PRC is God

Posted: May 11, 2010 in Uncategorized

I’m at the Jackson Correctional Institution (JCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  I mentioned in the blog, “I’ve Been Staffed” that I was denied entry to a minimum security facility because the psychiatrist, in their review of my case, had failed to specifically clear me for a  minimum security facility.  Once I am, I can go to such a facility, go through a program and be released.  Naturally, this is important to me so once I arrived at JCI, I submitted an Interview/Information Request Form (IRF) to the psychiatrist here requesting a review.  An IRF is a form used by staff and inmates to communicate with each other.  There is no “open door policy” in the WPS, for obvious reasons.  The IRF is the Swiss Army knife of communications, a little piece of paper that communicates what the inmate has to say, and returns a staff response.  This works great for short snippets of conversation but not so much with more complicated matters.  Perhaps this is by design.  I’m pretty sure the guards and staff don’t sit at their desks pining away for a communication form from an inmate.  Anyway, I got to see the psychiatrist.  He seemed like a pleasant fellow.  But he told me that although he would be the one to make the determination if I was an appropriate person for a minimum security setting, and I probably would be based on his brief look at my file, the request for the review couldn’t come from me.  It had to come from PRC.  Who was PRC I asked?  He smiled and said that the PRC was the Program Review Committee.  They make the determination what security level an inmate was qualified for, what program an inmate needed to take to achieve their goals and who conduct hearings on all inmates.  So I submitted an IRF to this PRC.  I requested they ask the psychiatrist to review my mental health status so I can quality for minimum security at my next hearing.  Their response was a little baffling.  The reply was that they make requests for mental health reviews.  Of course I thought, I know this already.  That’s why I made the request!  So I sent a second IRF asking them to make that request.  I even said please. 🙂  The PRC responded that “PRC will contact PSU if a mental health review is needed.”  Haven’t I made it clear that one was needed?  That was what the psychiatrist had told me.  Now I am getting frustrated.  It’s not like I can pick up the phone to get clarification and this process is playing out over the process of days.  So I fill out another IRF to PRC saying “That’s what I’m saying, a mental health review is needed.  The only thing keeping me out of minimum (ERP) is my mental health status at that point.  I’m trying to get this done so we can move forward to ERP”.  It’s so simple I thought.  It’s logical and sensible.  So the response from PRC came.  It said, “I, PRC, will request when appropriate”.  What?  Are you kidding me?  I’ve said why it’s appropriate and why its a good idea to do this request to the psychiatrist now.  And to top it off, the answer has this quasi divine feel which annoys me.  Maybe its the use of the personal pronoun “I” to refer to the entity of PRC.  Well by now, I’m done sending out scraps of paper trying to accomplish this task.  I decide to go see my social worker on the unit, Michelle Black.  My first impression of Miss Black was she is gorgeous.  Of course, I can count on one hand the number of women I’ve seen in the last year, so take that into consideration.  I think you’d agree.  But gorgeous or not, the news doesn’t improve.  She tells me I have to wait for PRC to initiate the review and to check back again later.  I am left frustrated and bewildered.

The problem here isn’t the unresponsive bureaucracy.  It’s not the lack of clear explanations, or the slowness of the paperwork.  The problem is my lack of acceptance and my expectation that people, places and things should somehow bend to my will and do what I want, when I want and if they don’t, I throw a fit like a spoiled two year old.   I acted like that before I went to prison but I excused it as being driven, especially in the work world.  It’s easy to practice acceptance in my life – unless it is inconvenient.  Lets hope I get better at it.

  1. Mike says:

    Hard to find the right question to ask when communicating to people on committee. Try asking open ended questions that may lead to you finding what the correct questions are. "What are the procedures for …?" "What is the prison policy on …?" And try a dose of humility: "I have been assessed for higher security. What goals can we set together for me to work toward the minimum security wing?" I\’ve been able to get more information out of beuracracies by telling them "I don\’t know what questions I\’m supposed to ask."

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