Posts Tagged ‘tension’


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.  


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Do you know the song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Around the Old Oak Tree” by Tony Orlando?  It’s a nice song that tells a nice story about an inmate who gets release from prison and wonders if his love will take him back.  If she will, she’s supposed to tie a yellow ribbon around the oak tree in front of their house. Well he gets there on a bus and he finds, with everyone cheering around him, there are a hundred yellow ribbons on the oak tree. Like I said, it’s a nice story.  Happy endings in prison are so rare I have found.  But when one comes along you can’t help but cheer along with the inmate.  I’ve told you how ERP group member Scott Bunker endured a potentially serious medical condition over the last few days.  Saturday came and hadn’t improved.  In fact, I’m told it had gotten worse.  It must be true, for the guards took him on a weekend , which is quite rare, back to the hospital again.  He again returned, this time having been fitted with a catheter.  It kind of reminds me too that even us inmates are capable of setting aside the pettiness, racial tension and self obsession that seems to consume us here when a person among us falls sick.  Seeing Bunker sick made us united in the hope for his recovery and conveying that to him.  Still we are men.  There of course were the jokes about him being “on his period.”  Tasteless yes but juvenile humor is often how men will cope and as a group deal with a tough situation.  When I was diagnosed with cancer while at Waukesha county Jail awaiting transfer to WPS, an inmate yelled so everyone could hear, “Hey Martin you gonna die or what?”  We all laughed.  I was grateful for the break in the tension.  Anyway, the goodwill generated by Bunker’s situation seemed to last all day.  Then that night, according to him, without them knowing what had happened, his second wife and step-daughter showed up for a visit after not having communicated at all for the past 2 years.  What occurred was just amazing!  She told him she wanted him to come home to them after all and that they still loved him.  He had sent his victim impact letter to her so perhaps this got the ball rolling.  After he got off his visit he went around the dayroom telling everyone that would listen, trying to act indifferent about it but the smile on his face betrayed him.  I’m just very happy for him.  I’m not the type to always describe to God every good or bad thing that happens.  But how could you not in this case?  On Sunday, it was time for my weekly call to my adoptive parents, Charles and Victoria Martin.  I’ve seen them once since I was in prison and recently started talking to me via phone.  They’re consumed by retirement planning as Charles is retiring as a pastor  shortly after my anticipated release.  They are moving to a place in WI which is where I’m thinking I’ll end up initially after release.  Their first concern was to talk to my parole officer (PO) up there to try to get alcohol allowed at the house.  No go there!  Their second was the retirement party at the hotel on the Saturday prior to the retirement service and whether alcohol could be present.  I told them I’d be talking to the PO about it this week.  Truth is though I’m dreading the whole thing.  After a rough start in life, I’d became an IT Professional, homeowner, and family man.  I had earned respect of others.  Now I’ll see all these people I’ve known over the years alone, penniless and no job.  I have no clue how to deal with that.  I’m sure I’m not the first guy to have to go there after prison.  I wrote a letter to my adoptive parents asking them to allow me to duck out on Saturday after making an appearance but then to participate in all the hoopla, pictures and tributes at his retirement service on Sunday.  But I’ve got to trust God to look after me the same way he looked after Scott Bunker.  It may not be as dramatic but I’ve learned God will always get me through.  The retirement party is in July and its April.  A lot can happen between now and then.


