Posts Tagged ‘streets’

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 Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS). We just had “Sweetest Day” pass by on the calendar, one of those holidays Hallmark has chosen to bless us with.  Guys here have varied ways to express their love for the one or those on the outside they state they love.  The vast majority I think are quite serious.  There is a minority that are “running game”, that is they are writing and/or calling several women at one time saying they love only them to each person, for the purpose of conning the victim out of money, purchases out of catalogs or to reach out to their associates on the streets.  Apparently there are web sites women go on to find these guys.  If you’re wondering, no I have not gotten any such contact.  I have had people contact me through this blog who have offered  money, but I have never accepted.  I usually ask people to promote the blog who want to help. Many have become good friends.  Its not the same as what these guys do.  Some have shown me these letters they get.  In a way, its a full blown virtual relationship complete with affections, arguments, advice and sex.  Many women express the idea they are being conned to the inmate and the inmate expresses fear that the woman is “being unfaithful” in some way.  Even here, the con artist tries to control the female mark.  I know this won’t be popular for me to say, but I can understand the inmate who does this.  Often they have no one, no real relationships, so this is all they are going to get.  The con artist knows no other way to act in a relationship.  It seemed many of the women know what they are getting into.  Would these women know how to act in a real relationship, where they are not abused?  I also know for a fact many of these women aren’t aware they are being played.  They got sucked in by guys who are pros at this.  I hope people write inmates but going in they need boundaries they will stick to and not deviate from them.  The sure mark of a con artist are those who constantly try to find ways to violate your boundaries despite having been asked to respect them.  Obviously, if you do this, please be careful. 

But on another note, guys here who have real relationships with women on the outside will often call on the talented artists to draw pictures of themselves or other artwork to send their loved one, using canteen to pay the artist.  It’s against the rules but its easy to look the other way.  Relationships that survive incarceration are of the strongest and rarest kind.  Mine did not.  For many of us, incarceration exposed the sham of a relationship that existed and it could not survive.  But for those of you that are making it, I take it as a source of inspiration and hope that I too may find that again someday.