Posts Tagged ‘addition’


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 Friday and most everyone in our group is on edge awaiting news that their release paperwork has been returned by their judge having graduated the ERP.  It’s been 7 days since then.  Past groups that have graduated have always had more progress on getting people their paperwork than we have.  In addition, Milwaukee County has always been the slowest in processing this paperwork for past groups even though the courthouse is literally across the street.  My paperwork returned from Winnebago County on Wednesday and it’s a couple hours from here.  ERP group member Dean Stark became the first of the 10 of us to be released.  He left with no boxes just some papers in a bag.  I would be the next to get some news.  My C15 form authorizing MSDF to release me was sent by my parole officer (PO) Helen Gaither.  But the order was postdated for Wednesday June 22nd.  As our ERP social worker Ms. Grey informed me I admit to feeling disappointment at first.  I was hoping against hope to get released today or since Monday isn’t possible, Tuesday at the latest.  But as Ms. Grey walked away from me, I realized though I’m not getting out when I want, the fact the guesswork when I’m being released has been eliminated which rarely happens in this program.  As she left me, ERP group member Kevin House inquired if there was any news.  She told him “not to worry about it, you’re not going anywhere”.  You may as well have kicked him in the stomach because those words didn’t hurt any less.  What is she thinking?  This seems humorous to her, how the rats in the cage keep trying to find the way out.  We spent the rest of the day talking amongst ourselves off and on about what might be happening that is preventing the rest of the guys in our group paperwork from being processed.  At supper I again noticed the guard on duty reading my Green Bay Press Gazette before I got it.  Oh well.  At mail call I was delighted to again hear from my biological family.  My cousin expressed concern that I stay in touch after my release.  Are you kidding me?  I wrote back.  I’ve spent years looking for them.  No way am I going to stop talking to them. They like the idea of me visiting over Thanksgiving if I can arrange it.  They also want my phone number too which I should get when I pick up a cell phone on my way to my new home for the moment in Menasha, Wi.  I also heard from my friend Jill who has been following this blog almost since it started.  She is from Australia and has become a good friend.  She invited me to Sydney, Australia!  Of course, I suspect this would violate my parole!  But maybe someday.  I also want to see Israel and the West Bank someday as there is so much there related to my faith.  But that will have to wait too.  The day ended with ERP group member Scott Dietz again talking to his sister and again the same result.  No action on their cases.  Everyone says it doesn’t bother them but their eyes betray them.  I am grateful that it will soon be over. 

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I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Today is Friday, the end of our 21st of 26 weeks that this program lasts.  In the dayroom prior to our ERP group starting, we learned Augie Prescott still couldn’t get through to his family in Alabama after the devastation caused by the tornadoes there that have killed over 200 in several southern states.  Of course, I didn’t say anything to anyone but my recently reconnected biological family is from that area.  I have no way to reach them since my only way to reach them is through email via my sponsors.  I sent a note but I can’t let myself think about it too much.  It would be so ironic if something happened now that I have finally connected to them.  But lets not go there.  The day started off with us going over proper interview etiquette in the video From Parole to Payroll which was very effective if you have not had experience interviewing before.  We paid special attention though in how to handle disclosure of our criminal offense in the interview and on the application. We’re supposed to answer the question on the application that we’ll explain at the interview.  At the interview when the question comes up what we did we’re to answer truthfully yet answer it with a one word answer or as few words as possible.  Above all, take responsibility and don’t’ lie.  So we learned something, at least I did anyway.  Then we were teamed up two by two by our ERP Social Worker Ms. Grey, where we were to give each other what would be considered a job performance evaluation.  It was of course fun for each of us to pick on the other guy.  I was teamed with John Lloyd, whom I have sat across from in the dayroom and eaten across from the last 5 months.  He identified as my strengths my writing, initiative and thorough.  As weaknesses he said I lacked tack and that I’m not subtle at all.  But when I pressed him for an example he couldn’t give one.  So I didn’t understand that at all, where he saw that in me.  Most I know see me the opposite of these things.  Ms. Grey then handed out our blank Phase III Goals and Objectives sheets and said we should consider what was identified as weaknesses for Phase III short term goals.  We don’t’ have a due date on these goals but lets hope it’s not going to be the struggle for our group it was in Phase 2.  In our afternoon session, we played another game just like UNO and the goggles on another.  This time it was a game where we asked each other random questions that were printed on cards that had been dealt to us.  The questions were such like “What was the biggest mistake you made?” and “What would life be like without computers?”  We all had fun with it, with their being some serious moments.  Even intern Nikita had joined us today and participated. Guess we’re going to be losing her soon as she is returning to school soon.  Heck, we’re all going to be gone soon!  After group, cellie Corey Ball gave guard Ruth Barthowski a card form all of us that said goodbye and thank you for her years of service and for the respect she has shown us.  Tomorrow is her last day on the job.  The ERP Social Workers were aware so there was no risk of fraternization charges.  Supper was interesting tonight because in the middle of one of the worst meals served here, soy based imitation meat for our tacos, an emergency count was called which meant we had to get up in the middle of the meal, go stand and be counted, then wait until count cleared to return to eat. Let’s face it, the food is usually cold when we get it in addition to it sucking so the only problem for us was the disruption of routine.  As for me, I ‘m still out of sorts and my cellies have noticed I’m not as patient as I normally am.  The juvenile humor and acting out I usually just ignore is getting to me more now.  I’m not sure what my problem is except perhaps nerves about getting close to getting out.  I hope my cellies will put up with me while I get my perspective back. 


