Posts Tagged ‘Power’


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 February 1st and we’re suppose to begin the worst snow storm in a decade this afternoon.  As noted when I first got here, we can’t see or hear what’s going on outside.  I have mixed emotions about that.  In years past, I’d have been stocking up on comfort foods like pizza and chips and prepared to enjoy a lot of coffee while having fun with the kids.  There would be lots of shoveling too but even that was ok as you knew hot coffee and blankets awaited you when finished.  I’d have reruns of “House” and “Law and Order: SVU” taped which the wife and I would watch.  There’s no wife or kids, certainly no driveways or sidewalks to shovel and little chance of getting real cold in the climate controlled recycled air of MSDF.  But there’s little sense in thinking like this.  There’s another kind of storm brewing, one which could potentially change the WPS landscape.  A graduate of ERP named Emmit Bankhead robbed several banks in succession and Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn again called for an end to the “early release program”. As I’ve told you all before, people often make this mistake when referring to this program.  But Flynn made the assertion that “we all know it doesn’t work” and called for people to serve their full sentences.  This combined with Gov. Scott Walker’s choice to head the Department of Corrections (DOC), former Dane County Sheriff Gary Hamblin, who is on record for opposing programs such as ERP, and you have to wonder if we’re seeing the beginning of the end for ERP.  Please don’t think me selfish for being very happy I’m enrolled now.  Most inmates in my group when discussing it feel it won’t be here next year.  I’ve even heard some staff wonder the same thing.  You’ve got to feel for some of the folks as their jobs might be threatened under Gov. Walker.  He’s definitely on a mission you got to give him that.  Well, today we had strict guards on 3rd and 1st shift.  The third shift guards turned off the water on the sinks which inmates ran to drown out the sounds of the well, bathroom use and then turned off the power twice at around 5 am so everyone’s clock reset to flashing twelve’s.  Of course everyone had to guess if they could come to the dayroom.  The official reason was a generator test but the way the guards carried themselves told the story that they were mean spirited people.  The guard on first shift again not a regular, was strictly enforcing the dress code, specifically our white t-shirts had to be tucked in and that we always had to ask to use the bathroom.  Several got warnings put on their card.  Our ERP group got started with Scott Dietz turn to read his autobiography.  He’s a businessman, a guy who starts or improves existing companies.  When he got bored, he got drunk.  His story of a debilitating accident didn’t pass the smell test. He got an OWI reduced to reckless driving but claims no alcohol was involved and that he had fallen asleep.  No one challenged him on it.  I’m still trying to figure out when its acceptable to do that or if I should at all.  But that’s todays report.  I hope you get shoveled out ok if you live in the area.

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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).  Yesterday absolutely nothing happened.  Really!  All the ERP Coordinators including Ms. Grey were involved in meetings all day.  The next day we started off by reading the fifth chapter of Houses of Healing by Robin Casarjian, entitled “Anger and Resentment: The Myth of Power” that dealt with inappropriate anger, reactions, unresolved anger, what’s under the anger, facing and owning your anger, how to release it and what you get by holding onto it.  It was an excellent chapter.  I suspect I have a lot of issues here but getting into this, it feels like I’m going to need something beyond this place.  It’s just not safe for me to plow into this stuff it feels like here.  After that afternoon session was a showing of the movie Philadelphia starring Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks.  Before the movie finished it was time for our weekly community meeting so our group was the last ERP group seated in the dayroom.  Today it was my turn to do the “quote” for the meeting.  It was “I Love You But I’m Not Your Hostage”.  We have to explain the quote.  I wrote mine and since your reading this you get to hear it too. 

When I first came to prison, I often became angry with those that claimed to love me because it seemed like they wouldn’t do anything for me or were forgetting about me.  I often had thoughts like “well if they wont’ do anything for me, wont’ come see me more or write more I’m not gonna know who they are after I get out.  I came to the realization that I was actually holding these people close to me hostage, threatening to take away my love for them if they don’t do what I want or what I think they should do.  It’s a continuation of the same kind of sick manipulation of people I used to do on the streets.  Fact is what I do when thinking like this isn’t love at all but rather blackmail. It’s the idea I think I am somehow or should be the center of their universe.  Love isn’t based on what they do for me but rather, on what I want to do for them.  For me to expect anything of those that love me is wrong.  They didn’t put me here.  I did.  I should be grateful those people are still there and if they actually do help me that’s just a blessing.

