Posts Tagged ‘degree’


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Wednesday came one degree away from setting another record for June 8th – 92 degrees with the same high humidity.  It got to the point where they pulled out the huge mobile fans and the ice machine went dry.  They had to put restrictions on ice as the machine created more, not allowing anything but cups to be filled.  The point is, it was hot again.  The tape put over the vent by cellie Larry Sands didn’t help at all.  Since it was Wednesday there were no ERP groups for anybody.  Despite the heat, we were still required to wear the yellow tops in the dayroom or in the rooms.  Guard Roscoe Peters showed some degree of compassion by looking the other way at inmates who didn’t wear the tops in their rooms until our ERP social worker Ms. Grey showed up.  Despite having told us previously not to stay in the dayroom all the time she insisted everyone do so now because she saw one inmate in his bunk.  I was already grouchy as it was and this didn’t help.  Then ERP group member Mark Hogan told several of us that our paperwork for release was not going to be sent to our judges until Monday per Ms. Grey.  All the other groups until now have had their paperwork submitted the day before graduation by the Records Department because the person in that job didn’t’ work Fridays.  The unit manager happened to be on the unit having his ear filled by cellie Malcolm Johnson about the perceived injustices done to him.  Sands, Scott Dietz, and I approached the unit manager.  Sands acted as spokesman.  After reiterating the issue the unit manager seemed to not have an answer.  He is new here so that didn’t surprise me.  Speaking of Sands, it looks like Waukesha County is going to come get him for the warrant he has.  Its an unpaid fine for a years old obstruction ticket.  He wrote the judge asking him that it be made concurrent with his prison sentence but it was denied.  Anyway, things were still up in the air as far as our release paperwork is concerned.  On top of the heat and everything else, I also found out ERP group member Scott Bunker has got another problem.  Us inmates often use earplugs when we sleep to drown out the noise cellies or guards make with electronics or slamming doors, etc.  Well the tip of one broke off and got shoved deep into his ear.  Health services here said they couldn’t see it and if he asked about it again they would refer him to psych services while also charging him twice the $7.50 copay.  Turns out, not only is it there, the tip of the earplug is going to have to be surgically removed!  With our impending release I wonder how they’ll handle that?  The night ended as it began. Hot and humid but at least there is relief in store tomorrow.

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I am at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  After little sleep the previous night I wasn’t looking forward to hearing the essays from other group members for their ERP Goals and Objectives as I thought I’d fall asleep.  Of course I was wrong.  I’m not going to go into the rest of the readings except for one person because to a large degree many just plagiarized, almost word for word in some cases, what they read to the group.  Once you get to know a person you know when the words that come out aren’t their own. And of course several told me they did copy outright.  It may not be an entirely bad thing.  If you copy material, it still has to travel through the hand to the brain and back again.  The mission may be accomplished despite the unorthodox delivery.  Granted I’m reaching here but trying to put the best construction on the situation.  The last person to stand up and read was ERP Group member Scott Dietz.  Dietz has kind of become the one in the group whom everyone doesn’t like too much.  As noted before he tells what would be considered wild stories about his success in business and his travels.  Plus he has the annoying habit of always trying to top whatever story is being told particularly with his cell mates.  That won’t make you a lot of friends.  Dietz has also become known for registering uninformed opinions in group on what other members would say or do and do so in a manner that was unfriendly.  It was perceived he would do this to gain favor with ERP group leader Ms. Grey.  If that was the case it didn’t work.  Ms. Grey and Dietz would clash every couple weeks or so over some issue and she gave him a huge workbook on self-esteem for a treatment goal as she saw through his stories too I’m sure.  When he finished reviewing his materials for the group. Where they had been laid back in questioning others, now picked up the pace and the questions were more pointed.  Clearly there was some retaliation going on, though the questions weren’t appropriate.  I’ve learned that its not what you ask but how you ask it that makes all the difference.  My question was “Why was our opinion of you so important in that you share all these things about your life?”  I didn’t accuse him of lying and made the subject of the question about the value you place on our opinion of you. The response I got floored me as it had nothing to do with the question.  Dietz went on a rant about how certain people get away with everything, how he has been physically attacked with guards and inmates and nothing was done about it and how he has been mistreated by Ms. Grey.  I was just shocked as I think the rest of the room was too.  We found out why soon.  It seems last week an inmate who was cleaning the bathroom asked Dietz not to use the facilities after lunch though its commonly accepted practice here you have to clean around people.  Dietz insisted so the inmate took a swing at him in full view of Peters who is the regular 1st shift guard and the other unit manager.  The unit manager ordered a meeting between these inmates and their social workers.  That meeting was to take place right after our group and that’s why Dietz’s mind jumped there at my opinion.  After the meeting had begun, everyone in the dayroom in their rooms attention were fixated on the drama that was unfolding.  At first it looked like Dietz was going to get his wish as a witness who was known to be friendly with him came in and gave his version of events.  The accused inmate stormed out of the meeting and was confined to his cell.  We all assumed he’d get kicked out of ERP and go to the hole for sure.  But then a swamper who had just graduated ERP and another came forward and claimed nothing happened even though it was common knowledge  on the cell block it did happen.  That inmate then was summoned to return from his cell.  They were both given interventions which is additional work given by an ERP group leader to address a specific issue which will be shared with the group Thursday at the community meeting.  Things had backfired on Dietz in a big way on this.  He had wanted to get the inmate thrown out but now got extra work, the humiliation of bringing it up to the whole group Thursday, having to say he was wrong even if he doesn’t feel that way and draw the disrespect and of the inmates for “going to the police” on another inmate.  Of course he went around saying this happened because the black inmates stuck together (the inmate who swung and his witnesses are black) and how they’re shown favoritism.  My thought is he is just digging his hole deeper and deeper.  I’m so glad I keep to myself and don’t embrace confrontation here as I don’t think this is going to end well for him. 


