Posts Tagged ‘Russ’


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  We are only one day away from the graduation of our ERP group.  Our ERP social worker Ms. Grey called us into the rec room that doubles as our group room and asks us if we have any last minute concerns or questions.  She did confirm that records would be sending our paperwork to our judges, who will modify our sentences to allow immediate release since we have completed the ERP program.  She dropped off a sample program for our graduation project.  It really was pretty awful.  But what are you going to do?  Then the title letters for the project that ERP group member Russ Johnson did on the computer weren’t a dark enough yellow that could be read on the black background.  So ERP group member John Lloyd was left to trace letters by hand.  He wasn’t happy.  To be honest, the whole thing looks pretty awful.  But it is what it is and it really doesn’t matter.  Of a more immediate concern was the relationship between cellies Malcolm Johnson and Larry Sands.  Malcolm’s immediate concern was how Sands would use his feet to change the channel (he is on the top bunk, Malcolm is on the bottom) and how if Sands would leave his hands a certain way it would interfere with his TV reception.  Sands interpreted it as Malcolm trying to control him.  Malcolm made the mistake of trashing him to other inmates who were friendly to Sands.  One called Sands over and asked him about what Malcolm said and of course Sands got on his case again.  It just makes the cell tension filled.  But I’m rolling my eyes.  My thoughts are on the world outside of here, of what I need to do and the missing pieces of that puzzle.  I’m excited yet unsure.  At mail call I got another mailing from the court regarding my daughter, Lexi.  She is officially being charged with a misdemeanor disorderly conduct.  It was pretty clear her mother, Barb is up to her old tricks.  Just as she did with me many years ago, she pushes and pushes until the other person breaks.  Then she calls the police.  I’ve got to get myself squared away so I can at least be a place she can go to blow off steam.  I can keep the cycle we have seen happening with my families from happening again.  I’ve got to at least try.  We had our community meeting at 3 as we usually do.  Nothing really went on there either. But I’m ready to graduate.  Let’s do this.  

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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).  If I thought Monday was bad temperature wise, Tuesday made it look like a walk in the park in comparison.  For the outside world in Milwaukee it was another record breaking day at a high of 97 degrees.  The difference here was unlike yesterday, from the moment we woke up, it was unbelievably hot and humid.  The day started off normal.  Our ERP social worker, Ms. Grey arrived about 10 am and we reviewed the Phase 3 self evaluations assigned weeks ago.  Nothing really all that interesting there.  There was a distinct sense of hurry up and get this done so we can get out of this room with no air movement at all.  After everyone had gone, ERP group member Russ Johnson gave Ms. Grey the disc with the letters that need to be printed for the graduation project.  He was excellent for stepping up the way he did.  Again I thought that this was the end for my involvement on this project.  After lunch it was decided to call off anything program related.  Ms. Grey came by and brought the disc back. It seems when the graduation project program was printed on both sides it went from the gold color to a reddish blue mixture.  I’ve seen this before when printer ink runs low but she wanted the colors changed.  I complied, only to make her happy and be done with it.  Again she approached me later on wanting the time of the graduation ceremony put on the program which I did.  Shortly before she had done that, they announced all ERP program activities were cancelled for the day because of the heat.  After she was done with me, she went into the rec room and got everybody out of there who were working out or playing ping pong.  She had a point but she didn’t make these guys very happy.  Guard Art Coleman reluctantly told them to get out as well.  Meanwhile, cellie Larry Sands came up with an interesting idea to beat the heat.  The vent in our cell that streams this hot and humid air was a source of aggravation.   Sands came up with the idea of taping up the vent.  We waited to see if it would change the temp in our cell at all.  It appeared to at first, perhaps it was our minds playing tricks on us.  But by evening it became apparent to me it wasn’t helping.  I stuck newspaper under the door reasoning that perhaps the hot humid air in the dayroom was still coming in that way.  Still no affect.  In fact, it actually felt hotter.  I said something but nobody wanted to take the tape off the vent.  Still, all things considered, I’ve got it pretty good.  I’m almost out of prison.  I’ve got a fan.  I’ve got a TV.  Most guys in this building don’t have any of those things and they’re just starting their bit (time in prison).  The loss of joy in the fact I’m getting out soon is directly connected to my lack of gratitude for what God has gotten me through and has give me.  Tomorrow will be another day similar to this one.  Let’s hope my attitude improves. 


