Posts Tagged ‘patience’

I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Our ERP social worker Ms. Grey started off the day finishing up the workbook The Price of Freedom is Living Free. Relapse, Recidivism, and Recovery by Jack. D. Cooper and the video that goes along with it.  She pointed out the entry on the last page (52) entitled “The Beginning” really sums up the choices before us, to live free or to live in bondage.  I wish I had the space to share it but I sent my copy to the blog sponsors and they can link or post it per their choice. Here is the excerpt:

“The Beginning – Those of use who have made the choice to live free understand that the choices we make will always have a price tag.  We just need to be clear on what price we are going to pay:  the price for freedom or the price for bondage.  Both choices in living are available to us.  The pay-off for our old values in living are consistent and predictable…standing for count, random strip searches, the constant roar of inmates, correction officers, concrete and steel or waiting for that letter that won’t come.  What price are you going to pay?  In making your decision, you might ask yourself, “Am I prepared to spend another month, decade or lifetime locked up for a few hours of excitement here on the street?”  If your answer is yes, the system will gladly refund your misery. The choice rests with you.

Whether we are locked up or on the streets, we can choose to live free.  As “values” in living are rational, sound and sensible.  We recognize that we possess the ability to feel, appreciate and understand, as we learn to change the internal and external condition of our lives.  We can take care of ourselves while simply caring for others.  We can start living our own lives usefully, respecting other people’s rights to live as they choose.  We will understand that getting is not always better than giving, and that chasing objects and holding attitudes that set us apart from other people are not as important as seeking values that will bring us together.  Finally, we will see that we’ve been brought back into being…living with value and living free.”

For lunch we were having chicken salad, one of the better meals here.  For me as a swamper, what it meant is we would go through more bread than normal.  We’re usually provided 3 loafs of bread for the meal but inmates are accustomed to asking for and getting more than the 2 pieces allotted by the menu, which is okay, considering they cheat us on the quantity on most other things such as potatoes!  But toady I wasn’t going to be able to give more than 2 slices.  Inmates weren’t happy when I wouldn’t give more than 2 slices, but oh well. I treated them all the same, my cellies, guys at my table, everyone.  I told those who gave me a hard time they could come back for anything left over.  As I finished serving I heard a remark made by ERP group member Mark Hogan that since I’d become a swamper I was acting like a cop.  He was talking to someone else but clearly intended for me to hear it.  Like an idiot, I stopped at his table and asked him if he had something on his mind.  Fortunately he said no.  What would I have done if he hadn’t????  Of course, I didn’t let it go at that.  After the meal while I was cleaning up, I went to his cell and asked him what the problem was.  Hogan apologized and I reluctantly tapped his knuckles.  I don’t believe his apology but I’m betting he was smarter than me today knowing nothing good would come from this.  At our afternoon ERP session, Ms. Grey showed a movie I think we’ve seen before called Smoke Signals, a movie showing two Native Americans who attempt to overcome their own issues from their past each for their own perspective.It was obviously effective on some level for Augie Prescott as he was moved to tears.  I thought it was a good movie.  But I decided during the movie that this swamper experiment is going to have to end.  The reasons I took the job weren’t nearly as important to me as graduating.  ERP in 28 days on June 10th.  It had given me the material for my Phase 3 Goals and Objectives on improving socialization and patience so it wasn’t a total bust.  Only thing the guard who’d have to approve the change, Roscoe Peters, wasn’t working so I told the sergeant on duty I wasn’t feeling well.  I got the guy who had the job before me and who still wanted it to take over for me until Peters got back.  Many, including former cellie Malik Pearl who had tried to scheme him out of the job, weren’t happy he was coming back but I just don’t care.  I felt like a huge load was off my shoulders.  I got more good news.  