The Felonious PhD.

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

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!! (The big 51, whew!!)……………….A birthday message from the Camp

Yes, today I am 51 years old!. A strange thing for me to truly grasp but it is a fact. Despite the fact that I am sitting in the Federal Prison Camp, a very visceral and irreverent environment, I FEEL GOOD!!! And I look good too (lol). Actually I feel incredible and I am ready for my next chapter and whatever comes with it.

I have chosen not to do anything celebratory in here. Yes I am happy to have lived another wonderful year but I am reserving the pomp and circumstance for when I am home surrounded by those I love and care about. I will, however, take my usual 2 mile walk in circles, round and round and listen to India.Arie’s song “private party” out loud. OMG, I miss my karaoke machine and mic (lol). This will be my last imprisoned birthday and for that I am thankful.
Incredibly, at 51 years old, my journey the past few years has incontrovertibly been challenging to say the least. At the same time it has forced me to clearly define, refine, and renew my own purpose in life. It has also encouraged me to use my strong, powerful, loving, passionate, loving, authentic and consciously aware voice to speak from my own “consciousness of truth” at all cost. Because of my interactions with the Criminal Justice process my life has physically been on “pause” but my soul has continue to blossom, bloom and become a source that will take me to places I have never dreamed I could reach and I am ready! I am ready to live my life “Beyond Resiliency” and revel in its magnificence and simply do ME. I am not finished yet peeps!’
I am forever thankful for being born and raised to be who and where I am at any given moment. I am thankful for my mother, father, grandfathers and my very powerful grandmothers who provided me with the inner strength to overcome anything. I am truly thankful that I am almost out of here. OMG!!!! I am over it! That is my real consciousness of truth.

Happy Birthday to me! felonious phd 4/20/2015………………………………………………The journey continues.

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING………. FROM PRISON CAMP

Yes, even as I sit here imprisoned in the Victorville Federal Prison Camp for Thanksgiving, I remain thankful and grateful for many things.

First, I am thankful that I allowed myself the opportunity to move past the darkest, saddest, most life altering period in my life. As someone who mindfully contemplated taking her own life, I am thankful that I chose to endure the PAIN, SHAME, PERSECUTION, DEGRADATION, SLANDER, SHUNNING, ISOLATION, CAREER ENDING, PROFESSIONAL LICENSE SUSPENDING, AGENCY CLOSURE, FORECLOSURE, FEDERAL AGENT RAID ON OFFICE, FINANCIAL RUIN, RELATIONSHIPS ENDING, INVESTIGATION, INDICTMENT, INCARCERATION, GOVERNMENT OVERREACH WHEW!!!! and many more life changing experiences that have occurred through this process, to remain the hopeful, loving, authentic, proud, peaceful, beautiful woman that I have always been. Whew! It has not been easy!!!!

To anyone who happens onto this space and finds themselves in the midst of a Federal Criminal Investigation, Indictment, incarceration or any other life changing situation, I want to emphatically say, “HOLD ON”. I know for a fact that it is difficult to move through the dark and heavy cloud of the Judicial system that is seeking to destroy everything wholesome and pure about you without losing purpose and meaning in your life. I know how it feels to want to give in because the process has stripped and enslaved you emotionally, mentally and spiritually and you are left feeling helpless and alone. I will say again , I know and please, “HOLD ON”. I am thankful that I was able to move past the heavy, brutal dark clouds to the foggy space that allowed me to breathe and now towards complete clarity. Once you get to this phase, and you are here at the camp (which is safe), you will begin to completely understand that this US Federal Investigation, Indictment and incarceration over the White Collar Crime and obscure, convoluted laws had little to do with you personally. You also become conscious of how the Criminal Justice system you have bought into your entire life as a law abiding United States of America Citizen is completely ridiculous, and you are not crazy. I am so very thankful that I now know that my true purpose in life is ME!

I am thankful that my teenage son is safe, happy and loved. My 27 year career in Child Welfare was centered around assuring youth in foster care that as long as they had a community of people who cared for them, they have value and are loved. It does not matter what has happened in their lives, they could and would overcome any and every barrier to become and do whatever they dreamed for themselves. I am thankful that I was right, because my son has a wonderful community of people who care for him, a great sense of self, and he knows he is loved. That makes this part of my journey so much easier to endure.

