Posts Tagged ‘haven’


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Wednesday was your usual Wednesday. There are no ERP groups.  We did discuss our graduation project.  ERP group member Scott Dietz is upset he didn’t have a speaking part in the graduation ceremony other than reading his quote.  Nothing really could be done.  I don’t have a speaking part either but I’m not upset.  But that’s me.  On Thursday morning, we had one guard with a really bad comb over and one who looked suspiciously like Drew Carey.  After breakfast while brushing my teeth, the announcement came that we were to immediately return to our cells.  Nobody knew what was going on.  We were then informed we were on emergency lockdown and we were only allowed out if there was a medical emergency.  It wasn’t long before inmates began to voice displeasure with the situation led by an inmate who had already graduated in another ERP group, especially that he wasn’t allowed to use the bathroom.  The guards and him continued to argue until the familiar detachment of the guards and a white shirt (supervisor) showed up.  They put him in handcuffs to take him to the hole.  He was supposed to be released that day but most of us felt he would still get cut loose.  Meanwhile, we were trying to figure out why we were locked down.  The idea that his a major shakedown seemed to have credence with all the good traffic.  Finally at about 10 am, they let us out one by one to use the bathroom.  It was then I found out that the lock on the fire escape door had somehow malfunctioned thus locking us down was necessary to prevent our escape.  After lunch, we were returned to lock down status.  Shortly afterwards, we got our 2 new cellmates.  One a tall black man was named Malcolm Johnson and the other, a Puerto Rican was named Jose Michaels.  Jose didn’t have a TV which made me happy because  it freed up an outlet I could use for my fan.  He is a talented artist.  I think him and I will get along fine.  Malcolm has been through hell.  He is on an upper bunk but obviously belongs on a lower.  He has scars everywhere, showing us one on his leg that was caused by an injury he got fleeing from police.  He and I got into an interesting discussion about the terrorist attach on 9/11/2001.  He exposed various conspiracy theories and I pointed out that thousands of people would have to be complicit and silent for any of them to be true.  As usual, people who present such theories make the argument into a personal attack so I just let it go.  But to be honest I enjoyed the conversation.  I haven’t had a good conversation like that since my days at Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI).  We thought we were done for the day but about 2 pm our ERP social worker, Ms. Grey, arrived.  We plowed right into the victim impact letters.  Reading it out loud for me to be honest produced feelings of anger and sadness.  Regardless of how I feel it was about how she felt.  Many of the guys who came after me also felt various emotions reading theirs.  We also presented our rippled effect poster assigned back in Phase I.  Then Ms. Grey dropped a bombshell today.  Two of us in our ERP group had warrants for our arrest in the system but she didn’t know who of course.  Later on in the dayroom that night that’s all anybody talked about and how infuriated we were that she could drop a thing like that without knowing who it is.  Of course with us this close to release, it caused anxiety.  Soon it was 3 pm and time for our weekly community meeting.  Once again, the issue of hygiene was raised.  Ms. Carr said she would be talking to the unit manager to see what could be done.  The issue of the soon to be repealed Act 28 early release law.  I’ve shared my opinion on this here and I did in group.  That night my cellies didn’t want to go to sleep when the lights went out.  I think Malcolm knew this annoyed me and he razzed me a bit but that’s ok.  I can deal with anything for the next 22-32 days I have left.  About midnight everyone went to sleep. 

