Posts Tagged ‘Correctional’


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  As soon as ERP social worker Ms. Grey got our group in session that morning, I immediately asked her about who were the guys with warrants.  It has been the topic of conversation with us since she dropped that bomb the day before.  Obviously, we’re making plans for our release in 21-31 days.  Whoever of us have the warrants, it’s going to present a complication.  Ms. Grey said the people were cellie Larry Sands and group member Augie Prescott.  Sands had thought it was possible it was him but he reasoned it was a good thing as once he sits in Waukesha County Jail for the fine he owes he’ll actually get released before the rest of us will.  For Prescott, it’s a little more complicated.  His interstate compact had just been approved.  How this will affect everything for him is unclear.  But then Ms. Grey told him she wasn’t sure it was him, thus continuing the uncertainty.  I’m not worried about this.  But I feel for Prescott and Sands.  We started out taking the test we took when we first started our ERP group.  This time we corrected each others.  I got 6 wrong.  I don’t remember how I did last time.  Then she announced our second test will actually have to wait.  Apparently there are things we hadn’t covered yet so we couldn’t take the test.  Two things of interest that happened in our morning session.  First, former cellie Malik Pearl and one guy in his cell were the last ones left from the last graduating ERP class were moved to the ninth floor.  Pearl’s paperwork hadn’t returned from the Brown County Judge involved after 14 days.  They needed their beds for the incoming ERP class so off they went to the ninth floor.  Man, I hope I don’t have issues like this when my time comes to get released!  My paperwork will come back from a Winnebago County Judge so we’ll see.  The second thing was a guy who slept in a bunk near me at Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI) named Les Simon arrived.  He played guitar there and I had been impressed with him as a person.  After lunch he joined me at my table in the dayroom while I waited to go to the afternoon session.  I got him up to speed on the routine here and he got me caught up on some of the stuff that had gone on there.  It seems Percy had gotten him too, giving him 5 days bunk confinement for a petty offense there.  The worship team doesn’t exist anymore after team members repeatedly stole instruments.  They did put on a concert there that raised a lot of money for charity that included a Native American dance put together by my former bunkie prior his release in January.   I’m sorry I missed that.  But a lot of those I mentioned while I was there are gone.  Ms. Greer continues to work hard for people there but she had to set some boundaries.  Quite understandable.  Far and away she was the best social worker I’ve encountered in my time in prison.  In our afternoon session we watched the movie Omar and Pete, which I’ve seen on the institutional channel at FMCI.  It was quite good, depicting the story of two inmates trying to stay out of prison.  We got a 19 question worksheet on this movie due Monday.  Afterwards, Ms. Grey had complained about not being able to find the pictures of the transformer for the graduation program. She took me to her office and it turned out all she had to do was scroll across the screen to see it.  It was a little embarrassing.  She printed it and said she’d bring it to be seen by us but she never came back.  That night in the dayroom Les pulled me out into the dayroom to chat some more. That night new cellie Jose Michaels got taken to task by Larry Sands playing his radio out loud, after 11.  I didn’t like it but I put in my earplugs.  I’ve got 21 days to graduation.  I’m not going to let stuff like this get to me.


