The Felonious PhD.

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

The Indictment of My Soul!

September 21, 2013

The First Year-Darkness to Light

I know pain.  Not just the type of pain that occurs when you stomp your toe on a hard surface, or the kind of pain that makes you dizzy, frown and tear up when you hit your head  on the edge of an object.  I have experienced the type of pain that makes you question your purpose and your reason for living.

On May 20, 2010, the greatest pain I have ever experienced occurred.  My lifetime of work, research, and kids was ripped from me without warning.  I have always been a Social Worker.  I grew up in the ghetto – on welfare and government cheese.  I was raised by my grandparents, the eldest of five sisters.  I was driven and was always planning my escape from the depths of poverty, despair, shame, and pain. I always knew I could and would do anything I put my mind and soul into doing.  I have always been fearless and wanted nothing more than to be in a position to help my family and take care of myself.  So, for years I fought and scratched my way through college on a basketball scholarship.  I worked hard to complete graduate school and with pure determination and grit, I completed my Doctorate.  I know i am a “survivor”, I know I am “somebody.”  I knew I had a purpose because I was living it.  I have always identified and loved the underdog for obvious reasons.

For 27 years I worked exclusively in Child Welfare and Behavioral Health, with the most difficult, vulnerable, loving population in the system.  I chose to work with hard to place boys.  Over the years i created programs to enhance their self-esteem and develop their personal goals for the future.  I opened group homes and created recreation programs.  I dedicated my whole life to serving the community that needed me most.  I can honestly say I gave my all to the system and I gave the rest of me to the youth and my family.  I was a true Social Worker who did want anything but to help anyone that I could possibly help.   I rarely said no to helping others. I would always say let me see what I can do.  This was not because I thought I was superwoman, or for money, but because I know how difficult it is to ask for help.  So usually saying no was not an option for me, when it came to helping a vulnerable youth or family.

On May 20, 2010, my way of being came to an abrupt end.  My life STOPPED! It literally did.  My heart stopped beating, my soul was aching.  I received a notice from Medicaid that my program would no longer be funded.  The County sent a notice saying all kids had to be moved.  The state sent a notice stating the same.  So, all 65 youth in my program had to be moved and over 60 plus staff were laid off.

I have known pain, survived loneliness, emotional abuse, and neglect.  But this kind of pain was unfamiliar-it was deep.  After the Federal Government at the encouragement of an eager, ill driven IRS agent closed my program, raided my office, and began one of the most hurtful unfair, life threatening investigations, I fell into a great depression.  Being a therapist I knew I was depressed. I was paralyzed by it.  It felt as though some one slowly reached into my mouth, travelled slowly down my throat, strategically cut out my heart, and quickly snatched it out through my mouth.  Leaving me breathless and heartless – an empty shell of myself.  During that period my relationships suffered, and I became paranoid of leaving the home or talking on the phone for fear i was being watched by the government.  Outside of my siblings, close friends, and close family, I did not want to socialize with anyone.  My family and friends did their best to comfort me and provide some laughs here and there, but deep down I was stuck in quicksand and I had no motivation to climb out.  My main motivation and reason for moving was my kids.  I had become totally consumed by my darkness, stuck in my shadow self.

That first year after closing, my house was my refuge.  I wore the same clothes – they were clean.  My paranoia of the Government and system increased. I feared the police and any strange-looking car that was near my house.  I was deathly afraid of the police if they drove down my street.  I spent a lot of time in my upstairs room where I could often look out the window.  My fear was intense mainly because I had no point of reference for what was happening to me.

I wrote in my journal often in an attempt to maintain some form of control of my mind.  I contemplated suicide.  I just wanted the pain to stop.  Needed it to end.  I tried to examine what made it hurt so badly.  I have endured so much in my lifetime.  Why was this experience affecting me so deeply?  The clouds were not only heavy, they were black.  I have never known gloom like that before.  All I can remember telling myself was if I wake up I will always take a shower or bath and put on clean undies and clothes.  It was a crazy thought, but all I could hear was my paternal grandmother’s voice saying,  “Always wash your butt, because if you die or have an emergency you always want a clean Sally.”  Sally was her slang for vagina.  So I showered or bathed often.  I felt like i was going to die. I would never allow myself to think of a plan to die.  I knew that if i ever went that far, I seriously needed to ask for help.  I felt that self-talk could not save me if I developed a plan.  So I desperately resisted that step.

My close friends and family tried everything to support me and their presence was soothing at times.  I truly love them for that.  But all I really wanted was to be left alone.  If it was not for my 10-year-old son I may have disappeared.    I just could not find it in my heart to leave.  As I sat in my house and watched everything I had worked day and night for ripped away from me, I began to lose consciousness.  I developed another way of being, so that I could process the losses of my foster kids, my stuff, my office, my staff, the loving, caring productive village that had been formed, crumble. I began to feel empty and worthless. I have always been able to find a way when there is absolutely none available.  I was lost in this process, with no direction.  The System for obvious reasons, turned its back on me.  The Social Workers had to protect their jobs and my staff had to find ways to provide for their families.  I felt like War had been declared against me.  It felt so personal and extreme.   I was being treated worse than the crooked Wall Street Bankers and drug dealers.  Many times I could hear myself say “Just breathe!”

I had many nights that I did not sleep.  I would sit in my blue lounge chair watching mindless television.  I was numb…so numb and somber.  I wanted to give up, to just die!  I just could not let go though, my stubborn ways kept me alive.  Some days I resented my toughness.  Why did I always have to be tough, accept pain and find way to manuever through it?  This just did not feel normal.  No human should have to endure the pain I was going through.  I just did not get it.  I felt so betrayed but needed to focus on my own mental stability.  I knew that if I focused on how I felt the Government was participating in a witch hunt, or how the young IRS agent was wrong but had to prove he was right, i would lose my mind.  So, I just focused on how I was going to survive the persecution emotionally.  I had to put on my armor.  This process continued for three years.  The emotional tug of war between remaining in the darkness of my shadow or reaching for the light in my soul.