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Monday, June 6th would turn out to be a record breaking day heat wise in the Milwaukee area.  Though we are in an environment where we never see the outside world, we very much feel the effects as the air from the outside world is pumped through the ventilation system.  But the day didn’t begin all that badly.  Our ERP social worker Ms. Grey returned from vacation having gotten to see the Grand Canyon among other places.  She appeared relaxed, content much more than I’d seen her in the past.  The first thing we did was to go through the relapse trigger assignment.  Ms. Grey surprised us with having the presenting inmate do a skit with other group members reflecting the relapse triggers described.  For mine, she had two inmates play my adoptive parents, Charles and Victoria Martin expressing concern about how much isolating and the amount of time I spent on a computer, which I could actually see them doing.  As an IT Infrastructure and .NET Framework programmer, fortunately they know I will be working on the computer a lot, knocking the rust off my skills.  While all this was going on I saw guard Ron Kidd standing at the front door of my cell.  Sure enough he had gone in and was doing a cell inspection.  We had largely been ignored since the big shakedown here but Kidd and cellie Malcolm Johnson have already had several run ins.  He hasn’t gotten the idea yet to stay below the radar which is surprising since he has spent so much time in prison.  Cellie and ERP group member Larry Sands happened to be there and said he saw Kidd go straight to the fan he managed to acquire from a departing inmate (again) and take it which led him to think someone snitched on him, possibly Johnson.  While Johnson has become one who seems to spend a lot of time at the guard desk and time alone with his ERP social worker Ms. Carr, I don’t think Johnsons was the snitch this time.  The bottom line is he took a fan, an extra set of clothes I had and ripped down everything taped to the wall including our antennas for TV.  Reception can be hard here so that was annoying.  But back to group.  I participated in the skit for ERP group member Russ Johnson.  I played his twelve year old daughter, while Sands played his ex-wife, who were making demand if him.  Apparently, I did a good job playing his daughter.  At one point in the skit, mom and dad were fighting and I quipped, “Mom and dad are fighting again.  Oh Well.  More presents for me.”  Everyone laughed at this.  Then we got into the Phase 3 essay test while she reviewed our Plan A and B plan.  It was a simple test.  Afterwards, she made suggestions on how to improve the poster and covered the definition of craving that she hadn’t covered yet but had been on the test.  By now, the heat, a high of 94 degrees outside and high humidity, had descended on us.  In these polyester uniforms it was just miserable.  And Sands, as well as Jose Michaels, have no fans.  I felt bad for them but nothing I could do.  Speaking of Michaels, he really is working hard.  He is thoroughly doing the exercises in the Houses of Healing book by Robin Casarjian.  Just a ton of effort in everything program related.  Malcolm, on the other hand, has made it clear he doesn’t want to do anything.  It’s kind of interesting to watch.  After group, some members called me over.  They want me to create a title for the poster board on the graduation project on the computer.  Of course, I wasn’t happy.  Just poor planning on this all around.  Other groups had their project done months before and here we are 4 days before graduation still planning.  But Russell Johnson volunteered to step up and make it.  I was happy.  Perhaps too, the heat is just making me cranky. Mail call came and along with it, another development with my daughter, Lexi.  She had gone on Facebook and gave me a friend request (Under my real name of course.  If you’d like to befriend Jake on Facebook, go here).  I asked the blog sponsor who watches these things for me to accept her request and let her know I can’t wait to see her and to look around her Facebook page for me and let me know what’s going on with her.  Finally, a window into what is going on!  I settled in for the night with a smile in spite of sweating along with some apprehension. 


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Our ERP social worker Ms. Grey started vacation today (Thursday, May 26th) and she won’t be back until Monday.  We have a little bit of work but really we’re keeping ourselves busy.  Cellie Jose Michaels got me turned on to a set of World Book encyclopedias from 2001 that are in the 8 x 12 room called the library.  I buried myself with Q-R.  It reminded me of when I was a kid.  When Charles and Victoria Martin adopted me and we had moved to WI.  I buried myself in encyclopedias.  Years later I had Google but encyclopedias were special.  At 3 am we had the weekly Community meeting.   Since our group is now the senior ERP group, the inmate running the meeting was my cellie Larry Sands.  He did a good job.  Again we introduced ourselves since a new ERP group just started.  For once, no complaints about hygiene were mentioned. In fact it went relatively quickly.  The big topic of conversation was about the California Supreme Court on prison overcrowding and what impact it might have here.  On Friday it was a furlough day.  Though we were supposed to be working on program materials the guard let everyone go and do their own thing.  He probably was unaware of this.  The unit manager showed up toward the end of the morning and told him we should be working on program related materials but then this guard argued back it wasn’t his job to enforce rules like that.  