Posts Tagged ‘advantage’


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  This weekend was the Super Bowl where Wisconsin’s own Green Bay Packers were taking on the Pittsburgh Steelers.  All week the usual trash talk has been going on but not nearly the level it was at Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI).  Still you had your haters, who dislike the Packers just to get under people’s skin, and of course those genuinely rooting for the Steelers such as one of my cellies, Andre Charles.  Events such as these draw more than the normal gambling going on and it also means the stakes are higher.  During the season it was common to see meal trays as the object of the wagers.  Not this time though.  People bet canteen dollar amounts, paid for at the next order of canteen by the inmate who lost.  Of course this is entirely against the rules.  But that’s not why I don’t do it.  You have a way of knowing if the inmate your betting with hasn’t made so many bets he’s in over his head and now he might react if he’s unable to pay everyone.  Of course, keep in mind, it’s me we’re talking about.  I’ve been pretty risk averse during my time in prison.  But cellie Brian Whalen almost did find himself in a situation.  He bet with others $10 of canteen (a large sum around here) the Steelers would win with assurances from Andre that he’d help cover his bet if he lost.  Of course, when he lost, Andre didn’t know who he was which upset Whalen.  I’d been enjoying the quiet since he stopped talking to me but now that Whalen and Andre are feuding that’s gone.  I’m just glad it’s not me for a change!  Andre took the Steelers loss much better than expected and we had a good conversation.  I guess he has to talk to me now since I’m all he’s got if Whalen and him are going at it.  The next morning Ms. Grey, our ERP Group Coordinator, arrived in what appeared to be a bad mood, shutting down all football talk because she’s ‘not a fan’.  We had a surprise this morning as she called on group member Larry Sands to read his autobiography again.  Again, Sands missed the mark on what Ms. Grey wanted but it was improved.  He spoke of his father’s suicide, violence, mental hospitalizations and a woman twice his age taking advantage of him sexually – and all of this as a kid.  As he aged, he engaged in serial relationships – if you can call it that – with woman he manipulates with ease.  At the end, we didn’t have much to say.  But Ms. Grey had a lot to say.  She voiced her concerns that he engaged in bad guy behavior while putting it out there as if he was being a good guy.  The tension between the two was pretty obvious.  I volunteered that perhaps the manipulative serial relationships indicated a fear of desertion and being alone hoping he would talk about where those fears came from.  Ms. Grey challenged me, asking if I was condoning his behavior.  No, but I understood from his background I told her.  The answer seemed to satisfy her.  It should.  It’s the truth.  After lunch we watched more videos from Dr. Samenow focusing on manipulation we do of our loved ones.  Ms. Grey had us write down one time we manipulated someone.  But she returned Sands paper as it wasn’t about him as well as group member  Augie Prescott.  She collected Sands autobiography as well as the autobiography from group member Kevin House who is scheduled to have his read tomorrow.  We’re all talking amongst ourselves just because Ms. Grey isn’t operating as she normally does.  But we’ll see what happens.

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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).  I woke up to cellie Andre Charles, banging around intentionally trying to disturb the rest of us in retaliation for yesterday’s events.  I bet you’re as tired of reading about this as I am living it.  But I took advantage.  I got up and got my laundry and shower done by 7:30 am.  In the news department, I’m starting a new protein only diet today.  I’m 6’1” and 200 lbs, heavier than I’ve ever been.  Basically I’ll only eat protein.  No more chips, carbs and such.  So I ordered meat sticks and tuna off canteen.  So we’ll see how that works.  I’m not fat but I want to keep from getting that way.  Plus I ordered a multivitamin off canteen so its not like I’m not getting that stuff.  Anyway, Ms. Grey came for our morning ERP session and started out with our breathing exercise and moved onto a “pretest” of our knowledge about the things we’ll be covering in ERP which I got an 82.  She elected to wait until next week for our assignment on the inner child from yesterday.  No one complained.  A new book was handed out, the second in the series from The Change Companies called “Rational Thinking” and got out first assignment, Chapter 1 – “Learning Your ABC’s” of emotion and action.  “A” stands for the activating event, “B” is for Beliefs and “C” is for consequences.  As usual, if you want details, ask.  After we were done, cellie Malik Pearl let me know the social worker questioned cellie Brian Whalen about this situation in our cell.  He went back on what he told us he was going to say and instead said everything was fine.  I haven’t been questioned.  But Andre returned to the cell crowing how Malik was such a punk and how we’ll never get him out of this cell.  Unless there’s a fight I suspect he’s right.  Once again we had it out.  Once again nothing got resolved.  I’ve just had it with this guy.  Afterwards, I just relaxed and enjoyed an episode of MASH.  Hard to be in a bad mood after that.


