Posts Tagged ‘decisions’


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Sometimes I’m not so bright.  In fact, I can make just stupid decisions.  When I was a child my arm was broken.  The arm was never set properly and as a result the arm has always given me some discomfort.  The last few months however; the pain has steadily grown where I have to work around it for such tasks as putting on a shirt.  So I put in a medical request form. I suggested that perhaps the lack of exercise is causing the pain, as up until a year ago I was being treated for cancer and I didn’t exercise much and since then I’ve done very little.  But with my impending release on Wednesday, I didn’t make a  good choice ignoring the pain.  To my surprise, I was actually seen on Sunday by a nurse right here on the unit.  The nurse decided to see me because of my history of cancer.  She determined the kind of bone issue I described shouldn’t be ignored.  Just another example of the usually positive experience I’ve had with health practitioners while I’ve been in prison.  She decided to refer me to the doctor without performing tests.  But she did take a history of how it happened, asking why I didn’t address this years ago when I had insurance and why I waited until now.  Truth was I didn’t want to answer the questions people would have asked related to how it happened, my usual honesty and shame issues.  Hopefully, I don’t continue that pattern.  One nice thing about all my family and friends knowing I went to prison is all pretense is gone.  The truth will be revealed eventually whether you want it to or not.  The fact I had problems is now known to them.  How will they react to me?  How will I react to them?  I am going to try, despite the loss of family, possessions, career, and money, to hold my head high.  The difference between disgrace and shame would be failing to learn the lessons shame has taught.  It will be a struggle, make no mistake about that.  Charles and Victoria Martin, my adoptive parents, have his retirement celebration coming up July 17th where family friends and acquaintances from years gone by will be in attendance.  We’ll see then if my words here mean anything.  The rest of the weekend was uneventful.  ERP group member Scott Dietz had his paperwork signed by a Milwaukee County judge on a weekend.  He also inquired about me building websites for his businesses.  I’m suspicious of any contact with people from here or promises made but I said sure I’m interested but I’ll need a couple of months to get my feet on the ground.  But I almost believe him.  I talked to my adoptive parents on Sunday as well.  They have the bed I slept on as a kid setup in the basement and some simple foodstuffs put up for me there.  The internet will be turned on June 25th so I can get to catching up on my Information Technology and programming skills.  They gave my parole officer (PO) Helen Gaither the house key which I can get from her on Wednesday but left a door open in the event by the time I get to Menasha, WI after business hours.  Of course this tells me the PO and my adoptive parents have been meeting and talking.  That makes me a little nervous.  But everything seems set.  Wednesday can’t get here soon enough!

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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).  I saw the ERP group leader for cellie Andre Charles go to our cell and talk to him on Wednesday and it was what I expected.  She was letting him know the judge in his case had signed the paperwork approving his release since he had completed ERP.  It now has to get sent back and his group leader then has to get it back and his parole officer than has to get him out. I’m not entirely sure about how that last step goes.  I’m watching closely as I wonder what will happen with mine.  I’ve already completed my “in time” for my Waukesha County case and so it’ll go to my Winnebago County case judge.  But Andre should get out Tuesday we’re all guessing.  I’m genuinely happy for him despite everything that’s happened between him and I.  Today is a slow day as there are no scheduled groups.  Our ERP group leader, Ms. Grey, is filling out evaluations on each group member as we are about to complete Phase I of ERP on Friday.  As part of that process she collected our journals she handed out our first week.  It’s now the 13th week.  Most ERP group leaders collect them every week or two so it has been kind of a running joke amongst all of us if she’d ever collect them. I didn’t think anything of it as I’ve kept it up faithfully.  That is up until Andre came up to the cell and confronted me.  I had mentioned something came up missing in one of these journal entries.  As I’ve said here, I had no conclusive proof so I went no further with it.  Apparently, Ms. Grey mentioned it to his group leader who asked Andre about it. For the next 2 hours I tried to explain to Andre that I had not directly accused anyone and I certainly wouldn’t have put it in the journal if I thought they’d handle it this way.  He told me I was a fool and the tension in the room returned to its previous level.  Cellie Corey Ball tried to help by pointing out we all mention things like this in our journals, but Andre would have none of it.  Cellie Brian Whalen said nothing. But Andre’s probably right.  I was a fool for putting that down.  I wasn’t happy with how Ms. Grey handled this but I decided I’d talk to her first before making any decisions on how I’ll deal with this.  That night I got a lead on someplace I might live if I would stay in Waukesha called a Sober Assisted Living (SAL) boarding house.  Apparently the group that owns them has several in the area.  The rent is high (over $500 a month I’m told) but it’d be a start.  I’m confused why no one on staff here knew about this when I was looking for options.  But in my cell it is quiet and it is extremely tense.  I was really dumb to write anything of importance in that journal or to trust it would stay confidential.  Tomorrow group will be interesting.  


