Posts Tagged ‘money’


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….


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Sometimes I’m not so bright.  In fact, I can make just stupid decisions.  When I was a child my arm was broken.  The arm was never set properly and as a result the arm has always given me some discomfort.  The last few months however; the pain has steadily grown where I have to work around it for such tasks as putting on a shirt.  So I put in a medical request form. I suggested that perhaps the lack of exercise is causing the pain, as up until a year ago I was being treated for cancer and I didn’t exercise much and since then I’ve done very little.  But with my impending release on Wednesday, I didn’t make a  good choice ignoring the pain.  To my surprise, I was actually seen on Sunday by a nurse right here on the unit.  The nurse decided to see me because of my history of cancer.  She determined the kind of bone issue I described shouldn’t be ignored.  Just another example of the usually positive experience I’ve had with health practitioners while I’ve been in prison.  She decided to refer me to the doctor without performing tests.  But she did take a history of how it happened, asking why I didn’t address this years ago when I had insurance and why I waited until now.  Truth was I didn’t want to answer the questions people would have asked related to how it happened, my usual honesty and shame issues.  Hopefully, I don’t continue that pattern.  One nice thing about all my family and friends knowing I went to prison is all pretense is gone.  The truth will be revealed eventually whether you want it to or not.  The fact I had problems is now known to them.  How will they react to me?  How will I react to them?  I am going to try, despite the loss of family, possessions, career, and money, to hold my head high.  The difference between disgrace and shame would be failing to learn the lessons shame has taught.  It will be a struggle, make no mistake about that.  Charles and Victoria Martin, my adoptive parents, have his retirement celebration coming up July 17th where family friends and acquaintances from years gone by will be in attendance.  We’ll see then if my words here mean anything.  The rest of the weekend was uneventful.  ERP group member Scott Dietz had his paperwork signed by a Milwaukee County judge on a weekend.  He also inquired about me building websites for his businesses.  I’m suspicious of any contact with people from here or promises made but I said sure I’m interested but I’ll need a couple of months to get my feet on the ground.  But I almost believe him.  I talked to my adoptive parents on Sunday as well.  They have the bed I slept on as a kid setup in the basement and some simple foodstuffs put up for me there.  The internet will be turned on June 25th so I can get to catching up on my Information Technology and programming skills.  They gave my parole officer (PO) Helen Gaither the house key which I can get from her on Wednesday but left a door open in the event by the time I get to Menasha, WI after business hours.  Of course this tells me the PO and my adoptive parents have been meeting and talking.  That makes me a little nervous.  But everything seems set.  Wednesday can’t get here soon enough!


