Posts Tagged ‘cost’


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).  I actually ventured out this weekend and socialized a bit, playing ping pong on the table in the rec room that doubles as the location where our ERP group meets.  I always thought the smell of body odor was strong when our group met during the day but when the rec room weight machines are in use its almost overwhelming.  But like most things you adjust.  I lost every single ping pong game, including two to cellie Brian Whalen and one to cellie Larry Sands.  I used to be pretty good years ago but ping pong is all about touch and if you don’t have it your going to lose.  I spoke with my adoptive parents about initially staying with them when I get out or trying to find a way to make it at a shelter or finding a way to find a halfway house but we really didn’t resolve anything.  Come Monday shortly after 9:30 am, our ERP leader Ms. Grey and intern Nikita came in.  We are again doing the previously abandoned breathing exercises, but now its voluntary to participate.  Afterwards, we got into the evils of sugar and The Harmful Effects of Sugar on Mind and Body (squar is right!) followed by materials on The Harmful Effects of Caffeine and on Caffeine and your Adrenals – could they be paying dearly?, which targets women.  Since we’re all men, this confused us a bit.  Quite frankly, we were all wondering why we were looking at sugar and caffeine issues.  After lunch the next topic wasn’t much better – tobacco.  Most of us had previously smoked cigarettes, but this topic drew a lot of annoyed looks.  I have to  admit I was pretty restless too.  The video targeted junior high kids and said cigarettes cost $23 a carton.  Ok, probably in 1987 that might have been true!  At the end we took a test which I did ok on.  But no worries on me smoking.  Its too expensive now and it would be very bad for my health.  After supper though, I got something that made my day.  At mail call, my sponsors had sent me a letter.  There was a note from 3 high school students who are doing an English paper on prison efficiency and effectiveness and were using this blog as a reference.  I wrote back saying I’d love to help and read their paper when they’re done.  Maybe I’ll even publish it here.  It made me feel good this blog has helped others as it has for the past 15 months.  But mostly it’s helped me.  I wish every inmate has had the opportunity my sponsors provided 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).  Tuesday afternoon came about and the staff and inmates alike were focused on one thing – Gov. Walker was giving his address on the state budget.  Inmates and staff were watching for vastly different reasons however.  Staff were concerned with layoffs, benefit cuts, as well as DOC funding cuts.  Inmates wanted to find out what would happen to the so called early release provisions of Act 28 in the previous two year budget and what, if anything, would happen to ERP or the Challenge Incarceration Program (CIP).  ERP is a federally funded program but those running the DOC are said to be opposed to any kind of programs that encourage early inmate release.  So nobody knows what was going to happen.  Truthfully, though, had people been thinking by the time any of this goes into effect we will have all graduated ERP.  So there really isn’t reason to be concerned.  But it makes a good conversational piece.  The social workers even came by the unit though no groups were going to watch it on our TV.  The address got interrupted by the trays being handed out for supper but the news came out under this proposal, Act 28 and any mechanism for early release, such as good time, is dead.  In addition, over 50 million in funding for the DOC is being cut based on lower prisoner population.  It would seem these two things contradict each other.  We shall see.  Nothing was said specifically about ERP but I’m guessing it’s going to be left alone.  Again, we shall see.  The rest of the budget was painful to hear but that didn’t surprise me.  I noted the possible cuts to BadgerCare, especially since I might need help with the cost of the PET scans after I get out until I get a job with insurance to make sure cancer has not returned.  But that’s a down the road concern.  We all went about our business.  The following day held a surprise for me.  It was a Training Day but I was asked along with a swamper to go and clean the social worker’s office.  I got there and they were al in one room with several desks.  Even the intern Nikita was there.  They joked with me about the job sweeping I was doing when I left a dust bunny behind.  It was odd seeing them all together except for one.  Then the unit manager came by, let the social workers know she needed her office cleaned as well and wanting the mop water changed.  The swamper went to get water while I went to her office to sweep.  I’ve never seen a more messy desk.  Having read my face she insisted she knew where everything was on it.  After we were done we returned to the unit where everyone was busy cleaning as is the custom on Training Day.  The guys in my group now kid me more than ever about being Ms. Grey’s favorite.  But that’s ok.  I don’t’ care.  I just don’t know what she sees in 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). The number one rule in a prison environment is you don’t snitch on another inmate.  You are suppose to handle whatever the issue is between yourself and the other inmate.  But I feel like cellie Andre Charles has put me in a position of where I feel I don’t have a choice but to ask to be moved.  If this thing explodes all the work and waiting (almost a year) I’ve done to get to ERP goes down the drain.  I feel I’ve given him chance after chance while putting up with his conduct since my arrival at MSDF.  I decided the next time I got a threatening word or an attempt to intimidate me or anyone else in this cell I was going to go to the blue shirts. (guards).  But then cellie Malik Pearl confided he was going to go to the  guards and ask to be moved.  He’s in fear this whole thing will cost him his place in the ERP program too, as well as the chance to get out early.  Sensing an opportunity, I asked him to let me know when he’d done this and then I’d follow and do the same.  I thought we should do it together but I didn’t ask.  Malik, being a black man, cooperating with a white guy against another black man, in this environment it just isn’t normally done.  But later on Malik came to me and told me we should do this together, and in so doing, they’ll probably move Andre.  I asked him about the problems he might face with his guys and he said he didn’t care.  This tells me two things.  One, we both consider this to be a serious enough threat to do something this drastic.  Two, though Malik has been a violent drug dealer in the past he has a strength of character I admire.  We both agreed we should wait until Saturday, which is New Year’s Day, to talk to the regular first shift guard, Roscoe Peters.  The next day was Friday, New Year’s Eve which was treated as a weekend day.  A lot of the inmates spent the day in the dayroom playing cards and chess.  As usual I hung by myself.  That night the FOX television network showed “Rocky Balboa”, the final video of my favorite movie series.  Malik and my other cellie Brian Whalen, traded memories of great champions when boxing was a great sport.  But Andre hates it when the conversation includes Malik but hates it even more when I’m involved in the conversation.  Whalen won’t get involved but I see him not caring if Andre sees him talking to us.  So that’s good.  But I’m focusing on Rocky’s words. “I see you blaming everyone around you and making excuses for why your not doing good.  That’s how a coward acts and that’s not what you are”.  It’s not verbatim but the general drift.  Whatever happens in 2011, my success or failure, rests on me.  No excuses.  No apologies and no quitting.  Happy New Year Everybody!


