Posts Tagged ‘Reader’


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!

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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).  Today we are scheduled to take our Phase II test.  We were all hoping it would be easier than the Phase I test which had been very difficult.  But our ERP group leader Ms. Grey had already advised us not to get too worked up over the test.  I certainly didn’t.  It was again another essay test but the 5 questions were much easier including one asking how our perception of OWI crimes has changed since the beginning of the program.  At the end of the morning session, Ms. Grey asked me to stay behind as she wanted to speak to me.  It seems she had taken the time to sit down and read this blog after it had been discovered and was clearly unhappy.  The only thing she expressed dissatisfaction with was the fact I refer to her as the “ERP Group Coordinator” or as the “ERP Group Leader” in this blog.  She wanted it to point out she has 2 Social Work degrees and has the title of “Social Worker” here.  So that is put here in case any of you were under an incorrect presumption about her.  I had felt that none of this had been relevant to her character in how she interacts with us nor had I even known about her educational background until today which is why I hadn’t mentioned it.  Apologies to Ms. Grey if I have offended her.  While I’m at it, I apologize to anyone written about here, or who think a given character represents them, that are offended.  These are my impressions of what has gone on around me and the facts the way I see them.  Does it mean I dislike you, don’t think highly of the work you might do in many respects or am trying to get you?  No, of course not.  I strive to be objective but I’m also human.  Most of the time I try to let the reader draw their own conclusions but I also am allowed to use this space to vent my frustrations with prison life.  Again I stress, I am human and that can happen.  We’ve had almost 200 entries by now and if you write that much you’re going to write something people won’t like.  It would have never been an issue had not some very unprofessional people at MSDF spread the word about investigation of this blog to other staff and inmates alike.  We went 16 months undetected.  Keep in mind as well I didn’t write this with the idea that people would pierce the anonymity shell around me, that everything that happened in my past (read the first several entries in the blog) would have become common knowledge to all staff here and certainly not to be joked about by such staff.  Yes I know about that too but I’m not going to mention your name yet because at the end of the day writing this blog has done far more for me in my life than your petty, stupid, and ignorant remarks could ever do to hurt me and throwing mud would mean I lie in the same puddle of pig vomit you reside in with your life.  If you don’t understand what I’ve done here with this blog, the idea you work in corrections for the purpose of rehabilitation of inmates is frightening. 

There, thank you for allowing me to apologize and unload.  At the afternoon session, Ms. Grey gave us our Phase III badges and assigned us to read therapy projects two and three (p. 205-210) of Driving with Care:  Alcohol, Other Drugs, and Impaired Driving Offender Treatment by Wanberg, Milkman, and Timken.   These revolve around if your current work matches your job and learning to search for a job.  Apparently, other ERP programs have resources like cameras to practice interviewing, and allow inmates to go into the communities on Phase III, but not here.  So, Phase III should be interesting alone for those reasons in and of itself. 


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 after a very bad night, with my cellie, Andre Charles, in a foul mood and trying to pick a fight with another cellie, Malik Pearl.  The issue this time was Andre thought Malik was angry over all the noise he was making.  He probably was but he hadn’t said a word to Andre.  I rolled out of bed and ate breakfast.  For whatever reason, Andre requires our attention and I’m just not going to give it today.  Ms. Grey, our ERP coordinator, is on vacation but she had left behind assignments for us to do.  We were to read chapter 1- 2 of House of Healing (HOH) and complete the assignment in the morning session of our ERP program and in the afternoon watch the first video on HOH, as well as read the Criminal conduct and Substance Abuse  (CCSAT), and work on our group mission statement.  Reading HOH, I can tell you straight away that the author Robin Casarjian is a genius in how she frames things for the reader.  The first two chapters are entitled “Doing Time” and “Who Are You Anyway?” “Doing Time” feels like a pep talk, that regardless of your circumstances behind bars, making change in yourself is worthwhile work.  “Who Are You Anyway?” is a look at our core, our “self’, surrounded by our sub-personalities and how “over-identifying with any one of them can debilitate us or stunt our growth” (p.13). I can see how someone with my background may have gotten so lost in a sub-personality now.  I highly recommend this book to everyone regardless of the kind of prison you’re in.  I completed the “Who Am I” assignment on page 10 and moved on to the CCSAT workbook.  We were to complete Session 1 but many were way past that.  Session 1was concerned with explaining the program and setting up goals to avoid “criminal thinking” and recidivism.  I feel out of place with this workbook and its tone feels, the word comes to mind is clinical.  But I will give it my best effort.  I mean I don’t have a choice, right?  After lunch in our cell, Andre went on and on to me about when he says he’s through with people it’s nothing personal to me even though Malik and Whalen, my other cellie, agreed he absolutely was.  I wanted to reply that though I hope he finds the help he needs, I couldn’t care less if he was through with me.  In fact, I wish he and I had no involvement at all.  But for once, I bit my tongue.  After lunch, we’d been told to watch the first video of the HOH book series.  It took 20 minutes for us inmates to get the DVD player in the weight room running.  The video we were supposed to watch told the story of how HOH came to happen (remarkable itself – email if you want to know) and further discussion on identifying who we are.  Then we as a group decided to watch the second video so we didn’t have to set it up again.  This was on forgiveness, the ability to see the good in a person past their present issue.  Again, outstanding stuff.  I feel I do a good job of that most of the time. It’s to see the light bulb, not the lampshade.  Our next item, was the mission statement for our ERP group MS. Grey asked us to come up with.  Yours truly did the honors.  It states “we seek to learn how to live a clean and sober life through truth and accountability to each other, surrendering our old way of doing things and being open to new ideas, humbly and empathetically looking at ourselves and each other in a balanced fashion, remembering to be truthful for our new lives.”  Let’s hear it for the run on sentence!  🙂  The “Ripple Effect” of addiction was assigned to our ERP group inmate leader, Larry Sands.  They cancelled our ERP group night session so I listened to Whalen state how fed up he was and Andre keeps goading him.  Man, my headphones can’t get here fast enough!  But the best part of the day, I actually got a Christmas card in the mail tonight!  So, I’m happy.  It’s good to know you’re not forgotten once in awhile, you know?


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.