Posts Tagged ‘problems’


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 started off with Kevin House’s autobiography. Again, his story was very general, portraying himself as the good old boy gone bad, that if he had only not drank any alcohol he wouldn’t be in prison.  Ms. Grey, our ERP Group Coordinator, questioned him extensively trying to pull specifics out of him.  At the end, not having gotten the specifics she wanted, told him he was going to have to make additions, like she had done to group member Larry Sands but he didn’t interpret it that way.  He was clearly frustrated with her as well.  After he was done and their conflict passed, Ms. Grey started in on Scott Dietz about how he might get an intervention if he didn’t clean up his attitude and temper with her  An intervention is when you are assigned extra work by the group coordinator to correct problems you might be having in the treatment process.  You are then required to disclose what has occurred at the next community meeting.  Dietz didn’t take well to this at all.  I of course for some reason raised my hand and defended him, reasoning that I had thought she was taking what he was saying personally. This was a mistake on my part and she let me know that.  Dietz had more arguments of course.  His cellies report that my suspicions that his autobiography may complain some problems as he seems to contradict himself when telling stories of his businesses and travels to them.  Obviously, he wants to impress us.  The question is why?   Ms. Grey gave him a huge book on self-esteem to work through so maybe she senses it too.  That afternoon we watched another video from Dr. Samenow.  This one dealt with the offenders crime on its victims.  I’ve been real impressed with his video series.  We shut down a little early but Ms. Grey and Larry Sands stayed behind in the group/rec room putting the posters back up that had fallen over the weekend.  They spent a good amount of time talking.  Of course we had to give him a hard time when he was done talking to her, but all meant in good fun.  He reported they’d had a good talk and came to an understanding of each other.  I hope that’s a good thing.  The next day (Wednesday) we had no program at all in the morning and in the afternoon it was group member Dean Stark’s turn to read his autobiography.  It was very general too and we were all pretty amazed Ms. Grey let it slide.  But I’m just more nervous as it’s my turn on Friday.  I’ve been very upfront about everything.  But it’ll be ok. 

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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).  The morning in our ERP group we finished the movie “Antwone Fisher” starring Denzel Washington, after which we did a questionnaire on the movie.  But talk about art paralleling life!  I just had biological family relatives finally getting in touch with me recently.  I did share what was going on with me in the ensuing discussion and how I was happy the movie didn’t end with some cheesy glorious ending between his mother and him.  Ok, I’m a little jaded.  I just don’t think it happens that often.  Afterwards we finished up the “Rational Thinking” workbook from The Change Companies.  At the afternoon session, we watched a ten year old movie called “Tough Guise”.  Its premise is basically we as men have been programmed to think as violent creatures in order to prove our manhood.  We were encouraged to not believe that obviously.  We received a new workbook “The Price of Freedom is Living Free – Lifestyles and Values” by Jack D. Cooper, published by Kindred Publishing and Productions, and were assigned the first 10 pages.  We were also given a bunch of handouts on Denial, Defense Systems, the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy model, thinking cycle, core beliefs, irrational thinking, the three R Cycle (resentment, rehearsal, revenge) and Stages of Change.  It took 20 minutes to get all this passed out.  To be honest, I’m under motivated right now.  I was up at 5 am to get a shot at the shower and laundry so I’m tired.  I also know this family stuff is on my mind.  I don’t know if they were aware of the early years.  One of them doesn’t know I know my biological father raped them too (his own sister).  Part of me really wished this hadn’t come along right now but something tells me the timing is no accident.  To make matters worse, I caught Andre Charles in my locker but he didn’t know I was watching.  He’s accustomed to have been doing this with Brian Whalen.  So I got the combination to my lock and moved things around so I can lock up my canteen.  That’s going to create questions but this anxiety junkie doesn’t need another reason to get uptight.  Bottom line it’s just not a great day for me.  You have those too.  Issues are different but the results are the same.  But it’s going to be ok.  At count right after supper, the second shift guard announced we shouldn’t interrupt him while he was eating because “dieting makes you crazy” and it must be obvious to us he was a bodybuilder.  We all laughed.  Nobody cared what he does or what his problems were.  But it made me smile so that was a good thing.


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 number one rule in a prison environment is you don’t snitch on another inmate.  You are suppose to handle whatever the issue is between yourself and the other inmate.  But I feel like cellie Andre Charles has put me in a position of where I feel I don’t have a choice but to ask to be moved.  If this thing explodes all the work and waiting (almost a year) I’ve done to get to ERP goes down the drain.  I feel I’ve given him chance after chance while putting up with his conduct since my arrival at MSDF.  I decided the next time I got a threatening word or an attempt to intimidate me or anyone else in this cell I was going to go to the blue shirts. (guards).  But then cellie Malik Pearl confided he was going to go to the  guards and ask to be moved.  He’s in fear this whole thing will cost him his place in the ERP program too, as well as the chance to get out early.  Sensing an opportunity, I asked him to let me know when he’d done this and then I’d follow and do the same.  I thought we should do it together but I didn’t ask.  Malik, being a black man, cooperating with a white guy against another black man, in this environment it just isn’t normally done.  But later on Malik came to me and told me we should do this together, and in so doing, they’ll probably move Andre.  I asked him about the problems he might face with his guys and he said he didn’t care.  This tells me two things.  One, we both consider this to be a serious enough threat to do something this drastic.  Two, though Malik has been a violent drug dealer in the past he has a strength of character I admire.  We both agreed we should wait until Saturday, which is New Year’s Day, to talk to the regular first shift guard, Roscoe Peters.  The next day was Friday, New Year’s Eve which was treated as a weekend day.  A lot of the inmates spent the day in the dayroom playing cards and chess.  As usual I hung by myself.  That night the FOX television network showed “Rocky Balboa”, the final video of my favorite movie series.  Malik and my other cellie Brian Whalen, traded memories of great champions when boxing was a great sport.  But Andre hates it when the conversation includes Malik but hates it even more when I’m involved in the conversation.  Whalen won’t get involved but I see him not caring if Andre sees him talking to us.  So that’s good.  But I’m focusing on Rocky’s words. “I see you blaming everyone around you and making excuses for why your not doing good.  That’s how a coward acts and that’s not what you are”.  It’s not verbatim but the general drift.  Whatever happens in 2011, my success or failure, rests on me.  No excuses.  No apologies and no quitting.  Happy New Year Everybody!


