Posts Tagged ‘item’


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  After two days without any kind of ERP group I was ready to get back at it if only to defeat the boredom.  First item on the agenda was images for our graduation program handout for June 10th.  Previously ERP social worker Ms. Grey gave me what she thought were images but she had accidentally saved the web page instead.  Hopefully these will be right.  I have retained the majority of the color schema of the previous ERP graduation handout.  There just isn’t time to start from scratch.  So then we plowed into the new video and workbook series The Price of Freedom is Living Free Relapse, Recidivism, and Recovery by Jack Cooper.  We completed the majority of the wordbook through page 41.  It was a simple yet effective way to address these issues.  One interesting point was when the issue of what we fear came up.  I answered honestly that I fear my release from prison.  There is so much I’m going to have to do that it can be overwhelming to think about it.  It also might have something to do with my horrible attitude as of late.  At 3 pm, we went into the dayroom for our weekly community meeting.  These have really gone downhill.  Even guys in our own group aren’t participating.  The quote and word for the week were people that were turned into the butt of a joke.  It ended with the guys who got busted the previous night complaining about it during the time that was supposed to be for “positive reinforcements” at the end.  Ms. Carr ended up telling him he’d go to the hole if he didn’t quiet down, and she didn’t care if he graduated or not.  Supper was interesting for a couple reasons with my swamper job. First, swamper David Sussex had taken some cookies I had gotten as extras for serving.  When I found out he had I felt that familiar burn of anger.  Then he commented that he was messing with me and was just giving me a test.  I’m thinking to myself who the heck are you to give me a test?  Fortunately, it ended okay with no hard feelings.  A quirk about me:  I don’t like me or my stuff messed with.  I know that’s not healthy but it is who I am.  How do you fix it?  Then after supper and when we are supposed to clean, Sussex got a visit which meant I had to do all the jobs.  I didn’t mind at all.  His job essentially was to stack the dirty trays on the cart, tie them down, put the trash I get on the car and put it out in the hall to be collected.  No big deal.  People watched out of their cell windows to see if I’d drop the trays or if I knew what I was doing.  I didn’t care.  Getting back to the cell, I heard cellie Brian Whalen got some good news about his release.  His paperwork had been returned and he expects to get cut loose Monday.  I’m happy for him, even though I know his plans and the danger in store for him.  I do think I’m going to warn him this weekend.

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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).  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).  The call had come the previous day letting several inmates know that they should pack up because they were going to be moved.  I was not among them.  One who was included was Saddlebags who himself was headed to a facility in Milwaukee.  Once it became known an inmate is on his way out the vultures come out after their canteen and other possessions.  They use various manipulations or guilt trips on the departing inmate such as lying to them about what they’ll be allowed to have at the next facility or about how pathetic it is to take their canteen with them.  In his case another tactic is employed – theft.  He resides in the aisle next to me and in the early morning hours he discovered the light bulb in his lamp on his bunk had been taken.  Saddlebags tried intimidation and pleading to try to get the light bulb back.  Those in the aisle clearly enjoyed seeing him squirm and gave him replies that only fueled his rage and desperation.  It wasn’t about the light bulb anymore.  They were exposing him as a punk, one who couldn’t protect himself or his things and Saddlebags was attempting to regain a measure of self respect by getting the light bulb back.  What he didn’t understand was the more he tried and failed, the more he put himself on display as the laughing stock of those in his aisle.  I must confess at the time this was going on I was laughing too.  I simply don’t like him, haven’t since the moment I met him.  I tired of listening to his bravado, his disregard for others well being, and how he had hurt others.  But the lesson of why someone shouldn’t laugh at someone else’s misfortune would become evident soon.  Part of the fallout of the first shakedown was that lamps, radios and other electronics that had been altered had either been confiscated, or what had been altered was confiscated often rendering the item useless. Since we’ve had an epidemic of theft of things you wouldn’t consider stealing under normal circumstances.  Wire that is used for an antenna, insulation in a lamp, cardboard and string are such examples.  If it wasn’t part of the device in its original state it got taken.  Inmates often will use materials to enhance or prolong the life of a device.  With much of that material gone, people are scavenging for such.   When I returned from lunch, I found that the insulation in my lamp had been tampered with.  But whoever had tried to take it had ripped too hard on the socket connecting the light bulb, ripping some of the wiring with it.  The lamp had been rendered useless.  Present were my cellie (bunkmate) and those next to my bunk.  They all looked at me out of the corner of their eye but not saying a word.  They knew, they had seen whomever tampered with the lamp but hadn’t said a word then and weren’t saying a word now.  As I’ve said before, though we all act as friends, there is no loyalty.  I didn’t say a word.  I took the lamp down and locked it up having determined I would destroy it rather than give the pieces to anyone else.  I acted like nothing happened.  It kind of fits.  It wasn’t my lamp to begin with.  I don’t dare act like I own it with any credibility. And I had laughed when  Saddlebag’s light bulb had been stolen though the circumstances were different.  I deserved what had happened here and I resolved not to be so smug in the future.