In the mail, blog sponsors let me know my biological relatives had checked in and they were safe.  Also, cellie Brian Whalen who is being released Monday, that though he wishes to to maintain contact with the former swamper who wants to rob him, he is no longer willing to engage Whalen in any kind of business dealing since Whalen has a bit of a tendency to talk too much.  You think????  But Whalen doesn’t have any idea of the kind of bullet he has dodged.  Next week is the third PO call and our presentation of Phase 3 Goals and Objectives, while working on our legacy project.  Let’s keep it simple from here on 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).  It was another odd Tuesday. I went out in the dayroom to await the beginning of our ERP group but hours went by before we learned our ERP social worker, Ms. Grey, was not coming in that morning.  We did this song and dance again in the afternoon until about 2 pm until we learned there would be no group at all.  We don’t know why at this point.  The news for me on Tuesday involved my swamper job.  Counting trays, ketchups, mustards, cereals  and milk are a critical part of the job to get right.  I had told my fellow swamper David Sussex not to talk to me when I was counting.  He of course did anyway.  I was annoyed but I didn’t say anything.  The look on my face must have communicated my feelings however as he told me he was through with me if that was going to get me angry.  And of course, my count was then off.  I tried to explain to him I was not angry but he wouldn’t even discuss it.  I’m thinking to myself, whatever, I don’t really care.  I’m then told he discussed it in his ERP group.  Apparently at supper I missed cleaning a table afterwards and one of his group members came to my cell to tell me about it.  Normally,  one would see this, grab a towel and clean the table. A gain I didn’t say anything but my facial expression must have told the story.  I would observe them both later on conferring with each other, and they normally don’t.  But my big mistake was showing signs that they had succeeded in getting to me.  I resolved not to allow that to happen anymore.  I used to be really good at that.  Have my people skills been degraded that much since I’ve been locked up?  On another note, Tuesday was the final day for cellie Corey Ball prior to release.  He clearly is nervous about the uphill struggle that awaits him upon release.  He found a place to go with a relative in Pewaukee.  He insists he’ll be in a bar Wednesday night partying and he’ll be in touch.  Regardless, I wish him well.  He had a lot of trouble sleeping as one might expect that night.  The next morning Sussex said he wanted to sit down and talk at some point.  I said sure that’ll be fine.  What else am I going to say?  I really have no desire to talk to him.  Right in the middle of breakfast, guard Roscoe Peters told Ball to pack up, give him his cell key and they were coming to get him right then.  As I finished cleaning the tables he was by the door.  He looked as stiff as could be.  I told him to breathe and its all going to work out.  He smiled and said I hope so.  Then that was it.  He was gone.  Since it’s Wednesday, there were no ERP groups.  I wrote my Phase 3 goals and objectives essay on patience which probably will be published here later, not because it’s good but because it shows how at a loss I am to explain my attitude as of late.  Later that day Sussex decided he was going to take an extra banana from the leftovers from supper.  I just threw the bananas and said whatever.  Sussex said I was crazy.  He might be right.  Normally, I’d never react like that.  Later on, I’d go apologize to him for my reaction as well as to the inmate who pointed out the dirty tables.  I felt much better after doing that, like  a load lifted off of me.  Even if they did wrong, I had no right to react like that.  The night ended with our cell getting tossed because cellie Brian Whalen left his oranges from lunch in plain view of the passing guard.  He then tossed the cell next door, where 2 recent ERP graduates, including former cellie Malik Pearl, resides.  The guard got his key stuck in the door.  One of them offered to get his key out if he didn’t toss their cell.  This just served to infuriate the guard.  Pearl and an inmate who shares my table at meals, Todd Knight, got conduct report for altered property.  Knight had altered his headphones to share them with Pearl. when he watched TV which is a rule violation.  Pearl isn’t upset at all as he’s leaving soon.  Knight, on the other hand, has got 4 months left, and will suffer the consequences for trying to help Pearl.