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP). Every prison I’ve been in has its resident artist and here is no exception.  Since its the Christmas season, he is making a mint charging guys two to three dollars of canteen a card.  But I’m telling you the quality of the cards is just exceptional!  Of course, this is entirely illegal, according to the code of conduct.  They would call the offense “running an enterprise” and you could go to the hole and kicked out of ERP.  I don’t have the funds to buy those and if I did the people I would send them to, such as some of my sponsors, would be very upset with me for exposing myself to potential problems in order to send them a Christmas card.  But it doesn’t mean I can’t admire the work being done.  Another sign of the year is the football pools going on around here.  To participate costs you a bag of chips off canteen.  Again I don’t participate but I didn’t participate in office pools as an IT guy either.  Here all it takes is one guy to say something and the world changes for everyone involved.  So no, I’m not going to expose myself that way.  It can happen, usually because someone bets something they don’t have and because they fear reaction from the other inmates to their stupidity, they go to the guards and blow the whistle.  Then cells get tossed for evidence of betting, statements get taken and it gets to be a mess.  It’s just not worth it for someone who has a short amount of time.  As far as what’s going on here, my cellie, Brian Whalen, thinks I should stick around the Waukesha, WI area and that I’d make a good car salesman.  He says he knows people, could get me into it and they’d really like my computer skills.  I really don’t have a solid plan and I like the idea of car sales.  I’d eat, drink and breathe in learning it but I’d do that with anything I’m in.  That’s how I learned Information Technology, became known .NET Framework programmer working for a Fortune 500 company and all this with just a GED.  My work ethic and dedication has always been there.  As tempting as it is for me to jump on what Whalen is trying to tell me, I am not excited about putting my future in his hands.  On the other hand, I’m going to have to accept others help regardless where I land.  But I really need to put this out of my mind for now.  Today is December 12th.  Tomorrow I begin ERP.  If I don’t succeed there, this is all wasted mental energy.  So, even though the future is right around the corner, I’ve got to focus and have faith that the future will be just fine without me stressing on it now.  So, it’s six months to go starting now. 


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).  I’ll be on my way to Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF) on Monday to begin my ERP program. Some of you have emailed questions to be answered.  Most are confidential and specific to your situation but some might interest others and are more general so I’ll answer them here.

Question:  What will happen to the blog when you are released?

Answer:    The blog will continue.  The focus will change to what life is like on parole as some of the biggest battles and such deal with staying out of prison.  My sponsors and I occasionally talk about whether or not what we’re doing here should have exposure elsewhere and how to accomplish that but none of us really know as this concept and how we do it isn’t all that common.  Those of you who’ve made suggestions and helped promote the blog, please know I’m very grateful and the sponsors work on your suggestions as time permits.  So please keep them coming!    

 

Question:  Do you think going to prison was a good thing for you?  Has it helped with the issues that got you there?

Answer:    I think something had to happen, something had to stop the insanity that was going on.  I deserved to go to prison.  As far as helping with my issues, that work was done by me as you’ve watched over the last 19 months.  Up till now, as I’ve said before, it’s up to me to get better, not the institutions or guards. 

 

Question:  What would have been the length of time needed for you to “get it”?

Answer:    Do you feel I’ve “gotten it”?  I feel I “get it” more and more everyday.  Do I feel ready now to go out there?  Yes!  But God will open that door when its time in spite of any whining I might or you might hear me do.

 

Question:  Did prison save your life?

Answer:    No.  I was suicidal when arrested and it wasn’t well into January of this past year (2010) my resolve and faith was renewed and I made a commitment to stay alive.  Dang it, with my background, cancer, teenage life, battle with mental illness, going to prison and such I feel like there’s a plan out there for me to do something.  If not, I should’ve been dead long ago.

 

Question:  What are you in prison for and what were the circumstances surrounding your crime?

Answer:    I am in prison for my fifth and sixth drunk driving offenses.  In 1995 I had 3 arrests in one year as all I did was party.  As the years went by, the problems described here got worse and worse.  But even as I continued to drink more and more, I kept on improving professionally. There were long periods of sobriety but as things at home and work escalated, I would go “off the deep end”.  I would come out of it, vow to do better, and then would be ok for awhile.  My fifth offense came when I tried to track my step-daughter down who had gone missing and I tried to calm down by drinking.  While out on bail for that, my sixth offense was my suicide attempt where i combined alcohol and seroquel and was determined to drive into a semi on the highway so it would appear as an accident and my family would get my life insurance.  I passed out before I got to the highway.  Obviously, I’ve summarized a great deal here and haven’t gone into great detail on the mental health issues.  But know this:  It was wrong and I deserve to be here because I didn’t seek help when I knew I had to and couldn’t do it on my own.  My pride prevented me from doing so and as a result I lost everything.  That, in a very brief nutshell, is the answer to your question.


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.