Posts Tagged ‘moments’


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 Friday, the end of our 21st of 26 weeks that this program lasts.  In the dayroom prior to our ERP group starting, we learned Augie Prescott still couldn’t get through to his family in Alabama after the devastation caused by the tornadoes there that have killed over 200 in several southern states.  Of course, I didn’t say anything to anyone but my recently reconnected biological family is from that area.  I have no way to reach them since my only way to reach them is through email via my sponsors.  I sent a note but I can’t let myself think about it too much.  It would be so ironic if something happened now that I have finally connected to them.  But lets not go there.  The day started off with us going over proper interview etiquette in the video From Parole to Payroll which was very effective if you have not had experience interviewing before.  We paid special attention though in how to handle disclosure of our criminal offense in the interview and on the application. We’re supposed to answer the question on the application that we’ll explain at the interview.  At the interview when the question comes up what we did we’re to answer truthfully yet answer it with a one word answer or as few words as possible.  Above all, take responsibility and don’t’ lie.  So we learned something, at least I did anyway.  Then we were teamed up two by two by our ERP Social Worker Ms. Grey, where we were to give each other what would be considered a job performance evaluation.  It was of course fun for each of us to pick on the other guy.  I was teamed with John Lloyd, whom I have sat across from in the dayroom and eaten across from the last 5 months.  He identified as my strengths my writing, initiative and thorough.  As weaknesses he said I lacked tack and that I’m not subtle at all.  But when I pressed him for an example he couldn’t give one.  So I didn’t understand that at all, where he saw that in me.  Most I know see me the opposite of these things.  Ms. Grey then handed out our blank Phase III Goals and Objectives sheets and said we should consider what was identified as weaknesses for Phase III short term goals.  We don’t’ have a due date on these goals but lets hope it’s not going to be the struggle for our group it was in Phase 2.  In our afternoon session, we played another game just like UNO and the goggles on another.  This time it was a game where we asked each other random questions that were printed on cards that had been dealt to us.  The questions were such like “What was the biggest mistake you made?” and “What would life be like without computers?”  We all had fun with it, with their being some serious moments.  Even intern Nikita had joined us today and participated. Guess we’re going to be losing her soon as she is returning to school soon.  Heck, we’re all going to be gone soon!  After group, cellie Corey Ball gave guard Ruth Barthowski a card form all of us that said goodbye and thank you for her years of service and for the respect she has shown us.  Tomorrow is her last day on the job.  The ERP Social Workers were aware so there was no risk of fraternization charges.  Supper was interesting tonight because in the middle of one of the worst meals served here, soy based imitation meat for our tacos, an emergency count was called which meant we had to get up in the middle of the meal, go stand and be counted, then wait until count cleared to return to eat. Let’s face it, the food is usually cold when we get it in addition to it sucking so the only problem for us was the disruption of routine.  As for me, I ‘m still out of sorts and my cellies have noticed I’m not as patient as I normally am.  The juvenile humor and acting out I usually just ignore is getting to me more now.  I’m not sure what my problem is except perhaps nerves about getting close to getting out.  I hope my cellies will put up with me while I get my perspective back. 

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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).  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). The see saw relationships between those of us in this cell continues.  I actually opened up about a period I was homeless while in Dallas, TX before I got myself together many years ago.  I hadn’t even told you all about that mostly because it wasn’t relevant yet.  But the conversation revolved around the fear of being homeless after release.  I relate to that believe me.  It’s a big fear of mine.  But the conversation seemed to ease tensions.  I still don’t trust any of them but such is the nature of the beast.  This morning was dominated by the coverage of the standoff on I94 West which blocked both sides of the freeway. It’s so weird seeing all the cold and snow on TV and not be able to feel it or see it with my own eyes.  No sun, sky, moon, stars or fresh air until I get out.  I better get used to it.  They had another community meeting as is their custom on Friday.  Housecleaning issues were that people blow their noses and spit in the sink and showers.  We’ve seen this before.  What is it about prison that makes people believe in such a gross manner? Another issue, people pee on the toilet seat.  No ladies, prison doesn’t fix that about men.  They moved onto the quote of the week which had been assigned to one of my cellies, Malik Pearl.  His quote was “To stand still is to die.  To move forward is to prosper”.  He did a good job explaining it.  He even had part of the quote tattooed on him.  The word for the week was “receptive”.  Again, the comments were wooden and felt forced but I don’t know maybe that’s how it is here.  Then another inmate shared a news story about how Milwaukee County is developing it’s own style of boot camp for their jail and how it was a good idea.  Everyone stood up and said how great this was – except me of course.  I surprised myself by speaking up even though I don’t start the program until Monday, December 13th. My point was that programs such as these don’t produce results – which is to keep people out of jail.  Plus, the money would be better applied to treatment programs, to address the root causes of why they are in prison.  My cellie, Brian Whalen actually spoke up and agreed with me.  The last piece  of business was to introduce the new social worker, Betty Grey.  She helped with the ERP program at Racine Correctional Institution (RCI) prior to being at MSDF.  Ms. Grey is going to be running my ERP group on Monday.  You’ll be hearing a lot about her over the next few months.  Tried as I may, I couldn’t read anything about her in those few moments.  Group concluded and the school is out feeling came over the entire unit as no ERP stuff until Monday.  Some went to sleep, watch TV, use the phone or as I found out today, they have a movie room.  Lunch came and the people sent to the hole yesterday returned. The guy who was suppose to go home did.  But one of the guys who went was Scott Bunker who came in with me and like me starts ERP Monday.  Poor guy.  It’s been a rough start for him as the first room he was in wasn’t to his ethnic standards and now this.  In fairness to him they were much younger than him but it’s not going to be easy for him here I think.  My cellies kid me I can’t take it easy anymore but I told them I’m ready to get this going.  “Finally” is the word that comes to mind for me as we’ve been trying to get in ERP all of this past year. 


