Posts Tagged ‘street’


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 Friday and most everyone in our group is on edge awaiting news that their release paperwork has been returned by their judge having graduated the ERP.  It’s been 7 days since then.  Past groups that have graduated have always had more progress on getting people their paperwork than we have.  In addition, Milwaukee County has always been the slowest in processing this paperwork for past groups even though the courthouse is literally across the street.  My paperwork returned from Winnebago County on Wednesday and it’s a couple hours from here.  ERP group member Dean Stark became the first of the 10 of us to be released.  He left with no boxes just some papers in a bag.  I would be the next to get some news.  My C15 form authorizing MSDF to release me was sent by my parole officer (PO) Helen Gaither.  But the order was postdated for Wednesday June 22nd.  As our ERP social worker Ms. Grey informed me I admit to feeling disappointment at first.  I was hoping against hope to get released today or since Monday isn’t possible, Tuesday at the latest.  But as Ms. Grey walked away from me, I realized though I’m not getting out when I want, the fact the guesswork when I’m being released has been eliminated which rarely happens in this program.  As she left me, ERP group member Kevin House inquired if there was any news.  She told him “not to worry about it, you’re not going anywhere”.  You may as well have kicked him in the stomach because those words didn’t hurt any less.  What is she thinking?  This seems humorous to her, how the rats in the cage keep trying to find the way out.  We spent the rest of the day talking amongst ourselves off and on about what might be happening that is preventing the rest of the guys in our group paperwork from being processed.  At supper I again noticed the guard on duty reading my Green Bay Press Gazette before I got it.  Oh well.  At mail call I was delighted to again hear from my biological family.  My cousin expressed concern that I stay in touch after my release.  Are you kidding me?  I wrote back.  I’ve spent years looking for them.  No way am I going to stop talking to them. They like the idea of me visiting over Thanksgiving if I can arrange it.  They also want my phone number too which I should get when I pick up a cell phone on my way to my new home for the moment in Menasha, Wi.  I also heard from my friend Jill who has been following this blog almost since it started.  She is from Australia and has become a good friend.  She invited me to Sydney, Australia!  Of course, I suspect this would violate my parole!  But maybe someday.  I also want to see Israel and the West Bank someday as there is so much there related to my faith.  But that will have to wait too.  The day ended with ERP group member Scott Dietz again talking to his sister and again the same result.  No action on their cases.  Everyone says it doesn’t bother them but their eyes betray them.  I am grateful that it will soon be over. 

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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).  Our ERP social worker Ms. Grey started off the day finishing up the workbook The Price of Freedom is Living Free. Relapse, Recidivism, and Recovery by Jack. D. Cooper and the video that goes along with it.  She pointed out the entry on the last page (52) entitled “The Beginning” really sums up the choices before us, to live free or to live in bondage.  I wish I had the space to share it but I sent my copy to the blog sponsors and they can link or post it per their choice. Here is the excerpt:

“The Beginning – Those of use who have made the choice to live free understand that the choices we make will always have a price tag.  We just need to be clear on what price we are going to pay:  the price for freedom or the price for bondage.  Both choices in living are available to us.  The pay-off for our old values in living are consistent and predictable…standing for count, random strip searches, the constant roar of inmates, correction officers, concrete and steel or waiting for that letter that won’t come.  What price are you going to pay?  In making your decision, you might ask yourself, “Am I prepared to spend another month, decade or lifetime locked up for a few hours of excitement here on the street?”  If your answer is yes, the system will gladly refund your misery. The choice rests with you.

Whether we are locked up or on the streets, we can choose to live free.  As “values” in living are rational, sound and sensible.  We recognize that we possess the ability to feel, appreciate and understand, as we learn to change the internal and external condition of our lives.  We can take care of ourselves while simply caring for others.  We can start living our own lives usefully, respecting other people’s rights to live as they choose.  We will understand that getting is not always better than giving, and that chasing objects and holding attitudes that set us apart from other people are not as important as seeking values that will bring us together.  Finally, we will see that we’ve been brought back into being…living with value and living free.”

