Posts Tagged ‘chapter’


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 group leader Ms. Grey arrived about 10 am and we got started on reading Chapter 13 on forgiveness out loud to each other in Houses of Healing by Robin Casarjain.  Of course, I’ve already read this for my phase one Treatment and Goals.  But it’s a deep read and an excellent chapter of a great book so I don’t mind reading it again.  I had to laugh when it talked about practicing forgiveness toward your cellmate (page. 251) on a daily basis.  If you were following the saga of former cellie Andre Charles and I, it certainly tested my limits.  But he’s gone so I can afford to laugh about it now!  It was all pretty quiet.  We had some fireworks in the afternoon.  We did the exercise “Getting Clear” on page 206-208. Basically, your ripping away the layers of emotions and thinking away from a given situation.  I chose the relationship with my former step daughter Lynn and what was behind why we couldn’t have the relationship I wish we had.  What was interesting is many of the problems I did the right thing but often for reasons that were related to my own needs for a close family and love, not for Lynn.  It also occurred to me how few active relationships are no in my life.  I had to bring up things from before I was jailed almost 2 years ago.  Anyway,  I wasn’t chosen by Ms. Grey to share mine so I listened as others shared.  The one that stood out was group member Scott Dietz who discussed his relationship with his ex-wife.  He clearly was angry with her for having cheated on him and said he showed progress by not kicking the butts of both of them.  There was no interest in forgiving her.  Ms. Grey tried to push the issue with him and he railed against her for thinking anyone could possibly forgive after that.  We were all pretty shocked at how he spoke to her and was looking around for group members to support him.  No one did.  We began telling him verbalizing threats against his ex was not ok.  This was so obvious we couldn’t sit by and ignore it.  After lunch, Ms. Grey handed out the evaluations she had done on us for Phase one of ERP.  Mine was ok, although she called me a “Super grouper”, a term of derision used by inmates for one who is zealous in a group.  No one ever called me that as Ms. Grey has gotten on me a few times.  I’m sure she didn’t intend to insult me.  Her point was I contribute to group and ask questions when I don’t understand.  Some in the group challenged their evaluation, particularly Dietz and cellie Larry Sands but she held her ground and for once Dietz let it go.  We got done with group and it came time for our community meeting as is now our custom on Thursdays at 3 pm.  Our ERP group got a “positive reinforcement” from the group for almost getting to Phase 2.  Everyone had a good laugh over that as many thought we’d be there last week.  I don’t care about such designations.  I can count and the only numbers that count is 84, the number of days to graduation from this program and 679, the number of days since I was incarcerated and my life was completed upended on May 8, 2009.  If I can do 679 , deal with what I have, learned what I have and grown as I have I can do another 89 standing on my head.  Ok, not literally but you know what I mean.   

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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).  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).  With Monday night being cellie Andre Charles last night prior to release he was bouncing off the walls and keeping us all up.  Cellie Corey Ball broke out his refried beans and I even broke my no food after 8 pm rule and joined in.  It was quite late before we settled down.  The next morning (Tuesday)  was my laundry and shower day so it means I was up at 5 am so I was pretty tired.  Andre was also up at 5 am which he never does.  But we all were guessing he’d be gone by lunch.  Group began with the ERP group leader telling us she was bringing the breathing exercise back despite our vote to eliminate it but she was making it optional to participate.  After we were done she announced we were going through chapters of the Houses of Healing by Robin Casarjian and we had to go slowly because we didn’t have a lot of content left in the ERP program to cover and because we’re at MSDF, a maximum security facility, we can’t do much of what Phase III of the ERP program that inmates at other institutions (usually minimum or medium security) would normally be doing.  That phase at those institutions have a lot of community involvement getting them ready for release.  So we are reading chapters from that book.  Fortunately it’s an excellent book but the guys in the group were clearly bored as we read aloud.  Even Ms. Grey seemed to not be into this.  At lunch, Andre was still here and when count rolled around guard Roscoe Peters announced it was Andre’s last count.  We returned to group at 1 pm.  We went over Chapter 12 and wrote letters to ourselves, acknowledging and forgiving ourselves for the past wrongs we’ve done.  I’d already done this in my Phase I goals and objectives, so I read that aloud when it was my turn.  At about 2 pm, I looked out the window of the group room and saw Andre and his ERP group leader having an extremely animated conversation.  H saw me in the window and threw up his hands in the air in frustration.   I’d find out after group he was told for reasons unknown no transport was available to take him to his parole officer (PO) office so he’d have to stay another night.  The PO herself would come get him at 10:30 am-11:00 am the next day.  Andre was furious.  A “normal” person locked up 2 years as he’s been would be anxious and upset but as we’ve seen with him, he’s not “normal” when it comes to anger.  That night he paced the floor, stressing on the injustice done to him, snapping at everyone in the room at some point.  I just stayed silent.  I’m just as unhappy as he is that he’s still here.  We were assigned to make a list of reasons we are grateful.  I focused on that and prayed for deliverance to come for both of us tomorrow. 