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Wednesday was your usual Wednesday. There are no ERP groups.  We did discuss our graduation project.  ERP group member Scott Dietz is upset he didn’t have a speaking part in the graduation ceremony other than reading his quote.  Nothing really could be done.  I don’t have a speaking part either but I’m not upset.  But that’s me.  On Thursday morning, we had one guard with a really bad comb over and one who looked suspiciously like Drew Carey.  After breakfast while brushing my teeth, the announcement came that we were to immediately return to our cells.  Nobody knew what was going on.  We were then informed we were on emergency lockdown and we were only allowed out if there was a medical emergency.  It wasn’t long before inmates began to voice displeasure with the situation led by an inmate who had already graduated in another ERP group, especially that he wasn’t allowed to use the bathroom.  The guards and him continued to argue until the familiar detachment of the guards and a white shirt (supervisor) showed up.  They put him in handcuffs to take him to the hole.  He was supposed to be released that day but most of us felt he would still get cut loose.  Meanwhile, we were trying to figure out why we were locked down.  The idea that his a major shakedown seemed to have credence with all the good traffic.  Finally at about 10 am, they let us out one by one to use the bathroom.  It was then I found out that the lock on the fire escape door had somehow malfunctioned thus locking us down was necessary to prevent our escape.  After lunch, we were returned to lock down status.  Shortly afterwards, we got our 2 new cellmates.  One a tall black man was named Malcolm Johnson and the other, a Puerto Rican was named Jose Michaels.  Jose didn’t have a TV which made me happy because  it freed up an outlet I could use for my fan.  He is a talented artist.  I think him and I will get along fine.  Malcolm has been through hell.  He is on an upper bunk but obviously belongs on a lower.  He has scars everywhere, showing us one on his leg that was caused by an injury he got fleeing from police.  He and I got into an interesting discussion about the terrorist attach on 9/11/2001.  He exposed various conspiracy theories and I pointed out that thousands of people would have to be complicit and silent for any of them to be true.  As usual, people who present such theories make the argument into a personal attack so I just let it go.  But to be honest I enjoyed the conversation.  I haven’t had a good conversation like that since my days at Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI).  We thought we were done for the day but about 2 pm our ERP social worker, Ms. Grey, arrived.  We plowed right into the victim impact letters.  Reading it out loud for me to be honest produced feelings of anger and sadness.  Regardless of how I feel it was about how she felt.  Many of the guys who came after me also felt various emotions reading theirs.  We also presented our rippled effect poster assigned back in Phase I.  Then Ms. Grey dropped a bombshell today.  Two of us in our ERP group had warrants for our arrest in the system but she didn’t know who of course.  Later on in the dayroom that night that’s all anybody talked about and how infuriated we were that she could drop a thing like that without knowing who it is.  Of course with us this close to release, it caused anxiety.  Soon it was 3 pm and time for our weekly community meeting.  Once again, the issue of hygiene was raised.  Ms. Carr said she would be talking to the unit manager to see what could be done.  The issue of the soon to be repealed Act 28 early release law.  I’ve shared my opinion on this here and I did in group.  That night my cellies didn’t want to go to sleep when the lights went out.  I think Malcolm knew this annoyed me and he razzed me a bit but that’s ok.  I can deal with anything for the next 22-32 days I have left.  About midnight everyone went to sleep. 


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  As I was being returned to my unit from the hole after 6 days for investigation on possible charges related to this blog but for which I’d been cleared.  I looked through the windows and saw regular 2nd shift guard Ruth Barthkowski who smiled at me and tried to work through the paperwork that was deficient with my arrival.  The inmates seated at the tables in the dayroom smiled as I walked in but I couldn’t tell what was behind it.  Barthowski began to give me the lay of the land right away.  Everybody now knew about the blog staff and inmate alike.  She also told me she had worked on people trying to get me out of the hole and I thanked her for it.  My property was still in Segregation and wouldn’t arrive.  I was assigned my old bunk and old cell which I was grateful for.  Barthowski took me up to the linen closet while I got the rest of my yellow outfits.  Guys at the tables in the dayroom welcomed me back but their body language indicated some mistrust.  Once I made it to my cell, ERP group member and cellie Larry Sands gave me the rundown of what had happened in group.  Apparently the night they took me last week the guard on duty, a by the book type named Mike Metcalf had announced I was on a bus back to Dodge Correctional Institution.  Regular first shift guard Roscoe Peters was upset over being named Roscoe.  Guys in my ERP group knew they hadn’t been named but still wanted to know what was said about them.  But probably the most interesting development was what had gone on with ERP group leader Ms. Grey.  The week I’d missed she had been smiling, engaging and being kind.  The last while she has seemed distant and combative.  