Posts Tagged ‘article’


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  The morning started out slow as our ERP social worker Ms. Grey was off for the morning session for some kind of training.  In the afternoon session, we began the Phase III work related to employment.  First Ms. Grey asked how many of us needed to work on our resumes.  Not a single hand went up.  Typically, inmates often have nothing like a resume coming out of prison. I was in Information Technology for almost 20 years prior to me going to prison so I am pretty well versed in resumes, job searches and how to conduct myself in a workplace.  But many do not so I’m sure it’s a good idea to offer it.  Ms. Grey handed out a packet on employability called “Introduction and Motivational”.  The first exercises were related to following directions.  Basically it told you to make sure you read it all the way through, then gave you steps to follow that made you jump through all sorts of hoops and then get to the final step that told you, that had you read through everything you would know you wouldn’t have to do any of this.  It got me.  I’m so accustomed to just mind numbing work I just plowed through the first 4 of the 16 steps before catching on.  So it made its point.  Then we had to split into 3 groups and make up a list of 10 things important to being employed and then narrow them down to the top 5.  In my group were myself, cellie Larry Sands, John Lloyd, and Russ Johnson.  Our top 5 came out as positive mental attitudes, good communication skills, good listening skills, reliability, and good problem solving skills.  I was suckered (nominated) by the other 3 to present the list to the other groups as they did too.  I surprised myself at how comfortable I was doing so.  Ms. Grey seemed pleased with our effort.  We then watched a video called "From Parole to Employment that offered tips on your job hunt and was motivational.  It was a good video. Afterwards, Sands brought up getting State ID cards which we’ve been told we could get before we got out and Ms. Grey said she’d look into it.  Then the conversation turned to computer access, which the inmates can use to access JobNet and the law library.  Some thought they’d need their own ID, which isn’t true at MSDF.  But if its all the same, I think I’ll avoid computer use here!  Besides, unlike other ERP programs, we have no community access in Phase III so we can’t contact or follow up any leads.  But such is the situation.  I had dug up a copy of my resume I had here along with a news article written about a software program using the .NET framework for a plumbing and electrical distributor.  Russ Johnson got a hold of it and commended he had extensive contacts and would help me with my job search.  I’m not really believing it but hey I’ll take any help I can!  So we’ll see.  So as usual we’ll see what happens.  I spoke with my adoptive parents, Charles and Victoria Martin, and we’re having discussions on cell phones and internet access which I’ll need to get employment when I get out.  It’s good to actually be planning the details for my release. 


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  It was Thursday, which is Community Meeting day.  I volunteered to do the current event for the meeting the previous week and I picked an article involving the events surrounding Charlie Sheen and his very public meltdown in front of the cameras this past week. I chose to relate one of the criminal thinking defense mechanisms to each one of Sheen’s more interesting quotes from the interviews he’d given and then relate his conduct to my own.  Granted, as I’ve noted before, what I did wasn’t entirely what you might think of in the clinical definition of  criminal thinking, there are similarities.  ERP at MSDF heavily incorporates this into the non-OWI related groups so I thought this would relate to everyone.  When it was my turn I could tell the minute I started talking I’d lost the group.  They weren’t paying attention.  At the end, they clapped but id didn’t feel right.  And they never clap on a current event article.  When asked for comments, one or two commented but it was pretty obvious no one seemed to know what to do with it.  Mercifully, another social worker stepped in and began a discussion on how everyone saw Sheen’s rehabilitation attempts in light of the chronic abuse depicted in the show 2 1/2 Men.  This got the conversation going, with many commenting on this thread.  One of the things about prison you won’t get patronizing comments about how good you were if you sucked.  After the community meeting ended, this held true.  Cellie Andre Charles told me I was talking over people’s heads.  He was absolutely right.  Plus I identified 10 defensive mechanisms for the 10 Sheen quotes I read so it is a lot to process and it was too long.  So it was a learning experience.  Andre himself was bouncing off the walls.  He would graduate the next day and his on again off again girl was throwing curves at him, keeping him off balance with rules of how things will work when he gets out.  Plus he’s going to a transitional living placement (TLP) in Milwaukee County, which is a short term (90 days usually) placement designed for parolees with no place to go, where he’s not sure what he’ll encounter and doesn’t even know where it’ll be located.  They have such things like a TLP in Waukesha County where I’m suppose to go but they are usually reserved for sex offenders.  So I wonder if this will be me in 90 days or even worse, if I’ll end up in a shelter.  But I can’t focus on that just now.  The next day’s graduation ceremony saw the warden, unit manager, and all the social workers show up, and be seated off to the side while all the rest of us sat in front of the graduating ERP class.  The had constructed a door using colored paper that signified them walking through to a changed life.  They each read a quote significant to them in some fashion while the warden, unit manager, and their social workers made comments encouraging them to do well on the outside.  Then they received a certification of completion.  At the conclusion, we were all given a couple of cookies to celebrate.  But for us in our cell we all chipped in some refried beans, cheese, tortilla shells, jalapeno peppers and sodas off canteen and had our own little celebration.  We made so much we felt so sick and ended up giving a lot away.  We got so loud we even drew a warning from guard Ruth Bartowski.  I congratulated Andre and wished him the best and despite everything that happened I really meant it.  Don’t get me wrong.  He’ll be gone in 7-10 working days here and I’ll be glad about that.  But I really do hope he makes it.  