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  We had the worst meal ever since my incarceration began.  The entree was beef stroganoff.  The smell literally made me want to vomit.  I dared to actually take a bite and then I wished I would vomit.  I’m not the type to complain but this was bad.  Fortunately, I had some canteen left over so I finished that off.  I ran into a hustler on this cell block who wants to trade 2 for 1 on anything if I’m hungry as he knows I’m not used to the food here yet and he thinks I won’t have money to buy canteen.  We place orders on Thursday and they are delivered the following Wednesday.  Fortunately, one of my sponsors sent me a little cash  so we didn’t have the same situation I did when I got to Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI).  So I declined, but I would’ve anyway.  You don’t want to get involved with people like that.  This just means I have to exist on state food till Wednesday.  Don’t worry, I’ll be fine!  After supper, my cellies finished their group and after returning to the cell, Malik Pearl and I got into a conversation.  First it was about ERP.  Rumors have it Gov. elect Scott Walker is going to try to kill the program and return to truth in sentencing and he expressed doubts as he didn’t think financially the state could.  Then he told me he asked to come here for ERP as its said the ERP at MSDF is considered the easiest of all the prisons and that I should be grateful I came here instead of some of the others.  It is true, especially at Oshkosh, that many don’t get through.  The way he spoke reminded me of a black preacher’s cadence, and he seemed to genuinely believe what he said.  I made the comment he should be a preacher.  Malik looked at me like he was shocked and I asked what was up.  It seems between bits (times) in prison at one point he had become a Christian and was being groomed to take over as a pastor at a church.  His desire to have material possessions led him back to the world of drugs and dealing.  Malik said he wasn’t yet ready to recommit his life  to God but he will eventually.  I told him not to wait too long, you never know what might happen and that God’s gifts and call upon his life is irrevocable.  Someday he could be restored to his former position, and that there is hope.  He said he’s get there, but first he’d go back to the life (dealing) so he could get financially stable.  God would let him know when it was his time he thought.  I replied that God has already spoken.  I suppose one on the outside might not understand the contradiction Malik presents but I do.  The good he wants to do is obfuscated by the falling dominoes chain of bad decisions.  It doesn’t mean the desire to do right is gone.  But the whole conversation about God, by two men who demonstrate feet of clay every day, I sensed was more effective than any preacher’s message could have been then.  But I’ve learned we haven’t lost the credibility to help others even if we’ve made some horrible mistakes.  


