Posts Tagged ‘opinions’


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Nothing much happened the weekend after our ERP Group graduated.  Two minor incidents would have implications later on.  First, cellie Scar Johnson began talking trash about me in the dayroom.  I got word of this from cellie Larry Sands.  I just didn’t care as I’ve come to know the person he is and since I’m almost out of here opinions here matter even less than it did to me before.  Second, cellie Jose Michaels had the occasion to be playing his music louder than normal.  He likes a Puerto Rican style of rap which I don’t care for.  But the way it has worked in our cell up to this point is we use our headphones for electronics.  It’s a respect thing as not everyone likes what another might.  So, I asked him to turn it down which he did.  End of story right?  Not exactly.  Come Monday, it started similar to when I first got to MSDF.  Lots of TV, took a shower and read.  It’s so nice to not have to wait in line for the shower now!  But during the day, our ERP social worker Ms. Grey came by and summoned us to the dayroom.  I hoped against hope she got word our judges had already signed our paperwork, but no such luck.  Though she hadn’t felt the need to go through our Phase III evaluations, she brought our Phase 3 evaluations for our signature.  Glancing through mine, the ratings were generally positive, but the true reflection of how she felt laid in the comments she made.  She mentioned how I went to the hole because of this blog but also mentions that though I never received any kind of discipline for it I seem to always have to have the last word and that I didn’t seem to grasp the basic tenants of the ERP program.  I read this and briefly agreed.  I was helping at her request other inmates with their goals for crying out loud!  But I wasn’t going to make any headway here, certainly not with all those other group members standing around.  It felt vindictive, almost retaliatory on her part.  Of course, this doesn’t change anything about my status as having completed the ERP program.  The only downside is this eval will go to my parole officer (PO), Helen Gaither.  There’s a good chance she won’t even read it.  But at the time I admit to being angry.  I was even more angry when Sands returned and told me Ms. Grey asked him if he regretted moving to this cell.  When he said no, she asked if he was sure.  Again he said no.  I sat there fuming.  I went about my business thinking about all this.  I got in a better mood though when Michaels came around.  He has such a positive attitude, you can’t help but not be down around him.  We got to talking and he told me that he had been unhappy when I asked him to turn down the music and that he can’t wait till Sands and I leave so he can run the show in this cell and they can be bad as they want in there.  He was decent about it and he demonstrated respect by seeing we had a way of doing things before he got here.  But I’ll still be glad I won’t be here for that collision between Scar and Michaels!  But I’ll close with some comments about what Ms. Grey did.  Its good I always wait before I write these entries.  It allows perspective to form.  But to be honest, I’ve been unhappy with my writing for this blog while at MSDF.  I have had one hour a day to write whereas at other institutions I had tons of time.  I’m also unhappy with my time at MSDF.  I grew as a person much more while at DCI, JCI, and FMCI.  Though MSDF and ERP were largely negative influences in my life, ultimately I’m responsible for my own growth or lack thereof.  So I have to accept responsibility for that.  It’s not Ms. Grey, MSDF, cellies or others fault.  But I will say I do look forward to a more positive atmosphere that I will create out in the world.  The proof is in the pudding as they say.  I believe that with God’s help, I will be successful even if it does look overwhelming now. 

