Posts Tagged ‘December’


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP). Shortly after count last night, the Koss headphones I bought off the catalogs, a plastic piece by the right ear just fell off making the ear piece unable to stay connected (Jack L. Marcus catalog #2168).  I got them while at JCI several months ago and they take a considerable pounding since I never listen to TV or radio without them.  I spent the rest of the night after shaving my head wearing those headphones being careful not to touch them once I got them on my head lest I cause the headphone to fall.  It’s unfortunate it happened right before Christmas break where TV viewing will be a major pastime.  With Christmas right around the corner (today is December 23rd) guard and staff vacations have started which means we have staff unfamiliar to us.  I asked them for an order form and catalog so I could order the headphones but were refused.  While waiting for lunch, my cellies, Malik Pearl, Andre Charles, and Brian Whalen had a long but productive conversation.  Andre went on and on about how those in his ERP group upset him with how they act.  He finally came at me and wanted to know what I thought.  I took a deep breath and told him the problem was him.  His expectations of how these people act is what has created this problem.  In addition, I told him his anger management isn’t the problem but he has a rage issue, and that he needed medication for mood stabilization and impulse control.  Finally, I told him I worry someday he will kill someone before he was even aware of what he’s done.  Everyone in the room was stunned by what I said but Andre said I was dead on accurate and thanked me.  But he asked why Whalen never had issues with him.  It’s because Whalen does everything he can to appease him while Malik and I would not.  Whalen even agreed with this opinion.  For once I thought I handled this situation well.  We had count after lunch and Andre came out without his ID or yellow smock.  Normally, they let this go but these new guards did not.  After count cleared, one of the guards showed up and told him to pack up as he was doing to the hole for these violations.  He was patted down, and Andre was clearly getting angry.  After going through his things, the guard announced he was “fu—– with him as he had them by not following the rules”.    Relieved he didn’t go to the hole he returned to his usual loud self.  But this guard had played a very dangerous game.  What if Ander had flipped out over losing his ERP over his trick?  Getting kicked out of ERP can mean additional years an inmate may have to sit in prison.  I believe Andre to be fairly dangerous and this guard was by himself and didn’t know Malik or I.  Fortunately, it ended ok …this time.  At 1 pm, Ms. Grey joined us and gave us new books.  On was “Houses of Healing: A Prisoner’s Guide to Inner Power and Freedom, 5th Edition”, 2008, by Robin Casarjian and another workbook, “Criminal Conduct and Substance Abuse Treatment.  Strategies for Self Improvement and Change” by Kenneth W. Wanberg and Harvey B. Milkman, 2006, Sage Publications.   We will begin assignments in this next week while she is gone on vacation.  Ms. Grey also gave us a whole bunch of worksheets.  The load is getting heavier no doubt.  But I am confident I’ll keep up.


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP). Every prison I’ve been in has its resident artist and here is no exception.  Since its the Christmas season, he is making a mint charging guys two to three dollars of canteen a card.  But I’m telling you the quality of the cards is just exceptional!  Of course, this is entirely illegal, according to the code of conduct.  They would call the offense “running an enterprise” and you could go to the hole and kicked out of ERP.  I don’t have the funds to buy those and if I did the people I would send them to, such as some of my sponsors, would be very upset with me for exposing myself to potential problems in order to send them a Christmas card.  But it doesn’t mean I can’t admire the work being done.  Another sign of the year is the football pools going on around here.  To participate costs you a bag of chips off canteen.  Again I don’t participate but I didn’t participate in office pools as an IT guy either.  Here all it takes is one guy to say something and the world changes for everyone involved.  So no, I’m not going to expose myself that way.  It can happen, usually because someone bets something they don’t have and because they fear reaction from the other inmates to their stupidity, they go to the guards and blow the whistle.  Then cells get tossed for evidence of betting, statements get taken and it gets to be a mess.  It’s just not worth it for someone who has a short amount of time.  As far as what’s going on here, my cellie, Brian Whalen, thinks I should stick around the Waukesha, WI area and that I’d make a good car salesman.  He says he knows people, could get me into it and they’d really like my computer skills.  I really don’t have a solid plan and I like the idea of car sales.  I’d eat, drink and breathe in learning it but I’d do that with anything I’m in.  That’s how I learned Information Technology, became known .NET Framework programmer working for a Fortune 500 company and all this with just a GED.  My work ethic and dedication has always been there.  As tempting as it is for me to jump on what Whalen is trying to tell me, I am not excited about putting my future in his hands.  On the other hand, I’m going to have to accept others help regardless where I land.  But I really need to put this out of my mind for now.  Today is December 12th.  Tomorrow I begin ERP.  If I don’t succeed there, this is all wasted mental energy.  So, even though the future is right around the corner, I’ve got to focus and have faith that the future will be just fine without me stressing on it now.  So, it’s six months to go starting now. 


