Posts Tagged ‘Anyway’


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 expected Tuesday to be another day of waiting for my ERP social worker Ms. Grey to walk through those steel doors with the word that my judge had signed my amended judgment of conviction permitting my release from prison since I have now graduated the ERP.  Tuesday didn’t disappoint as I did do a lot of waiting.  We did get some weirdness go on though.  Starting with the first count in the morning, cellie Scar Johnson talked right in front of the guard as he was counting us.  The guard was more shocked than anything I think that Scar was so brazen in his disregard for his authority and the procedures for count.  But that was the end of it or so it seems.  Trust me though the guard involved wont’ forget.  A little later the other guard inspected a cell and found a stinger.  A stinger are melted prongs stacked inside an electrical cord which is stuck in water with salt.  The cord the plugs into the wall.  The salt water then heats up soda bottles full of water.  Inmates use those bottles for coffee or refried beans.  Most prisons provide a microwave to inmates so this isn’t necessary.  But not at MSDF.  Supposedly, if you get caught with a stinger, its supposed to be an automatic trip to the hole.  But nothing came out of it thus far for the inmates in that cell.  This guard then went from cell to cell looking at everything that was plugged into a socket checking to see if one of the prongs were removed.  of course, you can make a stinger with any metal you can fit into the electrical cord holes (a radio cord is often used).  Wire from a notebook, paper clips and so on.  So the point of the search was a little lost on cellie Larry Sands and I.  Anyway, a little later on, the lock for the door on the cell next door wouldn’t open for any key.  Maintenance had to be called and the inmates in that cell had to hang out in the dayroom.  Of course, another guard had to stand up their with the worker as he worked on the door to ensure no tools were taken.  But the event we were all waiting for didn’t happen for anyone – getting word from Ms. Grey if our paperwork had been signed by the judge.  ERP group member Scott Dietz called his sister and had her check on all ten of us on CCAP to see if any activity occurred on our cases.  There was some confusion on her part whether or not she was looking in the right place.  I got on the phone and tried to help.  Still, no signs of activity on CCAP.  I’m ok though.  I know it’s going to happen so I’m not going to get worked up.   It’s just a matter of time. 

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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).  Wednesday came one degree away from setting another record for June 8th – 92 degrees with the same high humidity.  It got to the point where they pulled out the huge mobile fans and the ice machine went dry.  They had to put restrictions on ice as the machine created more, not allowing anything but cups to be filled.  The point is, it was hot again.  The tape put over the vent by cellie Larry Sands didn’t help at all.  Since it was Wednesday there were no ERP groups for anybody.  Despite the heat, we were still required to wear the yellow tops in the dayroom or in the rooms.  Guard Roscoe Peters showed some degree of compassion by looking the other way at inmates who didn’t wear the tops in their rooms until our ERP social worker Ms. Grey showed up.  Despite having told us previously not to stay in the dayroom all the time she insisted everyone do so now because she saw one inmate in his bunk.  I was already grouchy as it was and this didn’t help.  Then ERP group member Mark Hogan told several of us that our paperwork for release was not going to be sent to our judges until Monday per Ms. Grey.  All the other groups until now have had their paperwork submitted the day before graduation by the Records Department because the person in that job didn’t’ work Fridays.  The unit manager happened to be on the unit having his ear filled by cellie Malcolm Johnson about the perceived injustices done to him.  Sands, Scott Dietz, and I approached the unit manager.  Sands acted as spokesman.  After reiterating the issue the unit manager seemed to not have an answer.  He is new here so that didn’t surprise me.  Speaking of Sands, it looks like Waukesha County is going to come get him for the warrant he has.  Its an unpaid fine for a years old obstruction ticket.  He wrote the judge asking him that it be made concurrent with his prison sentence but it was denied.  Anyway, things were still up in the air as far as our release paperwork is concerned.  On top of the heat and everything else, I also found out ERP group member Scott Bunker has got another problem.  Us inmates often use earplugs when we sleep to drown out the noise cellies or guards make with electronics or slamming doors, etc.  Well the tip of one broke off and got shoved deep into his ear.  Health services here said they couldn’t see it and if he asked about it again they would refer him to psych services while also charging him twice the $7.50 copay.  Turns out, not only is it there, the tip of the earplug is going to have to be surgically removed!  With our impending release I wonder how they’ll handle that?  The night ended as it began. Hot and humid but at least there is relief in store tomorrow.


