Stay Tuned……

Posted: February 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

Thank you for stopping by, but don’t go away.. stay tuned for the book “Life in the Wisconsin Prison System: The Jake Martin Story”. As always feel free to direct your questions or any request for details, please contact the Sponsors. Thank you.

My name is Jake Martin and I am on parole from the state of Wisconsin Prison System (WPS) currently now living in Ames, Iowa. I write this from my own laptop in an efficiency apartment at a complex dominated by Iowa State University college students. How did I get here? More on that in a minute.

At the risk of sounding corny but what a LONG, STRANGE trip it has been both being in prison and since getting out. The day I was released it was Wednesday June 23rd.  Today is January 16th, 2012. In the roughly 7 months since my release so much has happened. I spent July through August largely glued to my cell phone and laptop while hunting for work, with the assistance of friends and the sponsors of this blog.. My parents grew concerned enough to tell me I might have to take work at a fast food operation or something similar. I had no problem with that. In fact I figured that was what would happen. While all this was going on my parents, whom my father is a minister though he retired in July, received a retirement call to serve a church in Juneau, Alaska. My PO, Helen Gaither, it turned out was very cool to me. Though the walks from the bus to her in Appleton WI were not! Because I had no car and often my parents weren’t available it was necessary to walk. But that’s ok. It just didn’t bother me. These things just don’t bother me anymore.

In about August, my efforts finally began to pay off. A major corporation hired me as a temporary software developer for a project they were working on through an agency I had worked with before and was unaware that I had been in prison the last 25 months. During that time I brushed the rust off my skills, got used to the grind that a software developer will have again and learned to deal with people again. About that time, a company based in Ames IA interviewed me for a position as a software engineer. They hired me. However I was given enough time to finish the contract I had started in with this company in Neenah WI. My parents were still in Alaska when I left in October. Needless to say I was excited and petrified all at the same time. I was fortunate on one aspect regarding work. I had largely lost the last two years and in technology circles that is as much as a lifetime. But this company was on older technology, technology I was well suited for. It was a perfect fit. Meanwhile I continue to upgrade my skills now. But anyway on October 8th I made the move. My first weekend didn’t go well. Furniture I had purchased for the apartment prior to my arrival had accidentally been tossed my a maintenance worker for the complex, as well as two tires going flat. Oh yes, my parents had sold me their old car and I had also managed to get insurance and a license during that time. But needless to say, I got things under control and my employer was extremely understanding as I missed my first day of work getting the car fixed. Things were pretty normal until about a month ago when weight loss and the familiar night sweats had returned – all symptoms I have become very familiar with. Testing revealed that my cancer had returned. Now before you become too concerned, just know, again I am going to be fine. I am doing chemotherapy again. But this time at least, I can control my diet though fatigue and nausea are now my main problems. See though I have insurance they don’t cover preexisting conditions unless you had proof of insurance before which of course I did not have in WPS. So medications I used for nausea and such are not covered either. But it is ok. It’s the same type of cancer as before and because they caught it earlier this time it is even more assured I will be fine. So don’t worry!

But what can I say about being free? My first day out my sponsors took me to a Mexican restaurant where I had chicken and steak fajitas. My mouth and stomach were on fire as they loved what I ate – but they didn’t so much later as they rebellled against the rich food I was not used to. I will spare you the details. Television, the Green Bay Packers and dear friends I have missed. All of it really is about choices of which we had very little in prison.

I still deal with the anxieity junkie. I still am largely alone or at least it looks that way. I am still single. My previous family contacts me to be sure but it is usually only when one of them is in trouble or needs money. My adopted siblings and family remain an awkward relationship. But yet I count myself as one of the lucky ones, one who found a way to be successful on release. I call it luck because things fell together in a way that I can’t really take credit for. Yes it is God and there are others to thank. Friends like Jennifer, Natalie, Mike, Bill, and Rebecca I couldn’t have done it without them. I owe them more than I have life left to repay. I simply can say no more than I am gratefully free. It has been so long and such a hard road, much of it self inflicted, that I can’t bring myself to complain. What right do I have to have such a good life? The answer is I do have that right as long as I do not forfeit that right with my choices I make in life.

I want to take this opportunity to also thank those of you who faithfully followed this blog, especially Jill, Karen, Kelly and Lori. You really kept me looking forward to mail call and such wondering what might be there today. Again, so grateful. How many others wait for even one piece of mail in prison only never to get any! And the rest of you, since my release I have watched your reaction from afar, really wanting to burst out and say hey its me! I’m free! But we all thought it best I keep a low profile until the entries were finished. I hope you understand. That said the future of this blog will be sporadic entries regarding what is happening with me and how it relates to being on parole. I am not going to do an entry every day. There just isn’t time like I used to have. But know this. If any of you want to reach out to me please feel free. I have always felt a closeness to many of you who suffered with your loved ones in prison right along with me.

