Posts Tagged ‘Also’


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 ran out of space in the last entry to tell you something else that happened.  Perhaps you recall me telling you about the guy who came  in some time ago that was extremely medicated and everyone gave him a hard time.  Anyway, apparently he struggled so much with the written assignments that the man who is this groups social worker, Mr. Silver, finally pulled the plug and terminated him from the ERP program.  Silver has a reputation for running the most difficult program here, giving the most work and is known as extremely dedicated.  I didn’t think the guy who got kicked out would last as long as he did.  It is ironic that a man with mental illness that he can’t help and that he is being treated for with medication can’t make it here yet so many that have come here for this ERP program clearly don’t belong here make it.  This isn’t the fault of the staff here or MSDF but is a reflection of the money based culture of rehabilitation and how it relates to mental illness.  But I’ll stay off my soap box.  Again, it was incredibly warm Friday (June 3rd).  Nothing much of anything happened until second shift arrived and when our old friend guard Mike Metcalf reported for duty.  He started off quiet but quickly showed his true colors as he gave warnings to inmates for having fingernails that were too long, how their shirts looked and so forth.  It’s just as well.  The new guys got their introduction to what this guy is about and will hopefully steer clear, as those of us who have been here awhile do.  Another sign I’m mentally checking out of here is how it relates to food.  I’m not interested in accumulating food, even with the good stuff like the cupcakes we got with the fish.  I don’t want to make deals with others.  I’m not the only one.  ERP group member John Lloyd tells everyone he just wants to be left alone by everybody and he’s getting more and more vocal about it every day.  It stayed extremely hot in here through Saturday.  Our group continues to distract themselves with cards and ping pong games despite how hot it is in the dayroom and rec room.  The rec room doesn’t have any air movement at all.  At least the dayroom as 2 large fans to blow the hot humid air around.  The rec room, which will double as our ERP group room next week, has the 2 exercise bikes and 2 weight machines so all these hot sweaty bodies plus no air movement makes for a pretty onerous smell.  Also, the shower procedure put in place by guard Art Coleman isn’t being followed by the other guards.  Though we like that it’s going to create this guessing game when we should follow that procedure.  Sunday came and finally a bit of cool down before sweltering temps are expected to return next week.  Cellie Larry Sands got a visit by his brother and was happy his release clothes will be sent tomorrow.  Release clothes are exactly what they sound like.  The clothes got send to MSDF staff no more than 60 days before your release which you get to wear out the door.  In my case, I’m just going to wear my sweats I got off the catalog.  The blog sponsor getting me is bringing my clothes they got from Waukesha County Jail after I was transferred to prison.  Those were the same clothes I wore 758 days ago when this whole thing began though I doubt the pants still fit!  But at least the shoes will be in better shape than the ones I got off the catalog.  I finished the day by reaching out to Barb via letter about the situation with Lexi.  I want to put my best foot forward with her despite our past relationship.  I’m hoping to get more information about what happened.  It’s all I can do from this cell to positively impact this situation so I’m doing it.  Believe me I know it’s not enough but I’m trying.  Tomorrow (Monday) our ERP social worker Ms. Grey will be back and this will be our final week of the ERP program.  It’s almost over!


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 social worker Ms. Grey started off the day finishing up the workbook The Price of Freedom is Living Free. Relapse, Recidivism, and Recovery by Jack. D. Cooper and the video that goes along with it.  She pointed out the entry on the last page (52) entitled “The Beginning” really sums up the choices before us, to live free or to live in bondage.  I wish I had the space to share it but I sent my copy to the blog sponsors and they can link or post it per their choice. Here is the excerpt:

“The Beginning – Those of use who have made the choice to live free understand that the choices we make will always have a price tag.  We just need to be clear on what price we are going to pay:  the price for freedom or the price for bondage.  Both choices in living are available to us.  The pay-off for our old values in living are consistent and predictable…standing for count, random strip searches, the constant roar of inmates, correction officers, concrete and steel or waiting for that letter that won’t come.  What price are you going to pay?  In making your decision, you might ask yourself, “Am I prepared to spend another month, decade or lifetime locked up for a few hours of excitement here on the street?”  If your answer is yes, the system will gladly refund your misery. The choice rests with you.

Whether we are locked up or on the streets, we can choose to live free.  As “values” in living are rational, sound and sensible.  We recognize that we possess the ability to feel, appreciate and understand, as we learn to change the internal and external condition of our lives.  We can take care of ourselves while simply caring for others.  We can start living our own lives usefully, respecting other people’s rights to live as they choose.  We will understand that getting is not always better than giving, and that chasing objects and holding attitudes that set us apart from other people are not as important as seeking values that will bring us together.  Finally, we will see that we’ve been brought back into being…living with value and living free.”

