Posts Tagged ‘Truth’


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Sometimes I’m not so bright.  In fact, I can make just stupid decisions.  When I was a child my arm was broken.  The arm was never set properly and as a result the arm has always given me some discomfort.  The last few months however; the pain has steadily grown where I have to work around it for such tasks as putting on a shirt.  So I put in a medical request form. I suggested that perhaps the lack of exercise is causing the pain, as up until a year ago I was being treated for cancer and I didn’t exercise much and since then I’ve done very little.  But with my impending release on Wednesday, I didn’t make a  good choice ignoring the pain.  To my surprise, I was actually seen on Sunday by a nurse right here on the unit.  The nurse decided to see me because of my history of cancer.  She determined the kind of bone issue I described shouldn’t be ignored.  Just another example of the usually positive experience I’ve had with health practitioners while I’ve been in prison.  She decided to refer me to the doctor without performing tests.  But she did take a history of how it happened, asking why I didn’t address this years ago when I had insurance and why I waited until now.  Truth was I didn’t want to answer the questions people would have asked related to how it happened, my usual honesty and shame issues.  Hopefully, I don’t continue that pattern.  One nice thing about all my family and friends knowing I went to prison is all pretense is gone.  The truth will be revealed eventually whether you want it to or not.  The fact I had problems is now known to them.  How will they react to me?  How will I react to them?  I am going to try, despite the loss of family, possessions, career, and money, to hold my head high.  The difference between disgrace and shame would be failing to learn the lessons shame has taught.  It will be a struggle, make no mistake about that.  Charles and Victoria Martin, my adoptive parents, have his retirement celebration coming up July 17th where family friends and acquaintances from years gone by will be in attendance.  We’ll see then if my words here mean anything.  The rest of the weekend was uneventful.  ERP group member Scott Dietz had his paperwork signed by a Milwaukee County judge on a weekend.  He also inquired about me building websites for his businesses.  I’m suspicious of any contact with people from here or promises made but I said sure I’m interested but I’ll need a couple of months to get my feet on the ground.  But I almost believe him.  I talked to my adoptive parents on Sunday as well.  They have the bed I slept on as a kid setup in the basement and some simple foodstuffs put up for me there.  The internet will be turned on June 25th so I can get to catching up on my Information Technology and programming skills.  They gave my parole officer (PO) Helen Gaither the house key which I can get from her on Wednesday but left a door open in the event by the time I get to Menasha, WI after business hours.  Of course this tells me the PO and my adoptive parents have been meeting and talking.  That makes me a little nervous.  But everything seems set.  Wednesday can’t get here soon enough!

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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).  We were supposed to start our ERP group morning session with the remaining Phase 3 goal and objectives presentation but group member Augie Prescott was absent due to a medical issue so our ERP social worker Ms. Grey, decided to review each victim impact letter with us prior to their presentation to the group on Thursday. Speaking of Augie, we found out his interstate compact which would allow him to move to Alabama upon release, was approved.  Some more good news was that Scott Bunker has had his catheter removed and has been cleared of serious medical issues.  So this was all good to hear.  I was the first one to have my victim impact letter reviewed with Ms. Grey.  It was from my ex-wife JoAnn.  She described hating being alone during our marriage, the disastrous effect on my stepdaughters, being left with the mortgage, accused me of being unfaithful (which isn’t true) while admitting she had not been a saint either.  Though it was biased, there was a lot of truth in what she said.  I’m not nervous about reading it to the group though.  There was nothing there I haven’t talked about or have been dishonest about with my ERP group.  After I was done, I went up to the computer room to work on our graduation project handout for the ceremony.  It wasn’t long before I was joined by just about everybody in the group all giving their input on what it should look like while standing behind me.  Every time I did something that didn’t work out they were of course quick to point that out.  I patiently explained about the Undo function in Microsoft Word.  Ms. Grey sent word when she saw everyone up in the computer room with me that I wasn’t allowed to talk about the letter from JoAnn.  She needn’t have worried.  I still don’t volunteer information about myself unnecessarily.  But the good news on the graduation project handout is that the images Ms. Grey gave me this time – the bumblebee transformer – worked out well this time.  Not only that, but since everyone was waiting they all had the chance to sign off on its design.  So I put it on the disc and would give it to Ms. Grey at the afternoon session.  Let’s hope it’s done.  The afternoon session started off with Ms. Grey telling us she would not share how she evaluated us in Phase 2 and if we wanted to see it we would have to ask our parole officer (PO) after we got out.  When we asked why, she just flat out said she didn’t want to.  We were pretty mystified and annoyed.  Wouldn’t she want us to know how we were evaluated?  We want to see it if the PO does, though these guys who have been locked up before say the PO doesn’t care about such things.  So that caused a bit of a stir after group.  The rest of the day was spent listening to the goals and objectives of the rest of the group members.  Tomorrow is Wednesday, a Training Day, which means there are no groups.  She has the disc with our graduation project program on it.  I don’t anticipate an eventful rest of the week.  I’ll probably end up regretting I said that!