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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).  We were supposed to start our ERP group morning session with the remaining Phase 3 goal and objectives presentation but group member Augie Prescott was absent due to a medical issue so our ERP social worker Ms. Grey, decided to review each victim impact letter with us prior to their presentation to the group on Thursday. Speaking of Augie, we found out his interstate compact which would allow him to move to Alabama upon release, was approved.  Some more good news was that Scott Bunker has had his catheter removed and has been cleared of serious medical issues.  So this was all good to hear.  I was the first one to have my victim impact letter reviewed with Ms. Grey.  It was from my ex-wife JoAnn.  She described hating being alone during our marriage, the disastrous effect on my stepdaughters, being left with the mortgage, accused me of being unfaithful (which isn’t true) while admitting she had not been a saint either.  Though it was biased, there was a lot of truth in what she said.  I’m not nervous about reading it to the group though.  There was nothing there I haven’t talked about or have been dishonest about with my ERP group.  After I was done, I went up to the computer room to work on our graduation project handout for the ceremony.  It wasn’t long before I was joined by just about everybody in the group all giving their input on what it should look like while standing behind me.  Every time I did something that didn’t work out they were of course quick to point that out.  I patiently explained about the Undo function in Microsoft Word.  Ms. Grey sent word when she saw everyone up in the computer room with me that I wasn’t allowed to talk about the letter from JoAnn.  She needn’t have worried.  I still don’t volunteer information about myself unnecessarily.  But the good news on the graduation project handout is that the images Ms. Grey gave me this time – the bumblebee transformer – worked out well this time.  Not only that, but since everyone was waiting they all had the chance to sign off on its design.  So I put it on the disc and would give it to Ms. Grey at the afternoon session.  Let’s hope it’s done.  The afternoon session started off with Ms. Grey telling us she would not share how she evaluated us in Phase 2 and if we wanted to see it we would have to ask our parole officer (PO) after we got out.  When we asked why, she just flat out said she didn’t want to.  We were pretty mystified and annoyed.  Wouldn’t she want us to know how we were evaluated?  We want to see it if the PO does, though these guys who have been locked up before say the PO doesn’t care about such things.  So that caused a bit of a stir after group.  The rest of the day was spent listening to the goals and objectives of the rest of the group members.  Tomorrow is Wednesday, a Training Day, which means there are no groups.  She has the disc with our graduation project program on it.  I don’t anticipate an eventful rest of the week.  I’ll probably end up regretting I said 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).  Cellie Brian Whalen just as recently released forcer cellie Corey Ball, was released shortly after breakfast, about 7:15 am.  His parole officer (PO) came to get him.  Just like Ball and Andre Charles, he swore he’d write but I doubt he will.  It’s just Larry Sands and I in the cell for now.  We both dread having to take on new cellies with this short amount of time left for us but with a new ERP group starting next week, it is inevitable.  Most of the guys from the last ERP graduating class are still here because of various reasons such as judges haven’t signed off yet or problems with getting their place to live approved.  I’m grateful my situation, though not ideal, is pretty much set.  I started my ERP morning group session bringing with me the disc I had put all our graduation materials on to give to our ERP social worker Ms. Grey to be printed.  I was happy to be done.  The session started with Ms. Grey letting us know that she’d be on vacation the week beginning May 30th through June 4th and next week, the week of May 23rd, would be devoted to the final PO call for group members, though two members had their PO calls today. Augie Prescott had his call and no clue how things went.  But Mark Hogan also had his call and his parole was supposed to have been transferred weeks ago from Milwaukee County but no go.  They wanted to put him in a transitional living place (TLP) in Milwaukee if it doesn’t get worked out.  His response?  He wants to go back to PRC and have them send him to a minimum security facility once he graduates ERP.  He doesn’t want the more intense scrutiny of Milwaukee County than he would get at the rural county he wants to go and where he owns land.  So I get it.  The topic turned to our graduation project.  I gave her the disc.  I thought that would be the end of it.  We had a lot of spare time at the end of our morning session and Ms. Grey said it was extreme torture having to sit here with nothing to do which drew a big laugh from us with some commenting that she now knew how they felt.  It thought that whole thing was interesting.  In the afternoon session, she had returned with the disc I had given her and had complaints about how some of it was worded.  I said that was fine, she allowed me to go to the computer room and change that.  Once I came back, I gave the disc back to her but it was pretty clear they had been talking about the project and me while I was gone.  Ms. Grey claimed it was her idea that she was unhappy with the amount we had borrowed from the previous ERP class design though her words were strikingly familiar to the terms used by Larry Sands in his objections.  She took a vote and it was voted that they basically wanted to start over with a new transformer and colors, the bumblebee.  I was extremely unhappy.  After all it had been decided as a group previously, we had wanted as little work as possible to have to be done for this project.  It did mean Ms. Grey would have to find a new picture of a transformer.  And at least I’ll have a whole week to work on it.  But I won’t lie.  I am still unhappy.  We did our Phase 3 goal presentation today.  It took the tone of lets hurry up and get it done.  Little to no feedback from anyone really.  Tomorrow we are supposed to read our victim impact letters.  We were supposed to have gone over those in private with her and determine if it was going to be read to the group.  Now we’ll have 5 minutes to review it.  I’m guessing the time crunch is coming into play here.  We’re also supposed to review the ripple effect poster.  So it’ll be an interesting day tomorrow.  And I already can’t wait for it to be over with!