After it was complete, the group didn’t seem to like the explanation or didn’t understand it.  It just went over flat.  It’s okay.  It meant something to me.  The group was restless today I don’t know why.  Afterwards Ms. Grey made the comment I’m too hard on myself.  She pulled the group back together to finish the movie and assigned us to write a paper on what we thought the movie was about.  Since tomorrow is a furlough day, there’d be no group but we would hang out in our cells and well we have an assignment to work on now.  We returned to our cells.  When I got there, the notepad I write these blog entries on was missing.  I asked my cellies if they’d seen the notepad and Andre Charles used this opportunity to snap on me accusing me of accusing him of stealing.  I tried to explain I wasn’t accusing anyone to no avail.  But then he started talking about me to Brian Whalen and when I tried to defend myself he said he was having a conversation with Brian and I was interrupting. I just ignored it from there.  It usually takes a few days for things to blow over with him.  But as Week 7 of 26 draws to a close I am getting comfortable as I’ve gotten into a routine.  Though plans for the future are up in the air    I believe that things are somehow, someway going to work 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). Shortly after count last night, the Koss headphones I bought off the catalogs, a plastic piece by the right ear just fell off making the ear piece unable to stay connected (Jack L. Marcus catalog #2168).  I got them while at JCI several months ago and they take a considerable pounding since I never listen to TV or radio without them.  I spent the rest of the night after shaving my head wearing those headphones being careful not to touch them once I got them on my head lest I cause the headphone to fall.  It’s unfortunate it happened right before Christmas break where TV viewing will be a major pastime.  With Christmas right around the corner (today is December 23rd) guard and staff vacations have started which means we have staff unfamiliar to us.  I asked them for an order form and catalog so I could order the headphones but were refused.  While waiting for lunch, my cellies, Malik Pearl, Andre Charles, and Brian Whalen had a long but productive conversation.  Andre went on and on about how those in his ERP group upset him with how they act.  He finally came at me and wanted to know what I thought.  I took a deep breath and told him the problem was him.  His expectations of how these people act is what has created this problem.  In addition, I told him his anger management isn’t the problem but he has a rage issue, and that he needed medication for mood stabilization and impulse control.  Finally, I told him I worry someday he will kill someone before he was even aware of what he’s done.  Everyone in the room was stunned by what I said but Andre said I was dead on accurate and thanked me.  But he asked why Whalen never had issues with him.  It’s because Whalen does everything he can to appease him while Malik and I would not.  Whalen even agreed with this opinion.  For once I thought I handled this situation well.  We had count after lunch and Andre came out without his ID or yellow smock.  Normally, they let this go but these new guards did not.  After count cleared, one of the guards showed up and told him to pack up as he was doing to the hole for these violations.  He was patted down, and Andre was clearly getting angry.  After going through his things, the guard announced he was “fu—– with him as he had them by not following the rules”.    Relieved he didn’t go to the hole he returned to his usual loud self.  But this guard had played a very dangerous game.  What if Ander had flipped out over losing his ERP over his trick?  Getting kicked out of ERP can mean additional years an inmate may have to sit in prison.  I believe Andre to be fairly dangerous and this guard was by himself and didn’t know Malik or I.  Fortunately, it ended ok …this time.  At 1 pm, Ms. Grey joined us and gave us new books.  On was “Houses of Healing: A Prisoner’s Guide to Inner Power and Freedom, 5th Edition”, 2008, by Robin Casarjian and another workbook, “Criminal Conduct and Substance Abuse Treatment.  Strategies for Self Improvement and Change” by Kenneth W. Wanberg and Harvey B. Milkman, 2006, Sage Publications.   We will begin assignments in this next week while she is gone on vacation.  Ms. Grey also gave us a whole bunch of worksheets.  The load is getting heavier no doubt.  But I am confident I’ll keep up.