On that note, its time to close. I have got some studying to do! Talk to you soon….

I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  It’s 6:46 pm on Tuesday, June 21st.  Tomorrow, probably in the morning, I will be freed.  I gave away some of my canteen to others and am trying to find boxes to pack my stuff since they took mine when I went to the hole and never returned them.  Guard Art Cole has returned after an extended absence to deal with “personal demons”.  He’s reinstated the shower list which has displease many.  I find myself watching the dayroom with a mixture of happiness and fear.  Happiness in the sense that I no longer will be dealing with this environment and fear in the sense that I know I have many struggles and battles ahead of me.  But ready or not here I go.  Today wasn’t a good day for 3 guys in my ERP group.  John Lloyd has learned the judge won’t look at his release paperwork for 3 weeks.  I can’t imagine what he must be going through.  He has spent the day talking on the phone to those he loves in angry, frustrated tones.  Larry Sands and Scott Bunker’s situation remains unchanged from yesterday.  They are handling it much better than I would have I think.  Augie Prescott left as expected today.  I missed him leaving but I’m told he was smiling.  The others beside these listed found out they will be leaving Tuesday.  Of course, nobody found out anything until our ERP social worker Ms. Grey showed up about 3 pm.  She dismissed Lloyd’s concerns, telling him brusquely the judge had 30 business days to answer.  She just doesn’t belong in this line of work.  Don’t do that in front of people when a man is desperate for anything at that point.  I tried to cheer him up to no avail.  She also didn’t do anything for Sands or Bunker either.  But I’m not going to be here to see how this turns out.  I’m watching the weather.  If you’ve been following this blog from the first day in prison to my hospital trips it seems like I always have bad weather for traveling days.  Today is thunderstorms, yesterday had flooding and tomorrow has its challenges.  But I’m not worried.  There is no weather that will keep me here!  But I’ll be ok.  After all of this, I will be unstoppable!  Just like the song said, I’ve made mistakes and not always done my best.  But with God’s help, I’m going to make it!  

I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Monday started off just weird.  Our ERP social worker Ms. Grey had us all assemble in our former group room which doubles as the rec room.  There she informed us we need to be patient while awaiting our release paperwork to be processed and to stop having people on the outside contact the clerks for the judges involved.  The problem is none of us have any faith in her or the process involved.  It doesn’t help that the perception of Ms. Grey’s attitude has been one that seems to enjoy seeing the people in our group twist in the wind as they wait and not forthcoming with information.  As for me, I was fortunate enough not to be involved with Milwaukee County and that my parole officer (PO) had already faxed my C15 form authorizing my release for Wednesday.  I thought I was done with Ms. Grey, not quite.  I was called to come see her in the dayroom from my cell.  She wanted to know how I was getting transported from the bus station and if the PO had approved my plans.  Of course, this had been done months ago.  Then I was called down again because she had lost the Socrates assessment I had done way back at the beginning of this ERP group.  She gave me a new one to fill out.  At 1 pm she returned to collect it.  I had thought about it and decided to ask if there was some sort of problem with my release plan.  She said no. She then asked me if I was the group member that drank Everclear.  I replied no I wasn’t.  I was the guy who liked to drink alone at night.  She nodded and went away.  I’m sure she’s trying to write my case summary for my PO, Helen Gaither and her memory has failed her again.  I thought social workers would keep notes on such things.  But my problems are nothing compared to what 3 of my fellow ERP group members are dealing with.  Cellie Larry Sands has somehow had his release paperwork get lost between when records sent it the Thursday before our graduation from ERP.  Scott Bunker has had his release paperwork get put on the wrong desk because his judge had retired.  John Lloyd has had his judge involved in a murder trial so nothing was getting done.  Interestingly enough Lloyd and Bunker are Waukesha County cases.  But neither Bunker or Sands find out what is happening without the assistance of the sister of ERP group member Scott Dietz who is kind enough to follow up on their cases with phone calls and inquiries.  Lloyd had his girlfriend following up for him or he wouldn’t have found out.  They were fortunate to not have heeded Ms. Grey’s acclamation this morning.  The rest of the guys have no had their release paperwork signed.  Now they are just waiting their PO to release them.  One, Augie Prescott is getting released tomorrow (Tues, June 21st), his PO having been quick with the turn around.  Bunker did get some good news.  That ear plug that had gotten stuck worked itself out after fluid build up and pushed it out enough to where he could get it.  He still can’t hear as he feels like he’s underwater but hopefully he’ll be ok now.  I just watched TV that night.  I had figured today to be my release date almost since I got here.  But I’m not complaining, I’m grateful.  I could be going through what Sands, Bunker, or Lloyd are going through.  It really is almost over. 

