Posts Tagged ‘Group’


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Nothing much happened the weekend after our ERP Group graduated.  Two minor incidents would have implications later on.  First, cellie Scar Johnson began talking trash about me in the dayroom.  I got word of this from cellie Larry Sands.  I just didn’t care as I’ve come to know the person he is and since I’m almost out of here opinions here matter even less than it did to me before.  Second, cellie Jose Michaels had the occasion to be playing his music louder than normal.  He likes a Puerto Rican style of rap which I don’t care for.  But the way it has worked in our cell up to this point is we use our headphones for electronics.  It’s a respect thing as not everyone likes what another might.  So, I asked him to turn it down which he did.  End of story right?  Not exactly.  Come Monday, it started similar to when I first got to MSDF.  Lots of TV, took a shower and read.  It’s so nice to not have to wait in line for the shower now!  But during the day, our ERP social worker Ms. Grey came by and summoned us to the dayroom.  I hoped against hope she got word our judges had already signed our paperwork, but no such luck.  Though she hadn’t felt the need to go through our Phase III evaluations, she brought our Phase 3 evaluations for our signature.  Glancing through mine, the ratings were generally positive, but the true reflection of how she felt laid in the comments she made.  She mentioned how I went to the hole because of this blog but also mentions that though I never received any kind of discipline for it I seem to always have to have the last word and that I didn’t seem to grasp the basic tenants of the ERP program.  I read this and briefly agreed.  I was helping at her request other inmates with their goals for crying out loud!  But I wasn’t going to make any headway here, certainly not with all those other group members standing around.  It felt vindictive, almost retaliatory on her part.  Of course, this doesn’t change anything about my status as having completed the ERP program.  The only downside is this eval will go to my parole officer (PO), Helen Gaither.  There’s a good chance she won’t even read it.  But at the time I admit to being angry.  I was even more angry when Sands returned and told me Ms. Grey asked him if he regretted moving to this cell.  When he said no, she asked if he was sure.  Again he said no.  I sat there fuming.  I went about my business thinking about all this.  I got in a better mood though when Michaels came around.  He has such a positive attitude, you can’t help but not be down around him.  We got to talking and he told me that he had been unhappy when I asked him to turn down the music and that he can’t wait till Sands and I leave so he can run the show in this cell and they can be bad as they want in there.  He was decent about it and he demonstrated respect by seeing we had a way of doing things before he got here.  But I’ll still be glad I won’t be here for that collision between Scar and Michaels!  But I’ll close with some comments about what Ms. Grey did.  Its good I always wait before I write these entries.  It allows perspective to form.  But to be honest, I’ve been unhappy with my writing for this blog while at MSDF.  I have had one hour a day to write whereas at other institutions I had tons of time.  I’m also unhappy with my time at MSDF.  I grew as a person much more while at DCI, JCI, and FMCI.  Though MSDF and ERP were largely negative influences in my life, ultimately I’m responsible for my own growth or lack thereof.  So I have to accept responsibility for that.  It’s not Ms. Grey, MSDF, cellies or others fault.  But I will say I do look forward to a more positive atmosphere that I will create out in the world.  The proof is in the pudding as they say.  I believe that with God’s help, I will be successful even if it does look overwhelming now. 

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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 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?


