Posts Tagged ‘autobiography’


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Continuing to deal with the ripple effects of having been sent to the hole.  I told ERP group leader Ms. Grey about the loss of my journal and she said I should send an information request to Captain Nickelaus to get it back.  That night it was returned to me before he saw my request along with letters I’d gotten and my autobiography.  I was upset they’d read that as part of their investigation but with me having put large parts of it on this blog there really wasn’t any reason to be.  But the captain responded saying he didn’t know why Ms. Grey would tell him that as he wasn’t the “Property problem solver”.  I am still awaiting word from property to get my boxes back to get my stuff off the floor and have something to pack them in when I leave.  On Wednesday, no groups are scheduled and it was a training day.  Guard Roscoe Peters has returned to work.  Inmates reported to me that he was telling everyone how hard a time he was going to give me because of the name of “Roscoe” he’d been assigned on this blog.  Apparently other guards and inmates alike had been giving him a hard time about it, implying the inspiration behind it had been the sheriff on the Dukes of Hazard television show.  Though I could see why they might draw that conclusion it was erroneous.  A name like “Roscoe” implies to me a character with personality and is unique which is why I gave him that alias.  If you’ve followed along, you have seen that too.  But nothing from Peters has been directed to me.  Probably inmate exaggerations as usual.  I had a good talk with soon to be retired guard Ruth Barthowski relating to spiritual matters.  It turns out she is an atheist.  She shared where her beliefs come from and I tried to show another view of Christ not so wrapped up in what humans do.  I didn’t get anywhere but we’d agreed we’d meet for coffee once I was out.  I hope to be able to reach her.  On Thursday, we presented our Phase II Goals and Objectives.  My first goal was to explore the possibility of my having some kind of obsessive compulsive disorder by writing an essay on the book Stop Obsessing How to Overcome Your Obsessions and Compulsions by Edna Foa and Reid Wilson.  Ms. Grey though I might.  I didn’t see it other than I like routine in my life but not entirely sure that isn’t normal.  But it was informative.  My second goal was to write a paper on how I’ve used alcohol to avoid relationships.  I came to the conclusion that I used alcohol to avoid honesty about me to others in my life as I was afraid for them to know there was anything wrong.  Not earth shattering like the Phase I Goals and Objectives but good.  Perhaps the most obvious and profound change has occurred in Scott Bunker.  He has gone from being a self pitying intolerant person to being very in tune with himself and obviously happy.  He still has that catheter by the way after more than 3 weeks!  They’ve just got to get that scheduled to be taken out.  One bump in the road occurred when ERP group member and cellie Larry Sands , when he read his essay on abandonment and Ms. Grey challenged him on why he hadn’t kept a log like some others had on things related to this issue.  Sands hadn’t been assigned to on his goal sheet and explained that which didn’t appease Ms. Grey.  He was told to do so.  Sands pulled her aside and would tell me later Ms. Grey said she was hard on him because she was tired of seeing black men come back to prison.  But he doesn’t believe that, he believes it’s a personal dislike.  However at the community meeting and at the end of group, Ms. Grey told us all how good we were doing and how we obviously are working the program.  None of us can figure out why this positive vibe has been coming from her.  But its really remarkable.  At the community meeting I was assigned the defensive mechanism skit for next week which everyone has to do once.  We were told then we had to have our alcohol report done by Friday (tomorrow), 3 pages long.  I’ll tell you more about this report next time as it’s kind of a messed up situation.  I got it done.  Those few days in the hold put me behind a bit but I’ve now recovered. 