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).  Out ERP social worker Ms. Grey collected our journals and handed out self evaluations.  Our last evaluation occurred just 3 weeks ago but with our graduation on June 10th, less than a month away and all of the things we need to do yet, I’m guessing she doesn’t have a lot of choice.  I spent most of the weekend working on our graduation project.  Ms. Grey had provided what looks like thumbnail images you’d find on a search engine of Optimus Prime to represent the Transformer concept.  Largely useless, but others such as John Lloyd and Scott Bunker felt the stretched distorted image would represent well.  So I kept it.  As an Information Technology professional, it felt good to be on a computer again and listening to project requirements.  I’ve asked the blog sponsors by the way to put out word to these I know on Facebook and other agencies I’ll be available for work in July.   So keeping my fingers crossed.  Anyway, I saved all the information and documents that will be needed for the graduation project to a disc and will give that to Ms. Grey on Monday.  I also finished my essay due Monday on socialization for my ERP group.  It doesn’t really reveal anything you don’t already know about me.  It focused on my experience as a swamper, the good things along with the bad.  I’ve had lots of guys ask me why I quit. At the end of the day I just didn’t want the hassle of dealing with the schoolyard antics of several inmates, whose goal it is to make other inmates time more difficult thereby jeopardizing my goal of graduating especially with how my attitude has been lately.  Cellie Brian Whalen continues his preparations for his release on Monday.  He gave his fan to cellie Larry Sands along with his mirror among other items.  He did the usual divvying up of possessions inmates do prior to departure, promising this to one guy, that to another.  Of course, all of those folks became Whalen’s close friend this weekend hoping to get their share!  I had no such interest.  I spoke with my adoptive parents Charles and Victoria Martin, and they’re putting in high speed internet which is necessary for my job search and getting my .NET framework programming skills up to speed.  I so can’t wait!  I’ve missed working so much.  They’re busy getting their home ready to move into after his retirement in July.  It is, of course, where I’ll be initially, after release.  So we will all be adjusting in a major way this summer, to a new home and to each other.  The ground is shifting beneath my feet, but I feel it is in a positive fashion, unlike the earthquake and ensuing destruction I rained down on my own life two years ago, by my failure to seek help.  Ironically, I now have to ask for help to get started.


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  One part of the ERP program is we are required to do a detailed report on our drug of choice.  I’m told other ERP programs in WPS had access to a lot of resources to do these reports that we don’t have here at MSDF.  That combined with the fact that this is an OWI group which meant that everyone’s drug of choice was alcohol meant that all of the reports sounded the same and contained identical statistical information.  So yeah it was a little boring but we had to go through the motions.  Even our ERP group leader Ms. Grey has acknowledged that the lack of resources limits the ability for her to provide a productive group experience.  Anyway, after these reports were read we proceeded to our self evaluations for Phase II, like we had done for Phase I.  Group members Dean Stark and Russ Johnson had learned their lesson to not rate themselves too highly with Johnson probably going overboard the other way.  I had rated myself a 4 on a scale of 1 to 15 on being social with peers and the group said I should mark it down to a 3.  They were right of course.  On interaction with staff I rated myself a 4 but ERP group member Scott Dietz said sarcastically I’d had a lot of staff interaction lately referring to my trip to the hole.  The rating stood.  Dietz has been making a lot of snide remarks since my return from the hole.  It might be because of this blog but as Johnson put it to me when he said not to take it personally as this is just the way he is.  That is true.  In the afternoon session we started out with wearing “beer goggles” which are supposed to simulate different levels of intoxication.  We went out into the dayroom where we pulled the tables and chairs aside and put tape on the floor and attempted to do the heel to toe walk police do for a DUI test.  And who should be running all of this but intern Nikita!  She has been very quiet and reserved for the most part.  But she conducted herself quite well for the most part.  While the exercise was funny, it reminded me of the failed tests I’d had my previous arrest.  ERP group member Mark Hogan pretended to accidentally run into Nikita but she didn’t let it phase her.  