The process of looking towards the light at the end of the tunnel had to be a conscious effort.  I had to cognitively remain alert and honest with myself about my feelings.  I had to cognitively reconstruct my thinking and actively practice not letting my Ego define my experience.  I have always been a loving and caring person but through this I really learned to embrace my heart.  Acknowledge my pain and all that came with it.  For the first time ever I was stuck in darkness and was face to face with my shadow self.  That was a very intimidating and powerful process.  Through this part of my indictment I learned that there was only one person that could keep me alive and that was ME.

September 24, 2013

The Second Year-Depression to Peace

The next year, I continued to be paranoid.  I consistently received phone calls from my foster kids, other providers, and former staff members that the young eager IRS agent and the young Medicaid MFCU agent was coming to their homes, to their gyms, their jobs anywhere they could find them.  For a while i was thinking what in the hell did I do?  Did I murder someone and did not know about it.  My name was being slandered all over town.  News reporters were reporting lies that they got from the agents.  I remained silent for obvious reasons.  It was just CRAZY!.  I was afraid to talk to anyone for fear the Government would say I was intimidating people.  It was unreal honestly.  Often I had to laugh out loud about how ridiculous the process was and how they were treating me.  So my solitude continued with the exception of the times my grandkids and nieces and nephews would come over and force me to watch Elmo and Thomas the Train. That year I watched every reality show that was on television, Food , all of the Housewives and oh, how I loved Chopped.  The big change for me during that shadow-filled year or so was that I had lost my love for watching basketball.  I was so out of the loop about what was going on with the college and pro teams, which was a complete change for me.  It was as though my passion for anything I had loved and found joy in had ended all at once.  I even started giving away some of my prized Jordan shoe collection to some of my kids that were displaced  and had contacted me.   This alarmed everyone close to me but I reassured them that I was okay.  Just wanted to share something with them since I did not have the capacity to give a lot of myself at that time.

During this period I felt like I went from being on top of the world, busy…whew!….. very, very, busy and doing what i loved, to 12 feet deep.  I thought death had to feel better than what I was feeling and enduring.  I started bonding with my depression.  Really I did. Depression really is a tricky source of energy.  I say that because it can manifest itself and give you the power to wear a mask of happiness.  I remember sitting in my T.V. room journaling thinking, “It is so quiet!”  The quiet I was noticing was the absence of the ongoing chatter that used to fill in my head.  I also used that time to workout.  I had weights and an exercise bike in my T.V. room, so I would lift weights and ride my bike as often as I could.  I wanted to keep my body strong. If nothing else, my vanity refused me to allow myself to look beat down by the process.

May, 2011 arrived, a year had already passed, and I was still hearing rumblings in the community about the investigation and the possibility of an indictment.  I was not sure what that meant, or how it was possible this could all go that far and did not have legal representation so I tried my best to research the process.  Every time I would take a deep breath something else would occur.  The fear of an incident would pull me right back into my paranoia and I felt all the more fearful to go out into the community so I stayed in my home where I felt safe.

Toward the end of May,  I received a phone call from an old college friend.  She was in Reno for the huge Memorial Day Basketball Tournament to watch her son play.  I used to attend that tournament regularly but had stopped once my program was closed.  It was strange and unfamiliar that I had lost my love for watching basketball as I had gained this unhealthy attachment to my house.  But after speaking to her on the phone I decided to at least go to see her at the hotel and say hello.  The familiarity and laughter during our visit made me change my mind about attending the game that her son was playing in.  That was very difficult for me to do because that would mean I would be faced with seeing many people I knew and may have even run into some of my kids that had been displaced. I realized that after our visit and discussion about everything I was going through, I felt lighter.  On my drive home after having dinner with her and her family I realized that my self-imposed imprisonment was feeding my depression.   I really needed interaction, to engage in conversation, and mostly laugh with people.   So after that tournament and visit with Rebecca, I slowly started venturing out of my home.

The next month I arranged for my son to stay with my sister while he was on Summer break and I decided to drive up and down the California coast visiting old college friends, family, and friends from my hometown.  During that period I developed a profound love for the Ocean.  I have never loved water or the ocean, but always appreciated its power.  That summer I found that the ocean helped me to breathe deeply.  I realized that I was a shallow breather – primarily because I was constantly on the go fixing this, doing that, helping this person and that person.  I never took time to just BREATHE! I learned to not just listen to my mind but also the echoes that were coming from my heart.  The Summer of 2011 I truly felt a paradigm shift in how I managed what was going on in my life.  I acknowledged to myself how dutiful  had become, the many roles I had played, and how truly fragmented I had been.  I realized I was in pieces.  My Anthem and song for the Summer was, ” Pieces of Me”, by Ledisi.  If you feel fragmented I seriously recommend that whole CD.  I am intrinsically a loving and peaceful person.  But through my Summer experience I  truly experienced and embraced PEACE!.

The Third Year- Anger to Awareness

“I have not known peace, my internal rage, is what keeps me whole, sane and alive”.  I wrote that statement in a reflection paper for Graduate school.  I have endured a life that forced me to use the forces of anger to overcome and to succeed.  Growing up in the inner city you learn to maneuver your way through certain experiences or you suffer the consequences.  I have always wanted a peaceful, quiet and predictable life.  But often my environment would not allow me to exist in those types of moments.  The only emotion that was fit for me at that time was anger.  My rage was not the type of rage where I would lash out or harm others.  Unless, I was threatened, it was an internal rage.  I would get an infernal of fire in the pit of my belly and my mind would race, in an attempt to figure out what to do next.  I would become obsessed with a solution or a resolution.  My internal rage has been the one emotion that has been constant for me and when all else fails it is what I rely on to get me through.   I started my own business out of anger.  Anger for a system that did not serve a population fairly or with love and respect.

