Posts Tagged ‘maintenance’


My name is Jake Martin and I am on parole from the state of Wisconsin Prison System (WPS) currently now living in Ames, Iowa. I write this from my own laptop in an efficiency apartment at a complex dominated by Iowa State University college students. How did I get here? More on that in a minute.

At the risk of sounding corny but what a LONG, STRANGE trip it has been both being in prison and since getting out. The day I was released it was Wednesday June 23rd.  Today is January 16th, 2012. In the roughly 7 months since my release so much has happened. I spent July through August largely glued to my cell phone and laptop while hunting for work, with the assistance of friends and the sponsors of this blog.. My parents grew concerned enough to tell me I might have to take work at a fast food operation or something similar. I had no problem with that. In fact I figured that was what would happen. While all this was going on my parents, whom my father is a minister though he retired in July, received a retirement call to serve a church in Juneau, Alaska. My PO, Helen Gaither, it turned out was very cool to me. Though the walks from the bus to her in Appleton WI were not! Because I had no car and often my parents weren’t available it was necessary to walk. But that’s ok. It just didn’t bother me. These things just don’t bother me anymore.

In about August, my efforts finally began to pay off. A major corporation hired me as a temporary software developer for a project they were working on through an agency I had worked with before and was unaware that I had been in prison the last 25 months. During that time I brushed the rust off my skills, got used to the grind that a software developer will have again and learned to deal with people again. About that time, a company based in Ames IA interviewed me for a position as a software engineer. They hired me. However I was given enough time to finish the contract I had started in with this company in Neenah WI. My parents were still in Alaska when I left in October. Needless to say I was excited and petrified all at the same time. I was fortunate on one aspect regarding work. I had largely lost the last two years and in technology circles that is as much as a lifetime. But this company was on older technology, technology I was well suited for. It was a perfect fit. Meanwhile I continue to upgrade my skills now. But anyway on October 8th I made the move. My first weekend didn’t go well. Furniture I had purchased for the apartment prior to my arrival had accidentally been tossed my a maintenance worker for the complex, as well as two tires going flat. Oh yes, my parents had sold me their old car and I had also managed to get insurance and a license during that time. But needless to say, I got things under control and my employer was extremely understanding as I missed my first day of work getting the car fixed. Things were pretty normal until about a month ago when weight loss and the familiar night sweats had returned – all symptoms I have become very familiar with. Testing revealed that my cancer had returned. Now before you become too concerned, just know, again I am going to be fine. I am doing chemotherapy again. But this time at least, I can control my diet though fatigue and nausea are now my main problems. See though I have insurance they don’t cover preexisting conditions unless you had proof of insurance before which of course I did not have in WPS. So medications I used for nausea and such are not covered either. But it is ok. It’s the same type of cancer as before and because they caught it earlier this time it is even more assured I will be fine. So don’t worry!

But what can I say about being free? My first day out my sponsors took me to a Mexican restaurant where I had chicken and steak fajitas. My mouth and stomach were on fire as they loved what I ate – but they didn’t so much later as they rebellled against the rich food I was not used to. I will spare you the details. Television, the Green Bay Packers and dear friends I have missed. All of it really is about choices of which we had very little in prison.

I still deal with the anxieity junkie. I still am largely alone or at least it looks that way. I am still single. My previous family contacts me to be sure but it is usually only when one of them is in trouble or needs money. My adopted siblings and family remain an awkward relationship. But yet I count myself as one of the lucky ones, one who found a way to be successful on release. I call it luck because things fell together in a way that I can’t really take credit for. Yes it is God and there are others to thank. Friends like Jennifer, Natalie, Mike, Bill, and Rebecca I couldn’t have done it without them. I owe them more than I have life left to repay. I simply can say no more than I am gratefully free. It has been so long and such a hard road, much of it self inflicted, that I can’t bring myself to complain. What right do I have to have such a good life? The answer is I do have that right as long as I do not forfeit that right with my choices I make in life.

I want to take this opportunity to also thank those of you who faithfully followed this blog, especially Jill, Karen, Kelly and Lori. You really kept me looking forward to mail call and such wondering what might be there today. Again, so grateful. How many others wait for even one piece of mail in prison only never to get any! And the rest of you, since my release I have watched your reaction from afar, really wanting to burst out and say hey its me! I’m free! But we all thought it best I keep a low profile until the entries were finished. I hope you understand. That said the future of this blog will be sporadic entries regarding what is happening with me and how it relates to being on parole. I am not going to do an entry every day. There just isn’t time like I used to have. But know this. If any of you want to reach out to me please feel free. I have always felt a closeness to many of you who suffered with your loved ones in prison right along with me.