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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).  With ERP social worker Ms. Grey on vacation until June 6th, I anticipated a slow, boring Tuesday after Memorial Day.  It seemed like the biggest challenge we would be dealing with would be the heat.  The holiday weekend had brought summer like weather, with temperatures in the high eighties with extreme humidity.  It makes me grateful I won’t be here in July and August as I graduate this program June 19th and am anticipating release by June 20th.  I busied myself Tuesday morning with the assignments Ms. Grey had left us with.  I did the A and B plan, which lists what our plan is upon release, both a primary and a fallback plan.  I’ve been planning for that in some way almost every day as the blog sponsors will tell you!  As anyone will tell you when getting released, those kind of plans are tough as there are so many variables involved.  One variable changes or complications occur and the whole plan radically changes.  The other assignment was to write a paragraph on possible release triggers that we select from a list in a pamphlet.  I did 7 paragraphs.  Again, it’s obvious common sense stuff.  I know to stay away from bars, be honest, and get out of my head.  The general consensus is this is busy work for while Ms. Grey is gone.  It took me 2 hours to finish it all.  Most of the other guys in the group did theirs last week.  I pulled out the A edition of the encyclopedia and started reading.  Group member Kevin House indicated he wanted to change the quote for the graduation project program I’d worked on.  I felt like this might be an opportunity to fix the errors Ms. Grey made when she made changes to it.  We’ll have to wait and see if there’s time when she gets back.  Otherwise, we spent the day battling the heat and trying to stay occupied.  Cellie Malcolm Johnson as anticipated, is having some difficulty not stating his opinions in a constructive manner in Ms. Carr’s group as he came back upset with how they’re trying to “muzzle him”.  I’m sure  he’ll learn how it works here.  He sees things through the prism of racial bias, which while that is an element, it can’t be your focus.  Otherwise, as with a prism, it distracts your view of everything else.  Mail call was done early tonight.  My heart dropped when I saw an envelope addressed to me from the Winnebago County Courthouse.  Letters from such places are never good news and when you’re this close to release are grounds for a  heart attack.  The news isn’t good but it wasn’t about me.  I have a daughter from the relationship prior to JoAnn.  Her name is Lexi.  Her mother, Barb, through the years did everything she could to prevent Lexi and I from having a relationship.  She was the kind of person that wouldn’t hesitate to call the police and make up a story about you which is actually what let to our breakup.  I focused on JoAnn’s kids after she had begun making untrue allegations against JoAnn and later on against my adoptive parents, Charles and Victoria Martin concerning the treatment of her son from another relationship, Eli.  Lexi and I were very close while we were together and she loved JoAnn and the kids when we got to spend time with them.  But this paperwork indicated that Lexi had been removed from the home and they wanted to change her placement because of violence in the home which they were blaming on Lexi.  It was so unlike the loving, sweet, shy girl I’d known.  Eli had been removed from her home for similar reasons a  few years ago.  Since Ms. Grey was on vacation and the hearing is June 2nd (today is May 31st) I went to another ERP social worker Ms. Nell Presley, for help.  I wanted to at least attend the hearing by phone but would need their help to do so.  She didn’t seem motivated at all but said she would try.  She is the same social worker that divulged journal info to former Andre Charles.  Whenever you get legal papers, other inmates see that envelope and immediately know something’s up.  I briefly described it.  I’m just numb.  Why are all my kids following down my path?  And my father’s path?  And his father before him?  I feel extreme guilt and sadness.  I’m powerless to do anything behind these prison doors and I know that.  I just so wish I was there and able to meet her needs.  All I can do is pray and say how sorry I am which of course won’t help anyone at all. 


