Posts Tagged ‘students’


My name is Jake Martin and I am on parole from the state of Wisconsin Prison System (WPS) currently now living in Ames, Iowa. I write this from my own laptop in an efficiency apartment at a complex dominated by Iowa State University college students. How did I get here? More on that in a minute.

At the risk of sounding corny but what a LONG, STRANGE trip it has been both being in prison and since getting out. The day I was released it was Wednesday June 23rd.  Today is January 16th, 2012. In the roughly 7 months since my release so much has happened. I spent July through August largely glued to my cell phone and laptop while hunting for work, with the assistance of friends and the sponsors of this blog.. My parents grew concerned enough to tell me I might have to take work at a fast food operation or something similar. I had no problem with that. In fact I figured that was what would happen. While all this was going on my parents, whom my father is a minister though he retired in July, received a retirement call to serve a church in Juneau, Alaska. My PO, Helen Gaither, it turned out was very cool to me. Though the walks from the bus to her in Appleton WI were not! Because I had no car and often my parents weren’t available it was necessary to walk. But that’s ok. It just didn’t bother me. These things just don’t bother me anymore.

In about August, my efforts finally began to pay off. A major corporation hired me as a temporary software developer for a project they were working on through an agency I had worked with before and was unaware that I had been in prison the last 25 months. During that time I brushed the rust off my skills, got used to the grind that a software developer will have again and learned to deal with people again. About that time, a company based in Ames IA interviewed me for a position as a software engineer. They hired me. However I was given enough time to finish the contract I had started in with this company in Neenah WI. My parents were still in Alaska when I left in October. Needless to say I was excited and petrified all at the same time. I was fortunate on one aspect regarding work. I had largely lost the last two years and in technology circles that is as much as a lifetime. But this company was on older technology, technology I was well suited for. It was a perfect fit. Meanwhile I continue to upgrade my skills now. But anyway on October 8th I made the move. My first weekend didn’t go well. Furniture I had purchased for the apartment prior to my arrival had accidentally been tossed my a maintenance worker for the complex, as well as two tires going flat. Oh yes, my parents had sold me their old car and I had also managed to get insurance and a license during that time. But needless to say, I got things under control and my employer was extremely understanding as I missed my first day of work getting the car fixed. Things were pretty normal until about a month ago when weight loss and the familiar night sweats had returned – all symptoms I have become very familiar with. Testing revealed that my cancer had returned. Now before you become too concerned, just know, again I am going to be fine. I am doing chemotherapy again. But this time at least, I can control my diet though fatigue and nausea are now my main problems. See though I have insurance they don’t cover preexisting conditions unless you had proof of insurance before which of course I did not have in WPS. So medications I used for nausea and such are not covered either. But it is ok. It’s the same type of cancer as before and because they caught it earlier this time it is even more assured I will be fine. So don’t worry!

But what can I say about being free? My first day out my sponsors took me to a Mexican restaurant where I had chicken and steak fajitas. My mouth and stomach were on fire as they loved what I ate – but they didn’t so much later as they rebellled against the rich food I was not used to. I will spare you the details. Television, the Green Bay Packers and dear friends I have missed. All of it really is about choices of which we had very little in prison.

I still deal with the anxieity junkie. I still am largely alone or at least it looks that way. I am still single. My previous family contacts me to be sure but it is usually only when one of them is in trouble or needs money. My adopted siblings and family remain an awkward relationship. But yet I count myself as one of the lucky ones, one who found a way to be successful on release. I call it luck because things fell together in a way that I can’t really take credit for. Yes it is God and there are others to thank. Friends like Jennifer, Natalie, Mike, Bill, and Rebecca I couldn’t have done it without them. I owe them more than I have life left to repay. I simply can say no more than I am gratefully free. It has been so long and such a hard road, much of it self inflicted, that I can’t bring myself to complain. What right do I have to have such a good life? The answer is I do have that right as long as I do not forfeit that right with my choices I make in life.

I want to take this opportunity to also thank those of you who faithfully followed this blog, especially Jill, Karen, Kelly and Lori. You really kept me looking forward to mail call and such wondering what might be there today. Again, so grateful. How many others wait for even one piece of mail in prison only never to get any! And the rest of you, since my release I have watched your reaction from afar, really wanting to burst out and say hey its me! I’m free! But we all thought it best I keep a low profile until the entries were finished. I hope you understand. That said the future of this blog will be sporadic entries regarding what is happening with me and how it relates to being on parole. I am not going to do an entry every day. There just isn’t time like I used to have. But know this. If any of you want to reach out to me please feel free. I have always felt a closeness to many of you who suffered with your loved ones in prison right along with me.