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  It was another tough night but the good news is I got up at 5 am, ate breakfast (I haven’t been eating much), and then went back to sleep.  It was the best sleep I’d had in some time.  After I got up, word had apparently gotten around that Percy had written me up.  Many were there to point out to me how foolish I was not to have accepted the summary punishment Percy had proposed (3 days bunk confinement), others who bunk in the area urged me to fight it as they saw I was next to my bunk when Percy saw me.  I’m not accustomed to all the attention from these folks so it was a little unnerving but I was ok.  I think for many it was weird to see me in any kind of trouble as I have a reputation here as a bit of a straight arrow.  Later on that morning, I was called to the guard desk and I was given the paperwork that Percy had prepared for the ticket.  It was for “being in an Unassigned Area” (303.511) and “Violation of Institution Policies” (303.63).  It was categorized as a “Minor offense” (303.75).  I’m guessing that means it won’t affect my ERP program start date at Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF).  The paperwork included a description of the offense and that a hearing was needed.  When I walked away from the desk, I thanked the guard that gave me the paperwork.  That was a mistake as far as the other inmates who had been watching were concerned.  One asked me why I would thank the guard for giving me a ticket.  Yes, this didn’t help my “cred” as an inmate.  But it wasn’t the guards fault and part of my personality is I try to be polite.  I explained the first part to the inmates who were watching.  They laughed and mocked a little.  It was meant in fun but even if it hadn’t, the vast majority of who I’ve been locked up with, I could really care less what their opinion is of me.  As the day progressed, seeing as it was election day I anticipated attention would focus on the news.  Nobody really was interested however, which kind of surprised me.  In fact, people were annoyed that the election results were running along the bottom of the screen and coverage preempted some of their programming.  My favorite program “Parenthood” got bounced, but it goes with the territory.  Perhaps you were annoyed too.  After Scott Walker was projected as a winner, some guards and inmates made noise about how dire the situation will be for state employees and inmates.  I, however, was more concerned with the Assembly and Senate elections.  They both went Republican which means whatever bills Walker or the Legislature want they’ll get.  There will be no check on extremism, which should scare everyone.  It’s going to get interesting if nothing else and I’ll bet by the time 2012 gets here, everyone will be paying attention.


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  At about 7:10 am, I got paged to come to Ms. Greer’s office.  Ms. Greer is the social worker on our unit and it appeared we had had a disconnect on the issue with Waukesha County.  Turns out she had let me know she simply didn’t remember what it was we had been discussing.  She took the copies of the bills my Power of Attorney had sent, made a copy of my criminal case record that proved I was in custody at the time and told me she would look into this.  I was floored again.  Calling me in prior to office hours and agreeing to help?  I don’t think she got the memo that DOC staff aren’t supposed to care.  Of course I’m kidding.  But it’ll be interesting to see what happens next.  I was glad I followed through.  At about 10 that morning, I was taken for a previously scheduled session with the psychiatrist I liked.  It was pretty informative.  I felt comfortable enough to tell him about this bog and how much work I’ve been able to do through it.  He seemed quite interested.  I asked him how he was able to avert his eyes to the feet that most don’t get the treatment they need while in prison.  His answer was telling.  He said he does the best he could with what he’s given and he would be doing a bigger disservice to inmates by not being the best advocate he could be.  Really, you’ve got to love the honesty and dedication.  He shared he’s gotten burned before but it can’t keep you from following through with what is best for the inmate patient.  Just outstanding.  After I got back, it’s getting pretty evident nerves are getting a little frayed around here.  A lot of us don’t have coats yet and its gotten cold out.  They were suppose to have gotten out the middle of October but it didn’t happen for some reason.  What’s worse is they’ve come out a few coats at a time, allowing the inmate in control of the laundry who hands them out to play favorites which angers many.  What this all means is we aren’t getting outside.  Losing my time on the track has been hard on me.  Thank God I have my electronics.  But the focus for others is playing cards, dominoes and chess.  They’ll tie a blanket around the metal table we eat at and play their games.  No, I don’t join in.  But a group of black inmates were playing dominoes at meal time but didn’t wrap up when meal time started.  We all have places and groups we sit by in the dayroom.  A group of white inmates who usually sit at the table, just stood there with their trays not saying a word.  They refused to move.  A couple of the inmates from each side ended up going nose to nose talking crap to each other.  The guards didn’t notice.  But finally the white inmates sat, elsewhere, grumbling all the way and the black inmates laughing at them in a disrespectful tone.  I’m glad I wasn’t involved. But truthfully I’d never be married to an inanimate object (thank you Rebecca Kleefisch!) or think I have to sit with the same group.  I know I need to socialize more.  Afterwards I went to the multi-purpose building to practice on the keyboard for Sunday.  The singer had lyrics to gospel music I’d never heard but not chords or notes.  We struggled for an hour, all the while I regretted ever getting involved in this.  Afterwards, I decided to use the law library computer to see if it would address what Waukesha County was trying to do. Sure enough in Wisconsin statute 302.38, it appears the County is responsible for medical costs if I’m in custody for a crime and can’t pay which was the case and it seems to be confirmed by the court case Meriter hospital vs. Dane County.  They would have to release me to not be responsible.  When I got back I advised my POA on the phone and wrote on information request to Ms Greer letting her know these specifics in case it might help. Despite the tension in my unit I felt good.  I’d accomplished something for a change, I actually had done well, and that’s not a feeling I’m too familiar with much anymore.  Add that to positive contacts with staff for a change and it really was a good day. 