I am at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  After little sleep the previous night I wasn’t looking forward to hearing the essays from other group members for their ERP Goals and Objectives as I thought I’d fall asleep.  Of course I was wrong.  I’m not going to go into the rest of the readings except for one person because to a large degree many just plagiarized, almost word for word in some cases, what they read to the group.  Once you get to know a person you know when the words that come out aren’t their own. And of course several told me they did copy outright.  It may not be an entirely bad thing.  If you copy material, it still has to travel through the hand to the brain and back again.  The mission may be accomplished despite the unorthodox delivery.  Granted I’m reaching here but trying to put the best construction on the situation.  The last person to stand up and read was ERP Group member Scott Dietz.  Dietz has kind of become the one in the group whom everyone doesn’t like too much.  As noted before he tells what would be considered wild stories about his success in business and his travels.  Plus he has the annoying habit of always trying to top whatever story is being told particularly with his cell mates.  That won’t make you a lot of friends.  Dietz has also become known for registering uninformed opinions in group on what other members would say or do and do so in a manner that was unfriendly.  It was perceived he would do this to gain favor with ERP group leader Ms. Grey.  If that was the case it didn’t work.  Ms. Grey and Dietz would clash every couple weeks or so over some issue and she gave him a huge workbook on self-esteem for a treatment goal as she saw through his stories too I’m sure.  When he finished reviewing his materials for the group. Where they had been laid back in questioning others, now picked up the pace and the questions were more pointed.  Clearly there was some retaliation going on, though the questions weren’t appropriate.  I’ve learned that its not what you ask but how you ask it that makes all the difference.  My question was “Why was our opinion of you so important in that you share all these things about your life?”  I didn’t accuse him of lying and made the subject of the question about the value you place on our opinion of you. The response I got floored me as it had nothing to do with the question.  Dietz went on a rant about how certain people get away with everything, how he has been physically attacked with guards and inmates and nothing was done about it and how he has been mistreated by Ms. Grey.  I was just shocked as I think the rest of the room was too.  We found out why soon.  It seems last week an inmate who was cleaning the bathroom asked Dietz not to use the facilities after lunch though its commonly accepted practice here you have to clean around people.  Dietz insisted so the inmate took a swing at him in full view of Peters who is the regular 1st shift guard and the other unit manager.  The unit manager ordered a meeting between these inmates and their social workers.  That meeting was to take place right after our group and that’s why Dietz’s mind jumped there at my opinion.  After the meeting had begun, everyone in the dayroom in their rooms attention were fixated on the drama that was unfolding.  At first it looked like Dietz was going to get his wish as a witness who was known to be friendly with him came in and gave his version of events.  The accused inmate stormed out of the meeting and was confined to his cell.  We all assumed he’d get kicked out of ERP and go to the hole for sure.  But then a swamper who had just graduated ERP and another came forward and claimed nothing happened even though it was common knowledge  on the cell block it did happen.  That inmate then was summoned to return from his cell.  They were both given interventions which is additional work given by an ERP group leader to address a specific issue which will be shared with the group Thursday at the community meeting.  Things had backfired on Dietz in a big way on this.  He had wanted to get the inmate thrown out but now got extra work, the humiliation of bringing it up to the whole group Thursday, having to say he was wrong even if he doesn’t feel that way and draw the disrespect and of the inmates for “going to the police” on another inmate.  Of course he went around saying this happened because the black inmates stuck together (the inmate who swung and his witnesses are black) and how they’re shown favoritism.  My thought is he is just digging his hole deeper and deeper.  I’m so glad I keep to myself and don’t embrace confrontation here as I don’t think this is going to end well for him. 


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 been an interesting last couple of days. It’s February 17th and there are thousands of people in Madison protesting the state worker unions losing the ability to negotiate on behalf of their works on most issues.  Why am I mentioning that here?  Obviously, the people that work here are concerned as it directly impacts them.  Rumors are getting fed around here by conversations overheard, that in the event of this law passes there will be a strike called by their union and that Gov. Walker has lined up the National Guard to come in and replace them.  Of course, then the question follows, what becomes of us in the ERP programs at various stages of completion if that should occur?  Opinions vary from accelerated graduations (unlikely in my opinion), that the time would still count, the graduation date won’t change, or that despite our contracts, we signed when we got ERP from PRC we’d have to start the program over again and be stuck here until it does.  Let’s face it, nobody knows and it isn’t logical to get worked up about such things we can’t control but of course, that doesn’t stop it from happening.  The guys slated to graduate the first week of March (including Andre Charles) are really on edge, but you can’t blame them for that.  Now the Democrats in the Legislature have fled the state, its left the whole thing in limbo with no end in sight.  That’s the worst kind of limbo don’t you think?  But life goes on in spite of the uncertainty for us just as it would for you.  Today’s group focused on Victim impact of crimes.  Ms. Grey, our ERP Coordinator, admitted the presentation was more suited for property or violent crimes than an OWI offender group but still I’d argue the basic concept is the same. My alcoholism has had significant impact on these to write a letter to someone who has been impacted by our drinking asking them to write a letter detailing how we have hurt them by our use of alcohol.  My letter will be going to my ex-wife JoAnn. After it’s written, it gets sent back to Ms. Grey where I’ll have to read it in front of the group.  She’ll be brutal and probably will be unfair at certain points but that’s ok.  Some group members were unhappy and were scheming how to get around doing this.  I don’t know why.  It’s not like we’ll be hanging out together when we get out.  I guess I can be smug.  I laid everything out there with my autobiography.  But it’s the end of Week 11 of ERP with 15 to go. 


