Posts Tagged ‘noise’


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Wednesday came one degree away from setting another record for June 8th – 92 degrees with the same high humidity.  It got to the point where they pulled out the huge mobile fans and the ice machine went dry.  They had to put restrictions on ice as the machine created more, not allowing anything but cups to be filled.  The point is, it was hot again.  The tape put over the vent by cellie Larry Sands didn’t help at all.  Since it was Wednesday there were no ERP groups for anybody.  Despite the heat, we were still required to wear the yellow tops in the dayroom or in the rooms.  Guard Roscoe Peters showed some degree of compassion by looking the other way at inmates who didn’t wear the tops in their rooms until our ERP social worker Ms. Grey showed up.  Despite having told us previously not to stay in the dayroom all the time she insisted everyone do so now because she saw one inmate in his bunk.  I was already grouchy as it was and this didn’t help.  Then ERP group member Mark Hogan told several of us that our paperwork for release was not going to be sent to our judges until Monday per Ms. Grey.  All the other groups until now have had their paperwork submitted the day before graduation by the Records Department because the person in that job didn’t’ work Fridays.  The unit manager happened to be on the unit having his ear filled by cellie Malcolm Johnson about the perceived injustices done to him.  Sands, Scott Dietz, and I approached the unit manager.  Sands acted as spokesman.  After reiterating the issue the unit manager seemed to not have an answer.  He is new here so that didn’t surprise me.  Speaking of Sands, it looks like Waukesha County is going to come get him for the warrant he has.  Its an unpaid fine for a years old obstruction ticket.  He wrote the judge asking him that it be made concurrent with his prison sentence but it was denied.  Anyway, things were still up in the air as far as our release paperwork is concerned.  On top of the heat and everything else, I also found out ERP group member Scott Bunker has got another problem.  Us inmates often use earplugs when we sleep to drown out the noise cellies or guards make with electronics or slamming doors, etc.  Well the tip of one broke off and got shoved deep into his ear.  Health services here said they couldn’t see it and if he asked about it again they would refer him to psych services while also charging him twice the $7.50 copay.  Turns out, not only is it there, the tip of the earplug is going to have to be surgically removed!  With our impending release I wonder how they’ll handle that?  The night ended as it began. Hot and humid but at least there is relief in store tomorrow.


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 was about 8:30 am when I heard the announcement to report to the officer’s station.  I knew what it was for.  I was going to Madison to get the results of the PET scans from last week to verify the cancer remains in remission.  It was also the first day we saw guard Roscoe Peters since former cellie Andre Charles left.  After giving him the key to my cell off the string around my neck, I went down to intake and again began the process of being strip searched and being bound with chains on my arms, legs and waist.  The thought occurred to me, this is probably the last time prior to my release in June, that I’ll need to be strip searched.  I hope so anyway.  It’s an indignity I’m still not accustomed to nor do I think I ever will be.  Of course, in keeping with what normally seems to happen on these trips for me it’s not…normal!  It was raining very heavy and about 19 miles from Madison on I94W we encountered a huge traffic back up.  We moved no more than 5 or 6 miles over the next hour.  We finally came up on the accident scene.  Fire had consumed a truck carrying thousands of pounds of beef.  I’d hear later no one died thank God.  We got there and I sat in the inmate waiting room.  Very few were there this time which I was grateful for, as the noise was at a minimum.  There was one inmate there who had 57 days left to release.  He’d suffered a cardiac arrest and been brought back by the staff at Red Granite Correctional Institution.  He was complimentary to them in how they’ve cared for him and the quality of their work.  It was unusual to hear an inmate say such things.  I went up for my blood work and got in to see my oncologist, Dr. Rachel Cook.  She walked in and something I hadn’t noticed before, she was very pregnant.  I told her I hoped it went well.  She let me know the spots that were seen last time were either gone or ruled out as cancer.  My next appointment for scans will be in 6 months instead of the 3 months that had been done.  In the midst of the happiness I felt, there was a bit of a reality check.  I needed to call her directly before my next appointment if I don’t come up with health insurance as these scans cost several thousand dollars.  Not only would it be nice if I find a job with good health insurance after I’m out its imperative I find health insurance to ensure I see more birthdays.  It shouldn’t be that way but that is the reality of the situation.  But I didn’t dwell on that. I even told Dr. Cook about this blog, saying a friend wrote in her blog, thanking her for her care of me and what terms to Google to find the blog.  I wanted to avoid alerting the ever present guards in the room.  So Doc, if you find this blog, again, thank you!  On the way back not only was it raining heavy, the winds were going crazy blowing pails and such from construction on the highway into us.  But we got back fine.  After another strip-search I actually got back to my cell pretty quickly.  Ironically we shouldn’t have hurried.  We had Turkey Tetrazzini, probably the worst meal here, for supper about 4:30 pm.  If we’d gone slower I probably would have gotten another bag lunch at the hospital.  But nothing would break my good mood, not even the  horrid food.  I’m healthy and I’m going to stay that way!