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Thursday it was Russ Johnson’s turn to read his autobiography.  His story was consistent with the background we learned before.  He came from a successful family and had been handed his career opportunities through family connections.  Financially he has no worries when he gets out.  He did lose a marriage and that clearly impacted him.  It was interesting to note that though he does have a lot of money, alcoholism had rendered him just like me in that we both are in prison. In the afternoon, we watched a series of videos on communication skills and how to handle confrontations.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to see the video title or who it was by.  But there were three skills.  Giving it, taking it and working it out.  Giving it steps are to ask the person if you can talk to them, say something positive if you can, tell the person what’s on your mind, ask if they understand and thank them for listening.  The taking it skill steps are to stay calm and listen, ask the person to explain, ask what they want you to do and tell them you understand.  The working out skill steps are to tell the other person what you want, listen to the response, ask if the person has another way and offer a compromise.  All very useful information.  We had the community meeting next where ERP group member John Lloyd gave as the current event article the Green Bay Packers victory in the Super Bowl.  It got all the Packer haters going.  Some also thought it wasn’t an appropriate article.  But I got up and said that if the Packers could win the Super Bowl through all the adversity they had we most certainly get back out there in life and do what we need to do.  Sounds pretty weak, huh?  But at the time it sounded good! The quote for the week was “When you plot revenge start by digging two graves”.  The word of the week was recidivate. Basically its return to a certain pattern of conduct.  The implication is pretty obvious.  Tomorrow I get to read my autobiography.  I still don’t want to but since I have to I’ve made myself pretty calm.  It’s going to have to be ok.


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 group coordinator, Betty Grey is really struggling.  We didn’t see her at all yesterday and today she pulled us together in that same dimly lit exercise room.  She was clearly frustrated with the situation.  Having come from Racine Correctional Institution (RCI), I’m sure she was far more supported than she is here.  Questions inmates in the group had that are especially centered around visitation with the holiday coming up, questions regarding interstate compacts (which permit inmates to move across state lines) and other MSDF procedures.  Ms. Grey just had no answer.  Larry Sands, a group member, suggested we ask the other group coordinators those questions which made Ms. Grey uncomfortable.  Throughout the rest of the day she handed out paperwork that we should have been given at the time homework was given that gave us direction on how to do it.  It was just a sense of general disorganization, something someone new in a job might very well have.  I feel bad for her to be honest.  We had our community meeting today, my first while in the ERP program.  The phrase today was “Always do what you are afraid to do” and the word today was “grim” as in “No man ever understands his own artful dodges to escape the grim shadow of reality” talking about how we practice denial and don’t even see the depth of our own self deception.  Then a skit was done about how we pursue the easier short sighted self gratification instead of working for a better future.  We provided comments on each as they occurred.  Then one man stood up with the news article for the week and it focused on Brett Favre’s streak ending.  He tied it to what we’re doing here by saying Favre was in recovery and accomplished his streak while in recovery from his Vicodin addition.  The only problem is Favre is not in “recovery” at least not in the traditional sense.  But nothing was said.  The announcement was made we wouldn’t have this meeting the next 2 Fridays because of the holidays.  My cellie, Frank Whalen, then stood up to read something but the coordinator told him not to which was odd.  The meeting broke and we all went to clean our cells as is the custom on Fridays.  Whalen came and got me and asked me to read what he had.  HIs girlfriend, a 60 year old therapist (he’s 44) had written him an amazing letter describing him as a Narcissistic but that he was an awesome, terrific person to her.  Turns out he hadn’t even read it and he was going to read it to the whole group.  I told him this was a bad idea as she went into detail on his failure and sex life and I felt that some inmates would use that info to torture him.  Whalen asked me what was in it and I told him his girlfriend loved him very much but had some things to tell him and he should sit down by himself to read it.  I was envious of him for a minute, having such a lady who stood by him despite his crimes.  But I was happy he’s not alone in this world.  I got a letter saying Lucy had changed her mind and decided I couldn’t stay there when I get out due to personal reasons.  It’s her right to change her mind and I can’t really blame her.  I’m a felon and a burden at this point.  Of course, I’d already turned in my paperwork on this so I don’t know what will happen.  I’ve got 23 weeks to go but Ms. Grey wants to know now to do her job.  I appreciate your prayers and I’ll keep working on this. 


