The Felonious PhD.

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

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

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A Mother’s Tears…..Incontrovertible Love

This process requires a tremendous amount of courage and an intense sense of self-worth, self-dignity, self-determination and self-love.  I know that over the last 9 months I have developed a sense of love for myself that I will never ever be able to clearly explain for others, so I won’t try.  I will provide a visual model for how we mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, and friends can and should participate in activities that increase our own financial, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being.  That I am promising!

Today, as I sit in this desolate, windy, barren, dirt and ant-infested Federal Prison Camp, I am admittedly having some of the most profound experiences and interactions with women who are, for a lack of a better term, at their most vulnerable.  That, in itself, is inescapably a unique and very sticky position for me to be in as I am determined to focus on myself, not get involved in any of the surrounding drama, and refusing to be a free clinician for this oppressive, ill-equipped system.

There is one woman here that I have allowed myself to become close to.  She received a 10 year sentence (120 months).  That is an inexplicably arduous task for a woman who was a hard-working, single mother of two (now adult) sons.

For the past few months, Ms. W. and i have discussed our cases, our resilience and drive to work hard and strive for the “American Dream.”  My path to the dream was through education and child welfare, while hers was through real estate investment.  She opened her own company and named her eldest son as the CEO.  ms. W. is an energetic New Yorker who  has the capacity for dreaming but the ability to attack that dream with fervor and tenacity.  She does not say how incredible was, but if she is here, that means she earned a good living by WORKING  HARD.  When she does talk about her company she speaks about how loved closing deals and seeing people get excited once a deal was closed.

The other day, during our discussion, it just came out.  I said to her, without and hesitation, “Well, when this is over you have to find a way to forgive yourself.”  I have thought it over and over again during previous conversations, but this day it just came out from behind my whispers.  Immediately her eyes began to tear up.  You must know that she and I are similar in that we try to refuse to cry in here.  but, just as i impulsively spoke those words to her, she began tearing up and said, “That is going to be hard.”  You see, because of one bad real estate deal which was negotiated by/with another broker, Ms. W. and her eldest son, whom she proudly made CEO, were indicted.

This story is truly heartbreaking and life changing in so many ways.  This single mother has always prided herself in raising intelligent, capable, wonderfully law-abiding, loving men.  Now, because of an obscure real estate laws, government power, over-reach, and coercion, her CEO-son whom she appointed was sentenced to 18 months in Federal Prison.  As a mother, I could not imagine, I don’t want to image.  But for Ms. W., I made myself sit in her shoes.  There are not many scenarios that leave me without words, but, at the end of our conversation, I did manage to say to her that she has to remember that her pain is her story, not his.  She corresponds with her son and he assures her that he is fine.  He is due to be released this month and for that, she is thankful.

As i have discussed many times, there are many instances where i can say “I just don’t get it!”  I know many people who hear the testimony or stories about people convicted of white-collar crime are often unsympathetic because the truth is that there ARE people who intentionally lie, cheat, and steal.  I am just amazed at the extent to which our system will go in order to preserve big banks, bankers, and Wall Street while destroying, dehumanizing, and incarcerating the average citizen who made an honest, or ill-advised, mistake.

In this prison camp, I have seen families of these non-violent, first time offender, mother, sister, daughter, aunt, friend being paralyzed and terrorized by any means necessary by our government.  We are LOW HANGING FRUIT! The easy targets.  All we have once our government declares war on us is our family and our soul. And for some, both of those are fractured and scarred beyond recognition.

The incredible thing about Ms. W. is that she has a wonderful soul.  She is resilient; a true loving mother and she will recover from this experience.  As a mother, I think that there will always be some residue from this torturing experience and yet, even that will become less apparent as time gives some space between this experience and the next.

There is nothing more emotional than a mother’s tears! I just cannot wait for this entire process to be over.  it was a difficult conversation, but i am thankful that those words slipped out of my mouth.

Life is worth living!

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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

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Two Leave and Six More Come…

I am continuously baffled by the mindset of our legal system and also our government create and uphold the policies that give prosecutors, IRS agents, and fraud units the freedom to basically imprison anyone they see fit.  Over the past few months, I have witnessed how the court system throughout OUR country has deemed it necessary to hand out extreme sentences to some and inappropriate low sentences to others.  I have attempted to understand the formula, the rationale, and the purpose.

