Posts Tagged ‘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).  Our ERP social worker Ms. Grey started off the day finishing up the workbook The Price of Freedom is Living Free. Relapse, Recidivism, and Recovery by Jack. D. Cooper and the video that goes along with it.  She pointed out the entry on the last page (52) entitled “The Beginning” really sums up the choices before us, to live free or to live in bondage.  I wish I had the space to share it but I sent my copy to the blog sponsors and they can link or post it per their choice. Here is the excerpt:

“The Beginning – Those of use who have made the choice to live free understand that the choices we make will always have a price tag.  We just need to be clear on what price we are going to pay:  the price for freedom or the price for bondage.  Both choices in living are available to us.  The pay-off for our old values in living are consistent and predictable…standing for count, random strip searches, the constant roar of inmates, correction officers, concrete and steel or waiting for that letter that won’t come.  What price are you going to pay?  In making your decision, you might ask yourself, “Am I prepared to spend another month, decade or lifetime locked up for a few hours of excitement here on the street?”  If your answer is yes, the system will gladly refund your misery. The choice rests with you.

Whether we are locked up or on the streets, we can choose to live free.  As “values” in living are rational, sound and sensible.  We recognize that we possess the ability to feel, appreciate and understand, as we learn to change the internal and external condition of our lives.  We can take care of ourselves while simply caring for others.  We can start living our own lives usefully, respecting other people’s rights to live as they choose.  We will understand that getting is not always better than giving, and that chasing objects and holding attitudes that set us apart from other people are not as important as seeking values that will bring us together.  Finally, we will see that we’ve been brought back into being…living with value and living free.”

For lunch we were having chicken salad, one of the better meals here.  For me as a swamper, what it meant is we would go through more bread than normal.  We’re usually provided 3 loafs of bread for the meal but inmates are accustomed to asking for and getting more than the 2 pieces allotted by the menu, which is okay, considering they cheat us on the quantity on most other things such as potatoes!  But toady I wasn’t going to be able to give more than 2 slices.  Inmates weren’t happy when I wouldn’t give more than 2 slices, but oh well. I treated them all the same, my cellies, guys at my table, everyone.  I told those who gave me a hard time they could come back for anything left over.  As I finished serving I heard a remark made by ERP group member Mark Hogan that since I’d become a swamper I was acting like a cop.  He was talking to someone else but clearly intended for me to hear it.  Like an idiot, I stopped at his table and asked him if he had something on his mind.  Fortunately he said no.  What would I have done if he hadn’t????  Of course, I didn’t let it go at that.  After the meal while I was cleaning up, I went to his cell and asked him what the problem was.  Hogan apologized and I reluctantly tapped his knuckles.  I don’t believe his apology but I’m betting he was smarter than me today knowing nothing good would come from this.  At our afternoon ERP session, Ms. Grey showed a movie I think we’ve seen before called Smoke Signals, a movie showing two Native Americans who attempt to overcome their own issues from their past each for their own perspective.It was obviously effective on some level for Augie Prescott as he was moved to tears.  I thought it was a good movie.  But I decided during the movie that this swamper experiment is going to have to end.  The reasons I took the job weren’t nearly as important to me as graduating.  ERP in 28 days on June 10th.  It had given me the material for my Phase 3 Goals and Objectives on improving socialization and patience so it wasn’t a total bust.  Only thing the guard who’d have to approve the change, Roscoe Peters, wasn’t working so I told the sergeant on duty I wasn’t feeling well.  I got the guy who had the job before me and who still wanted it to take over for me until Peters got back.  Many, including former cellie Malik Pearl who had tried to scheme him out of the job, weren’t happy he was coming back but I just don’t care.  I felt like a huge load was off my shoulders.  I got more good news.  In the mail, blog sponsors let me know my biological relatives had checked in and they were safe.  Also, cellie Brian Whalen who is being released Monday, that though he wishes to to maintain contact with the former swamper who wants to rob him, he is no longer willing to engage Whalen in any kind of business dealing since Whalen has a bit of a tendency to talk too much.  You think????  But Whalen doesn’t have any idea of the kind of bullet he has dodged.  Next week is the third PO call and our presentation of Phase 3 Goals and Objectives, while working on our legacy project.  Let’s keep it simple from here on out.

