Posts Tagged ‘furlough’


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!

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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).  One part of the ERP program is we are required to do a detailed report on our drug of choice.  I’m told other ERP programs in WPS had access to a lot of resources to do these reports that we don’t have here at MSDF.  That combined with the fact that this is an OWI group which meant that everyone’s drug of choice was alcohol meant that all of the reports sounded the same and contained identical statistical information.  So yeah it was a little boring but we had to go through the motions.  Even our ERP group leader Ms. Grey has acknowledged that the lack of resources limits the ability for her to provide a productive group experience.  Anyway, after these reports were read we proceeded to our self evaluations for Phase II, like we had done for Phase I.  Group members Dean Stark and Russ Johnson had learned their lesson to not rate themselves too highly with Johnson probably going overboard the other way.  I had rated myself a 4 on a scale of 1 to 15 on being social with peers and the group said I should mark it down to a 3.  They were right of course.  On interaction with staff I rated myself a 4 but ERP group member Scott Dietz said sarcastically I’d had a lot of staff interaction lately referring to my trip to the hole.  The rating stood.  Dietz has been making a lot of snide remarks since my return from the hole.  It might be because of this blog but as Johnson put it to me when he said not to take it personally as this is just the way he is.  That is true.  In the afternoon session we started out with wearing “beer goggles” which are supposed to simulate different levels of intoxication.  We went out into the dayroom where we pulled the tables and chairs aside and put tape on the floor and attempted to do the heel to toe walk police do for a DUI test.  And who should be running all of this but intern Nikita!  She has been very quiet and reserved for the most part.  But she conducted herself quite well for the most part.  While the exercise was funny, it reminded me of the failed tests I’d had my previous arrest.  ERP group member Mark Hogan pretended to accidentally run into Nikita but she didn’t let it phase her.  The group was testing her which was pretty clear.  After Ms. Grey, who had taken a couple group members on parole officer (PO) calls, we did more tests.  We setup the chairs as an obstacle course, tried to balance a ruler on a fingertip, and threw a ball back and forth between us.  All of them demonstrated our lack of coordination and muscle/eye cooperation.  Though the goggles really weren’t realistic it made the point at least for me.  We had time left over so then we watched what Ms. Grey said was the last movie we had to watch called First Time Felon.  This movie was about a younger man (Omar Epps) involved in gang life who gets a second chance by going through boot camp, the struggles he has after getting out and his eventual realization of his goal to be an inner city youth counselor.  It was a good movie.  We were given a reaction paper to write due for Monday.  This weekend is Easter so Monday is a furlough day but none of us knew that until later.  But the bottom line is another week is done, which is 19 of 26.  I thank God for getting me through another one.


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP). On this past Friday, it was a State of Wisconsin employee furlough day so there were no ERP groups for anyone but we were required to work on something program related, whether it be in our cells or out in the dayroom.  Somebody has to work these shifts guard wise and the guard we got was a strict by the book type attractive female but trust me after the comments she made at count nobody was concerned with her looks.  Cellie Brian Whalen left the cell after count was cleared on the guards radios (yes we can here it) but before she announced it, so she gave him a warning on his card.  Putting a warning on an inmates card is a measure short of giving an inmate a conduct report that an inmate can’t dispute but allows the guard to communicate to others you did something without the paperwork and a hearing.  Whalen says it was his first one and was a little worried.  It was pretty clear some inmates weren’t taking her seriously.  One got an actual conduct report after she caught him sleeping in his cell for the third time.  You can’t really blame her for that one.  As far as I’m concerned, when in my cell I like to alternate between sitting with my back against the wall on my top bunk right by my locker where I have to move my paper and books organized on top of the locker for easy access and I can see out the cell window and see who’s coming up the steps.  The way I sit on my bunk became cellie Andre Charles latest issue.  He complained that he didn’t like that I could see him when I looked up from what I was doing.  Of course, this means he was watching me in order to notice this.  I guess it’s a grown up, unbalanced version of the game “Stop Watching Me” children play. I assured him and over again that no matter what he thought watching him was the last thing I felt like doing.  But my assurance wasn’t enough.  He wanted me to sit with my back against the locker and not look to my left where I would see him on the bottom bunk across from me.  He did something similar with former cellie Malik Pearl when he complained about Malik not using the chair to get off the top bunk above him and how it would wake him.  Andre was trying to control me of course, or rather his latest attempt.  Usually I’d throw on my headphones and just tune him out but since this was program time I didn’t have that option.  So he went on and on about how I should do this for him.  I kept saying no.  We’re in close quarters.  I see him watching me but I don’t say anything.  Its part of the price you pay for being in prison.  Finally I offer when he lays down I’ll go to the other end of the bunk.  He has towels hanging from the now empty top bunk to prevent others from seeing him but he arranges the towels so he can see through the cracks if people were watching him.  He accepted that but that still wasn’t enough for him.  I had to sit the way he wanted.  My levels of frustration and anger are visibly growing in an exponential fashion.  He kept riding me on this despite my  insistence that the conversation was over and I would not give in anymore.  Finally I exploded.  “Fine, you f….g spoiled brat, you can have your f…..g way.  Now shut your f…..g mouth”.  I was shaking as I said it.  Of course he wouldn’t let it go now.  Why was I so upset he asked?  Clearly, he was enjoying how worked up he got me.  He threatened to go tell the guard he was afraid of me “because I was shaking”.  Finally it came to an end.  The next day, Saturday, the game continued.  I sat on the other side of the bunk.  He pulled his towels back though so he could see me.  As I figured I would, I tired of playing this game and returned to the way I normally do things.  Andre said something but this time my headphones and TV drowned him out.  But really, I failed in this test.  I allowed him to control me.  I should have just ignored him and not caved in at all.  There is no compromise with him , its his way or no way.  I’ll do better in the future.  Sorry if I disappointed any of you out there.  Just know I disappointed myself even more.  I’m better than this.