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  My first morning as a swamper along with my fellow swamper, David Sussex went without incident.  In the time we await the food I got to know him a little bit.  He proclaims himself a born again Christian, as I consider myself, and I’ve seen no reason to doubt him.  He is very vocal about his faith here while I am, as with everything else I do here, am very quiet.  Every morning he is out there reading his Bible just as I do.  If he irritates me in some fashion, its probably his desire to engage me in conversation about what I’m reading and start “preaching” about anything I might share that I struggle with.  But that probably says more about me than him!  As our ERP group got started that morning our ERP Social Worker, Ms. Grey, took the topics from the resumes and interviews to the in-depth topic of relationships.  She handed out another workbook from The Change Companies designed for the Federal Bureau of Prisons that we had used early in group called Living With Others, and another packet from Earnie Larson.  We have used his materials before as well.  We spent the morning on an exercise where we identified the feelings connected to dating through marriage.  She then erased the words “first date” and replaced it with “addiction” and it followed pretty closely.  Pretty clever.  In the afternoon we watched the first four parts of video From the Inside Out from Hazeldon featuring Earnie Larson.  It’s actually quite good.  The first part got into why relationships are important. It looked at positive and negative relationships in our past lives, the different types of relationships, how love has been taught to us in the past, and principles of building good relationships.  I had difficulty sharing details of what my past impressions of love were like early on and solidified as the years went on.  But everyone knows me now and aren’t shocked by my answers anymore.  Even if they were, I decided long ago I was going to be honest.  I’m also grateful no one calls me a liar here as others have in the past, such as the psychiatrist at my court proceedings did and others did as I was growing up into adulthood.  I’m now able to document most details of my past thanks to my contact with my biological family.  After group ended at 4 pm, we had another fill in guard as they still haven’t yet replaced Ruth Barthowski, named Larry Cable.  Due to differing rules with different guards, there’s always a certain amount of risk involved.  Following customs set by pervious officers or what is considered normal.  But it was pretty clear while Sussex and I waited for the dinner trays he was going to be anything but predictable.  Its customary for inmates to go out in the hall in front of the cell to fart if necessary as a courtesy to their cellies.  However; Cable yelled at cellie Corey Ball for doing so.  Then he had us swampers walk around and make sure cell doors were closed.  Again, not normally done.  Cable then tried to micromanage how many extra trays we’d get and how many we’d try to send away.  Ok, I don’t care.  But then the extra tray I did get I took to my table and gave away all of its contents to the guys sitting there.  Cable said I couldn’t give the extra food away, that it was only for me, even though the rule book clearly says I can.  Problem is technically swampers aren’t supposed to get extra food at all.  So the rulebook doesn’t help either of us.  So as he is yelling at me in front of everyone, he announces he won’t allow extra trays when he works here anymore.  Others would later tell me that I should have quit right there.  But I didn’t.  I was mad though. I would return later before 6 pm count and ask him not to hold the whole unit responsible for something I didn’t know was his rule.  Finally he said he’d consider it.  It was uncomfortable at cleanup before 9:15 pm count.  But I’m just grateful he won’t be here often.  Being a swamper is fine but I’m not going to put myself in jeopardy to do it. 


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 usual Wednesday there are no ERP group sessions so very little happens.  An interesting dynamic has grown between cellies Brian Whalen and Larry Sands.  As was noted previously, Sands likes to tell stories about his sexual conquests and I also mentioned I tune them out.  Well now these two sit there and tell stories to each other.  Whalen as always is trying to tell stories that keep pace with the ones Sands tells.  But Sands busts him as his stories are inconsistent or he confuses details from earlier stories.  At night I put on my headphones as I see this activity as childish and annoying but because during the day no electronics are allowed, I’m forced to hear what’s being said.  But quite frankly, this is nothing in comparison to what it used to be like when Andre Charles was still here.  That night someone actually showed up from the outside world for a Bible study which we haven’t had in awhile.  There are no religious services on Sundays and AA or NA meetings are rarely held.  But as I grabbed my Bible to go and sign out guard Ruth Barthowski let me know no one else was going and it would likely be cancelled.  It’s certainly different than the religion at Dodge Correctional Institution (DCI) where people from the outside world were constantly coming in and social interaction available it influences their desire to attend a bit.  The next day our ERP group began with the now voluntary breathing exercises, followed by videos on marijuana.  The first two were Hazelden produced entitled The Escape To Nowhere and Lifeline To Recovery.  They focused on the problems that can occur in your life with the abuse of this drug.  The afternoon session was all about another video, Marijuana In The Nineties featuring Dr. David Ohlms.  Yes I know, it’s 2011.  But much of what was said is still true I suppose.  Finishing up the time in the afternoon, our ERP group leader Ms. Grey reviewed my Phase II goals and objectives which I’ll be telling you about soon once they’re approved.  We spent 40 minutes of group time on it with Ms. Grey or I not communicating effectively to each other.  