We figured come the afternoon session we’d be made to go back to work but that didn’t happen.  The one downside to furlough days is no mail is sent out from the previous day and no mail is given out that day.  With the Memorial Holiday coming there’ll be no mail until Tuesday.  I did get to spend some time with Les Simon who’s really struggling with the cultural differences in his cell.  It makes me grateful for my cellies.  We wear our headphones with out televisions and radios for the most part, leave the cell if we need to fart, are quiet after lights out at 11, and a general peaceful environment prevails.  Les has got noisy and inconsiderate cellies.  We did hear something interesting towards the end of Friday night.  It seems the former swamper who just graduated had talked of robbing former cellie Brian Whalen and of messing with one of the guards after his release, had not kept his curfew once since getting out and has been partying since getting out.  Most that know him here are in a mixture of awe and wondering when the other shoe will drop.  After all, he’s on the bracelet so his parole officer (PO) has got to know, or will know.  I have no desire to do what he is doing.  There is so much to do after I get out and lets face it, if I screw up there’s a pretty good chance my very life is at stake.  Saturday provided more evidence that my ERP group is suffering from the shorts,  the malady that infects inmates about to be released.  Kevin House, Scott Dietz, and Russ Johnson all had run-ins with other inmates, though in Dietz case its just another day at the office.  On Sunday John Lloyd had a run-in with a guard which was completely out of character.  That same guard, Roscoe Peters, and another guard I’d hear discussing this blog specifically the entry The Instigator.  They clearly don’t like me or what I had to say.  Then Peters saw me and quieted them.  Again, at this stage of the game, it matters not.  I spent that night watching parts I-II of a special on Milwaukee Public Television on the Korean War which was quite good.  It’s going to be a hot day tomorrow which is Memorial Day.  It should be the last holiday I’m locked up 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).  The day started off with the discussion in the dayroom prior to group about our legacy project, which is what we’ll do for our graduation ceremony on June 10th.  I kicked off the discussion simply because I knew if I didn’t no one here would as non of us are all that excited about doing anything for the ceremony.  This project also includes what will put on the program for the ceremony.  I was volunteered due to my computer skills to do that.  I let the guys know I’d come around on Monday to collect the quotes they each want to have under their names on the program which they were okay with, and we decided to use our group mission statements on the back of the program.  Then came the discussion for the name of the group.  I nominated the name “Pyramid” group, as each level on the pyramid represented an attribute in our orientation workbookLarry Sands offered the “Phoenix” group as in out of the ashes of our former lives, we rise up anew, but it was rejected as too complicated to render.  But Russ Johnson offered “The Transformers”, as in us being transformed from MSDF to a new life.  This was accepted.  The drawing was to be of a person half in yellow, half in civilian clothes.  Scott Bunker, who is gifted at drawing, drew up a prototype which pleased the group.  Now he’ll have to draw a much larger rendering for the ceremony.  By the way, Bunker was to finally have that catheter removed today but he has resumed bleeding.  Just not good.  So our ERP Social Worker, Ms. Grey, showed up and we looked at interviewing for jobs.  Though this is old hat for me it was good to cover.  We didn’t have enough handouts of the packet on this so one was passed around.  Then we did role playing.  I volunteered for the interviewer.  The point was to demonstrate a person who was confident or not.  Sands volunteered for the confident role, Augie Prescott volunteered for the not confident role.  It was fun to do and good to brush up on.  By the way, Prescott couldn’t get through to his relatives in Alabama after last nights tornadoes that has killed at least 200 in Alabama, so he’s pretty worried and we all let him know we’re praying for this situation.  We watched a video on interview skills called Why Should I Hire You by J. Michael Farr which was very well done.  After lunch we were awaiting Ms. Grey when it was announced that a tornado warning had been issued.  Guard Ruth Barthowski had us all go to our cells and take the foam mattress off our bunk, sit on the floor and put them over our heads even though we knew it was a drill and threatened to put warnings on the card to anyone who didn’t.  Most took her seriously.  Being that it was Thursday it was time for another Community Meeting.  I did my skit with Johnson’s help.  It went over well once I was told to raise my voice which is easy to forget to do.  That night we worked on a goodbye and birthday card for Barthowski, as she is retiring on Saturday and it also happens to be her birthday soon.  We are sure going to miss her.  As for me, I’m a little uneasy.  I’ve started to crave alcohol and cigarettes lately and I don’t know why.  I’m even having dreams related to it.  Could it be pre-release jitters? Is it stress related to my birth family?  I’m also not as patient with  my cellies as little things are annoying me.  I spent time in prayer prior to bed last night, asking God to ease my mind and renew my faith as I suspect that is at the root of my problem as always. 


