I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  The Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) Family has got an offer you can’t refuse – especially since they control every aspect of your life, potential release and they know that your financially destitute.  You feel like your not bargaining on an  equal footing, though you had more strength than you knew.  But the deal pleased the “Family”, as they keep the secrets of where the bodies are buried, who killed them and who knew about it safely hidden.  The “Family” will offer that deal and more 8 days a week to keep you silent and feel they got off light.  The past couple days around here the conversation around many has revolved around the media reports (original article entitled “Lawyer: Prison could have stopped alleged assaults” was not found, but was printed Wednesday, November 3, 2010 in the Green Bay Press-Gazette) of the payout to an inmate to not file a lawsuit concerning alleged sexual assaults by a former guard, James Trentin (I’m using his real name – I don’t usually use staff or inmates real names – but I’m using his because he was named in the media) at Prairie du Chien Correctional Institution and the at best incompetent and at worst intentionally misleading investigation by “prison officials” who then compounded their failure to protect inmates by returning the alleged predator to work where he had access to the inmates.  It was after this point, with the realization he now could act with impunity, that he allegedly assaulted the victim, acted with the supposed consent with 4 others, while several others rejected his advances.  Lets be clear on a couple things.  ANY sexual activity between staff and inmates is sexual assault by staff.  Inmates cannot consent. They can’t walk away and are largely powerless to stop the activity.  Second, inmates are not above using manipulation over staff actions to get what they want.  Really, it can begin to be a contest between who the bigger predator is and which one appears to have more power at a given moment.  Many inmates have perfected their con game.  But based on my readings of the facts, I use the words “alleged predator” in regards to James Trentin because of the fact he is not viewed as a predator by the legal system.  Why you might ask?  In exchange for guilty please to misdemeanors, 22 counts of second degree sexual assault were dropped.  Trentin didn’t do a day because the prosecutor felt inmates weren’t credible despite video evidence of Trentin giving them contraband, testimony of inmates who refused his advances (thus no crime but a pattern of conduce emerges), and testimony of those who were assaulted.  In light of that, I submit the idea that inmate victims are viewed less than worthy than say a collection of victims of a single predator on the outside world, largely because there is no political group with any kind of base to speak for those victims that anyone will listen to.  If this prosecutor treated a group of victims in this fashion in the outside world, they surely would lose their job.  I challenge anyone to disagree with that statement!  But isn’t it interesting how this whole tragedy resembles the abusive family dynamic?  You’ve got generational teachers who educate the parents that run the institutions that you must protect the family at all costs and the secrets that must stay that way, or the irrational fear of family, and individual destruction is planed.  The older siblings, the guards, all know one of their own is a predator on the powerless younger siblings, inmates, but won’t tell because they know the parents really don’t want to know about it.  Some of the powerless younger siblings see no way out so try to bargain with the predatory older sibling for their silence thus gaining an illusion of power and favor.  But one younger sibling complains to the parents about the abuse.  They ask their predator child about the allegations who of course blames the victims – everyone but himself using negotiations of some of the siblings as proof of his innocence.  The parents running the institution go to the complaining sibling and decide for the good of the family’s image to do something extraordinary for the child – to give him $150,000 and extract a promise that they’ll never get put under oath and have to reveal all the family secrets.  Meanwhile, as with all family secrets, they hold their breath and hope no one else comes forward.  Secrets have become their most treasured possession.  Predators (alleged) like James Trentin almost always have had or will have another victim out there somewhere.  Time is a secret’s enemy.  The question isn’t a matter of if but when it comes out.  When it does, will the predatory older sibling go down himself or will all the dominoes fall threatening the whole family for having kept silent?  Do you know something about this or have a similar secrete no one knows? Call Thomas Hayes (414) 271-9844), a lawyer looking into this, or email this blogs sponsors.  Don’t sit in silence any longer.

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