Posts Tagged ‘involvement’


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  If I thought Monday was bad temperature wise, Tuesday made it look like a walk in the park in comparison.  For the outside world in Milwaukee it was another record breaking day at a high of 97 degrees.  The difference here was unlike yesterday, from the moment we woke up, it was unbelievably hot and humid.  The day started off normal.  Our ERP social worker, Ms. Grey arrived about 10 am and we reviewed the Phase 3 self evaluations assigned weeks ago.  Nothing really all that interesting there.  There was a distinct sense of hurry up and get this done so we can get out of this room with no air movement at all.  After everyone had gone, ERP group member Russ Johnson gave Ms. Grey the disc with the letters that need to be printed for the graduation project.  He was excellent for stepping up the way he did.  Again I thought that this was the end for my involvement on this project.  After lunch it was decided to call off anything program related.  Ms. Grey came by and brought the disc back. It seems when the graduation project program was printed on both sides it went from the gold color to a reddish blue mixture.  I’ve seen this before when printer ink runs low but she wanted the colors changed.  I complied, only to make her happy and be done with it.  Again she approached me later on wanting the time of the graduation ceremony put on the program which I did.  Shortly before she had done that, they announced all ERP program activities were cancelled for the day because of the heat.  After she was done with me, she went into the rec room and got everybody out of there who were working out or playing ping pong.  She had a point but she didn’t make these guys very happy.  Guard Art Coleman reluctantly told them to get out as well.  Meanwhile, cellie Larry Sands came up with an interesting idea to beat the heat.  The vent in our cell that streams this hot and humid air was a source of aggravation.   Sands came up with the idea of taping up the vent.  We waited to see if it would change the temp in our cell at all.  It appeared to at first, perhaps it was our minds playing tricks on us.  But by evening it became apparent to me it wasn’t helping.  I stuck newspaper under the door reasoning that perhaps the hot humid air in the dayroom was still coming in that way.  Still no affect.  In fact, it actually felt hotter.  I said something but nobody wanted to take the tape off the vent.  Still, all things considered, I’ve got it pretty good.  I’m almost out of prison.  I’ve got a fan.  I’ve got a TV.  Most guys in this building don’t have any of those things and they’re just starting their bit (time in prison).  The loss of joy in the fact I’m getting out soon is directly connected to my lack of gratitude for what God has gotten me through and has give me.  Tomorrow will be another day similar to this one.  Let’s hope my attitude improves. 


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 Memorial Day, a day we remember and thank those who served and especially those who were killed or wounded.  Both my biological family  and my adoptive family have had family members serve in the Armed Forces.  My biological father served in Vietnam as a military policeman.   His father served as well, I’m told as an infantryman.  Other relation in that family served, though I’m still getting to know them, so I’m not sure how.  In my adoptive family, my grandmother and grandfather both on my adoptive father’s side served in World War II in the medical corps as nurses which is how they met.  If you’ve been following along, you now know, as I have been finding out, a lot happened to my biological father that led to the events that involved me.  We’ve learned his issues began before his involvement in the Vietnam war.  For my adoptive family, it’s been no cakewalk either.  Grandfather, along with his daughter they all have fought life long battles with mental illness.  My uncles Frankie and Gary, served seem to have been the most severely affected.  Frankie’s life ended in suicide.  For Gary, he’s spent virtually his entire life in a VA mental hospital in Tomah, WI.  With mental illness present in the family, being part of the military embellished on tendencies and impacted family members.  So, the point of all this of course is that war has accelerated the existing wounds for those who fought, followed by the collateral damage inflicted on those around them, damage that is multigenerational.  I have seen signs of progress.  Years ago if a soldier acted out, there was little help, certainly no recognition of the problem.  Now I see commercials telling soldiers there is help out there and implying it’s their duty to seek it out if needed.  