Posts Tagged ‘moment’


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  It’s Friday and most everyone in our group is on edge awaiting news that their release paperwork has been returned by their judge having graduated the ERP.  It’s been 7 days since then.  Past groups that have graduated have always had more progress on getting people their paperwork than we have.  In addition, Milwaukee County has always been the slowest in processing this paperwork for past groups even though the courthouse is literally across the street.  My paperwork returned from Winnebago County on Wednesday and it’s a couple hours from here.  ERP group member Dean Stark became the first of the 10 of us to be released.  He left with no boxes just some papers in a bag.  I would be the next to get some news.  My C15 form authorizing MSDF to release me was sent by my parole officer (PO) Helen Gaither.  But the order was postdated for Wednesday June 22nd.  As our ERP social worker Ms. Grey informed me I admit to feeling disappointment at first.  I was hoping against hope to get released today or since Monday isn’t possible, Tuesday at the latest.  But as Ms. Grey walked away from me, I realized though I’m not getting out when I want, the fact the guesswork when I’m being released has been eliminated which rarely happens in this program.  As she left me, ERP group member Kevin House inquired if there was any news.  She told him “not to worry about it, you’re not going anywhere”.  You may as well have kicked him in the stomach because those words didn’t hurt any less.  What is she thinking?  This seems humorous to her, how the rats in the cage keep trying to find the way out.  We spent the rest of the day talking amongst ourselves off and on about what might be happening that is preventing the rest of the guys in our group paperwork from being processed.  At supper I again noticed the guard on duty reading my Green Bay Press Gazette before I got it.  Oh well.  At mail call I was delighted to again hear from my biological family.  My cousin expressed concern that I stay in touch after my release.  Are you kidding me?  I wrote back.  I’ve spent years looking for them.  No way am I going to stop talking to them. They like the idea of me visiting over Thanksgiving if I can arrange it.  They also want my phone number too which I should get when I pick up a cell phone on my way to my new home for the moment in Menasha, Wi.  I also heard from my friend Jill who has been following this blog almost since it started.  She is from Australia and has become a good friend.  She invited me to Sydney, Australia!  Of course, I suspect this would violate my parole!  But maybe someday.  I also want to see Israel and the West Bank someday as there is so much there related to my faith.  But that will have to wait too.  The day ended with ERP group member Scott Dietz again talking to his sister and again the same result.  No action on their cases.  Everyone says it doesn’t bother them but their eyes betray them.  I am grateful that it will soon be over. 


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).  On Thursday afternoon we had our weekly Community Meeting.  Nothing was really remarkable about it until the floor was opened to concerns anyone might have and a new guy stood up and announced he was tired of how cliquey people were, the disrespect shown and how many inmates who have been here for awhile act like they have ownership of things here.  He went on to say from now on he was going to start pointing out people who were doing such things at future community meetings.  Throughout the room was stunned silence.  My ERP group leader Ms. Grey nodded her agreement, the other group leaders looked just as stunned as we were.  I’d find out later he was upset with his cellmates for farting in the cell instead of going outside to do that and for inmates trying to run the rec room.  He finished up his comments about how dedicated he was to this program, and he didn’t want that to have such things going on.  After an uncomfortable silence we moved on.  I did decide that night that with all the negativity going on I was going to pull into my shell even more that I have been.   I just feel like nothing is good is going to come out of hanging around people these days.  Maybe its because I’m 72 days to graduation and I fear all this work and time being for nothing because of some stupid incident.  The next morning began with Scott Bunker being sent to the hospital for his bleeding problem as it hasn’t gotten any better.  Graduation for another ERP group began at 9:30 am.  This was an OWI ERP group like us.  This group called themselves the “Unchained” group.  It was a nice ceremony, followed by cookies being given out.  I’m happy for them but my thoughts are on myself.  I have so little time left.  I’m happy but I’m afraid.  Where I’ll go, what I’ll do, how it will happen, these questions overwhelm the anxiety junkie in me.  I’ve learned to have faith during times like this, to surrender the illusion of control I cling to but I still have my moments of weakness.  After lunch we saw a video about the evils of inhalants (sorry, I didn’t catch the title)and on prescription drugs which was quite good, especially as it focused on elderly addiction.  At the end I brought up that I’d learned  that the TOP program in Waukesha County was applied to aftercare.  No housing was involved like she had said.  She insisted it was true though, and they’d explain it to me when they visited in mid-April.  I asked if I’d hear from them before my next parole officer (PO) call and she said no, that call was coming up next week!  It was like she had remembered herself that this was happening at that moment.  Anyway, around that time Scott Bunker joined us after his hospital visit so it would seem he must be ok.  The guards were unhappy today as they’ve installed electronic stations around the unit they have to check in with a gadget.  It ensures they’ve actually made their rounds.  But it’s okay.  Week 16 of 26 is complete.


