Posts Tagged ‘Bartowski’


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  This past weekend noteworthy events surrounded soon to depart cellie Andre Charles.  Late Friday guard Ruth Bartowski, besides finding out she has been a captain and probation officer in the past, confided to our table Andre had come after her with several ICI (Inmate Complaints that go to Madison) forms alleging racism.  They didn’t take but it explains the bitterness between them.  That weekend we experienced why they don’t want us to heat water for coffee or refried beans off of canteen, which is the favorite food of Corey Ball, using water, paper clips, and a power cord.  Someone pulled the cord of out of the water without unplugging it making the breaker go out on our side.  We sat without power on our side for about 2 hours until Saturday Night Live started.  But of course cellie Andre Charles is on edge about leaving and guard Rosco Peters threw him a tidbit of information on when, when he yelled playfully at him during count as is their custom, that he had 2 days left to follow the rules.  On Monday I got up as normal, ate breakfast about 6:30 am and returned to my cell.  Peters called me down about 8 am and let me know I was leaving for my PET scan like last time to make sure the cancer hadn’t returned.  I reminded him I’d eaten (you’re supposed to go without food for 8 hours prior).  No one had told him he said.  When the guards came to get me I told him I’d eaten and asked if we should call to make sure it would be ok.  He wanted to go to Madison and if they said no so be it.  It became clear why as he was the driver and didn’t want to lose the overtime shift.  The ride there was uneventful but it was SO good to see the outside world!  Once there I got to the waiting room.  It was packed and noisy so much so that you couldn’t hear the movie on the wall.  The guys dominating the conversation were mostly lifers, trading war stories and discussing who their “bitches” are present and past.  Of course, I’m the only one in yellow in the sea of green uniforms so people stared.  Most didn’t know I was at MSDF but some did.  I got called to go for the scan at 11:30 am.  I didn’t have a coat to cover me on the wheelchair so the combination of cuffs, chains, and yellow uniform attracted lots of looks.  I can’t wait to come back to the University Hospital in civilian clothes some day.  Of course, never coming here again is an attractive alternative!  The man doing the scan commented that I should leave the cuffs on my feet joking I might try to escape.  I got back to the holding room, eating one of the infamous bag lunches.  We returned to MSDF, getting strip searched once at the hospital then once at MSDF.  I waited at least an hour in a holding cell.  The staff at intake on 2nd shift is just rude and unprofessional unlike their 1st shift counterparts.  I heard them mocking other inmates and were just rude in their tone to me.  I got back to my unit where Andre greeted me with the news he was getting released tomorrow.  I’m sure my test results will come back well and with this news I’m as happy as I can get here.   

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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).  I left you yesterday where the buzz was about the incoming winter storm and we had a guard who was quite strict.  When second shift came and guard Ruth Bartowski came on, the dayroom greeted her arrival with cheering and clapping.  The only problem is this guard was still there.  She yelled about how she was being disrespected, how she was only going by the manual and we should dare to try doing that again.  No one did, but after she had gone everyone laughed at her.  It’s all in how you enforce the rules if the inmate respects you.  If you make it about you, the inmates won’t respect you.  At mail call, I got a pleasant surprise.  My eldest former step daughter, Lynn, had written me a nice letter.  She is doing so well.  She’s maintaining a relationship, helping her mom out and trying to get her younger sister, Lisa, on track.  She seems like she wants a relationship with me now which is so far away from where we were.  So I’m letting my guard down a little bit.  I woke up today and found Bartowski still on duty as I imagine no one was able to relieve her.  They didn’t have us come out for count and gave us breakfast and lunch by having us come out one cell at a time much like the tornado warning at Jackson Correctional Institution (JCI).  Again the sense of all of that with a place that never sees the outside world and the threat is snow escapes me but oh well.  Finally Bartowski got relieved by another unknown guard and she was another strict guard making cellies Andre Charles and Brian Whalen take down the towels they use to keep their faces hidden from view.  No one ever says anything about that normally so it wasn’t received well.  As soon as she left they put the towels right back up.  Again we were happy to see Bartowski come back on duty after less than 8 hours off.  Almost instantly the environment relaxed as she exchanged blankets, laundry, let people use the restroom and get ice.  At supper we came out as normal and Bartowski announced after 6 we would have dayroom as normal and that we were the only unit getting to do that (not have to be locked in our cells) in the whole building.  I told her as I put my tray up I wish we had a hundred guards just like her.  People like her we want to follow.  Does that make sense?  I suppose some might say strict by the letter of the law following of rules is better for us over the long term.  I don’t agree.  How many of us drive 35 in a 25?  Use more water than we should in the summer?  But how about the idea that an authority figure appears to be on your side?  So many guys here have never experienced that ideal.  Authority is not the enemy and does not have to be hated.


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 haven’t written in about a week because I wanted to focus on getting my autobiography done.  Yes, it’s done.  Thirty pages it took and I was extremely detailed particularly in my early life not just the broad strokes I gave you.  I’m sure I’m going to get a lot of strange looks and treatment from some group members but I feel its important I be honest.  To get you caught up on what is going on, we lost the dryer on our unit for several das.  We had to use the washer for our clothes and then hang them in our cells, from the bunks, TV stands and such making the cell block look like a homeless camp with the smell of mildew in the air.  Those that work out a lot had the worst of the situation.  I had an interesting encounter.  I had my laundry bag lined up in order to get washed.  But the swampers in cahoots with my neighboring cell pushed their bags in front of min, claiming that 2nd shift guard Ruth Bartowski had told them to do so and she was going to take these folks over to the other cell bock where there was a working dryer which in fact she did.  Why Bartowski did this is unknown to me.  The fact all those guys were black and led some to conclude they felt they could do this to me (step in front of me) was because “I wasn’t tan enough.  The only problem with that is Bartowski is white.  But as I’ve said, this place is far more open about racial prejudice than anywhere I’ve been.  But I’m 20 weeks from release.  No way I screw it up over something like this.  In my ERP group, I got jumped on by group members Larry Sands and Scott Dietz for wanting “to fix people” especially in regards to my conflicts I’ve had with Andre Charles.  It is true people find me easy to talk to and some say, including Andre, think I help them.  I wish I knew a way to make it my life’s work.  But its clear to me that they have no idea what it is like to live with him.  By the time it was over, Sands and I were yelling at each other.  Russ Johnson, who has taken his turn as group leader and is experienced at treatment says this is typical of treatment group sessions.  They did ask me one important question.  Where did this need to fix people come from?  Was it because I couldn’t save my biological mother or even my biological father or others who suffered?  The other accusation was I manipulate people by helping them to my viewpoint or desired action.  I suppose to a degree it’s true.  Ms. Grey, ERP Group Coordinator, handed out a track called “King Baby” by Hazelden that seems to point to that (it’s an excellent read by the way) along with many other personality types.  But its something to consider.  We finished up through Chapter 8 of “Houses of Healing” book and read letters we wrote to our inner child.  In general they were, including mine, well pretty general.  But that’s ok.  We also watched a movie called “Antwone Fisher” starring Denzel Washington that was quite good.  Everyone in my cell is getting along.  Nothing has changed on where I’m going when I get out.  I still don’t know.  But I got an interesting letter.  My sponsors monitor my email and relatives of my biological father have made contact.  I had had out feelers for years on ancestry.com and they finally found them.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet.  It’s not as simple an answer as you might think.