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 the debacle the previous day, I dreaded the following morning.  I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, the meeting between cellie Andre Charles, his ERP group leader, my ERP group leader, Ms. Grey, and myself.  I imagined the fireworks that probably had gone off in their office as a result of all this.  Perhaps I’d get lucky and with Andre leaving soon maybe they’ll leave it alone.  I just doubt it.  To make matters worse, Andre had relaxed and the cell was returning to normal.  Opening this up again will just make things worse.  But I doubt Ms. Grey will see it that way.  The day started off with us all assembled in the dayroom.  We were scheduled to finish ERP group member John Lloyd and mine presentation to the group of our self-evaluations.  I have largely skipped writing about this as a lot has gone on the last few days and space/time constraints dictated some choices had to be made.  But the self-evaluation consisted of some questions of what has changed since we started our group, what we need to work on in Phase II of the program, and what we need to work on when we get out.  On the other side were questions on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 the best rating.  We evaluated openness, honesty, participation, program expectations, unit tasks, interactions with peers and staff and written assignments.  Most everybody agreed with the person’s evaluation of themselves and rarely did anyone challenge anything and this morning we spent until the dayroom closed from 8 am to 11:45 am.  We wondered if Ms. Grey had gone to Madison to protest as today the bill scrapping most collective rights for the state employee unions had become law.  But after lunch she showed up along with intern Nikita.  I was the last one to present the self-evaluation.  After my autobiography, I became much more honest and open.  I needed to work on my social skills in Phase II.  And after I get out I need to remember to ask for help when I need it before I get into trouble.  I rated myself a 4 on honesty, openness, program expectations, unit tasks, and on interactions with peers and staff and a 4 on my written assignments.  My peers in the group kept trying to bump my scores higher which I suppose I feel good about.  But Ms. Grey focused on my social interaction.  I shared I’m comfortable in situations where I’m in control or have an escape route, which is why I had success in my Christian Rock band and in my work as an Information Technology professional.  She deserved that in her opinion I exhibit symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorders.  First time I’ve ever heard that but I suppose its possible.  I’ve always believed it was part of my post traumatic delayed stress disorder and related anxiety issues.  Anyway, again I was the only one that gave any kind of substantial feedback.  She then announced she wanted us to turn in all the work we had done the last 13 weeks.  Unfortunately, she hadn’t told us to keep the material and much of it though she had assigned it we had never gone through it especially the movie reviews.  Some had very little of the material but everyone was missing some of it including me.  A mini panic gripped the room as we started to go back to our cells trying to find missing work.  After we’d all returned and handed in what we had prepared for our Phase I test.  We were expecting a multiple choice test but no, it was an essay test with 5 questions.  Again, we all sweated this test including me.  But it turned out it was ok or we’re going to go over the answers Monday.  Finally group was over.  That night a new guy came in for the next ERP group that will start when Andre’s group gets cleared out of here.  I felt a mixture of sympathy for him and relief that that isn’t me.  Boy, am I thankful that  isn’t me!  Week 13 of 26 down and 12 to go. 


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 the events on Wednesday, I decided to talk to ERP group members John Lloyd and Larry Sands about how I should handle it.  Should I bring it up in the ERP group, bring it up to my ERP group leader, Ms. Grey, in private or not bring it up at all?  Lloyd was adamant I should leave it alone with his reasoning nothing good would come out of it.  Sands said I should bring it up in group, that if private journal contents which are supposed to only be between the inmate and his ERP group leader could be divulged to another ERP group leader who then divulges it to another inmate supposedly mentioned in the journal (I always used shorthand only known to me to identify another inmate in the journal but the problems with cellie Andre Charles that I and many other inmates had with him were well known) was a clear breach of trust which was a group issue that needed to be addressed.  Sands was right of course but for the wrong reasons.  His relationship with Ms. Grey is strained at this point in time.  After our group did its breathing exercises it became evident she’d been reading complaints about this way of starting group as she asked for a vote on whether to continue it.  Eight of us voted no.  In the ensuing feedback, I pointed out this wasn’t a democracy and others echoed that sentiment.  After she prepared to move on I raised my hand and said I had an issue.  I started from the beginning, about how important confidentiality was and how I had shared things in my autobiography, in other materials and had this not been there I couldn’t have done it.  I then asked if contents of these materials were divulged to others.  She reminded the group and I about the limited confidentiality that exists between us, that other ERP group leaders and her supervisor may be consulted about our cases and should we confess to another crime.  