As a black woman my immediate response blamed racial preference.  Then, as I searched and searched, I came to the conclusion that outdated laws and mandates are what drives the system.  Once I quiet my mind and listen, watch, and feel, I see that the criminal justice and government systems are not much different from many other systems that are governed by small-minded, soulless and greedy humans.

Each day on the camp grounds a list is posted titled  “Call Out Sheet.”  This sheet informs all of the inmates if we have an appointment, a recreation class, an ACE class, a work detail, or most importantly, if someone is leaving camp, which is known as “camping out.”  I look at the call out sheet on a daily basis for my own information as well as to see how often people leave this place.  I have not performed a statistical analysis, but I can tell you that on the average, two inmates leave and 4 to 6 enter every week.

To an average unaware citizen, this may seem comforting since that’s generally viewed as the Government protecting society from criminals.  I say it is imperative for the average, middle-class, working American to take notice.  From my view on the “inside,” I am sitting next to medical professionals, CPA’s, Minister’s wives, senior citizens, secretaries, lawyers, and real estate brokers.  many who have admitted to making mistakes, but none who have murdered, maimed, or injured anyone except, in theory, the Government.

As the revolving door of justice continues and I continue to sit here as an eye-witness, I will continue to attempt to grasp the justification for such harsh sentences for non-violent individuals.  It makes me question the validity of calling this a democracy.  It sure feels more like a police state to me.  I’m just saying!  I will be physically confined to this space for another 19 months and while I’m here I plan to search for the truths and motivations within our legal system.

I am so thankful for the one freedom I currently have.  Freedom of speech.  I can only hope that I do not lose that by our government signing it away, or be punished by the government twisting the words I speak here to further their agenda of prosecutorial persecution.

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The New Moon….

There are feelings I cannot quite extrapolate in visceral terms, but yesterday, as I was shooting basketball, I was immediately struck by the presence of the moon.

The past few weeks I have reminded myself that I have to formulate a process for my own continued growth as I sit here in this simplistic environment which offers little to no creative, emotional, or intellectual stimulation.

As I witness the system’s ongoing pathology and immeasurable amount of indifference to the truth, I am nauseated by the atrocities that are going unheard as well as unseen.  Being forced to actively be a part of a system that shows no love, makes it very easy to become dismayed and feel disenchanted.  I am a natural dreamer and I truly believe in sacred possibilities.  But I sit her silently, following the rules, keeping a low profile, and inside I’m secretly screaming for my freedom.  The freedom to seek those possibilities.

As I shot baskets and continuously glanced at the moon, its presence and beauty pierced my soul, and spoke to my heart.  It woke me up from my internal strife and reminded me that anything and everything is possible.

As I wake up in the morning and go on about my daily routine of, well, nothing of significance, wearing my green clothes, I tell myself that it is I who has to define my purpose.  I also have to willfully pursue it with the same passion and fervor I have pursued everything else in my life.  even within this non-thinking, non-emotional, non-academic environment, there is a free space.  That space is in side of ME!

I am grateful for the full moons.  No matter what their existential significance is for others, right now, they represent an opportunity for me to soar and reach for a level of consciousness that inconsequential to the environment, but necessary to my inner peace.

I am forever thankful for my mind.  Ignorance and indifference is NOT bliss.  In other words…


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No More Tears…

I have been here at the Victorville Federal Prison Camp for 90 days and a day.  I want everyone who has the opportunity to read my blog to know that…… I MISS MY FAMILY!  I miss my sisters!

I miss calling my sister Mooneyes daily and hearing her calm, silent, strong, passionate voice.  I miss her telling me what the full moon tells us this month.  I miss having her reassurance that everything, in the end, will be okay.  Actually, she reminds me of my ability to shine even in darkness and promises me that like the sun, I will rise again and this time brighter than ever.  I miss her gentle yet strong spirit and sharing a glass of sake with her as I eat a chunk of meat and she munches on something natural and healthy.