On that note, its time to close. I have got some studying to do! Talk to you soon….

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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 expected Tuesday to be another day of waiting for my ERP social worker Ms. Grey to walk through those steel doors with the word that my judge had signed my amended judgment of conviction permitting my release from prison since I have now graduated the ERP.  Tuesday didn’t disappoint as I did do a lot of waiting.  We did get some weirdness go on though.  Starting with the first count in the morning, cellie Scar Johnson talked right in front of the guard as he was counting us.  The guard was more shocked than anything I think that Scar was so brazen in his disregard for his authority and the procedures for count.  But that was the end of it or so it seems.  Trust me though the guard involved wont’ forget.  A little later the other guard inspected a cell and found a stinger.  A stinger are melted prongs stacked inside an electrical cord which is stuck in water with salt.  The cord the plugs into the wall.  The salt water then heats up soda bottles full of water.  Inmates use those bottles for coffee or refried beans.  Most prisons provide a microwave to inmates so this isn’t necessary.  But not at MSDF.  Supposedly, if you get caught with a stinger, its supposed to be an automatic trip to the hole.  But nothing came out of it thus far for the inmates in that cell.  This guard then went from cell to cell looking at everything that was plugged into a socket checking to see if one of the prongs were removed.  of course, you can make a stinger with any metal you can fit into the electrical cord holes (a radio cord is often used).  Wire from a notebook, paper clips and so on.  So the point of the search was a little lost on cellie Larry Sands and I.  Anyway, a little later on, the lock for the door on the cell next door wouldn’t open for any key.  Maintenance had to be called and the inmates in that cell had to hang out in the dayroom.  Of course, another guard had to stand up their with the worker as he worked on the door to ensure no tools were taken.  But the event we were all waiting for didn’t happen for anyone – getting word from Ms. Grey if our paperwork had been signed by the judge.  ERP group member Scott Dietz called his sister and had her check on all ten of us on CCAP to see if any activity occurred on our cases.  There was some confusion on her part whether or not she was looking in the right place.  I got on the phone and tried to help.  Still, no signs of activity on CCAP.  I’m ok though.  I know it’s going to happen so I’m not going to get worked up.   It’s just a matter of time. 


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP). In the course of doing laundry and trying to get a break from cellie Andre Charles, I spent some time in the dayroom talking to a few guys on my unit.  First, I got to talk to a guy who is in a similar position to me in that he doesn’t have anywhere to go when he gets out after being paroled to Waukesha County.  He’s written to everyone you can think of inquiring about his situation, neatly organizing the info in a picture album you can order off canteen.  But he’s reached the same impasse as I have.  There appears to be nowhere to go except the shelter in Waukesha, WI, the Salvation Army.  His stepfather won’t allow him at their home.  But he’s come up with another plan.  He’ll get a cheap car and sleep in that since the weather will be warm when he’s released in May.  I argued it isn’t safe and the parole officer (PO) likely wouldn’t approve such a thing.  His argument back was that the PO could provide different accommodations if they didn’t like it.  I suspect the PO won’t take to such tactics.  But the desperation we both feel is pretty evident.  I even found myself thinking about this possibly that really isn’t.  Later I caught up with a guy from my ERP group, Mark Hogan.  He’s really become the class clown of our group, coming up with things to say that are really off the wall.  But he sat down with me at the table.  He’s almost 70, but is as strong as an ox, out lifting  many in the exercise room.  He has a gray Rollie Fingers type moustache and likes his gin.  He claimed to have done 4 years for his 5th offense DUI which is quite harsh so I’m a little doubtful.  Perhaps I telegraph that I’m receptive to such things, but he opened about his own experience with Post Traumatic Delayed Stress Disorder, and his time in Vietnam.  I shared part of my biological father’s experience in return.  I’m’ due to read my autobiography to the ERP group on February 11th (over 2 weeks away) so they all will know this stuff soon.  I’m a little nervous as many indicate they were very general with some indicating they flat out lied.  I’m just really nervous some will use it against me in some fashion outside the ERP group.  It’s not suppose to happen but the reality is it probably will.  Today was the first day our ERP group began reading it’s autobiographies.  But first a newcomer joined our group, an attractive Asian American woman named Nikita Cho who was a student interning under Ms. Grey, our ERP Coordinator.  After the breathing exercises and the introductions we had the first autobiography read, Larry Sands.  Sands had made it clear he wasn’t going to write a lot or be specific back in the beginning and it was pretty obvious.  So much so Ms. Grey made him sit down and write it over and called on the next guy, John Lloyd.   Lloyd had done a good job having lived a pretty normal life.  Grief over his father’s death led Ms. Grey to assign him the book Life is Goodbye Life is Hello by Alla Bozarth.  John and I sit across from each other at mealtime and during program time and we get along well.  In the afternoon session, we went over the stages of change – 1. pre-awareness, 2. Contemplation, 3. Preparation, 4. Taking Action, 5. Avoiding relapse and maintenance.  It was probably Ms. Grey’s best day that I’ve seen so far.  I’m happy to say I’ve been in 3, 4 and 5 since last January.