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  On weekends there is no ERP activity.  The lights are turned back off after count at 6:15 am and remain off until 10:30-11:00 am.  I usually try to take advantage and enjoy the silence as close as it gets anyway.  One of our regular 1st shift guards is Roscoe Peters.  He’s late forties, early fifties and is know as a “cool” guard.  He has a booming voice that will rattle you if you screw up but it’s known he’s not out to mess with you just because.  My cellmate, Andre Charles and Peters usually go back and forth with each other on a near every day basis, with Andre talking from the top tier down to Peters who bellows back.  But it’s always done tongue in cheek.  At about 11 am, the swampers brought in our lunch trays and after we had all gotten in line, he announced there would be no trading food between inmates, not even at your own table, because someone had “gone over his head to the unit manager”.  At another point in the meal, after having busted a couple of people for trying to trade, he said the inmate needs to come talk to him to fix this.  After we were finished with lunch a whole parade of inmates went to the desk, including Andre, to find out what was going on.  It seems the swampers had been getting extra food and the inmate who wrote the complaint to the unit manager was unhappy about it.  They seem to do that a lot around here, complain, if another inmate is perceived to get preferential treatment.  My philosophy on this is if someone else has found a way to make their life here a little more bearable more power to them.  It’s none of my business.  I don’t want to use the word “cutthroat” to describe the environment here (bad image) but its an apt description, more so than any prison I’ve been in up until now.  Then Peters announced he’d find out who it was on Monday and it wasn’t going to go well for him.  I’ve never even spoken to Peters but he always made a good impression on me.  I just wish he’d be a little smarter in what he says.  I can’t imagine this not getting back to someone he doesn’t want it to especially if there  is an inmate trying to take him down.  So we probably haven’t heard the end of this one.  But I guess as much as I hate this place, and though the phrase “watch your back” has taken a whole new meaning for me with some of these inmates, I have managed to get into a semblance of a routine which has been key to my survival anywhere I’ve been.  I’ve completed one week of ERP and have 23 to go.  I’m pretty sure I’m going to make it.

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Shortly after this was written, about 20-30 people showed up with musical instruments and started singing Christmas carols!  I asked what church they were from and they told me several different ones and they they have a Bible study on Mondays.  They gave us a paper bag with treats and a bag of chocolate chip Chips Ahoy Crunchy cookies.  I’ve never seen anything like this before in prison, nor had my cellies.  And most unexpected in a maximum security facility like MSDF!  Of course, a few cons in us couldn’t just enjoy the rare moment and scammed extra cookies and treats by claiming they were missed.  But really, an awesome event by what I think might be awesome people!


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Do you remember when I told you about back pain from the foam I sleep on?  Well at breakfast this morning word got around that the juice carton called “Suncup”, 4 ounces distributed by Gregory Packaging, Inc., PO Box 5188 of Newark, NJ 02105, had mold inside the cartons.  The guard at the desk finally announced that we should not drink it.  MSDF is supposed to use it within 10 days of being unfrozen so who knows how it got moldy.  But this wasn’t the first time.  In addition to the lower back pain I’d had some physical symptoms.  I’m going to spare you the details but safe to say it’s related to output.  But as I talked with others it seems they too had similar symptoms.  I think MSDF is lucky this didn’t cause a serious health issue.  I returned to my cell.  Weekends are different here.  After count, the lights are turned off again and everyone sleeps again.  I took advantage to shower.  The showers here make the showers at Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI) looking sparking clean.  There is grime and mildew built up on the puke green walls that make me feel like I need a tetanus shot, once I came out.  If my immune system keeps me infection free here my oncologist will be impressed. I also shaved my head with a single blade razor, just like I did back at Dodge Correctional Institution (DCI).  It’s not fun especially since I’ve gotten used to double blades.  When I got back to my cell, everyone was awake – and feuding.  It seems Malik Pearl was upset when he overheard Brian Whalen and Andre Charles talking about him, which he accused Andre of instigating.  Andrew dose have a bit of an instigator in him.  As usual, I stayed quiet. I’ve learned to be content alone, and not worry about such things.  But after Andre and Brian left Malik told me he wasn’t going to hang with those guys anymore.  But he often isolates like I do anyway.  I’m betting it’ll all be better soon.  The night was pretty uneventful.  We all watched “COPS”.  Ironic, huh?  When I went to sleep, I don’t have a clue why, it was much worse than normal.  I was up and down in various positions on my bunk.  The next morning Malik and Andre were all over wondering why I stare into space for what seems like forever, sitting up every time they looked up.  Andre made the comment I must have a lot on my mind and it got left at that.  But I’m sure they know I’m not completely normal.  It does give me pause.  I mean someday I’ll be free and hope to have a relationship again.  Will I be afraid to allow them to see this side of me or be afraid to explain it?  I wonder if this is why I tried so hard to hang onto my ex-wife and family not wanting to have to go through the process of creating new relationships.  It’s hard just doing that much less adding in our baggage to the equation.  Despite my problems, I believe God will guide me in this area if I trust him and don’t rush it.  Easier said than done I know. 

All 4 of us in my cell are watching the San Francisco 49’ers lose to the Green Bay Packers and I’m going to enjoy the game.