On that note, its time to close. I have got some studying to do! Talk to you soon….

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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).  I actually ventured out this weekend and socialized a bit, playing ping pong on the table in the rec room that doubles as the location where our ERP group meets.  I always thought the smell of body odor was strong when our group met during the day but when the rec room weight machines are in use its almost overwhelming.  But like most things you adjust.  I lost every single ping pong game, including two to cellie Brian Whalen and one to cellie Larry Sands.  I used to be pretty good years ago but ping pong is all about touch and if you don’t have it your going to lose.  I spoke with my adoptive parents about initially staying with them when I get out or trying to find a way to make it at a shelter or finding a way to find a halfway house but we really didn’t resolve anything.  Come Monday shortly after 9:30 am, our ERP leader Ms. Grey and intern Nikita came in.  We are again doing the previously abandoned breathing exercises, but now its voluntary to participate.  Afterwards, we got into the evils of sugar and The Harmful Effects of Sugar on Mind and Body (squar is right!) followed by materials on The Harmful Effects of Caffeine and on Caffeine and your Adrenals – could they be paying dearly?, which targets women.  Since we’re all men, this confused us a bit.  Quite frankly, we were all wondering why we were looking at sugar and caffeine issues.  After lunch the next topic wasn’t much better – tobacco.  Most of us had previously smoked cigarettes, but this topic drew a lot of annoyed looks.  I have to  admit I was pretty restless too.  The video targeted junior high kids and said cigarettes cost $23 a carton.  Ok, probably in 1987 that might have been true!  At the end we took a test which I did ok on.  But no worries on me smoking.  Its too expensive now and it would be very bad for my health.  After supper though, I got something that made my day.  At mail call, my sponsors had sent me a letter.  There was a note from 3 high school students who are doing an English paper on prison efficiency and effectiveness and were using this blog as a reference.  I wrote back saying I’d love to help and read their paper when they’re done.  Maybe I’ll even publish it here.  It made me feel good this blog has helped others as it has for the past 15 months.  But mostly it’s helped me.  I wish every inmate has had the opportunity my sponsors provided me.  


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  I was notified the night before that I would be taking a medical trip the following day.  It was a far better way than last time when I found out a few minutes before the trip that I was going.  I could swear they read this entry because I was notified 3 more times before the trip this time.  It was pretty much like last time on the way up there, except the guard wasn’t real talkative.  Today I was in Madison to have the port that had been put in me last November removed.  They had used this port to deliver chemotherapy used to treat cancer as veins have a tendency to blow up. This probably was my worst experience at the University Hospital in Madison.  Up till now, my oncologist, Dr. Rachel Cook, and everyone else has been top notch.  If you ever have cancer, this is the place to go and Dr. Cook is the doctor you want.  But today, students were in charge.  I had an orthopedic resident and was assisted by someone else who was also a student.  They were quite clumsy in applying the local anesthetic, which resulted in some painful moments for your truly as they cut out the port from the left side of my chest.  Once it was done, I went back to the minimum security holding room on 6th floor and there were 2 other inmates there.  In the course of conversation, one inmate revealed he had 88 days to go to release, but he had been diagnosed with the same type of cancer I had, the one difference being he was stage 2 (I had been stage 3).  It was almost surreal listening to him talk about how he was going to get through chemo with no problems (he hadn’t started yet), how he was going to tell the DOC how he should be handled for his placement, and how he believed he would be released early.  The same aura of invincibility I had had was present.  I tried to get him to listen to me.  I explained what it meant to be stage 2.  I explained how important it would be to be in an environment relatively clean as your immune system will be compromised, and how the effects of chemo will be felt more as time goes on.  But I could tell he wasn’t listening.  I have to admit that I was a little envious of him that through the worst of what he is about to go through, he will be with those that love him.  But it happened to me like it was supposed to.  I really believe that.  When it was time to go back to FMCI, I happened to be on a crowded elevator, where there were 2 little girls.  I have always been a guy young kids could connect with, and they quickly engaged me in a conversation about how funny someone else looked.  They didn’t care I was an inmate.  I was smiling when they got off the elevator. My happiness was muted a bit when I saw their parent pull the girls closer to them as they walked.  I didn’t let it bother me though.  I certainly understand the parental impulse, to protect them from the guy dressed in green.  After I returned to FMCI, in mail call that night, was a bill from Waukesha County for the time I was treated prior to coming to prison which wasn’t suppose to happen.  One of my sponsors carries my Power of Attorney (POA) which I’m grateful for, and I turned it over to them via mail.  It was a full day, with more good than bad.