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  With ERP social worker Ms. Grey on vacation until June 6th, I anticipated a slow, boring Tuesday after Memorial Day.  It seemed like the biggest challenge we would be dealing with would be the heat.  The holiday weekend had brought summer like weather, with temperatures in the high eighties with extreme humidity.  It makes me grateful I won’t be here in July and August as I graduate this program June 19th and am anticipating release by June 20th.  I busied myself Tuesday morning with the assignments Ms. Grey had left us with.  I did the A and B plan, which lists what our plan is upon release, both a primary and a fallback plan.  I’ve been planning for that in some way almost every day as the blog sponsors will tell you!  As anyone will tell you when getting released, those kind of plans are tough as there are so many variables involved.  One variable changes or complications occur and the whole plan radically changes.  The other assignment was to write a paragraph on possible release triggers that we select from a list in a pamphlet.  I did 7 paragraphs.  Again, it’s obvious common sense stuff.  I know to stay away from bars, be honest, and get out of my head.  The general consensus is this is busy work for while Ms. Grey is gone.  It took me 2 hours to finish it all.  Most of the other guys in the group did theirs last week.  I pulled out the A edition of the encyclopedia and started reading.  Group member Kevin House indicated he wanted to change the quote for the graduation project program I’d worked on.  I felt like this might be an opportunity to fix the errors Ms. Grey made when she made changes to it.  We’ll have to wait and see if there’s time when she gets back.  Otherwise, we spent the day battling the heat and trying to stay occupied.  Cellie Malcolm Johnson as anticipated, is having some difficulty not stating his opinions in a constructive manner in Ms. Carr’s group as he came back upset with how they’re trying to “muzzle him”.  I’m sure  he’ll learn how it works here.  He sees things through the prism of racial bias, which while that is an element, it can’t be your focus.  Otherwise, as with a prism, it distracts your view of everything else.  Mail call was done early tonight.  My heart dropped when I saw an envelope addressed to me from the Winnebago County Courthouse.  Letters from such places are never good news and when you’re this close to release are grounds for a  heart attack.  The news isn’t good but it wasn’t about me.  I have a daughter from the relationship prior to JoAnn.  Her name is Lexi.  Her mother, Barb, through the years did everything she could to prevent Lexi and I from having a relationship.  She was the kind of person that wouldn’t hesitate to call the police and make up a story about you which is actually what let to our breakup.  I focused on JoAnn’s kids after she had begun making untrue allegations against JoAnn and later on against my adoptive parents, Charles and Victoria Martin concerning the treatment of her son from another relationship, Eli.  Lexi and I were very close while we were together and she loved JoAnn and the kids when we got to spend time with them.  But this paperwork indicated that Lexi had been removed from the home and they wanted to change her placement because of violence in the home which they were blaming on Lexi.  It was so unlike the loving, sweet, shy girl I’d known.  Eli had been removed from her home for similar reasons a  few years ago.  Since Ms. Grey was on vacation and the hearing is June 2nd (today is May 31st) I went to another ERP social worker Ms. Nell Presley, for help.  I wanted to at least attend the hearing by phone but would need their help to do so.  She didn’t seem motivated at all but said she would try.  She is the same social worker that divulged journal info to former Andre Charles.  Whenever you get legal papers, other inmates see that envelope and immediately know something’s up.  I briefly described it.  I’m just numb.  Why are all my kids following down my path?  And my father’s path?  And his father before him?  I feel extreme guilt and sadness.  I’m powerless to do anything behind these prison doors and I know that.  I just so wish I was there and able to meet her needs.  All I can do is pray and say how sorry I am which of course won’t help anyone at 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’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  This past weekend was marked by arguments and in fighting amongst inmates over stupid things.  Most of it of course involved Scott Dietz, revolving around rec room issues.  I’ve just noticed the courtesy between inmates in the laundry procedure and the order for showers is breaking down.  People skipping each other to use laundry or the shower causes friction.  I got to talk to Charles and Victoria Martin, my adoptive parents this weekend.  They’re going to send the glasses I sent away at Dodge Correctional Institution (DCI) to the sponsor of this blog who is picking me up.  They also will have cable which means I’ll be able to have internet access which is critical for my job search and getting up to speed on the technology and software I’ve missed the last two years.  Speaking of which, Sunday, May 8th marked the 2 year date of my incarceration.  Sixteen of those months this blog has run.  Not an anniversary I look at fondly but assured I won’t forget it. But I’ve been talking like it’s a foregone conclusion that I’m going to graduate June 10th.  Not if I keep acting the way I did Monday.  Now the last graduating class has a high number of guys who are busying themselves by starting trouble, including former swamper and cellie Malik Pearl joined by one of his cellies.  They took aim at me because on occasion I don’t wear a hat (not a hairnet mind you but a paper hat) when serving food as a swamper.  There is not rule that I’m aware of that says I have to and I’ve told you previously, I shave my head, so there’s really not a need.  But they started yelling at me to wear a hat.  I was visibly angered.  I put it on and asked them if they were happy now.  Afterwards, it was time to start our ERP group.  Our ERP social worker Ms. Grey took us through the entire Living With Others workbook that day.  In the middle of the morning we observed through the window to the dayroom that the guards on 1st shift had been joined by several others.  They began to shakedown every single cell even taking the extra clothing the inmates had acquired which usually is ignored.   Group got interrupted several times as we observed them taking things out of the cells critical to our graduation project.  At the end of the morning session, I went out to clean tables and put out napkins to get ready for lunch service.  I came right back and didn’t touch anything else an inmate egged on by Pearl’s cellie, demanded I change my gloves.  I refused.  This was just harassment.  We exchanged words across the dayroom.  My reaction was so out of character for me.  Lunch got served.  We had Swiss Rolls, which are a pretty hot item around here.  I observed that same inmate shoving some down his shirt to smuggle them to his cell.  I asked him if he wanted me to play this game he had started.  He quickly got back to his cell.  I wasn’t going to tell but I was mad!  Afterwards, I was told Pearl and his cellie were going to try to get me fired as a swamper.  Initially, I didn’t care. I don’t need the extra food and who needs this aggravation?  But after I calmed down, I remembered why I took this job to begin with.  I went to the inmate who took issue with the gloves and apologized for my reaction.  But more importantly, what is going on with me?  Is it just a simple chase of the “shirts”, where inmates near release get irritable and melancholy?  Whatever it is, I resolved to get a hole of myself and stay in today instead of thinking about my release in June.  We turned in our goals and objectives for Phase 3 in the afternoon session.  She approved them on the spot and told us to have our presentations ready for the following Monday (May 16th).  Mine are ironically, to improve my social skills here and being more patient.  Clearly, these goals are appropriate and necessary. 


