I Got the Heck out of Dodge

Posted: April 12, 2010 in Uncategorized

I apologize for the title, but since I am at the Dodge Correctional Institution, the receiving facility for the Wisconsin Prison System, it seemed appropriate.  About 2 pm on March 1, ironically a day after I completed the last blog entry where at the end I took myself to task for being so negative about my chances of leaving, I was informed I would be exiting Dodge for my new institution the next day and I should pack my stuff.  I acknowledged, and then did the run around like a chicken with my head cut off thing, fiddling with a little of this, then a little of that, not really sure what to do.  The thought occurred to me I should get something to put my stuff in!  The swamper gave me three brown paper bags.  I had two of them filled up in minutes with all my stuff.  I was obviously so ready to leave.

About suppertime, I came out and after the meal was over, I asked the guard what prison I was going to.  She told me I was going to Jackson Correctional Institution in Black River Falls, WI.  I asked if she or the other guard knew anything about the place and they said no, but one guard said they’d let me out after everyone was done eating to view the “blue book” on this prison.  The “blue book” contained information on each facility, on what it offered program wise and other pertinent data.  When they let me out to review it, I was struck by how far away it was from everything I knew.  I also didn’t see anything vocational wise I could focus on during my time there.  But I did see I could have a hobby like music.  I hadn’t played piano or keyboards since May 2009.  That would be cool to do something like that again.  I returned to my cell and began re-reading “The Hunt for Red October” hopefully for the last time.

At 7:30 pm, I was told they were ready to pack my stuff for tomorrow.  I took my bags I’d packed and was escorted to a room near intake and got in line with about 30 other inmates.  I saw a familiar face, the effeminate swamper, we’ll call Ricky, from my time at Unit 21.  He greeted me like we were old friends which embarrassed me somewhat.  Ricky was all worried he was going to get sent to Jackson, but didn’t really give me an answer why.  When it was my turn for the guard to go through my things, I watched with growing frustration as he threw away item after item.  All of my open canteen and a lot of my hygiene that was open was tossed.  It now all fit in 1 box.  It got taped up and put on the cart.  I was then told to drop my tennis shoes on the pile on my way out.

I returned to my cell and tried to focus on my book.  In the past, times of upheaval or change produced extreme anxiety and stress but tonight, with the exception of some floor pacing, I felt ok.  As usual, I didn’t sleep well but that wasn’t about the move.  I was awake at 5:30 am when the guard brought a breakfast bag, which consisted of Rice Krispies and milk.  At about 6:30 am, I was taken to Intake and was strip searched like I was the first day.  I was shackled by the guard who had taken me to Chemotherapy who wished me luck, then placed in an extremely crowded cell.  Sure enough Ricky was there, again greeting me like an old friend, and yes, he was headed for Jackson.  I could tell he made a lot of people uncomfortable.  Soon there was only standing room available and as the wait went to 2 hours the grumbling was getting louder.  Finally, we were loaded on a bus that was designed like the plane from the movie “Con Air” which made me laugh.  The seats were small and it was an uncomfortable 4 hour ride.  We made stops at the prison at Columbia, and New Lisbon dropping off and taking on new passengers.  The bus always seemed to be going school zone speeds which was frustrating.  Finally, we arrived in Black River Falls, WI and arrived at the facility.  I actually had gotten the heck out of Dodge, as well as actually surviving it.  Today was my 299th day of custody, and the 55th day in the Wisconsin Prison system.  As the gates of another institution closed behind me, I prayed that God would guide and protect me here as much as he had at Dodge Correctional Institution, even when it felt like I had been deserted.  The bus doors opened and I waited for my turn to enter Jackson Correctional Institution.

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