I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  It’s February 1st and we’re suppose to begin the worst snow storm in a decade this afternoon.  As noted when I first got here, we can’t see or hear what’s going on outside.  I have mixed emotions about that.  In years past, I’d have been stocking up on comfort foods like pizza and chips and prepared to enjoy a lot of coffee while having fun with the kids.  There would be lots of shoveling too but even that was ok as you knew hot coffee and blankets awaited you when finished.  I’d have reruns of “House” and “Law and Order: SVU” taped which the wife and I would watch.  There’s no wife or kids, certainly no driveways or sidewalks to shovel and little chance of getting real cold in the climate controlled recycled air of MSDF.  But there’s little sense in thinking like this.  There’s another kind of storm brewing, one which could potentially change the WPS landscape.  A graduate of ERP named Emmit Bankhead robbed several banks in succession and Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn again called for an end to the “early release program”. As I’ve told you all before, people often make this mistake when referring to this program.  But Flynn made the assertion that “we all know it doesn’t work” and called for people to serve their full sentences.  This combined with Gov. Scott Walker’s choice to head the Department of Corrections (DOC), former Dane County Sheriff Gary Hamblin, who is on record for opposing programs such as ERP, and you have to wonder if we’re seeing the beginning of the end for ERP.  Please don’t think me selfish for being very happy I’m enrolled now.  Most inmates in my group when discussing it feel it won’t be here next year.  I’ve even heard some staff wonder the same thing.  You’ve got to feel for some of the folks as their jobs might be threatened under Gov. Walker.  He’s definitely on a mission you got to give him that.  Well, today we had strict guards on 3rd and 1st shift.  The third shift guards turned off the water on the sinks which inmates ran to drown out the sounds of the well, bathroom use and then turned off the power twice at around 5 am so everyone’s clock reset to flashing twelve’s.  Of course everyone had to guess if they could come to the dayroom.  The official reason was a generator test but the way the guards carried themselves told the story that they were mean spirited people.  The guard on first shift again not a regular, was strictly enforcing the dress code, specifically our white t-shirts had to be tucked in and that we always had to ask to use the bathroom.  Several got warnings put on their card.  Our ERP group got started with Scott Dietz turn to read his autobiography.  He’s a businessman, a guy who starts or improves existing companies.  When he got bored, he got drunk.  His story of a debilitating accident didn’t pass the smell test. He got an OWI reduced to reckless driving but claims no alcohol was involved and that he had fallen asleep.  No one challenged him on it.  I’m still trying to figure out when its acceptable to do that or if I should at all.  But that’s todays report.  I hope you get shoveled out ok if you live in the area.

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