Posts Tagged ‘everybody’

I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  As I was being returned to my unit from the hole after 6 days for investigation on possible charges related to this blog but for which I’d been cleared.  I looked through the windows and saw regular 2nd shift guard Ruth Barthkowski who smiled at me and tried to work through the paperwork that was deficient with my arrival.  The inmates seated at the tables in the dayroom smiled as I walked in but I couldn’t tell what was behind it.  Barthowski began to give me the lay of the land right away.  Everybody now knew about the blog staff and inmate alike.  She also told me she had worked on people trying to get me out of the hole and I thanked her for it.  My property was still in Segregation and wouldn’t arrive.  I was assigned my old bunk and old cell which I was grateful for.  Barthowski took me up to the linen closet while I got the rest of my yellow outfits.  Guys at the tables in the dayroom welcomed me back but their body language indicated some mistrust.  Once I made it to my cell, ERP group member and cellie Larry Sands gave me the rundown of what had happened in group.  Apparently the night they took me last week the guard on duty, a by the book type named Mike Metcalf had announced I was on a bus back to Dodge Correctional Institution.  Regular first shift guard Roscoe Peters was upset over being named Roscoe.  Guys in my ERP group knew they hadn’t been named but still wanted to know what was said about them.  But probably the most interesting development was what had gone on with ERP group leader Ms. Grey.  The week I’d missed she had been smiling, engaging and being kind.  The last while she has seemed distant and combative.  But she had discussed my situation with the group telling them that day I returned that I was not going to return but then telling them something different later in the day.  It seems that yours truly who always sought to avoid attention was the focus of the entire pod this past week.  That and of course this blog.  My main concern wasn’t any of this though.  I was concerned about seeing Peters and Grey the next day.  What would they reveal about me?  I’ve laid myself bare on this blog.  But I also felt a sense of pride and strength, that no matter what might happen I was going to be ok.  That didn’t mean the anxiety about how tomorrow would go in group wouldn’t give me a restless night.  But as it turned out I shouldn’t have worried at all.  Peters wasn’t working on Friday .  And Ms. Grey was engaging and kind throughout the morning.  And then the most surreal thing.  In the afternoon session her and intern Nikita broke us into two groups and had us play Uno!  That’s right, the card game!  Everyone was smiling and had a good time.  Had Ms. Grey read the blog and not liked what she saw and decided to change things up?  Or did something else happen to cause the change?  Whatever it is it’s promising.  On another note, I’d considered asking the sponsors to shut down the blog, much as I did 15 months ago when I got cancer.  After with everyone here knowing about the blog, this may no longer be the typical prison experience.  But I’ve got bigger concerns.  The blog helped me and has helped others.  It’s worked up till now.  I’m going to stick with it.


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 number one rule in a prison environment is you don’t snitch on another inmate.  You are suppose to handle whatever the issue is between yourself and the other inmate.  But I feel like cellie Andre Charles has put me in a position of where I feel I don’t have a choice but to ask to be moved.  If this thing explodes all the work and waiting (almost a year) I’ve done to get to ERP goes down the drain.  I feel I’ve given him chance after chance while putting up with his conduct since my arrival at MSDF.  I decided the next time I got a threatening word or an attempt to intimidate me or anyone else in this cell I was going to go to the blue shirts. (guards).  But then cellie Malik Pearl confided he was going to go to the  guards and ask to be moved.  He’s in fear this whole thing will cost him his place in the ERP program too, as well as the chance to get out early.  Sensing an opportunity, I asked him to let me know when he’d done this and then I’d follow and do the same.  I thought we should do it together but I didn’t ask.  Malik, being a black man, cooperating with a white guy against another black man, in this environment it just isn’t normally done.  But later on Malik came to me and told me we should do this together, and in so doing, they’ll probably move Andre.  I asked him about the problems he might face with his guys and he said he didn’t care.  This tells me two things.  One, we both consider this to be a serious enough threat to do something this drastic.  Two, though Malik has been a violent drug dealer in the past he has a strength of character I admire.  We both agreed we should wait until Saturday, which is New Year’s Day, to talk to the regular first shift guard, Roscoe Peters.  The next day was Friday, New Year’s Eve which was treated as a weekend day.  A lot of the inmates spent the day in the dayroom playing cards and chess.  As usual I hung by myself.  That night the FOX television network showed “Rocky Balboa”, the final video of my favorite movie series.  Malik and my other cellie Brian Whalen, traded memories of great champions when boxing was a great sport.  But Andre hates it when the conversation includes Malik but hates it even more when I’m involved in the conversation.  Whalen won’t get involved but I see him not caring if Andre sees him talking to us.  So that’s good.  But I’m focusing on Rocky’s words. “I see you blaming everyone around you and making excuses for why your not doing good.  That’s how a coward acts and that’s not what you are”.  It’s not verbatim but the general drift.  Whatever happens in 2011, my success or failure, rests on me.  No excuses.  No apologies and no quitting.  Happy New Year Everybody!