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Wednesday was another training day here but it was also schedule not to be a group day so there was a lot of time to spend in our cells.  Cellie Andre Charles was obviously anxious to get out and we all, as I’d find out later, were anxious for him to leave.  At 9 am we set out to clean our cells but Andre was worried about getting dirty so he didn’t do anything.  He went down to the guard desk to ask when he would get called.  It was a different guard on duty, one who had no patience for antics like guard Roscoe Peters did.  He didn’t get an answer.  About 9:15 am, that guard came up to our cell and gave him a bus pass for the bus service in Milwaukee which got him even more geeked.  He put his head out the door and he could overhear the guards discussing him and laughing wondering why he was in such a hurry to get out because its not like “he’s got a job to go to”  This just infuriated him because of the disrespect he felt.  Like yesterday, I can’t blame him.  It was truly unprofessional on their part.  Finally at 10:17 am, the call came.  He wrapped all his state owned property in a bed sheet and cellies Brian Whalen and Corey Ball took his boxes down for him.  He had to sit in the dayroom for a few minutes but then he was gone.  Within minutes of his departure Whalen began bending my ear about how Andre would steal from him too and how he had abused his generous nature during their time here.  I knew this already.  But I asked why he didn’t do something about it.  He replied he was just trying to keep the peace.  I knew that too and I understand it.  But the feeling in our cell at this point was like a huge burden having been lifted off of a person, like one could breathe again.  While all the Andre bashing was going on the thought occurred to me whoever my cellies are then will probably knock me after I leave too.  We already had lined up the occupant for what had been Andre’s bunk.  It was my ERP group member Larry Sands.  We had to wait till guard Ruth Bartkowski came on 2nd shift to do the transfer as she is the only guard who will do them.  Our motive is to make sure we don’t get someone who isn’t like us when  the new inmates come in – quiet and able to get along.  Now that Andre is gone, Ball got a hold of the unit typewriter and typed letters in our cell. Andre had thrown a fit with him about the noise.  All of us took the locks off our lockers.  After count, Sands moved in.  The first night was spent mostly with him getting to know Whalen and Ball while he regaled them with tales of his sexual conquests.  He loves it here as everyone is so quiet.  Apparently the cell he came from, apparently liked to grab each other and wrestle in a pseudo sexual manner.  He couldn’t cope with that or the noise.  I don’t blame him!  That night I relaxed for the first time in a long time and everyone seemed pleased with Sands addition to our cell.


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Tuesday afternoon came about and the staff and inmates alike were focused on one thing – Gov. Walker was giving his address on the state budget.  Inmates and staff were watching for vastly different reasons however.  Staff were concerned with layoffs, benefit cuts, as well as DOC funding cuts.  Inmates wanted to find out what would happen to the so called early release provisions of Act 28 in the previous two year budget and what, if anything, would happen to ERP or the Challenge Incarceration Program (CIP).  ERP is a federally funded program but those running the DOC are said to be opposed to any kind of programs that encourage early inmate release.  So nobody knows what was going to happen.  Truthfully, though, had people been thinking by the time any of this goes into effect we will have all graduated ERP.  So there really isn’t reason to be concerned.  But it makes a good conversational piece.  The social workers even came by the unit though no groups were going to watch it on our TV.  The address got interrupted by the trays being handed out for supper but the news came out under this proposal, Act 28 and any mechanism for early release, such as good time, is dead.  In addition, over 50 million in funding for the DOC is being cut based on lower prisoner population.  It would seem these two things contradict each other.  We shall see.  Nothing was said specifically about ERP but I’m guessing it’s going to be left alone.  Again, we shall see.  The rest of the budget was painful to hear but that didn’t surprise me.  I noted the possible cuts to BadgerCare, especially since I might need help with the cost of the PET scans after I get out until I get a job with insurance to make sure cancer has not returned.  But that’s a down the road concern.  We all went about our business.  The following day held a surprise for me.  It was a Training Day but I was asked along with a swamper to go and clean the social worker’s office.  I got there and they were al in one room with several desks.  Even the intern Nikita was there.  They joked with me about the job sweeping I was doing when I left a dust bunny behind.  It was odd seeing them all together except for one.  Then the unit manager came by, let the social workers know she needed her office cleaned as well and wanting the mop water changed.  The swamper went to get water while I went to her office to sweep.  I’ve never seen a more messy desk.  Having read my face she insisted she knew where everything was on it.  After we were done we returned to the unit where everyone was busy cleaning as is the custom on Training Day.  The guys in my group now kid me more than ever about being Ms. Grey’s favorite.  But that’s ok.  I don’t’ care.  I just don’t know what she sees in me. 