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  On Wednesday we don’t have ERP groups scheduled so we sat in our cells or dayroom.  Nothing much happened until that night.  ERP group member Scott Bunker had a problem come up that could be painful.  He hadn’t  been able to go to the bathroom and the little bit he could was bloody.  He finally went up and told the guard on duty.  The guard wasn’t exactly the model of compassion as he had him take a urine sample cup and scoop out the bloody water out of the toilet to send to the Heath Services Unit (HSU).  But Bunker was told to submit a blue medical request to be seen which he did.  Apparently that night he was up several times as he was in a huge amount of pain, his privates were swelling and though he felt like he had to go, he couldn’t.  I got up for my shower at 5 am as usual.  As I walked to the shower I heard the third shift guard tell Bunker to come to the desk.  After I got out of the shower and had put my laundry in the washer, I saw the swampers by the bathroom wearing gloves and mopping the floor.  There was blood all over.  At Bunker’s cell the other guard had gone in with a yellow bag and gloves emerging with it full of items that had been bloodied.  I would have thought swampers and guards would have had more protection than gloves.  The guards offered to send him to the hospital but he declined.  I urged him to reconsider.  Bleeding like this just doesn’t heal itself.  At least now though HSU would see him right away Thursday morning.  That morning for our group ERP group leader Ms. Grey showed us videos on methamphetamine abuse.  The first was Living In Shadows The Innocent Victims of Meth and The Meth Epidemic produced by PBS.  Both were quite good.  But Ms. Grey was clearly in a bad mood.  During the time after the videos we had left over before lunch she went off on people for not understanding how to develop goals and objectives for Phase II based on SMART.  At one point she asked me to assist ERP group members Kevin House and Mark Hogan develop theirs.  But then Larry Sands spoke up complaining that she approves our goals and then changes her mind.  She went off on Sands, telling him not to put that on her and how he always has something to say whenever he’s criticized.  The problem is Sands is right.  She has given conflicting signals to people including me.  But that wasn’t the real issue.  She had obviously been talked to by somebody who had gotten involved as a result of Sands complaints to others.  The tension between the two is intense which made us uncomfortable but there’s been a lot of that lately so its kind of becoming normal.  After lunch we watched another good video Methamphetamine and Drug Endangered Children.  Bunker returned to group during this time with HSU having prescribed antibiotics.  They also reduced the huge amounts of ibuprofen he had been prescribed for his back since as a rule they won’t give out painkillers to inmates if at all possible.  As the night progressed his problem again began to reappear.  I am worried for him.  Tomorrow is another Graduation Day for another ERP group.  I’m looking forward to seeing something good happen here. 


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 saw the ERP group leader for cellie Andre Charles go to our cell and talk to him on Wednesday and it was what I expected.  She was letting him know the judge in his case had signed the paperwork approving his release since he had completed ERP.  It now has to get sent back and his group leader then has to get it back and his parole officer than has to get him out. I’m not entirely sure about how that last step goes.  I’m watching closely as I wonder what will happen with mine.  I’ve already completed my “in time” for my Waukesha County case and so it’ll go to my Winnebago County case judge.  But Andre should get out Tuesday we’re all guessing.  I’m genuinely happy for him despite everything that’s happened between him and I.  Today is a slow day as there are no scheduled groups.  Our ERP group leader, Ms. Grey, is filling out evaluations on each group member as we are about to complete Phase I of ERP on Friday.  As part of that process she collected our journals she handed out our first week.  It’s now the 13th week.  Most ERP group leaders collect them every week or two so it has been kind of a running joke amongst all of us if she’d ever collect them. I didn’t think anything of it as I’ve kept it up faithfully.  That is up until Andre came up to the cell and confronted me.  I had mentioned something came up missing in one of these journal entries.  As I’ve said here, I had no conclusive proof so I went no further with it.  Apparently, Ms. Grey mentioned it to his group leader who asked Andre about it. For the next 2 hours I tried to explain to Andre that I had not directly accused anyone and I certainly wouldn’t have put it in the journal if I thought they’d handle it this way.  He told me I was a fool and the tension in the room returned to its previous level.  Cellie Corey Ball tried to help by pointing out we all mention things like this in our journals, but Andre would have none of it.  Cellie Brian Whalen said nothing. But Andre’s probably right.  I was a fool for putting that down.  I wasn’t happy with how Ms. Grey handled this but I decided I’d talk to her first before making any decisions on how I’ll deal with this.  That night I got a lead on someplace I might live if I would stay in Waukesha called a Sober Assisted Living (SAL) boarding house.  Apparently the group that owns them has several in the area.  The rent is high (over $500 a month I’m told) but it’d be a start.  I’m confused why no one on staff here knew about this when I was looking for options.  But in my cell it is quiet and it is extremely tense.  I was really dumb to write anything of importance in that journal or to trust it would stay confidential.  Tomorrow group will be interesting.  


