Posts Tagged ‘read’


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP). Due to the snowstorm canteen got pushed back to Thursday night.  It didn’t matter to me though as I had somehow forgot to turn in my canteen order last week.  I’m the type to plan ahead so the only things I will come close to running out of were the prepaid stamped envelopes and single blade razors.  I used to think I couldn’t shave my head without my 4-blade Shick razor.   Now I can do it with a previously used disposable single blade razor.  The secret is just to take your time!  The rest of the night was pretty quiet except cellies Andre Charles and Brian Whalen arguing usually in a good natured way about who owes what to whom.   Today it was my ERP group member Scott Bunker’s turn to read his autobiography.  We were joined by intern Nikita which made all the guys happy. There were a couple of significant things I took from his story.  First, he said he had expected great things of himself as a kid and is saddened he won’t achieve it.  At the end I raised my hand and told him that he shouldn’t lose hope, that at 57, there is still time for him to do great things. I sensed in him a great despair, a beaten spirit.  I had similar thoughts when I was in Waukesha County Jail (WCJ) and occasionally as you’ve read, on this blog.  But we’re 4 months from release and if we don’t start believing now we never will.  Bunker has lost 6 1/2 years in prison to OWI offenses (he has 7) and lost his love of 26 years and another wife of 11 years due to it.  But it was clear he was still mourning the loss of his first wife not even able to look at pictures of her with her new husband or the kids with him.  I understand that pain too.  People we love move on without us and we feel the desperation in our hearts, wanting to cry out that they will wait and not forget.  In many ways, for us its like mourning the death of our loved ones or at least we think it is.  Truth is though, and as it was pointed out with Bunker, the opportunity for a relationship with them is there.  It’s just not the one we might want.  His first wife had reached out to him but he wasn’t receptive to what was offered.  That would have required him to let go of his anger and resentment.  But I think that anger and resentment was there to prevent him from feeling the pain that she is gone produces.  I so understand that.  But you may only make yourself miserable doing this.  I had to accept and extend forgiveness in order to move on.  It’s not an overnight thing or one where those feelings don’t come back some days.  But it gets easier.  I imagine it’s the same for the loved ones out of prison as they try to move on.  Anyway, Nikita struggled in asking questions but did okay.  We were done early again but this time there was no talk of real estate or such as Ms. Grey, our ERP Group Coordinator, didn’t allow it in front of the intern.  Our afternoon session began with a video called Good Intentions, Bad Choices, Overcoming Errors In Thinking featuring Stanton Samenow Ph.D by EMS Productions.  This video focused on bad intentions and choices then can be done by those newly out of prison or in recovery and unrealistic expectations.  It was far better than the video from yesterday.  We reviewed the worksheets from yesterday as well and then Ms. Grey brought in posters related to recovery or promotion of African American hero’s for ideals.  We taped them to the walls of the rec room that doubles as our group room.  It would have been pretty funny to watch all of us along with Ms. Grey and Nikita, none of us really knew for sure if any of this will actually stick to the wall.  But we’ll see.  We have this thing where we end each group day with reciting the mission statement I had written. In the confusion it’d been forgotten.  Group member Mark Hogan prevailed upon Ms. Grey to pull us all back together so we could do just that.   We were all still smiling as we finished and wished Ms. Grey and Nikita a good weekend.

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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.