Posts Tagged ‘Bill’


My name is Jake Martin and I am on parole from the state of Wisconsin Prison System (WPS) currently now living in Ames, Iowa. I write this from my own laptop in an efficiency apartment at a complex dominated by Iowa State University college students. How did I get here? More on that in a minute.

At the risk of sounding corny but what a LONG, STRANGE trip it has been both being in prison and since getting out. The day I was released it was Wednesday June 23rd.  Today is January 16th, 2012. In the roughly 7 months since my release so much has happened. I spent July through August largely glued to my cell phone and laptop while hunting for work, with the assistance of friends and the sponsors of this blog.. My parents grew concerned enough to tell me I might have to take work at a fast food operation or something similar. I had no problem with that. In fact I figured that was what would happen. While all this was going on my parents, whom my father is a minister though he retired in July, received a retirement call to serve a church in Juneau, Alaska. My PO, Helen Gaither, it turned out was very cool to me. Though the walks from the bus to her in Appleton WI were not! Because I had no car and often my parents weren’t available it was necessary to walk. But that’s ok. It just didn’t bother me. These things just don’t bother me anymore.

In about August, my efforts finally began to pay off. A major corporation hired me as a temporary software developer for a project they were working on through an agency I had worked with before and was unaware that I had been in prison the last 25 months. During that time I brushed the rust off my skills, got used to the grind that a software developer will have again and learned to deal with people again. About that time, a company based in Ames IA interviewed me for a position as a software engineer. They hired me. However I was given enough time to finish the contract I had started in with this company in Neenah WI. My parents were still in Alaska when I left in October. Needless to say I was excited and petrified all at the same time. I was fortunate on one aspect regarding work. I had largely lost the last two years and in technology circles that is as much as a lifetime. But this company was on older technology, technology I was well suited for. It was a perfect fit. Meanwhile I continue to upgrade my skills now. But anyway on October 8th I made the move. My first weekend didn’t go well. Furniture I had purchased for the apartment prior to my arrival had accidentally been tossed my a maintenance worker for the complex, as well as two tires going flat. Oh yes, my parents had sold me their old car and I had also managed to get insurance and a license during that time. But needless to say, I got things under control and my employer was extremely understanding as I missed my first day of work getting the car fixed. Things were pretty normal until about a month ago when weight loss and the familiar night sweats had returned – all symptoms I have become very familiar with. Testing revealed that my cancer had returned. Now before you become too concerned, just know, again I am going to be fine. I am doing chemotherapy again. But this time at least, I can control my diet though fatigue and nausea are now my main problems. See though I have insurance they don’t cover preexisting conditions unless you had proof of insurance before which of course I did not have in WPS. So medications I used for nausea and such are not covered either. But it is ok. It’s the same type of cancer as before and because they caught it earlier this time it is even more assured I will be fine. So don’t worry!

But what can I say about being free? My first day out my sponsors took me to a Mexican restaurant where I had chicken and steak fajitas. My mouth and stomach were on fire as they loved what I ate – but they didn’t so much later as they rebellled against the rich food I was not used to. I will spare you the details. Television, the Green Bay Packers and dear friends I have missed. All of it really is about choices of which we had very little in prison.

I still deal with the anxieity junkie. I still am largely alone or at least it looks that way. I am still single. My previous family contacts me to be sure but it is usually only when one of them is in trouble or needs money. My adopted siblings and family remain an awkward relationship. But yet I count myself as one of the lucky ones, one who found a way to be successful on release. I call it luck because things fell together in a way that I can’t really take credit for. Yes it is God and there are others to thank. Friends like Jennifer, Natalie, Mike, Bill, and Rebecca I couldn’t have done it without them. I owe them more than I have life left to repay. I simply can say no more than I am gratefully free. It has been so long and such a hard road, much of it self inflicted, that I can’t bring myself to complain. What right do I have to have such a good life? The answer is I do have that right as long as I do not forfeit that right with my choices I make in life.

I want to take this opportunity to also thank those of you who faithfully followed this blog, especially Jill, Karen, Kelly and Lori. You really kept me looking forward to mail call and such wondering what might be there today. Again, so grateful. How many others wait for even one piece of mail in prison only never to get any! And the rest of you, since my release I have watched your reaction from afar, really wanting to burst out and say hey its me! I’m free! But we all thought it best I keep a low profile until the entries were finished. I hope you understand. That said the future of this blog will be sporadic entries regarding what is happening with me and how it relates to being on parole. I am not going to do an entry every day. There just isn’t time like I used to have. But know this. If any of you want to reach out to me please feel free. I have always felt a closeness to many of you who suffered with your loved ones in prison right along with me.

On that note, its time to close. I have got some studying to do! Talk to you soon….

