Posts Tagged ‘psychiatrist’


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  My first morning as a swamper along with my fellow swamper, David Sussex went without incident.  In the time we await the food I got to know him a little bit.  He proclaims himself a born again Christian, as I consider myself, and I’ve seen no reason to doubt him.  He is very vocal about his faith here while I am, as with everything else I do here, am very quiet.  Every morning he is out there reading his Bible just as I do.  If he irritates me in some fashion, its probably his desire to engage me in conversation about what I’m reading and start “preaching” about anything I might share that I struggle with.  But that probably says more about me than him!  As our ERP group got started that morning our ERP Social Worker, Ms. Grey, took the topics from the resumes and interviews to the in-depth topic of relationships.  She handed out another workbook from The Change Companies designed for the Federal Bureau of Prisons that we had used early in group called Living With Others, and another packet from Earnie Larson.  We have used his materials before as well.  We spent the morning on an exercise where we identified the feelings connected to dating through marriage.  She then erased the words “first date” and replaced it with “addiction” and it followed pretty closely.  Pretty clever.  In the afternoon we watched the first four parts of video From the Inside Out from Hazeldon featuring Earnie Larson.  It’s actually quite good.  The first part got into why relationships are important. It looked at positive and negative relationships in our past lives, the different types of relationships, how love has been taught to us in the past, and principles of building good relationships.  I had difficulty sharing details of what my past impressions of love were like early on and solidified as the years went on.  But everyone knows me now and aren’t shocked by my answers anymore.  Even if they were, I decided long ago I was going to be honest.  I’m also grateful no one calls me a liar here as others have in the past, such as the psychiatrist at my court proceedings did and others did as I was growing up into adulthood.  I’m now able to document most details of my past thanks to my contact with my biological family.  After group ended at 4 pm, we had another fill in guard as they still haven’t yet replaced Ruth Barthowski, named Larry Cable.  Due to differing rules with different guards, there’s always a certain amount of risk involved.  Following customs set by pervious officers or what is considered normal.  But it was pretty clear while Sussex and I waited for the dinner trays he was going to be anything but predictable.  Its customary for inmates to go out in the hall in front of the cell to fart if necessary as a courtesy to their cellies.  However; Cable yelled at cellie Corey Ball for doing so.  Then he had us swampers walk around and make sure cell doors were closed.  Again, not normally done.  Cable then tried to micromanage how many extra trays we’d get and how many we’d try to send away.  Ok, I don’t care.  But then the extra tray I did get I took to my table and gave away all of its contents to the guys sitting there.  Cable said I couldn’t give the extra food away, that it was only for me, even though the rule book clearly says I can.  Problem is technically swampers aren’t supposed to get extra food at all.  So the rulebook doesn’t help either of us.  So as he is yelling at me in front of everyone, he announces he won’t allow extra trays when he works here anymore.  Others would later tell me that I should have quit right there.  But I didn’t.  I was mad though. I would return later before 6 pm count and ask him not to hold the whole unit responsible for something I didn’t know was his rule.  Finally he said he’d consider it.  It was uncomfortable at cleanup before 9:15 pm count.  But I’m just grateful he won’t be here often.  Being a swamper is fine but I’m not going to put myself in jeopardy to do it. 

