Posts Tagged ‘environment’


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  It’s 6:46 pm on Tuesday, June 21st.  Tomorrow, probably in the morning, I will be freed.  I gave away some of my canteen to others and am trying to find boxes to pack my stuff since they took mine when I went to the hole and never returned them.  Guard Art Cole has returned after an extended absence to deal with “personal demons”.  He’s reinstated the shower list which has displease many.  I find myself watching the dayroom with a mixture of happiness and fear.  Happiness in the sense that I no longer will be dealing with this environment and fear in the sense that I know I have many struggles and battles ahead of me.  But ready or not here I go.  Today wasn’t a good day for 3 guys in my ERP group.  John Lloyd has learned the judge won’t look at his release paperwork for 3 weeks.  I can’t imagine what he must be going through.  He has spent the day talking on the phone to those he loves in angry, frustrated tones.  Larry Sands and Scott Bunker’s situation remains unchanged from yesterday.  They are handling it much better than I would have I think.  Augie Prescott left as expected today.  I missed him leaving but I’m told he was smiling.  The others beside these listed found out they will be leaving Tuesday.  Of course, nobody found out anything until our ERP social worker Ms. Grey showed up about 3 pm.  She dismissed Lloyd’s concerns, telling him brusquely the judge had 30 business days to answer.  She just doesn’t belong in this line of work.  Don’t do that in front of people when a man is desperate for anything at that point.  I tried to cheer him up to no avail.  She also didn’t do anything for Sands or Bunker either.  But I’m not going to be here to see how this turns out.  I’m watching the weather.  If you’ve been following this blog from the first day in prison to my hospital trips it seems like I always have bad weather for traveling days.  Today is thunderstorms, yesterday had flooding and tomorrow has its challenges.  But I’m not worried.  There is no weather that will keep me here!  But I’ll be ok.  After all of this, I will be unstoppable!  Just like the song said, I’ve made mistakes and not always done my best.  But with God’s help, I’m going to make it!  

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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).  Monday, June 6th would turn out to be a record breaking day heat wise in the Milwaukee area.  Though we are in an environment where we never see the outside world, we very much feel the effects as the air from the outside world is pumped through the ventilation system.  But the day didn’t begin all that badly.  Our ERP social worker Ms. Grey returned from vacation having gotten to see the Grand Canyon among other places.  She appeared relaxed, content much more than I’d seen her in the past.  The first thing we did was to go through the relapse trigger assignment.  Ms. Grey surprised us with having the presenting inmate do a skit with other group members reflecting the relapse triggers described.  For mine, she had two inmates play my adoptive parents, Charles and Victoria Martin expressing concern about how much isolating and the amount of time I spent on a computer, which I could actually see them doing.  As an IT Infrastructure and .NET Framework programmer, fortunately they know I will be working on the computer a lot, knocking the rust off my skills.  While all this was going on I saw guard Ron Kidd standing at the front door of my cell.  Sure enough he had gone in and was doing a cell inspection.  We had largely been ignored since the big shakedown here but Kidd and cellie Malcolm Johnson have already had several run ins.  He hasn’t gotten the idea yet to stay below the radar which is surprising since he has spent so much time in prison.  Cellie and ERP group member Larry Sands happened to be there and said he saw Kidd go straight to the fan he managed to acquire from a departing inmate (again) and take it which led him to think someone snitched on him, possibly Johnson.  While Johnson has become one who seems to spend a lot of time at the guard desk and time alone with his ERP social worker Ms. Carr, I don’t think Johnsons was the snitch this time.  The bottom line is he took a fan, an extra set of clothes I had and ripped down everything taped to the wall including our antennas for TV.  Reception can be hard here so that was annoying.  But back to group.  I participated in the skit for ERP group member Russ Johnson.  I played his twelve year old daughter, while Sands played his ex-wife, who were making demand if him.  Apparently, I did a good job playing his daughter.  At one point in the skit, mom and dad were fighting and I quipped, “Mom and dad are fighting again.  Oh Well.  More presents for me.”  Everyone laughed at this.  Then we got into the Phase 3 essay test while she reviewed our Plan A and B plan.  It was a simple test.  Afterwards, she made suggestions on how to improve the poster and covered the definition of craving that she hadn’t covered yet but had been on the test.  By now, the heat, a high of 94 degrees outside and high humidity, had descended on us.  In these polyester uniforms it was just miserable.  And Sands, as well as Jose Michaels, have no fans.  