Posts Tagged ‘courtesy’


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 past weekend was marked by arguments and in fighting amongst inmates over stupid things.  Most of it of course involved Scott Dietz, revolving around rec room issues.  I’ve just noticed the courtesy between inmates in the laundry procedure and the order for showers is breaking down.  People skipping each other to use laundry or the shower causes friction.  I got to talk to Charles and Victoria Martin, my adoptive parents this weekend.  They’re going to send the glasses I sent away at Dodge Correctional Institution (DCI) to the sponsor of this blog who is picking me up.  They also will have cable which means I’ll be able to have internet access which is critical for my job search and getting up to speed on the technology and software I’ve missed the last two years.  Speaking of which, Sunday, May 8th marked the 2 year date of my incarceration.  Sixteen of those months this blog has run.  Not an anniversary I look at fondly but assured I won’t forget it. But I’ve been talking like it’s a foregone conclusion that I’m going to graduate June 10th.  Not if I keep acting the way I did Monday.  Now the last graduating class has a high number of guys who are busying themselves by starting trouble, including former swamper and cellie Malik Pearl joined by one of his cellies.  They took aim at me because on occasion I don’t wear a hat (not a hairnet mind you but a paper hat) when serving food as a swamper.  There is not rule that I’m aware of that says I have to and I’ve told you previously, I shave my head, so there’s really not a need.  But they started yelling at me to wear a hat.  I was visibly angered.  I put it on and asked them if they were happy now.  Afterwards, it was time to start our ERP group.  Our ERP social worker Ms. Grey took us through the entire Living With Others workbook that day.  In the middle of the morning we observed through the window to the dayroom that the guards on 1st shift had been joined by several others.  They began to shakedown every single cell even taking the extra clothing the inmates had acquired which usually is ignored.   Group got interrupted several times as we observed them taking things out of the cells critical to our graduation project.  At the end of the morning session, I went out to clean tables and put out napkins to get ready for lunch service.  I came right back and didn’t touch anything else an inmate egged on by Pearl’s cellie, demanded I change my gloves.  I refused.  This was just harassment.  We exchanged words across the dayroom.  My reaction was so out of character for me.  Lunch got served.  We had Swiss Rolls, which are a pretty hot item around here.  I observed that same inmate shoving some down his shirt to smuggle them to his cell.  I asked him if he wanted me to play this game he had started.  He quickly got back to his cell.  I wasn’t going to tell but I was mad!  Afterwards, I was told Pearl and his cellie were going to try to get me fired as a swamper.  Initially, I didn’t care. I don’t need the extra food and who needs this aggravation?  But after I calmed down, I remembered why I took this job to begin with.  I went to the inmate who took issue with the gloves and apologized for my reaction.  But more importantly, what is going on with me?  Is it just a simple chase of the “shirts”, where inmates near release get irritable and melancholy?  Whatever it is, I resolved to get a hole of myself and stay in today instead of thinking about my release in June.  We turned in our goals and objectives for Phase 3 in the afternoon session.  She approved them on the spot and told us to have our presentations ready for the following Monday (May 16th).  Mine are ironically, to improve my social skills here and being more patient.  Clearly, these goals are appropriate and necessary. 

