Posts Tagged ‘Both’

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 shocker from yesterday, I had the opportunity to reflect on what happened and carefully read over the document about trying to change my daughter, Lexi’s current placement from her mother.  They are trying to put her in what appears to be a Foster home.  I have come to the conclusion that this might be a good thing.  Her mother, Barb prevented me from having much contact with her the last several years.  Her potential placement there will hopefully allow me to write, call, and visit her and allow us to rebuild our relationship.  That would do us both a world of good.  Better yet, I’m being released to that area where she is so I’ll be able to pursue this.  So, the point is, God might know what he is doing.  It’s Wednesday and there are no ERP groups but since it’s the first or third Wednesday of the month (June 1st) its “Training day” and also means since guard Roscoe Peters is on duty we do a major cleaning of the unit.  The new guys are still getting used to him.  When you say something to him and he yells “your annoying” or when your doing something and he yells “Holy mother of God” its his way of playing with you while communicating with you.  It also allows him to safely vent.  While the cleaning was going on, Ms. Presley called me over.  She told me she had made contact with the people at the courthouse for Lexi’s hearing, and she would wait until tomorrow for them to call to connect me via phone to her hearing, but she wouldn’t wait more than an hour.  It was much more than I expected from her, considering she isn’t an overly motivated person to begin with and she was doing my ERP social worker Ms. Grey’s job while she is on vacation.  I was happy.  In my mind, I was hoping I’d get the opportunity to at least say Hi to Lexi at the court hearing on the phone.  Probably not likely though.  Things went slowly the rest of the day.  My new cellies Malcolm Johnson and Jose Michaels anxiously awaited canteen as this was their first chance to get canteen since they got here.  That night was my night to shave my head and I was a bloody mess by the time it was over.  I had gotten a razor that was somehow defective.  That night ended with Michaels and cellie Larry Sands watching the show “So You Think You Can Dance” without headphones which annoys me but I can deal with it.  What caught me off guard was the next morning.  Johnson woke up about 5am blowing his nose loudly and leaving the door wide open so that the lights and sounds of the dayroom came in.  Michaels took offence at his attitude and called him on it later.  Johnson and Michaels would nearly come to blows.   Both Sands and I were wanting to stay out of this.  It ended with Michaels warning Johnson to stay away from him.  That’s all I need my final days here huh?


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Today is Memorial Day, a day we remember and thank those who served and especially those who were killed or wounded.  Both my biological family  and my adoptive family have had family members serve in the Armed Forces.  My biological father served in Vietnam as a military policeman.   His father served as well, I’m told as an infantryman.  Other relation in that family served, though I’m still getting to know them, so I’m not sure how.  In my adoptive family, my grandmother and grandfather both on my adoptive father’s side served in World War II in the medical corps as nurses which is how they met.  If you’ve been following along, you now know, as I have been finding out, a lot happened to my biological father that led to the events that involved me.  We’ve learned his issues began before his involvement in the Vietnam war.  For my adoptive family, it’s been no cakewalk either.  Grandfather, along with his daughter they all have fought life long battles with mental illness.  My uncles Frankie and Gary, served seem to have been the most severely affected.  Frankie’s life ended in suicide.  For Gary, he’s spent virtually his entire life in a VA mental hospital in Tomah, WI.  With mental illness present in the family, being part of the military embellished on tendencies and impacted family members.  So, the point of all this of course is that war has accelerated the existing wounds for those who fought, followed by the collateral damage inflicted on those around them, damage that is multigenerational.  I have seen signs of progress.  Years ago if a soldier acted out, there was little help, certainly no recognition of the problem.  Now I see commercials telling soldiers there is help out there and implying it’s their duty to seek it out if needed.  America has learned this lesson of war, to not neglect those who fought after the battle is over.  It’s unfortunate it took so long and so many suffered directly or indirectly.  But today, I tip my hat to all the veterans in my families and in my country.  I’m proud of them all.

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.