America has learned this lesson of war, to not neglect those who fought after the battle is over.  It’s unfortunate it took so long and so many suffered directly or indirectly.  But today, I tip my hat to all the veterans in my families and in my country.  I’m proud of them 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).  With Monday night being cellie Andre Charles last night prior to release he was bouncing off the walls and keeping us all up.  Cellie Corey Ball broke out his refried beans and I even broke my no food after 8 pm rule and joined in.  It was quite late before we settled down.  The next morning (Tuesday)  was my laundry and shower day so it means I was up at 5 am so I was pretty tired.  Andre was also up at 5 am which he never does.  But we all were guessing he’d be gone by lunch.  Group began with the ERP group leader telling us she was bringing the breathing exercise back despite our vote to eliminate it but she was making it optional to participate.  After we were done she announced we were going through chapters of the Houses of Healing by Robin Casarjian and we had to go slowly because we didn’t have a lot of content left in the ERP program to cover and because we’re at MSDF, a maximum security facility, we can’t do much of what Phase III of the ERP program that inmates at other institutions (usually minimum or medium security) would normally be doing.  That phase at those institutions have a lot of community involvement getting them ready for release.  So we are reading chapters from that book.  Fortunately it’s an excellent book but the guys in the group were clearly bored as we read aloud.  Even Ms. Grey seemed to not be into this.  At lunch, Andre was still here and when count rolled around guard Roscoe Peters announced it was Andre’s last count.  We returned to group at 1 pm.  We went over Chapter 12 and wrote letters to ourselves, acknowledging and forgiving ourselves for the past wrongs we’ve done.  I’d already done this in my Phase I goals and objectives, so I read that aloud when it was my turn.  At about 2 pm, I looked out the window of the group room and saw Andre and his ERP group leader having an extremely animated conversation.  H saw me in the window and threw up his hands in the air in frustration.   I’d find out after group he was told for reasons unknown no transport was available to take him to his parole officer (PO) office so he’d have to stay another night.  The PO herself would come get him at 10:30 am-11:00 am the next day.  Andre was furious.  A “normal” person locked up 2 years as he’s been would be anxious and upset but as we’ve seen with him, he’s not “normal” when it comes to anger.  That night he paced the floor, stressing on the injustice done to him, snapping at everyone in the room at some point.  I just stayed silent.  I’m just as unhappy as he is that he’s still here.  We were assigned to make a list of reasons we are grateful.  I focused on that and prayed for deliverance to come for both of us tomorrow. 


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 after a very bad night, with my cellie, Andre Charles, in a foul mood and trying to pick a fight with another cellie, Malik Pearl.  The issue this time was Andre thought Malik was angry over all the noise he was making.  He probably was but he hadn’t said a word to Andre.  I rolled out of bed and ate breakfast.  For whatever reason, Andre requires our attention and I’m just not going to give it today.  Ms. Grey, our ERP coordinator, is on vacation but she had left behind assignments for us to do.  We were to read chapter 1- 2 of House of Healing (HOH) and complete the assignment in the morning session of our ERP program and in the afternoon watch the first video on HOH, as well as read the Criminal conduct and Substance Abuse  (CCSAT), and work on our group mission statement.  Reading HOH, I can tell you straight away that the author Robin Casarjian is a genius in how she frames things for the reader.  The first two chapters are entitled “Doing Time” and “Who Are You Anyway?” “Doing Time” feels like a pep talk, that regardless of your circumstances behind bars, making change in yourself is worthwhile work.  “Who Are You Anyway?” is a look at our core, our “self’, surrounded by our sub-personalities and how “over-identifying with any one of them can debilitate us or stunt our growth” (p.13). I can see how someone with my background may have gotten so lost in a sub-personality now.  I highly recommend this book to everyone regardless of the kind of prison you’re in.  I completed the “Who Am I” assignment on page 10 and moved on to the CCSAT workbook.  We were to complete Session 1 but many were way past that.  Session 1was concerned with explaining the program and setting up goals to avoid “criminal thinking” and recidivism.  