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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).  It’s Wednesday which is a no group day and we’re supposed to be working on something ERP program related.  Work is pretty thin for us at this stage called Phase III.  But I found something to do.  I wrote the outline for the skit that I volunteered to do at the last community meeting and ERP group member Russ Johnson agreed to assist me with.  It will be on the topic of pretentiousness, focusing on how you can suffer from alcoholism despite having money, friends, and a good family.  You might ask if asking Johnson to help was done on purpose especially in light of the kind of person he is.  Not entirely would be my answer. He asked for my assistance on his skit so I thought it okay to ask for his help on mine.  But the thought did cross my mind when preparing the skit.  So Wednesday is spent largely in the cell by choice. My cellies also now spend the majority of their time in the cell as I do, especially ERP group member Larry Sands.  And yes him and Brian Whalen still tell their raunchy stories but not as much as they used to.  Cellie Corey Ball makes comments about teenage girls because he figured out this really gets under my skin.  He means to tease, please don’t think he’s a predator. He’s become the go to guy for making hot water for other folks, using metal prongs in a radio cord, then sticking it in a trash can with saltwater, then plugging it in and waiting for it to nearly boil.  This  leads to a parade of people coming to the door with soda bottles full of water for Ball to put in this trash can.  Inmates make decaf coffee, refried beans and other such things through this.  He usually gets little for his efforts and takes on all the risk.  But he’s indicated he is going to stop doing it now, especially since his graduation is so close.  If you get caught doing this, you will go to the hole and you are putting your whole program at risk so his decision makes sense.  He hasn’t blown the electricity yet like others did so that’s good.  Though my cellies can be annoying at times, I generally like all 3.  I’m going to get 2 new ones after Whalen and Ball leave in mid-May so I pray that goes well.  No one like Andre Charles please!  I started a new book today courtesy of Johnson called Decision Points by former President George W. Bush.  It’s a good read.  At mail call I did get an interesting letter from my biological father’s sister.  As you might recall we have been going back and forth with e-mails through my sponsors now that we have found each other, along with a cousin.  She revealed what I suspected.  She and my father were horribly abused by their father and stepfather, physically and sexually, for years.  I hadn’t know about the stepfather.  But the sick person he became, I completely now get why he did what he did.  It’s not ok, but I understand.  I replied by apologizing for being angry at their family for so many years for not protecting me and thanked her for sharing.  She says this information can never be shared.  I’ll respect that.  She also said she loved me and I told her the same.


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 past weekend I completed the assignments given to me this past week.  They were the self-evaluation, the review of the movie Gracie’s Choice, and addressing the envelope for the letter going to my former wife to be sent by our ERP group leader, Ms. Grey.  I’d had the actual letter written some time ago.  Many in the group are struggling with this or have devised plans to control the response Ms. Grey gets.  I did not do so, not because I’m some sort of moral giant but I’m not willing to risk anything at this juncture.  It just isn’t worth it with 97 days to go until graduation.  Anyway, I’ve mentioned to you before our bathroom setup, how the toilets are open air and only a piece of cloth covers the entrance.  Often the men will run water to prevent the noise of doing their business from echoing in this cavernous environment and it’s a courtesy appreciated by those in the dayroom.  Also, at night those on lower bunks will often put towels up using the bunk above them to hold them in to block light but mostly for some privacy.  Normally the guards say nothing about such things but last night wasn’t normal.  The refried beans from cellie Andre Charles graduation party were/are still killing me.  The guard on duty made me get up though I wasn’t done and shut the water off.  I finished and went back to my cell.  Shortly after he was there barking at my cellies to take the towels off their bunks in drill sergeant type of fashion.  The next morning at 5 am, it was my shower and laundry day (with 3 changes of clothes I shower every other day doing laundry every other shower day) and I wondered if he’d give me any grief about anything.  Once laundry started, this guard complained about how other guards don’t enforce the rules so it makes his job harder and it confuses us.  I was surprised he knocked other guards to me but I just told him since I’d been in prison I’d learned it is really up to the guard on duty and we as inmates learn how the rules will be enforced.  He replied that was exactly the problem and he’ll throw guys in program real quick if they give him an attitude as they’re supposed to be on a higher level.  I told him he wouldn’t likely see an attitude from anyone here.    Soon he got distracted and my laundry was dry but I thought to myself this guy was wound so tight he might snap.  I returned to my cell to make sure that person wouldn’t be me!  But I think while he has a point that its good for us to have uniformity in expectations I also think its good for us to deal with differing expectations or interpretations as we get ready to be released as that is a much more realistic view of the world than the sometimes orderly  world of MSDF. 


