Posts Tagged ‘knowledge’


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 graduation day for another ERP group.  This graduation includes 3 important characters in this blog – Brian Whalen, Corey Ball, along with former cellie Malik Pearl.  About 9:30 am the ceremony started.  They had chosen the name “The Pibts” as their theme in they’re another chance, a one way ticket out of here but if they don’t do what they need to do to stay clean and sober it will be a round trip ticket bat to MSDF or similar place.  The artwork was impressive, with a wall trimmed with gold and blue.  On top were blue circles with a plane inside along with each person’s name.  After the opening remarks, there were comments by the unit manager and the security director who was standing in for the Warden, who couldn’t be there today.  What followed was presentation of quotes by the inmates, who also took the opportunity to thank their ERP social worker Ms. Carr along with a list of others in the room.  Some even took the time to thank the parole officers who took the time to attend, which was a nice gesture.  Then Ms. Carr presented the ERP completion certificates to the inmates as those in attendance clapped.  Like past graduations, cookies were given out.  Since I’m a swamper the guard told me to hand them out, 2 a piece, one chocolate and one ginger.  Of course inmates were trying to get me to give them extras.  One positive thing about me is public opinion of me here isn’t high on my priority list!  So that didn’t happen.  Of course some got seconds before others got their firsts but that’s because they didn’t get in line right away.  Just like first grade right?  Then we got a big surprise.  Our ERP social worker, Ms. Grey, showed up for group.  Normally on graduation day we don’t have group in the morning but she decided to have group anyway.  Cellie and ERP group member Larry Sands had had a conversation with her and she revealed the reason she missed the previous day because she had been mugged.  It was good she was ok.  Again we watched videos form the relationship series From the Inside Out featuring Earnie Larson.  These were the last ones.  We did the accompanying workbook sections for the videos.  We flew right through.  This again was another topic (relationships) that we could have spent weeks on.  Larson did an excellent job through the role play depictions of portraying various relationship behaviors that I’m sure if we had the time it would have been beneficial to go into this in depth.  But there isn’t the time left to do that and everything else scheduled prior to June 10th (our graduation).  As we left group for lunch we noticed that the guy who said he’s going to tell on everyone at a community meeting and all his cellies in a rather heated meeting with two social workers.  It seems all his cellies have tired of his bullying tactics in the cell.  No big surprise huh?  At lunch it was one of our better meals, the Baked fish and cupcakes for dessert.  There were no extras because a guard named Albert Payne ate them all!  He’s the same guard that makes us all stand with our hands to our side at count.  We’ve seen guards eat multiple trays of food at FMCI before so its no big revelation.  But doing it, I was looking forward to that extra cupcake I’d have gotten as a swamper! Smile  But no big deal.  more importantly, my relationship with the other swamper, David Sussex isn’t as good as it was.  He just likes to preach at people about their shortcomings in a religious way.  His outlook is just very immature.  I finally told him he talked too much and shared with him what scripture says about zeal without knowledge.  He didn’t like that.  But its okay.  We’ll be fine.  I’ve got 35 days till my ERP group graduates, no more than 45 till departure.  I’m not letting anything here take my focus off of that.