I agreed that’s what we’d been told but asked how it was that another inmate would come by information that had only been in my journal knowing full well what the answer was as Andre had told me yesterday that his ERP group leader had told him.  I was hoping she would connect the dots herself but that was a no go.  She asked me to explain so I did in plain English.  Andre’s group leader asked him about it, told him not to worry about it after his denial, accused me of just trying to get him in trouble and to keep it to himself.  Ms. Grey’s disposition noticeably changed.  She asked me to confirm that another social worker had brought this up to Andre without I or Ms. Grey being present?  I replied yes.  She was furious.  The rest of the group, largely silent, began to speak up on my behalf, saying this process obviously couldn’t be trusted, particularly Sands.  Others tried to bring up their own issues, smelling blood in the water but Ms. Grey shut that down.  Ms. Grey said she wanted to bring all 4 of us together at this point but I argued the point.  Andre is leaving in 3 or 4 days as he’s graduated.  It’s just going to make matters worse in my cell.  The problem will be gone ten.  But she seemed to insist. S he also told me I’d not be allowed to have Sands move in when Andre leaves.  Ms. Grey apologized for the breach that had occurred with the journal.  We’ve suspected there was friction between the various ERP group leaders but now we know it. She was clearly angry as she said she’d be addressing this with them.  I sank in my chair not looking forward to this possible meeting.  The guys in the group came up to me, especially Lloyd, saying I should have left it alone.  Perhaps they are right.  Maybe in a “normal” treatment environment I did the right thing bringing it up.  But not here, that’s for sure.  Two things are clear.  I’ll never put anything important in their journal again.  And I’ll bet Ms. Grey will start reading them more often from now on. 


I am at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  After dealing with the crabby guard, our ERP group leader, Ms. Grey, showed up along with intern Nikita and after our normal breathing exercises and prayer we began Week 13 processing of the ERP goals and objectives that had been decided on.  First up, just like when the autobiographies were read was group member Larry Sands.  His goals and objectives dealt with anger and grief dealing with the deaths of his son and father.  Just like when he read his autobiography, Ms. Grey jumped on him for failing to apply the books he’d been given to read to himself.  To be honest she was right.  He really hadn’t.  Next up was John Lloyd.  Lloyd has had something kind of odd go on with him as he’s lost partial muscle control in his left eye, unable to move his left eye all the way to the left.  I became alarmed over the possibility that a minor stroke might be taking place so I encouraged him to submit a blue form to the Heath Services Unit (HSU) on Sunday.  Plus his color is ashen.  I hope I’m wrong.  Anyway, it was kind of interesting, Lloyd read his essay on grief over the death of his father copying a poem from his book and essentially doing a book report as well but Ms. Grey complimented his efforts.  Then he read the letter to his deceased father and broke down in tears several times throughout.  Where Ms. Grey and Nikita were sitting they couldn’t see it but group members Russ Johnson and Kevin House sat and mocked him for doing so.  At the end she motioned group member Scott Bunker to go up and give him a hug.  The people in the room, already silent, shifted their eyes downward and everyone was uncomfortable.  He did give him the hug startling Lloyd.  There was little follow up to the reading of the letter.  We broke for lunch.  Sands caught up with me going on and on about how Ms. Grey was targeting him.  He clearly wanted my agreement.  I just told him she’s trying to reach you, trying not to take the bite.  Prior to the group starting after lunch the topic was the hug given by Bunker to Lloyd.  To Bunker’s credit, he said he didn’t mind.  But Lloyd and the rest just ripped on Bunker and Ms. Grey for it.  As is my custom I sat and listened.  But I knew on one level they were right.  You don’t hug in prison period and that includes MSDF.  If we were in a treatment group outside here I suspect it would be a different situation.  After lunch it was my turn.  First I read my essay on forgiveness based in part on the book Houses of Healing where I told of my path to forgive my biological father for the things that happened.  I read my second essay on the book of Anger Is a Choice by Tim Lahaye.  I also read my letter forgiving my father which came out more confrontational than forgiving.  Ms. Grey seemed ok with what I’d done and there wasn’t much feedback just like with everyone else except Sands.  I noted at the end that the nightmares and aversions to socializing I deal with are still there.  Later that day at mail call, I received a letter from my ex JoAnn.  She wrote she’s been dating a new guy who has been helpful to my former step-daughter Lisa.  I’m not the first guy in prison whose family’s needs are being met by a new guy.  Doesn’t make it any less painful of course.  I spent a good portion of the night unable to sleep.  I, like most of us guys in prison with families, know in the back of our mind this was going to happen.  But when faced with the reality it still hurts.  The next morning after a couple hours of sleep I prayed for their happiness and asked for the strength to put it behind me and to look forward.  After all, what else can I do?


