Posts Tagged ‘Change’


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  My routine has been adjusted thanks to my swamper role.  I’m getting up at 5 am every morning, mostly because with my release 37 to 47 days away, I want to get accustomed to getting up early like I did in my days as an Information Technology professional.  After getting the rags we use to clean all over the pod out of the washer and putting them in the dryer I take down the 40 chairs stacked on the tables in the dayroom from the night before so the floor can be cleaned.  Then I read my bible for about a half hour until about 6 am.  Then I get ready for 6:15 am count.  After count I  return to the dayroom and get the breakfast cart.  Fellow swamper David Sussex counts the cereals and I count the milks and juices making sure there are 40 for our pod and 34 for the pod on the other side.  This particular day both our counts were off which mean the pod on the other side were short.  Guard Roscoe Peters let us know that annoyed him.  Then breakfast is called and we hand out the food.  Inmates will try anything than can to get extra food out of us but both of us are pretty firm mostly because we each have ideas of what to do with the extras!  At the end, the extras are split in half between us.  I give some to my cellies and some to the guys at my table.  Once breakfast is complete, I  wipe the tables, take out the trash and clean the counters while Sussex cleans the trays they’re served on and gets the cart back so we can load the trash.  I get back to my cell about 7 am where I write a blog entry, do homework and a journal entry.  I had been going back to bed about 7 am till 8 am when program starts but I’ve decided to stop doing that as I can’t do that after release.  I continue working on things until 9 am, or when ERP Social Worker, Ms. Grey, comes by usually shortly after.  Today our ERP group got into part 5 and 6 From the Inside Out video series by Earnie Larson.  After watching the videos (quite good), we did the evaluations in the accompanying workbook in section 5-1 and then went around the room to reveal our scores.  It didn’t start out too well as ERP group member Scott Dietz nearly had a meltdown as Ms. Grey and others challenged how he scored himself on several points.  He did this early in group too but fortunately he pulled back before it was too late.  I have to say though this was the first group session where we freely provided each other with constructive feedback, challenging what the other person said about himself when needed.  When they got to me, people expressed shock at my taking the swamper job as I had stepped out of my comfort zone.  They did say I’m hypersensitive to some things though.  I won’t argue with that.  At lunch, as well as supper, I go clean the tables and put out napkins.  Once the trays arrive, I count out milk and open bread while Sussex counts out trays.  He has really struggled with this.  While waiting, we have time to talk.  Talking to him makes me very conscience of how my language has deteriorated while I’ve been locked up.  I didn’t cuss and swear like that before prison.  You can’t around kids and at work.  I’m going to have to work on that.  Once we serve, I clean the tables, change the trash and help Sussex keep the trays steady while he’s stacking them.  At ERP group in the afternoon, we finished the evaluations.  But the highlight was when Ms. Grey let us know the huge workload in store for us until graduation on June 10.  Most groups took it easy on Phase III but not Ms. Grey.  We scrambled in the evening hours to get the goals and objectives plan for Phase III done by Friday, pages 1-31 of the Living With Others workbook series from The Change Companies.  We found out cellie Corey Ball will most likely be gone by Monday.  He and his fellow cellie Brian Whalen graduate this Friday because he’s done so much of his time.  He’s already planning on how and where he’s going to get drunk.  It’s too bad too because he’s a very good guy.  But that’s not the point is it?  At about 8:45 pm, when dayroom closes, Sussex and I go to put up the chairs, take out the trash, sweep and mop the dayroom floor, and wash the rags.  Peters, who worked a double shift, let me take a shower after count.  Clearly he doesn’t trust me but he is professional, courteous, and kind.  I still have nightmares but I’m out pretty hard now when I sleep with this schedule.