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Wednesday was another training day here but it was also schedule not to be a group day so there was a lot of time to spend in our cells.  Cellie Andre Charles was obviously anxious to get out and we all, as I’d find out later, were anxious for him to leave.  At 9 am we set out to clean our cells but Andre was worried about getting dirty so he didn’t do anything.  He went down to the guard desk to ask when he would get called.  It was a different guard on duty, one who had no patience for antics like guard Roscoe Peters did.  He didn’t get an answer.  About 9:15 am, that guard came up to our cell and gave him a bus pass for the bus service in Milwaukee which got him even more geeked.  He put his head out the door and he could overhear the guards discussing him and laughing wondering why he was in such a hurry to get out because its not like “he’s got a job to go to”  This just infuriated him because of the disrespect he felt.  Like yesterday, I can’t blame him.  It was truly unprofessional on their part.  Finally at 10:17 am, the call came.  He wrapped all his state owned property in a bed sheet and cellies Brian Whalen and Corey Ball took his boxes down for him.  He had to sit in the dayroom for a few minutes but then he was gone.  Within minutes of his departure Whalen began bending my ear about how Andre would steal from him too and how he had abused his generous nature during their time here.  I knew this already.  But I asked why he didn’t do something about it.  He replied he was just trying to keep the peace.  I knew that too and I understand it.  But the feeling in our cell at this point was like a huge burden having been lifted off of a person, like one could breathe again.  While all the Andre bashing was going on the thought occurred to me whoever my cellies are then will probably knock me after I leave too.  We already had lined up the occupant for what had been Andre’s bunk.  It was my ERP group member Larry Sands.  We had to wait till guard Ruth Bartkowski came on 2nd shift to do the transfer as she is the only guard who will do them.  Our motive is to make sure we don’t get someone who isn’t like us when  the new inmates come in – quiet and able to get along.  Now that Andre is gone, Ball got a hold of the unit typewriter and typed letters in our cell. Andre had thrown a fit with him about the noise.  All of us took the locks off our lockers.  After count, Sands moved in.  The first night was spent mostly with him getting to know Whalen and Ball while he regaled them with tales of his sexual conquests.  He loves it here as everyone is so quiet.  Apparently the cell he came from, apparently liked to grab each other and wrestle in a pseudo sexual manner.  He couldn’t cope with that or the noise.  I don’t blame him!  That night I relaxed for the first time in a long time and everyone seemed pleased with Sands addition to our cell.


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  This past weekend I completed the assignments given to me this past week.  They were the self-evaluation, the review of the movie Gracie’s Choice, and addressing the envelope for the letter going to my former wife to be sent by our ERP group leader, Ms. Grey.  I’d had the actual letter written some time ago.  Many in the group are struggling with this or have devised plans to control the response Ms. Grey gets.  I did not do so, not because I’m some sort of moral giant but I’m not willing to risk anything at this juncture.  It just isn’t worth it with 97 days to go until graduation.  Anyway, I’ve mentioned to you before our bathroom setup, how the toilets are open air and only a piece of cloth covers the entrance.  Often the men will run water to prevent the noise of doing their business from echoing in this cavernous environment and it’s a courtesy appreciated by those in the dayroom.  Also, at night those on lower bunks will often put towels up using the bunk above them to hold them in to block light but mostly for some privacy.  Normally the guards say nothing about such things but last night wasn’t normal.  The refried beans from cellie Andre Charles graduation party were/are still killing me.  The guard on duty made me get up though I wasn’t done and shut the water off.  I finished and went back to my cell.  Shortly after he was there barking at my cellies to take the towels off their bunks in drill sergeant type of fashion.  The next morning at 5 am, it was my shower and laundry day (with 3 changes of clothes I shower every other day doing laundry every other shower day) and I wondered if he’d give me any grief about anything.  Once laundry started, this guard complained about how other guards don’t enforce the rules so it makes his job harder and it confuses us.  I was surprised he knocked other guards to me but I just told him since I’d been in prison I’d learned it is really up to the guard on duty and we as inmates learn how the rules will be enforced.  He replied that was exactly the problem and he’ll throw guys in program real quick if they give him an attitude as they’re supposed to be on a higher level.  I told him he wouldn’t likely see an attitude from anyone here.    Soon he got distracted and my laundry was dry but I thought to myself this guy was wound so tight he might snap.  I returned to my cell to make sure that person wouldn’t be me!  But I think while he has a point that its good for us to have uniformity in expectations I also think its good for us to deal with differing expectations or interpretations as we get ready to be released as that is a much more realistic view of the world than the sometimes orderly  world of MSDF. 