I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP). Last night we got canteen a day early (Tuesday) than normal because of the upcoming Christmas break.  I went a little nuts this time because its Christmas and anticipating time off I’ll want to snack on something.  I also ordered one of the generic Christmas cards they sell and sent it to Lisa.  I was incarcerated in the Waukesha County Jail (WCJ) at this time last year and I so went to pieces missing my former family.  I rarely hear from Lisa now, usually only when she is mad at her mom and she figures writing to me will upset her.  Such is the way of teenage girls.  But I wanted to let her know I haven’t forgotten.  They have moved on and have forgotten me.  I still think of them everyday, praying that they are ok and succeeding.  I even pray for Lynn, even though she wronged me so.  I occasionally catch a wave of resentment washing over me but I quickly remember that the most loving thing I can do is to let them go, pray they forgive me for the wrong I’ve done, and let go of the anger and resentment I felt.  It serves no purpose other than to make me miserable.  It won’t bring them back that’s for sure.  It’s one of the reasons I’d hoped not to be in Waukesha, WI after release so as not cross paths with them.  It would be hard on me and awkward for everybody.  I don’t think I’m going to get a choice though as no plan is coming together so far.  After canteen was handed out, I sat down with an Angus Meat Stick and actually ate real meat, not the soy WPS hands out as a substitute!  I changed the direction I sleep to see if that calms my irrational cellmate, Andre Charles, and it must have worked as he’s calm so far today.  We were all assembled in the dayroom studying our ERP materials when another ERP coordinator stood up and announced that you no longer could just get up and go to the bathroom when you like, and there were designated times to do so.  Also, unless our ERP facilitator assigned us to the dayroom while working on program materials, we were to stay in our designated area, which is the exercise room.  We moved and our new work area was a ping pong table.  Ms. Grey, our ERP Coordinator, showed up around 10 am and got us in a group and told us she’d fix this.  Since I missed yesterday they had me read the assignments we were given to have due this week.  It was my reaction to getting ERP, drug and alcohol use and my OWI arrest history.  It was in the OWI arrest history that the mental illness part came out as well as the suicide attempt and the other inmates reacted surprised yet supportive.  That surprised me.  Then we sped through the Orientation workbook up to “Keys for Change” with us as a group filling in the answers for the “Positive attitudes for successful treatment’ section – Honesty, Responsibility, Willingness, Open Mindedness, Humility, Caring, Objectivity and Gratitude, defining each with one word answers (or as close as we could) and some questions on each.  Again if you want details, email me.  Then we got an assignment for while Ms. Grey was on vacation – to finish the workbook, come up with a mission statement using our one word attitude definitions, and a ripple effect of drug and alcohol use design.  Pretty straightforward.  This is my first impatient treatment so its interesting and informative.  I’ve done a lot of this work in the past year but it has names for everything I was describing, but doesn’t address some of the things.  I got back to my cell and Andre wants to be friends again.  Oh what the heck…. its almost Christmas.