For lunch we were having chicken salad, one of the better meals here.  For me as a swamper, what it meant is we would go through more bread than normal.  We’re usually provided 3 loafs of bread for the meal but inmates are accustomed to asking for and getting more than the 2 pieces allotted by the menu, which is okay, considering they cheat us on the quantity on most other things such as potatoes!  But toady I wasn’t going to be able to give more than 2 slices.  Inmates weren’t happy when I wouldn’t give more than 2 slices, but oh well. I treated them all the same, my cellies, guys at my table, everyone.  I told those who gave me a hard time they could come back for anything left over.  As I finished serving I heard a remark made by ERP group member Mark Hogan that since I’d become a swamper I was acting like a cop.  He was talking to someone else but clearly intended for me to hear it.  Like an idiot, I stopped at his table and asked him if he had something on his mind.  Fortunately he said no.  What would I have done if he hadn’t????  Of course, I didn’t let it go at that.  After the meal while I was cleaning up, I went to his cell and asked him what the problem was.  Hogan apologized and I reluctantly tapped his knuckles.  I don’t believe his apology but I’m betting he was smarter than me today knowing nothing good would come from this.  At our afternoon ERP session, Ms. Grey showed a movie I think we’ve seen before called Smoke Signals, a movie showing two Native Americans who attempt to overcome their own issues from their past each for their own perspective.It was obviously effective on some level for Augie Prescott as he was moved to tears.  I thought it was a good movie.  But I decided during the movie that this swamper experiment is going to have to end.  The reasons I took the job weren’t nearly as important to me as graduating.  ERP in 28 days on June 10th.  It had given me the material for my Phase 3 Goals and Objectives on improving socialization and patience so it wasn’t a total bust.  Only thing the guard who’d have to approve the change, Roscoe Peters, wasn’t working so I told the sergeant on duty I wasn’t feeling well.  I got the guy who had the job before me and who still wanted it to take over for me until Peters got back.  Many, including former cellie Malik Pearl who had tried to scheme him out of the job, weren’t happy he was coming back but I just don’t care.  I felt like a huge load was off my shoulders.  I got more good news.  In the mail, blog sponsors let me know my biological relatives had checked in and they were safe.  Also, cellie Brian Whalen who is being released Monday, that though he wishes to to maintain contact with the former swamper who wants to rob him, he is no longer willing to engage Whalen in any kind of business dealing since Whalen has a bit of a tendency to talk too much.  You think????  But Whalen doesn’t have any idea of the kind of bullet he has dodged.  Next week is the third PO call and our presentation of Phase 3 Goals and Objectives, while working on our legacy project.  Let’s keep it simple from here on out.


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 past weekend I completed the assignments given to me this past week.  They were the self-evaluation, the review of the movie Gracie’s Choice, and addressing the envelope for the letter going to my former wife to be sent by our ERP group leader, Ms. Grey.  I’d had the actual letter written some time ago.  Many in the group are struggling with this or have devised plans to control the response Ms. Grey gets.  I did not do so, not because I’m some sort of moral giant but I’m not willing to risk anything at this juncture.  It just isn’t worth it with 97 days to go until graduation.  Anyway, I’ve mentioned to you before our bathroom setup, how the toilets are open air and only a piece of cloth covers the entrance.  Often the men will run water to prevent the noise of doing their business from echoing in this cavernous environment and it’s a courtesy appreciated by those in the dayroom.  Also, at night those on lower bunks will often put towels up using the bunk above them to hold them in to block light but mostly for some privacy.  Normally the guards say nothing about such things but last night wasn’t normal.  The refried beans from cellie Andre Charles graduation party were/are still killing me.  The guard on duty made me get up though I wasn’t done and shut the water off.  I finished and went back to my cell.  Shortly after he was there barking at my cellies to take the towels off their bunks in drill sergeant type of fashion.  The next morning at 5 am, it was my shower and laundry day (with 3 changes of clothes I shower every other day doing laundry every other shower day) and I wondered if he’d give me any grief about anything.  Once laundry started, this guard complained about how other guards don’t enforce the rules so it makes his job harder and it confuses us.  I was surprised he knocked other guards to me but I just told him since I’d been in prison I’d learned it is really up to the guard on duty and we as inmates learn how the rules will be enforced.  He replied that was exactly the problem and he’ll throw guys in program real quick if they give him an attitude as they’re supposed to be on a higher level.  I told him he wouldn’t likely see an attitude from anyone here.    Soon he got distracted and my laundry was dry but I thought to myself this guy was wound so tight he might snap.  I returned to my cell to make sure that person wouldn’t be me!  But I think while he has a point that its good for us to have uniformity in expectations I also think its good for us to deal with differing expectations or interpretations as we get ready to be released as that is a much more realistic view of the world than the sometimes orderly  world of MSDF. 


