Posts Tagged ‘April’


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.


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 Thursday afternoon we had our weekly Community Meeting.  Nothing was really remarkable about it until the floor was opened to concerns anyone might have and a new guy stood up and announced he was tired of how cliquey people were, the disrespect shown and how many inmates who have been here for awhile act like they have ownership of things here.  He went on to say from now on he was going to start pointing out people who were doing such things at future community meetings.  Throughout the room was stunned silence.  My ERP group leader Ms. Grey nodded her agreement, the other group leaders looked just as stunned as we were.  I’d find out later he was upset with his cellmates for farting in the cell instead of going outside to do that and for inmates trying to run the rec room.  He finished up his comments about how dedicated he was to this program, and he didn’t want that to have such things going on.  After an uncomfortable silence we moved on.  I did decide that night that with all the negativity going on I was going to pull into my shell even more that I have been.   I just feel like nothing is good is going to come out of hanging around people these days.  Maybe its because I’m 72 days to graduation and I fear all this work and time being for nothing because of some stupid incident.  The next morning began with Scott Bunker being sent to the hospital for his bleeding problem as it hasn’t gotten any better.  Graduation for another ERP group began at 9:30 am.  This was an OWI ERP group like us.  This group called themselves the “Unchained” group.  It was a nice ceremony, followed by cookies being given out.  I’m happy for them but my thoughts are on myself.  I have so little time left.  I’m happy but I’m afraid.  Where I’ll go, what I’ll do, how it will happen, these questions overwhelm the anxiety junkie in me.  I’ve learned to have faith during times like this, to surrender the illusion of control I cling to but I still have my moments of weakness.  After lunch we saw a video about the evils of inhalants (sorry, I didn’t catch the title)and on prescription drugs which was quite good, especially as it focused on elderly addiction.  At the end I brought up that I’d learned  that the TOP program in Waukesha County was applied to aftercare.  No housing was involved like she had said.  She insisted it was true though, and they’d explain it to me when they visited in mid-April.  I asked if I’d hear from them before my next parole officer (PO) call and she said no, that call was coming up next week!  It was like she had remembered herself that this was happening at that moment.  Anyway, around that time Scott Bunker joined us after his hospital visit so it would seem he must be ok.  The guards were unhappy today as they’ve installed electronic stations around the unit they have to check in with a gadget.  It ensures they’ve actually made their rounds.  But it’s okay.  Week 16 of 26 is complete.


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 got up about 4 am at Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI) knowing it was my day to go, so I could shave and shower as experience has taught me there are no guarantees how things might go initially.  Then I went back to my bunk and slept.  About 7 am, the guard woke me up and told me it was time to go.  I cleaned up my remaining linens.  My cellie told me “not to let the door hit me in the a—“ with a smile on his face.  They told me to walk down to Unit 10 where another inmate named Scott Bunker on his way to MSDF for ERP as well joined me.  He had gotten to keep his electronics the last 5 days!  The guards gave him a hard time about that in a good natured way.  They pretended to strip search us and then got on the same kind of bus that brought me to FMCI.  We were joined by John Lloyd, who had managed to get staffed straight to ERP at MSDF from Dodge Correctional Institution (DCI).  I let him know how totally lucky he was.  John was in for his 5th DUI and Scott was in for his 7th DUI.  John had some good news.  He had reviewed the “handbook” on each institution and our ERP was only 13 weeks!  I was on cloud 9!  I’m going to be out by April!  We got to MSDF, which is across the street from the Milwaukee County Courthouse and got sent to a holding cell.  Everything screams a county jail to me here from the dingy walls to the layout of the facility.  They took the greens issued to me my first day in prison.  They gave me bright yellow clothes with a white t-shirt.  I look like a banana!  Then they went through my property.  Turns out I got to keep everything except the clothes I bought out of the catalogs, including my electronics which everyone said I couldn’t keep.  Now I’m in a great mood!  They threw away my old badge, gave me a new one and the nurse checked in.  All of the staff was by far the most professional and courteous I’ve seen in my time in jail or prison.  Then we got lunch.  Oh boy.  It was some kind of hoagie and it tasted awful.  Again, the food resembles county jail food.  Well, I wanted to lose weight so I’ll get that wish.  I got to the 4th floor where I was assigned a cell.  Top bunk again of course.  It’s a 4 person cell with 4 full length grayish blue lockers in front, 2 bunks on each side, 2 TV stands on each side, and 2 desks.  The walls are a dingy white with a maroon door.  Just like a county jail its a 2-tier setup. My 3 cellies were all there and they clearly weren’t expecting me as my locker and TV stand were being used.  Then they dropped the bomb on me.  Its actually a 24-week program.  We’re talking June release.  I got bummed.  How could I be so stupid as to believe inmate information?  We’ve learned this over and over again.  I got settled in, figured out where the TV shows I watch were.  I’ve got till December 13th to get used to this place.  I’m so very tired.