Posts Tagged ‘Graduates’


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 was Friday, June 10th, graduation day for my ERP group.  At about 8:30 am we all went down into the dayroom to setup the chairs for everyone to sit along with 9 or 10 chairs on the left side for whatever people that were not inmates that would attend.  They put the Transformer image up on the board used at the last ERP graduation.  They’ve been working on this as part of our graduation project.  Then of course we put 10 chairs up front for us.  John Lloyd, of course, served as the MC.  He read an opening statement but the problem was the same as it was for every person who spoke thereafter.  We really couldn’t be heard beyond the first couple of seats but we didn’t know that at the time.  The unit manager then gave a statement congratulating us.  We then each read a quote each of us chose along with saying what it meant to us.  My quote was “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance” by Derek Bok.  The gist of what I had to say about revolved around was that getting to know me, about why I think the way I do, recognizing the errors in how I think and how my changes are a result of a decision to change, not the product of the prison staff or programs.  I’m pretty sure, though I have a deeper voice that carries pretty well, I’m sure they didn’t hear me very well.  Our ERP social worker, Ms. Grey, clearly was unhappy with my comments.  Oh well.  If you’ve been following this blog, especially prior to my arrival at MSDF you’ve known this to be true.  Afterwards Ms. Grey spoke and handed out ERP completion certificates.  These were actually pretty impressive.  In order to get my license back I’ll need to do an alcohol assessment and this certificate will show I’ve completed a program.  That was followed with a closing statement by ERP group member Scott Bunker.  Lest I forget, intern Nikita also made some nice comments while Ms. Carr and Ms. Presley both declined to say anything.  After it was over, they handed out cookies to everybody after which we put the chairs away.  We went back to our cells to await lunch.  News of the carry conceal law came over the news.  Cellie Malcolm Johnson said this was great news for criminals like himself because they would just take the guns away from the white people carrying them.  And with that he forcefully put his hand at my side to demonstrate.  I wanted to say something but I decided to wait until we were alone.  About that time Ms. Grey showed up and wanted our Phase I , Phase II, and Phase III tests we had done.  It took me a minute but I found them.  After lunch, when Malcolm was in the room alone with me.  I told him in the future not to put his hands on me.  He said alright but didn’t apologize which is fine.  It wouldn’t have been sincere anyway.  Fortunately 1 pm arrived and since I’m now a graduate I went to our former group room and played ping pong and took a shower.  It’s starting to actually set it.  It’s over!  It’s not so much joy as it is relief.  I said a thank you prayer to God.  I called my adoptive parents Charles and Victoria Martin and Charles got the phone line in for my bracelet but didn’t have the internet in yet.  I also called one of this blogs’ sponsors and they are still planning on getting me at the bus station once I’m released.  The next step   is for the judge to sign my amended judgment of conviction and send it back to Ms. Grey.  Ms. Grey will let my parole officer (PO) Hellen Gaither know who will send a C15 form telling MSDF to release me.  This process should take 10 to 14 days.  Piece of cake considering what we’ve been through.  Don’t you think?

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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).  It was Thursday, which is Community Meeting day.  I volunteered to do the current event for the meeting the previous week and I picked an article involving the events surrounding Charlie Sheen and his very public meltdown in front of the cameras this past week. I chose to relate one of the criminal thinking defense mechanisms to each one of Sheen’s more interesting quotes from the interviews he’d given and then relate his conduct to my own.  Granted, as I’ve noted before, what I did wasn’t entirely what you might think of in the clinical definition of  criminal thinking, there are similarities.  ERP at MSDF heavily incorporates this into the non-OWI related groups so I thought this would relate to everyone.  When it was my turn I could tell the minute I started talking I’d lost the group.  They weren’t paying attention.  At the end, they clapped but id didn’t feel right.  And they never clap on a current event article.  When asked for comments, one or two commented but it was pretty obvious no one seemed to know what to do with it.  Mercifully, another social worker stepped in and began a discussion on how everyone saw Sheen’s rehabilitation attempts in light of the chronic abuse depicted in the show 2 1/2 Men.  This got the conversation going, with many commenting on this thread.  One of the things about prison you won’t get patronizing comments about how good you were if you sucked.  After the community meeting ended, this held true.  Cellie Andre Charles told me I was talking over people’s heads.  He was absolutely right.  Plus I identified 10 defensive mechanisms for the 10 Sheen quotes I read so it is a lot to process and it was too long.  So it was a learning experience.  Andre himself was bouncing off the walls.  He would graduate the next day and his on again off again girl was throwing curves at him, keeping him off balance with rules of how things will work when he gets out.  Plus he’s going to a transitional living placement (TLP) in Milwaukee County, which is a short term (90 days usually) placement designed for parolees with no place to go, where he’s not sure what he’ll encounter and doesn’t even know where it’ll be located.  They have such things like a TLP in Waukesha County where I’m suppose to go but they are usually reserved for sex offenders.  So I wonder if this will be me in 90 days or even worse, if I’ll end up in a shelter.  But I can’t focus on that just now.  The next day’s graduation ceremony saw the warden, unit manager, and all the social workers show up, and be seated off to the side while all the rest of us sat in front of the graduating ERP class.  The had constructed a door using colored paper that signified them walking through to a changed life.  They each read a quote significant to them in some fashion while the warden, unit manager, and their social workers made comments encouraging them to do well on the outside.  Then they received a certification of completion.  At the conclusion, we were all given a couple of cookies to celebrate.  But for us in our cell we all chipped in some refried beans, cheese, tortilla shells, jalapeno peppers and sodas off canteen and had our own little celebration.  We made so much we felt so sick and ended up giving a lot away.  We got so loud we even drew a warning from guard Ruth Bartowski.  I congratulated Andre and wished him the best and despite everything that happened I really meant it.  Don’t get me wrong.  He’ll be gone in 7-10 working days here and I’ll be glad about that.  But I really do hope he makes it.