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Anytime I’m in a new environment it’s a hard time for me and this is no exception.  But I am trying.  I’m back in a place again where we have to stand for count which means we fall out about 6:30 am and stand in front of our door.  I got yelled at for not having my arms laying at my side instead of folded against my chest.  We have to be silent and be wearing the yellow smock.  I was told the days of hot breakfasts were over and they were right.  It was a plastic container of cocoa puffs, a carton each of grape juice and milk.  I returned to my cell.  All I really wanted to do was sleep.  Another thin I’m going to have to get used to is you can’t get caffeinated coffee off canteen anymore.  It’s just as well, there’s no microwave to warm up water.  On the upside because my ERP program doesn’t start until December 13th, I get to spend some actual time alone as the other 3 had to go to their classes.  I haven’t done that since leaving Jackson Correctional Institution (FMCI).  A couple hours later a lady came by to do the mental health evaluation that they apparently do for each inmate.  I was mostly honest, once I made sure my answers wouldn’t get me kicked out of ERP.  She offered to look for information for free and low cost mental health assistance in Brown County for when I get out, as she only knew anything about what Milwaukee County offered as the vast majority of inmates here are from there.  I went to the bathroom afterwards and saw this wasn’t fun either.  They have 2 toilets on my tier, both with no privacy.  Not to my liking at all.  At this point, I’m praying for a quick end to the next 6 months.  My cellies came back from program a bit later.  The one on bottom bunk by me is a large guy named Brian Whalen, who today is upset with his lawyer for keeping his entire fee and he felt he hadn’t earned it.  I can relate.  He provides a lot of comic relief to the other guys.  My cellie on the top bunk on the other side is Malik Pearl, a young guy who feeds off my other cellie Andre Charles.  They both seem like pretty good guys.  They are in the middle of their programs and often come back talking up a storm about it.  I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about them as time goes on.  In all honesty, I’m not doing so good but I’m glad I have you all as an outlet to help organize my thoughts.  Truth is everywhere.  I’ve gone in prison, its been out of my comfort zone and i adjusted and found ways to cope and I’m sure this will be no different.  Pretty sure anyway.