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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). This morning cellie Andre Charles and Malik Pearl immediately started in on each other once Malik revealed people talk about Andre’s tendency to snap on people.  Andre didn’t like learning people talked about him though he says he knew they did.  But of course, he was angry that Malik didn’t tell him before.  That’s not what he was really mad about.  But as I talked with him I again tried to make him understand that his rage issue, if he didn’t get a hold of it, with medication or whatever, he’s going to kill someone to no avail.  He keeps wanting my opinion/approval, I don’t know why.  But I’m going to keep telling him the same thing.  After the ERP group began this morning, Ms. Grey, who’d been on vacation all last week, was here.  She asked us our impression of the What the Bleep Do We Know.  We were all pretty skeptical.  Then we did breathing exercises which she wants us to do everyday to start group.  We close one nostril, breathe in, bend our head, then blow out the other nostril.  It’s different.  But we better get used to it.  Then we talked about the assignments in “Criminal Conduct and Substance Abuse Treatment” by Kenneth Wanberg and Harvey Milkman and Houses of Healing by Robin Casarjian.  Everyone completely agreed including Ms. Grey, that the Milkman workbook completely sucks and Casarjian rocks.  But we’re required somehow to do this workbook according to Ms. Grey.  So that’s what we’ll do.  In the afternoon session we managed to get a hold of the remote for the DVD player and were able to watch “Portraits in Addiction” by Bill Moyer, which we hadn’t been able to do last time and wrote a one page essay on it.  It was at least 15 years old so some of the references and people were dated but I thought it showed several types of addiction as well.  They’re telling us much of what we already know.  Yes we are alcoholics.  We don’t need convincing.  But perhaps I speak too quickly.  After the afternoon session, I checked at the desk for mail and to my shock there was a letter from my former step-daughter Lynn.  She sent a Christmas card with a photo of her and her boyfriend, a photo of her and JoAnn, and Lisa and a letter.  In her letter she apologized for how she has treated me and seemed genuinely interested in what was going on with me.  They had even gone to see my adoptive parents this past weekend.  I sense there’s more going on out there in regards to this group of people.  But its the same issue when JoAnn sent me the Christmas card.  To what level can I get involved with these folks?  Should I?  I still haven’t decided.  But I have a letter to write.  I’m excited she reached out to me as I had wanted that for a  long time. 


I’m a the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  The Cold war has begun between cellie Andre Charles, his ally cellie Brian Whalen, cellie Malik Pearl and myself.  So silence reigns our cell now.  And guess what?  I like it that way!  The next day, normally between 8 and 9 am, we can study our ERP materials in our own cells.  But not the last two days.  With Ms. Grey, the ERP Coordinator, gone all week, the structure of our ERP group has kind of broken down.  Ok, I admit to being a bit of a routine guy, and disruptions can throw me off my game.  But inmate Larry Sands who had been appointed our ERP group leader had assembled us to watch the video Ms. Grey had assigned this morning called “What the Bleep Do We Know”.  It was one of the strangest things I’ve seen for a self help video.  It dealt with the idea that there is an universal observer that appears to be their version of God.  I wrote down a quote which was interesting.  It was “the height of arrogance is the height of control who create God in their own image”.  At another point it was stated the idea that us mere carbon based life forms could somehow influence an almighty being was ludicrous.  Our oldest group member, named Mark Hogan, just couldn’t contain himself throughout.  He is in his seventies and looks like the old drunk that hangs out in a bar at two in the afternoon, but he has a heck of a wit.  So too was it the same with Dean Stark and another group member, Russ Johnson, who is extremely knowledgeable on this treatment stuff.  He tells me he’s been to Hazelden and other famous programs.  I wish I had his knowledge.   He often gets fired up and tries to intimidate others by his physical presence if you do something he doesn’t like and is very confident in his own knowledge and you could say he likes himself.  But like I said I wish I knew all he knows.  After lunch we returned to the video room to watch “Portrait of Addiction” by Bill Moyer.  Unfortunately Sands nor any of us could get the DVD to work without the remote which was missing.  So we had to abandon the effort after an hour.  I really think Sands has done a fine job considering the situation.  I continued to work on my autobiography, ending with an interesting life!  But nobody got much done.  My favorite guard, Ruth Bartkowski, was on duty and really with everyone on vacation she and other guard don’t know what to do.  I did share the first pages of my autobiography with John Lloyd, whom I’ve come to trust a bit, in order to gage his reaction and get his opinion on this being read to the group.  He was clearly shaken but felt it would be okay to share.  But really, I’m an idiot.  If he said don’t do it, I still would have had to.  So why bother asking the question?  Supper was the most awful – Chili Mac casserole.  But its okay.  I’m okay with things so far.