I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  December 13th is my bed date to begin my ERP program at Milwaukee Secure Detention Center Facility (MSDF).  They could come get me from here any day now.  It’s November 19th, the weekend before Thanksgiving.  Ms. Greer showed up today in her #4 Minnesota Vikings jersey, and she is proud to wear it and she’ll let you know that when she hears the topic come up in conversation.  It makes everybody smile though.  She has a rough edge with a good heart.  So overlook her football team preference.  Nobody’s perfect! I always wonder if she feels imprisoned by the system in trying to help inmates or if she has stopped fighting and just picks her spots where she can make a difference.  She certainly hasn’t completely quit trying as many who burn out. I’m hoping I spend Thanksgiving week here as I’m told the food portions are better here.  I won’t lie, I’m nervous about going to MSDF and change is always hard for me.  Other inmates pain a very bleak picture.  You won’t see the outside world until you leave, canteen is small and expensive, its dirty and no electronics.  Still as we’ve seen in the past, inmate information can be unreliable and if I can endure this and succeed, I’ll get out.  Anyway, we’ve had a huge influx of new people in the last week.  There’s no Welcome Wagon here to educate them on how things are done and the unwritten rules.  That becomes most evident in the line for meals.  The customs are really a reversion to grade school tactics.  Of course, the Glee Club is still at the front of the line but after that group, grown men who never care about such things all of a sudden become quite concerned with someone who might step in front of them or others who feel they are popular by being allowed to do so.  I usually greet this whole drill with a yawn and roll of my eyes but for some reason not today.  As I moved toward the cart that holds the trays in front of the guard station,  a new inmate, a young black man with an early Jackson 5 type haircut with his pants down so far his butt was on display darted right in front of me.  Normally I don’t care but today for some reason I did.  As I debated how to handle it, the sergeant yelled at him twice to pull up his pants.  He conveyed his contempt for the sergeant with his half hearted compliance. I decided then wasn’t the time to deal with this.  After lunch, I have to walk past his bunk to go to the bathroom and brush my teeth and I stopped and said to him that I didn’t want to say anything in front of the blue shirts (guards) but you can’t step in front of people in line like that without asking as they will feel disrespected.   His cellie, white and young like him, laughed nervously.  He reacted like he couldn’t believe I said something but finally after a couple of seconds said “ok”.  I went to the bathroom and on my way back he motioned me over and he thanked me for not saying anything in front of the guards.  I replied that they would have taken it wrong.  It ended well, but this was not the way to handle this.  If he had reacted differently, I could have lost everything.  I should have let it go.  I just wonder if I’m subconsciously trying to sabotage myself because I’m about to enter ERP, mostly because my reaction was so out of character for me.  Remember, I’ve been dreaming about my goals eluding me despite doing all I could to achieve them.  Am I trying to set myself up for failure?  I don’t really know the answer just now but I sure hope not. 

I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  After the afternoon count was cleared around 1 pm, as is my normal practice I walked around the track.  On my first lap, when I got to the front of the building I witnessed 2 people in a heated confrontation.  I couldn’t see exactly what went on but there was a lot of pushing and shoving in the least.  My policy with such things is to not involve myself in what is going on between people.  Whether you consider that policy to be right or wrong, it has kept me out of trouble. My priorities are different here than they were in the real world and those are dictated by self preservation.  So I continued on the track.  I was joined by another inmate.  I usually prefer to be left along out here but he seemed genuinely interested in my input into his situation.  I explained that the rehabilitation he was seeing will have to come from the inside. It’s not going to come from the prison system.  Unfortunately, another guy joined us who filled us in on the gory details on the stupidity I had witnessed.  A guy called “saddlebags” here because of his huge backside in comparison to the rest of his body had become upset with “Bill” for snitching on him about having a radio he wasn’t supposed to.  The pushing and shoving I’d witnessed had included them slapping each other.  Yes, I said slapping!  The way our friend who witnessed it had described it as that they were trying to impress him but had failed.  Now in all honesty, Bill is the kind of person whom everybody knows is a snitch, but he is the worst kind of snitch because he snitches not just to benefit himself but sometimes solely to hurt people.  With folks like this, you accept no favors and resist any attempts they made to pull you into their world or to get into yours.  I avoid Bill like the plague.  Saddlebags is the kind of person who will always be better than you, or so he says.  He talks real tough about hurting people but it doesn’t take a professional shrink to see the over compensation for his insecurities.  My few conversations with him I just let him believe everything and everyone he has is better than me.  His words don’t change the facts as I see them.  Do I doubt Saddlebags story that Bill snitched on him?  No I don’t.  Did he gain any street cred here for slapping Bill and yelling profanity?  No he didn’t.  In fact, people are laughing at him even more than they had because of the slapping involved.  The reaction from the rest of the inmates wasn’t to take sides but to try to stoke the fire of the disagreement between them just because to them it was entertaining to watch each one react to the stimulus the feud gave them. I know I’m supposed to feel empathy for people but all I can really do here is roll my eyes and hope they both stay away from me.