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  The fallout from the institution wide shakedown has continued. Several times a day people are paged to report to the social worker’s office from the guard desk.  When the page comes from the guard desk and not from Ms. Greer you know this isn’t going to be a visit to that office that will end well.  People are going there for ticket hearings and are being told to bring property receipts with them that prove the confiscated property belonged to them.  Bunk confinement of varying length is the normal punishment.  Every once in awhile someone actually wins a hearing.  You know they did as they celebrate like they scored a touchdown.  Slowly but surely life is returning to normal. Somehow the smokers managed successfully to hide tobacco though I hear the asking price for a rolled cigarette has gone up to four to five dollars of canteen from two to three dollars.  Clothing bought from the catalogs that was lost is the biggest issue for folks as buyers and sellers are trying to get together on a price.  Where am I at on this?  My little routines I hang onto to preserve some organization from the chaos around me at at times my mind can sink into serve me well here. Additional clothing or property just for luxury sake would disrupt the routines I’ve developed.  I know that sounds weird but if you’ve been reading awhile you’re used to it by now.  Occasionally the guys laugh at me because for many things I do everyday I do them like clockwork. I don’t care if they laugh.  Their opinions matter little. It’s usually good natured.  One of the guys I’d call one of the winners around here is being released Monday.  A strong Christian who was liked by all he is one of those guys that has a personality that can light up a room.  He’s headed to Texas where he has a wife and church to support him.  Originally FMCI would have taken him via bus to Fond Du Lac, WI (thirty miles away) and let him off at a bus station as they do all who are released and have no one to come get them or some other arrangement through a Parole Officer or something like that.  He wrote to a church in the area just out of the blue and someone responded indicated a willingness to pick him up here and give him a ride to the airport.  How cool is that?  That’s the kind of courage I need to learn.  We also got a new guy in who opened up to me out of the blue.  It seems he was approved for Act 28 release but the judge in his case had denied him.  They have to let him go in February, and when I pointed out to him he most likely would have been on electronic monitoring for 6 months had he gotten early release, he indicated he didn’t care.  He’d been down for eight years and the only thing that mattered was getting home to his kids. Inwardly I smiled. I so understand that desperation and desire.  Finally, congratulations to Chris Tomlin, one of my favorite Christian artists, on finally getting married this week.  I wish the very best to him and his new wife!

 


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  It should have been a good day.  The Green Bay Packers beat the New York Jets and it’s always a good day regardless when the Minnesota Vikings lose of course.  I however was going on little sleep after the previous evening and wasn’t in a great place in my head as it was.  The day started with conversations with a couple members of the now defunct praise choir questioning the motives and talent of the guy left to sing.  Hey, the guy could have been the best praise leader on earth and it wouldn’t have mattered to me.  All it did was remind me I didn’t know the music, the chords, had never played with the guitar player and this feud between all of them still grated on me.  Oh, and the service was only hours away.  At count time after lunch, I’m in the aisle expressing my frustrations to a chapel service when Percy came up and asked me where my bunk was.  I showed him to my right grabbing the bar.  He had this look on his face that said smug satisfaction.  Those around me thought he might give me a warning for not being by my bunk since I’d never gotten a ticket or warning for anything since my arrival  in WPS.  A warning would tarnish my record but not permanently.  The fact it came from Percy annoyed me but what are you going to do?  Around 4 I went for practice and setup for chapel.  Of course, the leader wants to have special sound settings for each song and brings out another keyboard than the one I’d used on Friday.  I am having to do everything I can to keep from walking out at this point.  The actual practice showed, well, we need more practice, myself included, but all of us together especially.  We didn’t know how to start or end the songs and the guitar and I weren’t playing together.  So chapel, music wise, was a disaster.  The head volunteer suggested we play hymns, if that gives you an idea.  The message was about Daniel 9:20-27, and how the preacher felt the end of the world would occur.  I enjoyed studying such things years ago but that knowledge was only useful then to win a Bible Trivia game.  The stakes are much higher now. 