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 see saw relationships between those of us in this cell continues.  I actually opened up about a period I was homeless while in Dallas, TX before I got myself together many years ago.  I hadn’t even told you all about that mostly because it wasn’t relevant yet.  But the conversation revolved around the fear of being homeless after release.  I relate to that believe me.  It’s a big fear of mine.  But the conversation seemed to ease tensions.  I still don’t trust any of them but such is the nature of the beast.  This morning was dominated by the coverage of the standoff on I94 West which blocked both sides of the freeway. It’s so weird seeing all the cold and snow on TV and not be able to feel it or see it with my own eyes.  No sun, sky, moon, stars or fresh air until I get out.  I better get used to it.  They had another community meeting as is their custom on Friday.  Housecleaning issues were that people blow their noses and spit in the sink and showers.  We’ve seen this before.  What is it about prison that makes people believe in such a gross manner? Another issue, people pee on the toilet seat.  No ladies, prison doesn’t fix that about men.  They moved onto the quote of the week which had been assigned to one of my cellies, Malik Pearl.  His quote was “To stand still is to die.  To move forward is to prosper”.  He did a good job explaining it.  He even had part of the quote tattooed on him.  The word for the week was “receptive”.  Again, the comments were wooden and felt forced but I don’t know maybe that’s how it is here.  Then another inmate shared a news story about how Milwaukee County is developing it’s own style of boot camp for their jail and how it was a good idea.  Everyone stood up and said how great this was – except me of course.  I surprised myself by speaking up even though I don’t start the program until Monday, December 13th. My point was that programs such as these don’t produce results – which is to keep people out of jail.  Plus, the money would be better applied to treatment programs, to address the root causes of why they are in prison.  My cellie, Brian Whalen actually spoke up and agreed with me.  The last piece  of business was to introduce the new social worker, Betty Grey.  She helped with the ERP program at Racine Correctional Institution (RCI) prior to being at MSDF.  Ms. Grey is going to be running my ERP group on Monday.  You’ll be hearing a lot about her over the next few months.  Tried as I may, I couldn’t read anything about her in those few moments.  Group concluded and the school is out feeling came over the entire unit as no ERP stuff until Monday.  Some went to sleep, watch TV, use the phone or as I found out today, they have a movie room.  Lunch came and the people sent to the hole yesterday returned. The guy who was suppose to go home did.  But one of the guys who went was Scott Bunker who came in with me and like me starts ERP Monday.  Poor guy.  It’s been a rough start for him as the first room he was in wasn’t to his ethnic standards and now this.  In fairness to him they were much younger than him but it’s not going to be easy for him here I think.  My cellies kid me I can’t take it easy anymore but I told them I’m ready to get this going.  “Finally” is the word that comes to mind for me as we’ve been trying to get in ERP all of this past year. 