At 3 pm on Thursday it was time for the Community Meeting, which of course our group was later than everyone else as usual.  It started out with the intervention in the incident in the bathroom that ERP group member Scott Dietz had with another inmate.  They had to do a skit re-enacting the scene and write papers on what they learned about each other.  It was painful to watch and listen too as each had been spewing venom about the other since the incident.  But we congratulated them on doing it.  Because a new ERP group started we had to go around and introduce ourselves with name, phase of program, offense we were there for and our hobbies.  Just like they did when we started.  Because of all this it was the longest community meeting I’d seen up to this point.  I was pretty antsy at that point.  I’m generally antsy these days but that’s because I see the light at the end of the tunnel I 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). I haven’t written in about a week because I wanted to focus on getting my autobiography done.  Yes, it’s done.  Thirty pages it took and I was extremely detailed particularly in my early life not just the broad strokes I gave you.  I’m sure I’m going to get a lot of strange looks and treatment from some group members but I feel its important I be honest.  To get you caught up on what is going on, we lost the dryer on our unit for several das.  We had to use the washer for our clothes and then hang them in our cells, from the bunks, TV stands and such making the cell block look like a homeless camp with the smell of mildew in the air.  Those that work out a lot had the worst of the situation.  I had an interesting encounter.  I had my laundry bag lined up in order to get washed.  But the swampers in cahoots with my neighboring cell pushed their bags in front of min, claiming that 2nd shift guard Ruth Bartowski had told them to do so and she was going to take these folks over to the other cell bock where there was a working dryer which in fact she did.  Why Bartowski did this is unknown to me.  The fact all those guys were black and led some to conclude they felt they could do this to me (step in front of me) was because “I wasn’t tan enough.  The only problem with that is Bartowski is white.  But as I’ve said, this place is far more open about racial prejudice than anywhere I’ve been.  But I’m 20 weeks from release.  No way I screw it up over something like this.  In my ERP group, I got jumped on by group members Larry Sands and Scott Dietz for wanting “to fix people” especially in regards to my conflicts I’ve had with Andre Charles.  It is true people find me easy to talk to and some say, including Andre, think I help them.  I wish I knew a way to make it my life’s work.  But its clear to me that they have no idea what it is like to live with him.  By the time it was over, Sands and I were yelling at each other.  Russ Johnson, who has taken his turn as group leader and is experienced at treatment says this is typical of treatment group sessions.  They did ask me one important question.  Where did this need to fix people come from?  Was it because I couldn’t save my biological mother or even my biological father or others who suffered?  The other accusation was I manipulate people by helping them to my viewpoint or desired action.  I suppose to a degree it’s true.  Ms. Grey, ERP Group Coordinator, handed out a track called “King Baby” by Hazelden that seems to point to that (it’s an excellent read by the way) along with many other personality types.  But its something to consider.  We finished up through Chapter 8 of “Houses of Healing” book and read letters we wrote to our inner child.  In general they were, including mine, well pretty general.  But that’s ok.  We also watched a movie called “Antwone Fisher” starring Denzel Washington that was quite good.  Everyone in my cell is getting along.  Nothing has changed on where I’m going when I get out.  I still don’t know.  But I got an interesting letter.  My sponsors monitor my email and relatives of my biological father have made contact.  I had had out feelers for years on ancestry.com and they finally found them.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet.  It’s not as simple an answer as you might 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).  I woke up to cellie Andre Charles, banging around intentionally trying to disturb the rest of us in retaliation for yesterday’s events.  I bet you’re as tired of reading about this as I am living it.  But I took advantage.  I got up and got my laundry and shower done by 7:30 am.  In the news department, I’m starting a new protein only diet today.  I’m 6’1” and 200 lbs, heavier than I’ve ever been.  Basically I’ll only eat protein.  No more chips, carbs and such.  So I ordered meat sticks and tuna off canteen.  So we’ll see how that works.  I’m not fat but I want to keep from getting that way.  Plus I ordered a multivitamin off canteen so its not like I’m not getting that stuff.  Anyway, Ms. Grey came for our morning ERP session and started out with our breathing exercise and moved onto a “pretest” of our knowledge about the things we’ll be covering in ERP which I got an 82.  She elected to wait until next week for our assignment on the inner child from yesterday.  No one complained.  A new book was handed out, the second in the series from The Change Companies called “Rational Thinking” and got out first assignment, Chapter 1 – “Learning Your ABC’s” of emotion and action.  “A” stands for the activating event, “B” is for Beliefs and “C” is for consequences.  As usual, if you want details, ask.  After we were done, cellie Malik Pearl let me know the social worker questioned cellie Brian Whalen about this situation in our cell.  He went back on what he told us he was going to say and instead said everything was fine.  I haven’t been questioned.  But Andre returned to the cell crowing how Malik was such a punk and how we’ll never get him out of this cell.  Unless there’s a fight I suspect he’s right.  Once again we had it out.  Once again nothing got resolved.  I’ve just had it with this guy.  Afterwards, I just relaxed and enjoyed an episode of MASH.  Hard to be in a bad mood after that.