Posts Tagged ‘graduation’


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 soon as ERP social worker Ms. Grey got our group in session that morning, I immediately asked her about who were the guys with warrants.  It has been the topic of conversation with us since she dropped that bomb the day before.  Obviously, we’re making plans for our release in 21-31 days.  Whoever of us have the warrants, it’s going to present a complication.  Ms. Grey said the people were cellie Larry Sands and group member Augie Prescott.  Sands had thought it was possible it was him but he reasoned it was a good thing as once he sits in Waukesha County Jail for the fine he owes he’ll actually get released before the rest of us will.  For Prescott, it’s a little more complicated.  His interstate compact had just been approved.  How this will affect everything for him is unclear.  But then Ms. Grey told him she wasn’t sure it was him, thus continuing the uncertainty.  I’m not worried about this.  But I feel for Prescott and Sands.  We started out taking the test we took when we first started our ERP group.  This time we corrected each others.  I got 6 wrong.  I don’t remember how I did last time.  Then she announced our second test will actually have to wait.  Apparently there are things we hadn’t covered yet so we couldn’t take the test.  Two things of interest that happened in our morning session.  First, former cellie Malik Pearl and one guy in his cell were the last ones left from the last graduating ERP class were moved to the ninth floor.  Pearl’s paperwork hadn’t returned from the Brown County Judge involved after 14 days.  They needed their beds for the incoming ERP class so off they went to the ninth floor.  Man, I hope I don’t have issues like this when my time comes to get released!  My paperwork will come back from a Winnebago County Judge so we’ll see.  The second thing was a guy who slept in a bunk near me at Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI) named Les Simon arrived.  He played guitar there and I had been impressed with him as a person.  After lunch he joined me at my table in the dayroom while I waited to go to the afternoon session.  I got him up to speed on the routine here and he got me caught up on some of the stuff that had gone on there.  It seems Percy had gotten him too, giving him 5 days bunk confinement for a petty offense there.  The worship team doesn’t exist anymore after team members repeatedly stole instruments.  They did put on a concert there that raised a lot of money for charity that included a Native American dance put together by my former bunkie prior his release in January.   I’m sorry I missed that.  But a lot of those I mentioned while I was there are gone.  Ms. Greer continues to work hard for people there but she had to set some boundaries.  Quite understandable.  Far and away she was the best social worker I’ve encountered in my time in prison.  In our afternoon session we watched the movie Omar and Pete, which I’ve seen on the institutional channel at FMCI.  It was quite good, depicting the story of two inmates trying to stay out of prison.  We got a 19 question worksheet on this movie due Monday.  Afterwards, Ms. Grey had complained about not being able to find the pictures of the transformer for the graduation program. She took me to her office and it turned out all she had to do was scroll across the screen to see it.  It was a little embarrassing.  She printed it and said she’d bring it to be seen by us but she never came back.  That night in the dayroom Les pulled me out into the dayroom to chat some more. That night new cellie Jose Michaels got taken to task by Larry Sands playing his radio out loud, after 11.  I didn’t like it but I put in my earplugs.  I’ve got 21 days to graduation.  I’m not going to let stuff like this get to me.