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Fridays are a short day in the ERP program here.  They have something called “Community” at 10 am and then they’re done for the day.  Everyone was already seated when someone came and got me to join which surprised me since I don’t start ERP until December 13th.  They went through an airing of unit grievances (there were none) and housekeeping issues (there were some).  It was at this point that I was called to the guard desk and told to get ready to go to Heath Services Unit (HSU).  They have something where an inmate picks a quote and they explain why they picked it.  The quote was “Bad things happen in life so that someday something good can come.”  It was put on a big poster and hung from the top tier.  Then the inmate coming up with the quote talked of why he picked that quote.  The group was then to provide comments on what the quote meant to them.  The social worker running the group reminded them that if we didn’t participate enough she would hand out paper and make us all write something down.  Personally, I would have preferred that but that’s just me.  Then the inmate assigned the word of the day or week, I’m not sure which.  The word was “oppressed” with the quote “difficult to bear substance abuse made my life aggressive”, which was placed on a white poster on the upper tier next to the other one.  Then my cellmate, Brian Whalen, had been assigned to read a current events article and discuss it with comments following.  He did well I thought.  Overall, the comments being made felt forced to me but I could be wrong.  At that point a female guard showed up to escort me and another inmate to HSU.  We got on an elevator (another difference of any prison I’ve seen – there were no elevators) and we had to face the wall away from the guard sharing space with carts of food trays being delivered for lunch.  I go to our next stop where we were directed to stand with our backs to the wall while another inmate joined us and we continued on.  We got to HSU which has a hall for a waiting room with the wall lined by chairs then inside a desk manned by a guard.  He called out names to go in.  I was seated next to a man of 65 with a long white beard who couldn’t stop jabbering.  He was on paper for his 5th DUI and was here for rule violations (using pot) and his parole officer (PO) was trying to revoke him.  A lot of the other inmates were discussing Act 28 and the mistaken idea that once they got to Dodge Correctional Institution (DCI) the time they thought they’d be saving under Act 28 would be taken right off the top of their sentence. It reminded me much of my time in Waukesha County Jail (WCJ) where inmates would cling to such fairy tales out of sense of desperation and looking for a reason to hope.  I tried to interject and correct the information but one inmate in particular would have none of it, insisting I was wrong.  I let it go.  I understand the need to hold onto hope.  I think false hope actually helped me at times.  Weird, isn’t it?  Mercifully, I got called to see the doctor.  He was of Indian descent and spoke good English.  I waited 10 minutes before a word was said while he reviewed my file.  He then let me know another PET scan would be scheduled soon to make sure the cancer had not returned and made sure I was still on my antiviral.  I returned to my seat in the hall to await transport back to my unit.  The man I was next to had grown impatient and started repeatedly asking when he’d be seen because he didn’t want to miss lunch.  The guard who brought me to HSU returned to take me back but the guard at the desk lost patience and told her to take him back too without being seen.  He knew what that meant.  He was getting a major conduct report for being disruptive.  The entire way back he argued with this guard almost assuming an intimidating stance towards her.  She argued back which was pointless with this guy.  Finally, I got back to my unit having a cold pizza burger for lunch and very glad I’m not that loud inmate and looking forward to getting this ERP program going week after next. 


I’m a the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  The media mistakenly keep calling this program “Early Release Program” thinking that is what ERP stands for.  It doesn’t.  I stands for “Earned Release Program”.  Got that cleared up?  Good. 🙂  Well, last night was horrid for me, not just because of the usual reasons, but the mattress that was on my bunk when I got here was extremely thin so my back is extremely sore.  I figure I’ll eventually get used to it.  Forget about asking for a new one, you’ll just get laughed at.  The other 3 cellies went to program about 8 but Andre returned about 10.  It seems the program coordinator had seen him wearing his shower shoes instead of the standard issue blue slippers, said something to him about it, another younger inmates laughed at him, and he snapped at him, then at the coordinator, who then told him to go to his cell for the rest of the day.  Andre was very worried they’d give him a ticket for disrespecting staff and that he might get kicked out of ERP for this.  He also has had a history of a lot of warnings for various violations.  He reminded me a lot of me as he paced the floor and how the anxiety junkie completely ruled him at this point.  As it turned out, he was stressed for nothing, not even getting a warning.  Andre felt like he needed to stop being friendly with other inmates as it is what seemed to give this younger inmate a license to “act the fool with him”.  But I filed all of this in my brain as what not to do once I start on December 13th.  The psychiatrist of the jail stopped by our cell asking how we were doing.  Malike Pearl asked what would happen if he went back on his meds.  She replied he’d be dropped from the program and moved to another floor.  I didn’t know that about Malik.  But I’ve covered what I think of this blanket policy.  The staff member who did the evaluation yesterday brought the mental health information on Brown County for when I get out.  It was good she didn’t forget. 