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 ran out of space in the last entry to tell you something else that happened.  Perhaps you recall me telling you about the guy who came  in some time ago that was extremely medicated and everyone gave him a hard time.  Anyway, apparently he struggled so much with the written assignments that the man who is this groups social worker, Mr. Silver, finally pulled the plug and terminated him from the ERP program.  Silver has a reputation for running the most difficult program here, giving the most work and is known as extremely dedicated.  I didn’t think the guy who got kicked out would last as long as he did.  It is ironic that a man with mental illness that he can’t help and that he is being treated for with medication can’t make it here yet so many that have come here for this ERP program clearly don’t belong here make it.  This isn’t the fault of the staff here or MSDF but is a reflection of the money based culture of rehabilitation and how it relates to mental illness.  But I’ll stay off my soap box.  Again, it was incredibly warm Friday (June 3rd).  Nothing much of anything happened until second shift arrived and when our old friend guard Mike Metcalf reported for duty.  He started off quiet but quickly showed his true colors as he gave warnings to inmates for having fingernails that were too long, how their shirts looked and so forth.  It’s just as well.  The new guys got their introduction to what this guy is about and will hopefully steer clear, as those of us who have been here awhile do.  Another sign I’m mentally checking out of here is how it relates to food.  I’m not interested in accumulating food, even with the good stuff like the cupcakes we got with the fish.  I don’t want to make deals with others.  I’m not the only one.  ERP group member John Lloyd tells everyone he just wants to be left alone by everybody and he’s getting more and more vocal about it every day.  It stayed extremely hot in here through Saturday.  Our group continues to distract themselves with cards and ping pong games despite how hot it is in the dayroom and rec room.  The rec room doesn’t have any air movement at all.  At least the dayroom as 2 large fans to blow the hot humid air around.  The rec room, which will double as our ERP group room next week, has the 2 exercise bikes and 2 weight machines so all these hot sweaty bodies plus no air movement makes for a pretty onerous smell.  Also, the shower procedure put in place by guard Art Coleman isn’t being followed by the other guards.  Though we like that it’s going to create this guessing game when we should follow that procedure.  Sunday came and finally a bit of cool down before sweltering temps are expected to return next week.  Cellie Larry Sands got a visit by his brother and was happy his release clothes will be sent tomorrow.  Release clothes are exactly what they sound like.  The clothes got send to MSDF staff no more than 60 days before your release which you get to wear out the door.  In my case, I’m just going to wear my sweats I got off the catalog.  The blog sponsor getting me is bringing my clothes they got from Waukesha County Jail after I was transferred to prison.  Those were the same clothes I wore 758 days ago when this whole thing began though I doubt the pants still fit!  But at least the shoes will be in better shape than the ones I got off the catalog.  I finished the day by reaching out to Barb via letter about the situation with Lexi.  I want to put my best foot forward with her despite our past relationship.  I’m hoping to get more information about what happened.  It’s all I can do from this cell to positively impact this situation so I’m doing it.  Believe me I know it’s not enough but I’m trying.  Tomorrow (Monday) our ERP social worker Ms. Grey will be back and this will be our final week of the ERP program.  It’s almost 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).  It’s Wednesday which is a no group day and we’re supposed to be working on something ERP program related.  Work is pretty thin for us at this stage called Phase III.  But I found something to do.  I wrote the outline for the skit that I volunteered to do at the last community meeting and ERP group member Russ Johnson agreed to assist me with.  It will be on the topic of pretentiousness, focusing on how you can suffer from alcoholism despite having money, friends, and a good family.  You might ask if asking Johnson to help was done on purpose especially in light of the kind of person he is.  Not entirely would be my answer. He asked for my assistance on his skit so I thought it okay to ask for his help on mine.  But the thought did cross my mind when preparing the skit.  So Wednesday is spent largely in the cell by choice. My cellies also now spend the majority of their time in the cell as I do, especially ERP group member Larry Sands.  And yes him and Brian Whalen still tell their raunchy stories but not as much as they used to.  Cellie Corey Ball makes comments about teenage girls because he figured out this really gets under my skin.  He means to tease, please don’t think he’s a predator. He’s become the go to guy for making hot water for other folks, using metal prongs in a radio cord, then sticking it in a trash can with saltwater, then plugging it in and waiting for it to nearly boil.  This  leads to a parade of people coming to the door with soda bottles full of water for Ball to put in this trash can.  Inmates make decaf coffee, refried beans and other such things through this.  He usually gets little for his efforts and takes on all the risk.  But he’s indicated he is going to stop doing it now, especially since his graduation is so close.  If you get caught doing this, you will go to the hole and you are putting your whole program at risk so his decision makes sense.  He hasn’t blown the electricity yet like others did so that’s good.  Though my cellies can be annoying at times, I generally like all 3.  I’m going to get 2 new ones after Whalen and Ball leave in mid-May so I pray that goes well.  No one like Andre Charles please!  I started a new book today courtesy of Johnson called Decision Points by former President George W. Bush.  It’s a good read.  At mail call I did get an interesting letter from my biological father’s sister.  As you might recall we have been going back and forth with e-mails through my sponsors now that we have found each other, along with a cousin.  She revealed what I suspected.  She and my father were horribly abused by their father and stepfather, physically and sexually, for years.  I hadn’t know about the stepfather.  But the sick person he became, I completely now get why he did what he did.  It’s not ok, but I understand.  I replied by apologizing for being angry at their family for so many years for not protecting me and thanked her for sharing.  She says this information can never be shared.  I’ll respect that.  She also said she loved me and I told her the same.