I am equally thankful that I have a “PERSON.” For those of you who do not watch Grey’s Anatomy on television, a “PERSON” is defined as someone who is there for you through the good, bad, and the ugly. To many people that “PERSON” may be a therapist, counselor, or a life coach. If you are currently going through a Federal Investigation, Indictment, pending incarceration or any form or major life changing crisis I highly recommend that your “PERSON” does not consist of your family, significant other or anyone who is also impacted by your crisis. Because I can guarantee you that they too need their own “PERSON”. So I am very thankful for my “PERSON” for assisting me with moving through this process mindfully whole, and sane.

I am thankful that I have a target discharge date of November 27, 2015. I am thankful because even though I will still have to endure 12 to 13 more months in this Federal Prison Camp, there are many non-violent, 1st time low-level offenders, mothers, grandmothers, ill, handicapped, and elderly women who are incarcerated for 7, 15, even 25 years. So hell yes! I am thankful. This system has no compassion or intellect. It operates purely on an archaic slave mentality and your only true means to being physically free of it is your DATE. For a soulful woman like me, it is essential that I remain thankful and cognizant of those other women around me who are forced to endure such long, thoughtless, non-productive sentences.

Finally, I am thankful that eventually I will be spending Thanksgiving with my son and family. Until then I want to say Happy Thanksgiving to my Peeps and Eat lots of good food for me!!!! HAPPY THANKSGIVING-2014

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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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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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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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Who Cares?……..I Get It!

Many of the women in the Federal Prison Camp do not care very much about the news.  I seriously get their reluctance to listen to the ills of our communities and society.  For me, I just feel the need to remain connected to the pain of our society.  Although I am acutely aware of the limitations that our televised news has in what is truthful, fully, or accurately reported.

Often, after watching the morning news here in Federal Prison Camp, I feel an intense need to formulate a plan to help those who seem so lost and disenfranchised.  I know that sounds crazy coming from an inmate, felon, ugly green man uniform, woman who is trapped by her government; but it is my truth.  I can’t help it!  My anguish with sitting here is that as I sit and watch while young people are killing or being killed…..I know I can help.  I know I cannot perform miracles but damn it, I know I can make a difference in a few young people’s lives.   I know, because I did, with no scheme or plan for financial gain.

As I listen to “grown folks” discuss the incidents and tragedies that involve young people, I heat the blaming, cruelty, disgust, disdain, and irreverence.  My first thought is, “Well, hell, now I know where they learn it.”

I watch the news every morning for two hours after my daily two-mile walk.  The news is not informative to me.  It is actually a catalyst for validating my next plan!  Even as I sit in this hell, it is clear to me that I have to re-enter my community being more of my loving self.  I have to create an environment that encourages self-love, love for others, humanity, happiness, peace, and mindful freedom for young people.

I understand why many would rather not connect to the pain and sadness that is witnessed daily on the news, especially since we are trapped in a space where it takes every bit of yourself to smile or even wake up and put one foot in front of the other.  I GET IT!  I also get that without people like me, our communities and society will continue to fail at giving our young people hope, dreams, or options for how to operate mindfully in this world.  I believe in the concept of a village, and our village is failing!

I am thankful for the opportunity to plan for my next.  The clarity of purpose, energy, and time to love myself has made this experience worthwhile for me.  I will never own or respect the means by which others have treated me, defamed me, wrongly characterized my village/business, but I will always respect the journey!

 

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Eight Months in an Alternate Existence that I Will Never Understand…and That’s Okay!

Eight months gone; honestly, I have a difficult time saying where it went.  I think that because I have always marked my space in time with experiences that have traditionally been connected to my loved ones , it has been strange being untethered from my crew.  Mostly, I miss my son. I just do not feel in my heart and soul that a child should be separated from their mother for this nonsense.  That, I will never reconcile with, and I have to be okay with that too.  Other than my own personal turmoil about missing some of his young, precious life, I am okay!