I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  It’s Friday and most everyone in our group is on edge awaiting news that their release paperwork has been returned by their judge having graduated the ERP.  It’s been 7 days since then.  Past groups that have graduated have always had more progress on getting people their paperwork than we have.  In addition, Milwaukee County has always been the slowest in processing this paperwork for past groups even though the courthouse is literally across the street.  My paperwork returned from Winnebago County on Wednesday and it’s a couple hours from here.  ERP group member Dean Stark became the first of the 10 of us to be released.  He left with no boxes just some papers in a bag.  I would be the next to get some news.  My C15 form authorizing MSDF to release me was sent by my parole officer (PO) Helen Gaither.  But the order was postdated for Wednesday June 22nd.  As our ERP social worker Ms. Grey informed me I admit to feeling disappointment at first.  I was hoping against hope to get released today or since Monday isn’t possible, Tuesday at the latest.  But as Ms. Grey walked away from me, I realized though I’m not getting out when I want, the fact the guesswork when I’m being released has been eliminated which rarely happens in this program.  As she left me, ERP group member Kevin House inquired if there was any news.  She told him “not to worry about it, you’re not going anywhere”.  You may as well have kicked him in the stomach because those words didn’t hurt any less.  What is she thinking?  This seems humorous to her, how the rats in the cage keep trying to find the way out.  We spent the rest of the day talking amongst ourselves off and on about what might be happening that is preventing the rest of the guys in our group paperwork from being processed.  At supper I again noticed the guard on duty reading my Green Bay Press Gazette before I got it.  Oh well.  At mail call I was delighted to again hear from my biological family.  My cousin expressed concern that I stay in touch after my release.  Are you kidding me?  I wrote back.  I’ve spent years looking for them.  No way am I going to stop talking to them. They like the idea of me visiting over Thanksgiving if I can arrange it.  They also want my phone number too which I should get when I pick up a cell phone on my way to my new home for the moment in Menasha, Wi.  I also heard from my friend Jill who has been following this blog almost since it started.  She is from Australia and has become a good friend.  She invited me to Sydney, Australia!  Of course, I suspect this would violate my parole!  But maybe someday.  I also want to see Israel and the West Bank someday as there is so much there related to my faith.  But that will have to wait too.  The day ended with ERP group member Scott Dietz again talking to his sister and again the same result.  No action on their cases.  Everyone says it doesn’t bother them but their eyes betray them.  I am grateful that it will soon be over. 

I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Thursday started off with high hopes that the day would end with me being a free man, sleeping in a bed of my own after having eaten real food.  As you may have guessed, it didn’t happen.  Nothing of significance happened again until the afternoon, when our ERP social worker Ms. Grey dropped by.  She told Dean Stark he was being picked up tomorrow (Friday).  No word for me or anybody else though.  I asked her about the email she said she had sent to my parole officer (PO), Helen Gaither and she needed to be prompted until she remembered.  She didn’t answer whether or not the email had been answered just saying that “my paperwork is not back yet!”  She just isn’t very forthcoming with information, almost as she seems to enjoy seeing us squirm while waiting for information.  But that wasn’t all the bad news.  The blog sponsor who is to pick me up at the bus station will be unable to pick me up this coming Monday due to work requirements.  As much as I don’t want anything to delay my departure I asked my sponsor to contact my PO and let Ms. Gaither know I wouldn’t have a ride on Monday.  I also asked to find out if Ms. Gaither got the email from Ms. Grey.  My confidence in Ms. Grey continued to be shaken as she handed out a piece of paper wanting to know what the address we were going to be released to was.  It seems no one could be released without that information in the system.  I had asked about this last week but she indicated she didn’t know how MSDF would get this info.  But this should have been done weeks ago. Since today was Thursday, it was Community Meeting day.  Though we have graduated, we are still required to attend though none of us participated. They were breaking in a new meeting leader so it was a bit chaotic.  One thing of interest was they are changing the ERP program schedule.  Now starting at 8 am groups will start and somehow all the groups will spend at least an hour a day in the smelly rec room that our group has used for a  group room for the last 6 months.  That was quite interesting to my group.  But all of this uncertainty with release has me in a foul mood.  I think its anxiety finding its voice or crankiness.  I try to keep reminding myself that its almost over and that they have to let me go at some point.  It’s just not easy to do.