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 Wednesday we don’t have ERP groups scheduled so we sat in our cells or dayroom.  Nothing much happened until that night.  ERP group member Scott Bunker had a problem come up that could be painful.  He hadn’t  been able to go to the bathroom and the little bit he could was bloody.  He finally went up and told the guard on duty.  The guard wasn’t exactly the model of compassion as he had him take a urine sample cup and scoop out the bloody water out of the toilet to send to the Heath Services Unit (HSU).  But Bunker was told to submit a blue medical request to be seen which he did.  Apparently that night he was up several times as he was in a huge amount of pain, his privates were swelling and though he felt like he had to go, he couldn’t.  I got up for my shower at 5 am as usual.  As I walked to the shower I heard the third shift guard tell Bunker to come to the desk.  After I got out of the shower and had put my laundry in the washer, I saw the swampers by the bathroom wearing gloves and mopping the floor.  There was blood all over.  At Bunker’s cell the other guard had gone in with a yellow bag and gloves emerging with it full of items that had been bloodied.  I would have thought swampers and guards would have had more protection than gloves.  The guards offered to send him to the hospital but he declined.  I urged him to reconsider.  Bleeding like this just doesn’t heal itself.  At least now though HSU would see him right away Thursday morning.  That morning for our group ERP group leader Ms. Grey showed us videos on methamphetamine abuse.  The first was Living In Shadows The Innocent Victims of Meth and The Meth Epidemic produced by PBS.  Both were quite good.  But Ms. Grey was clearly in a bad mood.  During the time after the videos we had left over before lunch she went off on people for not understanding how to develop goals and objectives for Phase II based on SMART.  At one point she asked me to assist ERP group members Kevin House and Mark Hogan develop theirs.  But then Larry Sands spoke up complaining that she approves our goals and then changes her mind.  She went off on Sands, telling him not to put that on her and how he always has something to say whenever he’s criticized.  The problem is Sands is right.  She has given conflicting signals to people including me.  But that wasn’t the real issue.  She had obviously been talked to by somebody who had gotten involved as a result of Sands complaints to others.  The tension between the two is intense which made us uncomfortable but there’s been a lot of that lately so its kind of becoming normal.  After lunch we watched another good video Methamphetamine and Drug Endangered Children.  Bunker returned to group during this time with HSU having prescribed antibiotics.  They also reduced the huge amounts of ibuprofen he had been prescribed for his back since as a rule they won’t give out painkillers to inmates if at all possible.  As the night progressed his problem again began to reappear.  I am worried for him.  Tomorrow is another Graduation Day for another ERP group.  I’m looking forward to seeing something good happen here. 

I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  We were waiting for our ERP group leader Ms. Grey, when another ERP group leader told us she wasn’t coming.  Many of us returned to our cells, and we hadn’t been there for a minute when Ms. Grey along with intern Nikita came.  We spent the morning session finishing the book Houses of Healing by Robin Casarjain, specifically  Chapter 15.  It portrayed prison as a gift that’s been given to us to allow us the opportunity to effect change in our lives.  Well if you’ve been following this blog at all you know that to be true, that change has been affected, particularity true before my time at MSDF.  But prison as a gift?  There are many words and phrases I’d apply to the concept of prison.  Some aren’t printable.  Gift wasn’t one of them!  But I get the point.  Though I lost everything coming to prison, there is one thing I kept – my life.  Had I not come to prison with the path I was on I very well could have taken my own life by now.  So I guess you could say prison gave me the gift of my life.  Lets just hope prison never gets the chance to give me any more gifts!  But anyway, we have to return this book to Ms. Grey.  I would have kept this one.  Our afternoon session was spent watching a video on addiction that describes how it affects the brain and how scientists are trying to develop a vaccine for addiction, specifically cocaine.  Sorry, I wasn’t close enough to see the DVD case for info on the video.  The evening was full of intrigue, thankfully none of it directly involving me.  Both swampers are now from the cell next door where cellie Larry Sands came from and where former cellie Malik Pearl had moved to earlier.  Sands informed me about how cellie Brian Whalen was planning to sell a lot of cocaine being provided by another inmate from that cell.  Unknown to him, their plan was to rob him once they were all out and Whalen came up with the money.  I told Sands if he knew this we had a responsibility to throw Whalen off this plan somehow, even if he didn’t want to cross those guys.  I just feel bad for Whalen.  I’m afraid he’s going to get himself hurt with his biggest crime being he wants to be liked.  As the day and night progressed more and more people began arriving to take beds for the next ERP group that’s starting.  The problem began when an inmate arrived with a lower bunk restriction and there were no lower bunks to be had at this point.  The guard in charge, not a regular, decided to bump the swamper in that cell next door, that is making this deal with Whalen off his bottom bunk for this guy.  He put him in a cell on top bunk above an inmate when many think this is the nastiest guy here.  But the guys in the swampers cell vehemently protested, wanting instead for them to move Sands out of our cell and move the new guy here.  They tried to convince the guards to do this but no dice.  The female guard got to the point she tossed their cell (inspect for contraband) after they said one of the reasons they couldn’t move him was that they all combine their canteen which is of course a rule violation.  I don’t know how the inspection came out but Sands was mad that they tried to disrupt his situation just because they didn’t like what was happening.  These guys made it clear to Sands once regular second shift Ruth Barthowski returns she’ll make him move as they believe they have influence over her.  I’ve seen it but I don’t think she’ll let them push her into this.  We’ll see.  Through it all, I’m still relaxed which is remarkable for this anxiety junkie.  My thoughts are outside of this place, for a day when I can write you about the positive things out in the world even if I’m struggling. 

