED FBOP MP3 player and download music, please do it!   It is just as important for you to write down a list of 50 songs and artist names as it is to create a list of addresses and phone numbers of the people who you will need to contact once you are incarcerated.  Create those lists and mail them to yourself two or three days prior to your self-surrender date or leave the lists with someone you can depend on to send them to you later.   I am telling you that you will need them.  The music will be your life saver, on the days you are out of phone minutes, cannot contact anyone, computers are down, you are depressed and sad, you are feeling alone, your soundtrack will sustain, nurture and empower to move forward soulfully and also keep your heart full.

I am thankful for the “Soundtrack of my Life”.  Once again the power of words is keeping me alive, sane and whole.

Felonious Ph.D. 2/2015

Leave a comment »

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

Leave a comment »

It’s That Time Again…….Holiday Season at the Camp

As I progress through my second Christmas being incarcerated here at the Federal Prison Camp in Victorville California, I find myself moving through this holiday a bit easier than my first one. Knowing that this is my last Christmas here (if I am released on time!), I am not particularly concerned about Christmas per se. Yes,  it is definitely apparent that it is Christmas here at the camp. The dining hall is decorated thoroughly with white shimmery snowflakes that spin while hanging from the ceiling. The windows are covered with several red and green traditional Christmas decorations, and the menu bulletin boards are now entertaining us with holiday colors and reminders. There is even an artificial tree in the window that  the women decorated beautifully. The unit (aka warehouse) where we live is also representing the holiday spirit. The ceremonial 3 foot crocheted Christmas tree has finally made its appearance as it did last year. It still remains spectacular  to those women who are new and can not believe someone took the time the crotchet a tree.

After being here for 14 months I have noticed that Christmas time seems to be the hardest for the women emotionally. It really is the time of the year that is focused on family. Typically we women, mothers, grandmothers, aunts and sisters are at the center of all of the festivities and activities. So during this period the feelings of isolation and loneliness are heightened and are all too familiar to me. It is a vivid reminder of how all of my foster kids used to feel no matter how long they had been separated from their families. Unlike my agency, the Government does not see fit to address the emotional stress these times of the year place on an individual, so it is pretty much left up to the women to support, encourage and remind each other that this too shall pass. Most of the women here are truly phenomenal women existing under extraordinarily unordinary circumstances and so are our families.

I have always been a bit of a Scrooge and begrudgingly participated in the stress and angst of the season. I mainly enjoy the time spent with family and friends. I miss my kids and having my grandkids, nieces and nephews running through the house. I miss the “NOISE”. The noise of laughter and joy and everyone talking at the same time, whew!!!! I MISS MY LIFE! My family, friends and I have laughed and laughed through the worst of times. I have lots for us to laugh about when I return home.

The holiday season here at the Federal Prison Camp in Victorville California is truly just another day for me. It is not horrible or without any form of internal Joy. There are parties, some incredible microwave treats and food, games and even some laughter if you need some.

I continue to marvel at the absurdity of my current life of incarceration, (LOL) but I am thankful that the holiday season is here and I am closer to returning home. I am thankful that my son is happy, safe and loved. I miss him but will be home to him soon.

Happy Holidays to all of my Peeps!!! Love Each Other!!!!!

 

Felonious PhD 12/2014

Leave a comment »

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.

1 Comment »

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!!!

1 Comment »