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 was marked by arguments and in fighting amongst inmates over stupid things.  Most of it of course involved Scott Dietz, revolving around rec room issues.  I’ve just noticed the courtesy between inmates in the laundry procedure and the order for showers is breaking down.  People skipping each other to use laundry or the shower causes friction.  I got to talk to Charles and Victoria Martin, my adoptive parents this weekend.  They’re going to send the glasses I sent away at Dodge Correctional Institution (DCI) to the sponsor of this blog who is picking me up.  They also will have cable which means I’ll be able to have internet access which is critical for my job search and getting up to speed on the technology and software I’ve missed the last two years.  Speaking of which, Sunday, May 8th marked the 2 year date of my incarceration.  Sixteen of those months this blog has run.  Not an anniversary I look at fondly but assured I won’t forget it. But I’ve been talking like it’s a foregone conclusion that I’m going to graduate June 10th.  Not if I keep acting the way I did Monday.  Now the last graduating class has a high number of guys who are busying themselves by starting trouble, including former swamper and cellie Malik Pearl joined by one of his cellies.  They took aim at me because on occasion I don’t wear a hat (not a hairnet mind you but a paper hat) when serving food as a swamper.  There is not rule that I’m aware of that says I have to and I’ve told you previously, I shave my head, so there’s really not a need.  But they started yelling at me to wear a hat.  I was visibly angered.  I put it on and asked them if they were happy now.  Afterwards, it was time to start our ERP group.  Our ERP social worker Ms. Grey took us through the entire Living With Others workbook that day.  In the middle of the morning we observed through the window to the dayroom that the guards on 1st shift had been joined by several others.  They began to shakedown every single cell even taking the extra clothing the inmates had acquired which usually is ignored.   Group got interrupted several times as we observed them taking things out of the cells critical to our graduation project.  At the end of the morning session, I went out to clean tables and put out napkins to get ready for lunch service.  I came right back and didn’t touch anything else an inmate egged on by Pearl’s cellie, demanded I change my gloves.  I refused.  This was just harassment.  We exchanged words across the dayroom.  My reaction was so out of character for me.  Lunch got served.  We had Swiss Rolls, which are a pretty hot item around here.  I observed that same inmate shoving some down his shirt to smuggle them to his cell.  I asked him if he wanted me to play this game he had started.  He quickly got back to his cell.  I wasn’t going to tell but I was mad!  Afterwards, I was told Pearl and his cellie were going to try to get me fired as a swamper.  Initially, I didn’t care. I don’t need the extra food and who needs this aggravation?  But after I calmed down, I remembered why I took this job to begin with.  I went to the inmate who took issue with the gloves and apologized for my reaction.  But more importantly, what is going on with me?  Is it just a simple chase of the “shirts”, where inmates near release get irritable and melancholy?  Whatever it is, I resolved to get a hole of myself and stay in today instead of thinking about my release in June.  We turned in our goals and objectives for Phase 3 in the afternoon session.  She approved them on the spot and told us to have our presentations ready for the following Monday (May 16th).  Mine are ironically, to improve my social skills here and being more patient.  Clearly, these goals are appropriate and necessary. 

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 the first Wednesday of the month which means it’s a training day.  What this means for us is it’s a cleaning day on the pod and there are no ERP group sessions.  We’d been told by our ERP Social Worker Ms. Grey that this would be a different kind of cleaning day in that it would be a more extensive cleaning than we’d been accustomed but that didn’t appear to be the case.  I never enjoy days like this but mostly because of my own personality I dislike chaos and disorganization, and while the process to get the cleanup done fits that description, the work does get done.  It was a little different for me this time being a swamper.  At the end of the cleanup, fellow swamper David Sussex and I had to move all the tables and chairs out of the dayroom, turning the tables on the side to clean out hidden treasures from underneath in the rail of the table such as butter and ketchup packets, stored there by inmates so they can have extras at a meal of their choice.  To be honest, its an unpleasant task as often the packets have been crushed and are messy.  After this was done, we mop the entire floor and sweep.  We still get in each others way but it’s a work in progress that will get solved as we get familiar with the job and each other.  Once we were done we had to move the tables back to where they were.  The former swamper that is working with cellie Brian Whalen to go back into the business of dealing drugs decided to direct Sussex and I where to put the tables.  That was fine until he decided he was going to have fun with it.  I have little tolerance for the former swamper to begin with much less any desire to fool around while working.  I’m kind of the type to get focused on a task.  So, I walked away when Sussex continued to play with him.  Someone came over and helped Sussex.  He’d tell me later he was just wanting to goof around.  