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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).  Last night a little touch of stomach flu took hold.  If I were free, I’d just hang out by the toilet.  In another prison, I’d have had a stall to use.  Here everyone can see and hear you do your business which just makes it so hard for me to conduct my business!  There is a blue nylon cloth that separates you from the folks brushing their teeth or washing their face in the sinks.  So what we do is flush the toilet at the same time when we do our business to cover the noise then again to cover the smell.  If there are others present and you didn’t time it right they’ll let you know.  We even turn the water at the sinks on to prevent the noise.  I got through the night to the usual confrontation that cellie Andre Charles had with someone this morning.  This time the someone was cellie Malik Pearl.  Malik’s offense this time was to wake Andre up for count.  He looked out for him for crying out loud.  But he was having none of this.  I had no clear cut assignment to work on today so I began the autobiography I’d been assigned but was dreading.  Before lunch I completed 4 pages.  It was detailing much of what I summarized for you all early in my life.  It was most difficult to write.  I won’t post the autobiography as its off point to what “Life in the Wisconsin Prison System” is like.  I share with you about my life enough for you to see the prison system through the lens I provide.  But if you do request it, I will post it here.  I’m okay with that as you know me but you don’t know who I am.  Weird huh?  But be warned, I take pride in the fact I bring you what happens here while avoiding the use of unnecessary vulgarity.  Not so in this document.  After lunch, I was getting ready to go back to the dayroom to resume work on the autobiography when I sat up on my bunk and of course Charles flashing an obscene gesture at me.  I walked away to use the restroom and of course I returned shortly to ask him if he was flashing that sign at me.  He denied it but who else could it be?  I walked away and resumed work.  After program, I returned to my cell where Malik told me if he’d been on the street, Charles would have been shot and that there are several guys here who he has talked smack to that if they see him on the street they will take him out.  Apparently they’ve told him to show up in their cell and he backed down as well.  I just don’t want to get involved in any kind of war here.  But it was good to see Malik, myself and cellie Brian Whalen united against Charles.  I just wonder how this is going to play out.  But doing that autobiography, I’m not going to sleep well tonight.  These issues really pale in comparison.  At mail call, I got another Christmas card today.  This one was from my ex-wife.  She is inquiring about visiting, along with her daughters.  If you have been following, you know this family was a big trigger of the stress and anxiety that I failed to get help for that contributed to me being in prison.  The answer is obvious you would think, but I want to give it some thought.


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP). Every prison I’ve been in has its resident artist and here is no exception.  Since its the Christmas season, he is making a mint charging guys two to three dollars of canteen a card.  But I’m telling you the quality of the cards is just exceptional!  Of course, this is entirely illegal, according to the code of conduct.  They would call the offense “running an enterprise” and you could go to the hole and kicked out of ERP.  I don’t have the funds to buy those and if I did the people I would send them to, such as some of my sponsors, would be very upset with me for exposing myself to potential problems in order to send them a Christmas card.  But it doesn’t mean I can’t admire the work being done.  Another sign of the year is the football pools going on around here.  To participate costs you a bag of chips off canteen.  Again I don’t participate but I didn’t participate in office pools as an IT guy either.  Here all it takes is one guy to say something and the world changes for everyone involved.  So no, I’m not going to expose myself that way.  It can happen, usually because someone bets something they don’t have and because they fear reaction from the other inmates to their stupidity, they go to the guards and blow the whistle.  Then cells get tossed for evidence of betting, statements get taken and it gets to be a mess.  It’s just not worth it for someone who has a short amount of time.  As far as what’s going on here, my cellie, Brian Whalen, thinks I should stick around the Waukesha, WI area and that I’d make a good car salesman.  He says he knows people, could get me into it and they’d really like my computer skills.  I really don’t have a solid plan and I like the idea of car sales.  I’d eat, drink and breathe in learning it but I’d do that with anything I’m in.  That’s how I learned Information Technology, became known .NET Framework programmer working for a Fortune 500 company and all this with just a GED.  My work ethic and dedication has always been there.  As tempting as it is for me to jump on what Whalen is trying to tell me, I am not excited about putting my future in his hands.  On the other hand, I’m going to have to accept others help regardless where I land.  But I really need to put this out of my mind for now.  Today is December 12th.  Tomorrow I begin ERP.  If I don’t succeed there, this is all wasted mental energy.  So, even though the future is right around the corner, I’ve got to focus and have faith that the future will be just fine without me stressing on it now.  So, it’s six months to go starting now. 