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 haven’t written in about a week because I wanted to focus on getting my autobiography done.  Yes, it’s done.  Thirty pages it took and I was extremely detailed particularly in my early life not just the broad strokes I gave you.  I’m sure I’m going to get a lot of strange looks and treatment from some group members but I feel its important I be honest.  To get you caught up on what is going on, we lost the dryer on our unit for several das.  We had to use the washer for our clothes and then hang them in our cells, from the bunks, TV stands and such making the cell block look like a homeless camp with the smell of mildew in the air.  Those that work out a lot had the worst of the situation.  I had an interesting encounter.  I had my laundry bag lined up in order to get washed.  But the swampers in cahoots with my neighboring cell pushed their bags in front of min, claiming that 2nd shift guard Ruth Bartowski had told them to do so and she was going to take these folks over to the other cell bock where there was a working dryer which in fact she did.  Why Bartowski did this is unknown to me.  The fact all those guys were black and led some to conclude they felt they could do this to me (step in front of me) was because “I wasn’t tan enough.  The only problem with that is Bartowski is white.  But as I’ve said, this place is far more open about racial prejudice than anywhere I’ve been.  But I’m 20 weeks from release.  No way I screw it up over something like this.  In my ERP group, I got jumped on by group members Larry Sands and Scott Dietz for wanting “to fix people” especially in regards to my conflicts I’ve had with Andre Charles.  It is true people find me easy to talk to and some say, including Andre, think I help them.  I wish I knew a way to make it my life’s work.  But its clear to me that they have no idea what it is like to live with him.  By the time it was over, Sands and I were yelling at each other.  Russ Johnson, who has taken his turn as group leader and is experienced at treatment says this is typical of treatment group sessions.  They did ask me one important question.  Where did this need to fix people come from?  Was it because I couldn’t save my biological mother or even my biological father or others who suffered?  The other accusation was I manipulate people by helping them to my viewpoint or desired action.  I suppose to a degree it’s true.  Ms. Grey, ERP Group Coordinator, handed out a track called “King Baby” by Hazelden that seems to point to that (it’s an excellent read by the way) along with many other personality types.  But its something to consider.  We finished up through Chapter 8 of “Houses of Healing” book and read letters we wrote to our inner child.  In general they were, including mine, well pretty general.  But that’s ok.  We also watched a movie called “Antwone Fisher” starring Denzel Washington that was quite good.  Everyone in my cell is getting along.  Nothing has changed on where I’m going when I get out.  I still don’t know.  But I got an interesting letter.  My sponsors monitor my email and relatives of my biological father have made contact.  I had had out feelers for years on ancestry.com and they finally found them.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet.  It’s not as simple an answer as you might think.


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS). The following day after the institution wide shakedown I got to the showers right after count cleared around 7:50 am.  It was good that I did because shortly thereafter all the hot water was turned off on the unit with some saying the hot water heater had failed. This certainly didn’t help the mood on our unit which was already sour due to yesterday’s events.  Then to top it of, we ran out of liquid soap though later in the day we got a new supply.  The repercussions of the shakedown continued. An unconfirmed number of 9 people were sent to the hole with more expected the following day.  In addition new regulations were put in place regarding kitchen food.  Seconds were banned.  Only one piece of fruit allowed in your bunk (not including canteen).  A note was posted on the whiteboard saying if you had any property confiscated you were going to get a ticket for unauthorized transfer of property or similar offense and that the days to come Lt. Brodie and Capt. Bramer would hold hearings on the tickets. This is going to be literally dozens of tickets. Some inmates began making noises that it was an illegal shakedown because according to the rules an inmate must be present when their area was tossed even during an emergency and they were going to fill out complaints about this.  They will lose.  You can’t fight city hall you know?  But all of these new restrictions on food and such came about because so many had abused the situation.  This had been a long time coming.  People working in the kitchen were okay with it though as there was more food for them.  But truthfully these were the kind of rules we had at Jackson Correctional Institution (JCI), a medium security institution.  One upside – perhaps they won’t have so many flies during the summer.  I won’t be here to see that though.  Tomorrow I get off bunk restriction.  We are having a stretch of 60 degree November days so I’ll hit the track hard.  We finished off the night with canteen distribution a day late due to yesterday’s fun.  Another inmate made “cake” with some of his canteen and gave me some.  It simply was some of the finest food I’ve had in the last 18 months.  Oh and a side note.  Percy actually spoke to me like a human being with no sarcasm and a genuine smile.  Will wonders never cease?  I settled in for the night comfortable in my Tuesday night routine on my top bunk.  I watched TV shoes NCIS and Parenthood while eating a microwave bag of plain popcorn.  I then flossed and brushed.  Then I laid down and did the same thing I do every night.  I fantasize of life in the real world, of a family of my own, interacting with friends, playing in a Christian band and having my happy ending to all this.  That fantasy can become reality but we’ve got a lot more work to do to get there.