During the third year of my legal drama, I was forced to obtain a public defender, because I did not have 60 to 100 thousand dollars to obtain an attorney.  I would like to say I was lucky, but not sure if that is an appropriate term considering the circumstances, but my Public Defender was great.  She was straight forward, honest and for once throughout this whole ordeal I felt like someone truly understood and saw me for the person I am. As I told my stories over and over again, she would abruptly say, “Remember this process is not about the truth it is about what they can prove”.  All I remember thinking was well hell, we are talking about the government and they can prove anything.  I started getting very angry at this point.  My only means of surviving during this phase was my occasional bouts of anger.  I would not sleep and stayed awake researching the process, gathering information on Medicaid and the Fraud units.  The more I researched the more angry I became.  Once again I was made into being a victim.  I hated that feeling and was desperate to find a way to fight.  Through my research I found that many Behavioral Health professional were being targeted for the same charges.  Some were getting extreme sentences and huge fines.  So there will be days that I would be so anxious and angry about how could they do this?  They have investigated me, had all of my financials and were aware of the fact that I had no money.  I would set up a meeting with my Public Defender and discuss all of my findings and go over what was next and once again she would say, “It is not about the truth, it is about what they can prove”.  I think finally, after reading several of the “made up” reports and summaries I got it.  I basically had to surrender to the process.  There truly was nothing I could do but go through it or lose my mind or let my anger take over.   During this time there had been several violent incidents where people were feeling victimized and attacked by the Government.  I am not and never could be that type of violent person, but i sure understood their angst and feelings of betrayal.

After long discussions with my friend and a lot of self talk, I gained some power in how I was reacting to the Indictment.  Finally coming to the conclusion that typically I use my anger as a way to gain awareness and develop a way to act.  In this instance I had no control on my outcome with the legal system.  I only had influence on how I was going to manage the ass kicking I was getting.  Being competitive and an ex-athlete, I never took butt kickings well.  But this time the only thing I could think to do was be my loving , peaceful, respectful, proud, and beautiful self.  I would have to have those kinds of talks on a regular basis to keep myself balanced.   Through the latter part of my Indictment, I was able to acknowledge that I was angry because once again I was feeling powerless, similar to when I was a child.   This legal process had not only destroyed my Dream , it was now impacting my Soul.   At that moment my Ego woke up and I said to myself, “They will never steal my Soul”.   I was reminded of one of my favorite Tracy Chapman’s songs,  All That You Have Is Your Soul. 

The miraculous thing about all of this is like I have done all of my life when I felt rage or powerless, I turned to writing.  I have always considered myself a Poet.  I love and respect the power of words.  How you can put them next to each other and create a wonderful story, poem or statement.  But for the past eight to ten years outside of occasionally journalling I did not take or have time to write.  I simply existed in my fast paced, sometimes chaotic world.  I started digging through some of my unfinished projects, that is typical for writers.  I had many of them, so I started rewriting some and rereading others.  I spent more time looking over those projects and reading writing manuals instead of researching, Medicaid, health care fraud or worrying about what was going on with my ex-foster kids that had been displaced.  I spoke to my sister, about helping me complete a Novella for young adults that mirrored our lives.  We completed, “Black Butterfly Blues” and published it on Amazon.  I laugh today, because i rushed she and my friend to complete that project.  I just needed something to focus on, a purpose other than the Government, legal documents, Attorneys, and Prosecutors.  I needed to feel peaceful again.  That is what writing does for me and being that I will have plenty of time over the next 22-28 months.   That is what I will do.

Life Continues…………….

Pain to Openness

My greatest pain lies in the fact that Ujima was an incredible instrument for youth and families.  I am speaking of Ujima as an organism because, honestly it had forces that took on a life of its own.  The word “Ujima”, is derived rom a Swahili Principle that mean; Collective Work and Responsibility.  I took that definition seriously.  I wanted to give youth, families and employees to feel like they were a part of something miraculous, loving and life changing.  My greatest pain was that I know we were doing exceptional work for those young people who did not, “fit” anywhere else for whatever reason.  There is a quote by Michael Jackson that I love and it says this, “If you enter this world knowing you are loved and leave this world knowing the same, then everything that happens in between can be dealt with”.  My thoughts have always been that during that in between period in a youth or adults life, Ujima could make a difference.  One that gave them unconditional love, belonging, and a sense of purpose as the grew older.

My greatest pain lies in the fact that during my indictment for the past three years I felt like that did not matter.  I truly feel that the love and dedication that the staff and i exhibited, did not matter.  That is until my sentencing hearing….. My attorney was prepared and had prepared me for the worse case scenario.  Typically, because in these cases the worse is usually what happens.  I mean the prosecutors drives the sentencing in most cases.  After all of the double talk, and confusing and sometimes baffling comments from the prosecutors, many of the people in my life and youth spoke on my behalf to the court.     The Judge seemed very drawn to the words that were coming from the young men.  So much that he encouraged more of them to speak.  Then in a quick moment something occurred, the judge stated that he too was an orphan and had grew up in an orphanage.   His own pain from his life allowed him to connect and be open to my pain as well as the young men who i had dedicated my life to working with in foster care.  At that moment I also feel that it allowed him to understand that, i was doing some hard, wonderful work and was not some greedy person.  Yes I am still going to a prison camp, and will still be a felon, because he has to support his system and do his job.  But he gave me the least amount of consequences he possibly could at the time.

For that I am truly THANKFUL!  