But she had discussed my situation with the group telling them that day I returned that I was not going to return but then telling them something different later in the day.  It seems that yours truly who always sought to avoid attention was the focus of the entire pod this past week.  That and of course this blog.  My main concern wasn’t any of this though.  I was concerned about seeing Peters and Grey the next day.  What would they reveal about me?  I’ve laid myself bare on this blog.  But I also felt a sense of pride and strength, that no matter what might happen I was going to be ok.  That didn’t mean the anxiety about how tomorrow would go in group wouldn’t give me a restless night.  But as it turned out I shouldn’t have worried at all.  Peters wasn’t working on Friday .  And Ms. Grey was engaging and kind throughout the morning.  And then the most surreal thing.  In the afternoon session her and intern Nikita broke us into two groups and had us play Uno!  That’s right, the card game!  Everyone was smiling and had a good time.  Had Ms. Grey read the blog and not liked what she saw and decided to change things up?  Or did something else happen to cause the change?  Whatever it is it’s promising.  On another note, I’d considered asking the sponsors to shut down the blog, much as I did 15 months ago when I got cancer.  After with everyone here knowing about the blog, this may no longer be the typical prison experience.  But I’ve got bigger concerns.  The blog helped me and has helped others.  It’s worked up till now.  I’m going to stick with 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).  As usual Wednesday there are no ERP group sessions so very little happens.  An interesting dynamic has grown between cellies Brian Whalen and Larry Sands.  As was noted previously, Sands likes to tell stories about his sexual conquests and I also mentioned I tune them out.  Well now these two sit there and tell stories to each other.  Whalen as always is trying to tell stories that keep pace with the ones Sands tells.  But Sands busts him as his stories are inconsistent or he confuses details from earlier stories.  At night I put on my headphones as I see this activity as childish and annoying but because during the day no electronics are allowed, I’m forced to hear what’s being said.  But quite frankly, this is nothing in comparison to what it used to be like when Andre Charles was still here.  That night someone actually showed up from the outside world for a Bible study which we haven’t had in awhile.  There are no religious services on Sundays and AA or NA meetings are rarely held.  But as I grabbed my Bible to go and sign out guard Ruth Barthowski let me know no one else was going and it would likely be cancelled.  It’s certainly different than the religion at Dodge Correctional Institution (DCI) where people from the outside world were constantly coming in and social interaction available it influences their desire to attend a bit.  The next day our ERP group began with the now voluntary breathing exercises, followed by videos on marijuana.  The first two were Hazelden produced entitled The Escape To Nowhere and Lifeline To Recovery.  They focused on the problems that can occur in your life with the abuse of this drug.  The afternoon session was all about another video, Marijuana In The Nineties featuring Dr. David Ohlms.  Yes I know, it’s 2011.  But much of what was said is still true I suppose.  Finishing up the time in the afternoon, our ERP group leader Ms. Grey reviewed my Phase II goals and objectives which I’ll be telling you about soon once they’re approved.  We spent 40 minutes of group time on it with Ms. Grey or I not communicating effectively to each other.  At 3 pm on Thursday it was time for the Community Meeting, which of course our group was later than everyone else as usual.  It started out with the intervention in the incident in the bathroom that ERP group member Scott Dietz had with another inmate.  They had to do a skit re-enacting the scene and write papers on what they learned about each other.  It was painful to watch and listen too as each had been spewing venom about the other since the incident.  But we congratulated them on doing it.  Because a new ERP group started we had to go around and introduce ourselves with name, phase of program, offense we were there for and our hobbies.  Just like they did when we started.  Because of all this it was the longest community meeting I’d seen up to this point.  I was pretty antsy at that point.  I’m generally antsy these days but that’s because I see the light at the end of the tunnel I 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).  It was about 8:30 am when I heard the announcement to report to the officer’s station.  I knew what it was for.  I was going to Madison to get the results of the PET scans from last week to verify the cancer remains in remission.  It was also the first day we saw guard Roscoe Peters since former cellie Andre Charles left.  After giving him the key to my cell off the string around my neck, I went down to intake and again began the process of being strip searched and being bound with chains on my arms, legs and waist.  The thought occurred to me, this is probably the last time prior to my release in June, that I’ll need to be strip searched.  I hope so anyway.  It’s an indignity I’m still not accustomed to nor do I think I ever will be.  Of course, in keeping with what normally seems to happen on these trips for me it’s not…normal!  It was raining very heavy and about 19 miles from Madison on I94W we encountered a huge traffic back up.  We moved no more than 5 or 6 miles over the next hour.  We finally came up on the accident scene.  