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP). Last night we got canteen a day early (Tuesday) than normal because of the upcoming Christmas break.  I went a little nuts this time because its Christmas and anticipating time off I’ll want to snack on something.  I also ordered one of the generic Christmas cards they sell and sent it to Lisa.  I was incarcerated in the Waukesha County Jail (WCJ) at this time last year and I so went to pieces missing my former family.  I rarely hear from Lisa now, usually only when she is mad at her mom and she figures writing to me will upset her.  Such is the way of teenage girls.  But I wanted to let her know I haven’t forgotten.  They have moved on and have forgotten me.  I still think of them everyday, praying that they are ok and succeeding.  I even pray for Lynn, even though she wronged me so.  I occasionally catch a wave of resentment washing over me but I quickly remember that the most loving thing I can do is to let them go, pray they forgive me for the wrong I’ve done, and let go of the anger and resentment I felt.  It serves no purpose other than to make me miserable.  It won’t bring them back that’s for sure.  It’s one of the reasons I’d hoped not to be in Waukesha, WI after release so as not cross paths with them.  It would be hard on me and awkward for everybody.  I don’t think I’m going to get a choice though as no plan is coming together so far.  After canteen was handed out, I sat down with an Angus Meat Stick and actually ate real meat, not the soy WPS hands out as a substitute!  I changed the direction I sleep to see if that calms my irrational cellmate, Andre Charles, and it must have worked as he’s calm so far today.  We were all assembled in the dayroom studying our ERP materials when another ERP coordinator stood up and announced that you no longer could just get up and go to the bathroom when you like, and there were designated times to do so.  Also, unless our ERP facilitator assigned us to the dayroom while working on program materials, we were to stay in our designated area, which is the exercise room.  We moved and our new work area was a ping pong table.  Ms. Grey, our ERP Coordinator, showed up around 10 am and got us in a group and told us she’d fix this.  Since I missed yesterday they had me read the assignments we were given to have due this week.  It was my reaction to getting ERP, drug and alcohol use and my OWI arrest history.  It was in the OWI arrest history that the mental illness part came out as well as the suicide attempt and the other inmates reacted surprised yet supportive.  That surprised me.  Then we sped through the Orientation workbook up to “Keys for Change” with us as a group filling in the answers for the “Positive attitudes for successful treatment’ section – Honesty, Responsibility, Willingness, Open Mindedness, Humility, Caring, Objectivity and Gratitude, defining each with one word answers (or as close as we could) and some questions on each.  Again if you want details, email me.  Then we got an assignment for while Ms. Grey was on vacation – to finish the workbook, come up with a mission statement using our one word attitude definitions, and a ripple effect of drug and alcohol use design.  Pretty straightforward.  This is my first impatient treatment so its interesting and informative.  I’ve done a lot of this work in the past year but it has names for everything I was describing, but doesn’t address some of the things.  I got back to my cell and Andre wants to be friends again.  Oh what the heck…. its almost Christmas.