September 29, 2013

Denial to Surrendering

A true awakening can only manifest itself after your heart and mind are still and working collaboratively in an effort to expose or save your soul.  Okay I am very resistant to give this legal process any credit or any positive connotation, but I would say that since I have been investigated over the past three years, I have had a tremendous amount of time to work on my authentic self.  The quiet and peaceful time has been very positive for my personal growth.  I have had the time to sit and focus on what I want for my life this next chapter.  I have a wonderful sense of peace a feeling I have desired all of my life.

Up until the Probation report, I was in complete denial about the Governments desire to put me in prison for a long period and ruin my career.  I was a Social Worker and a Counselor, not some “big wig” on Wall Street.  So up until I read the Probation report where they were recommending the maximum, I was sure I had a possibility of getting probation. I was the perfect candidate.  I thought it does not benefit anyone by placing me in Prison.  I was hopeful, honestly I went to sleep thinking I need to find a job so that it would show that I was an ideal candidate to remain in the community and work with those who needed me most.  Well a month later the report was sent to my attorney, and she forwarded a copy to me  I was so frustrated and confused.  Not only were they not recommending probation, even after knowing and researching the facts.  They were asking the judge to give me the maximum they could give according to the guidelines.  I was heartbroken, simply devastated by that report.  I remember talking to my friend and stating that I have to keep focus.  I have to find a way to just spend my energy on the things I could control.  That evening I wrote in large letters on my dry erase board the word, surrender.  At that point in my investigation, I just acknowledged that there is nothing I could do about this process.  For once in my life i could not fix this, I had to get on the roller coaster and ride it out, knowing that at some point it will all be over.

Once I surrendered to the process I was able to move on emotionally.  Long conversations about how the process was not fair, but honoring the fact that often things in life are not fair.  I understood that I was a perfect target.  Many providers ran their businesses the same way I did, I know this because we all tried to maneuver the treacherous Behavioral Health waters together.  I understood that I was an educated professional of color.  I know that sounds cliché’ but that is how I felt, knowing what I know.  I may have surrendered to the process and my sentence.  But I know that my story is a to be continued.  This is not the end of my life or my dream to make a difference.

I feel good in knowing that being honest and open about this whole situation and acknowledging that I am not perfect, I have progressed forward emotionally.  I made it through this whole process emotionally and it was far from easy.  I understand that from the perspective of the Government the good thing is not always the right thing in the eyes of the law.  I have accepted that!   Now I am free to just do the time and move on with my life.  I have always been, fearless, strong and empowered.  I am now, whole, happy and internally peaceful!

Lost to Purposeful Living

One of my favorite writers I was introduced to in Graduate school, is James Baldwin.  I have to give Dr. Chandler a special thanks for that introduction to him and many others but Mr. Baldwin has always resonated with me.  One of his quotes that has had a lasting effect on me is this one, “Your crown has already been paid for all you have to do is put it on your head!”.

Once I surrendered to the process and I have to say I would still have occasional bouts of every  other emotion imagined, but in my heart I knew I was powerless unless I surrendered, I would have an uneasy feeling of uncertainty.   Actually for the first time in my life I was lost.  What will I do next? What do I do tho make that happen? I was not in the position to fight anymore.  And like Tracy Chapman sang, I was born to fight.  I had to sit idle for a while, sit in a peaceful space and meditate and develop a plan.  I was completely lost!  Not the type of lost where I did not know who I was or if i had value.  It was the type of lost where for once in my life I could not clearly define my ultimate purpose.  I know a lot of people feel that you should leave that up to God.  I just have a different view of that principle.  I view spirituality as an active force, not a dormant one.  So I had to be a participant.  I know I am talented, creative and have a tremendous amount of life experience.  But for once in my life I felt like a blank canvas.  A beautiful one of course, but blank.  I have always visualized a way of being, develop a plan and made it happen.  The ultimate Organizer.  I know no other way.  This whole experience changed my perspective to the core of my being.  With a lot of discussion, and self talk I finally realized I was living purposefully.

My new way of being is definitely different that anything I am used to, but i truly feel connected with my wants, needs and desires.  I know that I am a difference maker.  I have witnessed my own power and influence.  I am not being arrogant, I just know.  I know that I have a loving, caring and thoughtful heart.  I will not let this experience influence my desire to experience the oneness of humanity and offer love and respect to all living beings and things.  That is my truth!

For once in my life I do not have to hide behind my toughness and resiliency.  It is all a part of who I am.  My experiences will enhance me they do not define me.  Thank you Mr. James Baldwin for reminding me that the hard work has already been done.

Fearless to Cautiously Awareness

I have always lived my life with a certain amount of silent tenacity.  I would not back down from much, but I would always enter into a situation with some thought to it.  Always thinking about what would my next move be, if needed.  I want to be clear to note that my indictment has not defined me, but it has amplified the things about me that i have always wanted to lean on.   There were many people in my circle who were disappointed when I decided to plead guilty to my original indicted charges.  Mind you after that they added additional charges to pad their case.  During this confusing, crazy and foreign process my Attorney provided me with a tremendous amount of guidance and was prepared to handle my case no matter what I decided to do.  I discussed in length about taking my case to trial which is typical of my fearless self.  But here are a few reasons why I chose not to do so.  First, I knew after taking three years and turning over every rock not just once but sometimes twice, I knew the system was not going to let up.  Not only was I broke, they encouraged the people I attempted to assist speak against me to build their case.  It is a tough, heartless and dishonest system.  So I knew from their tactics that they wanted me and for whatever reason, they would not stop until they felt just.  Secondly, the poor innocent people who needed the help would have been subjected to additional scrutiny by the system.  That would have been even more heartbreaking.  Third, the structure of the system is set up to force a plea bargain or a guilty plea.  I am not condemning the system I am just stating what happened in my case.  So for over a year or so, I had to battle my fearless self and become more cautiously aware.    Another major factor for me was the tone of our Country.  Those who knew me and what I had done in the community felt that if they just know all of the good work you have done to help others they will get it.  By having the opportunity to sit quietly and peacefully, i had become keenly and cautiously aware of the fact that, not many people would be touched by those stories.  Especially a jury here, times are hard, people are hungry and jobless.  The main thing the prosecution would have stated was that tax dollars were misused and the funds were ill-gotten.  No attention would have been made of the fact that I worked hard everyday and loved what I was doing.  Helping youth and families that needed my help.