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’s been an interesting last couple of days. It’s February 17th and there are thousands of people in Madison protesting the state worker unions losing the ability to negotiate on behalf of their works on most issues.  Why am I mentioning that here?  Obviously, the people that work here are concerned as it directly impacts them.  Rumors are getting fed around here by conversations overheard, that in the event of this law passes there will be a strike called by their union and that Gov. Walker has lined up the National Guard to come in and replace them.  Of course, then the question follows, what becomes of us in the ERP programs at various stages of completion if that should occur?  Opinions vary from accelerated graduations (unlikely in my opinion), that the time would still count, the graduation date won’t change, or that despite our contracts, we signed when we got ERP from PRC we’d have to start the program over again and be stuck here until it does.  Let’s face it, nobody knows and it isn’t logical to get worked up about such things we can’t control but of course, that doesn’t stop it from happening.  The guys slated to graduate the first week of March (including Andre Charles) are really on edge, but you can’t blame them for that.  Now the Democrats in the Legislature have fled the state, its left the whole thing in limbo with no end in sight.  That’s the worst kind of limbo don’t you think?  But life goes on in spite of the uncertainty for us just as it would for you.  Today’s group focused on Victim impact of crimes.  Ms. Grey, our ERP Coordinator, admitted the presentation was more suited for property or violent crimes than an OWI offender group but still I’d argue the basic concept is the same. My alcoholism has had significant impact on these to write a letter to someone who has been impacted by our drinking asking them to write a letter detailing how we have hurt them by our use of alcohol.  My letter will be going to my ex-wife JoAnn. After it’s written, it gets sent back to Ms. Grey where I’ll have to read it in front of the group.  She’ll be brutal and probably will be unfair at certain points but that’s ok.  Some group members were unhappy and were scheming how to get around doing this.  I don’t know why.  It’s not like we’ll be hanging out together when we get out.  I guess I can be smug.  I laid everything out there with my autobiography.  But it’s the end of Week 11 of ERP with 15 to go. 