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 weekend was the Super Bowl where Wisconsin’s own Green Bay Packers were taking on the Pittsburgh Steelers.  All week the usual trash talk has been going on but not nearly the level it was at Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI).  Still you had your haters, who dislike the Packers just to get under people’s skin, and of course those genuinely rooting for the Steelers such as one of my cellies, Andre Charles.  Events such as these draw more than the normal gambling going on and it also means the stakes are higher.  During the season it was common to see meal trays as the object of the wagers.  Not this time though.  People bet canteen dollar amounts, paid for at the next order of canteen by the inmate who lost.  Of course this is entirely against the rules.  But that’s not why I don’t do it.  You have a way of knowing if the inmate your betting with hasn’t made so many bets he’s in over his head and now he might react if he’s unable to pay everyone.  Of course, keep in mind, it’s me we’re talking about.  I’ve been pretty risk averse during my time in prison.  But cellie Brian Whalen almost did find himself in a situation.  He bet with others $10 of canteen (a large sum around here) the Steelers would win with assurances from Andre that he’d help cover his bet if he lost.  Of course, when he lost, Andre didn’t know who he was which upset Whalen.  I’d been enjoying the quiet since he stopped talking to me but now that Whalen and Andre are feuding that’s gone.  I’m just glad it’s not me for a change!  Andre took the Steelers loss much better than expected and we had a good conversation.  I guess he has to talk to me now since I’m all he’s got if Whalen and him are going at it.  The next morning Ms. Grey, our ERP Group Coordinator, arrived in what appeared to be a bad mood, shutting down all football talk because she’s ‘not a fan’.  We had a surprise this morning as she called on group member Larry Sands to read his autobiography again.  Again, Sands missed the mark on what Ms. Grey wanted but it was improved.  He spoke of his father’s suicide, violence, mental hospitalizations and a woman twice his age taking advantage of him sexually – and all of this as a kid.  As he aged, he engaged in serial relationships – if you can call it that – with woman he manipulates with ease.  At the end, we didn’t have much to say.  But Ms. Grey had a lot to say.  She voiced her concerns that he engaged in bad guy behavior while putting it out there as if he was being a good guy.  The tension between the two was pretty obvious.  I volunteered that perhaps the manipulative serial relationships indicated a fear of desertion and being alone hoping he would talk about where those fears came from.  Ms. Grey challenged me, asking if I was condoning his behavior.  No, but I understood from his background I told her.  The answer seemed to satisfy her.  It should.  It’s the truth.  After lunch we watched more videos from Dr. Samenow focusing on manipulation we do of our loved ones.  Ms. Grey had us write down one time we manipulated someone.  But she returned Sands paper as it wasn’t about him as well as group member  Augie Prescott.  She collected Sands autobiography as well as the autobiography from group member Kevin House who is scheduled to have his read tomorrow.  We’re all talking amongst ourselves just because Ms. Grey isn’t operating as she normally does.  But we’ll see what happens.