Just know this………….I have not completely abandoned my fearless self.  But this life-changing experience has forced me to give a lot of respect to my cautiously aware self as well!

Reflection of the Day: Sometimes You Just Have To Watch Some Scooby-Doo

As I sit in my room watching Batman (his choice of course), with my curly-headed, intelligent, bossy and creative nephew. I cant help but think about how different things are going to be when I return in two plus years. I am glad that I am an individual that has nurtured and valued my family and close friends.  Family to me has always extended past being blood related.  Many of my friends are my family. When this whole ordeal began my family and friends formed a wonderful circle of love for me.  They were steady, consistent and honest.  Whether they were supporting me from afar or showing up at my door, I have never doubted those close relationships.  But I don’t and will not allow anyone to do prison time with me.  I mean emotionally is truly is my own personal journey that I have to do alone.  When I return I will have no problem picking up from where everyone is at that moment in their lives.  I am good at that. Til this day I have dear, longtime friends that, if i don’t speak to them for a year, once we reconnect and fill in the blanks, it is as though no time had been lost.

So to all of my peeps, no worries, we will catch up soon!

Now my nephew has me watching Scooby-Doo, lol.  We have watched three episodes.  Well, in between him fast forwarding or rewinding.  Whew!  Honestly I do not enjoy cartoons, but I love kids.  There is nothing like having a four-year old explain each episode to you in detail.  I love life from the perspective of a creative, talkative four-year old.

Life truly is Good!

I Know I Can Always Be Better

Today,  a few hours before I say goodbye to many of my friends and family, I feel like I want to tell them all that, this is not an end but a new beginning. I have always been a seeker, someone who wants to be the best Human Being I could be.  And many times I have gone through that process in some challenging situations.   So I know I can also continue my quest towards becoming the best human I can be while sitting in the Federal Camp.

As I ponder how am I going to use this experience in a positive manner I think back to how I got to where I am now.  I think about my Ghetto Strength and how I have always been open to all peeps no matter what.  I will just continue to be graceful, loving and cautiously brave.  As I think of leaving Reno on Friday.   I have to admit that although I am not going to my ideal location near the beach or ocean.  Shoot, actually its the desert, Lol.  How unfair is that?!  I know in my heart that this week will be the last time I call Reno home.   I am ready for new.  I know that no matter where you go you take yourself, and that is a fact.  It is just that I want to take myself back to California.  I will miss my friends and family, but they will know where to find me, when that time comes.Its weird for me to say that but I just do not feel the same about living in this community.  I am not running away, that’s not my style.  But I am running to something new.  Some new energy and I also still carry some paranoia about the IRS agent who was relentless with his pursuit of me.  Reno is not home to me anymore.

Returning to California will take me full circle actually.  Born and bred there, I left to pursue my dreams and I did that!  So now I am ready to return home and after this 22 to 28 month journey I will land somewhere peacefully and began New!

This Chapter has Closed………

My heart aches, not for myself but for those who depended me and needed me.  Especially for my Sonny who has been so consistently himself through this whole ordeal.  I had to keep reminding myself that his life was severely touched during this indictment of my soul as well.

I remember asking myself over and over, would I do anything different?.  Could I have done anything different and not be charged with healthcare fraud and money laundering?. I wanted to accept responsibility for anything I did wrong.  And if I did do something incorrect, it was not intentional.  Not that it would have made a difference in my case.  I was a wanted woman for some reason.  I went through each step as my programs grew and the needs of the community became so extreme.  The youth and families situations were getting so severe.  I could have said “No” I can’t help.  That was my only other option and I rarely said no to helping kids.  And with the information all providers had in regards to serving youth and families on Medicaid at the time.  There was not a lot I would have done different.

So as I say that,  all of my family, friends and my Sonny have to be brave and know that I always find a way to come out on top.  I am not bragging or making light of the legal challenges I am facing, they are extreme and intimidating.  This system does not operate from a place of love or honesty.  It has its own rules.  I don’t recommend to for anyone. Lol!  Especially not for anyone like myself, who enters into all situations with an open and loving heart.  But I will succeed despite my charged. I just know my destiny.  I have complete FAITH in my ability to turn a horrible situation into a lesson then into way to serve my community and family and myself.

I received a letter yesterday stating that I will be excluded from all healthcare jobs because of the Medicaid conviction.  I had expected  as much.  I could be excluded from 5 years to forever.  All I can think is wow, what a waste.  My love and commitment to the field has always been relentless.  But the government does not care, not their job.   I could only think about how I am forced to grow and develop a new career for myself.   And I will!

This will be the last time I focus on not working in Child Welfare.  I will focus on the future, even though the system will continue to try to pull me backwards with letters regarding sanctions, legal talk.  I will be compliant mainly because that is my way.  But I wont be an active participant anymore.  I loved Child Welfare, I love my many foster kids and my staff.  But now I will take this new journey loving myself.  Preparing to come home to my family and friends.

No matter what my heart always reminds me that life is good.  For that I am Thankful!!

Going Back to Cali!!!

