Posts Tagged ‘families’


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  We are only one day away from the graduation of our ERP group.  Our ERP social worker Ms. Grey called us into the rec room that doubles as our group room and asks us if we have any last minute concerns or questions.  She did confirm that records would be sending our paperwork to our judges, who will modify our sentences to allow immediate release since we have completed the ERP program.  She dropped off a sample program for our graduation project.  It really was pretty awful.  But what are you going to do?  Then the title letters for the project that ERP group member Russ Johnson did on the computer weren’t a dark enough yellow that could be read on the black background.  So ERP group member John Lloyd was left to trace letters by hand.  He wasn’t happy.  To be honest, the whole thing looks pretty awful.  But it is what it is and it really doesn’t matter.  Of a more immediate concern was the relationship between cellies Malcolm Johnson and Larry Sands.  Malcolm’s immediate concern was how Sands would use his feet to change the channel (he is on the top bunk, Malcolm is on the bottom) and how if Sands would leave his hands a certain way it would interfere with his TV reception.  Sands interpreted it as Malcolm trying to control him.  Malcolm made the mistake of trashing him to other inmates who were friendly to Sands.  One called Sands over and asked him about what Malcolm said and of course Sands got on his case again.  It just makes the cell tension filled.  But I’m rolling my eyes.  My thoughts are on the world outside of here, of what I need to do and the missing pieces of that puzzle.  I’m excited yet unsure.  At mail call I got another mailing from the court regarding my daughter, Lexi.  She is officially being charged with a misdemeanor disorderly conduct.  It was pretty clear her mother, Barb is up to her old tricks.  Just as she did with me many years ago, she pushes and pushes until the other person breaks.  Then she calls the police.  I’ve got to get myself squared away so I can at least be a place she can go to blow off steam.  I can keep the cycle we have seen happening with my families from happening again.  I’ve got to at least try.  We had our community meeting at 3 as we usually do.  Nothing really went on there either. But I’m ready to graduate.  Let’s do this.  

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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).  Today is Memorial Day, a day we remember and thank those who served and especially those who were killed or wounded.  Both my biological family  and my adoptive family have had family members serve in the Armed Forces.  My biological father served in Vietnam as a military policeman.   His father served as well, I’m told as an infantryman.  Other relation in that family served, though I’m still getting to know them, so I’m not sure how.  In my adoptive family, my grandmother and grandfather both on my adoptive father’s side served in World War II in the medical corps as nurses which is how they met.  If you’ve been following along, you now know, as I have been finding out, a lot happened to my biological father that led to the events that involved me.  We’ve learned his issues began before his involvement in the Vietnam war.  For my adoptive family, it’s been no cakewalk either.  Grandfather, along with his daughter they all have fought life long battles with mental illness.  My uncles Frankie and Gary, served seem to have been the most severely affected.  Frankie’s life ended in suicide.  For Gary, he’s spent virtually his entire life in a VA mental hospital in Tomah, WI.  With mental illness present in the family, being part of the military embellished on tendencies and impacted family members.  So, the point of all this of course is that war has accelerated the existing wounds for those who fought, followed by the collateral damage inflicted on those around them, damage that is multigenerational.  I have seen signs of progress.  Years ago if a soldier acted out, there was little help, certainly no recognition of the problem.  Now I see commercials telling soldiers there is help out there and implying it’s their duty to seek it out if needed.  America has learned this lesson of war, to not neglect those who fought after the battle is over.  It’s unfortunate it took so long and so many suffered directly or indirectly.  But today, I tip my hat to all the veterans in my families and in my country.  I’m proud of them all.


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  We were all a little unsure how this day would go because it was pretty clear our ERP Social Worker Ms. Grey didn’t want to have group.  All we knew was there were parole officer (PO) calls scheduled again today but beyond that we were unsure.  Most of the conversation revolved around the tornado disaster in Joplin, MO.  Group member Dean Stark got his PO call and Ms. Grey surprised him by calling his family too.  It seems they’ve ignored him his entire incarceration and now we’re at the end he needed one of them to install a traditional phone line for his electronic monitoring bracelet in order for his residence to be approved by the PO.  The call didn’t go well as his family vented on him for the fact he was in prison for OWI.  His family finally relented, agreeing to install the phone.  Then right before lunch, guard Roscoe Peters announced a series of cell changes which included us in our cell. He made Larry Sands and Malcolm Johnson switch due to Johnsons medication situation.  Sands took it in stride.  One other notable move occurred because the guy who got moved mercilessly picked on the guy in his cell who was heavily medicated.   After lunch was more waiting.  Finally we assembled in our group room where Stark got us caught up on his situation.  Ms. Grey arrived.  I asked again about the graduation project program I’d worked on, if she had printed the sample.  She now claims she told me the printer was broken.  She never told me that.  With her going on vacation Thursday if changes need to be made, now is the time to make them.  Oh well.  She then handed out the assignments to work on while she was gone.  First was to select the relapse trigger from a list of possibilities and write a paragraph on how we’re going to deal with each.  The next was to write an A and B plan for our first year out of prison.  In other words if Plan A fails then there is B.  These are all worthwhile endeavors of course.  I just got the feeling it was busy work designed to pretend we have something to do since we will have no social worker.  Ms. Grey expressed relief that the unit manager would also be gone while she was on vacation and told us to only spend a couple hours in the dayroom at a time during the time she was gone.  This is the reaction to her getting called out for not having group at all previously.  Group closed.  It now seems the entire group is on edge.  It’s again a case of the shorts, the malady that strikes inmates close to release.  Many of us are withdrawing from others.  I’m there too.  We’re just ready to go.  We’re already there, home with our families, lives or whatever it is we’re looking forward to.  I have my final PO call tomorrow and am hoping no complications or problems present themselves. 