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 we are scheduled to take our Phase II test.  We were all hoping it would be easier than the Phase I test which had been very difficult.  But our ERP group leader Ms. Grey had already advised us not to get too worked up over the test.  I certainly didn’t.  It was again another essay test but the 5 questions were much easier including one asking how our perception of OWI crimes has changed since the beginning of the program.  At the end of the morning session, Ms. Grey asked me to stay behind as she wanted to speak to me.  It seems she had taken the time to sit down and read this blog after it had been discovered and was clearly unhappy.  The only thing she expressed dissatisfaction with was the fact I refer to her as the “ERP Group Coordinator” or as the “ERP Group Leader” in this blog.  She wanted it to point out she has 2 Social Work degrees and has the title of “Social Worker” here.  So that is put here in case any of you were under an incorrect presumption about her.  I had felt that none of this had been relevant to her character in how she interacts with us nor had I even known about her educational background until today which is why I hadn’t mentioned it.  Apologies to Ms. Grey if I have offended her.  While I’m at it, I apologize to anyone written about here, or who think a given character represents them, that are offended.  These are my impressions of what has gone on around me and the facts the way I see them.  Does it mean I dislike you, don’t think highly of the work you might do in many respects or am trying to get you?  No, of course not.  I strive to be objective but I’m also human.  Most of the time I try to let the reader draw their own conclusions but I also am allowed to use this space to vent my frustrations with prison life.  Again I stress, I am human and that can happen.  We’ve had almost 200 entries by now and if you write that much you’re going to write something people won’t like.  It would have never been an issue had not some very unprofessional people at MSDF spread the word about investigation of this blog to other staff and inmates alike.  We went 16 months undetected.  Keep in mind as well I didn’t write this with the idea that people would pierce the anonymity shell around me, that everything that happened in my past (read the first several entries in the blog) would have become common knowledge to all staff here and certainly not to be joked about by such staff.  Yes I know about that too but I’m not going to mention your name yet because at the end of the day writing this blog has done far more for me in my life than your petty, stupid, and ignorant remarks could ever do to hurt me and throwing mud would mean I lie in the same puddle of pig vomit you reside in with your life.  If you don’t understand what I’ve done here with this blog, the idea you work in corrections for the purpose of rehabilitation of inmates is frightening. 

There, thank you for allowing me to apologize and unload.  At the afternoon session, Ms. Grey gave us our Phase III badges and assigned us to read therapy projects two and three (p. 205-210) of Driving with Care:  Alcohol, Other Drugs, and Impaired Driving Offender Treatment by Wanberg, Milkman, and Timken.   These revolve around if your current work matches your job and learning to search for a job.  Apparently, other ERP programs have resources like cameras to practice interviewing, and allow inmates to go into the communities on Phase III, but not here.  So, Phase III should be interesting alone for those reasons in and of itself. 


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.