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Fridays are a short day in the ERP program here.  They have something called “Community” at 10 am and then they’re done for the day.  Everyone was already seated when someone came and got me to join which surprised me since I don’t start ERP until December 13th.  They went through an airing of unit grievances (there were none) and housekeeping issues (there were some).  It was at this point that I was called to the guard desk and told to get ready to go to Heath Services Unit (HSU).  They have something where an inmate picks a quote and they explain why they picked it.  The quote was “Bad things happen in life so that someday something good can come.”  It was put on a big poster and hung from the top tier.  Then the inmate coming up with the quote talked of why he picked that quote.  The group was then to provide comments on what the quote meant to them.  The social worker running the group reminded them that if we didn’t participate enough she would hand out paper and make us all write something down.  Personally, I would have preferred that but that’s just me.  Then the inmate assigned the word of the day or week, I’m not sure which.  The word was “oppressed” with the quote “difficult to bear substance abuse made my life aggressive”, which was placed on a white poster on the upper tier next to the other one.  Then my cellmate, Brian Whalen, had been assigned to read a current events article and discuss it with comments following.  He did well I thought.  Overall, the comments being made felt forced to me but I could be wrong.  At that point a female guard showed up to escort me and another inmate to HSU.  We got on an elevator (another difference of any prison I’ve seen – there were no elevators) and we had to face the wall away from the guard sharing space with carts of food trays being delivered for lunch.  I go to our next stop where we were directed to stand with our backs to the wall while another inmate joined us and we continued on.  We got to HSU which has a hall for a waiting room with the wall lined by chairs then inside a desk manned by a guard.  He called out names to go in.  I was seated next to a man of 65 with a long white beard who couldn’t stop jabbering.  He was on paper for his 5th DUI and was here for rule violations (using pot) and his parole officer (PO) was trying to revoke him.  A lot of the other inmates were discussing Act 28 and the mistaken idea that once they got to Dodge Correctional Institution (DCI) the time they thought they’d be saving under Act 28 would be taken right off the top of their sentence. It reminded me much of my time in Waukesha County Jail (WCJ) where inmates would cling to such fairy tales out of sense of desperation and looking for a reason to hope.  I tried to interject and correct the information but one inmate in particular would have none of it, insisting I was wrong.  I let it go.  I understand the need to hold onto hope.  I think false hope actually helped me at times.  Weird, isn’t it?  Mercifully, I got called to see the doctor.  He was of Indian descent and spoke good English.  I waited 10 minutes before a word was said while he reviewed my file.  He then let me know another PET scan would be scheduled soon to make sure the cancer had not returned and made sure I was still on my antiviral.  I returned to my seat in the hall to await transport back to my unit.  The man I was next to had grown impatient and started repeatedly asking when he’d be seen because he didn’t want to miss lunch.  The guard who brought me to HSU returned to take me back but the guard at the desk lost patience and told her to take him back too without being seen.  He knew what that meant.  He was getting a major conduct report for being disruptive.  The entire way back he argued with this guard almost assuming an intimidating stance towards her.  She argued back which was pointless with this guy.  Finally, I got back to my unit having a cold pizza burger for lunch and very glad I’m not that loud inmate and looking forward to getting this ERP program going week after next. 