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  As I’d noted earlier, I’m in the middle of a 5 day bunk confinement.  In preparation, another inmate needed laundry soap so I gave him what I had left in exchange for doing my laundry since I couldn’t get off my bunk to monitor it.  Bunk confinement stinks but its not that bad.  It’s harder on my bunkmate(Cellie) than me as he is used to me being gone at least some of the time.  It was Monday and I woke up about 5 am.  I gave my laundry bag to this inmate, then ate breakfast and returned to my bunk.  A couple of hours later Lt. Brodie announced we must all remain on our bunks until further notice as we were having an “area shakedown”.  If we wanted to use the restroom we would need to be strip searched.  Meanwhile, people started pulling out food from the cafeteria they’d stored and started moving it down and what they couldn’t finish they handed out to others and what they couldn’t get rid of there they tossed in the little waste basket by their bunks.  Unauthorized property wasn’t as simple of a problem.  I had two problems here.  Another inmate has both my state clothing and the clothing I bought from the catalogs to do the laundry and because we can’t leave our bunks I can’t get it back.  That means that clothing could get tossed in the shakedown as it won’t be on his property list.  Also, as you might recall, I had a lamp on my bunk I didn’t buy.  I watched others trying to get rid of property.  Some threw it on bunks of guys who were at work, others tossed items in the aisle hoping the guards wouldn’t see it.  Of course, being the anxiety junkie I am, was all freaked about the lamp for awhile.  But the guys most worried were those in possession of alcohol and/or tobacco, one of which was Charlie.  He kept going up and down the aisle trying to find a way to unload it.  Guards came by twice over the next 4 hours to let us use the restroom and get water.  Each time they took us two at a time into the shower area doing the whole strip search procedure they’ve done since Day One.  It seems while we were waiting another unit was having their turn at getting shook down.  Lunch time came and they gave us paper plates with hamburgers and returned us to our bunks.  Finally a little after noon we were told to line up for the bathroom but this time we were each sent to an individual stall.  But not a normal strip search by a blue shirt this time.  They wore red shirts.  They were guard trainees that had been bussed in just for this occasion.  Once we’d been searched and gotten dressed, we walked up to the Multi-purpose Building, the same place as Chapel and orientation.  All the way there, there were at least 20 guards lined up along the road, half on each side, there to verify we didn’t drop or pass anything.  Out in the yard were guards with metal detectors, presumably looking for weapons.  There were guards checking the roof looking for discarded contraband.  This kind of a shakedown happens once a year I’m told.  I sat in that building till about 4 pm.  No books, no electronics and hundreds of people from which there was no where I could go to get away making ear splitting levels of noise.  Just the very definition of hell itself for the anxiety junkie, at least this one.  Finally, Captain Kramer called for 3 inmates to come to the office – Charlie was one of them.  We then were all sent back.  It looked like a hurricane had hit our unit.  Mattresses were everywhere, papers, documents, and photographs on the floor.  We spent hours that night straightening up.  Somehow my clothes and lamp weren’t taken.  There were inmates with items that had been broken or shouldn’t have been taken.  They were told to fill out complaints.  Guess how that will turn out?  But Charlie never returned.  Percy packed his stuff in boxes.  I had watched him go in the office.  I think he knew what was coming.  I felt bad for him on a certain level.  But tonight, I felt a collective sigh of relief from the whole unit, myself included.


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  We have an old man here who is from Idaho.  He had been on parole back in the eighties and had tired of the restrictions on him so he absconded (left without permission) to Idaho.  He lived there for years with no issues.  Then when he applied for social security, they wouldn’t give him his benefits after a couple checks because of the warrant from Wisconsin.  Eventually, he found himself back in the WPS.  I might have told you about him previously.  If so, I apologize.  Anyway, he is almost universally liked here.  If you want sports betting tips, this is the guy to go to.  Thus, for our purposes, he is dubbed the “Gambler”, after the Kenny Rogers song.  The Gambler had one place though where he was not appreciated by all, especially Paul, and that was at the horseshoe pits.  Outside our units front door inside the track are 2 horseshoe pits and a volleyball sand pit.  While the basketball courts to the left are popular with the black guys, the horseshoe pits are popular with the white guys.  There are exceptions but generally that’s the way it is. As usual, with group activities, I stay on the sidelines and watch.  Paul and the Gambler would often get into heated arguments about how things got scored.  The Gambler and Paul are both stubborn people so that didn’t surprise me.  A few days ago, the Gambler came in from horseshoes complaining of a backache.  It didn’t surprise me.  Horseshoes is how he spends a lot of his day.  He laid down for awhile but was up soon thereafter asking the guards to contact Health Services.  The van came and got him soon thereafter.  The following day, word spread around the unit that the Gambler was dead.  Quite a few of us were shocked and saddened.  No one like the Gambler should die in prison, far from family and friends.  Naturally, my thoughts turned to myself as well, vowing I will never die in prison and hopefully not die alone.  A sympathy card that can be ordered off canteen was being distributed around the unit though I never saw it.  Strange enough, though no inmates had turned into vultures on his possessions like they have a habit of doing.  I thought perhaps conscience would stand in the way with these circumstances this time.  Also, I noticed the guards had left his bunk undisturbed, not coming to pack up his belongings.  But I try to mind my own business and just observe, my modus operandi.  Perhaps the guards didn’t come because they hadn’t gotten word to do so yet.  The following day, a new story began to circulate, that an inmate had started the rumor that the Gambler had died.  My first thought was to wonder why anyone would do such a thing. Then I remembered, for many here to do something like that wouldn’t be a stretch at all.  Consciences are like knives.  If you allow them to get dull, they are not as effective as they could be.  They both stay sharp with daily use and maintenance.  But sure enough, later that night, the Gambler appeared.  He, in fact, had had a scare with his heart and was no on Plavix.  I was happy to see him upright and mobile.  I do hope and pray he does get to join his family before his time really does come someday.  Nobody should die alone.