I have travelled back and forth from Reno often since I moved to Reno in 1991.  I had always planned to return to California one day then of course life happened.  I have no regrets about spending a huge part of my adult life in Reno.  I met some incredible people, I had some wonderful jobs, I had a very dynamic business venture, I started my own family, I obtained my Masters as well as my Doctorate there.  So Reno has been great for me.

I do wish I was leaving on different terms, but I refuse to let my indictment and conviction minimize how much I have accomplished and I started with nothing.   As I began this next journey, I will not have nothing I am armed with some life experience, my degrees and work experience.  But the biggest asset I will bring to my next journey is a clear and better version of myself.  I won’t be a sacrificial lamb anymore.  The next phase of my life will be operated from a place of love and that will start with loving myself first.

Being in California has always allowed me the opportunity to breathe.  I fit here, I don’t stand out here and I know I can start a new beginning here.  Even though the next 22 to 28 months will be spent in a less than ideal setting, I am determined to still find my happy place there.   See my happy place is resurrected from the inside out.   Once again I will utilize my childhood coping skills to overcome my environment.  I am an expert at overcoming, adapting and being resilient.   I am hoping that in the elderly phase of my life, I won’t have to rely so much on those characteristics and can just BE HAPPY, LOVING AND PEACEFUL!   That is my destiny.

It Takes a Strong Mind!

So here at the camp, I can already tell that, just like the outside free world, little pockets of society are created naturally.  There are many different kinds of women here-from everywhere and every walk of life.  Most of the women are young and, interestingly, even in a large area, their energy tends to take over the unit.  There are quite a few older women. It makes me question exactly what is our system doing?  After only one full day here, I have become humbled.  For some of the women I have spoken to, this has been their life.  And for others, they are planning on leaving but seem to lack direction that will prevent them from returning.

I spoke to a woman today who is also here for a “White Collar Crime.”  Well, it is funny because many of the “White Collar” women feel no connection to the other women here.  I, on the other hand, can engage anyone and can meet them each where they are.  Everyone is nice here.

There has to be another way to make a point in our country.   This seems to be a waste of resources and a waste of some good people.

I Too Am a Felon

I am still a bit taken aback by how our government justifies incarcerating and incapacitating non-violent women of all ages.  Over the past four days I have met young women who have been locked up for 3, 5, and 10 years on drug charges.  Some are waiting to be released to RDAP, rehabilitation programs with the hope of returning home to their kids and families.  I am baffled by how we, as a society, just allow our system to function in such a non-functioning manner.  I suppose it happens because the general public is not aware.  I suppose I was not aware of the punitive nature that our legal system blankets over all crime, as if violent crime is by nature the same as white-collar crime, and as such requires inflexible sentencing guidelines that serve nobody well.

As I sit here under a shaded cover surrounded by trees, pretty rock formations and well-kept grounds, I become even more baffled.  The money required, inflated as I’m sure it is because government entities tend to be that way, to maintain this camp could be used to develop and implement some productive programs for these women.  Many of them want help and a way out.  They desire a life that does not require them to watch their backs or hustle to survive.  in as little as four days, all i have heard from these women are their hopes for better.  Hopes for a future.  Yes, as we all know the statistics are not on any of their sides….well, mine either.  The rate of recidivism is pretty high and I am gaining a keen insight into why!

I know I may have it a little better since i have my degrees and experience, but i also know that I will have to be creative, persistent, and resilient because like all of the women in here, I too am  a FELON!  I may have a PhD., but in a society that judges by the cover of a book and not the depth of its content, it won’t be easy for me either.  Thank goodness, like many of these women, I am a survivor.  I will find a way.  For that, I am truly thankful!

The Poet Within

I decided to name my true desire-my true purpose – and claim it.  I am a poet and essayist and long to be a writer.  My heart and soul is always writing poems and creating a space to allow their essence to become real.  When I was young, I honestly thought I was different.  I knew I was different.  I loved things that most of my friends did not value.

I loved photography.  I had a teacher in high school who had a dark room in her home.  One summer she allowed me to use her camera and taught me how to develop the film into photos.   There in the dark, the pictures of the things I found eye-catching, interesting, or beautiful came to life in the form of a photograph.  And then I honored each photo with a poem.  Now that I think about it, that was my first book!  That makes me smile!

I was also a deep thinker.  Everything was meaningful for me.  I soaked up new information and knowledge no matter who the teacher was.

Now at the wonderful age of 49 I can finally admit to myself that I want to write.  I actually need to write.  With this declaration made, it is now my goal to reach that dream destination during this phase of my life.  For many years now, I have put that part of myself in the background because I had so many “have tos” in my life.  I don’t have that now, that’s for sure.  I will take this time to improve my skills and enhance my craft at writing stories for young adults and inspirational books for adults by using words, my experience, and sense of self to help others laugh, live, and love .

I have been afraid of the solitary life of a writer. Being a person who has always had a house, an office, a life full of people and blessed with the gift of gab, it has been hard to find the solitary space, or maybe it was easy to avoid that isolation.  For the next 22+ months I will have no distractions or excuses and I will be committed to writing.  To allow the voices in my head to be expressed in a creative space.

Thank you for indulging me…

Pick Your Ass Up

Each morning I wake up thankful that another day has passed. Today I was also struck by the camaraderie the women in her have.  In my unit, there are well over 150 women living together.  I am housed with about 40 women who sleep on metal bunk beds, arranged military style, out in the open in a warehouse.  Beds are to be made every day, which I’ve always done anyway, and personal areas must be clean and neat.  All of our belongings are stored in a short locker, about 3 feet tall, and in an underbed bin that locks with a combination lock, which….oh yeah…I had to buy.

Last night my crazy roomie, Little J, was braiding everyone’s hair.  I think we have both brought a different kind of energy to the multipurpose room.  Energy that some enjoy, and others wish had never arrived or would at least move on to somewhere else.  All i know is that we laugh a lot and even though we have gotten “shushed” quite often, Little J has no problem reminding the shushers that they too are inmates, which is far from making them her boss.

