Posts Tagged ‘Parole’


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

Advertisements

I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  The morning started out slow as our ERP social worker Ms. Grey was off for the morning session for some kind of training.  In the afternoon session, we began the Phase III work related to employment.  First Ms. Grey asked how many of us needed to work on our resumes.  Not a single hand went up.  Typically, inmates often have nothing like a resume coming out of prison. I was in Information Technology for almost 20 years prior to me going to prison so I am pretty well versed in resumes, job searches and how to conduct myself in a workplace.  But many do not so I’m sure it’s a good idea to offer it.  Ms. Grey handed out a packet on employability called “Introduction and Motivational”.  The first exercises were related to following directions.  Basically it told you to make sure you read it all the way through, then gave you steps to follow that made you jump through all sorts of hoops and then get to the final step that told you, that had you read through everything you would know you wouldn’t have to do any of this.  It got me.  I’m so accustomed to just mind numbing work I just plowed through the first 4 of the 16 steps before catching on.  So it made its point.  Then we had to split into 3 groups and make up a list of 10 things important to being employed and then narrow them down to the top 5.  In my group were myself, cellie Larry Sands, John Lloyd, and Russ Johnson.  Our top 5 came out as positive mental attitudes, good communication skills, good listening skills, reliability, and good problem solving skills.  I was suckered (nominated) by the other 3 to present the list to the other groups as they did too.  I surprised myself at how comfortable I was doing so.  Ms. Grey seemed pleased with our effort.  We then watched a video called "From Parole to Employment that offered tips on your job hunt and was motivational.  It was a good video. Afterwards, Sands brought up getting State ID cards which we’ve been told we could get before we got out and Ms. Grey said she’d look into it.  Then the conversation turned to computer access, which the inmates can use to access JobNet and the law library.  Some thought they’d need their own ID, which isn’t true at MSDF.  But if its all the same, I think I’ll avoid computer use here!  Besides, unlike other ERP programs, we have no community access in Phase III so we can’t contact or follow up any leads.  But such is the situation.  I had dug up a copy of my resume I had here along with a news article written about a software program using the .NET framework for a plumbing and electrical distributor.  Russ Johnson got a hold of it and commended he had extensive contacts and would help me with my job search.  I’m not really believing it but hey I’ll take any help I can!  So we’ll see.  So as usual we’ll see what happens.  I spoke with my adoptive parents, Charles and Victoria Martin, and we’re having discussions on cell phones and internet access which I’ll need to get employment when I get out.  It’s good to actually be planning the details for my release. 


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. 


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP). In the course of doing laundry and trying to get a break from cellie Andre Charles, I spent some time in the dayroom talking to a few guys on my unit.  First, I got to talk to a guy who is in a similar position to me in that he doesn’t have anywhere to go when he gets out after being paroled to Waukesha County.  He’s written to everyone you can think of inquiring about his situation, neatly organizing the info in a picture album you can order off canteen.  But he’s reached the same impasse as I have.  There appears to be nowhere to go except the shelter in Waukesha, WI, the Salvation Army.  His stepfather won’t allow him at their home.  But he’s come up with another plan.  He’ll get a cheap car and sleep in that since the weather will be warm when he’s released in May.  I argued it isn’t safe and the parole officer (PO) likely wouldn’t approve such a thing.  His argument back was that the PO could provide different accommodations if they didn’t like it.  I suspect the PO won’t take to such tactics.  But the desperation we both feel is pretty evident.  I even found myself thinking about this possibly that really isn’t.  Later I caught up with a guy from my ERP group, Mark Hogan.  He’s really become the class clown of our group, coming up with things to say that are really off the wall.  But he sat down with me at the table.  He’s almost 70, but is as strong as an ox, out lifting  many in the exercise room.  He has a gray Rollie Fingers type moustache and likes his gin.  He claimed to have done 4 years for his 5th offense DUI which is quite harsh so I’m a little doubtful.  Perhaps I telegraph that I’m receptive to such things, but he opened about his own experience with Post Traumatic Delayed Stress Disorder, and his time in Vietnam.  I shared part of my biological father’s experience in return.  I’m’ due to read my autobiography to the ERP group on February 11th (over 2 weeks away) so they all will know this stuff soon.  I’m a little nervous as many indicate they were very general with some indicating they flat out lied.  I’m just really nervous some will use it against me in some fashion outside the ERP group.  It’s not suppose to happen but the reality is it probably will.  Today was the first day our ERP group began reading it’s autobiographies.  But first a newcomer joined our group, an attractive Asian American woman named Nikita Cho who was a student interning under Ms. Grey, our ERP Coordinator.  After the breathing exercises and the introductions we had the first autobiography read, Larry Sands.  Sands had made it clear he wasn’t going to write a lot or be specific back in the beginning and it was pretty obvious.  So much so Ms. Grey made him sit down and write it over and called on the next guy, John Lloyd.   Lloyd had done a good job having lived a pretty normal life.  Grief over his father’s death led Ms. Grey to assign him the book Life is Goodbye Life is Hello by Alla Bozarth.  John and I sit across from each other at mealtime and during program time and we get along well.  In the afternoon session, we went over the stages of change – 1. pre-awareness, 2. Contemplation, 3. Preparation, 4. Taking Action, 5. Avoiding relapse and maintenance.  It was probably Ms. Grey’s best day that I’ve seen so far.  I’m happy to say I’ve been in 3, 4 and 5 since last January.


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 morning in our ERP group we started off with a video called Wall of Denial another Jack Cooper video.  It was ok, nothing we haven’t’ already covered on denial.  At 11:15 was my first scheduled phone call with my parole officer (PO) from Waukesha County, Janet Martin.  After I asked the 1st shift guard Roscoe Peters to hold my lunch tray, I went up with my ERP Coordinator, Ms. Grey, for the call.  Ms. Martin didn’t know I ‘d lost my place to stay in Green Bay, WI that I had indicated earlier.  She asked what my plan as.  I told her once I graduate from the ERP program on June 10th, a friend (one of my sponsors) would help me setup an apartment in Green Bay.  Ms. Martin vetoed that saying she wouldn’t have time to approve the address prior to my release.  I said I’d have to get released prior to finding a place in Green Bay.  Ms. Martin then told that things change at that point, I would also have to have a job prior to that point of being allowed to go there.  Of course, I’ll have no way to get to Green Bay to do that.  She cautioned me not to attempt to go without permission.  Ms. Martin told me she’d put me on a waiting list for transitional living placement (TLP) but that sex offenders get first priority on those.  Realistically, due to the numbers, I won’t get into that. The last option is the Salvation Army shelter.  My heart sank.  The realization dawned on me that I was going to be….. homeless.  I’ve been homeless before, many years ago, when I was a much younger man living in Dallas, TX, prior to pulling my life together.  I never thought I’d see this again.  But that’s the reality I’m looking at.  I’ve got a couple of ideas but they are long shots.  Of course, the anxiety junkie in me took over the rest of the day.  After lunch, Ms. Grey couldn’t figure out what part of the Milkman Workbook she wanted to work out of only to conclude the book wasn’t worth the effort.  I wanted to snap at her for not being prepared but fortunately I didn’t.  I’m not really mad at her.  We then did more work on irrational thinking and thinking through your actions.  My cellies of course were no help a tall, knowing I was in an emotional state especially Andre Charles.  I wanted to withdraw into myself until I could make sense of this whole thing but he just went on and on about how things will suck for me on parole.  Then of course supper was Turkey Tetrazzini, the worst meal in the whole WPS!  But one thing I got to get a hold of here is I’ve got to have faith something will work out and not get so worked up.  It’s just easier said than done.


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!