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  We were waiting for our ERP group leader Ms. Grey, when another ERP group leader told us she wasn’t coming.  Many of us returned to our cells, and we hadn’t been there for a minute when Ms. Grey along with intern Nikita came.  We spent the morning session finishing the book Houses of Healing by Robin Casarjain, specifically  Chapter 15.  It portrayed prison as a gift that’s been given to us to allow us the opportunity to effect change in our lives.  Well if you’ve been following this blog at all you know that to be true, that change has been affected, particularity true before my time at MSDF.  But prison as a gift?  There are many words and phrases I’d apply to the concept of prison.  Some aren’t printable.  Gift wasn’t one of them!  But I get the point.  Though I lost everything coming to prison, there is one thing I kept – my life.  Had I not come to prison with the path I was on I very well could have taken my own life by now.  So I guess you could say prison gave me the gift of my life.  Lets just hope prison never gets the chance to give me any more gifts!  But anyway, we have to return this book to Ms. Grey.  I would have kept this one.  Our afternoon session was spent watching a video on addiction that describes how it affects the brain and how scientists are trying to develop a vaccine for addiction, specifically cocaine.  Sorry, I wasn’t close enough to see the DVD case for info on the video.  The evening was full of intrigue, thankfully none of it directly involving me.  Both swampers are now from the cell next door where cellie Larry Sands came from and where former cellie Malik Pearl had moved to earlier.  Sands informed me about how cellie Brian Whalen was planning to sell a lot of cocaine being provided by another inmate from that cell.  Unknown to him, their plan was to rob him once they were all out and Whalen came up with the money.  I told Sands if he knew this we had a responsibility to throw Whalen off this plan somehow, even if he didn’t want to cross those guys.  I just feel bad for Whalen.  I’m afraid he’s going to get himself hurt with his biggest crime being he wants to be liked.  As the day and night progressed more and more people began arriving to take beds for the next ERP group that’s starting.  The problem began when an inmate arrived with a lower bunk restriction and there were no lower bunks to be had at this point.  The guard in charge, not a regular, decided to bump the swamper in that cell next door, that is making this deal with Whalen off his bottom bunk for this guy.  He put him in a cell on top bunk above an inmate when many think this is the nastiest guy here.  But the guys in the swampers cell vehemently protested, wanting instead for them to move Sands out of our cell and move the new guy here.  They tried to convince the guards to do this but no dice.  The female guard got to the point she tossed their cell (inspect for contraband) after they said one of the reasons they couldn’t move him was that they all combine their canteen which is of course a rule violation.  I don’t know how the inspection came out but Sands was mad that they tried to disrupt his situation just because they didn’t like what was happening.  These guys made it clear to Sands once regular second shift Ruth Barthowski returns she’ll make him move as they believe they have influence over her.  I’ve seen it but I don’t think she’ll let them push her into this.  We’ll see.  Through it all, I’m still relaxed which is remarkable for this anxiety junkie.  My thoughts are outside of this place, for a day when I can write you about the positive things out in the world even if I’m struggling. 


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  With Ms. Grey having declared Thursday and Friday as “paperwork days”, I spent 8 am to 9 am in the dayroom and the rest of the day in my cell working on ERP program materials.  Some guys enjoy hanging out with everyone while talking and such.  I’ve never been one to do so especially with this bunch, not even with the guys in my own ERP group.  I do tolerate it more with them.  First, I ‘m not overly social to begin with and then add to that I now if anything goes wrong, it could cost me another 18 months in prison.  Let’s face it, I don’t have a lot of trust in most of them.  The only one I’d say I have any kind of friendship is John Lloyd and that’s a result of him sitting at meals with me.  Our last conversation revolved around the DNA surcharge applied by judges when defendants are sentenced.  Unless DNA played a part in getting your conviction, inmates are getting that money refunded by citing State of Wisconsin vs. Cherry.  Lloyd managed to get that $250 returned like this.  I haven’t had enough sent in to have that deducted so its not been an issue for me. I suppose I’ll need to address that someday while on parole as payment of fees and fines are part of my sentence.  But we’ll see.  On Friday things went pretty much the same in the morning with one major exception.  I had gotten in the habit of locking my locker because things had turned up missing.  There are 2 locks on the locker with one lock locked to the other and that one bolted to the locker to prevent you from using it as a weapon.  I opened my locker to find a previously un-opened Jolly Rancher bag opened and my dental floss packs bag virtually emptied.  The only one in the cell had been Andre proving is is impossible.  But opening an un-opened bag makes the statement he thinks I won’t do anything about it.  While pondering on this Lloyd showed up at my door and told me Ms. Grey was in the dayroom and wanted to speak to me.  She told me that a group of students were touring MSDF and wanted me to speak to them about how I ended up in prison.  Of course I agreed.  I’ve always felt my story and my perspective might mean something, maybe help someone someday.  Of course Lloyd heard this and told some and they told others.  Pretty soon I had people giving me a hard time in a good natured way, about how I was the teachers pet.  But the afternoon came and went and no students showed up.  Ms. Grey came by about 4:30 pm and asked if anyone showed up and apologized and to have a good weekend.  I told her its no problem.  Hey, I’d been willing to do it and for this anxiety junkie that’s what its all about.  I still had to deal with the other problem.  The lock on the lockers are Masterlocks and inmates have figured out how to open them without the combination.  By rapidly turning the knob, a person can open the lock.  But I approached the guard on duty and got the combination to the second lock.  I don’t think he was suppose to give me that combination because opening that one allowed one of the locks to come free which as previously  noted that could be used as a weapon.  But with Andre having 2 or 3 weeks before his departure, I wanted to communicate to him I was aware of what he was doing.  Confronting him is a bad idea as well as marking myself as a snitch.  So lets see how it turns out.