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 evening started off with on of my cellmates, Brian Whalen and I in a disagreement.  Whalen has an issue with boundaries, both establishing them and violating those of others.  Andre Charles, another cellmate constantly plays with him, one moment huddling up to him acting like his friend, then the next using those words to ridicule and criticize him. Andre is always going into his locker to get things like the AIM Dental Floss picks they sell here (which by the way are useless.  Old fashioned dental floss is much more effective and easier to use).  He has weight issues, so Andre tells him what’s good to eat and motivates him to work out, both of which he usually gives good advice for but adds to the impression of a small dog desperately seeking his master’s approval.  While Andre picks on him I often tell them both they’re like husband and wife in the way they argue.  Both Malik Pearl and I just laugh when they get into it because often it is funny.  Andre tries this with me but I upset him as I won’t play.  I told him he’s a teenager (he’s actually 37) looking for attention when he farts (which is a lot), or starts yelling or acting out.  He didn’t like that at all.  Plus it annoys him I care nothing about his opinion.  On the plus side he’d make a heck of a salesman.  But Whalen has the habit being on the lower bunk and I on the upper of grabbing the edges of my bunk while I’m laying on it.  Sounds like nothing but when someone’s knuckles bump your butt you notice.  So I asked him to stop and when he didn’t I started hitting his knuckles when they appeared.  He replied that he didn’t think it was a big deal.  But the nice thing about men as opposed to women who disagree is we usually get over it quickly.  That night, guard Ruth Bartkowski was on duty again.  As I walked pas the desk, I heard her talking with an inmate about his heroin addiction.  The inmate was explaining how tough it was to get out from under and Ruth was engaging him, giving him advice, affirmation and encouragement.  I have not met a finer person I think in the prison system.  She doesn’t have to do what she’s doing.  The demons of cynicism and burnout haven’t gotten her yet unlike so many who work in these institutions.  I hope I get the courage to get to know this blue shirt.  The next morning was not my finest hour at all.  I get up about 5am and went for breakfast.  I found out later that extra cereal containers and raisin boxes are left on the serving table and inmates will grab them.  A guard named Sgt. Tackleberry loudly yelled at an old inmate who took a box of raisins and he returned them.  A while later, John Lloyd who came into MSDF with me and also starts ERP on Monday and sits to my left at mealtime got up and grabbed a plastic cereal container and returned to the table.  I asked if anyone cared if he did that and Lloyd said no.  So despite hearing the warning from earlier I got up and did the same. Tackleberry immediately pounced on me.  I returned it.  It was SO stupid on my part.  I’m pretty sure he wrote my name down and wrote a warning on my card.  It wasn’t fatal this time but I’ve GOT to be smarter, more focused and stop thinking about food.  ER starts for me in two days and I can’t afford to keep screwing up like this.

I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  I got up at 4am after a night filled with a series of odd dreams but the theme seemed to be the fear that even if I do everything I can to get my life back things out of my control will stop me.  I remember feeling desperation as I confronted each problem and had no power.  Breakfast was 2 hard boiled eggs and cocoa puffs.  I went back to bed.  I always sleep better the second time around.  I awoke this time to Lt. Brodie yelling at us yelling at us to remain in our bunks as we had in the shakedown the previous week.  He also told us it was a training exercise, but it wouldn’t take nearly as long as it did last week.  Everyone got up and started to repeat the routine from the previous week of throwing out food and other contraband in the little wastebasket at their bunk area, all the while bitterly complaining about how quickly this next shakedown occurred.  This time, however, our unit was first, and our aisle was first to be strip searched.  This time there were no red shirt trainees and the guards were clearly as annoyed as we were.  The walk to the multipurpose building (MPB) was much colder this time.  Another difference became evident pretty quick.  Both unit 9 and 10 were in the MPB at the same time which made it quite noisy and crowded.  We watched through windows and the nature of this search became evident.  At least 2 German Shepherds and Black Labs were on the grounds provided by whom I believe to be the Dodge County Sheriff’s Department.  They are the first domestic animals I’ve seen in over 18 months.  I do miss my pets.  It was also pretty clear this search was going faster than last time.  I was as content as I could be.  I managed to get a computer to access the law library provided in the MPB so I researched various topics with no real purpose in mind.  About an hour and a half after the search began, 4 names were called out to come to the front.  They immediately assumed the position, got patted down and were handcuffed.  The assumption was illegal drugs were found by the dogs.  I don’t know that for a fact but its very possible.  Shortly thereafter we were told we could go back to our units.  Lt. Brodie was in front of Unit 9 telling us we had to stay in the building.  It seems the dogs weren’t done inspecting the grounds yet.  Unlike our last shakedown, very little had been disturbed in our bunk areas.  If last time was a hurricane, this time was just a shower.  Lt. Brodie came in our aisle, I swear he smiled at me and thanked us for our time and apologized for the inconvenience.  Let me say that again.  He thanked us for our time and apologized for the inconvenience!  The apocalypse is near I swear!  Unlike last time, normal operations resumed quite quickly.  Canteen won’t even be delayed.  But as 4pm arrived, a massive number of tickets were handed down for the shakedown from last week.  And just like that, there was something new to think about.