Posts Tagged ‘tendency’


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.

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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). This morning cellie Andre Charles and Malik Pearl immediately started in on each other once Malik revealed people talk about Andre’s tendency to snap on people.  Andre didn’t like learning people talked about him though he says he knew they did.  But of course, he was angry that Malik didn’t tell him before.  That’s not what he was really mad about.  But as I talked with him I again tried to make him understand that his rage issue, if he didn’t get a hold of it, with medication or whatever, he’s going to kill someone to no avail.  He keeps wanting my opinion/approval, I don’t know why.  But I’m going to keep telling him the same thing.  After the ERP group began this morning, Ms. Grey, who’d been on vacation all last week, was here.  She asked us our impression of the What the Bleep Do We Know.  We were all pretty skeptical.  Then we did breathing exercises which she wants us to do everyday to start group.  We close one nostril, breathe in, bend our head, then blow out the other nostril.  It’s different.  But we better get used to it.  Then we talked about the assignments in “Criminal Conduct and Substance Abuse Treatment” by Kenneth Wanberg and Harvey Milkman and Houses of Healing by Robin Casarjian.  Everyone completely agreed including Ms. Grey, that the Milkman workbook completely sucks and Casarjian rocks.  But we’re required somehow to do this workbook according to Ms. Grey.  So that’s what we’ll do.  In the afternoon session we managed to get a hold of the remote for the DVD player and were able to watch “Portraits in Addiction” by Bill Moyer, which we hadn’t been able to do last time and wrote a one page essay on it.  It was at least 15 years old so some of the references and people were dated but I thought it showed several types of addiction as well.  They’re telling us much of what we already know.  Yes we are alcoholics.  We don’t need convincing.  But perhaps I speak too quickly.  After the afternoon session, I checked at the desk for mail and to my shock there was a letter from my former step-daughter Lynn.  She sent a Christmas card with a photo of her and her boyfriend, a photo of her and JoAnn, and Lisa and a letter.  In her letter she apologized for how she has treated me and seemed genuinely interested in what was going on with me.  They had even gone to see my adoptive parents this past weekend.  I sense there’s more going on out there in regards to this group of people.  But its the same issue when JoAnn sent me the Christmas card.  To what level can I get involved with these folks?  Should I?  I still haven’t decided.  But I have a letter to write.  I’m excited she reached out to me as I had wanted that for a  long time. 


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  Weekends are my least favorite time here mostly because it seems time moves the slowest.  But of course as soon as I say that it changes.  My usual routine has me down for good by 10 pm, but on this night it didn’t happen that way.  As I walked toward the bathroom, I saw a group of guys around one bunk, doing what appeared to be sit-ups and others rooting him on.  I didn’t think much of it as I do these myself but on my bunk by myself.  Usually, I wake up several times a night because of things I’ve told you about before, but I don’t get off my bunk.  This time I did.  I wish I hadn’t.  There are two types of people who walk late at night.  They either pick up their feet as they walk or they don’t.  Those that don’t you can hear every step they make in the unit.  I am one who picks up my feet.  That same group of guys were together.   They were startled by my presence but didn’t have adequate time to cover up what they were doing.  I guess you could call it exercise but it was more of the push up variety done from a kneeling position.  It took me all of a second to see, put the pieces together and then avert my eyes.  I knew this went on but there is a huge difference between knowing and seeing, one I had been grateful for.  I used the restroom feeling disgust but mostly dread at the idea of having to walk back.  Why oh why don’t those geniuses turn off the stupid lamp?  Do they really need to see what they are doing??  When I returned I became one of those annoying people that dragged their feet when they walked.  I’m a convert, at least late at night!  But I figured they’d scatter before I got there, not wanting to see me anymore than I them.  I was wrong.  They saw me and one of them whispered, “Hey Jake!  What’s up?””  They were laughing.  I just replied that not much was going on in as casual sounding voice as I could muster.  They continued to laugh.  I got back to my bunk and tried to put it out of my mind without a whole lot of success.  Of course, the anxiety junkie in me came out.  How am I going to handle these folks tomorrow?  How should I react to them if they should bring it up in a conversation?  Should I go out of my way to shun them?  Or not?  Behind every anxiety attack, is the process of realization that the victim is not in control of others or things.  I eventually calmed down.  The next day the problem that wasn’t was handled the way most men handle things.  We ignore it.  To discuss it like adults would require courage and honesty none of us possess or desire. I am sure at some point down the road – way down the road – one of them will approach me about it.  Secrets have a tendency to require discussion by the conspirators.   Perhaps not.  After all by the end of November I won’t be here.  And if they don’t approach me, I’m also more than ok with that. 


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.


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  We submit our canteen orders on Sunday’s and then get what we ordered after count clears, about 6 pm, on Monday.  Basically when the truck gets here, they call for volunteers to unload it.  After count and mail call, everyone stands in a room waiting for their name to be yelled by the two guards passing it out.  I tell you all this now to tell you that none of this actually happened this past Monday.  We were notified via a memo posted in the window behind the guard station that due to a lack of staffing, canteen would not be handed out until Tuesday.  Inmates who have been here awhile report they’d never seen this happen before for this kind of reason.  But this was no ordinary Monday night for the monsters of the midway, the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers would play a football game.  Apparently, it was just a coincidence that the flu took out all of our regularly scheduled guards on the same night or at last that is what they would probably tell you.  They won’t explain that to us because we’re not entitled to explanations.  I don’t personally care.  Those that did either are the ones that have a tendency to whine about something all the time or were out of canteen.  Again, not my nature.  My former family used to laugh at me for bringing coats and sweaters when we would go camping but sure enough, late at night, they would all be wearing those coats and sweaters.  My point is, I try to be prepared for the unexpected.  Prison has only reinforced that.  Anyway, if you’re not a Packer fan here, chances are you holler and yell along with all the haters about how horrible they are, and how great the Vikings or some other team is.  Unfortunately, its not always all in fun.  Fights nearly break out over it.  As game time approached, we get our snacks ready and I climbed into my top bunk.  I walked around during the game a bit, observing people, guards and inmates, of all races, colors and creeds being pulled together by the common denominator of the Green Bay Packers. Everyone cheered (or yelled) at the top of their lungs for or against.  For a few hours we forget where we were, the barbed wire and the gates.  At the end, almost everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong for the Packers, yet they only lost by 3.  It was more how they lost.  They lost their composure.  They didn’t stay focused and didn’t do the very things that are basic to football. 

Afterwards, even those professing an undying loyalty to the team questioned the coach’s decisions, the general manager, even though he didn’t have anything directly to do with the game, and even Aaron Rodgers, who had been the toast of the Packer Nation.  Are they any less loyal, love the team any less because they questions ,and have their own opinions on things they don’t have all the facts on? Should the Packers disown their fans for such faithlessness?  No, of course not.  Their passion and zeal, even when its misplaced, is further evidence of their love and devotion for the team.  Do you see where I’m going?  Those who were close to me have turned their backs on me because of my failure to get help when I was sinking, its not fair to hold it against them. Their opinions, without knowing all the facts, doesn’t mean they don’t care.

The next day, the haters were out in full force led by the sergeants on 1st and 2nd shift.  But that’s ok.  Just because we get down on those we love, doesn’t mean we’re going to stop loving them.  We just need more accurate information.