Posts Tagged ‘Packers’


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).  What an intense 24 hours it has been since my last entry!  Shortly after the Green Bay Packers lost to the Detroit Lions, my cellie (cellmate), Andre Charles was going on and on about how great it was the Packers lost.  I asked the question with a smile if he was the kind of person that would go on and on just to annoy others.  He responded by asking if I was “getting all up in my chest” which means to get upset.  It came across to me by virtue of his body language and tone that he was challenging me.  I replied that if I was “getting up in my chest” he would know it.  We both got pretty hot.  I told him to leave me alone and went to the bathroom to shave my head as is my custom on Sundays.  He, of course, followed where the argument continued.  Andre told me he’s going to leave me alone.  I said that was fine and as I walked away he said he’d “punch me in the mouth”. Twice more, once that night and again the next morning he threatened me.  I stood toe to toe with him being careful not to threaten but not back down.  Charles historically has a violent temper with charges in the past reflecting that so this wasn’t an idle threat.  But finally he walked away and returned an hour later, saying he didn’t want to live like this.  My other two cellies, Malik Pearl and Brian Whalen, had watched this whole thing and wouldn’t say anything to offend Andre.  So they were happy I’m sure this was getting patched just in time.  We both apologized and I was off to being ERP.  Truth is I was incredibly stupid to say anything at all.  Ms. Grey, our ERP coordinator, had us assemble in the weight room which wasn’t real well lit.  She hadn’t thought ahead on that.  She handed out folders.  It was just your usual consent forms, agreements, and Intake information.  But one of my worst fears was realized.  We have to do an autobiography and timeline and read it to the group.  There’s a lot of things you know and other things you don’t that I feel like in the hands of other inmates regardless of how many confidentiality agreements they sign.  But here is the thing.  The stakes are so high for me right now.  If I should fail ERP, my mandatory release date is January 1, 2013.  That’s over 2 years from now, 8 months if I complete “ERP”.  I’ve got to be willing to do whatever it takes to pass.  And who knows, maybe it’ll be useful and my fear might be baseless.


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Do you remember when I told you about back pain from the foam I sleep on?  Well at breakfast this morning word got around that the juice carton called “Suncup”, 4 ounces distributed by Gregory Packaging, Inc., PO Box 5188 of Newark, NJ 02105, had mold inside the cartons.  The guard at the desk finally announced that we should not drink it.  MSDF is supposed to use it within 10 days of being unfrozen so who knows how it got moldy.  But this wasn’t the first time.  In addition to the lower back pain I’d had some physical symptoms.  I’m going to spare you the details but safe to say it’s related to output.  But as I talked with others it seems they too had similar symptoms.  I think MSDF is lucky this didn’t cause a serious health issue.  I returned to my cell.  Weekends are different here.  After count, the lights are turned off again and everyone sleeps again.  I took advantage to shower.  The showers here make the showers at Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI) looking sparking clean.  There is grime and mildew built up on the puke green walls that make me feel like I need a tetanus shot, once I came out.  If my immune system keeps me infection free here my oncologist will be impressed. I also shaved my head with a single blade razor, just like I did back at Dodge Correctional Institution (DCI).  It’s not fun especially since I’ve gotten used to double blades.  When I got back to my cell, everyone was awake – and feuding.  It seems Malik Pearl was upset when he overheard Brian Whalen and Andre Charles talking about him, which he accused Andre of instigating.  Andrew dose have a bit of an instigator in him.  As usual, I stayed quiet. I’ve learned to be content alone, and not worry about such things.  But after Andre and Brian left Malik told me he wasn’t going to hang with those guys anymore.  But he often isolates like I do anyway.  I’m betting it’ll all be better soon.  The night was pretty uneventful.  We all watched “COPS”.  Ironic, huh?  When I went to sleep, I don’t have a clue why, it was much worse than normal.  I was up and down in various positions on my bunk.  The next morning Malik and Andre were all over wondering why I stare into space for what seems like forever, sitting up every time they looked up.  Andre made the comment I must have a lot on my mind and it got left at that.  But I’m sure they know I’m not completely normal.  It does give me pause.  I mean someday I’ll be free and hope to have a relationship again.  Will I be afraid to allow them to see this side of me or be afraid to explain it?  I wonder if this is why I tried so hard to hang onto my ex-wife and family not wanting to have to go through the process of creating new relationships.  It’s hard just doing that much less adding in our baggage to the equation.  Despite my problems, I believe God will guide me in this area if I trust him and don’t rush it.  Easier said than done I know. 