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  The Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) Family has got an offer you can’t refuse – especially since they control every aspect of your life, potential release and they know that your financially destitute.  You feel like your not bargaining on an  equal footing, though you had more strength than you knew.  But the deal pleased the “Family”, as they keep the secrets of where the bodies are buried, who killed them and who knew about it safely hidden.  The “Family” will offer that deal and more 8 days a week to keep you silent and feel they got off light.  The past couple days around here the conversation around many has revolved around the media reports (original article entitled “Lawyer: Prison could have stopped alleged assaults” was not found, but was printed Wednesday, November 3, 2010 in the Green Bay Press-Gazette) of the payout to an inmate to not file a lawsuit concerning alleged sexual assaults by a former guard, James Trentin (I’m using his real name – I don’t usually use staff or inmates real names – but I’m using his because he was named in the media) at Prairie du Chien Correctional Institution and the at best incompetent and at worst intentionally misleading investigation by “prison officials” who then compounded their failure to protect inmates by returning the alleged predator to work where he had access to the inmates.  It was after this point, with the realization he now could act with impunity, that he allegedly assaulted the victim, acted with the supposed consent with 4 others, while several others rejected his advances.  Lets be clear on a couple things.  ANY sexual activity between staff and inmates is sexual assault by staff.  Inmates cannot consent. They can’t walk away and are largely powerless to stop the activity.  Second, inmates are not above using manipulation over staff actions to get what they want.  Really, it can begin to be a contest between who the bigger predator is and which one appears to have more power at a given moment.  Many inmates have perfected their con game.  But based on my readings of the facts, I use the words “alleged predator” in regards to James Trentin because of the fact he is not viewed as a predator by the legal system.  Why you might ask?  In exchange for guilty please to misdemeanors, 22 counts of second degree sexual assault were dropped.  Trentin didn’t do a day because the prosecutor felt inmates weren’t credible despite video evidence of Trentin giving them contraband, testimony of inmates who refused his advances (thus no crime but a pattern of conduce emerges), and testimony of those who were assaulted.  In light of that, I submit the idea that inmate victims are viewed less than worthy than say a collection of victims of a single predator on the outside world, largely because there is no political group with any kind of base to speak for those victims that anyone will listen to.  If this prosecutor treated a group of victims in this fashion in the outside world, they surely would lose their job.  I challenge anyone to disagree with that statement!  But isn’t it interesting how this whole tragedy resembles the abusive family dynamic?  You’ve got generational teachers who educate the parents that run the institutions that you must protect the family at all costs and the secrets that must stay that way, or the irrational fear of family, and individual destruction is planed.  The older siblings, the guards, all know one of their own is a predator on the powerless younger siblings, inmates, but won’t tell because they know the parents really don’t want to know about it.  Some of the powerless younger siblings see no way out so try to bargain with the predatory older sibling for their silence thus gaining an illusion of power and favor.  But one younger sibling complains to the parents about the abuse.  They ask their predator child about the allegations who of course blames the victims – everyone but himself using negotiations of some of the siblings as proof of his innocence.  The parents running the institution go to the complaining sibling and decide for the good of the family’s image to do something extraordinary for the child – to give him $150,000 and extract a promise that they’ll never get put under oath and have to reveal all the family secrets.  Meanwhile, as with all family secrets, they hold their breath and hope no one else comes forward.  Secrets have become their most treasured possession.  Predators (alleged) like James Trentin almost always have had or will have another victim out there somewhere.  Time is a secret’s enemy.  The question isn’t a matter of if but when it comes out.  When it does, will the predatory older sibling go down himself or will all the dominoes fall threatening the whole family for having kept silent?  Do you know something about this or have a similar secrete no one knows? Call Thomas Hayes (414) 271-9844), a lawyer looking into this, or email this blogs sponsors.  Don’t sit in silence any longer.