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS). I was asked on Sunday to play keyboard for the choir for the Protestant church service.  After the incident with Charlie, I was glad to turn my attention elsewhere.  I had heard previously there had been quite a bit of drama associated with this particular group but I figured really, how bad could it be?  The guy leaving the group had only been in charge a week and told me to meet the other singers by the basketball court for practice.  Service was 3 hours away but no one knew the song arrangements.  Most of the time was spent on a litany of complaints and backstabbing those not there.  Many made a point of telling me their issues, perhaps because I was new and they wanted me to sway to their way of thinking.  The refrain was basically that we were under attack from the enemy (Satan), thus the problems we were having.  I was told because of guard complaints about the noise, they had taken away the drums and electric guitars.  They claimed the institution didn’t allow sufficient practice time.  Finally as further evidence of the “enemy’s” infiltration, solos had been stepped on and choir members were angered.  I just rolled my eyes.  My focus was solely to get the music down so I didn’t embarrass myself.  The leader tried to get these complicated arrangements put in place with the other vocals.  There just isn’t time.  Finally, we practiced for a half hour at the multi-purpose building and then did the service.  Simply put, it was awful.  Most of the time when you stink as a band in a church environment, people tell you it was good anyway.  Not this time.  Many in attendance let me know how awful it sounded.  My attitude was basically I get to play in a church band again so I want to take advantage.   The following day I was told by the leader that Captain Kramer and Lt. Brodie wanted to see the choir.  Kramer, an attractive middle-aged woman, is Brodie’s boss.  I know if she was there, this wasn’t good.  After we all got there, Kramer got right to the point.  Apparently, inmates in the choir from Unit 10 had been in Unit 9 areas to practice vocals which is a major offense.  Then she told us that due to this and the repeated problems incurred with this choir, that have caused her and Brodie to have to spend time on these issues every week, the choir was to be disbanded.  The only exceptions were the leader, guitar and keyboard player, being sure to point out to the leader that the chaplain had specifically asked for him.  In some ways, if intentional, it was a clever move on their part.  Appeal to the leader’s ego, cause division within the group and confuse who they should be mad at.  The problem with this is in this environment by Kramer singling out who was wanted, those people will feel pressure to not cooperate or be viewed as friendly to staff which you really don’t want here.  So now the band leader was talking like none of use would stay, that they wouldn’t tell us how to run the choir.  While he was off talking to each now former choir member, others started filling me in.  While it was true they weren’t given adequate practice time (a half hour isn’t adequate to get all this ready), the guitar players and drummers had been repeatedly about the volume level and volunteers and staff complained.  Choir members themselves had been going to the chaplain and Brodie complaining about each other.  At the end of the day, it was just easier to shut it all down.  It wasn’t Satan that was responsible for the group’s demise, it was largely the choir’s own fault.  What’s going to happen now I don’t know.  But sometimes I rather like being the quiet one! 


I’m at the Fox Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  We were suppose to have an inspection today.  Basically a white shirt (Supervisor) comes by and at the minimum security level is basically just looking for obvious rule violations or bunks that are unclean.  But it got cancelled because there was two bags of hooch (homemade alcohol made with yeast, bread and other ingredients) found in Unit 10.  We suspect it really didn’t affect the amount of time available to do the search but its a Friday so it was a good excuse to call it off.  The guards everywhere I’ve been are by no means overworked and this place is no exception.  The guards have a disadvantage here in that they are much more visible in everything they do.  They don’t have a covering over them shielding them from inmate view like they did at Jackson Correctional Institution (JCI) or have distance from inmates like they did at Dodge Correctional Institution (DCI) Admission and Evaluation (A&E) units.  We see when they have two to four times the serving sizes for meals that inmates have or when they spend a lot of time surfing the internet, reading books or being really noisy themselves.  I’m sure other places did this sort of thing but its just not visible to us as much.  The upside for inmates is they largely leave us alone here.  Guards rarely leave their island desk except for the forty foot walk to their bathroom.  The downside is that inmates who are loud, intimidate others or take advantage of others rarely get checked (put in their place).  We do have snitches here, like any other facility and every once in awhile someone goes to the hole based on that information.  But like JCI and DCI, guards don’t want to be bothered as a rule.  But like other places I found exceptions to the rule.  The Property Department Sgt. seemed genuinely interested and wanted to help if he could.  But for the most part, Lt. Brodie, the main white shirt, and the guards, just don’t care about anything that concerns us.  I suspect after they work as guards awhile we become less than human to them.  I’m sure that’s probably true everywhere too.  Like I’ve said before, I’m not out to get the blue shirts (guards), white shirts (supervisors) or the Department of Corrections (DOC).  I’m here to do my time for my crime for which I’m guilty.  I don’t think rehabilitation is the responsibility of the guards or the DOC, but rather the inmate.  If you’ve followed along, you’ve seen how far I’ve come in the time I’ve been incarcerated.  I’ve done it by minding my own business, working on myself and staying focused.  When I slip, I do the very opposite of those things.  This blog, my sponsors and many of you have played a big part in that.  But guards and prison programs can’t do any of that for you.  It would be easy for me to blame guards, the DOC, JCI or DCI for impeding the changes, but needed to be made, but ultimately it really  isn’t their job to make these choices for me.  Can they frustrate or aggravate me?  Oh yeah.  You’ve read about it.  But that won’t stop me from seeing through the obstacles and the possibilities that lay behind them.