I miss my loud sister Tonya.  I miss her calling me 10 to 15 times a day asking me what I am doing. I always quickly responded by saying, “The same thing i was doing five minutes ago, crazy.”  I miss her yelling at her kids, grown kids, as she talks to me on the phone.  i miss her!  I miss her fly-by visits.  Her running through the door to say “Hi” and then in the blink of an eye she’s screeching out of the driveway.  I miss her!  I even miss yelling at her every time she asks me for “spare change.”  “What in the hell?” I would say.  I miss her.

I miss my chocolate, dimpled sister Beatrice.  Like me, she has no fear and will do what she has to do.  I miss her!  I miss hearing her cheerful voice and loud laugh which can quickly switch to a soft marshmellow side.  I miss her.  I miss hearing her stories about her adventures in Atlanta, her crazy job, and how the girls are doing.  I miss them.  i miss telling her to take her butt to school and hering her tell me some story about why she has not done so yet!  I miss her!

I miss my baby sister Carita!  I miss doing her laundry and cooking for her as she cared for her baby.  I miss our laugh sessions and t.v. watching on the big screen. ( I miss that t.v. lol)  I miss our discussions about change and moving forward.  The possibilities of tomorrow.  I miss her.  I miss planning her next move with her, because I know that she will retreat to the safety of her nest.  I miss her.  I miss talking about the kids and laughing about my crazy nephew Aidan’s, antics, Kaity’s growing up and Jacob’s ability to handle everyone’s personalities without cracking.  I miss them and her.  I miss holding baby Viv as Carita ran to Wal Mart quickly wishing she would hurry back as Viv, then 2-3 months old, would scream her head off for her mama.  I miss her and them.

I miss my niece Unique calling me to find out what’s for dinner…..every day!  LoL  I miss her wanting to borrow everything, from some chicken to flour, to a skillet to cook it in.  I miss her.  I miss her running into the door whining and complaining about her mama and having to remind her that she is grown and it is no longer called running away from home for her.  it is called ‘growing up’.   LoL  i miss her.

I miss my niece Kimi.  I miss her impromptu visits as well as her planned ones when we would eat, drink, and laugh.  I miss her.  I miss her old soul conversations and her ability to say, “You are right.”  I miss her. I miss baby X coming through the door and immediately stripping down to his undies as he ran to the snack cabinet, which was always read for him.  I miss him.  I miss Christina’s hugs and smiles.  And I miss always, and I mean always, preparing to go beg for my Jaiden. I miss her and I miss them.

I miss my grand-kids, my sons, and all of my other family members, aunt, uncles, and all of my other kids who are now adults and part of my family.  I miss physically being a part of their every day lives.

Most of all, I miss my on, Aaron.  How does a mother put her absence of 22-28 months in perspective or into words to a 14 year old?  All I know is that I miss doing his stinky laundry and fussing about it.  I miss hearing him sing in the shower in the morning.  I miss he jokes and seeing him make others laugh.  I miss him.  I miss throwing a mama tantrum when he has not taken the time to do his homework correctly or when he forgot his sports hear for practice.  I miss giving him advice about sports and school or his social interaction with kids at school.  I miss him!!  I miss the physical and emotional gratification I get from being his mom.  I love him and I miss it! I miss listening to him talk smack to his cousins and grown siblings.  I miss watching him grow up, emotionally and physically.  I miss brushing his hair in the morning before school and I deeply, deeply miss tucking him in and rubbing his head at night.  I miss him.

I have no more physical tears to give to this process, but I will continue to cry through my words and the blog.  No matter how strong my mind is, and how intact my spirit and soul are, I will forever be scarred by this experience.  keeping in mind that like my physical scars, they heal and have a story of their own.  I am not ashamed of this scar.  it is as a part of me as the physical ones are on my body.  My hope is that those I love will also move past this period and use it to find their own way.

For my son, I just hope that for the next 19-26 months, he knows in his heart that i, his mom, loves him and that will never change.  He also needs to know that if he messes up in school, he will have me to deal with!!!

So, I have no more tears, but I do have a lot of hope and love to share tomorrow and days after that.

I am thankful for my family.  I love you all!