All 4 of us in my cell are watching the San Francisco 49’ers lose to the Green Bay Packers and I’m going to enjoy the game.


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  The Green Bay Packers beat the stuffing out of the Minnesota Vikings 31-3.  Normally its a real loud environment around here on game day but it was so bad nobody  had anything to say.  It appears that I’m no longer part of the worship team since I got off bunk confinement.  I haven’t been approached about it for the last two weeks.  I’m okay with that.  If you were following along you understand why.  Oh and if you were wondering, saddlebags and Bill  “Made up”.  That’s Bills words, not mine.  I just didn’t want to know anything beyond that so you fill in the blanks!  But its been a relatively quiet weekend.  Normally early Monday morning I’ll wake up real early and do my laundry, especially since we now only have one washer and dryer to serve 200 plus inmates thanks to an inmate putting a bar of soap in the washer instead of the laundry soap we’re supposed to purchase.  But as luck would have it I walked by the washer around 7 pm and saw it was available so I hurried and got to it before others did.  The downside is I had to hang around the dayroom instead of hanging out by my bunk and watching TV like I like to at night.  Many saw my departure from routine and came up to me to talk.  We get used to each others routines.  Most of the conversation revolved around the game and why I was in the dayroom at that hour.  But Paul came by to chat.  He’s getting out next month and is having a particularly hard time. They didn’t offer him a job while he was here until the very end, has no money saved up and as a result must live in housing called a transitional living placement (TLP) with other parolees for 60-90 days.  Those in such placements often must wear electronic monitoring ankle bracelets which Paul doesn’t want to do.  In addition, prior to your release you get the “rules” your parole officer (PO) has determined you must live by.  Some are standard, but then after those are listed the PO lists rules specific to you.  You’re suppose to sign you rules prior to release from prison.  The problem here is that the PO listed as a rule that he must agree to any kind of treatment or counseling the PO believes is appropriate.  Paul felt the rule was too vague and wouldn’t agree to it.  Ms. Greer tried to arrange a phone conference which resulted in him hanging up on the PO.  He’s now in the process of filling out paperwork to get a new PO.  Paul’s problems have always gone back to his anger, even when I knew him in the group home 25 years before.  He doesn’t want the PO to have so much power over him as she could order him to complete any kind of treatment they want he reasons.  It surprises me as this is the 4th time in prison.  I’ve heard they have life or death power over you so I wonder why he’s fighting the PO so much.  He should know this.  I do know he’s really against any kind of anger management.  He had lost his mom to cancer back when I knew him as a kid and that the aunt that cared for him since had also died.  He’s all alone.  People like him, I get them.  I tried explaining since the beginning of all this his life has been a series of tumbling dominoes where though responsible for his actions, the likelihood of bad decisions being made continued to escalate as each domino fell.  The weight of the past dominoes that had fallen were such to make impossible for the current domino to stand on its own without a lot of intervention and change.  Paul indicated he “totally understood” what I was saying, but I got the sense he just wasn’t ready to trust this PO because they may make decisions that might force him to face things he was afraid to.  Again, I get that.  It’s a rebellion born of fear that resembles defiance.  I see that.  Will his PO?  For now, at this point, I’m not that hopeful he is going to make it when he gets out.


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.