For the past month, I have mindfully re-framed this process for myself.  It may be a coping skill I have perfected, but I want to consciously and authentically express how profoundly this experience affects the human soul-a good soul, a loving, caring, thoughtful, intelligent soul.  It gives me something cognitive to focus on and it also provides me an opportunity to share these feelings with all who care.  I am opening up my soul to this experience, fully vulnerable, alert, and actively asking myself the difficult questions as I move through the next few months.

My first question, which cracks me up, is “What in the world was I thinking when I voluntarily walked myself into this captivity?”  If this system views me as a criminal or a threat to my community, unlawful (Ha!), then why would they TRUST me to walk into the lion’s den?

Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful I had the opportunity to walk in as I will be able to walk out (if the arthritic knee doesn’t worsen, haha) on my own! It is just that eight months into this ridiculousness, that just speaks again to the fact that our justice system has alternative means by which to make its point.  So why do we incarcerate so many people?  And once we are incarcerated, then what?  I am creating my own purpose in here, many don’t have that ability.

There are so many issues that can be discussed with our system and many have and still are on the forefront of championing legislative changes.  For me, someone who is currently trapped here at the Federal Prison Camp, I am concerned about how people exit from this environment.  How do we remain whole and sane and able to have access to the American Dream…..however that is defined anymore….

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I Have Never Been or Felt So Helpless……Until Now….

Surrender!

That is the only fundamental principle I have control of in my life at this time.  I cannot parent my child, or console my siblings.  I can’t laugh with friends or manage an of the adult things in my life that need to be tended to.  I have to surrender.

In theory, it all sounds so easy and a bit refreshing when you think about how wearily women trudge trough life as we grow older.  But, trying to surrender to this process is what constantly brings me back to asking “WHY?”   There is absolutely no reason for me and many other women to be here.  We don’t need rehab, we don’t require monitoring (we are kept here by the yellow line), we don’t need meds (well, not yet anyway), so what is the purpose??

Right now, I am sitting under a picnic area staring out at the desolate desert with a beautiful mountain back drop.  I would much rather be at home, if I had one, with my son, helping him prepare for finals and registering for his sophomore school year (which i will be completely absent for) as I sit here as inmate 47078048.

Seriously, what is the point?  How does an intelligent, hard-working, loving mother, aunt, sister, friend, surrender peacefully to this helplessness?  From a government system that continues to incarcerate women at an alarming rate and report differently.  I am an eye witness!

I only have 14 to 15 months (hopefully) left to serve.  So, while I may have a difficult time surrendering to this environment and criminal justice system that creates the truth it wants told, I am truly relieved that no matter what our government does, it cannot make time stand still.

Today I will just sit in this feeling of helplessness.  Like everything else in my life, I will fearlessly work through this feeling.  I am thankful for my strong resolve and my ability to understand that no matter what happens to me, it will pass.  I don’t have to like it, agree with it, or accept it.  I will RISE above it!

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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 look back: The Day Nelson Mandela Died……

The day Nelson Mandela died, November 6, 2013, I, a middle-aged black woman, was sitting in a prison camp feeling angry about my 33 month sentence for, what they found a way to characterize as, health care fraud and money laundering.  I was desperately trying to find some news about his passing and the plans for his memorial and also found myself wandering the camp looking for someone to discuss this extraordinary man’s  life, long and tense two decade imprisonment, and better yet, his incredible feat of becoming president of South Africa after suffering that imprisonment.

Mr. Mandela’s passing and life story helped me put my own imprisonment in perspective.  My concerns about losing my license, career, and possessions seem small and futile when I think critically about them.  My struggle with what to do next, after being labelled a felon, seems like a small challenge.  Being held captive for over 20 years and having every aspect of your life controlled by those who have labelled you their enemy, is one’s worst nightmare.  Most men and women would have taken their own lives or lost their minds.Mr. Mandela became president.

I will do the duration of my 33 month Federal sentence knowing that if you control a person’s mind, you will always be able to control their actions.   My mind will always be my responsibility!  I am thankful for Mr. Nelson Mandela for demonstrating that to the world and for the legacy he left.

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