The group was testing her which was pretty clear.  After Ms. Grey, who had taken a couple group members on parole officer (PO) calls, we did more tests.  We setup the chairs as an obstacle course, tried to balance a ruler on a fingertip, and threw a ball back and forth between us.  All of them demonstrated our lack of coordination and muscle/eye cooperation.  Though the goggles really weren’t realistic it made the point at least for me.  We had time left over so then we watched what Ms. Grey said was the last movie we had to watch called First Time Felon.  This movie was about a younger man (Omar Epps) involved in gang life who gets a second chance by going through boot camp, the struggles he has after getting out and his eventual realization of his goal to be an inner city youth counselor.  It was a good movie.  We were given a reaction paper to write due for Monday.  This weekend is Easter so Monday is a furlough day but none of us knew that until later.  But the bottom line is another week is done, which is 19 of 26.  I thank God for getting me through another one.


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 is the day when no ERP groups are held.  Usually it’s a slow day but not for me.  I had my second call with my parole officer scheduled for today at 10:30 am.  This call would introduce me to my new PO from Outagamie County and helps prepare both of us for my release.  Of course, this assumes I go to my adoptive parents Rev. Charles and Victoria Martin, home in WI and not a halfway house in Waukesha County.  To make this even more confusing, their home is actually in a part of a town that is part of Calumet County, while the rest of the city is in Winnebago County.  So, I ‘m being assigned the PO office in Outagamie County because it’s the closest to their house.  Got all that?  I figure that geography lesson might be important to understand later.  Anyway, 10:30 am came and went and no Ms. Grey.  I checked with ERP group member John Lloyd who had his PO call scheduled before me and she hadn’t shown up for his call. After deliberating what to do, I decided to ask regular first shift guard Roscoe Peters to call her.  Clearly he’s had his fill of the trouble on the unit as Ms. Grey is seen as the cause, judging by the things he said about her.  Finally about 10:40 am she showed up but it was too late for the call with Lloyd’s PO as they weren’t available now.  Then it was my turn.  I didn’t ask why she was late.  Nothing good could come from the question.  My new PO was able to take the call.  She identified herself as Helen Gayther.  It was apparent Charles Martin had had discussions with her previously as I was able to quickly secure permission to attend his retirement party in July.  She came across fine to me, a very bottom line type.  I explained my plan as I have to you in my long term goals and objectives.  While doing so, Ms. Grey is nudging me to ask about if any kind of electronic monitoring would be put on me after release.  My philosophy was to let the PO bring it up if it was to be.  But Ms. Grey of course brought it up.  Ms. Gayther than said that yes she would have me wear one for 90 days after I get out.  It’s purpose was to make sure I’m in at a certain time every night.  This didn’t really upset me.  What got to me was my own social worker seemed to be trying to make things more difficult for me.  Then the discussion turned to the day of my release and if I’d have a ride to where my parents residence, which was a couple of hours northeast of Waukesha.  I immediately thought of one of this blog sponsors so I said sure.The call ended with Ms. Grey telling me afterward my PO had to put me on the bracelet so she was just getting that established.  I thought well if that’s true (which I know is at the PO discretion) then why are you concerned about it?  But I kept my mouth shut.  After the call I found out the procedure for release if you don’t have a PO or staff transport.  They take you to the bus station along with your boxes and drop you off there.  Problem is they don’t have a specific time they will do it.  This sponsor that will get me is from Green Bay, WI so how that is going to work isn’t clear.  Release will be between June 10 and June 24th so hopefully it comes into focus.  We’ve got time as its only April 6th.  Later on that day guard Ruth Barthkowski returned to work and she chose to talk to me this day.  She tells me she suffers from fibromyalgia which makes her feet hurt and she is extremely susceptible to stress.  With her having left in the middle of her shift the other day with all the drama going on , it now makes sense.  She is thinking she might retire before the budget repair bill law goes into effect which is real soon.  She is a thirty year veteran of corrections and this law will gut her benefits.  She worries how she’ll make a go of it financially in retirement.  I do feel for her.  These are real world worries I’ll be dealing with myself soon too.