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 absolutely nothing happened.  Really!  All the ERP Coordinators including Ms. Grey were involved in meetings all day.  The next day we started off by reading the fifth chapter of Houses of Healing by Robin Casarjian, entitled “Anger and Resentment: The Myth of Power” that dealt with inappropriate anger, reactions, unresolved anger, what’s under the anger, facing and owning your anger, how to release it and what you get by holding onto it.  It was an excellent chapter.  I suspect I have a lot of issues here but getting into this, it feels like I’m going to need something beyond this place.  It’s just not safe for me to plow into this stuff it feels like here.  After that afternoon session was a showing of the movie Philadelphia starring Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks.  Before the movie finished it was time for our weekly community meeting so our group was the last ERP group seated in the dayroom.  Today it was my turn to do the “quote” for the meeting.  It was “I Love You But I’m Not Your Hostage”.  We have to explain the quote.  I wrote mine and since your reading this you get to hear it too. 

When I first came to prison, I often became angry with those that claimed to love me because it seemed like they wouldn’t do anything for me or were forgetting about me.  I often had thoughts like “well if they wont’ do anything for me, wont’ come see me more or write more I’m not gonna know who they are after I get out.  I came to the realization that I was actually holding these people close to me hostage, threatening to take away my love for them if they don’t do what I want or what I think they should do.  It’s a continuation of the same kind of sick manipulation of people I used to do on the streets.  Fact is what I do when thinking like this isn’t love at all but rather blackmail. It’s the idea I think I am somehow or should be the center of their universe.  Love isn’t based on what they do for me but rather, on what I want to do for them.  For me to expect anything of those that love me is wrong.  They didn’t put me here.  I did.  I should be grateful those people are still there and if they actually do help me that’s just a blessing.

After it was complete, the group didn’t seem to like the explanation or didn’t understand it.  It just went over flat.  It’s okay.  It meant something to me.  The group was restless today I don’t know why.  Afterwards Ms. Grey made the comment I’m too hard on myself.  She pulled the group back together to finish the movie and assigned us to write a paper on what we thought the movie was about.  Since tomorrow is a furlough day, there’d be no group but we would hang out in our cells and well we have an assignment to work on now.  We returned to our cells.  When I got there, the notepad I write these blog entries on was missing.  I asked my cellies if they’d seen the notepad and Andre Charles used this opportunity to snap on me accusing me of accusing him of stealing.  I tried to explain I wasn’t accusing anyone to no avail.  But then he started talking about me to Brian Whalen and when I tried to defend myself he said he was having a conversation with Brian and I was interrupting. I just ignored it from there.  It usually takes a few days for things to blow over with him.  But as Week 7 of 26 draws to a close I am getting comfortable as I’ve gotten into a routine.  Though plans for the future are up in the air    I believe that things are somehow, someway going to work 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). 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.


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).  I started out the morning working on my autobiography, getting up to the point of my arrival in Wisconsin, separation from my biological mother, and living with my foster parents in Waupaca, WI.  Ms. Grey, our ERP coordinator, arrived and had us assemble in our group room.  She introduced another thing to do to begin our group.  She played a recording from India Arie off the CD Testimony Vol 1 Life and Relationships that sang the Serenity prayer. It had an African type beat.  We then did our breathing exercises.  Then we went over the last part of orientation workbook explaining what we’d come to learn.  Surprisingly, I’ve been quite vocal in group.  She asked for more reflection on the quantum discussion.  I rendered my opinion, she was not so concerned with getting us to change the world around us but to be open minded enough about alternative ideas.  I could tell Ms. Grey was disappointed not a one of us seemed more open to the specific ideals she had presented.  We then moved onto a group reading of Chapters 1-2 of Houses of healing.  We ended the day with being assigned Chapters 3, “The Long and Winding Road; From Childhood to Prison” and Chapter 4, “The Fallout from Childhood Wounding…. and How to Start Recovery”.  Chapter 3 deals largely with inner child issues and Chapter 4 deals with more of the same issues.  We were suppose to do the “Pause and Reflect” sections but mostly dealt with imaging things as opposed to writing things down.  We called an impromptu meeting without the group leader and all decided we’d put nothing on paper as it wasn’t asked for.  But yet I know I need this stuff, but not a thing we’re going to spend a day or two on.  It’ll open a huge can of worms and I’m not sure its safe to do that here.  But lets just see what happens.