On TMJ4 today, Jeff Wagner, Courtney Gerrish and crew talked about how they wanted to see the ERP eliminated because someone high on heroin killed someone else, and they had graduated from the ERP.  I wonder if they know these are the only programs I know of (Challenge Incarceration Program as well) that actually pretend to do any kind of rehabilitation.  I wonder if they read this blog.  I wish they would as they would see life isn’t always black and white.  But I’m praying I sleep better tonight and thank God for getting me into ERP when he did.  I’m not sure it’ll be here all that much longer.


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 Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS) participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP). I got up about 4 am at Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI) knowing it was my day to go, so I could shave and shower as experience has taught me there are no guarantees how things might go initially.  Then I went back to my bunk and slept.  About 7 am, the guard woke me up and told me it was time to go.  I cleaned up my remaining linens.  My cellie told me “not to let the door hit me in the a—“ with a smile on his face.  They told me to walk down to Unit 10 where another inmate named Scott Bunker on his way to MSDF for ERP as well joined me.  He had gotten to keep his electronics the last 5 days!  The guards gave him a hard time about that in a good natured way.  They pretended to strip search us and then got on the same kind of bus that brought me to FMCI.  We were joined by John Lloyd, who had managed to get staffed straight to ERP at MSDF from Dodge Correctional Institution (DCI).  I let him know how totally lucky he was.  John was in for his 5th DUI and Scott was in for his 7th DUI.  John had some good news.  He had reviewed the “handbook” on each institution and our ERP was only 13 weeks!  I was on cloud 9!  I’m going to be out by April!  We got to MSDF, which is across the street from the Milwaukee County Courthouse and got sent to a holding cell.  Everything screams a county jail to me here from the dingy walls to the layout of the facility.  They took the greens issued to me my first day in prison.  They gave me bright yellow clothes with a white t-shirt.  I look like a banana!  Then they went through my property.  Turns out I got to keep everything except the clothes I bought out of the catalogs, including my electronics which everyone said I couldn’t keep.  Now I’m in a great mood!  They threw away my old badge, gave me a new one and the nurse checked in.  All of the staff was by far the most professional and courteous I’ve seen in my time in jail or prison.  Then we got lunch.  Oh boy.  It was some kind of hoagie and it tasted awful.  Again, the food resembles county jail food.  Well, I wanted to lose weight so I’ll get that wish.  I got to the 4th floor where I was assigned a cell.  Top bunk again of course.  It’s a 4 person cell with 4 full length grayish blue lockers in front, 2 bunks on each side, 2 TV stands on each side, and 2 desks.  The walls are a dingy white with a maroon door.  Just like a county jail its a 2-tier setup. My 3 cellies were all there and they clearly weren’t expecting me as my locker and TV stand were being used.  Then they dropped the bomb on me.  Its actually a 24-week program.  We’re talking June release.  I got bummed.  How could I be so stupid as to believe inmate information?  We’ve learned this over and over again.  I got settled in, figured out where the TV shows I watch were.  I’ve got till December 13th to get used to this place.  I’m so very tired.


