Posts Tagged ‘drama’


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 is the day when no ERP groups are held.  Usually it’s a slow day but not for me.  I had my second call with my parole officer scheduled for today at 10:30 am.  This call would introduce me to my new PO from Outagamie County and helps prepare both of us for my release.  Of course, this assumes I go to my adoptive parents Rev. Charles and Victoria Martin, home in WI and not a halfway house in Waukesha County.  To make this even more confusing, their home is actually in a part of a town that is part of Calumet County, while the rest of the city is in Winnebago County.  So, I ‘m being assigned the PO office in Outagamie County because it’s the closest to their house.  Got all that?  I figure that geography lesson might be important to understand later.  Anyway, 10:30 am came and went and no Ms. Grey.  I checked with ERP group member John Lloyd who had his PO call scheduled before me and she hadn’t shown up for his call. After deliberating what to do, I decided to ask regular first shift guard Roscoe Peters to call her.  Clearly he’s had his fill of the trouble on the unit as Ms. Grey is seen as the cause, judging by the things he said about her.  Finally about 10:40 am she showed up but it was too late for the call with Lloyd’s PO as they weren’t available now.  Then it was my turn.  I didn’t ask why she was late.  Nothing good could come from the question.  My new PO was able to take the call.  She identified herself as Helen Gayther.  It was apparent Charles Martin had had discussions with her previously as I was able to quickly secure permission to attend his retirement party in July.  She came across fine to me, a very bottom line type.  I explained my plan as I have to you in my long term goals and objectives.  While doing so, Ms. Grey is nudging me to ask about if any kind of electronic monitoring would be put on me after release.  My philosophy was to let the PO bring it up if it was to be.  But Ms. Grey of course brought it up.  Ms. Gayther than said that yes she would have me wear one for 90 days after I get out.  It’s purpose was to make sure I’m in at a certain time every night.  This didn’t really upset me.  What got to me was my own social worker seemed to be trying to make things more difficult for me.  Then the discussion turned to the day of my release and if I’d have a ride to where my parents residence, which was a couple of hours northeast of Waukesha.  I immediately thought of one of this blog sponsors so I said sure.The call ended with Ms. Grey telling me afterward my PO had to put me on the bracelet so she was just getting that established.  I thought well if that’s true (which I know is at the PO discretion) then why are you concerned about it?  But I kept my mouth shut.  After the call I found out the procedure for release if you don’t have a PO or staff transport.  They take you to the bus station along with your boxes and drop you off there.  Problem is they don’t have a specific time they will do it.  This sponsor that will get me is from Green Bay, WI so how that is going to work isn’t clear.  Release will be between June 10 and June 24th so hopefully it comes into focus.  We’ve got time as its only April 6th.  Later on that day guard Ruth Barthkowski returned to work and she chose to talk to me this day.  She tells me she suffers from fibromyalgia which makes her feet hurt and she is extremely susceptible to stress.  With her having left in the middle of her shift the other day with all the drama going on , it now makes sense.  She is thinking she might retire before the budget repair bill law goes into effect which is real soon.  She is a thirty year veteran of corrections and this law will gut her benefits.  She worries how she’ll make a go of it financially in retirement.  I do feel for her.  These are real world worries I’ll be dealing with myself soon too.

