Posts Tagged ‘Robin Casarjian’


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 big news for me is I got a new cellie.  His name is Corey Ball.  He’ll be taking the upper bunk above cellie Andre Charles. As the graduation date nears (March 4th) for Andre’s ERP group, people are scrambling to get or line up people for their cells who they think will be a good match instead of taking the chance on whomever might get assigned to them from the incoming ERP group.  We’re no different.  Cellie Brian Whalen and I discussed Ball and his quiet demeanor and the lack of drama surrounding him definitely impressed us.  So we encouraged him to make the move now before people started coming in.  At first he declined because he didn’t want to be in the same cell as Andre, as he has a bit of a reputation here.  But he finally agreed.  Andre, true to form, told Ball he had to ask his permission before coming over.  They all laughed it off but he clearly had communicated his message to him.  We had to wait till Tuesday to actually make the move because the only guard that does is Ruth Bartowski and she wouldn’t come in until then.  During the weekend I completed several objectives of my ERP Treatment Plan.  I wrote the 5 page essay on forgiveness based on the readings from Houses of Healing by Robin Casarjian, and the letter forgiving my biological father, through the letter came out more confrontational than forgiving but it ended on that note.  I also wrote the letter forgiving myself focusing on the loss of my family and my role in that.  It was a complicated matter lacking in solid lines of separation of fault from each person but I focused on things I was clearly at fault for.  I also wrote the letter to JoAnn asking her to write a letter detailing how my alcoholism affected her.  Our ERP group leader, Ms. Grey, will review and send it out.  On weekends around here, I’ll tell you I sure miss football.  Ms. Grey had indicated she would be again joining the protests over the loss of collective bargaining in Madison this weekend so it didn’t surprise me on Tuesday (Monday was President’s Day) when our ERP group was told she wasn’t coming in.  So Tuesday was just like Monday in addition to a holiday, it was a furlough day which meant all we did was study existing program materials or at least that’s what we’re suppose to be doing.  Finally, Ball got to move to our cell Tuesday night.  Some things were present I didn’t expect.  He hung up posters of scantily clad women and of spider webs.  He explained to me the spider webs were tattoo designs that white supremacists often wore.  Perhaps my shaved head and goatee made him think it was ok to approach me with that.  Well it wasn’t.  I told him no way would that fly.  The posters are fine.  I just don’t get why you would want to pour gas on that fire.  I gave him the 411 on Andre, to act like using the chair when he got off his bunk so you didn’t make noise and disturb him was your idea.  And most of all, be cool, he’ll graduate ERP soon and you wont’ have to put up with him much longer.  Believe me I tell myself this every day.  Ball got settled in and for the moment there is peace. 