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).  Yesterday morning started off with our ERP group leader, Ms. Grey, handing out the schedule for week 10 which included a note today there would be no program work because of the state worker protests in Madison that employees in Milwaukee will be bussed to.  As you might recall, I wrote that having Gov. Walker a GOP Legislature was going to spell trouble for state workers.  As I noted on the last entry, employees at MSDF are unhappy too.  For Ms. Grey, she seemed to relish the idea of the sixties style protests taking place.  There’s not a lot of sympathy for the guards or other workers here as many perceive them to be paid a lot for very little.  One thing I’d tell you though, is in environments like this it has a special kind of stress for its workers.  Where there’s very little to separate the productive from the non-productive, a brutal type of politics is practiced by one against another, especially by those who week to get noticed or get ahead.  Such a place causes more stress and anxiety than one with objective performance measurements.  Ms. Grey opened the ERP session with the breathing and song we do everyday and then handed out copied worksheets from the Beyond Anger series copyrighted to Earnie Larsen.  The video was ok but the workbook was outstanding especially for me.  It covers the six faces of anger, the cost of repressed and misdirected anger, understanding anger, patterns of behavior, basic rights, learning behaviors, resisting change, healing repressed anger, six step process of healing, intercepting your anger pattern, intercept tools, ongoing health, forgiveness is a gift you give yourself, confronting regrets, principles of reconciliation and realistic expectations.  If you’d like details, feel free to email my sponsors and it’ll get to me.  I was very happy I’d already done my autobiography because now that the ERP group knew everything I was able to openly discuss and answer the questions in a brutally honest fashion.  In our first day we got up through “Resisting Change”. We’re going through it fast and I feel like we could benefit by spending more time on this but keep in mind not everybody has my issues though.  I wish I could summarize it all for you here but it just wouldn’t do it justice.  If you have any kind of anger issue you should get this.  As part of the autobiography I’ve been assigned 2 assignments from the MSDF library, which sad to say, is pretty lacking.  The first was a 5 page essay based on chapter 5, 7, 13-14 of Houses of Healing by Robin Casarjian which I’d already read and as I’ve noted before is a great book.  My second 5 page essay is on Anger is a Choice by Tim Lattaye and Bob Phillips.  I’m familiar with Lattay from his Left Behind book series but this is quit different.  I’m shocked they gave out something so Christian oriented but I’m fine with that as I am Christian.  So I’ve got some work to do, things that will actually benefit me and that makes me happy. 


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 Friday I woke up, really just like any other day.  I had to read my autobiography to my ERP group today and though I wasn’t happy about doing so I had resigned myself to having to do it.  But it wasn’t my turn until that afternoon.  First, it was ERP group member Mark Hogan’s turn to read his story in the morning.  We anticipated a lot of humor in his story in keeping with his class clown personality but though there was some there wasn’t as much as we thought there would be.  He brought visual aids along, showing the general store his father had established in the early part of the twentieth century.  Early in life his father and him argued and he fired and disinherited him.  They’d never reconcile.  He would talk about the beatings his father had given him under question in front of the group by ERP group coordinator, Ms. Grey, but didn’t detail in his reading.  It focused on the hard drinking and bad choices this man of almost 70 years of age had made and how he had helped himself overcome Vietnam with yoga and drugs.  Afterwards the news came that Gov. Walker had announced that Unions for State employees could only negotiate on salary issues, not on such things as health or pension benefits which guards over the next 2 days would be heard talking with each other about how much extra it was going to cost them for such things.  The conversations I heard were obviously of the angry type.  That afternoon intern, Nikita joined us.  Ms. Grey started by having us all change seats which kind of annoyed us.  Then it was my turn.  I read it exactly as written.  I could tell by the reactions of those in the room it was as hard for them to hear as it was for me to read.  Of course there was a lot more in there than you have read in this blog, but you can ask if you want.  I ended it about all the writing I had done since going to prison (not of course that it has been in this blog) and how it’s helped me along the way.  Afterwards there was questions from the group.  They clearly look at me differently now, that’s for sure.  Ms. Grey didn’t have that many questions.  And then it was over.  Pretty painless, huh?  Well I can talk smart now that it’s done, can’t I? Smile  Afterwards, group member Scott Dietz invited me to his family’s events if I wanted.  Others came up and expressed to me similar stories they hadn’t included in their autobiographies and asked me what I thought of one thing or another.  Just very different.  I’m not sure what to think or if I like this or not.  Time will tell.  The next day, Saturday, we got locked in while 2 guys in a different ERP program who were 5 days from graduation were taken to the hole for fighting.  That’s got to be the worst nightmare come true for those guys.  Week 10 is complete and there’s 16 weeks to go.  I’m praying that I don’t end up with a similar fate. 


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.