Posts Tagged ‘downside’


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Nothing much happened the weekend after our ERP Group graduated.  Two minor incidents would have implications later on.  First, cellie Scar Johnson began talking trash about me in the dayroom.  I got word of this from cellie Larry Sands.  I just didn’t care as I’ve come to know the person he is and since I’m almost out of here opinions here matter even less than it did to me before.  Second, cellie Jose Michaels had the occasion to be playing his music louder than normal.  He likes a Puerto Rican style of rap which I don’t care for.  But the way it has worked in our cell up to this point is we use our headphones for electronics.  It’s a respect thing as not everyone likes what another might.  So, I asked him to turn it down which he did.  End of story right?  Not exactly.  Come Monday, it started similar to when I first got to MSDF.  Lots of TV, took a shower and read.  It’s so nice to not have to wait in line for the shower now!  But during the day, our ERP social worker Ms. Grey came by and summoned us to the dayroom.  I hoped against hope she got word our judges had already signed our paperwork, but no such luck.  Though she hadn’t felt the need to go through our Phase III evaluations, she brought our Phase 3 evaluations for our signature.  Glancing through mine, the ratings were generally positive, but the true reflection of how she felt laid in the comments she made.  She mentioned how I went to the hole because of this blog but also mentions that though I never received any kind of discipline for it I seem to always have to have the last word and that I didn’t seem to grasp the basic tenants of the ERP program.  I read this and briefly agreed.  I was helping at her request other inmates with their goals for crying out loud!  But I wasn’t going to make any headway here, certainly not with all those other group members standing around.  It felt vindictive, almost retaliatory on her part.  Of course, this doesn’t change anything about my status as having completed the ERP program.  The only downside is this eval will go to my parole officer (PO), Helen Gaither.  There’s a good chance she won’t even read it.  But at the time I admit to being angry.  I was even more angry when Sands returned and told me Ms. Grey asked him if he regretted moving to this cell.  When he said no, she asked if he was sure.  Again he said no.  I sat there fuming.  I went about my business thinking about all this.  I got in a better mood though when Michaels came around.  He has such a positive attitude, you can’t help but not be down around him.  We got to talking and he told me that he had been unhappy when I asked him to turn down the music and that he can’t wait till Sands and I leave so he can run the show in this cell and they can be bad as they want in there.  He was decent about it and he demonstrated respect by seeing we had a way of doing things before he got here.  But I’ll still be glad I won’t be here for that collision between Scar and Michaels!  But I’ll close with some comments about what Ms. Grey did.  Its good I always wait before I write these entries.  It allows perspective to form.  But to be honest, I’ve been unhappy with my writing for this blog while at MSDF.  I have had one hour a day to write whereas at other institutions I had tons of time.  I’m also unhappy with my time at MSDF.  I grew as a person much more while at DCI, JCI, and FMCI.  Though MSDF and ERP were largely negative influences in my life, ultimately I’m responsible for my own growth or lack thereof.  So I have to accept responsibility for that.  It’s not Ms. Grey, MSDF, cellies or others fault.  But I will say I do look forward to a more positive atmosphere that I will create out in the world.  The proof is in the pudding as they say.  I believe that with God’s help, I will be successful even if it does look overwhelming now. 

