I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  The only clue there was anything different on Christmas Eve than any other day was that this was a Friday and it was being treated as a weekend day, which meant there was no ERP program activities and the lights stayed off until 11 am.  Everyone is okay with that but in the back of my mind I’m thinking about the fact we won’t see mail until Tuesday.  I very much look forward to hearing from the blog sponsors with messages from them that include your emails and comments you post along with their well wishes and information on my personal affairs.  As I’ve said, I’m very grateful for you and them, and I hope you find what we do here helpful.  If so, please let others know about this blog.  Anyway, this is my 2nd and hopefully last Christmas incarcerated.  Last year at this time, I was in Waukesha County Jail (WCJ), having completed my second chemotherapy session and in a cell by myself that I could never leave without a mask due to my low white count.  Two weeks later you all joined me on this journey through the WPS, and my divorce was finalized on the same day.  To borrow the cliché, what a long, strange trip it has been!  A lot was uncertain about the future then, just like now, except last year was about the transition to prison life and this year will hopefully be about the transition back to the community.  But we’ve got a long road to go until then.  There was little talk of Christmas around this unit except on the telephones which seemed like they were always occupied.  My cellie, Malik Pearl and I both opened the cookies we got the week before and shared them with the other cellies, Brian Whalen and Andre Charles.  I learned something new about all my cellies.  The reason Andre is always trying to scam Whalen is he has nobody out there to send him money.  MSDF is different.  If you had nothing in other prisons I’ve seen, it was just too bad.  People would eat in front of you and not care.  If you had nothing, which happened to me several times, no resentments were held.  Here people get mad about that.  Whalen had 3 visits, one being his son and another being the therapist who sent him the letter.  But he doesn’t want to be pressured and he feels she’s pushing him.  He asked me if I want to be a roommate once I get out since I have nowhere to go at this point.  Of course, no way do I want to do that, but I can’t afford to eliminate any options.  But Malik, he made a call to family and found out the mother of his child had somehow lost all his possessions but the assumption was her family members had paned them for drugs.  If seems Malik has a tendency to use violence to keep “his women” in line and though he is a laid back person, he would not hesitate to hurt, even kill, those who cross him.  The only thing saving her now is that she is the mother of his child, and it was good he was not on the street now, or so he claims.  This girl “put him in prison once” and he won’t let it happen again.  I just can’t believe I so misjudged him.  He’s just as dangerous as Andre, but in a different way.  But everyone in this cell is getting along real well.  If this had been a year ago, I would have handled it differently.  But it’s Christmas and I’m one day closer to never seeing this place ever again.  And that’s a great Christmas present!

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