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  While laying on my bunk, a guard accompanied by Lt. Brodie woke me up. I’m sure they figure me for a freak for the startled reaction.  You know better.  They were conducting an inspection and told me that I wasn’t allowed to have my box on my bed and that it had to be broken down.  I of course complied.  Every facility has a handbook describing rules and regulations that govern it and I went to consult it to see if this was in fact a rule violation.  Section 11.2 covered what you could have on your bunk and a box wasn’t forbidden.  But even though the 303 code prohibits arbitrary rule creation by guards or white shirts (supervisors) in practice it happens all the time.  If the inmate refuses to cooperate, the guard or white shirt will discipline them for failure to follow an order, thus the inmate has no immediate vehicle with which to address their grievance or perceived injustice.  The inmates’ only recourse is to comply and then to fill out an inmate complaint form and in several weeks some bureaucrat from the Department of Corrections (DOC) in Madison, who doesn’t have the benefit of context and whose supposed impartiality isn’t fooling anyone, makes a ruling.  The effect of a relationship where one side has all the power is to embitter the other party and this is no different.  Inmates can easily get in deep trouble over what started out as a minor problem because they perceive disrespect from the officer involved.   In my case, I began the first step of the complaint process which was to send an information request to Lt. Brodie to allow him an opportunity to address my grievance without the complaint process.  He has never answered my information requests in the past or from others I’ve talked to.  He was still there so I handed it to him personally and after reviewing it he replied that I’d better comply (getting rid of the box) and if I don’t like it, to fill out an inmate complaint form.  His attitude towards me was how one might react to a tiny dog, powerless as the animal is as he nips at your heels while being ridiculed, ignored and who only inspires annoyance.  I told him I planned on doing so but I needed a written response to my information request to demonstrate I’d completed the first step.  He replied he had just responded.  I emphasized the word “written”.  Brodie waved me off.  I don’t think I’ll ever get a written response.  The thing is, if Brodie demonstrates basic people handling skills, this problem would most likely go away.  But as I’ve noted previously, he doesn’t see us as human.  In all honesty, I’ve probably got a month to go here before going to ERP, have got the choir, conflict going on involving Brodie and I am the type to avoid problems unless absolutely necessary.  The last thing I want is to get in a tussle over a minor issue.  But I’m sure Lt. Brodie counts on this, that inmates won’t follow through. I haven’t decided what to do.  I am happy though with how I conducted myself in this, doing what I’m suppose to do and dealing with Brodie in a manner that is adult, even if he didn’t return the courtesy.


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  Did you know Jake Martin (my pen name) has a Facebook page?  Feel free to send a friend request and post your thoughts or stories.  I’d love to hear from you.  I haven’t mentioned it before despite it having been out there for some time.  My bad.  It’s the same as always, if you post something directed to me or the blog sponsors, you’ll get an answer.  My real identity also has a Facebook and Windows Live presence.  I had a successful .NET Framework and Information Technology blog on Windows Live.  As a result, I developed a rather large network of IT Professionals.  After I’d been arrested, it appeared I had just suddenly vanished and some of those contacts began making inquiries into what had happened to me.  Some of these folks are now “sponsors” of this blog.  One serves as my power of attorney (POA) and several update this blog with what I write, handle the increasing amount of correspondence and try to keep me grounded which can be a trying task.  Isn’t it ironic that those that knew me from the virtual world proved to be there for me much more than anyone from the physical world?  Friends from my church, Christian band, the Fortune 500 company I worked for as a software developer, or other associates, most I never heard from even after it became common knowledge where I was, courtesy of my now ex-wife.  It was human nature to want to befriend a guy on his way up in his profession, making great money, who started a talented Christian rock band and seemed to always have an answer for the problem confided.  But it was also human nature that when the ship of my life was taking on water and sinking to try and get as far away, as fast as possible, lest the suction of the disaster somehow affect them.  So though I got angry, I eventually came to see their reaction as natural, almost intuitive, to the events that had taken place.  I was asked if I forgive them for not standing by me.  I now answer there was nothing to forgive.  They didn’t then or now owe me a thing.  The problem here was my expectations of my relationships with people.  I wanted 100% loyalty not because I loved them, but because that little boy in me was tired of being hurt and abandoned.  I would extend my loyalty, but here’ the thing.  They never asked for that.  The sad fact is I can’t hold those close to me hostage to my issues and call that a relationship.  Perhaps I am the one that should seek forgiveness from them.  I, under my real name, still occasionally have updates posted to Facebook.  My blog still collects 300 hits a day, despite not having been updated in 17 months, mostly .NET and IT guys looking for a particular solution.  Still, I haven’t come up with a way to handle the classmate that pops up on Facebook and such.  I don’t want to tell people I’m in prison.  I’m ashamed.  I don’t have an answer so I’ve been ignoring those friend requests and comments that come in.  I am sure there is a way I’m suppose to handle it.  As always, if I keep an open mind, the answer will come.