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP). Shortly after count last night, the Koss headphones I bought off the catalogs, a plastic piece by the right ear just fell off making the ear piece unable to stay connected (Jack L. Marcus catalog #2168).  I got them while at JCI several months ago and they take a considerable pounding since I never listen to TV or radio without them.  I spent the rest of the night after shaving my head wearing those headphones being careful not to touch them once I got them on my head lest I cause the headphone to fall.  It’s unfortunate it happened right before Christmas break where TV viewing will be a major pastime.  With Christmas right around the corner (today is December 23rd) guard and staff vacations have started which means we have staff unfamiliar to us.  I asked them for an order form and catalog so I could order the headphones but were refused.  While waiting for lunch, my cellies, Malik Pearl, Andre Charles, and Brian Whalen had a long but productive conversation.  Andre went on and on about how those in his ERP group upset him with how they act.  He finally came at me and wanted to know what I thought.  I took a deep breath and told him the problem was him.  His expectations of how these people act is what has created this problem.  In addition, I told him his anger management isn’t the problem but he has a rage issue, and that he needed medication for mood stabilization and impulse control.  Finally, I told him I worry someday he will kill someone before he was even aware of what he’s done.  Everyone in the room was stunned by what I said but Andre said I was dead on accurate and thanked me.  But he asked why Whalen never had issues with him.  It’s because Whalen does everything he can to appease him while Malik and I would not.  Whalen even agreed with this opinion.  For once I thought I handled this situation well.  We had count after lunch and Andre came out without his ID or yellow smock.  Normally, they let this go but these new guards did not.  After count cleared, one of the guards showed up and told him to pack up as he was doing to the hole for these violations.  He was patted down, and Andre was clearly getting angry.  After going through his things, the guard announced he was “fu—– with him as he had them by not following the rules”.    Relieved he didn’t go to the hole he returned to his usual loud self.  But this guard had played a very dangerous game.  What if Ander had flipped out over losing his ERP over his trick?  Getting kicked out of ERP can mean additional years an inmate may have to sit in prison.  I believe Andre to be fairly dangerous and this guard was by himself and didn’t know Malik or I.  Fortunately, it ended ok …this time.  At 1 pm, Ms. Grey joined us and gave us new books.  On was “Houses of Healing: A Prisoner’s Guide to Inner Power and Freedom, 5th Edition”, 2008, by Robin Casarjian and another workbook, “Criminal Conduct and Substance Abuse Treatment.  Strategies for Self Improvement and Change” by Kenneth W. Wanberg and Harvey B. Milkman, 2006, Sage Publications.   We will begin assignments in this next week while she is gone on vacation.  Ms. Grey also gave us a whole bunch of worksheets.  The load is getting heavier no doubt.  But I am confident I’ll keep up.