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 absolutely nothing happened.  Really!  All the ERP Coordinators including Ms. Grey were involved in meetings all day.  The next day we started off by reading the fifth chapter of Houses of Healing by Robin Casarjian, entitled “Anger and Resentment: The Myth of Power” that dealt with inappropriate anger, reactions, unresolved anger, what’s under the anger, facing and owning your anger, how to release it and what you get by holding onto it.  It was an excellent chapter.  I suspect I have a lot of issues here but getting into this, it feels like I’m going to need something beyond this place.  It’s just not safe for me to plow into this stuff it feels like here.  After that afternoon session was a showing of the movie Philadelphia starring Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks.  Before the movie finished it was time for our weekly community meeting so our group was the last ERP group seated in the dayroom.  Today it was my turn to do the “quote” for the meeting.  It was “I Love You But I’m Not Your Hostage”.  We have to explain the quote.  I wrote mine and since your reading this you get to hear it too. 

When I first came to prison, I often became angry with those that claimed to love me because it seemed like they wouldn’t do anything for me or were forgetting about me.  I often had thoughts like “well if they wont’ do anything for me, wont’ come see me more or write more I’m not gonna know who they are after I get out.  I came to the realization that I was actually holding these people close to me hostage, threatening to take away my love for them if they don’t do what I want or what I think they should do.  It’s a continuation of the same kind of sick manipulation of people I used to do on the streets.  Fact is what I do when thinking like this isn’t love at all but rather blackmail. It’s the idea I think I am somehow or should be the center of their universe.  Love isn’t based on what they do for me but rather, on what I want to do for them.  For me to expect anything of those that love me is wrong.  They didn’t put me here.  I did.  I should be grateful those people are still there and if they actually do help me that’s just a blessing.

After it was complete, the group didn’t seem to like the explanation or didn’t understand it.  It just went over flat.  It’s okay.  It meant something to me.  The group was restless today I don’t know why.  Afterwards Ms. Grey made the comment I’m too hard on myself.  She pulled the group back together to finish the movie and assigned us to write a paper on what we thought the movie was about.  Since tomorrow is a furlough day, there’d be no group but we would hang out in our cells and well we have an assignment to work on now.  We returned to our cells.  When I got there, the notepad I write these blog entries on was missing.  I asked my cellies if they’d seen the notepad and Andre Charles used this opportunity to snap on me accusing me of accusing him of stealing.  I tried to explain I wasn’t accusing anyone to no avail.  But then he started talking about me to Brian Whalen and when I tried to defend myself he said he was having a conversation with Brian and I was interrupting. I just ignored it from there.  It usually takes a few days for things to blow over with him.  But as Week 7 of 26 draws to a close I am getting comfortable as I’ve gotten into a routine.  Though plans for the future are up in the air    I believe that things are somehow, someway going to work out.


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  I was doing my usual routine in the morning of coffee, eating something sweet while reading the Green Bay Press Gazette.  This being Wednesday (November 24th), I also had shaved my head.  Yes, I do that on a routine too (Wednesdays and Saturdays)!  I got called to the desk and I got the long awaited order to pack up my things.  They then let me know that on Monday, November 29th, I would get shipped to Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF) for my Earned Release Program (ERP), start date of December 13th.  I didn’t move quickly.  I’ve gotten so much contradictory information about what would be allowed at MSDF property wise that I decided to divide things between what I thought they’d let me keep and what they wouldn’t.  This was further complicated by the fact I have 5 days until I leave.  Toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, all the things you need I couldn’t pack.  Why so soon?  Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  Friday is a furlough day and property doesn’t work on weekends.  Everything I didn’t pack I’ll have to throw away on Monday.  No it isn’t fair but that’s life in the Wisconsin Prison System.  Many people decided I had been their best friend, as many had their hand out wanting my canteen.  I just smiled and laughed and said no.  The guard barked at me to get moving so I ate lunch before everyone else and loaded my 3 boxes into the back of a van.  Once I got to property, I realized I shouldn’t have bothered separating things.  The property sergeant had me empty the boxes while he reloaded them.  It was uneventful.  There was a younger guy there coming to FMCI.  He had 11 boxes.  After I signed my release I had to wait about a half hour for him to get inspected.  Once I got back no one was real concerned about me as they were holding hearings on the tickets at the Multipurpose Building.  Soon after, 2 inmates from servery staff (kitchen) got taken to the hole for some kind of scandal that was going on there so I’m not the topic of conversation.  That’s good by me!  But having struggled to get my property for the first 35 some days, I’m sure missing it now as I hear the collection of voices singing, talking smack or just talking with each other to be heard all over again.  Those are the best and worst of times for the anxiety junkies like me, when all things familiar are ripped away, the future both short, and long term are completely unknown and unavailable to be manipulated by our obsessively controlling nature’s.  But it speaks to the progress I’ve made that I’m not nearly as locked up as I was when I first got here and had no escapes available to me just like now.  Let’s hope this progress continues as I move on to MSDF.