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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 graduation day for another ERP group.  This graduation includes 3 important characters in this blog – Brian Whalen, Corey Ball, along with former cellie Malik Pearl.  About 9:30 am the ceremony started.  They had chosen the name “The Pibts” as their theme in they’re another chance, a one way ticket out of here but if they don’t do what they need to do to stay clean and sober it will be a round trip ticket bat to MSDF or similar place.  The artwork was impressive, with a wall trimmed with gold and blue.  On top were blue circles with a plane inside along with each person’s name.  After the opening remarks, there were comments by the unit manager and the security director who was standing in for the Warden, who couldn’t be there today.  What followed was presentation of quotes by the inmates, who also took the opportunity to thank their ERP social worker Ms. Carr along with a list of others in the room.  Some even took the time to thank the parole officers who took the time to attend, which was a nice gesture.  Then Ms. Carr presented the ERP completion certificates to the inmates as those in attendance clapped.  Like past graduations, cookies were given out.  Since I’m a swamper the guard told me to hand them out, 2 a piece, one chocolate and one ginger.  Of course inmates were trying to get me to give them extras.  One positive thing about me is public opinion of me here isn’t high on my priority list!  So that didn’t happen.  Of course some got seconds before others got their firsts but that’s because they didn’t get in line right away.  Just like first grade right?  Then we got a big surprise.  Our ERP social worker, Ms. Grey, showed up for group.  Normally on graduation day we don’t have group in the morning but she decided to have group anyway.  Cellie and ERP group member Larry Sands had had a conversation with her and she revealed the reason she missed the previous day because she had been mugged.  It was good she was ok.  Again we watched videos form the relationship series From the Inside Out featuring Earnie Larson.  These were the last ones.  We did the accompanying workbook sections for the videos.  We flew right through.  This again was another topic (relationships) that we could have spent weeks on.  Larson did an excellent job through the role play depictions of portraying various relationship behaviors that I’m sure if we had the time it would have been beneficial to go into this in depth.  But there isn’t the time left to do that and everything else scheduled prior to June 10th (our graduation).  As we left group for lunch we noticed that the guy who said he’s going to tell on everyone at a community meeting and all his cellies in a rather heated meeting with two social workers.  It seems all his cellies have tired of his bullying tactics in the cell.  No big surprise huh?  At lunch it was one of our better meals, the Baked fish and cupcakes for dessert.  There were no extras because a guard named Albert Payne ate them all!  He’s the same guard that makes us all stand with our hands to our side at count.  We’ve seen guards eat multiple trays of food at FMCI before so its no big revelation.  But doing it, I was looking forward to that extra cupcake I’d have gotten as a swamper! Smile  But no big deal.  more importantly, my relationship with the other swamper, David Sussex isn’t as good as it was.  He just likes to preach at people about their shortcomings in a religious way.  His outlook is just very immature.  I finally told him he talked too much and shared with him what scripture says about zeal without knowledge.  He didn’t like that.  But its okay.  We’ll be fine.  I’ve got 35 days till my ERP group graduates, no more than 45 till departure.  I’m not letting anything here take my focus off of that.


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 Thursday afternoon we had our weekly Community Meeting.  Nothing was really remarkable about it until the floor was opened to concerns anyone might have and a new guy stood up and announced he was tired of how cliquey people were, the disrespect shown and how many inmates who have been here for awhile act like they have ownership of things here.  He went on to say from now on he was going to start pointing out people who were doing such things at future community meetings.  Throughout the room was stunned silence.  My ERP group leader Ms. Grey nodded her agreement, the other group leaders looked just as stunned as we were.  I’d find out later he was upset with his cellmates for farting in the cell instead of going outside to do that and for inmates trying to run the rec room.  He finished up his comments about how dedicated he was to this program, and he didn’t want that to have such things going on.  After an uncomfortable silence we moved on.  I did decide that night that with all the negativity going on I was going to pull into my shell even more that I have been.   I just feel like nothing is good is going to come out of hanging around people these days.  Maybe its because I’m 72 days to graduation and I fear all this work and time being for nothing because of some stupid incident.  The next morning began with Scott Bunker being sent to the hospital for his bleeding problem as it hasn’t gotten any better.  Graduation for another ERP group began at 9:30 am.  This was an OWI ERP group like us.  This group called themselves the “Unchained” group.  It was a nice ceremony, followed by cookies being given out.  I’m happy for them but my thoughts are on myself.  I have so little time left.  I’m happy but I’m afraid.  Where I’ll go, what I’ll do, how it will happen, these questions overwhelm the anxiety junkie in me.  I’ve learned to have faith during times like this, to surrender the illusion of control I cling to but I still have my moments of weakness.  After lunch we saw a video about the evils of inhalants (sorry, I didn’t catch the title)and on prescription drugs which was quite good, especially as it focused on elderly addiction.  At the end I brought up that I’d learned  that the TOP program in Waukesha County was applied to aftercare.  No housing was involved like she had said.  She insisted it was true though, and they’d explain it to me when they visited in mid-April.  I asked if I’d hear from them before my next parole officer (PO) call and she said no, that call was coming up next week!  It was like she had remembered herself that this was happening at that moment.  Anyway, around that time Scott Bunker joined us after his hospital visit so it would seem he must be ok.  The guards were unhappy today as they’ve installed electronic stations around the unit they have to check in with a gadget.  It ensures they’ve actually made their rounds.  But it’s okay.  Week 16 of 26 is complete.