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 Wednesday which is a no group day and we’re supposed to be working on something ERP program related.  Work is pretty thin for us at this stage called Phase III.  But I found something to do.  I wrote the outline for the skit that I volunteered to do at the last community meeting and ERP group member Russ Johnson agreed to assist me with.  It will be on the topic of pretentiousness, focusing on how you can suffer from alcoholism despite having money, friends, and a good family.  You might ask if asking Johnson to help was done on purpose especially in light of the kind of person he is.  Not entirely would be my answer. He asked for my assistance on his skit so I thought it okay to ask for his help on mine.  But the thought did cross my mind when preparing the skit.  So Wednesday is spent largely in the cell by choice. My cellies also now spend the majority of their time in the cell as I do, especially ERP group member Larry Sands.  And yes him and Brian Whalen still tell their raunchy stories but not as much as they used to.  Cellie Corey Ball makes comments about teenage girls because he figured out this really gets under my skin.  He means to tease, please don’t think he’s a predator. He’s become the go to guy for making hot water for other folks, using metal prongs in a radio cord, then sticking it in a trash can with saltwater, then plugging it in and waiting for it to nearly boil.  This  leads to a parade of people coming to the door with soda bottles full of water for Ball to put in this trash can.  Inmates make decaf coffee, refried beans and other such things through this.  He usually gets little for his efforts and takes on all the risk.  But he’s indicated he is going to stop doing it now, especially since his graduation is so close.  If you get caught doing this, you will go to the hole and you are putting your whole program at risk so his decision makes sense.  He hasn’t blown the electricity yet like others did so that’s good.  Though my cellies can be annoying at times, I generally like all 3.  I’m going to get 2 new ones after Whalen and Ball leave in mid-May so I pray that goes well.  No one like Andre Charles please!  I started a new book today courtesy of Johnson called Decision Points by former President George W. Bush.  It’s a good read.  At mail call I did get an interesting letter from my biological father’s sister.  As you might recall we have been going back and forth with e-mails through my sponsors now that we have found each other, along with a cousin.  She revealed what I suspected.  She and my father were horribly abused by their father and stepfather, physically and sexually, for years.  I hadn’t know about the stepfather.  But the sick person he became, I completely now get why he did what he did.  It’s not ok, but I understand.  I replied by apologizing for being angry at their family for so many years for not protecting me and thanked her for sharing.  She says this information can never be shared.  I’ll respect that.  She also said she loved me and I told her the same.


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 started out slow as our ERP social worker Ms. Grey was off for the morning session for some kind of training.  In the afternoon session, we began the Phase III work related to employment.  First Ms. Grey asked how many of us needed to work on our resumes.  Not a single hand went up.  Typically, inmates often have nothing like a resume coming out of prison. I was in Information Technology for almost 20 years prior to me going to prison so I am pretty well versed in resumes, job searches and how to conduct myself in a workplace.  But many do not so I’m sure it’s a good idea to offer it.  Ms. Grey handed out a packet on employability called “Introduction and Motivational”.  The first exercises were related to following directions.  Basically it told you to make sure you read it all the way through, then gave you steps to follow that made you jump through all sorts of hoops and then get to the final step that told you, that had you read through everything you would know you wouldn’t have to do any of this.  It got me.  I’m so accustomed to just mind numbing work I just plowed through the first 4 of the 16 steps before catching on.  So it made its point.  Then we had to split into 3 groups and make up a list of 10 things important to being employed and then narrow them down to the top 5.  In my group were myself, cellie Larry Sands, John Lloyd, and Russ Johnson.  Our top 5 came out as positive mental attitudes, good communication skills, good listening skills, reliability, and good problem solving skills.  I was suckered (nominated) by the other 3 to present the list to the other groups as they did too.  I surprised myself at how comfortable I was doing so.  Ms. Grey seemed pleased with our effort.  We then watched a video called "From Parole to Employment that offered tips on your job hunt and was motivational.  It was a good video. Afterwards, Sands brought up getting State ID cards which we’ve been told we could get before we got out and Ms. Grey said she’d look into it.  Then the conversation turned to computer access, which the inmates can use to access JobNet and the law library.  Some thought they’d need their own ID, which isn’t true at MSDF.  But if its all the same, I think I’ll avoid computer use here!  Besides, unlike other ERP programs, we have no community access in Phase III so we can’t contact or follow up any leads.  But such is the situation.  I had dug up a copy of my resume I had here along with a news article written about a software program using the .NET framework for a plumbing and electrical distributor.  Russ Johnson got a hold of it and commended he had extensive contacts and would help me with my job search.  I’m not really believing it but hey I’ll take any help I can!  So we’ll see.  So as usual we’ll see what happens.  I spoke with my adoptive parents, Charles and Victoria Martin, and we’re having discussions on cell phones and internet access which I’ll need to get employment when I get out.  It’s good to actually be planning the details for my release.