Posts Tagged ‘college’


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 Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  Recently, particularly since football season got in high gear, the television in the dayroom has begun to be a bit of a point of contention among some inmates.  Not me of course.  Since I’ve gotten my electronics, like any inmate with their own TV, they have no say on the TV’s in the dayroom.  But even when I didn’t, I just wouldn’t participate in those debates. I’ve seen arguments over the TV escalate and end up with people in the hole.  I’m starting my ERP program in December, and such arguments aren’t worth the risk.  But there is a group of inmates who are in their early to late twenties who aren’t into sports, like to talk crap to others, and just generally never stop talking.  They have successfully irritated the older inmates to varying degrees and always make sure they are at the front of the line at meals.  They are concerned with who buds in line.  Yes, it is very much a junior high mentality.  Most of us don’t understand why the excitement to get your state food.  But one night, this group of kids wanted to watch the FOX television show “Glee” instead of a sports program the older inmates preferred.  They won that one as those who wanted the sports program were outnumbered.  But this group had now been christened “The Glee Club”.  Naturally, the inmates so named, being in a high testosterone environment, expressed their displeasure.  But the more they protested, the more the name stuck.  The older inmates took a great deal of pleasure at seeing how much it bothered them.  When members of the Glee Club or the older inmates mentioned it to me, I was careful, as always, to not get into bed with either side.  But I did tell one thing to both sides.  This was going to come to a head, and there won’t be a winner.  But its the perfect statement to make.  I don’t commit myself, and its sufficiently vague.  It turned out the statement was almost prophetic.  The Glee Club had assembled in the dayroom and were watching a movie.  There was college football on other channels and many went by including myself, to see if the game was on.  Most of us moved on when we saw it wasn’t.  But at the end of the movie, one older inmate had had enough.  He walked up to the TV and changed the channel then sat down.  The Glee Club, well was not full of glee.  One member got up and changed the channel back.  They they went back and forth, voices rising until finally the Glee Club member pushed the older guy.  The guard at the desk, watching the whole thing piped up yelling that any more would result in people going to the hole.  Everyone was lucky this wasn’t a medium or maximum security facility.  Everyone would have been locked down and they both would have gone to the hole.  The Glee Club got up as one and left.  The geezers had won one.  Since then, it’s been handled as men typically handle disagreements.  We pretend there is nothing wrong and insist it didn’t mean anything, though no one wants to join the Glee Club, that’s for sure.  As for me, I find the Glee Club amusing, as they get upset over things that are so unimportant.  Perhaps they haven’t lost as much as I or others have yet.