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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).  I woke up in segregation, also known as “The Hole”, with a much different reality than the one I knew less than 10 hours before.  The night had been quiet much to my surprise as the stories I’d heard about seg said it was loud all the time but as you might expect I didn’t sleep well anyway.  New environments and uncertainty are a huge feeding ground for the anxiety junkie in me to gorge on.  But it was different this time.  I had confidence that I’d come out of this okay, mostly because I felt like I’d done nothing wrong writing for this blog.  I’d conducted myself in a reputable manner, never putting staff or inmates at any kind of risk and being truthful to the best of my knowledge without being vulgar in the process.  I’ve grown and learned a lot as a result and a lot of others have found our efforts useful.  I just didn’t want to believe I”d have to do another 18 months because of this.  Breakfast came in a brown paper bag, the same breakfast on my unit.  But here in Seg, the guards are the ones wearing hairnets and hats, stuffing the breakfast bags and distributing meal trays from us through trap doors in our cells.  Often they have no swamper assistance.  My faith everything was going to come out alright was tested later in the day on Saturday when a guard showed up at my cell wanting my signature for my property.  They’d packed up all my stuff out of my unit.  I wondered if they’d gone through all of that if there was a possibility I’d be coming back to ERP.  I signed it despite not knowing if all the stuff is really there.  I’d seen what can happen when someone goes to the hole, how his supposed friends can rip him off.  I expressed my concerns about my losing my bunk on the ERP unit and what it might mean to guard Sam Neville, the regular 2nd shift guard in Seg on 5A.  He assured me this was standard procedure for anyone going to the hole.  Again he put me at ease.  He also told me he was sure the DOC and MSDF simply didn’t know what to do in this situation as it was something they hadn’t encountered before.  So I would spend the next few days sleeping, pacing the floor, reading my Bible and reading the book The Last Disciple by Hangeraaff and Brower, which incidentally are both excellent books!  Surrounding me in the cells were people representing the extremes of violence and insanity.  Every once in awhile, only when the lights were turned on after 11 am and always on 2nd shift someone would do something which would require 5 to 8 guards to come running to intervene shouting of “Stop Resisting!” as they struggled with the offender.  One such incident the inmate tried to pull Neville through the meal slot in the door which was a physical impossibility.  Another situation when he was trying to move an inmate to another cell, the inmate decided to start kicking him.  In trying to subdue him, one guard was injured using the Taser on him.  The inmate ran around his cell naked which of course everyone saw thanks to the fishbowl mirrors on the walls.  The other inmates cheered.  It was funny yet sad.  The supervisor who would visit him told him he was facing a year in the hole for assaulting staff.  Could you imagine a year of this?  You get 4 hours of rec a week.  Rec consisted of going into a cage a quarter of the size of my cell with a TV on the wall which the guard had the remote for.  On the other side was another gate.  I met a man who was suicidal and an avowed racist on different days. It was just good to have conversation that wasn’t through a door.  I finally got to shower on Monday in my cell.  I got a few visitors.  Dr. Raymonds, a psychiatrist, the psychologist who met with ERP group member Larry Sands and Seg social worker Peter Botha.  All came because unnamed people had expressed concern for my well being.  That made me feel good and was surprising considering how little I say.  But Tuesday came and went with no word if I’d be released.  I even said to Neville, hey you said I’d be out of here by now!  But I knew he didn’t know why either.  Finally, on Thursday night the call I’d been waiting for came.  I was told to pack up and return to my unit.  Boy was I happy!  I was pretty sure everyone there knew about the blog by now.  This place can’t keep a secret to save its life.  How would they all react?  I was nervous but what are you going to do?  The important thing was no institutional charges and I’d get to finish my ERP program.  I said a silent prayer thanking God for answering my prayers as they led my back to my unit on 4C.


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 seems more had gone on that I didn’t know about on Monday.  As I’ve told you previously, our ERP group leader Ms. Grey was unhappy with guard Ruth Barthowski for having helped inmates with information and advice.  Ms. Grey in full hearing of all inmates in the dayroom told her it wasn’t her place to have helped inmates in any fashion as that’s not her job.  That was followed by a phone call from the unit manager to Barthowski  echoing the same sentiments.  Barthowski disappeared halfway through the shift due to a medical emergency at home.  I hope that wasn’t just a cover story but I also hope everything is ok there.  The next day in the morning began the second week of parole officer (PO) calls.  But Ms. Grey has clearly been embedded in recent events.  People from the last graduating class were working out in the rec room which doubles as our group room and the computer room, which doubles as a visiting room, during ERP program hours.  Historically graduates have been granted a lot of freedom while awaiting their paperwork to be processed.  But Grey went to all these inmates and pointed out that according to the letter of the contract signed when PRC granted us ERP they still have to follow ERP program rules until release, even asserting herself on regular 1st shift guard Roscoe Peters.  I do agree with her that I don’t want to smell the sweat of people working out that morning in our afternoon group session but I wonder if the ERP staff know or care that their very public in fighting is so obvious to us and the damage to their credibility it is doing.  Our afternoon session was devoted to the study of Ecstasy.  We watched the video Ecstasy When the Party’s Over from the Educational Video Network.  It dwelled on the physical consequences of its use.  Then we watched the movie called Crash starring Terrance Howard and Sandra Bullock.  Its storyline revolved around the ripple effect of intolerance and bigotry on its participants.  It was a good movie.  At the end of the session there were a couple of surprises.  As you recall, Ms. Grey had asked me to help group member Mark Hogan do his Phase II Goals and Objectives.  Hogan had let me help with one of his goals but insisted the other one was fine.  Ms. Grey didn’t.  But she gave it back to me to help him which annoyed me.  But then the last thing that was said took me back a bit.  She told us that we are here to work on ourselves and not worry about her and that she gets to go home at night and we don’t.  That was rude but clearly these words were a reaction to something else, possibly cellie Larry Sands stories to the psychiatrist.  Sometimes the days are just a struggle you know?  But that night I got mail from the biological father’s family responding to the last letter where I laid much of what had happened years ago in a letter passed via email.  Much to my surprise they didn’t reject me.  They even confirmed some of the horrors my biological father had done to some of them.  They had  had doubts I was who I claimed to be.  No longer.  I didn’t write back that night.  I’m just drained these days.  But I found some good medicine that night on Milwaukee Public Television watching the series The Civil War A Film by Ken Burns.  Such an excellent production.  It was chicken soup for my soul.