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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).  My first morning as a swamper along with my fellow swamper, David Sussex went without incident.  In the time we await the food I got to know him a little bit.  He proclaims himself a born again Christian, as I consider myself, and I’ve seen no reason to doubt him.  He is very vocal about his faith here while I am, as with everything else I do here, am very quiet.  Every morning he is out there reading his Bible just as I do.  If he irritates me in some fashion, its probably his desire to engage me in conversation about what I’m reading and start “preaching” about anything I might share that I struggle with.  But that probably says more about me than him!  As our ERP group got started that morning our ERP Social Worker, Ms. Grey, took the topics from the resumes and interviews to the in-depth topic of relationships.  She handed out another workbook from The Change Companies designed for the Federal Bureau of Prisons that we had used early in group called Living With Others, and another packet from Earnie Larson.  We have used his materials before as well.  We spent the morning on an exercise where we identified the feelings connected to dating through marriage.  She then erased the words “first date” and replaced it with “addiction” and it followed pretty closely.  Pretty clever.  In the afternoon we watched the first four parts of video From the Inside Out from Hazeldon featuring Earnie Larson.  It’s actually quite good.  The first part got into why relationships are important. It looked at positive and negative relationships in our past lives, the different types of relationships, how love has been taught to us in the past, and principles of building good relationships.  I had difficulty sharing details of what my past impressions of love were like early on and solidified as the years went on.  But everyone knows me now and aren’t shocked by my answers anymore.  Even if they were, I decided long ago I was going to be honest.  I’m also grateful no one calls me a liar here as others have in the past, such as the psychiatrist at my court proceedings did and others did as I was growing up into adulthood.  I’m now able to document most details of my past thanks to my contact with my biological family.  After group ended at 4 pm, we had another fill in guard as they still haven’t yet replaced Ruth Barthowski, named Larry Cable.  Due to differing rules with different guards, there’s always a certain amount of risk involved.  Following customs set by pervious officers or what is considered normal.  But it was pretty clear while Sussex and I waited for the dinner trays he was going to be anything but predictable.  Its customary for inmates to go out in the hall in front of the cell to fart if necessary as a courtesy to their cellies.  However; Cable yelled at cellie Corey Ball for doing so.  Then he had us swampers walk around and make sure cell doors were closed.  Again, not normally done.  Cable then tried to micromanage how many extra trays we’d get and how many we’d try to send away.  Ok, I don’t care.  But then the extra tray I did get I took to my table and gave away all of its contents to the guys sitting there.  Cable said I couldn’t give the extra food away, that it was only for me, even though the rule book clearly says I can.  Problem is technically swampers aren’t supposed to get extra food at all.  So the rulebook doesn’t help either of us.  So as he is yelling at me in front of everyone, he announces he won’t allow extra trays when he works here anymore.  Others would later tell me that I should have quit right there.  But I didn’t.  I was mad though. I would return later before 6 pm count and ask him not to hold the whole unit responsible for something I didn’t know was his rule.  Finally he said he’d consider it.  It was uncomfortable at cleanup before 9:15 pm count.  But I’m just grateful he won’t be here often.  Being a swamper is fine but I’m not going to put myself in jeopardy to do it. 


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).  The morning in our ERP group we finished the movie “Antwone Fisher” starring Denzel Washington, after which we did a questionnaire on the movie.  But talk about art paralleling life!  I just had biological family relatives finally getting in touch with me recently.  I did share what was going on with me in the ensuing discussion and how I was happy the movie didn’t end with some cheesy glorious ending between his mother and him.  Ok, I’m a little jaded.  I just don’t think it happens that often.  Afterwards we finished up the “Rational Thinking” workbook from The Change Companies.  At the afternoon session, we watched a ten year old movie called “Tough Guise”.  Its premise is basically we as men have been programmed to think as violent creatures in order to prove our manhood.  We were encouraged to not believe that obviously.  We received a new workbook “The Price of Freedom is Living Free – Lifestyles and Values” by Jack D. Cooper, published by Kindred Publishing and Productions, and were assigned the first 10 pages.  We were also given a bunch of handouts on Denial, Defense Systems, the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy model, thinking cycle, core beliefs, irrational thinking, the three R Cycle (resentment, rehearsal, revenge) and Stages of Change.  It took 20 minutes to get all this passed out.  To be honest, I’m under motivated right now.  I was up at 5 am to get a shot at the shower and laundry so I’m tired.  I also know this family stuff is on my mind.  I don’t know if they were aware of the early years.  One of them doesn’t know I know my biological father raped them too (his own sister).  Part of me really wished this hadn’t come along right now but something tells me the timing is no accident.  To make matters worse, I caught Andre Charles in my locker but he didn’t know I was watching.  He’s accustomed to have been doing this with Brian Whalen.  So I got the combination to my lock and moved things around so I can lock up my canteen.  That’s going to create questions but this anxiety junkie doesn’t need another reason to get uptight.  Bottom line it’s just not a great day for me.  You have those too.  Issues are different but the results are the same.  But it’s going to be ok.  At count right after supper, the second shift guard announced we shouldn’t interrupt him while he was eating because “dieting makes you crazy” and it must be obvious to us he was a bodybuilder.  We all laughed.  Nobody cared what he does or what his problems were.  But it made me smile so that was a good thing.