Afterwards, the politics began all over again with lots of opinions.  I was just glad to get out of there.  I escaped to my bunk.  I put the closed captioning on the football game, put my headphones in the radio while listening to eighties music, trying to keep my mind occupied by these distractions from my current world.  About 2 hours later I was paged to go to the guard desk.  There was Percy, paper in hand.  He informed me I was being written up and was going to get 3 days bunk confinement for not being by my bunk at count. I replied that he had to be kidding, no warning or anything?  He replied sarcastically, that oh sure he was.  His demeanor indicated he was really enjoying this.  Then he told me my bunk restriction would begin immediately unless I appealed to Lt. Brodie.  Great, I thought.  Hardly someone in my corner.  I wasn’t as composed as I had been with Brodie as I said I would appeal.  I returned to my bunk.  Guys around me let me know I’d also lose my electronics, which had been keeping me sane and since I appealed, my punishment would probably double.  I tried to sleep again but gave up at 1 am and got up and did laundry.  It just feels like I’ve been on a bit of a losing streak lately, like everything I touch is turning to stone.  I tried to talk myself down, that at least for now I haven’t lost my ERP program at Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF) yet.  I’m not in the hole, and I shouldn’t be surprised, its Percy we’re talking about.  He acted as expected.  I should have been more careful.  I wish I could tell you I was good after that but that would be a lie.  But let’s see what happens.  Maybe Brodie will surprise me.


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  We submit our canteen orders on Sunday’s and then get what we ordered after count clears, about 6 pm, on Monday.  Basically when the truck gets here, they call for volunteers to unload it.  After count and mail call, everyone stands in a room waiting for their name to be yelled by the two guards passing it out.  I tell you all this now to tell you that none of this actually happened this past Monday.  We were notified via a memo posted in the window behind the guard station that due to a lack of staffing, canteen would not be handed out until Tuesday.  Inmates who have been here awhile report they’d never seen this happen before for this kind of reason.  But this was no ordinary Monday night for the monsters of the midway, the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers would play a football game.  Apparently, it was just a coincidence that the flu took out all of our regularly scheduled guards on the same night or at last that is what they would probably tell you.  They won’t explain that to us because we’re not entitled to explanations.  I don’t personally care.  Those that did either are the ones that have a tendency to whine about something all the time or were out of canteen.  Again, not my nature.  My former family used to laugh at me for bringing coats and sweaters when we would go camping but sure enough, late at night, they would all be wearing those coats and sweaters.  My point is, I try to be prepared for the unexpected.  Prison has only reinforced that.  Anyway, if you’re not a Packer fan here, chances are you holler and yell along with all the haters about how horrible they are, and how great the Vikings or some other team is.  Unfortunately, its not always all in fun.  Fights nearly break out over it.  As game time approached, we get our snacks ready and I climbed into my top bunk.  I walked around during the game a bit, observing people, guards and inmates, of all races, colors and creeds being pulled together by the common denominator of the Green Bay Packers. Everyone cheered (or yelled) at the top of their lungs for or against.  For a few hours we forget where we were, the barbed wire and the gates.  At the end, almost everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong for the Packers, yet they only lost by 3.  It was more how they lost.  They lost their composure.  They didn’t stay focused and didn’t do the very things that are basic to football. 

Afterwards, even those professing an undying loyalty to the team questioned the coach’s decisions, the general manager, even though he didn’t have anything directly to do with the game, and even Aaron Rodgers, who had been the toast of the Packer Nation.  Are they any less loyal, love the team any less because they questions ,and have their own opinions on things they don’t have all the facts on? Should the Packers disown their fans for such faithlessness?  No, of course not.  Their passion and zeal, even when its misplaced, is further evidence of their love and devotion for the team.  Do you see where I’m going?  Those who were close to me have turned their backs on me because of my failure to get help when I was sinking, its not fair to hold it against them. Their opinions, without knowing all the facts, doesn’t mean they don’t care.

The next day, the haters were out in full force led by the sergeants on 1st and 2nd shift.  But that’s ok.  Just because we get down on those we love, doesn’t mean we’re going to stop loving them.  We just need more accurate information.