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  I was notified the night before that I would be taking a medical trip the following day.  It was a far better way than last time when I found out a few minutes before the trip that I was going.  I could swear they read this entry because I was notified 3 more times before the trip this time.  It was pretty much like last time on the way up there, except the guard wasn’t real talkative.  Today I was in Madison to have the port that had been put in me last November removed.  They had used this port to deliver chemotherapy used to treat cancer as veins have a tendency to blow up. This probably was my worst experience at the University Hospital in Madison.  Up till now, my oncologist, Dr. Rachel Cook, and everyone else has been top notch.  If you ever have cancer, this is the place to go and Dr. Cook is the doctor you want.  But today, students were in charge.  I had an orthopedic resident and was assisted by someone else who was also a student.  They were quite clumsy in applying the local anesthetic, which resulted in some painful moments for your truly as they cut out the port from the left side of my chest.  Once it was done, I went back to the minimum security holding room on 6th floor and there were 2 other inmates there.  In the course of conversation, one inmate revealed he had 88 days to go to release, but he had been diagnosed with the same type of cancer I had, the one difference being he was stage 2 (I had been stage 3).  It was almost surreal listening to him talk about how he was going to get through chemo with no problems (he hadn’t started yet), how he was going to tell the DOC how he should be handled for his placement, and how he believed he would be released early.  The same aura of invincibility I had had was present.  I tried to get him to listen to me.  I explained what it meant to be stage 2.  I explained how important it would be to be in an environment relatively clean as your immune system will be compromised, and how the effects of chemo will be felt more as time goes on.  But I could tell he wasn’t listening.  I have to admit that I was a little envious of him that through the worst of what he is about to go through, he will be with those that love him.  But it happened to me like it was supposed to.  I really believe that.  When it was time to go back to FMCI, I happened to be on a crowded elevator, where there were 2 little girls.  I have always been a guy young kids could connect with, and they quickly engaged me in a conversation about how funny someone else looked.  They didn’t care I was an inmate.  I was smiling when they got off the elevator. My happiness was muted a bit when I saw their parent pull the girls closer to them as they walked.  I didn’t let it bother me though.  I certainly understand the parental impulse, to protect them from the guy dressed in green.  After I returned to FMCI, in mail call that night, was a bill from Waukesha County for the time I was treated prior to coming to prison which wasn’t suppose to happen.  One of my sponsors carries my Power of Attorney (POA) which I’m grateful for, and I turned it over to them via mail.  It was a full day, with more good than bad.