I felt bad for them but nothing I could do.  Speaking of Michaels, he really is working hard.  He is thoroughly doing the exercises in the Houses of Healing book by Robin Casarjian.  Just a ton of effort in everything program related.  Malcolm, on the other hand, has made it clear he doesn’t want to do anything.  It’s kind of interesting to watch.  After group, some members called me over.  They want me to create a title for the poster board on the graduation project on the computer.  Of course, I wasn’t happy.  Just poor planning on this all around.  Other groups had their project done months before and here we are 4 days before graduation still planning.  But Russell Johnson volunteered to step up and make it.  I was happy.  Perhaps too, the heat is just making me cranky. Mail call came and along with it, another development with my daughter, Lexi.  She had gone on Facebook and gave me a friend request (Under my real name of course.  If you’d like to befriend Jake on Facebook, go here).  I asked the blog sponsor who watches these things for me to accept her request and let her know I can’t wait to see her and to look around her Facebook page for me and let me know what’s going on with her.  Finally, a window into what is going on!  I settled in for the night with a smile in spite of sweating along with some apprehension. 


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 Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Cocaine and crack was the topic of our ERP group morning session. Again this wasn’t my thing but it was largely informative.  The first video we watched was Cocaine and Crack Back From the Abyss, another Hazelden production.  It described the hell cocaine addicts go through in the first part, the process of recovery in the second, and continued growth in the third.  We followed that with another Hazleden video called Cocaine Beyond the Looking Glass.  Though it appears quite old, the video effectively told the same story, with a particularly compelling story told by a man who lost his hand to cocaine psychosis.  We then took the cocaine/crack test.  As it turned out though, the literature contained factual errors.  It called cocaine a Schedule III drug and described cocaine being present in Coca Cola until 1904  though our ERP group leader Ms. Grey claimed it was between the 1940-1960 era.  Sometimes I feel like I’m in a third rate mail order correspondence course.  I try to present the facts to you and let you draw your own conclusions but sometimes my frustrations boil over.  Sorry.  Anyway, after the test was corrected, we had time for discussion.  The question of when our next parole officer (PO) phone call came up.  Many of us aren’t staying in the county of where our offense was committed upon release which requires a transfer, which will possibly include me.  For many that work isn’t complete yet.  Ms. Grey told group member Mark Hogan, who is trying to get to another county, he’d just have to talk to the PO in Milwaukee County if the work wasn’t complete.  He usually acts goofy and keeps everyone loose with his humor.  But he went off on Ms. Grey.  He told her if they were going to keep him in this county they may as well send him back in front of the Program Review Committee (PRC) and have him taken out of ERP.  The tone he took in the ensuing discussion was menacing, almost threatening.  It was so out of character, at least in what we had seen up to this point for him.  Ms. grey reacted very calm, almost coming across as if she was afraid of him, as she used a very soothing tone.  In conversations among us later, we were amazed Hogan was still in the group after that exchange.  After that she announced we all had to review our Phase II goals and objectives again to verify they were compliant with SMART – that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Reasonable, and Timely.  I had gotten min approved yesterday so I thought I was good.  But then she also announced she didn’t have everybody else’s goals and objective sheets even though everyone had turned them in.  This, of course, made everybody unhappy as people argued the point.  She had been referring to mine as not being SMART.  So now I approached her and asked what was wrong now.  The bottom line is it has to be rewritten.  Lunch was interesting, as the guys in the group just were freaking on Ms. Grey and how she appears to be not at all wanting us to succeed.  After lunch we saw the movie 28 Days starring Sandra Bullock and were assigned to a discussion sheet to fill out this weekend.  That night the theme of frustration continued as the new people coming in were trying to get in on the exercise bike and machines in the room that is our group room, that doubles as the rec room.  I’d seen fights nearly break out over the amount of time certain people spend on the machines so I stay away.  It’s not worth it.  But the new folks don’t know how it works and complained to guard Ruth Barthowski who tried to enforce the 30 minute limit on the machines that’s never followed.  This just ticked everybody off at the “snitches” though no one really knew who they were but that didn’t stop them from guessing.  Week 15 is over, but signs of stress, fatigue, with the environment and frustration are showing.  I suppose this is normal and was inevitable. 