I feel out of place with this workbook and its tone feels, the word comes to mind is clinical.  But I will give it my best effort.  I mean I don’t have a choice, right?  After lunch in our cell, Andre went on and on to me about when he says he’s through with people it’s nothing personal to me even though Malik and Whalen, my other cellie, agreed he absolutely was.  I wanted to reply that though I hope he finds the help he needs, I couldn’t care less if he was through with me.  In fact, I wish he and I had no involvement at all.  But for once, I bit my tongue.  After lunch, we’d been told to watch the first video of the HOH book series.  It took 20 minutes for us inmates to get the DVD player in the weight room running.  The video we were supposed to watch told the story of how HOH came to happen (remarkable itself – email if you want to know) and further discussion on identifying who we are.  Then we as a group decided to watch the second video so we didn’t have to set it up again.  This was on forgiveness, the ability to see the good in a person past their present issue.  Again, outstanding stuff.  I feel I do a good job of that most of the time. It’s to see the light bulb, not the lampshade.  Our next item, was the mission statement for our ERP group MS. Grey asked us to come up with.  Yours truly did the honors.  It states “we seek to learn how to live a clean and sober life through truth and accountability to each other, surrendering our old way of doing things and being open to new ideas, humbly and empathetically looking at ourselves and each other in a balanced fashion, remembering to be truthful for our new lives.”  Let’s hear it for the run on sentence!  🙂  The “Ripple Effect” of addiction was assigned to our ERP group inmate leader, Larry Sands.  They cancelled our ERP group night session so I listened to Whalen state how fed up he was and Andre keeps goading him.  Man, my headphones can’t get here fast enough!  But the best part of the day, I actually got a Christmas card in the mail tonight!  So, I’m happy.  It’s good to know you’re not forgotten once in awhile, you know?


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  I woke up expecting Lt. Brodie to call me at any point to hear the ticket that Percy gave me.  The day started off with Ms. Greer reporting the follow up she did with Waukesha County on them trying to charge me for medical treatment provided while I was in their custody.  It seems it is their “policy” not to pay for medical treatment while in custody.  Of course, if they had told me that at the time, I would’ve refused any treatment until I got to prison.  I know I would have.  I know me.  Why they told me they’d pay for it when they really wouldn’t is a mystery to me.  But Ms. Greer suggested I get a lawyer and returned to me all documentation I had provided to her.  It was her way of ending any involvement on this.  She also knows I have no way of getting a lawyer and fighting this while I’m here.  Still, Ms. Greer made a phone call on my behalf.  It’s not much but it’s more than I’d seen anyone do on my behalf while in the WPS.  So I’ll giver her props for that.  Still, it isn’t good news.  I have no idea what to do on this now.  I think I have little I can do while I’m here.  A little later, I finally received a coat. It’s ironic because I’m probably going to be put on bunk restriction and not able to walk the track anyway.  What’s more is I don’t really feel like it anyway.  Adding that to the lack of sleep and the skipping of meals I’ve been doing and I’m pretty sure I’m in a bad place.  Funny thing is if I hadn’t been writing I wouldn’t have connected the pieces.  I just don’t know what to do about it.  If I say anything, if they put me on meds, or they say I’m not suitable, I’ll lose my ERP program start date (Dec 13th).  Anyway, Brodie didn’t show up all day.  They were to hand out canteen in the evening.  I didn’t think anything of it.  But shortly after canteen got handed out, my cellie told me it was coming around.  I asked what he meant.  He then explained Charlie was surrounded by several guys at his bunk and they were all yelling and getting at him in a real aggressive manner.  Listening in, it seems Charlie had borrowed so much canteen from so many people to pay for his cigarette habit that he couldn’t possibly pay everyone back.  His size couldn’t save him and he couldn’t hide.  His victims pursued him into the dayroom, getting in his face and he kept alternating between threatening and pleading with his accusers.  As a rule, I have a good heart and don’t want to see anyone hurt.  I don’t want to see Charlie hurt.  But it was justice inmate style for once I was ok with it.  I wonder if his behavior will change.