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  On weekends there is no ERP activity.  The lights are turned back off after count at 6:15 am and remain off until 10:30-11:00 am.  I usually try to take advantage and enjoy the silence as close as it gets anyway.  One of our regular 1st shift guards is Roscoe Peters.  He’s late forties, early fifties and is know as a “cool” guard.  He has a booming voice that will rattle you if you screw up but it’s known he’s not out to mess with you just because.  My cellmate, Andre Charles and Peters usually go back and forth with each other on a near every day basis, with Andre talking from the top tier down to Peters who bellows back.  But it’s always done tongue in cheek.  At about 11 am, the swampers brought in our lunch trays and after we had all gotten in line, he announced there would be no trading food between inmates, not even at your own table, because someone had “gone over his head to the unit manager”.  At another point in the meal, after having busted a couple of people for trying to trade, he said the inmate needs to come talk to him to fix this.  After we were finished with lunch a whole parade of inmates went to the desk, including Andre, to find out what was going on.  It seems the swampers had been getting extra food and the inmate who wrote the complaint to the unit manager was unhappy about it.  They seem to do that a lot around here, complain, if another inmate is perceived to get preferential treatment.  My philosophy on this is if someone else has found a way to make their life here a little more bearable more power to them.  It’s none of my business.  I don’t want to use the word “cutthroat” to describe the environment here (bad image) but its an apt description, more so than any prison I’ve been in up until now.  Then Peters announced he’d find out who it was on Monday and it wasn’t going to go well for him.  I’ve never even spoken to Peters but he always made a good impression on me.  I just wish he’d be a little smarter in what he says.  I can’t imagine this not getting back to someone he doesn’t want it to especially if there  is an inmate trying to take him down.  So we probably haven’t heard the end of this one.  But I guess as much as I hate this place, and though the phrase “watch your back” has taken a whole new meaning for me with some of these inmates, I have managed to get into a semblance of a routine which has been key to my survival anywhere I’ve been.  I’ve completed one week of ERP and have 23 to go.  I’m pretty sure I’m going to make it.

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Shortly after this was written, about 20-30 people showed up with musical instruments and started singing Christmas carols!  I asked what church they were from and they told me several different ones and they they have a Bible study on Mondays.  They gave us a paper bag with treats and a bag of chocolate chip Chips Ahoy Crunchy cookies.  I’ve never seen anything like this before in prison, nor had my cellies.  And most unexpected in a maximum security facility like MSDF!  Of course, a few cons in us couldn’t just enjoy the rare moment and scammed extra cookies and treats by claiming they were missed.  But really, an awesome event by what I think might be awesome people!