I suppose I get it.  They’re both about 10 years younger than me and the way they work is different than mine.  And lets face it, it’s not like the fate of the free world rests on my performance so I could lighten up.  Once done, we returned to our cells for the day supposedly to work on ERP program materials.  That was no problem for cellie Larry Sands and I as we had a ton of stuff to do.  By Friday we had to have our Phase III Goals and Objectives done, the Living With Others Workbook done – all 61 pages and we’re supposed to be working on our legacy project for the graduation.  I managed to finish the workbook but not doing a very thorough job in the process.  I wrote up my Phase III goals as improving social skills and working on patience.  Because the goals are to be presented by Friday May 13th, I chose the Bible as my basis for study on patience, as there’s no time to find and read a book of any value on the subject and to write an essay on it.  For improving social skills, I’m writing an essay on the positives and negative things I’ve learned about myself working as the swamper.  Just a lot of time constraints.  At lunch and supper, Sussex continues to have real problems counting trays.  But more importantly, we had another guard who rarely works on our unit.  He let me know right away there would be no extra food given to swampers when he works.  I was fine with that as I rarely eat the extra stuff anyway.  But it told me this wasn’t going to go well.  At 6 pm after supper he wouldn’t let us come out of our rooms as every other floor is locked down on training day.  But he didn’t know the program floors like ours were exempted.  So 7 to 8 inmates were down at his desk arguing the point with him.  Finally a white shirt (supervisor) let him now.  But by the time cleanup began, barely anyone was in the dayroom which was funny considering all the fuss that was made.  It came time to take out the trash.  I asked the guard to open the door but he ignored me for 10 minutes, while chatting with another guard.  I just left it and went to go get ready for 9:15 am count.  Yes, I still need to work on patience?  After count, I read emails you all send to the sponsors for me.  One reader, who has corresponded in the past, compared reading this blog to an episode of Real Housewives.  I get that!  But more importantly, it gave me a real good laugh prior to going to sleep.  So thank you!

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). One thing that started yesterday was that it was our cells turn to clean the upper tier of the cellblock after each meal for the next two weeks.  We each get plastic gloves from the desk and go upstairs and clean.  Clean what, is the problem.  I’m the kind of guy that wants to know my assignment and let me go and get it.  I have little patience for “busy work” or standing around wondering what to do.  But if your not cleaning the bathroom that is essentially what you are doing.  So in a really weird paradox, the one job you’d think nobody would want – cleaning toilets and sinks – everyone in my cell wants to do so we’re not guessing what to do.  Of course, I find something to do.  I sweep the tier though I actually pick up very little.  I want to do this every time so I can know what to expect, but the other guys in the cell don’t want to do that.  They want to discuss what job each person will do each time.  My thought process/reaction is probably like this: “Oh man give me the worst job each time so I can get this done and move on.  Just STOP TALKING!”  A few companies I worked for as an IT guy and Software Developer, I chafed under the same idea that talking equals work.  In some ways, I find the discussion more stressful and complex than the actual work.  My ex-wife knew enough to give me a list of things to do and then get out of my way.  If this is a character defect or character asset, you decide.  But I’ve been like that since I can remember.  Everything was fine until breakfast.  I pulled out my broom to sweep the tier but not everyone was done eating.  One guy said to me to wait till everyone was done so dust wasn’t in their food.  He was right of course.  My problem was he yelled it to me in front of everyone.  Again, another pet peeve of mine is being called out in front of others.  I prefer one on one.  But that won’t happen all the time.  I said nothing and waited, then swept.  The guys then went to their ERP group.  Last week, no one cared if those of us not in the program slept during the day.  Today they cared.  We’ve seen guards who make up the rules as they go, but I’m convinced that wasn’t the case this time.  The guard came to my door and I was sitting on my bunk so he moved on.  But moments later Malik Pearl came with a smile on his face told me I can’t sleep even if I’m not part of the ERP group yet. I asked what prompted all of this and he replied that even though we weren’t part of the ERP group we still had rules to follow.  I then observed Malik and Andre Charles and the social worker talking and pointing up to the cell.  I’ pretty sure I know what’s going on here.  In their ERP group there was a discussion concerning non=program people and that complaint got raised which got the guard involved.  The guard, they don’t just suddenly get a spurt of ambition and create a rule that didn’t exist before.  Now whether Malik and Andre were behind it, I’m not sure but the fact Malik showed up right after the guard came by and announced the rule tells me I’m going to have to remember though they share my cell, they are not to be trusted.  It disappoints me as I would like to build a circle of people I trust.  But even though this is the ERP, I’m still in prison and I can’t forget that. 