3 Months down….19 to go!

January 14, 2014

This past weekend I sat in the dining hall and ate dinner with two sisters who were sentenced to 33 months for a white-collar crime.  The stories never cease to amaze me.  Also, the need for those of us who truly feel wronged by the justice system to find a way to forgive and rebuild our hope is consistent.  Most of the white-collar women that I have spoken to were small business owners or independent contractors.  Every once in a while there will be a story from someone who had embezzled from a company that they worked for, but thus far, the stories have been about those of us who had our own visions and wanted to create our own businesses and serve our communities.  Also, as business oriented individuals, we wanted to be compensated as CEO’s for the businesses we operated.

The sisters, upon first glance, look like twins but are not. Over the past three months I have observed them doing everything together.  Their daily routine, phone calls, and any other  activity outside of the unit is done together.  As we talked about the ridiculousness of how a system can destroy one’s credibility, career, and desire to succeed, I heard them echo the same feelings of betrayal for attempting to achieve the dream that American’s propaganda has encouraged for centuries now.  They both feel like they are no longer safe here in America.  To be safe here would mean they will always have to explain their Felon label or be reminded that they are not extraordinary for being successful by in essence the total opposite, they are less than because they are now Felons.

When you are a highly driven woman and you have the education, skill level, and confidence to sit at anyone’s table, this process can drive you to insanity.  Our conversation included talk about how the government is not happy until they have laid you out on your back, paralyzed you with fear, butt naked and crazy as hell.  Then they move on to the next person.

Over the past 90 days, my struggle has not been one in which I try to remain sane.  My sanity is well in tact.  My challenge is trying to formulate a plan for myself that does not entail my having to leave the USA in order to live the loving and peaceful life I truly desire.  I figure if I can get that figured out over the course of the next 19 months, I will be okay.  I want to truly speak to others as a ‘Native Daughter.”  On who loves her country unconditionally and also be able to offer some hones, critical feedback about many of the atrocities that occur in our  criminal “injustice” system.  I want to do that from a loving place.

The past 90 days have been very difficult for me.  Not because I am in a Federal camp, but because I am away from those I love.  That will never get easier so I just allow myself to have that ache and longing for them.  I just keep in mind that “This too shall pass.”  Everything eventually has an end.  In the meantime, I will continue to be my loving and caring self despite my circumstances.

I am forever thankful for those who love me.  I want to say, I love you all back!!




Two Months Down…

Two months down and I still cannot believe I am in Prison!

Like I have said to my current bunkee, I feel like I am on a long-term camping trip.  One of those camping trips where you were not able to choose the people to participate in the adventure with you, but you are forced, for whatever reason, to stay until it is over.  My bunkee laughed when I said that because she completely gets it.  This place is far from the problem that will continue to plague many families and individuals aw well as communities, but it is definitely far from being part of the solution.   So, this structural battle will be a long hard-fought one and will take more than non-profit organizations, while so necessary and currently so valuable, to dismantle it.  I re-read, one of my favorite authors, Audrey Lorde’s essay entitled, “You Can NOT Dismantle the Man’s House Using the Man’s Tools.”  Those who are able to critically deconstruct what she is saying in that statement will clearly understand why the eradication of an unfair justice system is unlikely to happen any time soon.  So, I am instead focusing on my colossal courage and ability to overcome these galvanizing barriers that could limit my ability, and my need to live my life lovingly and peacefully on my own terms.

Many individuals in here who have been to several high level facilities laugh at us “campers.”  They say, “This is not real time.”  I always affirm their journey and follow it by stating that in any situation where I am forced to wear, eat, sleep, speak, and work on someone else’s terms is, in fact, the worse prison for me!!  I don’t see anything spiritual in this process.  I don’t need to find God…. I know I am loved and I have no confusion about God’s absence or presence in this process.  I don’t need drug treatment or mental health assistance.  I have never required anyone to teach me how and when to work.  So, this process leaves me laughing and thinking, “What am I doing here?”  Some women are really attempting to give purpose to this process in order to remain sane.  for me, the process in inconsequential to my being!

As usual, I will continue to remain open and I will report back in two more months about my analysis and go from there.