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 Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  On Saturday at the supper meal, cellie Andre Charles, who is just weeks from graduating ERP, in front of the entire unit, got into a verbal confrontation with another inmate that continued with voices raised while Andre went up the stairs to his cell.  Guard Ruth Bartowski noticed but didn’t say anything.  He remained at the door looking out the cell window down at the inmate who had dared to offend him.  As a rule you mind your own business in situations like this.  The last thing you want is to get in the middle of it.  I returned to my cell once the meal finished and went to brush my teeth, my habit after each meal. When I was returning, I saw the inmate who had somehow offended Andre at the top of the stairs, still jawing with him while rounding the corner to his left and to pass by a large square stoned pillar which obstructs the guards view.  Andre jumped out of his cell, swinging at the inmate twice, landing one punch.  The inmate at the receiving end quickly moved into the guards view while trying to act normal.  Once I got back into the cell, I saw that cellie Brian Whalen was there and him and Andre were talking in an animated fashion with Whalen telling Andre to calm down.  They didn’t want to tell me what happened as it “wasn’t my business” but eventually Andrew would tell me.  He always does.  It seems the inmate he’d hit had a cellie who Andre had heard had been talking about him in their cell and Andre believed this man was talking about that at the table to other people.  He popped up and told this inmate” to keep his name out of his mouth.”  After the confrontation, Andre fretted that someone would snitch to the guards about what had happened.  But I have this flaw where I tell the truth in situations like this.  I told him I hadn’t thought through the consequences of his actions and going after a guy for something someone else said was irrational at best.  He agreed but continued to rant.  I reminded him that inmates close to release often sabotage themselves.  But we had other problems.  It was our turn to do the cleaning on the unit like we did before.  Whalen had made a bet on the Super Bowl that it turned out he didn’t have the funds to pay.  Before things got too ugly for him (not paying off a debt is a big no no) Andre bought the debt off the owed inmate but he kept reminded Whalen how much he owed him it seemed like every second.  But he got Whalen to cover his cleaning duties for the next 2 weeks in order to cover his debt.  Worse yet he’ll owe Andre for saving his butt for the rest of his time.  But for all his bluster, he really had rescued Whalen.  I think, in his own way, he had done a decent thing.


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP). Who says inmates don’t celebrate New Years Eve?  Neighboring cells got so loud the guard at the desk gave a warning and the second time shut all the power off to the cells.  After giving another warning, the guard turned the power back on.  After resetting my clock, I kept my TV on to watch the ball drop.  According to TMJ4 news it got up to 52 degrees this New Year’s Eve!  I wish I’d been out there with people that love me.  I suppose though I could say that every day.  Cellie Malik Pearl told me the next morning he’d wake me up so we could deal with the cellie Andre Charles problem with 1st shift guard Roscoe Peters.  I said that’d be great.  The lights stayed off until 10:30 am and I didn’t hear from Malik.  Then after I was awake Malik told me he’d already went to Peters and told him and that I should go tell him myself.  I didn’t understand why he had departed from the plan but I was more focused on getting Andre out of this cell.  I went to see Peters and asked if Pearl had been by to see him.  He confirmed and said he knew what it was about and who it was about.  I told him I also wanted to convey how fed up I was.  Peters told me Charles was on his third cell move not including the people who had asked to get out of his cells prior to him being pulled out of each cell.  What Peters was saying is any move would just go and pass this problem onto others and besides the unit manager would be mad if he made any moves.  He wanted us to go to the 2nd shift guard, Ruth Bartkowski.  I don’t think he wanted to deal with it.  I returned to my cell.  Peters and mine conversation must have been overheard as Andre came to the cell and said there was no way I was going to get him put out of that cell, and if I want to leave I should say I want to be with someone from my ERP group.  I told him I’d tell the truth.  He wanted me to go without making things worse for him.  I told him the days of him threatening and intimidating anyone in this cell were over.  I was hot and getting just as loud as he always is.  Then Peters showed up at the door, barking at us to be quiet, do our time, to just get along and he’s tired of hearing us all the way down at the desk from the upper tier.  If he hears it again, he said the two of us are going to the hole.  The conversation continued.  Andre had no idea that Malik had gone to the guard as well as he got on me for “going to the police” until Malik spilled that he had done so as well.  Malik said everything I did – he needs medication, he’s going to kill someone someday and how he keeps people on pins and needles in this room.  He says he’ll change.  Malik wants to give him one more chance.  I reluctantly agreed.  I’m just irritated all of this came to nothing and he’s still in my cell.  But like I said, I’m at the end of my rope with him.  But as usual, now everyone is getting along.  It became pretty clear this isn’t over.  After the Wisconsin Badgers lost the Rose Bowl, Andre started razzing cellie Brian Whalen’s habit of burping from which he took offense.  While Andre was gone, Whalen went on and on about how Andre will never change.  Whalen, your 12 hours too late, I thought.  But I’ve determined, no more threats or intimidation in this cell anymore.  There’s just too much at stake to allow it.  