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  After the events on Wednesday, I decided to talk to ERP group members John Lloyd and Larry Sands about how I should handle it.  Should I bring it up in the ERP group, bring it up to my ERP group leader, Ms. Grey, in private or not bring it up at all?  Lloyd was adamant I should leave it alone with his reasoning nothing good would come out of it.  Sands said I should bring it up in group, that if private journal contents which are supposed to only be between the inmate and his ERP group leader could be divulged to another ERP group leader who then divulges it to another inmate supposedly mentioned in the journal (I always used shorthand only known to me to identify another inmate in the journal but the problems with cellie Andre Charles that I and many other inmates had with him were well known) was a clear breach of trust which was a group issue that needed to be addressed.  Sands was right of course but for the wrong reasons.  His relationship with Ms. Grey is strained at this point in time.  After our group did its breathing exercises it became evident she’d been reading complaints about this way of starting group as she asked for a vote on whether to continue it.  Eight of us voted no.  In the ensuing feedback, I pointed out this wasn’t a democracy and others echoed that sentiment.  After she prepared to move on I raised my hand and said I had an issue.  I started from the beginning, about how important confidentiality was and how I had shared things in my autobiography, in other materials and had this not been there I couldn’t have done it.  I then asked if contents of these materials were divulged to others.  She reminded the group and I about the limited confidentiality that exists between us, that other ERP group leaders and her supervisor may be consulted about our cases and should we confess to another crime.  I agreed that’s what we’d been told but asked how it was that another inmate would come by information that had only been in my journal knowing full well what the answer was as Andre had told me yesterday that his ERP group leader had told him.  I was hoping she would connect the dots herself but that was a no go.  She asked me to explain so I did in plain English.  Andre’s group leader asked him about it, told him not to worry about it after his denial, accused me of just trying to get him in trouble and to keep it to himself.  Ms. Grey’s disposition noticeably changed.  She asked me to confirm that another social worker had brought this up to Andre without I or Ms. Grey being present?  I replied yes.  She was furious.  The rest of the group, largely silent, began to speak up on my behalf, saying this process obviously couldn’t be trusted, particularly Sands.  Others tried to bring up their own issues, smelling blood in the water but Ms. Grey shut that down.  Ms. Grey said she wanted to bring all 4 of us together at this point but I argued the point.  Andre is leaving in 3 or 4 days as he’s graduated.  It’s just going to make matters worse in my cell.  The problem will be gone ten.  But she seemed to insist. S he also told me I’d not be allowed to have Sands move in when Andre leaves.  Ms. Grey apologized for the breach that had occurred with the journal.  We’ve suspected there was friction between the various ERP group leaders but now we know it. She was clearly angry as she said she’d be addressing this with them.  I sank in my chair not looking forward to this possible meeting.  The guys in the group came up to me, especially Lloyd, saying I should have left it alone.  Perhaps they are right.  Maybe in a “normal” treatment environment I did the right thing bringing it up.  But not here, that’s for sure.  Two things are clear.  I’ll never put anything important in their journal again.  And I’ll bet Ms. Grey will start reading them more often from now on. 