Today, I am thankful for the sun and how alive I feel in California!  Oh, and the basketball court that serves as my place of refuge

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The De-Humanization, De-Feminization and De-Construction of the Female Self at Camp…

I am woman-from the shape of my breast to the curve of my hips down to the huge bumps that constitute my rear end.  I am woman from the softness of my hands, the gentleness of my touch to the benevolent way I approach others.  So, why is it necessary for a system to imprison women and force them to line, eat, dress, and work like men?

I have to honestly say without any resistance that I have always been a “tomboy.” I mean I did not like dolls or play dress up in pretty little jewelry and dresses.  I loved sports, playing outside and anything that involved me moving around.  I have learned from others that the purpose of satellite camps aka working camps are to support the prisons by providing free labor.  Now I have been reluctant to write on any subject that I have not verified or experienced myself, so for now, that is all I will say on that subject.  My main theoretical question is why are we (women) treated like men?  All of our clothing, except the underwear, are male oriented clothing.  Down to the socks!  I have tried to justify the BOP’s position on why there is an insistence on deconstructing femininity and forcing women to disregard their God-given gifts.  My first thought was maybe this structurally oppressive position has occurred because traditionally the U.S. didn’t imprison women as they do now.  Or, maybe it is because they (men) will not be able to refrain from viewing all of the women prisoners as sexual which would cause another crisis in an already dysfunctional setting.  There are so many research questions to be answered by this thought.  As usual, the paternalistic system has banked on women being visceral and affable allowing them to treat and dress us how they please.

Then, this week, I was shocked and honestly felt betrayed when the commissary, run by the BOP, decided to sell tons of make-up and dyes to capitalize on the female’s need to shop and beautify ourselves.  My stubborn self stayed clear of all of that.  Regardless of how gray my hair becomes or how badly I want to dye my hair, I refuse to indulge a system that dresses me like a man on one hand and profits from my need to embrace my femininity on the other hand.

Yes, once again, I may be over-thinking this process, but I will walk out of here with my gray and nappy hair!  I mean that! Haha!

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Another Month Gone….

I would like to report to all that I am adapting well and feeling great!  Well, this place has given me an opportunity to develop a new and improved ability to adapt. I have always been able to strategize myself through troubled waters and come out on the other end smiling so don’t think that I don’t still smile a lot, even here! I’m able to smile because this is what I know…this process is temporary and will be tucked so far away into my psyche, in the do not resuscitate file, that I will move on afterwards.

As I walk around the camp observing, engaging, participating, and existing, I can’t help but think about who created this monster.  I want to have a discussion with someone in the D.O.J. (Department of Justice) and ask what the purpose was because if anyone came and spent 2 weeks here, they would leave rubbing, and scratching their head.  Being a program developer, I am sure that, initially, there was a clear purpose and at some point it met the needs of those involved.  I just have to think that way, otherwise, our system is a complete farce.  I am stuck in a system that is about to implode.

The over-crowding here at the camp (the FEMALE, forget the men for a minute) is bursting at the seams!  So much so that it is literally impossible for a competent employee to do their job effectively.  Case loads are high, inmates are not leaving on their correct dates, we are housed in television rooms, I could go on and on.  Like Marvin Gaye, I want to scream, “What’s going on?”

I only have a 33 month sentence, I am saying only not because I think that is a cake walk, because-whew!-it isn’t, but because some of the NON-VIOLENT women here have sentences such as 120 months or 135 months.  I had to sit back and put that into perspective.

People are always asking me what I am going to write about.  I have always wanted to inspire and be uplifting to others, so I do not think that the criminal justice system is the thing I should write about.  Ironically, my bachelors degree is in Criminal Justice.  I once even had aspirations of being an attorney….go figure.  So, I believe in order and rules.  I just do not understand all of the inconsistencies, lies, and the level of erroneous judgments that are upheld in the court of law while the real criminals (those who control the money, wall street, politicians, you get my point) go free.

Anyway, sitting in the camp another day, I can tell you it is not about money on the Government’s end.  Because the way they place non-violent, victim-less “criminals” in the system where it costs on the average $34,000 per year to house a woman with minimal medical needs, it just does not make sense fiscally.  To me, it feels like a system that has run its course and need to be revamped in order to be effective.

Like I have told the women in the unit, that change may not happen when we want it to happen, but change is inevitable.

In the meantime, I smile!