Posts Tagged ‘tray’


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  My first morning as a swamper along with my fellow swamper, David Sussex went without incident.  In the time we await the food I got to know him a little bit.  He proclaims himself a born again Christian, as I consider myself, and I’ve seen no reason to doubt him.  He is very vocal about his faith here while I am, as with everything else I do here, am very quiet.  Every morning he is out there reading his Bible just as I do.  If he irritates me in some fashion, its probably his desire to engage me in conversation about what I’m reading and start “preaching” about anything I might share that I struggle with.  But that probably says more about me than him!  As our ERP group got started that morning our ERP Social Worker, Ms. Grey, took the topics from the resumes and interviews to the in-depth topic of relationships.  She handed out another workbook from The Change Companies designed for the Federal Bureau of Prisons that we had used early in group called Living With Others, and another packet from Earnie Larson.  We have used his materials before as well.  We spent the morning on an exercise where we identified the feelings connected to dating through marriage.  She then erased the words “first date” and replaced it with “addiction” and it followed pretty closely.  Pretty clever.  In the afternoon we watched the first four parts of video From the Inside Out from Hazeldon featuring Earnie Larson.  It’s actually quite good.  The first part got into why relationships are important. It looked at positive and negative relationships in our past lives, the different types of relationships, how love has been taught to us in the past, and principles of building good relationships.  I had difficulty sharing details of what my past impressions of love were like early on and solidified as the years went on.  But everyone knows me now and aren’t shocked by my answers anymore.  Even if they were, I decided long ago I was going to be honest.  I’m also grateful no one calls me a liar here as others have in the past, such as the psychiatrist at my court proceedings did and others did as I was growing up into adulthood.  I’m now able to document most details of my past thanks to my contact with my biological family.  After group ended at 4 pm, we had another fill in guard as they still haven’t yet replaced Ruth Barthowski, named Larry Cable.  Due to differing rules with different guards, there’s always a certain amount of risk involved.  Following customs set by pervious officers or what is considered normal.  But it was pretty clear while Sussex and I waited for the dinner trays he was going to be anything but predictable.  Its customary for inmates to go out in the hall in front of the cell to fart if necessary as a courtesy to their cellies.  However; Cable yelled at cellie Corey Ball for doing so.  Then he had us swampers walk around and make sure cell doors were closed.  Again, not normally done.  Cable then tried to micromanage how many extra trays we’d get and how many we’d try to send away.  Ok, I don’t care.  But then the extra tray I did get I took to my table and gave away all of its contents to the guys sitting there.  Cable said I couldn’t give the extra food away, that it was only for me, even though the rule book clearly says I can.  Problem is technically swampers aren’t supposed to get extra food at all.  So the rulebook doesn’t help either of us.  So as he is yelling at me in front of everyone, he announces he won’t allow extra trays when he works here anymore.  Others would later tell me that I should have quit right there.  But I didn’t.  I was mad though. I would return later before 6 pm count and ask him not to hold the whole unit responsible for something I didn’t know was his rule.  Finally he said he’d consider it.  It was uncomfortable at cleanup before 9:15 pm count.  But I’m just grateful he won’t be here often.  Being a swamper is fine but I’m not going to put myself in jeopardy to do it. 

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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 got called out to the guard station right after the first count, and right before breakfast.  The guard told me to hurry up and eat because they were coming to take me for some reason.  I suspected I was having another PET scan to verify my cancer remains in remission. I asked the guard if he was sure he wanted me to eat as I knew they needed my stomach empty.  He said he didn’t know and put it up for me.  They came and got me and again asked me if I’d eaten.  Again I told them I shouldn’t.  They were suppose to tell me the previous evening but fortunately I hadn’t ate a thing after 8 pm.  The short black guard who strip searched me in a cage verified I should not eat was friendly enough.  Unlike last time, I had to wear the chains and bracelets which nicely accessorized my banana yellow uniform.  And of course, we seem to always pick the best weather days for my trips.  Today was the coldest of the winter so far.  It was 0 degrees and 14 below wind-chill.  It was good to see the outside world even if it had frozen.  We took Highway 16W and stopped at the PDQ gas station in Hartland, WI – less than a mile from my former home, family still lives and where I used to stop for gas and cigarettes on or on my way back to or from work.  It felt like a moment from the Twilight Zone TV show.  There was enough frost on the windows to obscure their view in the van which I was grateful for.  The ride there was cold, as the guards kept turning the heat down but it was my fault for not speaking up.  I have a habit of doing that. They took all sorts of side roads doing what many guards do – milking the clock.  When we got there I got to go to the prison at UW Madison.  No minimum lockup this time.  It was ok though as I saw guys I knew from Jackson Correctional Institution (JCI), where I was March through August of this year.  Things are the same there except for the large amounts of snow fallen on the LaCrosse area.  There are many horror stories from the medical cases of how they are being handled I was told about but I’m not going to repeat what I don’t have any way of documenting.  I am sorry to those looking for it, if that disappoints you.  But you know you’ve been around awhile when hospital staff greet you by name.  It was uneventful from there.  But the bag lunch I used to despise was better and more filling than the food at MSDF.  When I got back I got strip searched again and returned to my unit.  They actually saved my breakfast tray so I ate my cocoa roos (like cocoa puffs), and joined my group working on yesterday’s assignments.  But it occurred to me I need to stop thinking of this area as home to successfully move on.  But just where will home be?


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  One of the things I’m not going to miss about barracks life here is rather unpleasant, but its a fact.  You see, people fart!  Yes, they do.  Everyone will insist that their cellie, or bunkmate, is the worst when it comes to this.  I, of course, insist mine is.  It got so bad the other night I had to turn on my fan even though it isn’t hot out anymore.  He’s diabetic, and when he cheats, it gets real bad.  Others handle it how you would expect junior high boys to handle it, with laughter.  Competitions (just use your imagination, I’m not going to describe that!) and denials.  There’s times I wish I could act like that, all silly and what not.  It’s just not me.  I’m okay acting like that with kids but not adults.  I do it took, but being top bunk I don’t torture anyone!  At least I hope not.  So those are part of the sounds and smells of barracks life in FMCI.  As a friend of mine has pointed out, it is similar in some aspects to military life.  There are major differences.  Those in the military are there by choice and are of a higher character and purpose which affects how they conduct themselves and how they interact with others.  Here contains a sometimes subliminal, sometimes not, jockeying for position using intimidation tactics and scams. Beware those who bear gifts or seek them.  Some will be more than willing to give you things that cost them nothing, off their meal tray for example, but the tradeoff is they’ll expect to be given things you do pay for. You would think in a minimum security environment this would be less of an issue but its actually worse due to the fact that there’s less control and the inmates have more money.  Those running scams never get me because my answer is always the same.  The answer is always “no”.  Some tell me I’ve got to learn to play the game.  My response is usually along the lines of ‘why?’?  I drive these people crazy at times.

Of course, in the real world, people fart.  In the real world, lots of people are running scams.  My former step daughter, Lynn, was always up to something.  Her mother always fell for it.  I never did.  Guess what?  I drover her crazy too.  I’m trying to change, not be so suspicious all the time.  Change is only hard when you are not in control.  I’ve got to go and find a nose plug as I hear we’re having refried beans for supper.  It’s going to be a long night!