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 night a little touch of stomach flu took hold.  If I were free, I’d just hang out by the toilet.  In another prison, I’d have had a stall to use.  Here everyone can see and hear you do your business which just makes it so hard for me to conduct my business!  There is a blue nylon cloth that separates you from the folks brushing their teeth or washing their face in the sinks.  So what we do is flush the toilet at the same time when we do our business to cover the noise then again to cover the smell.  If there are others present and you didn’t time it right they’ll let you know.  We even turn the water at the sinks on to prevent the noise.  I got through the night to the usual confrontation that cellie Andre Charles had with someone this morning.  This time the someone was cellie Malik Pearl.  Malik’s offense this time was to wake Andre up for count.  He looked out for him for crying out loud.  But he was having none of this.  I had no clear cut assignment to work on today so I began the autobiography I’d been assigned but was dreading.  Before lunch I completed 4 pages.  It was detailing much of what I summarized for you all early in my life.  It was most difficult to write.  I won’t post the autobiography as its off point to what “Life in the Wisconsin Prison System” is like.  I share with you about my life enough for you to see the prison system through the lens I provide.  But if you do request it, I will post it here.  I’m okay with that as you know me but you don’t know who I am.  Weird huh?  But be warned, I take pride in the fact I bring you what happens here while avoiding the use of unnecessary vulgarity.  Not so in this document.  After lunch, I was getting ready to go back to the dayroom to resume work on the autobiography when I sat up on my bunk and of course Charles flashing an obscene gesture at me.  I walked away to use the restroom and of course I returned shortly to ask him if he was flashing that sign at me.  He denied it but who else could it be?  I walked away and resumed work.  After program, I returned to my cell where Malik told me if he’d been on the street, Charles would have been shot and that there are several guys here who he has talked smack to that if they see him on the street they will take him out.  Apparently they’ve told him to show up in their cell and he backed down as well.  I just don’t want to get involved in any kind of war here.  But it was good to see Malik, myself and cellie Brian Whalen united against Charles.  I just wonder how this is going to play out.  But doing that autobiography, I’m not going to sleep well tonight.  These issues really pale in comparison.  At mail call, I got another Christmas card today.  This one was from my ex-wife.  She is inquiring about visiting, along with her daughters.  If you have been following, you know this family was a big trigger of the stress and anxiety that I failed to get help for that contributed to me being in prison.  The answer is obvious you would think, but I want to give it some thought.


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 my towel and washcloth third in line on the chairs in front of the disgusting shower and was happy about that.  It was also laundry night so I was plenty busy.  The next morning cellie, Brian Whalen, agreed we would pull all our cords out of the tangled mess on our outlet and I would try to get it so that the wires and cables weren’t interfering with the reception of our antenna’s for our televisions.  Though we don’t have cable we do pick up 31 television stations, which is amazing considering all the granite and steel here.  But electrical cables seem to interfere with the antennas.  But I decided to wait until lunch to do this as we were having the worst meal here, beef stroganoff.  I went to my ERP group where our group leader, inmate Larry Sands, decided on his own to show a movie called Gracie’s Choice , an excellent movie of a young girl with several brothers and sisters whose mother was an addict.  After it was finished I returned to my cell and when lunch was called, I began to work on the cords and antennas.  Cellie Andre Charles was the only one left in the room, his fan blaring on high, and having just banged around at his locker.  As I experimented with antenna positions he challenged me in a threatening manner on the amount of noise I was making.  This coming from a guy who plays his TV and radio loud all the time and no one says a word.  I just looked at him and left.  I saw Whalen coming up the steps and told him after he inquired of whether I was finished that no I wasn’t and he should ask Andre why.  After I returned, everyone was quiet and Andre was pacing the floor saying he’s not going to put up with this sh—anymore.  I showed no fear or concern, but I didn’t answer.  The other cellie Malik Pearl, confided once Roscoe Peters, our regular first shift guard, returned from vacation he would ask to be transferred.  I told him I probably would after he did.  His reasoning is he can’t handle it.  But I don’t put it beyond Malik to be playing games either.  I just don’t know for sure.  Our ERP group resumed and after doing a couple assigned crossword puzzles on the Body System and Neurotransmitters, we watched another movie, “When a Man Loves a Woman” starring Meg Ryan.  It’s a story about how a woman gets help for her drinking problem but as a result of getting healthy as a person, her marriage suffers.  I avoided this movie in the real world as I heard it was a ‘chick flick’ but it was actually pretty good.  Afterwards I returned to my cell.  Andre wasn’t saying a word now.  But right before supper was served, Malik drew my attention to the cell window.  There was Peter Thorn, the guard who liked like he belonged in a punk band, on  a chair head in hands with a white shirt (a supervisor) encouraging him to come with him.  He hadn’t looked right before and he displayed the eyes of heroin use.  Some inmates laughed, some cheered, but not me.  Addiction can take down a guard, an IT Specialist/programmer like myself or anyone else really.  People are fighting for their lives in here on several different levels and not all of them are inmates.