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  The Green Bay Packers beat the stuffing out of the Minnesota Vikings 31-3.  Normally its a real loud environment around here on game day but it was so bad nobody  had anything to say.  It appears that I’m no longer part of the worship team since I got off bunk confinement.  I haven’t been approached about it for the last two weeks.  I’m okay with that.  If you were following along you understand why.  Oh and if you were wondering, saddlebags and Bill  “Made up”.  That’s Bills words, not mine.  I just didn’t want to know anything beyond that so you fill in the blanks!  But its been a relatively quiet weekend.  Normally early Monday morning I’ll wake up real early and do my laundry, especially since we now only have one washer and dryer to serve 200 plus inmates thanks to an inmate putting a bar of soap in the washer instead of the laundry soap we’re supposed to purchase.  But as luck would have it I walked by the washer around 7 pm and saw it was available so I hurried and got to it before others did.  The downside is I had to hang around the dayroom instead of hanging out by my bunk and watching TV like I like to at night.  Many saw my departure from routine and came up to me to talk.  We get used to each others routines.  Most of the conversation revolved around the game and why I was in the dayroom at that hour.  But Paul came by to chat.  He’s getting out next month and is having a particularly hard time. They didn’t offer him a job while he was here until the very end, has no money saved up and as a result must live in housing called a transitional living placement (TLP) with other parolees for 60-90 days.  Those in such placements often must wear electronic monitoring ankle bracelets which Paul doesn’t want to do.  In addition, prior to your release you get the “rules” your parole officer (PO) has determined you must live by.  Some are standard, but then after those are listed the PO lists rules specific to you.  You’re suppose to sign you rules prior to release from prison.  The problem here is that the PO listed as a rule that he must agree to any kind of treatment or counseling the PO believes is appropriate.  Paul felt the rule was too vague and wouldn’t agree to it.  Ms. Greer tried to arrange a phone conference which resulted in him hanging up on the PO.  He’s now in the process of filling out paperwork to get a new PO.  Paul’s problems have always gone back to his anger, even when I knew him in the group home 25 years before.  He doesn’t want the PO to have so much power over him as she could order him to complete any kind of treatment they want he reasons.  It surprises me as this is the 4th time in prison.  I’ve heard they have life or death power over you so I wonder why he’s fighting the PO so much.  He should know this.  I do know he’s really against any kind of anger management.  He had lost his mom to cancer back when I knew him as a kid and that the aunt that cared for him since had also died.  He’s all alone.  People like him, I get them.  I tried explaining since the beginning of all this his life has been a series of tumbling dominoes where though responsible for his actions, the likelihood of bad decisions being made continued to escalate as each domino fell.  The weight of the past dominoes that had fallen were such to make impossible for the current domino to stand on its own without a lot of intervention and change.  Paul indicated he “totally understood” what I was saying, but I got the sense he just wasn’t ready to trust this PO because they may make decisions that might force him to face things he was afraid to.  Again, I get that.  It’s a rebellion born of fear that resembles defiance.  I see that.  Will his PO?  For now, at this point, I’m not that hopeful he is going to make it when he gets out.


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  We submit our canteen orders on Sunday’s and then get what we ordered after count clears, about 6 pm, on Monday.  Basically when the truck gets here, they call for volunteers to unload it.  After count and mail call, everyone stands in a room waiting for their name to be yelled by the two guards passing it out.  I tell you all this now to tell you that none of this actually happened this past Monday.  We were notified via a memo posted in the window behind the guard station that due to a lack of staffing, canteen would not be handed out until Tuesday.  Inmates who have been here awhile report they’d never seen this happen before for this kind of reason.  But this was no ordinary Monday night for the monsters of the midway, the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers would play a football game.  Apparently, it was just a coincidence that the flu took out all of our regularly scheduled guards on the same night or at last that is what they would probably tell you.  They won’t explain that to us because we’re not entitled to explanations.  I don’t personally care.  Those that did either are the ones that have a tendency to whine about something all the time or were out of canteen.  Again, not my nature.  My former family used to laugh at me for bringing coats and sweaters when we would go camping but sure enough, late at night, they would all be wearing those coats and sweaters.  My point is, I try to be prepared for the unexpected.  Prison has only reinforced that.  Anyway, if you’re not a Packer fan here, chances are you holler and yell along with all the haters about how horrible they are, and how great the Vikings or some other team is.  Unfortunately, its not always all in fun.  Fights nearly break out over it.  As game time approached, we get our snacks ready and I climbed into my top bunk.  I walked around during the game a bit, observing people, guards and inmates, of all races, colors and creeds being pulled together by the common denominator of the Green Bay Packers. Everyone cheered (or yelled) at the top of their lungs for or against.  For a few hours we forget where we were, the barbed wire and the gates.  At the end, almost everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong for the Packers, yet they only lost by 3.  It was more how they lost.  They lost their composure.  They didn’t stay focused and didn’t do the very things that are basic to football. 

Afterwards, even those professing an undying loyalty to the team questioned the coach’s decisions, the general manager, even though he didn’t have anything directly to do with the game, and even Aaron Rodgers, who had been the toast of the Packer Nation.  Are they any less loyal, love the team any less because they questions ,and have their own opinions on things they don’t have all the facts on? Should the Packers disown their fans for such faithlessness?  No, of course not.  Their passion and zeal, even when its misplaced, is further evidence of their love and devotion for the team.  Do you see where I’m going?  Those who were close to me have turned their backs on me because of my failure to get help when I was sinking, its not fair to hold it against them. Their opinions, without knowing all the facts, doesn’t mean they don’t care.

The next day, the haters were out in full force led by the sergeants on 1st and 2nd shift.  But that’s ok.  Just because we get down on those we love, doesn’t mean we’re going to stop loving them.  We just need more accurate information.