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 “Training Day” here at MSDF which means for us that certain activities are restricted while guards are suppose to be getting well, training I guess.  One thing is for sure.  I mentioned what I was going to eat when I got released in this past entry but now I must add a huge cup of hot, caffeinated coffee!  First thing out the door!  As a result the four of us in our cell got to spend more time together. Brian Whalen is very focused on suing the Milwaukee County Sheriff for roughing him up when he got busted and is angry over how he got busted.  Many facets of his story doesn’t make sense and Andre and Malik let him know it.  To be honest, they were right.  Then Andre asked to see his PRC paperwork. That paperwork shows what you are charged with.  Whalen refused.  Usually when one inmate asks another inmate to see his paperwork and he refuses that inmate is assumed to be a pedophile by others.  Obviously, it won’t go well for that inmate after that.  Eventually he complied.  Then the conversation turned to me.  I told them I was fine with sharing my paperwork which I did.  I and Andrew get along well.  He displays anxiety junkie tendencies like myself.  I haven’t revealed anything about myself other than my legal status.  I’m just not comfortable doing so.  I wonder how that is going to work in the ERP program.  I have a lot of stuff I don’t want to talk about in front of other inmates.  But we’ll see.  Whenever these guys come back from their groups, especially Andrew, they are pretty hyper and worked up.  After they got back, they called us all down to the lower tier to clean the dayroom first, then our own cells.  There is clearly tension between Andrew and Malik and those in cells by us.  Then they returned to group.  I took the opportunity to shave my head as is my habit on Wednesday.  If I needed a reminder I’m back in a maximum security institution my reflection in the metal plate they use for a mirror did it.  They also take away my dental floss which I’ll have to buy floss with some kind of handle from their canteen.  Until then, I’ll just have to not floss.  I know, it doesn’t sound like a big deal but it makes me crazy.  And really, I did you not the title of the toothpaste they gave me is “Maximum Security Gel Toothpaste”.  It says its distributed by Bob Barker Co. Inc. (1-800-334-9880).  I hope it’s not THE Bob Barker!  Let’s see … he’s into neutering animals … I don’t like where this is going!  But seriously I’m doing better than I have been the last couple of days.  I think I’m getting some acceptance on being here … till June.  But I don’t dwell on that part.


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  The Thanksgiving holiday started off quiet.  Almost all the regular guards have been gone the last 2 days as many of them have gone deer hunting.  The result of that is we had guards unfamiliar with how things really work as opposed to by the book.  This created some tension but most of the time we just laughed.  Early in the morning several inmates began preparing a feast of canteen items, making burritos, cakes, chili and such on the counter we line up by for lunch.  I wasn’t invited as you had to contribute canteen that was needed and since I was packed up to go to Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF) for my ERP program on Monday I didn’t have anything.  There were those that wanted to participate but others already involved didn’t want them to.  Food made by the inmates is usually pretty good though quite spicy, usually too much so for me.  But to be invited to contribute canteen and eat is usually indicative of the positive social status of the inmate.  The downside of this activity is the microwaves on the unit are occupied for the duration.  I and other inmates had to sneak  over to the other side of the unit to warm up our coffee.  It might surprise you to know that we all were watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade.  It was a nice memory for me as I had played tuba in the band and marched competitively back in high school, all 140 pounds of me back then.  Boy I feel old at 42 and 195!  Our “Thanksgiving meal” wasn’t until supper so I put on 2 coats, hat, gloves and tied up my hood and walked on the track.  As you might expect, my thoughts were far from FMCI, and not really even about MSDF.  They were more about my future and the focus on what I need to do when I get out.  I waver between rational and anxiety drive trains of thought.  Technically inmates have to go back to the area were they committed their crime (Waukesha county) but if you have a job and a place to go they’ll let you go there.  As I’ve noted before, I’m in Information Technology and a .NET Framework programmer.  My adoptive parents are in Winnebago County so perhaps Green Bay, WI is where I should go which is near them.  There’s few jobs like that in Waukesha County and besides my ex-wife and all those triggers associated with that are there.  How can I pull this off?  The thought process gets tangled between obsession, fantasy and reality.  The thought occurs there is little I can accomplish on my own without help.  I wrote a letter to one of my sponsors expressing all this, pretty scatter brained sounding I’m sure, asking for help with how to do this.  I’m not sure they’ll know what to do but they’re who I have in my corner right now.  I really need to be focusing on finishing ERP at MSDF in the short term.  Supper consisted of turkey loaf, cranberries, stuffing and mixed vegetables.  Though everyone complained, I didn’t see anyone giving their food away.  That’s alright, when I get out, to celebrate, I’m getting a NuWave oven like I used to have and am going to make a huge turkey, peach cobbler, stuffing and fruit salad.  Everyone is invited but please RSVP! 🙂  But back to this reality.  Unfortunately, they ran out of turkey loaf so they had to do something else for the guys at the end of the line and a servery (kitchen) worker fell and shattered his elbow. We all watched the exciting conclusion to the Dallas Cowboys – New Orleans Saints game.  As for me, my stomach did back flips as one of the guys who was cooking canteen earlier in the day offered me a left over burrito. It was good, but man it was spicy!