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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).  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).  I woke up in segregation, also known as “The Hole”, with a much different reality than the one I knew less than 10 hours before.  The night had been quiet much to my surprise as the stories I’d heard about seg said it was loud all the time but as you might expect I didn’t sleep well anyway.  New environments and uncertainty are a huge feeding ground for the anxiety junkie in me to gorge on.  But it was different this time.  I had confidence that I’d come out of this okay, mostly because I felt like I’d done nothing wrong writing for this blog.  I’d conducted myself in a reputable manner, never putting staff or inmates at any kind of risk and being truthful to the best of my knowledge without being vulgar in the process.  I’ve grown and learned a lot as a result and a lot of others have found our efforts useful.  I just didn’t want to believe I”d have to do another 18 months because of this.  Breakfast came in a brown paper bag, the same breakfast on my unit.  But here in Seg, the guards are the ones wearing hairnets and hats, stuffing the breakfast bags and distributing meal trays from us through trap doors in our cells.  Often they have no swamper assistance.  My faith everything was going to come out alright was tested later in the day on Saturday when a guard showed up at my cell wanting my signature for my property.  They’d packed up all my stuff out of my unit.  I wondered if they’d gone through all of that if there was a possibility I’d be coming back to ERP.  I signed it despite not knowing if all the stuff is really there.  I’d seen what can happen when someone goes to the hole, how his supposed friends can rip him off.  I expressed my concerns about my losing my bunk on the ERP unit and what it might mean to guard Sam Neville, the regular 2nd shift guard in Seg on 5A.  He assured me this was standard procedure for anyone going to the hole.  Again he put me at ease.  He also told me he was sure the DOC and MSDF simply didn’t know what to do in this situation as it was something they hadn’t encountered before.  So I would spend the next few days sleeping, pacing the floor, reading my Bible and reading the book The Last Disciple by Hangeraaff and Brower, which incidentally are both excellent books!  Surrounding me in the cells were people representing the extremes of violence and insanity.  Every once in awhile, only when the lights were turned on after 11 am and always on 2nd shift someone would do something which would require 5 to 8 guards to come running to intervene shouting of “Stop Resisting!” as they struggled with the offender.  One such incident the inmate tried to pull Neville through the meal slot in the door which was a physical impossibility.  Another situation when he was trying to move an inmate to another cell, the inmate decided to start kicking him.  In trying to subdue him, one guard was injured using the Taser on him.  The inmate ran around his cell naked which of course everyone saw thanks to the fishbowl mirrors on the walls.  The other inmates cheered.  It was funny yet sad.  The supervisor who would visit him told him he was facing a year in the hole for assaulting staff.  Could you imagine a year of this?  You get 4 hours of rec a week.  Rec consisted of going into a cage a quarter of the size of my cell with a TV on the wall which the guard had the remote for.  On the other side was another gate.  I met a man who was suicidal and an avowed racist on different days. It was just good to have conversation that wasn’t through a door.  I finally got to shower on Monday in my cell.  I got a few visitors.  Dr. Raymonds, a psychiatrist, the psychologist who met with ERP group member Larry Sands and Seg social worker Peter Botha.  All came because unnamed people had expressed concern for my well being.  That made me feel good and was surprising considering how little I say.  But Tuesday came and went with no word if I’d be released.  I even said to Neville, hey you said I’d be out of here by now!  But I knew he didn’t know why either.  Finally, on Thursday night the call I’d been waiting for came.  I was told to pack up and return to my unit.  Boy was I happy!  I was pretty sure everyone there knew about the blog by now.  This place can’t keep a secret to save its life.  How would they all react?  I was nervous but what are you going to do?  The important thing was no institutional charges and I’d get to finish my ERP program.  I said a silent prayer thanking God for answering my prayers as they led my back to my unit on 4C.