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Some folks made an issue that the donation of the Chips Ahoy Chunky Chocolate Chip Cookies by the group on Saturday were expired and couldn’t be sold to the public.  I think they’re crazy.  I and most are grateful.  My cellie, Andre Charles, opened his bag last night and ate the whole thing but the rest of us have turned it into a game, who’ll be the last to open them.  By the way Andre and I are getting along better but his moods which sing all the time definitely dictate the mood of this room.  I don’t ever trust him either.  But when he’s in a good mood, this room is actually ok.  We all enjoyed the football game (Green Bay vs.. New England) together – certainly better than last time. This morning I started on a workbook in ERP.  They are a series of workbooks from The Change Companies from Carson City, NV (1-888-889-8866).  They were apparently developed in conjunction with the Federal Bureau of Prisons of the U.S. Justice Department which makes sense since ERP is a federally funded program in Wisconsin.  The workbooks are referred to as “Residential Drug Abuse Treatment Program Journals”. The one I’m on is “Orientation”, then “Rational Thinking”, “Criminal Lifestyles”, “Living with Others”, “Lifestyle Balance”, “Recovery Maintenance” and “Transition”.  The “Orientation” book chapters are “Looking at Me”, “Preparing for Treatment”, “Keys for Change”, and “My Drug Use”.  If you ever have questions about what we are covering not address in my broad overviews, feel free to ask.  I’m in the middle of the chapter, “Preparing for Treatment” but much requires input from the ERP group to finish so those at my table and myself are kind of stuck.  So I switched gears and worked on my autobiography which appears to be a central component of the ERP program.  Ms. Grey gave me a 30 some page guide which I had to copy the main points to cover in this document than pass it onto others.  The guide is entitled “A New Freedom, copyright 2003 by A.R. Phoenix Resources, Inc. You talk about detailed!  It takes age groups 1-4, 5-7, 8-10, 11-12, 13-14 asking where did you live?  Who did you live with? What are some of the good and bad things that happened?  Who loved you?  Who hurt you?  Were you neglected?  Were you abandoned?  Were you around substance abuse?  Crime?  Gangs?  Did anyone die or leave home?  Sick or badly injured?  Were those traumatic events?  Was home life out of control?  Did you feel safe at home?  Did the child have someone they can trust?  How did people in authority treat you?  Then it goes into substance abuse history and your attempts to control it.  There’s more but if you want the gaudy details email me.  I’m sure you’ll hear more as time goes on.  So I copied down those points and handed the book off but nobody wanted it, thinking a 30 some page guide was a bit too much.  I’m going to use it.  Why?  I like guidelines I guess.  I got called to my assessment with Ms. Grey.  It was about sixty some questions, relatively painless.  We start our evening session soon (6 pm – 7:30 pm) but even that’s about to change after the new year.  It’ll be 8-4 all week.  So I guess its’ going but I don’t think ERP isn’t something I can’t handle anymore.


