Posts Tagged ‘menu’


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 Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  On the last weekend prior to my transfer to Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF) to being the Earned Release Program (ERP) I had a very pleasant surprise. I had not one, but three visitors.  I hadn’t had a visit since one of the sponsors had visited me at Jackson Correctional Institution (JCI).  But a friend, actually my ex-wife’s, ex-husband’s, ex-wife (yes, it’s that complicated) whose name is Lucy visited.  She endured almost as much as I as our families disintegrated before our eyes. (She was still married to my ex-wife’s, ex-husband then).  We got caught up on what each of us knew about these people from our past but still present in our hearts. It was bittersweet.  Knowing those you love have moved on without you is tough on anyone, inmate or free.  Lucy and I talked about the possibility of my staying with her for a short time after I get out.  It’s not the ideal situation but I’m grateful for an option.  She is certainly someone I trust.   In case your about to ask if it’s romantic, it is not.  We’re just 2 people who have the disaster of our families and marriages in common.  Then after Lucy left, my adoptive parents showed up.  It’s been over a year since I last saw them, never since I’ve been to prison.  It’s a dynamic I haven’t touched on in this blog, but its safe to say that they are good people who had no idea what they were getting into when they got me as a kid.   Perhaps I’ll get into that more later on.  But it was a good visit and it was good to see them.  They are indicating they want me to call once I get to MSDF so we’ll see how that goes.  Incarceration is hard on so many beyond the inmate and it can make those relationships awkward.  I am anxious to find out what acquaintances of the family know and what’s being said about me.  It’s the shame factor of course. 

This morning I woke up and looked at the menu and saw we were having backed chicken for supper (the best thing here) so I traded most of what little canteen I had left to Paul for a couple extra pieces. Things are getting bad on this unit so it’s good I’m moving on.  The immediate crisis is one inmate traded his TV to another inmate for $20 of canteen, and he used that to buy tobacco.  The problem is the selling inmate reneged and demanded the TV be returned or he’d report the purchasing inmate to the guards for having unauthorized property.  The purchasing inmate had no choice but to comply with the blackmail but vowed retribution.   Add to that the purchasing inmate is popular and is good at manipulating others and its a powder keg that’s going to explode.  Some plan on either cutting the power cord of the TV and/or the inmate.  I decided to go walk the track and enjoy the sky, wind and sun, one more time before I go to MSDF where there will be none of that.  I thought about what the purpose of all this was.  The way I see it the purpose at Dodge Correctional Institution (DCI) was to break me down, the purpose at JCI was to get me physically healthy, and and the purpose at FMCI was to get me mentally ready for ERP at MSDF, ready for people in close quarters and able to cope with a lack of personal space and my boundaries being violated.  It isn’t what the WPS planned but maybe that was God’s plan for me.  I came back inside to even more strife going on between inmates but feeling energized and confident for what will come tomorrow.