Posts Tagged ‘Defense’


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 morning in our ERP group we finished the movie “Antwone Fisher” starring Denzel Washington, after which we did a questionnaire on the movie.  But talk about art paralleling life!  I just had biological family relatives finally getting in touch with me recently.  I did share what was going on with me in the ensuing discussion and how I was happy the movie didn’t end with some cheesy glorious ending between his mother and him.  Ok, I’m a little jaded.  I just don’t think it happens that often.  Afterwards we finished up the “Rational Thinking” workbook from The Change Companies.  At the afternoon session, we watched a ten year old movie called “Tough Guise”.  Its premise is basically we as men have been programmed to think as violent creatures in order to prove our manhood.  We were encouraged to not believe that obviously.  We received a new workbook “The Price of Freedom is Living Free – Lifestyles and Values” by Jack D. Cooper, published by Kindred Publishing and Productions, and were assigned the first 10 pages.  We were also given a bunch of handouts on Denial, Defense Systems, the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy model, thinking cycle, core beliefs, irrational thinking, the three R Cycle (resentment, rehearsal, revenge) and Stages of Change.  It took 20 minutes to get all this passed out.  To be honest, I’m under motivated right now.  I was up at 5 am to get a shot at the shower and laundry so I’m tired.  I also know this family stuff is on my mind.  I don’t know if they were aware of the early years.  One of them doesn’t know I know my biological father raped them too (his own sister).  Part of me really wished this hadn’t come along right now but something tells me the timing is no accident.  To make matters worse, I caught Andre Charles in my locker but he didn’t know I was watching.  He’s accustomed to have been doing this with Brian Whalen.  So I got the combination to my lock and moved things around so I can lock up my canteen.  That’s going to create questions but this anxiety junkie doesn’t need another reason to get uptight.  Bottom line it’s just not a great day for me.  You have those too.  Issues are different but the results are the same.  But it’s going to be ok.  At count right after supper, the second shift guard announced we shouldn’t interrupt him while he was eating because “dieting makes you crazy” and it must be obvious to us he was a bodybuilder.  We all laughed.  Nobody cared what he does or what his problems were.  But it made me smile so that was a good thing.

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I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  It may not come as a shock to you that many inmates have problems with boundaries.  The real question for me is whether or not the person violating my boundaries has acted in a malicious manner or is it just the way they are.  Most of the time I have an opportunity to assess the situation or person and methodically make a decision how I’ll react to a violation.  That wasn’t the case today.  This particular situation involved an inmate named Charlie who lives in my row of bunks on Unit 9.  Charlie who has been in many years, goes up and down the aisles, begging coffee, food and it is rumored he is not above taking something left out on a bunk or cupboard.  In fact, it got to the point where inmates in other rows in an effort to defend their row  without having to snitch, joined together and told him he was banned from their aisle.  Policing themselves has mixed success at a minimum security level.  It is more effective in a medium environment where the threat of violence is more prevalent.  Unfortunately, since Charlie lives in my aisle, he can’t be banned here.  The problem for Charlie as I perceive it, is he has nobody to help him financially on the outside.  Neither did I, but I received money for valued possessions which I use for my expenses.  If he did that, how long since it dried up.  Many of us are not without heart.  We gave him coffee and other items.  He promised many he would pay them back in some fashion.  But he repaid very few.  I was one of the few.  You might ask if others expected to be paid back, how are they showing heart or compassion?  Because nothing his ever free, not in the real world but especially here.  When he didn’t pay back the others, fact is no one would do anything about it because Charlie is a physically imposing person.  He is at least 6’8” and at least 300lbs.  But what made people even more angry was he took much of what was given him and traded it for cigarettes.  People felt hustled because they felt they had given to meet his needs.  From his perspective, he had taken what he had gotten to trade to meet his real “need”.  Charlie had misrepresented his intentions to others – again not shocking behavior from some inmates.  The effect of all this was that no one would have anything to do with him.  I thought the situation would improve for him once he got a job in the kitchen.  He would be able to scam food out of the kitchen to trade for his wants or needs, which is exactly what happened.  But for these folks like myself he did pay back, somehow in his mind this represented a bond between him and each individual.  He would come by our bunk areas and want to peer in our cupboards, wanting to know what we had in canteen and trying to propose various deals.  No one was interested and I could see the confusion in his eyes.  But my understanding attitude evaporated yesterday when he came up to me from the side, put his arms around me and whispered he needed food and wanted to trade.  He could have told me he had a pardon from the governor and my reaction would have been the same.  I jabbed my elbow in his rib cage and warned him to step off (back).  Looking surprised he asked me what was with the attitude.  He really didn’t understand this.  Yes, I have issues.  Did I overreact?  I tried unsuccessfully to explain in my agitated state about my space, my boundaries and his need to respect that.  He walked away and it was over.  Normally in these situations one might fear retaliation from others.  Not this time.  Charlie is universally disliked.  But the task before me is to figure out how I can handle a situation like this differently in the future, why I fear people getting in my space so much and what to do about it.