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  I have a lot to cover and not a lot of time to do it.  The rec room issues continued as my ERP group member Russ Johnson didn’t make a lot of friends here when he told those wanting him to share the exercise bike that he couldn’t help it that he had a million dollars and they didn’t.  Some wanted to pound him but what saved him and many others in these situations is everyone is so close to getting out now nobody wants to risk an altercation and get thrown out.  Many such as Johnson knows this to be the case so they are taking their verbal shots and act tough thinking their won’t be consequences.  Sometimes I think people just shouldn’t play with fire because one of these times a stray, irrational spark might burn them.  On Tuesday our ERP group leader Ms. Grey appeared shortly after 9:30 am.  Today was devoted to the study of heroin.  The first videos shown were Heroin, What Am I Going To Do?  A Hazelden production and Heroin and other Opiates again featuring Dr. David Ohlms.  At the end we had time for discussion and ERP group member Augie Prescott inquired about his Interstate Compact to allow him to return to Alabama to allow him to do his extended supervision (ES)/parole there.  An Interstate Compact is an agreement on a process between different states that allows parolees to move across state lines and reside there.  Unfortunately in Prescott’s case, his paperwork remains out of order.  His presentence investigation and criminal complaint is missing.  Without these items, the compact won’t happen at this stage, it’s really too late.  He’s upset because Ms. Grey and his parole officer (PO) here have known about this since he got here and nothings been done.  I don’t blame him for being upset.  I asked again if she had called Sal’s House, the halfway house in Waukesha I’m considering and she said she still hadn’t done so.  She said an agency called the TOP program was coming in to give Waukesha County people a presentation related to a program called Wiser Choice in Milwaukee County.  We just are getting the impression she doesn’t want to do a heck of a lot.  In the afternoon we saw an extremely compelling video entitled Black Tar Heroin The Dark End of the Street that followed the lives of several heroin addicts in the late nineties.  It was brutal in its honesty in describing the horror of heroin addiction.  I’d highly recommend for anyone just getting into trouble with it.  In the middle of the video ERP group member and cellie Larry Sands got called out of the room.  After a brief discussion (heroin wasn’t a big issue in this OWI ERP group) we got out and got our mail from guard Ruth Barthowski who is kind enough to hand it out right away.  I got word from my sponsors that my biological father’s family had emailed again.  We’ve been writing back and forth since they found me but we’ve always danced around any issues up to this point.  Not this time.  They indicated they wanted to know.  I told them most of what I’ve told you.  It seems none of them knew what had gone on as my biological father wasn’t in touch with them at that time.  I feel…. okay with it.  I mean if I can tell it here I can do this.  I am nervous on their reaction.  I won’t lie.  When I saw Sands he told me what was going on.  He had gone to see the psychiatrist here and told them how Ms. Grey had pushed him on his grief issues (when he read his auto) and such.  They weren’t at all happy and told him that was improper.  They’d be talking to the unit manager and that he shouldn’t fear retaliation from Ms. Grey for talking about this.  You’ve got to give Sanders a lot of credit for speaking up, for saying what many have wondered about.  I have no idea on how this will turn out.  She doesn’t like it if you disagree with her much less something challenging her methods. 