For lunch we were having chicken salad, one of the better meals here.  For me as a swamper, what it meant is we would go through more bread than normal.  We’re usually provided 3 loafs of bread for the meal but inmates are accustomed to asking for and getting more than the 2 pieces allotted by the menu, which is okay, considering they cheat us on the quantity on most other things such as potatoes!  But toady I wasn’t going to be able to give more than 2 slices.  Inmates weren’t happy when I wouldn’t give more than 2 slices, but oh well. I treated them all the same, my cellies, guys at my table, everyone.  I told those who gave me a hard time they could come back for anything left over.  As I finished serving I heard a remark made by ERP group member Mark Hogan that since I’d become a swamper I was acting like a cop.  He was talking to someone else but clearly intended for me to hear it.  Like an idiot, I stopped at his table and asked him if he had something on his mind.  Fortunately he said no.  What would I have done if he hadn’t????  Of course, I didn’t let it go at that.  After the meal while I was cleaning up, I went to his cell and asked him what the problem was.  Hogan apologized and I reluctantly tapped his knuckles.  I don’t believe his apology but I’m betting he was smarter than me today knowing nothing good would come from this.  At our afternoon ERP session, Ms. Grey showed a movie I think we’ve seen before called Smoke Signals, a movie showing two Native Americans who attempt to overcome their own issues from their past each for their own perspective.It was obviously effective on some level for Augie Prescott as he was moved to tears.  I thought it was a good movie.  But I decided during the movie that this swamper experiment is going to have to end.  The reasons I took the job weren’t nearly as important to me as graduating.  ERP in 28 days on June 10th.  It had given me the material for my Phase 3 Goals and Objectives on improving socialization and patience so it wasn’t a total bust.  Only thing the guard who’d have to approve the change, Roscoe Peters, wasn’t working so I told the sergeant on duty I wasn’t feeling well.  I got the guy who had the job before me and who still wanted it to take over for me until Peters got back.  Many, including former cellie Malik Pearl who had tried to scheme him out of the job, weren’t happy he was coming back but I just don’t care.  I felt like a huge load was off my shoulders.  I got more good news.  In the mail, blog sponsors let me know my biological relatives had checked in and they were safe.  Also, cellie Brian Whalen who is being released Monday, that though he wishes to to maintain contact with the former swamper who wants to rob him, he is no longer willing to engage Whalen in any kind of business dealing since Whalen has a bit of a tendency to talk too much.  You think????  But Whalen doesn’t have any idea of the kind of bullet he has dodged.  Next week is the third PO call and our presentation of Phase 3 Goals and Objectives, while working on our legacy project.  Let’s keep it simple from here on out.


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 at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Last night a little touch of stomach flu took hold.  If I were free, I’d just hang out by the toilet.  In another prison, I’d have had a stall to use.  Here everyone can see and hear you do your business which just makes it so hard for me to conduct my business!  There is a blue nylon cloth that separates you from the folks brushing their teeth or washing their face in the sinks.  So what we do is flush the toilet at the same time when we do our business to cover the noise then again to cover the smell.  If there are others present and you didn’t time it right they’ll let you know.  We even turn the water at the sinks on to prevent the noise.  I got through the night to the usual confrontation that cellie Andre Charles had with someone this morning.  This time the someone was cellie Malik Pearl.  Malik’s offense this time was to wake Andre up for count.  He looked out for him for crying out loud.  But he was having none of this.  I had no clear cut assignment to work on today so I began the autobiography I’d been assigned but was dreading.  Before lunch I completed 4 pages.  It was detailing much of what I summarized for you all early in my life.  It was most difficult to write.  I won’t post the autobiography as its off point to what “Life in the Wisconsin Prison System” is like.  I share with you about my life enough for you to see the prison system through the lens I provide.  But if you do request it, I will post it here.  I’m okay with that as you know me but you don’t know who I am.  Weird huh?  But be warned, I take pride in the fact I bring you what happens here while avoiding the use of unnecessary vulgarity.  Not so in this document.  After lunch, I was getting ready to go back to the dayroom to resume work on the autobiography when I sat up on my bunk and of course Charles flashing an obscene gesture at me.  I walked away to use the restroom and of course I returned shortly to ask him if he was flashing that sign at me.  He denied it but who else could it be?  I walked away and resumed work.  After program, I returned to my cell where Malik told me if he’d been on the street, Charles would have been shot and that there are several guys here who he has talked smack to that if they see him on the street they will take him out.  Apparently they’ve told him to show up in their cell and he backed down as well.  I just don’t want to get involved in any kind of war here.  But it was good to see Malik, myself and cellie Brian Whalen united against Charles.  I just wonder how this is going to play out.  But doing that autobiography, I’m not going to sleep well tonight.  These issues really pale in comparison.  At mail call, I got another Christmas card today.  This one was from my ex-wife.  She is inquiring about visiting, along with her daughters.  If you have been following, you know this family was a big trigger of the stress and anxiety that I failed to get help for that contributed to me being in prison.  The answer is obvious you would think, but I want to give it some thought.