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 Wednesday we don’t have ERP groups scheduled so we sat in our cells or dayroom.  Nothing much happened until that night.  ERP group member Scott Bunker had a problem come up that could be painful.  He hadn’t  been able to go to the bathroom and the little bit he could was bloody.  He finally went up and told the guard on duty.  The guard wasn’t exactly the model of compassion as he had him take a urine sample cup and scoop out the bloody water out of the toilet to send to the Heath Services Unit (HSU).  But Bunker was told to submit a blue medical request to be seen which he did.  Apparently that night he was up several times as he was in a huge amount of pain, his privates were swelling and though he felt like he had to go, he couldn’t.  I got up for my shower at 5 am as usual.  As I walked to the shower I heard the third shift guard tell Bunker to come to the desk.  After I got out of the shower and had put my laundry in the washer, I saw the swampers by the bathroom wearing gloves and mopping the floor.  There was blood all over.  At Bunker’s cell the other guard had gone in with a yellow bag and gloves emerging with it full of items that had been bloodied.  I would have thought swampers and guards would have had more protection than gloves.  The guards offered to send him to the hospital but he declined.  I urged him to reconsider.  Bleeding like this just doesn’t heal itself.  At least now though HSU would see him right away Thursday morning.  That morning for our group ERP group leader Ms. Grey showed us videos on methamphetamine abuse.  The first was Living In Shadows The Innocent Victims of Meth and The Meth Epidemic produced by PBS.  Both were quite good.  But Ms. Grey was clearly in a bad mood.  During the time after the videos we had left over before lunch she went off on people for not understanding how to develop goals and objectives for Phase II based on SMART.  At one point she asked me to assist ERP group members Kevin House and Mark Hogan develop theirs.  But then Larry Sands spoke up complaining that she approves our goals and then changes her mind.  She went off on Sands, telling him not to put that on her and how he always has something to say whenever he’s criticized.  The problem is Sands is right.  She has given conflicting signals to people including me.  But that wasn’t the real issue.  She had obviously been talked to by somebody who had gotten involved as a result of Sands complaints to others.  The tension between the two is intense which made us uncomfortable but there’s been a lot of that lately so its kind of becoming normal.  After lunch we watched another good video Methamphetamine and Drug Endangered Children.  Bunker returned to group during this time with HSU having prescribed antibiotics.  They also reduced the huge amounts of ibuprofen he had been prescribed for his back since as a rule they won’t give out painkillers to inmates if at all possible.  As the night progressed his problem again began to reappear.  I am worried for him.  Tomorrow is another Graduation Day for another ERP group.  I’m looking forward to seeing something good happen here. 


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 big news for me is I got a new cellie.  His name is Corey Ball.  He’ll be taking the upper bunk above cellie Andre Charles. As the graduation date nears (March 4th) for Andre’s ERP group, people are scrambling to get or line up people for their cells who they think will be a good match instead of taking the chance on whomever might get assigned to them from the incoming ERP group.  We’re no different.  Cellie Brian Whalen and I discussed Ball and his quiet demeanor and the lack of drama surrounding him definitely impressed us.  So we encouraged him to make the move now before people started coming in.  At first he declined because he didn’t want to be in the same cell as Andre, as he has a bit of a reputation here.  But he finally agreed.  Andre, true to form, told Ball he had to ask his permission before coming over.  They all laughed it off but he clearly had communicated his message to him.  We had to wait till Tuesday to actually make the move because the only guard that does is Ruth Bartowski and she wouldn’t come in until then.  During the weekend I completed several objectives of my ERP Treatment Plan.  I wrote the 5 page essay on forgiveness based on the readings from Houses of Healing by Robin Casarjian, and the letter forgiving my biological father, through the letter came out more confrontational than forgiving but it ended on that note.  I also wrote the letter forgiving myself focusing on the loss of my family and my role in that.  It was a complicated matter lacking in solid lines of separation of fault from each person but I focused on things I was clearly at fault for.  I also wrote the letter to JoAnn asking her to write a letter detailing how my alcoholism affected her.  Our ERP group leader, Ms. Grey, will review and send it out.  On weekends around here, I’ll tell you I sure miss football.  Ms. Grey had indicated she would be again joining the protests over the loss of collective bargaining in Madison this weekend so it didn’t surprise me on Tuesday (Monday was President’s Day) when our ERP group was told she wasn’t coming in.  So Tuesday was just like Monday in addition to a holiday, it was a furlough day which meant all we did was study existing program materials or at least that’s what we’re suppose to be doing.  Finally, Ball got to move to our cell Tuesday night.  Some things were present I didn’t expect.  He hung up posters of scantily clad women and of spider webs.  He explained to me the spider webs were tattoo designs that white supremacists often wore.  Perhaps my shaved head and goatee made him think it was ok to approach me with that.  Well it wasn’t.  I told him no way would that fly.  The posters are fine.  I just don’t get why you would want to pour gas on that fire.  I gave him the 411 on Andre, to act like using the chair when he got off his bunk so you didn’t make noise and disturb him was your idea.  And most of all, be cool, he’ll graduate ERP soon and you wont’ have to put up with him much longer.  Believe me I tell myself this every day.  Ball got settled in and for the moment there is peace.