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP). Our ERP group coordinator, Betty Grey is really struggling.  We didn’t see her at all yesterday and today she pulled us together in that same dimly lit exercise room.  She was clearly frustrated with the situation.  Having come from Racine Correctional Institution (RCI), I’m sure she was far more supported than she is here.  Questions inmates in the group had that are especially centered around visitation with the holiday coming up, questions regarding interstate compacts (which permit inmates to move across state lines) and other MSDF procedures.  Ms. Grey just had no answer.  Larry Sands, a group member, suggested we ask the other group coordinators those questions which made Ms. Grey uncomfortable.  Throughout the rest of the day she handed out paperwork that we should have been given at the time homework was given that gave us direction on how to do it.  It was just a sense of general disorganization, something someone new in a job might very well have.  I feel bad for her to be honest.  We had our community meeting today, my first while in the ERP program.  The phrase today was “Always do what you are afraid to do” and the word today was “grim” as in “No man ever understands his own artful dodges to escape the grim shadow of reality” talking about how we practice denial and don’t even see the depth of our own self deception.  Then a skit was done about how we pursue the easier short sighted self gratification instead of working for a better future.  We provided comments on each as they occurred.  Then one man stood up with the news article for the week and it focused on Brett Favre’s streak ending.  He tied it to what we’re doing here by saying Favre was in recovery and accomplished his streak while in recovery from his Vicodin addition.  The only problem is Favre is not in “recovery” at least not in the traditional sense.  But nothing was said.  The announcement was made we wouldn’t have this meeting the next 2 Fridays because of the holidays.  My cellie, Frank Whalen, then stood up to read something but the coordinator told him not to which was odd.  The meeting broke and we all went to clean our cells as is the custom on Fridays.  Whalen came and got me and asked me to read what he had.  HIs girlfriend, a 60 year old therapist (he’s 44) had written him an amazing letter describing him as a Narcissistic but that he was an awesome, terrific person to her.  Turns out he hadn’t even read it and he was going to read it to the whole group.  I told him this was a bad idea as she went into detail on his failure and sex life and I felt that some inmates would use that info to torture him.  Whalen asked me what was in it and I told him his girlfriend loved him very much but had some things to tell him and he should sit down by himself to read it.  I was envious of him for a minute, having such a lady who stood by him despite his crimes.  But I was happy he’s not alone in this world.  I got a letter saying Lucy had changed her mind and decided I couldn’t stay there when I get out due to personal reasons.  It’s her right to change her mind and I can’t really blame her.  I’m a felon and a burden at this point.  Of course, I’d already turned in my paperwork on this so I don’t know what will happen.  I’ve got 23 weeks to go but Ms. Grey wants to know now to do her job.  I appreciate your prayers and I’ll keep working on this. 


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP). They handed out canteen last night which was unremarkable except for the fact I met the regular second shift guard, a sweet older lady by the name of Ruth Bartkowski.  Ruth actually sincerely inquired how I was doing in my adjustment to MSDF.  We talked about what a shock it is to the system for those of us coming from medium or minimum security environments.  I think I genuinely smiled for the first time since my arrival here while talking to her. And if that wasn’t enough, after I had returned to my cell I was well into a bag of BBQ chips being so hungry and my cellmate Malik Pearl appeared to be sleeping on his bunk with his headphones on, her partner tonight, a guard in his mid-twenties, who looks like he could be in a band, named Peter Thorn, came to our cell to inspect it.  I said that was fine.  But he saw Malik sleeping, inquired with me about it and I replied he was.  Then Thorn shocked me with what he said.  He didn’t want to wake Malik up so he’d inspect us another time.  Are you kidding me?  Between Bartkowski and Thorn, the laws of the universe are being turned upside down!  So, I’m in a good mood until time to lock in for the night when Andre Charles and Brian Whalen were talking and appearing to try to shield their conversation from me.  I don’t really care what they are saying.  I’m more annoyed by it and I find it disrespectful.  But I’m in prison so I shouldn’t expect politeness.  The next morning after we ate breakfast and had returned to our cell all of a sudden the power in the cell went out but the lights remained on.  We heard yelling ordering us to come out of our cell.  I was pretty sure it was a shakedown.  I felt pretty confident about not having anything considered contraband.  My cellies scrambled to throw various things in our little wastebasket, but I made sure I was the last one out to make sure they didn’t throw anything on my bunk.  Once downstairs, I had a wave of panic hit me.  I had used newspapers I’d gotten on my subscription to pad my extremely thin pillow and I also remembered I’d brought a box of raisins from breakfast a few days ago and it was on top of my locker.  Ok it isn’t major contraband but I don’t know their attitudes here.  So we were taken to another pod and crammed in a room to await them to complete their task.  We were there about an hour.  I heard they’ve had more searches in the last month than the rest of the year.  My previous institution, Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), was also doing this.  Some say its a budget thing as that whole process in the State of Wisconsin is beginning.  I don’t know.  We were then brought out into the dayroom of the pod we were in to be strip searched prior to returning to our pod.  Even the social workers were locked in clearly upsetting them.  It was there we learned that the canine unit of the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office had been here.  In addition to the normal strip search procedure, we had to endure the indignity of bending over so they could see up there.  Other guys report they had to spread their toes for the guard.  We then returned to the same room and then we all assembled in the room next to our pod as our cell number was called.  Finally one cell was left and instead of joining us they were locked in that pod.  What they had had in their cell is unknown but one person among them was scheduled to be released today.  But all 4 were taken to the hole.  I can just imagine what’s going on in that guy’s head.  After 6 months of ERP, putting up with this place and then this.  I don’t know and probably wont’ get to find out what happened to him.  I got back to my cell, the box of raisins still there and newspapers undisturbed but while I’m thankful I realize how truly thin the line between success and failure will be for me at MSDF.