Posts Tagged ‘attitudes’


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.

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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).  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).  After reading the autobiography, Ms. Grey, our ERP Group Coordinator had each of us devise an ERP Treatment Plan.  It consists of 2 short-term treatment related goals and objectives and 2 long-term practical type goals and objectives.  I’ll share mine with you so you can understand what I’m referring to in the future.  The first short term treatment goal was to address forgiveness issues.  The objectives (how to accomplish this) will be 1. – Read Chapter 5, 7, 13-14 of Houses of Healing by Robin Casarjian.  2. – Write 5 page essay on material.  3. – Write letter forgiving biological father. 4. – Share essay with ERP group. 5. – Share letter with group.  The second short-term treatment goal is to address anger issues.  The objectives are 1. – Read Anger is a Choice by Tim Layattte and Bob Phillips. 2. – Write 5 page essay on material. 3. – Share essay with group. 4. – Write letter forgiving self. 5. – Do “Thinking Event” (describe an event, your thoughts, feelings, attitudes, believes, and outcome involving it) on post traumatic delayed stress disorder connected event.  The first long-term goal relates to Housing and Transportation.  The objectives are to “Try to stay with my adopted parents for a few days.  They are Rev. Charles Martin and Victoria Martin 2. – Get my own place relatively quickly. 3. – Get place in Green Bay, WI after that. 4. – Get assessment so I can get my drivers license.  5. – Get driver license.  6. – Get car insurance. 7. – Get car.  The second long-term goal relates to employment.  The objects are 1. – Find 3rd shift job so I can be available for interviews and training.  2. – Try to find Information Technology job. 3. – Look into Real Estate training and license.  4. – Look into car sales. 5. – Get cell phone.  From here, I’ll sign this goal sheet, then Ms. Grey followed by Ms. Greys’s supervisor and it will then be considered part of my treatment plan.  Some comments about this.  The short-term treatment goals seem simple but they are not.  But they are worthy of my time and like I said, and though I’ve been addressing these issues on this blog the last year, it will be good for me to do this.  I’m also pretty sure this wont’ be the end of it on these issues.  The long-term goals are another matter.  The Parole Officer has to approve me going to my adoptive parents county and they have to say it’s ok otherwise its going to be going to a homeless shelter.  As far as the transportation and employment, so much of it requires money, which I don’t have, and have factors I can’t control, such as will anyone hire  an IT Professional who is a felon.  That if I focus on such things, you can get yourself pretty worked up.  Do you want to hire me?  Just kidding of course, but seriously, I wonder how people will view me in the job market.  But of course, I’m not the only soon to be released felon confronting these issues.  Every day felons start out from prisons with the odds already against them just like I’m going to do.  But I have faith.  I have faith if I do what I’m suppose to, I’m going to make it.  I’m going to have faith in God to see me through, ask others for help when I need it, and be willing to do whatever it takes. 


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 Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP). They handed out canteen last night which was unremarkable except for the fact I met the regular second shift guard, a sweet older lady by the name of Ruth Bartkowski.  Ruth actually sincerely inquired how I was doing in my adjustment to MSDF.  We talked about what a shock it is to the system for those of us coming from medium or minimum security environments.  I think I genuinely smiled for the first time since my arrival here while talking to her. And if that wasn’t enough, after I had returned to my cell I was well into a bag of BBQ chips being so hungry and my cellmate Malik Pearl appeared to be sleeping on his bunk with his headphones on, her partner tonight, a guard in his mid-twenties, who looks like he could be in a band, named Peter Thorn, came to our cell to inspect it.  I said that was fine.  But he saw Malik sleeping, inquired with me about it and I replied he was.  Then Thorn shocked me with what he said.  He didn’t want to wake Malik up so he’d inspect us another time.  Are you kidding me?  Between Bartkowski and Thorn, the laws of the universe are being turned upside down!  So, I’m in a good mood until time to lock in for the night when Andre Charles and Brian Whalen were talking and appearing to try to shield their conversation from me.  I don’t really care what they are saying.  I’m more annoyed by it and I find it disrespectful.  But I’m in prison so I shouldn’t expect politeness.  The next morning after we ate breakfast and had returned to our cell all of a sudden the power in the cell went out but the lights remained on.  We heard yelling ordering us to come out of our cell.  I was pretty sure it was a shakedown.  I felt pretty confident about not having anything considered contraband.  My cellies scrambled to throw various things in our little wastebasket, but I made sure I was the last one out to make sure they didn’t throw anything on my bunk.  Once downstairs, I had a wave of panic hit me.  I had used newspapers I’d gotten on my subscription to pad my extremely thin pillow and I also remembered I’d brought a box of raisins from breakfast a few days ago and it was on top of my locker.  Ok it isn’t major contraband but I don’t know their attitudes here.  So we were taken to another pod and crammed in a room to await them to complete their task.  We were there about an hour.  I heard they’ve had more searches in the last month than the rest of the year.  My previous institution, Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), was also doing this.  Some say its a budget thing as that whole process in the State of Wisconsin is beginning.  I don’t know.  We were then brought out into the dayroom of the pod we were in to be strip searched prior to returning to our pod.  Even the social workers were locked in clearly upsetting them.  It was there we learned that the canine unit of the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office had been here.  In addition to the normal strip search procedure, we had to endure the indignity of bending over so they could see up there.  Other guys report they had to spread their toes for the guard.  We then returned to the same room and then we all assembled in the room next to our pod as our cell number was called.  Finally one cell was left and instead of joining us they were locked in that pod.  What they had had in their cell is unknown but one person among them was scheduled to be released today.  But all 4 were taken to the hole.  I can just imagine what’s going on in that guy’s head.  After 6 months of ERP, putting up with this place and then this.  I don’t know and probably wont’ get to find out what happened to him.  I got back to my cell, the box of raisins still there and newspapers undisturbed but while I’m thankful I realize how truly thin the line between success and failure will be for me at MSDF.