At least two hours out of the day, I have to leave the unit for some time alone.  I usually head to the track or to the chapel video room.  Last night I found the exercise room where I was able to do some sit-ups and work my abs with the dreaded ball.  There are no weights here, so I have to do push ups.  I have promised my son that as I get older, I will keep my body strong so if I ever fall, I will be able to pick my ass up!  That is our family joke.

Emotionally, I am remaining strong as well, and as a matter of fact, I’m feeling stronger every day.  I know I can get through anything, but once this is over-wow-look out world!! I will be pick my ass up and be ready for something incredible!

War On Women

As I sit in this unit at 1:15 pm I am faced with thinking.  Most of the time I am thankful for my strong, powerful, and stubborn mind.  But today, I am angry.  I am angry that our government sees fit to place me in a warehouse in green clothes and forces me to wear steel toed boots.  I am angry that many of the women here have sat here month after month and still cannot say that this has helped one @&%@ing bit.

I know there are many organizations that are, and have been, addressing the issues of incarceration and its benefits or lack thereof.  Most of the rhetoric focuses on African-American males because of the historical implications that the War on Drugs has had on that population.  As a visionary, I am looking 10 to 15 years ahead and I see the same type  of burdens being placed on the system and communities because the government has now declared war on women! There is no class, race, nor age limit.  Our current administration has formed a task force to find money to pay for the Affordable Health Care Act.  That net has been thrown out so far that nobody is safe from being entangled in it.

Of course, I don’t have any real research resources in here, but it seems logical to me, because I am an example of a health care world filled with women, that Behavioral Health, child welfare, elder care, are female-dominated fields just by the nature of the work. Caring for the people, or getting caught up in a man’s mess by caring about him.

We have been declared disposable even to the extent of not caring about what happens to our children.  Not one of the women in here have murdered anyone.  A huge percentage of them have children who are either in foster care or with family.  No one in this country could convince me that there are not other alternatives to incarceration.  I can say out loud and with conviction, ” I do NOT belong here!”

As I sit and think about what little worth my local legal community saw in me, more and more often I visualize living elsewhere.  Why not give another country a try?  I wrote to my oldest son in an email that there is a great big world out there and I think I want to check out other parts of it.

The United States and its Judicial System has broken my heart!! It has not stolen my soul or broken my spirit, but I typically don’t allow anyone or anything to cause harm to me a second time.

Accountability, Acceptance, and Consequences

I have yet to speak to anyone who has said, “I did absolutely nothing wrong.”  I have heard many people who feel, like myself, that they were not trying, and had no intent to steal any money from the government.  But going through the process and still ending up here, sure makes you wish you’d done something to have deserved this kind of treatment.

As I think about being here, and the fiscal cost of housing, feeding, clothing, and monitoring the inmates here at camp who are non-violent, loving, caring women, I see it as a complete waste of your money.  YOUR taxpayer dollars!  Is it not enough punishment for me to have lost my license, my career, and most of my possessions?  Is it not enough to have put ALL of my employees on unemployment, welfare, and food stamps? Was it not enough punishment to have displaced 65 to 70 foster kids back into an overburdened system that couldn’t handle them before they came to me?  I truly want to know who it benefits to put a substance abuser in prison?  How does this incarceration system help society?

The judge stated that I had to be made an example of for the rest of the community.  In fact, that is a primary consideration in all mandatory sentencing guidelines.  However, I thought I was the only one who actually heard that statement and thought it was personal.  Turns out, many other women in here say the judge told them the same damn thing!

Our system is broken!  That I know for sure.  I am not speaking as a spectator, I am an active participant in this mess!

I remain thankful for all of the love and support I have.  Without it, I would have to maneuver this craziness alone and behind walls that few have the courage to question much less the power to penetrate.

Fourth Year: Powerlessness to Self-Love

There are many instances and occurrences during this year that will forever be imprinted into my consciousness. But the ery first day, October 14th 2013, that I stepped on the Federal Prison Camp in Victorville, California will forever provide me with the strength to overcome any and everything I may encounter in my life hence forth. On that memorable day as I encouraged and reassured my friend that it was okay to ride off as I walked through the Federal Prison Camp glass doors, I knew my life as I knew it was going to be impacted forever. How, I was not sure.

The Correctional Officer on duty at the time instructed me to wait outside on the metal bench until someone had time to process me into the system That 30-45 minute wait felt like an eternity. As I sat on the cool bench I noticed the silence, the desolation, a slight warm breeze and the only noise that did resonate with me was the clinging of the American flag against the flag post. I have never felt so Un-American as I did at that poignant moment. I have always prided myself as being a honest, hardworking, pull yourself up, independent, worthy American Citizen. Right then as I glanced up at the flag waving and hearing the clinging I immediately felt like a woman without a country. (extreme I know) But it is my truth. What followed once the Officer summoned me to the processing area validated all of my feeling of feeling orphaned in my own Country. Within an hour I was stripped of my dignity, integrity, identity and my name. I was now Inmate 47078-048 and that was to be my American badge for the rest of my stay. That period was the loneliest, awakening, shameful and FEARLESS experience I have endured in my lifetime.

After that processing experience I told myself that I had to mindfully reconstruct my experience with the legal system into an experience where I could honestly and authentically admit, accept and surrender to the fact that I was completely POWERLESS, but powerfully hopeful. i told myself that I was going to crawl through this process and just simply make the best of it.

The initial months were surreal. I walked around in what I have defined as the “white collar woman fog”, I still do that now if needed. I had a difficult time reconciling with the fact that our US Government felt that I a non-violent woman, sister, aunt, grandmother, friend and mother would better serve my community ad family by sitting in such a visceral, non-productive and irreverent environment for 33 months. My intellect, desire and need for a purpose fueled my anger, angst and was defining my journey.