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 got up about 4 am at Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI) knowing it was my day to go, so I could shave and shower as experience has taught me there are no guarantees how things might go initially.  Then I went back to my bunk and slept.  About 7 am, the guard woke me up and told me it was time to go.  I cleaned up my remaining linens.  My cellie told me “not to let the door hit me in the a—“ with a smile on his face.  They told me to walk down to Unit 10 where another inmate named Scott Bunker on his way to MSDF for ERP as well joined me.  He had gotten to keep his electronics the last 5 days!  The guards gave him a hard time about that in a good natured way.  They pretended to strip search us and then got on the same kind of bus that brought me to FMCI.  We were joined by John Lloyd, who had managed to get staffed straight to ERP at MSDF from Dodge Correctional Institution (DCI).  I let him know how totally lucky he was.  John was in for his 5th DUI and Scott was in for his 7th DUI.  John had some good news.  He had reviewed the “handbook” on each institution and our ERP was only 13 weeks!  I was on cloud 9!  I’m going to be out by April!  We got to MSDF, which is across the street from the Milwaukee County Courthouse and got sent to a holding cell.  Everything screams a county jail to me here from the dingy walls to the layout of the facility.  They took the greens issued to me my first day in prison.  They gave me bright yellow clothes with a white t-shirt.  I look like a banana!  Then they went through my property.  Turns out I got to keep everything except the clothes I bought out of the catalogs, including my electronics which everyone said I couldn’t keep.  Now I’m in a great mood!  They threw away my old badge, gave me a new one and the nurse checked in.  All of the staff was by far the most professional and courteous I’ve seen in my time in jail or prison.  Then we got lunch.  Oh boy.  It was some kind of hoagie and it tasted awful.  Again, the food resembles county jail food.  Well, I wanted to lose weight so I’ll get that wish.  I got to the 4th floor where I was assigned a cell.  Top bunk again of course.  It’s a 4 person cell with 4 full length grayish blue lockers in front, 2 bunks on each side, 2 TV stands on each side, and 2 desks.  The walls are a dingy white with a maroon door.  Just like a county jail its a 2-tier setup. My 3 cellies were all there and they clearly weren’t expecting me as my locker and TV stand were being used.  Then they dropped the bomb on me.  Its actually a 24-week program.  We’re talking June release.  I got bummed.  How could I be so stupid as to believe inmate information?  We’ve learned this over and over again.  I got settled in, figured out where the TV shows I watch were.  I’ve got till December 13th to get used to this place.  I’m so very tired.


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  After the afternoon count was cleared around 1 pm, as is my normal practice I walked around the track.  On my first lap, when I got to the front of the building I witnessed 2 people in a heated confrontation.  I couldn’t see exactly what went on but there was a lot of pushing and shoving in the least.  My policy with such things is to not involve myself in what is going on between people.  Whether you consider that policy to be right or wrong, it has kept me out of trouble. My priorities are different here than they were in the real world and those are dictated by self preservation.  So I continued on the track.  I was joined by another inmate.  I usually prefer to be left along out here but he seemed genuinely interested in my input into his situation.  I explained that the rehabilitation he was seeing will have to come from the inside. It’s not going to come from the prison system.  Unfortunately, another guy joined us who filled us in on the gory details on the stupidity I had witnessed.  A guy called “saddlebags” here because of his huge backside in comparison to the rest of his body had become upset with “Bill” for snitching on him about having a radio he wasn’t supposed to.  The pushing and shoving I’d witnessed had included them slapping each other.  Yes, I said slapping!  The way our friend who witnessed it had described it as that they were trying to impress him but had failed.  Now in all honesty, Bill is the kind of person whom everybody knows is a snitch, but he is the worst kind of snitch because he snitches not just to benefit himself but sometimes solely to hurt people.  With folks like this, you accept no favors and resist any attempts they made to pull you into their world or to get into yours.  I avoid Bill like the plague.  Saddlebags is the kind of person who will always be better than you, or so he says.  He talks real tough about hurting people but it doesn’t take a professional shrink to see the over compensation for his insecurities.  My few conversations with him I just let him believe everything and everyone he has is better than me.  His words don’t change the facts as I see them.  Do I doubt Saddlebags story that Bill snitched on him?  No I don’t.  Did he gain any street cred here for slapping Bill and yelling profanity?  No he didn’t.  In fact, people are laughing at him even more than they had because of the slapping involved.  The reaction from the rest of the inmates wasn’t to take sides but to try to stoke the fire of the disagreement between them just because to them it was entertaining to watch each one react to the stimulus the feud gave them. I know I’m supposed to feel empathy for people but all I can really do here is roll my eyes and hope they both stay away from me.