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 know the song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Around the Old Oak Tree” by Tony Orlando?  It’s a nice song that tells a nice story about an inmate who gets release from prison and wonders if his love will take him back.  If she will, she’s supposed to tie a yellow ribbon around the oak tree in front of their house. Well he gets there on a bus and he finds, with everyone cheering around him, there are a hundred yellow ribbons on the oak tree. Like I said, it’s a nice story.  Happy endings in prison are so rare I have found.  But when one comes along you can’t help but cheer along with the inmate.  I’ve told you how ERP group member Scott Bunker endured a potentially serious medical condition over the last few days.  Saturday came and hadn’t improved.  In fact, I’m told it had gotten worse.  It must be true, for the guards took him on a weekend , which is quite rare, back to the hospital again.  He again returned, this time having been fitted with a catheter.  It kind of reminds me too that even us inmates are capable of setting aside the pettiness, racial tension and self obsession that seems to consume us here when a person among us falls sick.  Seeing Bunker sick made us united in the hope for his recovery and conveying that to him.  Still we are men.  There of course were the jokes about him being “on his period.”  Tasteless yes but juvenile humor is often how men will cope and as a group deal with a tough situation.  When I was diagnosed with cancer while at Waukesha county Jail awaiting transfer to WPS, an inmate yelled so everyone could hear, “Hey Martin you gonna die or what?”  We all laughed.  I was grateful for the break in the tension.  Anyway, the goodwill generated by Bunker’s situation seemed to last all day.  Then that night, according to him, without them knowing what had happened, his second wife and step-daughter showed up for a visit after not having communicated at all for the past 2 years.  What occurred was just amazing!  She told him she wanted him to come home to them after all and that they still loved him.  He had sent his victim impact letter to her so perhaps this got the ball rolling.  After he got off his visit he went around the dayroom telling everyone that would listen, trying to act indifferent about it but the smile on his face betrayed him.  I’m just very happy for him.  I’m not the type to always describe to God every good or bad thing that happens.  But how could you not in this case?  On Sunday, it was time for my weekly call to my adoptive parents, Charles and Victoria Martin.  I’ve seen them once since I was in prison and recently started talking to me via phone.  They’re consumed by retirement planning as Charles is retiring as a pastor  shortly after my anticipated release.  They are moving to a place in WI which is where I’m thinking I’ll end up initially after release.  Their first concern was to talk to my parole officer (PO) up there to try to get alcohol allowed at the house.  No go there!  Their second was the retirement party at the hotel on the Saturday prior to the retirement service and whether alcohol could be present.  I told them I’d be talking to the PO about it this week.  Truth is though I’m dreading the whole thing.  After a rough start in life, I’d became an IT Professional, homeowner, and family man.  I had earned respect of others.  Now I’ll see all these people I’ve known over the years alone, penniless and no job.  I have no clue how to deal with that.  I’m sure I’m not the first guy to have to go there after prison.  I wrote a letter to my adoptive parents asking them to allow me to duck out on Saturday after making an appearance but then to participate in all the hoopla, pictures and tributes at his retirement service on Sunday.  But I’ve got to trust God to look after me the same way he looked after Scott Bunker.  It may not be as dramatic but I’ve learned God will always get me through.  The retirement party is in July and its April.  A lot can happen between now and then.