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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).  After reading the autobiography, Ms. Grey, our ERP Group Coordinator had each of us devise an ERP Treatment Plan.  It consists of 2 short-term treatment related goals and objectives and 2 long-term practical type goals and objectives.  I’ll share mine with you so you can understand what I’m referring to in the future.  The first short term treatment goal was to address forgiveness issues.  The objectives (how to accomplish this) will be 1. – Read Chapter 5, 7, 13-14 of Houses of Healing by Robin Casarjian.  2. – Write 5 page essay on material.  3. – Write letter forgiving biological father. 4. – Share essay with ERP group. 5. – Share letter with group.  The second short-term treatment goal is to address anger issues.  The objectives are 1. – Read Anger is a Choice by Tim Layattte and Bob Phillips. 2. – Write 5 page essay on material. 3. – Share essay with group. 4. – Write letter forgiving self. 5. – Do “Thinking Event” (describe an event, your thoughts, feelings, attitudes, believes, and outcome involving it) on post traumatic delayed stress disorder connected event.  The first long-term goal relates to Housing and Transportation.  The objectives are to “Try to stay with my adopted parents for a few days.  They are Rev. Charles Martin and Victoria Martin 2. – Get my own place relatively quickly. 3. – Get place in Green Bay, WI after that. 4. – Get assessment so I can get my drivers license.  5. – Get driver license.  6. – Get car insurance. 7. – Get car.  The second long-term goal relates to employment.  The objects are 1. – Find 3rd shift job so I can be available for interviews and training.  2. – Try to find Information Technology job. 3. – Look into Real Estate training and license.  4. – Look into car sales. 5. – Get cell phone.  From here, I’ll sign this goal sheet, then Ms. Grey followed by Ms. Greys’s supervisor and it will then be considered part of my treatment plan.  Some comments about this.  The short-term treatment goals seem simple but they are not.  But they are worthy of my time and like I said, and though I’ve been addressing these issues on this blog the last year, it will be good for me to do this.  I’m also pretty sure this wont’ be the end of it on these issues.  The long-term goals are another matter.  The Parole Officer has to approve me going to my adoptive parents county and they have to say it’s ok otherwise its going to be going to a homeless shelter.  As far as the transportation and employment, so much of it requires money, which I don’t have, and have factors I can’t control, such as will anyone hire  an IT Professional who is a felon.  That if I focus on such things, you can get yourself pretty worked up.  Do you want to hire me?  Just kidding of course, but seriously, I wonder how people will view me in the job market.  But of course, I’m not the only soon to be released felon confronting these issues.  Every day felons start out from prisons with the odds already against them just like I’m going to do.  But I have faith.  I have faith if I do what I’m suppose to, I’m going to make it.  I’m going to have faith in God to see me through, ask others for help when I need it, and be willing to do whatever it takes. 


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 morning started off with our ERP group leader, Ms. Grey, handing out the schedule for week 10 which included a note today there would be no program work because of the state worker protests in Madison that employees in Milwaukee will be bussed to.  As you might recall, I wrote that having Gov. Walker a GOP Legislature was going to spell trouble for state workers.  As I noted on the last entry, employees at MSDF are unhappy too.  For Ms. Grey, she seemed to relish the idea of the sixties style protests taking place.  There’s not a lot of sympathy for the guards or other workers here as many perceive them to be paid a lot for very little.  One thing I’d tell you though, is in environments like this it has a special kind of stress for its workers.  Where there’s very little to separate the productive from the non-productive, a brutal type of politics is practiced by one against another, especially by those who week to get noticed or get ahead.  Such a place causes more stress and anxiety than one with objective performance measurements.  Ms. Grey opened the ERP session with the breathing and song we do everyday and then handed out copied worksheets from the Beyond Anger series copyrighted to Earnie Larsen.  The video was ok but the workbook was outstanding especially for me.  It covers the six faces of anger, the cost of repressed and misdirected anger, understanding anger, patterns of behavior, basic rights, learning behaviors, resisting change, healing repressed anger, six step process of healing, intercepting your anger pattern, intercept tools, ongoing health, forgiveness is a gift you give yourself, confronting regrets, principles of reconciliation and realistic expectations.  If you’d like details, feel free to email my sponsors and it’ll get to me.  I was very happy I’d already done my autobiography because now that the ERP group knew everything I was able to openly discuss and answer the questions in a brutally honest fashion.  In our first day we got up through “Resisting Change”. We’re going through it fast and I feel like we could benefit by spending more time on this but keep in mind not everybody has my issues though.  I wish I could summarize it all for you here but it just wouldn’t do it justice.  If you have any kind of anger issue you should get this.  As part of the autobiography I’ve been assigned 2 assignments from the MSDF library, which sad to say, is pretty lacking.  The first was a 5 page essay based on chapter 5, 7, 13-14 of Houses of Healing by Robin Casarjian which I’d already read and as I’ve noted before is a great book.  My second 5 page essay is on Anger is a Choice by Tim Lattaye and Bob Phillips.  I’m familiar with Lattay from his Left Behind book series but this is quit different.  I’m shocked they gave out something so Christian oriented but I’m fine with that as I am Christian.  So I’ve got some work to do, things that will actually benefit me and that makes me happy. 


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.