Fire had consumed a truck carrying thousands of pounds of beef.  I’d hear later no one died thank God.  We got there and I sat in the inmate waiting room.  Very few were there this time which I was grateful for, as the noise was at a minimum.  There was one inmate there who had 57 days left to release.  He’d suffered a cardiac arrest and been brought back by the staff at Red Granite Correctional Institution.  He was complimentary to them in how they’ve cared for him and the quality of their work.  It was unusual to hear an inmate say such things.  I went up for my blood work and got in to see my oncologist, Dr. Rachel Cook.  She walked in and something I hadn’t noticed before, she was very pregnant.  I told her I hoped it went well.  She let me know the spots that were seen last time were either gone or ruled out as cancer.  My next appointment for scans will be in 6 months instead of the 3 months that had been done.  In the midst of the happiness I felt, there was a bit of a reality check.  I needed to call her directly before my next appointment if I don’t come up with health insurance as these scans cost several thousand dollars.  Not only would it be nice if I find a job with good health insurance after I’m out its imperative I find health insurance to ensure I see more birthdays.  It shouldn’t be that way but that is the reality of the situation.  But I didn’t dwell on that. I even told Dr. Cook about this blog, saying a friend wrote in her blog, thanking her for her care of me and what terms to Google to find the blog.  I wanted to avoid alerting the ever present guards in the room.  So Doc, if you find this blog, again, thank you!  On the way back not only was it raining heavy, the winds were going crazy blowing pails and such from construction on the highway into us.  But we got back fine.  After another strip-search I actually got back to my cell pretty quickly.  Ironically we shouldn’t have hurried.  We had Turkey Tetrazzini, probably the worst meal here, for supper about 4:30 pm.  If we’d gone slower I probably would have gotten another bag lunch at the hospital.  But nothing would break my good mood, not even the  horrid food.  I’m healthy and I’m going to stay that way!


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 weekend was the Super Bowl where Wisconsin’s own Green Bay Packers were taking on the Pittsburgh Steelers.  All week the usual trash talk has been going on but not nearly the level it was at Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI).  Still you had your haters, who dislike the Packers just to get under people’s skin, and of course those genuinely rooting for the Steelers such as one of my cellies, Andre Charles.  Events such as these draw more than the normal gambling going on and it also means the stakes are higher.  During the season it was common to see meal trays as the object of the wagers.  Not this time though.  People bet canteen dollar amounts, paid for at the next order of canteen by the inmate who lost.  Of course this is entirely against the rules.  But that’s not why I don’t do it.  You have a way of knowing if the inmate your betting with hasn’t made so many bets he’s in over his head and now he might react if he’s unable to pay everyone.  Of course, keep in mind, it’s me we’re talking about.  I’ve been pretty risk averse during my time in prison.  But cellie Brian Whalen almost did find himself in a situation.  He bet with others $10 of canteen (a large sum around here) the Steelers would win with assurances from Andre that he’d help cover his bet if he lost.  Of course, when he lost, Andre didn’t know who he was which upset Whalen.  I’d been enjoying the quiet since he stopped talking to me but now that Whalen and Andre are feuding that’s gone.  I’m just glad it’s not me for a change!  Andre took the Steelers loss much better than expected and we had a good conversation.  I guess he has to talk to me now since I’m all he’s got if Whalen and him are going at it.  The next morning Ms. Grey, our ERP Group Coordinator, arrived in what appeared to be a bad mood, shutting down all football talk because she’s ‘not a fan’.  We had a surprise this morning as she called on group member Larry Sands to read his autobiography again.  Again, Sands missed the mark on what Ms. Grey wanted but it was improved.  He spoke of his father’s suicide, violence, mental hospitalizations and a woman twice his age taking advantage of him sexually – and all of this as a kid.  As he aged, he engaged in serial relationships – if you can call it that – with woman he manipulates with ease.  At the end, we didn’t have much to say.  But Ms. Grey had a lot to say.  She voiced her concerns that he engaged in bad guy behavior while putting it out there as if he was being a good guy.  The tension between the two was pretty obvious.  I volunteered that perhaps the manipulative serial relationships indicated a fear of desertion and being alone hoping he would talk about where those fears came from.  Ms. Grey challenged me, asking if I was condoning his behavior.  No, but I understood from his background I told her.  The answer seemed to satisfy her.  It should.  It’s the truth.  After lunch we watched more videos from Dr. Samenow focusing on manipulation we do of our loved ones.  Ms. Grey had us write down one time we manipulated someone.  But she returned Sands paper as it wasn’t about him as well as group member  Augie Prescott.  She collected Sands autobiography as well as the autobiography from group member Kevin House who is scheduled to have his read tomorrow.  We’re all talking amongst ourselves just because Ms. Grey isn’t operating as she normally does.  But we’ll see what happens.