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  One of the things I’m not going to miss about barracks life here is rather unpleasant, but its a fact.  You see, people fart!  Yes, they do.  Everyone will insist that their cellie, or bunkmate, is the worst when it comes to this.  I, of course, insist mine is.  It got so bad the other night I had to turn on my fan even though it isn’t hot out anymore.  He’s diabetic, and when he cheats, it gets real bad.  Others handle it how you would expect junior high boys to handle it, with laughter.  Competitions (just use your imagination, I’m not going to describe that!) and denials.  There’s times I wish I could act like that, all silly and what not.  It’s just not me.  I’m okay acting like that with kids but not adults.  I do it took, but being top bunk I don’t torture anyone!  At least I hope not.  So those are part of the sounds and smells of barracks life in FMCI.  As a friend of mine has pointed out, it is similar in some aspects to military life.  There are major differences.  Those in the military are there by choice and are of a higher character and purpose which affects how they conduct themselves and how they interact with others.  Here contains a sometimes subliminal, sometimes not, jockeying for position using intimidation tactics and scams. Beware those who bear gifts or seek them.  Some will be more than willing to give you things that cost them nothing, off their meal tray for example, but the tradeoff is they’ll expect to be given things you do pay for. You would think in a minimum security environment this would be less of an issue but its actually worse due to the fact that there’s less control and the inmates have more money.  Those running scams never get me because my answer is always the same.  The answer is always “no”.  Some tell me I’ve got to learn to play the game.  My response is usually along the lines of ‘why?’?  I drive these people crazy at times.

Of course, in the real world, people fart.  In the real world, lots of people are running scams.  My former step daughter, Lynn, was always up to something.  Her mother always fell for it.  I never did.  Guess what?  I drover her crazy too.  I’m trying to change, not be so suspicious all the time.  Change is only hard when you are not in control.  I’ve got to go and find a nose plug as I hear we’re having refried beans for supper.  It’s going to be a long night!


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  The laundry procedure is quite different here than it was at Dodge Correctional Institution (DCI) or at Jackson Correctional Institution (JCI). Here we accumulate clothes and wash it with the clothes we buy from the catalogs, as well as the sheets we put on top of the foam padding we lay on.  You can also choose to turn it all in except what you personally buy and pick up clean stuff after count around 6 pm.  The only problem with that is its a crapshoot what you’ll get.  You can tell them what sizes you need but much like DCI or JCI, it may or may not resemble that, or it’s really stretched out.  Here you learn to hang onto good laundry and bigger sheets and wash it yourself with laundry soap you can buy off canteen.  With only 2 old washers and dryers, inmates try to keep them running all the time.  If you aren’t there when the washer or dryer completes, other inmates yell real loud, “Washer!” or “Dryer!” with a voice that indicates annoyance.  If you still don’t get your laundry, it gets piled by the guard station which I’m sure annoys them.  I’m not willing to let my laundry out of my sight so that hasn’t been a problem for me.  I don’t have a trust issue here.  I trust people here to repeat previous patterns of behavior and that for many, includes theft.  Once done, I brought my laundry back to my bunk.  Since I’m on top bunk, my cellie leaves while i make it up.  Speaking of my cellie, his parole hearing was rescheduled and he actually got the Act 28 early release which was surprising especially since he got kicked out of his ERP program at Oshkosh Correctional Institution (OCI).  Now he has to go through the approval process.  He has handled me being around more ok. At least I think so.  Neither of us are the type to talk a lot so its hard to tell.

Well, I’ll close with some updates.  I told you previously I had lost a lot of weight during chemotherapy and I was trying to gain the weight back. Mission accomplished and then some!  All of a sudden, it just appeared.  I’m not 6’1”  and 195 pounds.  I’m heavier now than I’ve ever been.  It feels good but now I wonder if I’m going to get fat.  Of course, when I go to Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF) for my ERP program, I’m told the portion sizes for meals are smaller and there’s little canteen to get.  So, I’ll be dieting one way or another.  Next, I’m told my sponsors are now mirroring this blog on WordPress. They have more tools they can use like statistics, then Windows Live I’m told.  So feel free to check it out and tell them or me what you think.  Finally, I was told on the last scan, they found an abscessed tooth.  I’m not sure what that is but the doc asked them to take care of it.  It explains the pain a bit.   They asked why I didn’t say something.  I guess its because, as usual, I’m the last one to admit I have a problem.  One of these days, I’m going to learn that lesson, and in the process, spare myself and others the unnecessary pain that only gets worse with the lack of honesty.