I’m at the Fox Lake Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS). The day got off to my typically abnormal start. At 1:30 am I got up after more sever than normal nightmares. In the real world, in this situation, I’d have gotten out of my bed, gone to the basement, and found my stash of booze, usually Jack Daniels, and drink in the dark until I calmed down.  Then I returned to bed no one the wiser.  The problem with that is you can’t do that during the day, at least not for any length of time without people being suspicious.  So I covered with lies explaining my absences and tried to avoid situations where lots of people would be around and I couldn’t get away or where situations that would cause a lot of anxiety, such as those at the end with my family.  There’s no Jack Daniels at FMCI so I got up this morning, being careful to shuffle my feet, and did my laundry.  It turns out laundry can be quite therapeutic.  If I’m blessed with another wife someday, I imagine shell like that stress reduction technique!  I finally finished at around 3:30 am.  I didn’t interrupt anything this time thank God, at least that I noticed.  Unfortunately I didn’t get back to sleep as my bunkmate (cellie) has the flu and can’t stop coughing.  I’m not sure if I would have gone back to sleep.  I wish there was an easy fix.  At 4:50 am I got up for breakfast then returned to my bunk, finally going to sleep.  Once again, the morning routine was disrupted with an emergency count after the regular count was done.  Later they chose today to either inspect or perform maintenance on the smoke detectors.  Every once in awhile a high pitched sound representing the fire alarm was heard echoing through the building.  A tall, skinny maintenance guy kept fiddling with the fuse boxes.  I observed Lt. Brodie and a guy who lives a couple bunks down from me.  At the first shakedown, he had had a mug full of apple juice taken and was accused of trying to make hooch. They gave him multiple breathalyzer tests but it always came back to zero so they let him go.  Brodie challenged him that it wasn’t hooch and he argued with him.  As we’ve seen before, Brodie doesn’t like it when inmates argue with him.  He told him to go to his bunk.  I caught up with him at lunch and he shared the complications.  He’s convinced Brodie has it in for him and had managed to sabotage his recent parole hearing.  His situation is further complicated by the additional minor ticket he got during the shakedown for having pornographic images of his girl up on his bunk wall that somehow got through the mail censors.  Inmates often share such images with each other, as kind of a bragging contest.  He kind of acted like its something we all do.  I wanted to say, no, I don’t get any of those pictures, but if I did, no one else would be looking at my lady!  Of course, the judge for his hearing on that ticket is Lt. Brodie, and he was concerned Brodie wouldn’t be fair.  He wanted to talk to someone right away about this.  I told him to calm down. You’ve got to keep your eye on the main goal which is to get out.  If you continue on your present course, your going to harm your chances.  There is no immediate way for you to fix this with Brodie, so you’ve got to sit down and be quiet.  Not what he wanted to hear!  He told me he’s not going to kiss anyone’s butt.  I get where he’s at.  You feel you’re in the right and want someone to listen.  But it doesn’t matter here if you are right.  Will it be any satisfaction that you are right when you are in the hole?  I’ve learned not to challenge Brodie.  You will lose.  It’s just the way it is.  It’s how the system is set up.


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  We have an old man here who is from Idaho.  He had been on parole back in the eighties and had tired of the restrictions on him so he absconded (left without permission) to Idaho.  He lived there for years with no issues.  Then when he applied for social security, they wouldn’t give him his benefits after a couple checks because of the warrant from Wisconsin.  Eventually, he found himself back in the WPS.  I might have told you about him previously.  If so, I apologize.  Anyway, he is almost universally liked here.  If you want sports betting tips, this is the guy to go to.  Thus, for our purposes, he is dubbed the “Gambler”, after the Kenny Rogers song.  The Gambler had one place though where he was not appreciated by all, especially Paul, and that was at the horseshoe pits.  Outside our units front door inside the track are 2 horseshoe pits and a volleyball sand pit.  While the basketball courts to the left are popular with the black guys, the horseshoe pits are popular with the white guys.  There are exceptions but generally that’s the way it is. As usual, with group activities, I stay on the sidelines and watch.  Paul and the Gambler would often get into heated arguments about how things got scored.  The Gambler and Paul are both stubborn people so that didn’t surprise me.  A few days ago, the Gambler came in from horseshoes complaining of a backache.  It didn’t surprise me.  Horseshoes is how he spends a lot of his day.  He laid down for awhile but was up soon thereafter asking the guards to contact Health Services.  The van came and got him soon thereafter.  The following day, word spread around the unit that the Gambler was dead.  Quite a few of us were shocked and saddened.  No one like the Gambler should die in prison, far from family and friends.  Naturally, my thoughts turned to myself as well, vowing I will never die in prison and hopefully not die alone.  A sympathy card that can be ordered off canteen was being distributed around the unit though I never saw it.  Strange enough, though no inmates had turned into vultures on his possessions like they have a habit of doing.  I thought perhaps conscience would stand in the way with these circumstances this time.  Also, I noticed the guards had left his bunk undisturbed, not coming to pack up his belongings.  But I try to mind my own business and just observe, my modus operandi.  Perhaps the guards didn’t come because they hadn’t gotten word to do so yet.  The following day, a new story began to circulate, that an inmate had started the rumor that the Gambler had died.  My first thought was to wonder why anyone would do such a thing. Then I remembered, for many here to do something like that wouldn’t be a stretch at all.  Consciences are like knives.  If you allow them to get dull, they are not as effective as they could be.  They both stay sharp with daily use and maintenance.  But sure enough, later that night, the Gambler appeared.  He, in fact, had had a scare with his heart and was no on Plavix.  I was happy to see him upright and mobile.  I do hope and pray he does get to join his family before his time really does come someday.  Nobody should die alone.