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 woke up after a very bad night, with my cellie, Andre Charles, in a foul mood and trying to pick a fight with another cellie, Malik Pearl.  The issue this time was Andre thought Malik was angry over all the noise he was making.  He probably was but he hadn’t said a word to Andre.  I rolled out of bed and ate breakfast.  For whatever reason, Andre requires our attention and I’m just not going to give it today.  Ms. Grey, our ERP coordinator, is on vacation but she had left behind assignments for us to do.  We were to read chapter 1- 2 of House of Healing (HOH) and complete the assignment in the morning session of our ERP program and in the afternoon watch the first video on HOH, as well as read the Criminal conduct and Substance Abuse  (CCSAT), and work on our group mission statement.  Reading HOH, I can tell you straight away that the author Robin Casarjian is a genius in how she frames things for the reader.  The first two chapters are entitled “Doing Time” and “Who Are You Anyway?” “Doing Time” feels like a pep talk, that regardless of your circumstances behind bars, making change in yourself is worthwhile work.  “Who Are You Anyway?” is a look at our core, our “self’, surrounded by our sub-personalities and how “over-identifying with any one of them can debilitate us or stunt our growth” (p.13). I can see how someone with my background may have gotten so lost in a sub-personality now.  I highly recommend this book to everyone regardless of the kind of prison you’re in.  I completed the “Who Am I” assignment on page 10 and moved on to the CCSAT workbook.  We were to complete Session 1 but many were way past that.  Session 1was concerned with explaining the program and setting up goals to avoid “criminal thinking” and recidivism.  I feel out of place with this workbook and its tone feels, the word comes to mind is clinical.  But I will give it my best effort.  I mean I don’t have a choice, right?  After lunch in our cell, Andre went on and on to me about when he says he’s through with people it’s nothing personal to me even though Malik and Whalen, my other cellie, agreed he absolutely was.  I wanted to reply that though I hope he finds the help he needs, I couldn’t care less if he was through with me.  In fact, I wish he and I had no involvement at all.  But for once, I bit my tongue.  After lunch, we’d been told to watch the first video of the HOH book series.  It took 20 minutes for us inmates to get the DVD player in the weight room running.  The video we were supposed to watch told the story of how HOH came to happen (remarkable itself – email if you want to know) and further discussion on identifying who we are.  Then we as a group decided to watch the second video so we didn’t have to set it up again.  This was on forgiveness, the ability to see the good in a person past their present issue.  Again, outstanding stuff.  I feel I do a good job of that most of the time. It’s to see the light bulb, not the lampshade.  Our next item, was the mission statement for our ERP group MS. Grey asked us to come up with.  Yours truly did the honors.  It states “we seek to learn how to live a clean and sober life through truth and accountability to each other, surrendering our old way of doing things and being open to new ideas, humbly and empathetically looking at ourselves and each other in a balanced fashion, remembering to be truthful for our new lives.”  Let’s hear it for the run on sentence!  🙂  The “Ripple Effect” of addiction was assigned to our ERP group inmate leader, Larry Sands.  They cancelled our ERP group night session so I listened to Whalen state how fed up he was and Andre keeps goading him.  Man, my headphones can’t get here fast enough!  But the best part of the day, I actually got a Christmas card in the mail tonight!  So, I’m happy.  It’s good to know you’re not forgotten once in awhile, you know?