Posts Tagged ‘aren’


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  My first morning as a swamper along with my fellow swamper, David Sussex went without incident.  In the time we await the food I got to know him a little bit.  He proclaims himself a born again Christian, as I consider myself, and I’ve seen no reason to doubt him.  He is very vocal about his faith here while I am, as with everything else I do here, am very quiet.  Every morning he is out there reading his Bible just as I do.  If he irritates me in some fashion, its probably his desire to engage me in conversation about what I’m reading and start “preaching” about anything I might share that I struggle with.  But that probably says more about me than him!  As our ERP group got started that morning our ERP Social Worker, Ms. Grey, took the topics from the resumes and interviews to the in-depth topic of relationships.  She handed out another workbook from The Change Companies designed for the Federal Bureau of Prisons that we had used early in group called Living With Others, and another packet from Earnie Larson.  We have used his materials before as well.  We spent the morning on an exercise where we identified the feelings connected to dating through marriage.  She then erased the words “first date” and replaced it with “addiction” and it followed pretty closely.  Pretty clever.  In the afternoon we watched the first four parts of video From the Inside Out from Hazeldon featuring Earnie Larson.  It’s actually quite good.  The first part got into why relationships are important. It looked at positive and negative relationships in our past lives, the different types of relationships, how love has been taught to us in the past, and principles of building good relationships.  I had difficulty sharing details of what my past impressions of love were like early on and solidified as the years went on.  But everyone knows me now and aren’t shocked by my answers anymore.  Even if they were, I decided long ago I was going to be honest.  I’m also grateful no one calls me a liar here as others have in the past, such as the psychiatrist at my court proceedings did and others did as I was growing up into adulthood.  I’m now able to document most details of my past thanks to my contact with my biological family.  After group ended at 4 pm, we had another fill in guard as they still haven’t yet replaced Ruth Barthowski, named Larry Cable.  Due to differing rules with different guards, there’s always a certain amount of risk involved.  Following customs set by pervious officers or what is considered normal.  But it was pretty clear while Sussex and I waited for the dinner trays he was going to be anything but predictable.  Its customary for inmates to go out in the hall in front of the cell to fart if necessary as a courtesy to their cellies.  However; Cable yelled at cellie Corey Ball for doing so.  Then he had us swampers walk around and make sure cell doors were closed.  Again, not normally done.  Cable then tried to micromanage how many extra trays we’d get and how many we’d try to send away.  Ok, I don’t care.  But then the extra tray I did get I took to my table and gave away all of its contents to the guys sitting there.  Cable said I couldn’t give the extra food away, that it was only for me, even though the rule book clearly says I can.  Problem is technically swampers aren’t supposed to get extra food at all.  So the rulebook doesn’t help either of us.  So as he is yelling at me in front of everyone, he announces he won’t allow extra trays when he works here anymore.  Others would later tell me that I should have quit right there.  But I didn’t.  I was mad though. I would return later before 6 pm count and ask him not to hold the whole unit responsible for something I didn’t know was his rule.  Finally he said he’d consider it.  It was uncomfortable at cleanup before 9:15 pm count.  But I’m just grateful he won’t be here often.  Being a swamper is fine but I’m not going to put myself in jeopardy to do it. 

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I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  Happy Thanksgiving to all of you reading this!  It’s November 25, 2010 as I write this.  I realize by the time you read this it will be probably closer to Christmas than Thanksgiving.  Such is the nature of this blog – the delay is intentional.  But I want to take this opportunity to thank those of you who have read this blog, many of you who have shared and/or expressed support via comment or email and to those of you who have someone inside whom you love and care about and possibly this blog has somehow helped you.  I thank you for not abandoning them, even though this separation is the toughest battle your relationship has endured.  Nobody but you knows how much you silently suffer.  Special thanks goes to Rebecca, Steve and Jill who have followed me almost since my first day, giving encouragement to me and giving a voice to those who aren’t able to be heard.  You all have put into practice the words of the Sermon on the Mount.  Another special thank you to Dr. Rachel Cook, my oncologist at University Hospital who was an awesome advocate for me, very patient, and expertly defeated my cancer. I also thank the few of my friends I had prior to prison who have not forgotten me.  I will always remember you and all I’ve thanked the rest of my life.  This blog and all of you have far helped me more than I have gotten from you, trust me on this. My biggest thank you goes to the sponsors of this blog who have tirelessly typed up the chicken scratch of my handwriting, managed this blog with expertise and dedication, in a pinch have helped me, and even provided a newspaper subscription. Quite frankly, none of this is possible without you and words aren’t adequate to express the amount of gratitude owed to you. Many of you that got involved hadn’t even known or worked with me previously.  That’s simply just awesome!  So thank you!  Finally, I thank God!  It was one year ago this week that my cancer was diagnosed.  It was the culmination of the absolute worst year of my adult life.  Where the loss of my wife, family, career, friends, music and finally my health were realized and just when it seemed it couldn’t get any worse, the isolation and despair of those days at Dodge Correctional Institution of early 2010 occurred.  It seemed you (God) had completely deserted me.  But it became clear that I had deserted him (God), refusing because of my silly pride and being concerned with material things and people I couldn’t control, had refused to seek help to stop the bleeding of my heart, mind and soul.  But you (God) were always there waiting for me to learn that simple yet difficult lesson.  The lesson is I don’t have the answers and I must surrender on a daily basis as I move forward.  This is 1 lesson I’ll continue to learn for the rest of my life.