I’m a the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  The media mistakenly keep calling this program “Early Release Program” thinking that is what ERP stands for.  It doesn’t.  I stands for “Earned Release Program”.  Got that cleared up?  Good. 🙂  Well, last night was horrid for me, not just because of the usual reasons, but the mattress that was on my bunk when I got here was extremely thin so my back is extremely sore.  I figure I’ll eventually get used to it.  Forget about asking for a new one, you’ll just get laughed at.  The other 3 cellies went to program about 8 but Andre returned about 10.  It seems the program coordinator had seen him wearing his shower shoes instead of the standard issue blue slippers, said something to him about it, another younger inmates laughed at him, and he snapped at him, then at the coordinator, who then told him to go to his cell for the rest of the day.  Andre was very worried they’d give him a ticket for disrespecting staff and that he might get kicked out of ERP for this.  He also has had a history of a lot of warnings for various violations.  He reminded me a lot of me as he paced the floor and how the anxiety junkie completely ruled him at this point.  As it turned out, he was stressed for nothing, not even getting a warning.  Andre felt like he needed to stop being friendly with other inmates as it is what seemed to give this younger inmate a license to “act the fool with him”.  But I filed all of this in my brain as what not to do once I start on December 13th.  The psychiatrist of the jail stopped by our cell asking how we were doing.  Malike Pearl asked what would happen if he went back on his meds.  She replied he’d be dropped from the program and moved to another floor.  I didn’t know that about Malik.  But I’ve covered what I think of this blanket policy.  The staff member who did the evaluation yesterday brought the mental health information on Brown County for when I get out.  It was good she didn’t forget. 

On TMJ4 today, Jeff Wagner, Courtney Gerrish and crew talked about how they wanted to see the ERP eliminated because someone high on heroin killed someone else, and they had graduated from the ERP.  I wonder if they know these are the only programs I know of (Challenge Incarceration Program as well) that actually pretend to do any kind of rehabilitation.  I wonder if they read this blog.  I wish they would as they would see life isn’t always black and white.  But I’m praying I sleep better tonight and thank God for getting me into ERP when he did.  I’m not sure it’ll be here all that much longer.


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).  As you might recall, I was initially diagnosed and treated for cancer while I was at the Waukesha County Jail.  Since I’ve been in prison, Waukesha Community Hospital sent me bills and now Waukesha County Collections is coming after me.  My power of attorney (POA) has been working to resolve this as it’s our understanding that you’re not responsible for medical bills while in custody.  I decided to see if anyone here would have any ideas on what to do.  I have little faith in anyone I’ve met in the WPS so far to show initiative other than the psychiatrist here but some of you readers suggested I do so I gave it a shot.  I sent a request to Ms. Greer, the social worker, advising her of the situation.  She called me into her office and stated she’d never seen a county do this before and wanted to see the paperwork leaving the impression she was going to look into it.  I was floored.  She has a fairly good reputation among the inmates but I hadn’t realistically expected an ally to be created.  She told me to submit an information request to Greer advising her to do so.  The entire next day went with no response.  Greer almost always responds to such requests the same day, I’m told.  I wrote another request that night.  The next day, I had the last step of my root canal.  I saw something there I hadn’ t seen in a at the other places I’ve been.  For narcotics taken by inmates, not only do they watch you take it, but they crush the medication prior to it being given to the inmates, I’m sure to prevent inmates from cheeking the meds to give to others or hoard them.  The last step of the root canal was uneventful.  Basically it got filled in.  They declined to do the other needed work.  I understood that. They’ve got an 8 month backlog of people needing dental work at FMCI.  I was told the Department of Corrections (DOC) is trying to make a dental waiting list that isn’t dependent on what facility you’re in.  Sounds like a good idea to me.  After I got back to my unit, there was a response to my second information request to Ms. Greer.  It said “Let me know if there is anything else you need from me re: this”.  I’m thinking to myself what the heck?  I can easily understand why some inmates just give up when trying to handle things.  They are without a lot of tools being on the inside and then they get frustrated making the effort to resources available to them.  If I hadn’t been writing this I might have given up too.  But tonight I’ll submit another information request conveying my understanding of what Ms. Greer wanted and going to do.  No sense in giving up on her as I really don’t think she is trying to blow me off.