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 dealing with the crabby guard, our ERP group leader, Ms. Grey, showed up along with intern Nikita and after our normal breathing exercises and prayer we began Week 13 processing of the ERP goals and objectives that had been decided on.  First up, just like when the autobiographies were read was group member Larry Sands.  His goals and objectives dealt with anger and grief dealing with the deaths of his son and father.  Just like when he read his autobiography, Ms. Grey jumped on him for failing to apply the books he’d been given to read to himself.  To be honest she was right.  He really hadn’t.  Next up was John Lloyd.  Lloyd has had something kind of odd go on with him as he’s lost partial muscle control in his left eye, unable to move his left eye all the way to the left.  I became alarmed over the possibility that a minor stroke might be taking place so I encouraged him to submit a blue form to the Heath Services Unit (HSU) on Sunday.  Plus his color is ashen.  I hope I’m wrong.  Anyway, it was kind of interesting, Lloyd read his essay on grief over the death of his father copying a poem from his book and essentially doing a book report as well but Ms. Grey complimented his efforts.  Then he read the letter to his deceased father and broke down in tears several times throughout.  Where Ms. Grey and Nikita were sitting they couldn’t see it but group members Russ Johnson and Kevin House sat and mocked him for doing so.  At the end she motioned group member Scott Bunker to go up and give him a hug.  The people in the room, already silent, shifted their eyes downward and everyone was uncomfortable.  He did give him the hug startling Lloyd.  There was little follow up to the reading of the letter.  We broke for lunch.  Sands caught up with me going on and on about how Ms. Grey was targeting him.  He clearly wanted my agreement.  I just told him she’s trying to reach you, trying not to take the bite.  Prior to the group starting after lunch the topic was the hug given by Bunker to Lloyd.  To Bunker’s credit, he said he didn’t mind.  But Lloyd and the rest just ripped on Bunker and Ms. Grey for it.  As is my custom I sat and listened.  But I knew on one level they were right.  You don’t hug in prison period and that includes MSDF.  If we were in a treatment group outside here I suspect it would be a different situation.  After lunch it was my turn.  First I read my essay on forgiveness based in part on the book Houses of Healing where I told of my path to forgive my biological father for the things that happened.  I read my second essay on the book of Anger Is a Choice by Tim Lahaye.  I also read my letter forgiving my father which came out more confrontational than forgiving.  Ms. Grey seemed ok with what I’d done and there wasn’t much feedback just like with everyone else except Sands.  I noted at the end that the nightmares and aversions to socializing I deal with are still there.  Later that day at mail call, I received a letter from my ex JoAnn.  She wrote she’s been dating a new guy who has been helpful to my former step-daughter Lisa.  I’m not the first guy in prison whose family’s needs are being met by a new guy.  Doesn’t make it any less painful of course.  I spent a good portion of the night unable to sleep.  I, like most of us guys in prison with families, know in the back of our mind this was going to happen.  But when faced with the reality it still hurts.  The next morning after a couple hours of sleep I prayed for their happiness and asked for the strength to put it behind me and to look forward.  After all, what else can I do?


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 started out like every other breakfast.  Often we get a box of raisins with that meal.  The guy across from me at the table poured his raisins over his Frosted Flakes and on the raisins were tiny white worm like looking things.  He picked one up and put it on the table and sure enough it started squirming.  They were maggots!  I wanted to throw up.  I hadn’t opened my raisins yet and I highly doubt I’ll eat anymore while I’m here.  I’m not sure if it is on MSDF or the people that packaged them that this happened but it just doesn’t really matter.  After the moldy suncup (which I still won’t drink), warm milk and now this, I just don’t have a lot of confidence in the food here.  My cellie Andre Charles came by the table and quickly spread the word to others and soon it was the talk of the cellblock.  The rest of this particular Sunday was dominated by the soon to be crowned National Football Conference (NFC) Champions Green Bay Packers pre-game shows and football game.  Did I mention the Packers are going to the Super Bowl? Smile  Of course, Andre is a Pittsburgh Steeler fan so Super Bowl week should be interesting.  I did do one useful thing.  I made the decision to contact my biological half brother and let him know my natural father’s relatives were looking for him too.  I figured we may as well get this all over with.  The next day, began week 7 of our involvement in the ERP program.  We also are having our first phone contact with our Parole Officer (PO).  Mine is tomorrow and my PO’s name is Janet Martin (No relation to me).  She also had written my pre-sentence investigation that hadn’t been kind to me.  But more about that after the call.  As a result of the calls, we spent the entire morning in our cell.  After lunch we got into our information given to us on denial and defense mechanisms.  We each took turns reading one of the 12 mechanisms.  We got done and were promptly told to lock in.  I found out over supper what happened.  On the other side of our unit is a group who are there because they violated the terms of their parole and have what’s called an ATR or an alternative to revocation.  Once they graduate they get out instead of going back to prison.  But tonight three of those guys were transferred back to general population to await revocation.  I don’t know why.  One is facing 7 years.  All were 3 weeks away from graduation.  Spouse’s, families, and friends all were awaiting them to get out.  Plans made and hopes are sky high.  I can’t even imagine what’s going through their heads.  I  pray that I never find out.