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  I was doing my usual routine in the morning of coffee, eating something sweet while reading the Green Bay Press Gazette.  This being Wednesday (November 24th), I also had shaved my head.  Yes, I do that on a routine too (Wednesdays and Saturdays)!  I got called to the desk and I got the long awaited order to pack up my things.  They then let me know that on Monday, November 29th, I would get shipped to Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF) for my Earned Release Program (ERP), start date of December 13th.  I didn’t move quickly.  I’ve gotten so much contradictory information about what would be allowed at MSDF property wise that I decided to divide things between what I thought they’d let me keep and what they wouldn’t.  This was further complicated by the fact I have 5 days until I leave.  Toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, all the things you need I couldn’t pack.  Why so soon?  Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  Friday is a furlough day and property doesn’t work on weekends.  Everything I didn’t pack I’ll have to throw away on Monday.  No it isn’t fair but that’s life in the Wisconsin Prison System.  Many people decided I had been their best friend, as many had their hand out wanting my canteen.  I just smiled and laughed and said no.  The guard barked at me to get moving so I ate lunch before everyone else and loaded my 3 boxes into the back of a van.  Once I got to property, I realized I shouldn’t have bothered separating things.  The property sergeant had me empty the boxes while he reloaded them.  It was uneventful.  There was a younger guy there coming to FMCI.  He had 11 boxes.  After I signed my release I had to wait about a half hour for him to get inspected.  Once I got back no one was real concerned about me as they were holding hearings on the tickets at the Multipurpose Building.  Soon after, 2 inmates from servery staff (kitchen) got taken to the hole for some kind of scandal that was going on there so I’m not the topic of conversation.  That’s good by me!  But having struggled to get my property for the first 35 some days, I’m sure missing it now as I hear the collection of voices singing, talking smack or just talking with each other to be heard all over again.  Those are the best and worst of times for the anxiety junkies like me, when all things familiar are ripped away, the future both short, and long term are completely unknown and unavailable to be manipulated by our obsessively controlling nature’s.  But it speaks to the progress I’ve made that I’m not nearly as locked up as I was when I first got here and had no escapes available to me just like now.  Let’s hope this progress continues as I move on to MSDF.


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  December 13th is my bed date to begin my ERP program at Milwaukee Secure Detention Center Facility (MSDF).  They could come get me from here any day now.  It’s November 19th, the weekend before Thanksgiving.  Ms. Greer showed up today in her #4 Minnesota Vikings jersey, and she is proud to wear it and she’ll let you know that when she hears the topic come up in conversation.  It makes everybody smile though.  She has a rough edge with a good heart.  So overlook her football team preference.  Nobody’s perfect! I always wonder if she feels imprisoned by the system in trying to help inmates or if she has stopped fighting and just picks her spots where she can make a difference.  She certainly hasn’t completely quit trying as many who burn out. I’m hoping I spend Thanksgiving week here as I’m told the food portions are better here.  I won’t lie, I’m nervous about going to MSDF and change is always hard for me.  Other inmates pain a very bleak picture.  You won’t see the outside world until you leave, canteen is small and expensive, its dirty and no electronics.  Still as we’ve seen in the past, inmate information can be unreliable and if I can endure this and succeed, I’ll get out.  Anyway, we’ve had a huge influx of new people in the last week.  There’s no Welcome Wagon here to educate them on how things are done and the unwritten rules.  That becomes most evident in the line for meals.  The customs are really a reversion to grade school tactics.  Of course, the Glee Club is still at the front of the line but after that group, grown men who never care about such things all of a sudden become quite concerned with someone who might step in front of them or others who feel they are popular by being allowed to do so.  I usually greet this whole drill with a yawn and roll of my eyes but for some reason not today.  As I moved toward the cart that holds the trays in front of the guard station,  a new inmate, a young black man with an early Jackson 5 type haircut with his pants down so far his butt was on display darted right in front of me.  Normally I don’t care but today for some reason I did.  As I debated how to handle it, the sergeant yelled at him twice to pull up his pants.  He conveyed his contempt for the sergeant with his half hearted compliance. I decided then wasn’t the time to deal with this.  After lunch, I have to walk past his bunk to go to the bathroom and brush my teeth and I stopped and said to him that I didn’t want to say anything in front of the blue shirts (guards) but you can’t step in front of people in line like that without asking as they will feel disrespected.   His cellie, white and young like him, laughed nervously.  He reacted like he couldn’t believe I said something but finally after a couple of seconds said “ok”.  I went to the bathroom and on my way back he motioned me over and he thanked me for not saying anything in front of the guards.  I replied that they would have taken it wrong.  It ended well, but this was not the way to handle this.  If he had reacted differently, I could have lost everything.  I should have let it go.  I just wonder if I’m subconsciously trying to sabotage myself because I’m about to enter ERP, mostly because my reaction was so out of character for me.  Remember, I’ve been dreaming about my goals eluding me despite doing all I could to achieve them.  Am I trying to set myself up for failure?  I don’t really know the answer just now but I sure hope not.