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  The Green Bay Packers beat the stuffing out of the Minnesota Vikings 31-3.  Normally its a real loud environment around here on game day but it was so bad nobody  had anything to say.  It appears that I’m no longer part of the worship team since I got off bunk confinement.  I haven’t been approached about it for the last two weeks.  I’m okay with that.  If you were following along you understand why.  Oh and if you were wondering, saddlebags and Bill  “Made up”.  That’s Bills words, not mine.  I just didn’t want to know anything beyond that so you fill in the blanks!  But its been a relatively quiet weekend.  Normally early Monday morning I’ll wake up real early and do my laundry, especially since we now only have one washer and dryer to serve 200 plus inmates thanks to an inmate putting a bar of soap in the washer instead of the laundry soap we’re supposed to purchase.  But as luck would have it I walked by the washer around 7 pm and saw it was available so I hurried and got to it before others did.  The downside is I had to hang around the dayroom instead of hanging out by my bunk and watching TV like I like to at night.  Many saw my departure from routine and came up to me to talk.  We get used to each others routines.  Most of the conversation revolved around the game and why I was in the dayroom at that hour.  But Paul came by to chat.  He’s getting out next month and is having a particularly hard time. They didn’t offer him a job while he was here until the very end, has no money saved up and as a result must live in housing called a transitional living placement (TLP) with other parolees for 60-90 days.  Those in such placements often must wear electronic monitoring ankle bracelets which Paul doesn’t want to do.  In addition, prior to your release you get the “rules” your parole officer (PO) has determined you must live by.  Some are standard, but then after those are listed the PO lists rules specific to you.  You’re suppose to sign you rules prior to release from prison.  The problem here is that the PO listed as a rule that he must agree to any kind of treatment or counseling the PO believes is appropriate.  Paul felt the rule was too vague and wouldn’t agree to it.  Ms. Greer tried to arrange a phone conference which resulted in him hanging up on the PO.  He’s now in the process of filling out paperwork to get a new PO.  Paul’s problems have always gone back to his anger, even when I knew him in the group home 25 years before.  He doesn’t want the PO to have so much power over him as she could order him to complete any kind of treatment they want he reasons.  It surprises me as this is the 4th time in prison.  I’ve heard they have life or death power over you so I wonder why he’s fighting the PO so much.  He should know this.  I do know he’s really against any kind of anger management.  He had lost his mom to cancer back when I knew him as a kid and that the aunt that cared for him since had also died.  He’s all alone.  People like him, I get them.  I tried explaining since the beginning of all this his life has been a series of tumbling dominoes where though responsible for his actions, the likelihood of bad decisions being made continued to escalate as each domino fell.  The weight of the past dominoes that had fallen were such to make impossible for the current domino to stand on its own without a lot of intervention and change.  Paul indicated he “totally understood” what I was saying, but I got the sense he just wasn’t ready to trust this PO because they may make decisions that might force him to face things he was afraid to.  Again, I get that.  It’s a rebellion born of fear that resembles defiance.  I see that.  Will his PO?  For now, at this point, I’m not that hopeful he is going to make it when he gets out.


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  After the afternoon count was cleared around 1 pm, as is my normal practice I walked around the track.  On my first lap, when I got to the front of the building I witnessed 2 people in a heated confrontation.  I couldn’t see exactly what went on but there was a lot of pushing and shoving in the least.  My policy with such things is to not involve myself in what is going on between people.  Whether you consider that policy to be right or wrong, it has kept me out of trouble. My priorities are different here than they were in the real world and those are dictated by self preservation.  So I continued on the track.  I was joined by another inmate.  I usually prefer to be left along out here but he seemed genuinely interested in my input into his situation.  I explained that the rehabilitation he was seeing will have to come from the inside. It’s not going to come from the prison system.  Unfortunately, another guy joined us who filled us in on the gory details on the stupidity I had witnessed.  A guy called “saddlebags” here because of his huge backside in comparison to the rest of his body had become upset with “Bill” for snitching on him about having a radio he wasn’t supposed to.  The pushing and shoving I’d witnessed had included them slapping each other.  Yes, I said slapping!  The way our friend who witnessed it had described it as that they were trying to impress him but had failed.  Now in all honesty, Bill is the kind of person whom everybody knows is a snitch, but he is the worst kind of snitch because he snitches not just to benefit himself but sometimes solely to hurt people.  With folks like this, you accept no favors and resist any attempts they made to pull you into their world or to get into yours.  I avoid Bill like the plague.  Saddlebags is the kind of person who will always be better than you, or so he says.  He talks real tough about hurting people but it doesn’t take a professional shrink to see the over compensation for his insecurities.  My few conversations with him I just let him believe everything and everyone he has is better than me.  His words don’t change the facts as I see them.  Do I doubt Saddlebags story that Bill snitched on him?  No I don’t.  Did he gain any street cred here for slapping Bill and yelling profanity?  No he didn’t.  In fact, people are laughing at him even more than they had because of the slapping involved.  The reaction from the rest of the inmates wasn’t to take sides but to try to stoke the fire of the disagreement between them just because to them it was entertaining to watch each one react to the stimulus the feud gave them. I know I’m supposed to feel empathy for people but all I can really do here is roll my eyes and hope they both stay away from me.