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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).  Our ERP social worker Ms. Grey started vacation today (Thursday, May 26th) and she won’t be back until Monday.  We have a little bit of work but really we’re keeping ourselves busy.  Cellie Jose Michaels got me turned on to a set of World Book encyclopedias from 2001 that are in the 8 x 12 room called the library.  I buried myself with Q-R.  It reminded me of when I was a kid.  When Charles and Victoria Martin adopted me and we had moved to WI.  I buried myself in encyclopedias.  Years later I had Google but encyclopedias were special.  At 3 am we had the weekly Community meeting.   Since our group is now the senior ERP group, the inmate running the meeting was my cellie Larry Sands.  He did a good job.  Again we introduced ourselves since a new ERP group just started.  For once, no complaints about hygiene were mentioned. In fact it went relatively quickly.  The big topic of conversation was about the California Supreme Court on prison overcrowding and what impact it might have here.  On Friday it was a furlough day.  Though we were supposed to be working on program materials the guard let everyone go and do their own thing.  He probably was unaware of this.  The unit manager showed up toward the end of the morning and told him we should be working on program related materials but then this guard argued back it wasn’t his job to enforce rules like that.  We figured come the afternoon session we’d be made to go back to work but that didn’t happen.  The one downside to furlough days is no mail is sent out from the previous day and no mail is given out that day.  With the Memorial Holiday coming there’ll be no mail until Tuesday.  I did get to spend some time with Les Simon who’s really struggling with the cultural differences in his cell.  It makes me grateful for my cellies.  We wear our headphones with out televisions and radios for the most part, leave the cell if we need to fart, are quiet after lights out at 11, and a general peaceful environment prevails.  Les has got noisy and inconsiderate cellies.  We did hear something interesting towards the end of Friday night.  It seems the former swamper who just graduated had talked of robbing former cellie Brian Whalen and of messing with one of the guards after his release, had not kept his curfew once since getting out and has been partying since getting out.  Most that know him here are in a mixture of awe and wondering when the other shoe will drop.  After all, he’s on the bracelet so his parole officer (PO) has got to know, or will know.  I have no desire to do what he is doing.  There is so much to do after I get out and lets face it, if I screw up there’s a pretty good chance my very life is at stake.  Saturday provided more evidence that my ERP group is suffering from the shorts,  the malady that infects inmates about to be released.  Kevin House, Scott Dietz, and Russ Johnson all had run-ins with other inmates, though in Dietz case its just another day at the office.  On Sunday John Lloyd had a run-in with a guard which was completely out of character.  That same guard, Roscoe Peters, and another guard I’d hear discussing this blog specifically the entry The Instigator.  They clearly don’t like me or what I had to say.  Then Peters saw me and quieted them.  Again, at this stage of the game, it matters not.  I spent that night watching parts I-II of a special on Milwaukee Public Television on the Korean War which was quite good.  It’s going to be a hot day tomorrow which is Memorial Day.  It should be the last holiday I’m locked up and that makes me happy!


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  The Thanksgiving holiday started off quiet.  Almost all the regular guards have been gone the last 2 days as many of them have gone deer hunting.  The result of that is we had guards unfamiliar with how things really work as opposed to by the book.  This created some tension but most of the time we just laughed.  Early in the morning several inmates began preparing a feast of canteen items, making burritos, cakes, chili and such on the counter we line up by for lunch.  I wasn’t invited as you had to contribute canteen that was needed and since I was packed up to go to Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF) for my ERP program on Monday I didn’t have anything.  There were those that wanted to participate but others already involved didn’t want them to.  Food made by the inmates is usually pretty good though quite spicy, usually too much so for me.  But to be invited to contribute canteen and eat is usually indicative of the positive social status of the inmate.  The downside of this activity is the microwaves on the unit are occupied for the duration.  I and other inmates had to sneak  over to the other side of the unit to warm up our coffee.  It might surprise you to know that we all were watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade.  It was a nice memory for me as I had played tuba in the band and marched competitively back in high school, all 140 pounds of me back then.  Boy I feel old at 42 and 195!  