Advertisements

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).  The big news for me is I got a new cellie.  His name is Corey Ball.  He’ll be taking the upper bunk above cellie Andre Charles. As the graduation date nears (March 4th) for Andre’s ERP group, people are scrambling to get or line up people for their cells who they think will be a good match instead of taking the chance on whomever might get assigned to them from the incoming ERP group.  We’re no different.  Cellie Brian Whalen and I discussed Ball and his quiet demeanor and the lack of drama surrounding him definitely impressed us.  So we encouraged him to make the move now before people started coming in.  At first he declined because he didn’t want to be in the same cell as Andre, as he has a bit of a reputation here.  But he finally agreed.  Andre, true to form, told Ball he had to ask his permission before coming over.  They all laughed it off but he clearly had communicated his message to him.  We had to wait till Tuesday to actually make the move because the only guard that does is Ruth Bartowski and she wouldn’t come in until then.  During the weekend I completed several objectives of my ERP Treatment Plan.  I wrote the 5 page essay on forgiveness based on the readings from Houses of Healing by Robin Casarjian, and the letter forgiving my biological father, through the letter came out more confrontational than forgiving but it ended on that note.  I also wrote the letter forgiving myself focusing on the loss of my family and my role in that.  It was a complicated matter lacking in solid lines of separation of fault from each person but I focused on things I was clearly at fault for.  I also wrote the letter to JoAnn asking her to write a letter detailing how my alcoholism affected her.  Our ERP group leader, Ms. Grey, will review and send it out.  On weekends around here, I’ll tell you I sure miss football.  Ms. Grey had indicated she would be again joining the protests over the loss of collective bargaining in Madison this weekend so it didn’t surprise me on Tuesday (Monday was President’s Day) when our ERP group was told she wasn’t coming in.  So Tuesday was just like Monday in addition to a holiday, it was a furlough day which meant all we did was study existing program materials or at least that’s what we’re suppose to be doing.  Finally, Ball got to move to our cell Tuesday night.  Some things were present I didn’t expect.  He hung up posters of scantily clad women and of spider webs.  He explained to me the spider webs were tattoo designs that white supremacists often wore.  Perhaps my shaved head and goatee made him think it was ok to approach me with that.  Well it wasn’t.  I told him no way would that fly.  The posters are fine.  I just don’t get why you would want to pour gas on that fire.  I gave him the 411 on Andre, to act like using the chair when he got off his bunk so you didn’t make noise and disturb him was your idea.  And most of all, be cool, he’ll graduate ERP soon and you wont’ have to put up with him much longer.  Believe me I tell myself this every day.  Ball got settled in and for the moment there is peace. 


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS). I was asked on Sunday to play keyboard for the choir for the Protestant church service.  After the incident with Charlie, I was glad to turn my attention elsewhere.  I had heard previously there had been quite a bit of drama associated with this particular group but I figured really, how bad could it be?  The guy leaving the group had only been in charge a week and told me to meet the other singers by the basketball court for practice.  Service was 3 hours away but no one knew the song arrangements.  Most of the time was spent on a litany of complaints and backstabbing those not there.  Many made a point of telling me their issues, perhaps because I was new and they wanted me to sway to their way of thinking.  The refrain was basically that we were under attack from the enemy (Satan), thus the problems we were having.  I was told because of guard complaints about the noise, they had taken away the drums and electric guitars.  They claimed the institution didn’t allow sufficient practice time.  Finally as further evidence of the “enemy’s” infiltration, solos had been stepped on and choir members were angered.  I just rolled my eyes.  My focus was solely to get the music down so I didn’t embarrass myself.  The leader tried to get these complicated arrangements put in place with the other vocals.  There just isn’t time.  Finally, we practiced for a half hour at the multi-purpose building and then did the service.  Simply put, it was awful.  Most of the time when you stink as a band in a church environment, people tell you it was good anyway.  Not this time.  Many in attendance let me know how awful it sounded.  My attitude was basically I get to play in a church band again so I want to take advantage.   The following day I was told by the leader that Captain Kramer and Lt. Brodie wanted to see the choir.  Kramer, an attractive middle-aged woman, is Brodie’s boss.  I know if she was there, this wasn’t good.  After we all got there, Kramer got right to the point.  Apparently, inmates in the choir from Unit 10 had been in Unit 9 areas to practice vocals which is a major offense.  Then she told us that due to this and the repeated problems incurred with this choir, that have caused her and Brodie to have to spend time on these issues every week, the choir was to be disbanded.  The only exceptions were the leader, guitar and keyboard player, being sure to point out to the leader that the chaplain had specifically asked for him.  In some ways, if intentional, it was a clever move on their part.  Appeal to the leader’s ego, cause division within the group and confuse who they should be mad at.  The problem with this is in this environment by Kramer singling out who was wanted, those people will feel pressure to not cooperate or be viewed as friendly to staff which you really don’t want here.  So now the band leader was talking like none of use would stay, that they wouldn’t tell us how to run the choir.  While he was off talking to each now former choir member, others started filling me in.  While it was true they weren’t given adequate practice time (a half hour isn’t adequate to get all this ready), the guitar players and drummers had been repeatedly about the volume level and volunteers and staff complained.  Choir members themselves had been going to the chaplain and Brodie complaining about each other.  At the end of the day, it was just easier to shut it all down.  It wasn’t Satan that was responsible for the group’s demise, it was largely the choir’s own fault.  What’s going to happen now I don’t know.  But sometimes I rather like being the quiet one!