I am at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  After little sleep the previous night I wasn’t looking forward to hearing the essays from other group members for their ERP Goals and Objectives as I thought I’d fall asleep.  Of course I was wrong.  I’m not going to go into the rest of the readings except for one person because to a large degree many just plagiarized, almost word for word in some cases, what they read to the group.  Once you get to know a person you know when the words that come out aren’t their own. And of course several told me they did copy outright.  It may not be an entirely bad thing.  If you copy material, it still has to travel through the hand to the brain and back again.  The mission may be accomplished despite the unorthodox delivery.  Granted I’m reaching here but trying to put the best construction on the situation.  The last person to stand up and read was ERP Group member Scott Dietz.  Dietz has kind of become the one in the group whom everyone doesn’t like too much.  As noted before he tells what would be considered wild stories about his success in business and his travels.  Plus he has the annoying habit of always trying to top whatever story is being told particularly with his cell mates.  That won’t make you a lot of friends.  Dietz has also become known for registering uninformed opinions in group on what other members would say or do and do so in a manner that was unfriendly.  It was perceived he would do this to gain favor with ERP group leader Ms. Grey.  If that was the case it didn’t work.  Ms. Grey and Dietz would clash every couple weeks or so over some issue and she gave him a huge workbook on self-esteem for a treatment goal as she saw through his stories too I’m sure.  When he finished reviewing his materials for the group. Where they had been laid back in questioning others, now picked up the pace and the questions were more pointed.  Clearly there was some retaliation going on, though the questions weren’t appropriate.  I’ve learned that its not what you ask but how you ask it that makes all the difference.  My question was “Why was our opinion of you so important in that you share all these things about your life?”  I didn’t accuse him of lying and made the subject of the question about the value you place on our opinion of you. The response I got floored me as it had nothing to do with the question.  Dietz went on a rant about how certain people get away with everything, how he has been physically attacked with guards and inmates and nothing was done about it and how he has been mistreated by Ms. Grey.  I was just shocked as I think the rest of the room was too.  We found out why soon.  It seems last week an inmate who was cleaning the bathroom asked Dietz not to use the facilities after lunch though its commonly accepted practice here you have to clean around people.  Dietz insisted so the inmate took a swing at him in full view of Peters who is the regular 1st shift guard and the other unit manager.  The unit manager ordered a meeting between these inmates and their social workers.  That meeting was to take place right after our group and that’s why Dietz’s mind jumped there at my opinion.  After the meeting had begun, everyone in the dayroom in their rooms attention were fixated on the drama that was unfolding.  At first it looked like Dietz was going to get his wish as a witness who was known to be friendly with him came in and gave his version of events.  The accused inmate stormed out of the meeting and was confined to his cell.  We all assumed he’d get kicked out of ERP and go to the hole for sure.  But then a swamper who had just graduated ERP and another came forward and claimed nothing happened even though it was common knowledge  on the cell block it did happen.  That inmate then was summoned to return from his cell.  They were both given interventions which is additional work given by an ERP group leader to address a specific issue which will be shared with the group Thursday at the community meeting.  Things had backfired on Dietz in a big way on this.  He had wanted to get the inmate thrown out but now got extra work, the humiliation of bringing it up to the whole group Thursday, having to say he was wrong even if he doesn’t feel that way and draw the disrespect and of the inmates for “going to the police” on another inmate.  Of course he went around saying this happened because the black inmates stuck together (the inmate who swung and his witnesses are black) and how they’re shown favoritism.  My thought is he is just digging his hole deeper and deeper.  I’m so glad I keep to myself and don’t embrace confrontation here as I don’t think this is going to end well for him. 


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.


I’m a the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  The Cold war has begun between cellie Andre Charles, his ally cellie Brian Whalen, cellie Malik Pearl and myself.  So silence reigns our cell now.  And guess what?  I like it that way!  The next day, normally between 8 and 9 am, we can study our ERP materials in our own cells.  But not the last two days.  With Ms. Grey, the ERP Coordinator, gone all week, the structure of our ERP group has kind of broken down.  Ok, I admit to being a bit of a routine guy, and disruptions can throw me off my game.  But inmate Larry Sands who had been appointed our ERP group leader had assembled us to watch the video Ms. Grey had assigned this morning called “What the Bleep Do We Know”.  It was one of the strangest things I’ve seen for a self help video.  It dealt with the idea that there is an universal observer that appears to be their version of God.  I wrote down a quote which was interesting.  It was “the height of arrogance is the height of control who create God in their own image”.  At another point it was stated the idea that us mere carbon based life forms could somehow influence an almighty being was ludicrous.  Our oldest group member, named Mark Hogan, just couldn’t contain himself throughout.  He is in his seventies and looks like the old drunk that hangs out in a bar at two in the afternoon, but he has a heck of a wit.  So too was it the same with Dean Stark and another group member, Russ Johnson, who is extremely knowledgeable on this treatment stuff.  He tells me he’s been to Hazelden and other famous programs.  I wish I had his knowledge.   He often gets fired up and tries to intimidate others by his physical presence if you do something he doesn’t like and is very confident in his own knowledge and you could say he likes himself.  But like I said I wish I knew all he knows.  After lunch we returned to the video room to watch “Portrait of Addiction” by Bill Moyer.  Unfortunately Sands nor any of us could get the DVD to work without the remote which was missing.  So we had to abandon the effort after an hour.  I really think Sands has done a fine job considering the situation.  I continued to work on my autobiography, ending with an interesting life!  But nobody got much done.  My favorite guard, Ruth Bartkowski, was on duty and really with everyone on vacation she and other guard don’t know what to do.  I did share the first pages of my autobiography with John Lloyd, whom I’ve come to trust a bit, in order to gage his reaction and get his opinion on this being read to the group.  He was clearly shaken but felt it would be okay to share.  But really, I’m an idiot.  If he said don’t do it, I still would have had to.  So why bother asking the question?  Supper was the most awful – Chili Mac casserole.  But its okay.  I’m okay with things so far.