I Got Staffed (Classified)

Posted: April 9, 2010 in Uncategorized

The number one question asked by one inmate to another at Dodge Correctional Institution, the receiving facility in the Wisconsin Prison system, is “Have you been staffed yet?”  What they are referring to is the process the prison system uses to classify an inmate, whether they are a minimum, medium, or maximum security inmate, identify what types of programs you should go through for rehabilitation, and what prisons you might be sent to.  The person that does this is called the “Classification Specialist”.  They make sure all the paperwork from the courts is correct, all screening here has been done, and give their recommendations.  This process is called by the Department of Corrections, as you might guess, is “Classification”.

Trust me on this.  Every inmate here anxiously awaits their turn to be staffed.  Any possible prison we could be sent to is seen as having to be better than here.  In our minds, the next prison is the “Promised Land” where we aren’t in our cells 23 hours a day, can talk to others, have things to do, have access to electronics, and feel like we’re moving forward.  The average wait to be staffed is about 8 weeks and that wait to escape Dodge seems like torture.

This past Thursday, my 50th day at Dodge, it was my turn to be staffed. 

I knew what I hoped would happen.  I would be classified as a minimum security inmate and be sent directly to a prison with the Earned Release Program (ERP).  ERP is a program designed for those with drug and/or alcohol issues.  I’m told it’s an intense 4 1/2 to 6 month treatment program.  Upon successful completion, the remainder of the time you have to sit in prison is converted into extended supervision and you are released.  In a perfect world, I’d be out sometime this summer.

Of course, the world isn’t perfect, and I’ve come to expect the unexpected.  The classification specialist found a problem.  On the paperwork on my case, a clerk had forgotten to check a box that said I was eligible for ERP.  That of course, would have to be fixed prior to my entry into the program.  Sounds simple right?  Not exactly.  The clerk has to get the request, do the paperwork, have the Judge sign it, the DOC has to get it and it than will be considered at your next classification review.  My classification specialist scheduled that for 4 months from now.  I’m sure my disappointment was obvious.  I asked if I could get the review done sooner if the paperwork was fixed and she told me I could ask the Social Worker at the next institution.  She agreed I was ERP material and my plan was going that direction.  Her plan is to send me to a medium security prison in Stanley or Jackson then on to the waiting list for the ERP program in Chippewa Falls once everything was fixed.

Yes, I was annoyed but it wasn’t her fault.  I sat around my cell kicking myself for not having this in order and getting myself in this position to begin with.  I tried to focus on the positive.  Soon I’d be out of Dodge.  I could have .NET Framework books sent to my next institution and try to stay on top of things in Information Technology.  I could have a radio, maybe even a TV. Maybe that wouldn’t be so bad, I thought.

Today, however a guard mentioned with me having all these chemotherapy treatments still to go, Dodge might not let me go to another facility especially how far they are from Madison.  It certainly wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but I could easily see that happening.  The staffing process is suppose to provide a roadmap, a sense of direction and concrete goals but even now I feel that slipping away to the uncertainty I’ve known for the past 10 months.

I got up and paced the floor.  My thoughts went from these issues to my attitude.  All my assumptions are negative.  I assume I won’t get classified again sooner.  I assume Dodge won’t let me go. I assume that guard even knows what he’s talking about.  Why my flow of negativity?  I’m thinking its because I, who am powerless in this reality, am trying to be in control and for some reason I find that paradox frustrating!  It might too indicate a belief I’ll fail regardless, and/or a lack of faith in God, myself and others.  Perhaps as time goes on, these things will become clear.  It is certainly worthy of examination.

  1. Henry M says:

    I have not been sentenced as of yet but at least I some what know what to expect when I am sentenced. If it is a prison sentence that is. Here I was thinking that the judge sentenced someone and you were immediately sent to the appropriate institution.
    Sounds like a bunch of typical lazy ass state employees holding up the show again. Yes I know I should change my way of thinking before I get there but I will not change that. And yes I will still be verbal about how lazy state employees are. I would assume that the 8 weka counts toward your time served. Maybe. Not a good idea to assume anything though.
    Do you know where I can go to get an idea of what life is like in the other institutions?

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