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 woke up to cellie Andre Charles, banging around intentionally trying to disturb the rest of us in retaliation for yesterday’s events.  I bet you’re as tired of reading about this as I am living it.  But I took advantage.  I got up and got my laundry and shower done by 7:30 am.  In the news department, I’m starting a new protein only diet today.  I’m 6’1” and 200 lbs, heavier than I’ve ever been.  Basically I’ll only eat protein.  No more chips, carbs and such.  So I ordered meat sticks and tuna off canteen.  So we’ll see how that works.  I’m not fat but I want to keep from getting that way.  Plus I ordered a multivitamin off canteen so its not like I’m not getting that stuff.  Anyway, Ms. Grey came for our morning ERP session and started out with our breathing exercise and moved onto a “pretest” of our knowledge about the things we’ll be covering in ERP which I got an 82.  She elected to wait until next week for our assignment on the inner child from yesterday.  No one complained.  A new book was handed out, the second in the series from The Change Companies called “Rational Thinking” and got out first assignment, Chapter 1 – “Learning Your ABC’s” of emotion and action.  “A” stands for the activating event, “B” is for Beliefs and “C” is for consequences.  As usual, if you want details, ask.  After we were done, cellie Malik Pearl let me know the social worker questioned cellie Brian Whalen about this situation in our cell.  He went back on what he told us he was going to say and instead said everything was fine.  I haven’t been questioned.  But Andre returned to the cell crowing how Malik was such a punk and how we’ll never get him out of this cell.  Unless there’s a fight I suspect he’s right.  Once again we had it out.  Once again nothing got resolved.  I’ve just had it with this guy.  Afterwards, I just relaxed and enjoyed an episode of MASH.  Hard to be in a bad mood after that.


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP). Shortly after count last night, the Koss headphones I bought off the catalogs, a plastic piece by the right ear just fell off making the ear piece unable to stay connected (Jack L. Marcus catalog #2168).  I got them while at JCI several months ago and they take a considerable pounding since I never listen to TV or radio without them.  I spent the rest of the night after shaving my head wearing those headphones being careful not to touch them once I got them on my head lest I cause the headphone to fall.  It’s unfortunate it happened right before Christmas break where TV viewing will be a major pastime.  With Christmas right around the corner (today is December 23rd) guard and staff vacations have started which means we have staff unfamiliar to us.  I asked them for an order form and catalog so I could order the headphones but were refused.  While waiting for lunch, my cellies, Malik Pearl, Andre Charles, and Brian Whalen had a long but productive conversation.  Andre went on and on about how those in his ERP group upset him with how they act.  He finally came at me and wanted to know what I thought.  I took a deep breath and told him the problem was him.  His expectations of how these people act is what has created this problem.  In addition, I told him his anger management isn’t the problem but he has a rage issue, and that he needed medication for mood stabilization and impulse control.  Finally, I told him I worry someday he will kill someone before he was even aware of what he’s done.  Everyone in the room was stunned by what I said but Andre said I was dead on accurate and thanked me.  But he asked why Whalen never had issues with him.  It’s because Whalen does everything he can to appease him while Malik and I would not.  Whalen even agreed with this opinion.  For once I thought I handled this situation well.  We had count after lunch and Andre came out without his ID or yellow smock.  Normally, they let this go but these new guards did not.  After count cleared, one of the guards showed up and told him to pack up as he was doing to the hole for these violations.  He was patted down, and Andre was clearly getting angry.  After going through his things, the guard announced he was “fu—– with him as he had them by not following the rules”.    Relieved he didn’t go to the hole he returned to his usual loud self.  But this guard had played a very dangerous game.  What if Ander had flipped out over losing his ERP over his trick?  Getting kicked out of ERP can mean additional years an inmate may have to sit in prison.  I believe Andre to be fairly dangerous and this guard was by himself and didn’t know Malik or I.  Fortunately, it ended ok …this time.  At 1 pm, Ms. Grey joined us and gave us new books.  On was “Houses of Healing: A Prisoner’s Guide to Inner Power and Freedom, 5th Edition”, 2008, by Robin Casarjian and another workbook, “Criminal Conduct and Substance Abuse Treatment.  Strategies for Self Improvement and Change” by Kenneth W. Wanberg and Harvey B. Milkman, 2006, Sage Publications.   We will begin assignments in this next week while she is gone on vacation.  Ms. Grey also gave us a whole bunch of worksheets.  The load is getting heavier no doubt.  But I am confident I’ll keep up.


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.