Our “Thanksgiving meal” wasn’t until supper so I put on 2 coats, hat, gloves and tied up my hood and walked on the track.  As you might expect, my thoughts were far from FMCI, and not really even about MSDF.  They were more about my future and the focus on what I need to do when I get out.  I waver between rational and anxiety drive trains of thought.  Technically inmates have to go back to the area were they committed their crime (Waukesha county) but if you have a job and a place to go they’ll let you go there.  As I’ve noted before, I’m in Information Technology and a .NET Framework programmer.  My adoptive parents are in Winnebago County so perhaps Green Bay, WI is where I should go which is near them.  There’s few jobs like that in Waukesha County and besides my ex-wife and all those triggers associated with that are there.  How can I pull this off?  The thought process gets tangled between obsession, fantasy and reality.  The thought occurs there is little I can accomplish on my own without help.  I wrote a letter to one of my sponsors expressing all this, pretty scatter brained sounding I’m sure, asking for help with how to do this.  I’m not sure they’ll know what to do but they’re who I have in my corner right now.  I really need to be focusing on finishing ERP at MSDF in the short term.  Supper consisted of turkey loaf, cranberries, stuffing and mixed vegetables.  Though everyone complained, I didn’t see anyone giving their food away.  That’s alright, when I get out, to celebrate, I’m getting a NuWave oven like I used to have and am going to make a huge turkey, peach cobbler, stuffing and fruit salad.  Everyone is invited but please RSVP! 🙂  But back to this reality.  Unfortunately, they ran out of turkey loaf so they had to do something else for the guys at the end of the line and a servery (kitchen) worker fell and shattered his elbow. We all watched the exciting conclusion to the Dallas Cowboys – New Orleans Saints game.  As for me, my stomach did back flips as one of the guys who was cooking canteen earlier in the day offered me a left over burrito. It was good, but man it was spicy!


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 Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  We were suppose to have an inspection today.  Basically a white shirt (Supervisor) comes by and at the minimum security level is basically just looking for obvious rule violations or bunks that are unclean.  But it got cancelled because there was two bags of hooch (homemade alcohol made with yeast, bread and other ingredients) found in Unit 10.  We suspect it really didn’t affect the amount of time available to do the search but its a Friday so it was a good excuse to call it off.  The guards everywhere I’ve been are by no means overworked and this place is no exception.  The guards have a disadvantage here in that they are much more visible in everything they do.  They don’t have a covering over them shielding them from inmate view like they did at Jackson Correctional Institution (JCI) or have distance from inmates like they did at Dodge Correctional Institution (DCI) Admission and Evaluation (A&E) units.  We see when they have two to four times the serving sizes for meals that inmates have or when they spend a lot of time surfing the internet, reading books or being really noisy themselves.  I’m sure other places did this sort of thing but its just not visible to us as much.  The upside for inmates is they largely leave us alone here.  Guards rarely leave their island desk except for the forty foot walk to their bathroom.  The downside is that inmates who are loud, intimidate others or take advantage of others rarely get checked (put in their place).  We do have snitches here, like any other facility and every once in awhile someone goes to the hole based on that information.  But like JCI and DCI, guards don’t want to be bothered as a rule.  But like other places I found exceptions to the rule.  The Property Department Sgt. seemed genuinely interested and wanted to help if he could.  But for the most part, Lt. Brodie, the main white shirt, and the guards, just don’t care about anything that concerns us.  I suspect after they work as guards awhile we become less than human to them.  I’m sure that’s probably true everywhere too.  Like I’ve said before, I’m not out to get the blue shirts (guards), white shirts (supervisors) or the Department of Corrections (DOC).  I’m here to do my time for my crime for which I’m guilty.  I don’t think rehabilitation is the responsibility of the guards or the DOC, but rather the inmate.  If you’ve followed along, you’ve seen how far I’ve come in the time I’ve been incarcerated.  I’ve done it by minding my own business, working on myself and staying focused.  When I slip, I do the very opposite of those things.  This blog, my sponsors and many of you have played a big part in that.  But guards and prison programs can’t do any of that for you.  It would be easy for me to blame guards, the DOC, JCI or DCI for impeding the changes, but needed to be made, but ultimately it really  isn’t their job to make these choices for me.  Can they frustrate or aggravate me?  Oh yeah.  You’ve read about it.  But that won’t stop me from seeing through the obstacles and the possibilities that lay behind them.