I hit mid-way through the first year of my incarceration struggling with the fundamental purpose and principles of our US legal system. But I was becoming more and more uplifted by my ability to overcome this extremely discouraging experience and I was reminded by a calming voice in my head that, “I was born and raised to be who I am”. I stopped viewing myself as just being resilient, damn it! I am a 50 year old, pre-menopausal, black, educated, professional, grandmother, sister, aunt, friend and mother who is currently in an environment that I worked my entire life to avoid-I am in prison!!! I am no longer resilient alone I am a “SUPER WOMAN”, that far surpasses resilience.

As the months progressed I continued to seek some clarity for my being here and once again my intense need for a purpose, a plan, some hope became my main struggle everyday as I woke up in this paternalistic, non-productive, defeminizing environment. Each day during my walk I had to mindfully construct how I was going to get through the day peacefully, happy and hopeful

Now that I have surpassed my fourth-year of this long, heartbreaking, weary, life changing and incredibly soul searching period in my life, I have developed such a heightened level of SELF-LOVE. I have always had a decent self -esteem, but through this I have grown to love myself like no one else ever could.

I completely and inexplicably despise this legal process, which has forced me to be separated from my friends, family and son. On the other hand I am appreciating the opportunity to focus on ME! I will enter a new year not changed or broken but inspired, energized and FEARLESS,

I surrendered through these doors at the Federal Prison Camp in Victorville California fearlessly. Over the past year my transition from POWERLESSNESS to SELF-LOVE has been priceless

The Journey continues……………………..Felonious PhD.

 


21 responses to “The Indictment of My Soul!

  1. Absolutely heart-breaking….So relieved that part is over!

  2. lynette says:

    Walking through the fire…you are an inspiration!

  3. stevie says:

    Sure glad that Elmo helped keep you in check!!!! LoL malia still loves that lil red guy to this very day!!!!!

  4. kim says:

    Stay Strong, we all love you…..Campbell~Lax~Fox~ Menlo Park Family.

  5. Hey Kim, You know I will! Girl you know where I am from? lol

  6. Stevie! Elmo was my friend lol. I love my baby she kept me going. So glad I get to see my baby. Yay!!

  7. crystal says:

    Ou are a great person. No one can ever take that from you either. I hope to one day be the professional that you are!

  8. Mark says:

    Love you and praying for you Lil’ Sis. You know you’ll always have a home place to land with welcome, open arms. We’ll be waiting for you and you know a trip to our beach will be in order. Love in Christ, Forever & Always, your Big Bro.

  9. Kimmyj says:

    The love, clarity, courage, and strength you have is undeniable! This whole situation and injustice process breaks my heart for you. To get a sneak peek into your thoughts and heart these lady 3 1/2 years just makes me more appreciative of the wonderful woman you are! Love you

  10. Glenn Simms says:

    Love you> GES

  11. Tandy Kertanis says:

    I too have been hounded by probably the same young agent here in Reno and the US Attorneys office. I have had CPS called, Doctors harassed that take care of my disabled son and MANY LIES printed and stated about me. Currently due to generosity of my family and friends I am fighting with a great attorney. Otherwise I would be with you at that camp.

  12. Nany Deputee (Delgado) says:

    I applaud you, Doc., for this site and that you do! Thank you, Nany Delgado, released 02/14/2014…..back home in Montana!

  13. Nany Deputee (Delgado) says:

    I meant, for all that you do!

  14. Nany Deputee (Delgado) says:

    Geez!…I need to proof-read!…Previos posts by Nancy Delgado

  15. Glenn Simms says:

    Miss You Much!

  16. Thank you for sharing this story of incredible courage and resilience in the face of persecution by the violently oppressive (in)justice system. I was deeply touched by the challenges and ordeals you described with such eloquence and honesty. I agree with your astute insights about the need to replace the prison industrial complex with humane, life-enhancing alternatives that value people and provide opportunities for all to develop their gifts. I send my best wishes to you. (I hope you write books about your experiences and insights.)

  17. Jeff Nguyen says:

    In your beautifully written and insightful essay, this part stood out to me… “Another major factor for me was the tone of our Country. Those who knew me and what I had done in the community felt that if they just know all of the good work you have done to help others they will get it. By having the opportunity to sit quietly and peacefully, i had become keenly and cautiously aware of the fact that, not many people would be touched by those stories. Especially a jury here, times are hard, people are hungry and jobless. The main thing the prosecution would have stated was that tax dollars were misused and the funds were ill-gotten. No attention would have been made of the fact that I worked hard everyday and loved what I was doing. Helping youth and families that needed my help.”

    You were astute in observing there is little sympathy for others in a country where we have been conditioned for so long to hold in contempt those who are in distress and suffering. Surely, they did something to deserve it. I can’t imagine your struggle but we are all the better for hearing of it. Every voice counts and every voice is needed in the struggle.

    Love your blog’s title, by the way!

  18. MoChambers says:

    Wow, this is such a compelling read! Thank-you for your honesty and vulnerability. As I read this post, you exemplify the scripture:
    2 Corinthians 4:8-10 NIV
    [8] We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; [9] persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
    You are definetly a survivor, and an overcomer! Thank-you for allowing your circumstances to not define you, but to be used as a powerful story to encourage others. It certainly gives us a unique lens by which to examine the system😉. One of my take-a-ways was the resilience you discovered in simply surrendering. Going through a tough time myself and questioning God about my purpose, surrendering seems to be the key to which I am not doing; but that I need to be doing. Thank-you again for the reminder and encouragement. I look forward to reading more of your posts. Stay blessed!

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