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  One of the things I’m not going to miss about barracks life here is rather unpleasant, but its a fact.  You see, people fart!  Yes, they do.  Everyone will insist that their cellie, or bunkmate, is the worst when it comes to this.  I, of course, insist mine is.  It got so bad the other night I had to turn on my fan even though it isn’t hot out anymore.  He’s diabetic, and when he cheats, it gets real bad.  Others handle it how you would expect junior high boys to handle it, with laughter.  Competitions (just use your imagination, I’m not going to describe that!) and denials.  There’s times I wish I could act like that, all silly and what not.  It’s just not me.  I’m okay acting like that with kids but not adults.  I do it took, but being top bunk I don’t torture anyone!  At least I hope not.  So those are part of the sounds and smells of barracks life in FMCI.  As a friend of mine has pointed out, it is similar in some aspects to military life.  There are major differences.  Those in the military are there by choice and are of a higher character and purpose which affects how they conduct themselves and how they interact with others.  Here contains a sometimes subliminal, sometimes not, jockeying for position using intimidation tactics and scams. Beware those who bear gifts or seek them.  Some will be more than willing to give you things that cost them nothing, off their meal tray for example, but the tradeoff is they’ll expect to be given things you do pay for. You would think in a minimum security environment this would be less of an issue but its actually worse due to the fact that there’s less control and the inmates have more money.  Those running scams never get me because my answer is always the same.  The answer is always “no”.  Some tell me I’ve got to learn to play the game.  My response is usually along the lines of ‘why?’?  I drive these people crazy at times.

Of course, in the real world, people fart.  In the real world, lots of people are running scams.  My former step daughter, Lynn, was always up to something.  Her mother always fell for it.  I never did.  Guess what?  I drover her crazy too.  I’m trying to change, not be so suspicious all the time.  Change is only hard when you are not in control.  I’ve got to go and find a nose plug as I hear we’re having refried beans for supper.  It’s going to be a long night!


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  I mentioned before that a scan had detected an abscessed tooth.  After a week had gone by and a little encouragement from a sponsor not to let this situation be ignored, I wrote a request to Health Services advising them of the referral from my oncologist, Rachel Cook, of the University Hospital in Madison, made to them. Generally it takes the Health Services some time to get around to reviewing what the doctor wrote unless they get pushed.   I also let them know I had other dental issues to be addressed.  I got up at 5 am as usual and saw my name on the list to go to HSU after count at 8 am.  Paul and 2 others also came along who had dental appointments.  We had to go over to the medium side but once out the gate we were told to wait for another inmate.  Twenty minutes later, we’re still waiting and everyone’s annoyed.  Finally, we’re on our way.  I got called in first and the dental assistant informed me I would be having a root canal performed.  It will take 3 visits.  Today they’d “file it down and put antibiotics in there”. I don’t like dentists and I’ve heard bad things about root canals.  The dentist appeared, a man in his sixties, and asked me if I wanted the tooth pulled or do a root canal.  No, I don’t want it pulled!  They numbed me up without incident and he did what he was supposed to, I guess.  I went back to the bullpen (waiting room) and awaited the others to finish.  The last words of the dentist were I’d experience some discomfort and you should “just handle it”.  I laughed to myself.  Dentists in the real world don’t talk like that but they mean the same.  They just word it nicer!  The next part is in 2 weeks.  When everyone was done we stopped at Property, picked up 2 more inmates and their property who were transferring to the minimum side, which took at least half an hour.   Once I got back, everyone asked what was going on and when I told them a root canal, they reacted like it was so painful.  So far, I don’t get it.  Maybe I will come to pay for my presumptuous attitude over the next couple of appointments!  I am in pain but its tolerable.  At least something fulfilling (no pun intended – wait, yeah that was intentional :)) will come out of my time at FMCI.  In case you were wondering, this process won’t cost me anything.  Normally, it would have cost me $7.50 co-pay out of my funds here but because it was a referral from my oncologist, I wasn’t.  The other dental work I need I will get charged the co-pay.  I’m sure many of you wish all you had was a $7.50 co-pay for dental work but as I’ve noted before inmates make very little money – forty cents an hour at most before I came to FMCI.  I’ve never been allowed to work, first because of the illness and now due to my temp status.  But I’m grateful for the treatment for cancer and medical care.  Had I not been incarcerated, would I still have gotten treatment in time, especially with the aversion to doctors I have?  There’s no way to know for sure.  But I’m grateful for the medical care, the time and expense involved to the Department of Corrections (DOC) and the taxpayers of Wisconsin.  Thank you very much.