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 woke up after a very bad night, with my cellie, Andre Charles, in a foul mood and trying to pick a fight with another cellie, Malik Pearl.  The issue this time was Andre thought Malik was angry over all the noise he was making.  He probably was but he hadn’t said a word to Andre.  I rolled out of bed and ate breakfast.  For whatever reason, Andre requires our attention and I’m just not going to give it today.  Ms. Grey, our ERP coordinator, is on vacation but she had left behind assignments for us to do.  We were to read chapter 1- 2 of House of Healing (HOH) and complete the assignment in the morning session of our ERP program and in the afternoon watch the first video on HOH, as well as read the Criminal conduct and Substance Abuse  (CCSAT), and work on our group mission statement.  Reading HOH, I can tell you straight away that the author Robin Casarjian is a genius in how she frames things for the reader.  The first two chapters are entitled “Doing Time” and “Who Are You Anyway?” “Doing Time” feels like a pep talk, that regardless of your circumstances behind bars, making change in yourself is worthwhile work.  “Who Are You Anyway?” is a look at our core, our “self’, surrounded by our sub-personalities and how “over-identifying with any one of them can debilitate us or stunt our growth” (p.13). I can see how someone with my background may have gotten so lost in a sub-personality now.  I highly recommend this book to everyone regardless of the kind of prison you’re in.  I completed the “Who Am I” assignment on page 10 and moved on to the CCSAT workbook.  We were to complete Session 1 but many were way past that.  Session 1was concerned with explaining the program and setting up goals to avoid “criminal thinking” and recidivism.  I feel out of place with this workbook and its tone feels, the word comes to mind is clinical.  But I will give it my best effort.  I mean I don’t have a choice, right?  After lunch in our cell, Andre went on and on to me about when he says he’s through with people it’s nothing personal to me even though Malik and Whalen, my other cellie, agreed he absolutely was.  I wanted to reply that though I hope he finds the help he needs, I couldn’t care less if he was through with me.  In fact, I wish he and I had no involvement at all.  But for once, I bit my tongue.  After lunch, we’d been told to watch the first video of the HOH book series.  It took 20 minutes for us inmates to get the DVD player in the weight room running.  The video we were supposed to watch told the story of how HOH came to happen (remarkable itself – email if you want to know) and further discussion on identifying who we are.  Then we as a group decided to watch the second video so we didn’t have to set it up again.  This was on forgiveness, the ability to see the good in a person past their present issue.  Again, outstanding stuff.  I feel I do a good job of that most of the time. It’s to see the light bulb, not the lampshade.  Our next item, was the mission statement for our ERP group MS. Grey asked us to come up with.  Yours truly did the honors.  It states “we seek to learn how to live a clean and sober life through truth and accountability to each other, surrendering our old way of doing things and being open to new ideas, humbly and empathetically looking at ourselves and each other in a balanced fashion, remembering to be truthful for our new lives.”  Let’s hear it for the run on sentence!  🙂  The “Ripple Effect” of addiction was assigned to our ERP group inmate leader, Larry Sands.  They cancelled our ERP group night session so I listened to Whalen state how fed up he was and Andre keeps goading him.  Man, my headphones can’t get here fast enough!  But the best part of the day, I actually got a Christmas card in the mail tonight!  So, I’m happy.  It’s good to know you’re not forgotten once in awhile, you know?


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  What an intense 24 hours it has been since my last entry!  Shortly after the Green Bay Packers lost to the Detroit Lions, my cellie (cellmate), Andre Charles was going on and on about how great it was the Packers lost.  I asked the question with a smile if he was the kind of person that would go on and on just to annoy others.  He responded by asking if I was “getting all up in my chest” which means to get upset.  It came across to me by virtue of his body language and tone that he was challenging me.  I replied that if I was “getting up in my chest” he would know it.  We both got pretty hot.  I told him to leave me alone and went to the bathroom to shave my head as is my custom on Sundays.  He, of course, followed where the argument continued.  Andre told me he’s going to leave me alone.  I said that was fine and as I walked away he said he’d “punch me in the mouth”. Twice more, once that night and again the next morning he threatened me.  I stood toe to toe with him being careful not to threaten but not back down.  Charles historically has a violent temper with charges in the past reflecting that so this wasn’t an idle threat.  But finally he walked away and returned an hour later, saying he didn’t want to live like this.  My other two cellies, Malik Pearl and Brian Whalen, had watched this whole thing and wouldn’t say anything to offend Andre.  So they were happy I’m sure this was getting patched just in time.  We both apologized and I was off to being ERP.  Truth is I was incredibly stupid to say anything at all.  Ms. Grey, our ERP coordinator, had us assemble in the weight room which wasn’t real well lit.  She hadn’t thought ahead on that.  She handed out folders.  It was just your usual consent forms, agreements, and Intake information.  But one of my worst fears was realized.  We have to do an autobiography and timeline and read it to the group.  There’s a lot of things you know and other things you don’t that I feel like in the hands of other inmates regardless of how many confidentiality agreements they sign.  But here is the thing.  The stakes are so high for me right now.  If I should fail ERP, my mandatory release date is January 1, 2013.  That’s over 2 years from now, 8 months if I complete “ERP”.  I’ve got to be willing to do whatever it takes to pass.  And who knows, maybe it’ll be useful and my fear might be baseless.