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  This past weekend I completed the assignments given to me this past week.  They were the self-evaluation, the review of the movie Gracie’s Choice, and addressing the envelope for the letter going to my former wife to be sent by our ERP group leader, Ms. Grey.  I’d had the actual letter written some time ago.  Many in the group are struggling with this or have devised plans to control the response Ms. Grey gets.  I did not do so, not because I’m some sort of moral giant but I’m not willing to risk anything at this juncture.  It just isn’t worth it with 97 days to go until graduation.  Anyway, I’ve mentioned to you before our bathroom setup, how the toilets are open air and only a piece of cloth covers the entrance.  Often the men will run water to prevent the noise of doing their business from echoing in this cavernous environment and it’s a courtesy appreciated by those in the dayroom.  Also, at night those on lower bunks will often put towels up using the bunk above them to hold them in to block light but mostly for some privacy.  Normally the guards say nothing about such things but last night wasn’t normal.  The refried beans from cellie Andre Charles graduation party were/are still killing me.  The guard on duty made me get up though I wasn’t done and shut the water off.  I finished and went back to my cell.  Shortly after he was there barking at my cellies to take the towels off their bunks in drill sergeant type of fashion.  The next morning at 5 am, it was my shower and laundry day (with 3 changes of clothes I shower every other day doing laundry every other shower day) and I wondered if he’d give me any grief about anything.  Once laundry started, this guard complained about how other guards don’t enforce the rules so it makes his job harder and it confuses us.  I was surprised he knocked other guards to me but I just told him since I’d been in prison I’d learned it is really up to the guard on duty and we as inmates learn how the rules will be enforced.  He replied that was exactly the problem and he’ll throw guys in program real quick if they give him an attitude as they’re supposed to be on a higher level.  I told him he wouldn’t likely see an attitude from anyone here.    Soon he got distracted and my laundry was dry but I thought to myself this guy was wound so tight he might snap.  I returned to my cell to make sure that person wouldn’t be me!  But I think while he has a point that its good for us to have uniformity in expectations I also think its good for us to deal with differing expectations or interpretations as we get ready to be released as that is a much more realistic view of the world than the sometimes orderly  world of MSDF. 


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Yesterday morning started off with our ERP group leader, Ms. Grey, handing out the schedule for week 10 which included a note today there would be no program work because of the state worker protests in Madison that employees in Milwaukee will be bussed to.  As you might recall, I wrote that having Gov. Walker a GOP Legislature was going to spell trouble for state workers.  As I noted on the last entry, employees at MSDF are unhappy too.  For Ms. Grey, she seemed to relish the idea of the sixties style protests taking place.  There’s not a lot of sympathy for the guards or other workers here as many perceive them to be paid a lot for very little.  One thing I’d tell you though, is in environments like this it has a special kind of stress for its workers.  Where there’s very little to separate the productive from the non-productive, a brutal type of politics is practiced by one against another, especially by those who week to get noticed or get ahead.  Such a place causes more stress and anxiety than one with objective performance measurements.  Ms. Grey opened the ERP session with the breathing and song we do everyday and then handed out copied worksheets from the Beyond Anger series copyrighted to Earnie Larsen.  The video was ok but the workbook was outstanding especially for me.  It covers the six faces of anger, the cost of repressed and misdirected anger, understanding anger, patterns of behavior, basic rights, learning behaviors, resisting change, healing repressed anger, six step process of healing, intercepting your anger pattern, intercept tools, ongoing health, forgiveness is a gift you give yourself, confronting regrets, principles of reconciliation and realistic expectations.  If you’d like details, feel free to email my sponsors and it’ll get to me.  I was very happy I’d already done my autobiography because now that the ERP group knew everything I was able to openly discuss and answer the questions in a brutally honest fashion.  In our first day we got up through “Resisting Change”. We’re going through it fast and I feel like we could benefit by spending more time on this but keep in mind not everybody has my issues though.  I wish I could summarize it all for you here but it just wouldn’t do it justice.  If you have any kind of anger issue you should get this.  As part of the autobiography I’ve been assigned 2 assignments from the MSDF library, which sad to say, is pretty lacking.  The first was a 5 page essay based on chapter 5, 7, 13-14 of Houses of Healing by Robin Casarjian which I’d already read and as I’ve noted before is a great book.  My second 5 page essay is on Anger is a Choice by Tim Lattaye and Bob Phillips.  I’m familiar with Lattay from his Left Behind book series but this is quit different.  I’m shocked they gave out something so Christian oriented but I’m fine with that as I am Christian.  So I’ve got some work to do, things that will actually benefit me and that makes me happy.