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP). One thing that started yesterday was that it was our cells turn to clean the upper tier of the cellblock after each meal for the next two weeks.  We each get plastic gloves from the desk and go upstairs and clean.  Clean what, is the problem.  I’m the kind of guy that wants to know my assignment and let me go and get it.  I have little patience for “busy work” or standing around wondering what to do.  But if your not cleaning the bathroom that is essentially what you are doing.  So in a really weird paradox, the one job you’d think nobody would want – cleaning toilets and sinks – everyone in my cell wants to do so we’re not guessing what to do.  Of course, I find something to do.  I sweep the tier though I actually pick up very little.  I want to do this every time so I can know what to expect, but the other guys in the cell don’t want to do that.  They want to discuss what job each person will do each time.  My thought process/reaction is probably like this: “Oh man give me the worst job each time so I can get this done and move on.  Just STOP TALKING!”  A few companies I worked for as an IT guy and Software Developer, I chafed under the same idea that talking equals work.  In some ways, I find the discussion more stressful and complex than the actual work.  My ex-wife knew enough to give me a list of things to do and then get out of my way.  If this is a character defect or character asset, you decide.  But I’ve been like that since I can remember.  Everything was fine until breakfast.  I pulled out my broom to sweep the tier but not everyone was done eating.  One guy said to me to wait till everyone was done so dust wasn’t in their food.  He was right of course.  My problem was he yelled it to me in front of everyone.  Again, another pet peeve of mine is being called out in front of others.  I prefer one on one.  But that won’t happen all the time.  I said nothing and waited, then swept.  The guys then went to their ERP group.  Last week, no one cared if those of us not in the program slept during the day.  Today they cared.  We’ve seen guards who make up the rules as they go, but I’m convinced that wasn’t the case this time.  The guard came to my door and I was sitting on my bunk so he moved on.  But moments later Malik Pearl came with a smile on his face told me I can’t sleep even if I’m not part of the ERP group yet. I asked what prompted all of this and he replied that even though we weren’t part of the ERP group we still had rules to follow.  I then observed Malik and Andre Charles and the social worker talking and pointing up to the cell.  I’ pretty sure I know what’s going on here.  In their ERP group there was a discussion concerning non=program people and that complaint got raised which got the guard involved.  The guard, they don’t just suddenly get a spurt of ambition and create a rule that didn’t exist before.  Now whether Malik and Andre were behind it, I’m not sure but the fact Malik showed up right after the guard came by and announced the rule tells me I’m going to have to remember though they share my cell, they are not to be trusted.  It disappoints me as I would like to build a circle of people I trust.  But even though this is the ERP, I’m still in prison and I can’t forget that. 


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  I was notified the night before that I would be taking a medical trip the following day.  It was a far better way than last time when I found out a few minutes before the trip that I was going.  I could swear they read this entry because I was notified 3 more times before the trip this time.  It was pretty much like last time on the way up there, except the guard wasn’t real talkative.  Today I was in Madison to have the port that had been put in me last November removed.  They had used this port to deliver chemotherapy used to treat cancer as veins have a tendency to blow up. This probably was my worst experience at the University Hospital in Madison.  Up till now, my oncologist, Dr. Rachel Cook, and everyone else has been top notch.  If you ever have cancer, this is the place to go and Dr. Cook is the doctor you want.  But today, students were in charge.  I had an orthopedic resident and was assisted by someone else who was also a student.  They were quite clumsy in applying the local anesthetic, which resulted in some painful moments for your truly as they cut out the port from the left side of my chest.  Once it was done, I went back to the minimum security holding room on 6th floor and there were 2 other inmates there.  In the course of conversation, one inmate revealed he had 88 days to go to release, but he had been diagnosed with the same type of cancer I had, the one difference being he was stage 2 (I had been stage 3).  It was almost surreal listening to him talk about how he was going to get through chemo with no problems (he hadn’t started yet), how he was going to tell the DOC how he should be handled for his placement, and how he believed he would be released early.  The same aura of invincibility I had had was present.  I tried to get him to listen to me.  I explained what it meant to be stage 2.  I explained how important it would be to be in an environment relatively clean as your immune system will be compromised, and how the effects of chemo will be felt more as time goes on.  But I could tell he wasn’t listening.  I have to admit that I was a little envious of him that through the worst of what he is about to go through, he will be with those that love him.  But it happened to me like it was supposed to.  I really believe that.  When it was time to go back to FMCI, I happened to be on a crowded elevator, where there were 2 little girls.  I have always been a guy young kids could connect with, and they quickly engaged me in a conversation about how funny someone else looked.  They didn’t care I was an inmate.  I was smiling when they got off the elevator. My happiness was muted a bit when I saw their parent pull the girls closer to them as they walked.  I didn’t let it bother me though.  I certainly understand the parental impulse, to protect them from the guy dressed in green.  After I returned to FMCI, in mail call that night, was a bill from Waukesha County for the time I was treated prior to coming to prison which wasn’t suppose to happen.  One of my sponsors carries my Power of Attorney (POA) which I’m grateful for, and I turned it over to them via mail.  It was a full day, with more good than bad.