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  At about 7:10 am, I got paged to come to Ms. Greer’s office.  Ms. Greer is the social worker on our unit and it appeared we had had a disconnect on the issue with Waukesha County.  Turns out she had let me know she simply didn’t remember what it was we had been discussing.  She took the copies of the bills my Power of Attorney had sent, made a copy of my criminal case record that proved I was in custody at the time and told me she would look into this.  I was floored again.  Calling me in prior to office hours and agreeing to help?  I don’t think she got the memo that DOC staff aren’t supposed to care.  Of course I’m kidding.  But it’ll be interesting to see what happens next.  I was glad I followed through.  At about 10 that morning, I was taken for a previously scheduled session with the psychiatrist I liked.  It was pretty informative.  I felt comfortable enough to tell him about this bog and how much work I’ve been able to do through it.  He seemed quite interested.  I asked him how he was able to avert his eyes to the feet that most don’t get the treatment they need while in prison.  His answer was telling.  He said he does the best he could with what he’s given and he would be doing a bigger disservice to inmates by not being the best advocate he could be.  Really, you’ve got to love the honesty and dedication.  He shared he’s gotten burned before but it can’t keep you from following through with what is best for the inmate patient.  Just outstanding.  After I got back, it’s getting pretty evident nerves are getting a little frayed around here.  A lot of us don’t have coats yet and its gotten cold out.  They were suppose to have gotten out the middle of October but it didn’t happen for some reason.  What’s worse is they’ve come out a few coats at a time, allowing the inmate in control of the laundry who hands them out to play favorites which angers many.  What this all means is we aren’t getting outside.  Losing my time on the track has been hard on me.  Thank God I have my electronics.  But the focus for others is playing cards, dominoes and chess.  They’ll tie a blanket around the metal table we eat at and play their games.  No, I don’t join in.  But a group of black inmates were playing dominoes at meal time but didn’t wrap up when meal time started.  We all have places and groups we sit by in the dayroom.  A group of white inmates who usually sit at the table, just stood there with their trays not saying a word.  They refused to move.  A couple of the inmates from each side ended up going nose to nose talking crap to each other.  The guards didn’t notice.  But finally the white inmates sat, elsewhere, grumbling all the way and the black inmates laughing at them in a disrespectful tone.  I’m glad I wasn’t involved. But truthfully I’d never be married to an inanimate object (thank you Rebecca Kleefisch!) or think I have to sit with the same group.  I know I need to socialize more.  Afterwards I went to the multi-purpose building to practice on the keyboard for Sunday.  The singer had lyrics to gospel music I’d never heard but not chords or notes.  We struggled for an hour, all the while I regretted ever getting involved in this.  Afterwards, I decided to use the law library computer to see if it would address what Waukesha County was trying to do. Sure enough in Wisconsin statute 302.38, it appears the County is responsible for medical costs if I’m in custody for a crime and can’t pay which was the case and it seems to be confirmed by the court case Meriter hospital vs. Dane County.  They would have to release me to not be responsible.  When I got back I advised my POA on the phone and wrote on information request to Ms Greer letting her know these specifics in case it might help. Despite the tension in my unit I felt good.  I’d accomplished something for a change, I actually had done well, and that’s not a feeling I’m too familiar with much anymore.  Add that to positive contacts with staff for a change and it really was a good day.