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  The Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) Family has got an offer you can’t refuse – especially since they control every aspect of your life, potential release and they know that your financially destitute.  You feel like your not bargaining on an  equal footing, though you had more strength than you knew.  But the deal pleased the “Family”, as they keep the secrets of where the bodies are buried, who killed them and who knew about it safely hidden.  The “Family” will offer that deal and more 8 days a week to keep you silent and feel they got off light.  The past couple days around here the conversation around many has revolved around the media reports (original article entitled “Lawyer: Prison could have stopped alleged assaults” was not found, but was printed Wednesday, November 3, 2010 in the Green Bay Press-Gazette) of the payout to an inmate to not file a lawsuit concerning alleged sexual assaults by a former guard, James Trentin (I’m using his real name – I don’t usually use staff or inmates real names – but I’m using his because he was named in the media) at Prairie du Chien Correctional Institution and the at best incompetent and at worst intentionally misleading investigation by “prison officials” who then compounded their failure to protect inmates by returning the alleged predator to work where he had access to the inmates.  It was after this point, with the realization he now could act with impunity, that he allegedly assaulted the victim, acted with the supposed consent with 4 others, while several others rejected his advances.  Lets be clear on a couple things.  ANY sexual activity between staff and inmates is sexual assault by staff.  Inmates cannot consent. They can’t walk away and are largely powerless to stop the activity.  Second, inmates are not above using manipulation over staff actions to get what they want.  Really, it can begin to be a contest between who the bigger predator is and which one appears to have more power at a given moment.  Many inmates have perfected their con game.  But based on my readings of the facts, I use the words “alleged predator” in regards to James Trentin because of the fact he is not viewed as a predator by the legal system.  Why you might ask?  In exchange for guilty please to misdemeanors, 22 counts of second degree sexual assault were dropped.  Trentin didn’t do a day because the prosecutor felt inmates weren’t credible despite video evidence of Trentin giving them contraband, testimony of inmates who refused his advances (thus no crime but a pattern of conduce emerges), and testimony of those who were assaulted.  In light of that, I submit the idea that inmate victims are viewed less than worthy than say a collection of victims of a single predator on the outside world, largely because there is no political group with any kind of base to speak for those victims that anyone will listen to.  If this prosecutor treated a group of victims in this fashion in the outside world, they surely would lose their job.  I challenge anyone to disagree with that statement!  But isn’t it interesting how this whole tragedy resembles the abusive family dynamic?  You’ve got generational teachers who educate the parents that run the institutions that you must protect the family at all costs and the secrets that must stay that way, or the irrational fear of family, and individual destruction is planed.  The older siblings, the guards, all know one of their own is a predator on the powerless younger siblings, inmates, but won’t tell because they know the parents really don’t want to know about it.  Some of the powerless younger siblings see no way out so try to bargain with the predatory older sibling for their silence thus gaining an illusion of power and favor.  But one younger sibling complains to the parents about the abuse.  They ask their predator child about the allegations who of course blames the victims – everyone but himself using negotiations of some of the siblings as proof of his innocence.  The parents running the institution go to the complaining sibling and decide for the good of the family’s image to do something extraordinary for the child – to give him $150,000 and extract a promise that they’ll never get put under oath and have to reveal all the family secrets.  Meanwhile, as with all family secrets, they hold their breath and hope no one else comes forward.  Secrets have become their most treasured possession.  Predators (alleged) like James Trentin almost always have had or will have another victim out there somewhere.  Time is a secret’s enemy.  The question isn’t a matter of if but when it comes out.  When it does, will the predatory older sibling go down himself or will all the dominoes fall threatening the whole family for having kept silent?  Do you know something about this or have a similar secrete no one knows? Call Thomas Hayes (414) 271-9844), a lawyer looking into this, or email this blogs sponsors.  Don’t sit in silence any longer.