I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Fridays are a short day in the ERP program here.  They have something called “Community” at 10 am and then they’re done for the day.  Everyone was already seated when someone came and got me to join which surprised me since I don’t start ERP until December 13th.  They went through an airing of unit grievances (there were none) and housekeeping issues (there were some).  It was at this point that I was called to the guard desk and told to get ready to go to Heath Services Unit (HSU).  They have something where an inmate picks a quote and they explain why they picked it.  The quote was “Bad things happen in life so that someday something good can come.”  It was put on a big poster and hung from the top tier.  Then the inmate coming up with the quote talked of why he picked that quote.  The group was then to provide comments on what the quote meant to them.  The social worker running the group reminded them that if we didn’t participate enough she would hand out paper and make us all write something down.  Personally, I would have preferred that but that’s just me.  Then the inmate assigned the word of the day or week, I’m not sure which.  The word was “oppressed” with the quote “difficult to bear substance abuse made my life aggressive”, which was placed on a white poster on the upper tier next to the other one.  Then my cellmate, Brian Whalen, had been assigned to read a current events article and discuss it with comments following.  He did well I thought.  Overall, the comments being made felt forced to me but I could be wrong.  At that point a female guard showed up to escort me and another inmate to HSU.  We got on an elevator (another difference of any prison I’ve seen – there were no elevators) and we had to face the wall away from the guard sharing space with carts of food trays being delivered for lunch.  I go to our next stop where we were directed to stand with our backs to the wall while another inmate joined us and we continued on.  We got to HSU which has a hall for a waiting room with the wall lined by chairs then inside a desk manned by a guard.  He called out names to go in.  I was seated next to a man of 65 with a long white beard who couldn’t stop jabbering.  He was on paper for his 5th DUI and was here for rule violations (using pot) and his parole officer (PO) was trying to revoke him.  A lot of the other inmates were discussing Act 28 and the mistaken idea that once they got to Dodge Correctional Institution (DCI) the time they thought they’d be saving under Act 28 would be taken right off the top of their sentence. It reminded me much of my time in Waukesha County Jail (WCJ) where inmates would cling to such fairy tales out of sense of desperation and looking for a reason to hope.  I tried to interject and correct the information but one inmate in particular would have none of it, insisting I was wrong.  I let it go.  I understand the need to hold onto hope.  I think false hope actually helped me at times.  Weird, isn’t it?  Mercifully, I got called to see the doctor.  He was of Indian descent and spoke good English.  I waited 10 minutes before a word was said while he reviewed my file.  He then let me know another PET scan would be scheduled soon to make sure the cancer had not returned and made sure I was still on my antiviral.  I returned to my seat in the hall to await transport back to my unit.  The man I was next to had grown impatient and started repeatedly asking when he’d be seen because he didn’t want to miss lunch.  The guard who brought me to HSU returned to take me back but the guard at the desk lost patience and told her to take him back too without being seen.  He knew what that meant.  He was getting a major conduct report for being disruptive.  The entire way back he argued with this guard almost assuming an intimidating stance towards her.  She argued back which was pointless with this guy.  Finally, I got back to my unit having a cold pizza burger for lunch and very glad I’m not that loud inmate and looking forward to getting this ERP program going week after next.