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Last evening started off with on of my cellmates, Brian Whalen and I in a disagreement.  Whalen has an issue with boundaries, both establishing them and violating those of others.  Andre Charles, another cellmate constantly plays with him, one moment huddling up to him acting like his friend, then the next using those words to ridicule and criticize him. Andre is always going into his locker to get things like the AIM Dental Floss picks they sell here (which by the way are useless.  Old fashioned dental floss is much more effective and easier to use).  He has weight issues, so Andre tells him what’s good to eat and motivates him to work out, both of which he usually gives good advice for but adds to the impression of a small dog desperately seeking his master’s approval.  While Andre picks on him I often tell them both they’re like husband and wife in the way they argue.  Both Malik Pearl and I just laugh when they get into it because often it is funny.  Andre tries this with me but I upset him as I won’t play.  I told him he’s a teenager (he’s actually 37) looking for attention when he farts (which is a lot), or starts yelling or acting out.  He didn’t like that at all.  Plus it annoys him I care nothing about his opinion.  On the plus side he’d make a heck of a salesman.  But Whalen has the habit being on the lower bunk and I on the upper of grabbing the edges of my bunk while I’m laying on it.  Sounds like nothing but when someone’s knuckles bump your butt you notice.  So I asked him to stop and when he didn’t I started hitting his knuckles when they appeared.  He replied that he didn’t think it was a big deal.  But the nice thing about men as opposed to women who disagree is we usually get over it quickly.  That night, guard Ruth Bartkowski was on duty again.  As I walked pas the desk, I heard her talking with an inmate about his heroin addiction.  The inmate was explaining how tough it was to get out from under and Ruth was engaging him, giving him advice, affirmation and encouragement.  I have not met a finer person I think in the prison system.  She doesn’t have to do what she’s doing.  The demons of cynicism and burnout haven’t gotten her yet unlike so many who work in these institutions.  I hope I get the courage to get to know this blue shirt.  The next morning was not my finest hour at all.  I get up about 5am and went for breakfast.  I found out later that extra cereal containers and raisin boxes are left on the serving table and inmates will grab them.  A guard named Sgt. Tackleberry loudly yelled at an old inmate who took a box of raisins and he returned them.  A while later, John Lloyd who came into MSDF with me and also starts ERP on Monday and sits to my left at mealtime got up and grabbed a plastic cereal container and returned to the table.  I asked if anyone cared if he did that and Lloyd said no.  So despite hearing the warning from earlier I got up and did the same. Tackleberry immediately pounced on me.  I returned it.  It was SO stupid on my part.  I’m pretty sure he wrote my name down and wrote a warning on my card.  It wasn’t fatal this time but I’ve GOT to be smarter, more focused and stop thinking about food.  ER starts for me in two days and I can’t afford to keep screwing up like this.


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 got called out to the guard station right after the first count, and right before breakfast.  The guard told me to hurry up and eat because they were coming to take me for some reason.  I suspected I was having another PET scan to verify my cancer remains in remission. I asked the guard if he was sure he wanted me to eat as I knew they needed my stomach empty.  He said he didn’t know and put it up for me.  They came and got me and again asked me if I’d eaten.  Again I told them I shouldn’t.  They were suppose to tell me the previous evening but fortunately I hadn’t ate a thing after 8 pm.  The short black guard who strip searched me in a cage verified I should not eat was friendly enough.  Unlike last time, I had to wear the chains and bracelets which nicely accessorized my banana yellow uniform.  And of course, we seem to always pick the best weather days for my trips.  Today was the coldest of the winter so far.  It was 0 degrees and 14 below wind-chill.  It was good to see the outside world even if it had frozen.  We took Highway 16W and stopped at the PDQ gas station in Hartland, WI – less than a mile from my former home, family still lives and where I used to stop for gas and cigarettes on or on my way back to or from work.  It felt like a moment from the Twilight Zone TV show.  There was enough frost on the windows to obscure their view in the van which I was grateful for.  The ride there was cold, as the guards kept turning the heat down but it was my fault for not speaking up.  I have a habit of doing that. They took all sorts of side roads doing what many guards do – milking the clock.  When we got there I got to go to the prison at UW Madison.  No minimum lockup this time.  It was ok though as I saw guys I knew from Jackson Correctional Institution (JCI), where I was March through August of this year.  Things are the same there except for the large amounts of snow fallen on the LaCrosse area.  There are many horror stories from the medical cases of how they are being handled I was told about but I’m not going to repeat what I don’t have any way of documenting.  I am sorry to those looking for it, if that disappoints you.  But you know you’ve been around awhile when hospital staff greet you by name.  It was uneventful from there.  But the bag lunch I used to despise was better and more filling than the food at MSDF.  When I got back I got strip searched again and returned to my unit.  They actually saved my breakfast tray so I ate my cocoa roos (like cocoa puffs), and joined my group working on yesterday’s assignments.  But it occurred to me I need to stop thinking of this area as home to successfully move on.  But just where will home be?