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  At about 7:10 am, I got paged to come to Ms. Greer’s office.  Ms. Greer is the social worker on our unit and it appeared we had had a disconnect on the issue with Waukesha County.  Turns out she had let me know she simply didn’t remember what it was we had been discussing.  She took the copies of the bills my Power of Attorney had sent, made a copy of my criminal case record that proved I was in custody at the time and told me she would look into this.  I was floored again.  Calling me in prior to office hours and agreeing to help?  I don’t think she got the memo that DOC staff aren’t supposed to care.  Of course I’m kidding.  But it’ll be interesting to see what happens next.  I was glad I followed through.  At about 10 that morning, I was taken for a previously scheduled session with the psychiatrist I liked.  It was pretty informative.  I felt comfortable enough to tell him about this bog and how much work I’ve been able to do through it.  He seemed quite interested.  I asked him how he was able to avert his eyes to the feet that most don’t get the treatment they need while in prison.  His answer was telling.  He said he does the best he could with what he’s given and he would be doing a bigger disservice to inmates by not being the best advocate he could be.  Really, you’ve got to love the honesty and dedication.  He shared he’s gotten burned before but it can’t keep you from following through with what is best for the inmate patient.  Just outstanding.  After I got back, it’s getting pretty evident nerves are getting a little frayed around here.  A lot of us don’t have coats yet and its gotten cold out.  They were suppose to have gotten out the middle of October but it didn’t happen for some reason.  What’s worse is they’ve come out a few coats at a time, allowing the inmate in control of the laundry who hands them out to play favorites which angers many.  What this all means is we aren’t getting outside.  Losing my time on the track has been hard on me.  Thank God I have my electronics.  But the focus for others is playing cards, dominoes and chess.  They’ll tie a blanket around the metal table we eat at and play their games.  No, I don’t join in.  But a group of black inmates were playing dominoes at meal time but didn’t wrap up when meal time started.  We all have places and groups we sit by in the dayroom.  A group of white inmates who usually sit at the table, just stood there with their trays not saying a word.  They refused to move.  A couple of the inmates from each side ended up going nose to nose talking crap to each other.  The guards didn’t notice.  But finally the white inmates sat, elsewhere, grumbling all the way and the black inmates laughing at them in a disrespectful tone.  I’m glad I wasn’t involved. But truthfully I’d never be married to an inanimate object (thank you Rebecca Kleefisch!) or think I have to sit with the same group.  I know I need to socialize more.  Afterwards I went to the multi-purpose building to practice on the keyboard for Sunday.  The singer had lyrics to gospel music I’d never heard but not chords or notes.  We struggled for an hour, all the while I regretted ever getting involved in this.  Afterwards, I decided to use the law library computer to see if it would address what Waukesha County was trying to do. Sure enough in Wisconsin statute 302.38, it appears the County is responsible for medical costs if I’m in custody for a crime and can’t pay which was the case and it seems to be confirmed by the court case Meriter hospital vs. Dane County.  They would have to release me to not be responsible.  When I got back I advised my POA on the phone and wrote on information request to Ms Greer letting her know these specifics in case it might help. Despite the tension in my unit I felt good.  I’d accomplished something for a change, I actually had done well, and that’s not a feeling I’m too familiar with much anymore.  Add that to positive contacts with staff for a change and it really was a good day. 


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  Recently, particularly since football season got in high gear, the television in the dayroom has begun to be a bit of a point of contention among some inmates.  Not me of course.  Since I’ve gotten my electronics, like any inmate with their own TV, they have no say on the TV’s in the dayroom.  But even when I didn’t, I just wouldn’t participate in those debates. I’ve seen arguments over the TV escalate and end up with people in the hole.  I’m starting my ERP program in December, and such arguments aren’t worth the risk.  But there is a group of inmates who are in their early to late twenties who aren’t into sports, like to talk crap to others, and just generally never stop talking.  They have successfully irritated the older inmates to varying degrees and always make sure they are at the front of the line at meals.  They are concerned with who buds in line.  Yes, it is very much a junior high mentality.  Most of us don’t understand why the excitement to get your state food.  But one night, this group of kids wanted to watch the FOX television show “Glee” instead of a sports program the older inmates preferred.  They won that one as those who wanted the sports program were outnumbered.  But this group had now been christened “The Glee Club”.  Naturally, the inmates so named, being in a high testosterone environment, expressed their displeasure.  But the more they protested, the more the name stuck.  The older inmates took a great deal of pleasure at seeing how much it bothered them.  When members of the Glee Club or the older inmates mentioned it to me, I was careful, as always, to not get into bed with either side.  But I did tell one thing to both sides.  This was going to come to a head, and there won’t be a winner.  But its the perfect statement to make.  I don’t commit myself, and its sufficiently vague.  It turned out the statement was almost prophetic.  The Glee Club had assembled in the dayroom and were watching a movie.  There was college football on other channels and many went by including myself, to see if the game was on.  Most of us moved on when we saw it wasn’t.  But at the end of the movie, one older inmate had had enough.  He walked up to the TV and changed the channel then sat down.  The Glee Club, well was not full of glee.  One member got up and changed the channel back.  They they went back and forth, voices rising until finally the Glee Club member pushed the older guy.  The guard at the desk, watching the whole thing piped up yelling that any more would result in people going to the hole.  Everyone was lucky this wasn’t a medium or maximum security facility.  Everyone would have been locked down and they both would have gone to the hole.  The Glee Club got up as one and left.  The geezers had won one.  Since then, it’s been handled as men typically handle disagreements.  We pretend there is nothing wrong and insist it didn’t mean anything, though no one wants to join the Glee Club, that’s for sure.  As for me, I find the Glee Club amusing, as they get upset over things that are so unimportant.  Perhaps they haven’t lost as much as I or others have yet.