Posts Tagged ‘violation’


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 was another odd Tuesday. I went out in the dayroom to await the beginning of our ERP group but hours went by before we learned our ERP social worker, Ms. Grey, was not coming in that morning.  We did this song and dance again in the afternoon until about 2 pm until we learned there would be no group at all.  We don’t know why at this point.  The news for me on Tuesday involved my swamper job.  Counting trays, ketchups, mustards, cereals  and milk are a critical part of the job to get right.  I had told my fellow swamper David Sussex not to talk to me when I was counting.  He of course did anyway.  I was annoyed but I didn’t say anything.  The look on my face must have communicated my feelings however as he told me he was through with me if that was going to get me angry.  And of course, my count was then off.  I tried to explain to him I was not angry but he wouldn’t even discuss it.  I’m thinking to myself, whatever, I don’t really care.  I’m then told he discussed it in his ERP group.  Apparently at supper I missed cleaning a table afterwards and one of his group members came to my cell to tell me about it.  Normally,  one would see this, grab a towel and clean the table. A gain I didn’t say anything but my facial expression must have told the story.  I would observe them both later on conferring with each other, and they normally don’t.  But my big mistake was showing signs that they had succeeded in getting to me.  I resolved not to allow that to happen anymore.  I used to be really good at that.  Have my people skills been degraded that much since I’ve been locked up?  On another note, Tuesday was the final day for cellie Corey Ball prior to release.  He clearly is nervous about the uphill struggle that awaits him upon release.  He found a place to go with a relative in Pewaukee.  He insists he’ll be in a bar Wednesday night partying and he’ll be in touch.  Regardless, I wish him well.  He had a lot of trouble sleeping as one might expect that night.  The next morning Sussex said he wanted to sit down and talk at some point.  I said sure that’ll be fine.  What else am I going to say?  I really have no desire to talk to him.  Right in the middle of breakfast, guard Roscoe Peters told Ball to pack up, give him his cell key and they were coming to get him right then.  As I finished cleaning the tables he was by the door.  He looked as stiff as could be.  I told him to breathe and its all going to work out.  He smiled and said I hope so.  Then that was it.  He was gone.  Since it’s Wednesday, there were no ERP groups.  I wrote my Phase 3 goals and objectives essay on patience which probably will be published here later, not because it’s good but because it shows how at a loss I am to explain my attitude as of late.  Later that day Sussex decided he was going to take an extra banana from the leftovers from supper.  I just threw the bananas and said whatever.  Sussex said I was crazy.  He might be right.  Normally, I’d never react like that.  Later on, I’d go apologize to him for my reaction as well as to the inmate who pointed out the dirty tables.  I felt much better after doing that, like  a load lifted off of me.  Even if they did wrong, I had no right to react like that.  The night ended with our cell getting tossed because cellie Brian Whalen left his oranges from lunch in plain view of the passing guard.  He then tossed the cell next door, where 2 recent ERP graduates, including former cellie Malik Pearl, resides.  The guard got his key stuck in the door.  One of them offered to get his key out if he didn’t toss their cell.  This just served to infuriate the guard.  Pearl and an inmate who shares my table at meals, Todd Knight, got conduct report for altered property.  Knight had altered his headphones to share them with Pearl. when he watched TV which is a rule violation.  Pearl isn’t upset at all as he’s leaving soon.  Knight, on the other hand, has got 4 months left, and will suffer the consequences for trying to help Pearl.

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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 waiting for our ERP group leader Ms. Grey, when another ERP group leader told us she wasn’t coming.  Many of us returned to our cells, and we hadn’t been there for a minute when Ms. Grey along with intern Nikita came.  We spent the morning session finishing the book Houses of Healing by Robin Casarjain, specifically  Chapter 15.  It portrayed prison as a gift that’s been given to us to allow us the opportunity to effect change in our lives.  Well if you’ve been following this blog at all you know that to be true, that change has been affected, particularity true before my time at MSDF.  But prison as a gift?  There are many words and phrases I’d apply to the concept of prison.  Some aren’t printable.  Gift wasn’t one of them!  But I get the point.  Though I lost everything coming to prison, there is one thing I kept – my life.  Had I not come to prison with the path I was on I very well could have taken my own life by now.  So I guess you could say prison gave me the gift of my life.  Lets just hope prison never gets the chance to give me any more gifts!  But anyway, we have to return this book to Ms. Grey.  I would have kept this one.  Our afternoon session was spent watching a video on addiction that describes how it affects the brain and how scientists are trying to develop a vaccine for addiction, specifically cocaine.  Sorry, I wasn’t close enough to see the DVD case for info on the video.  The evening was full of intrigue, thankfully none of it directly involving me.  Both swampers are now from the cell next door where cellie Larry Sands came from and where former cellie Malik Pearl had moved to earlier.  Sands informed me about how cellie Brian Whalen was planning to sell a lot of cocaine being provided by another inmate from that cell.  Unknown to him, their plan was to rob him once they were all out and Whalen came up with the money.  I told Sands if he knew this we had a responsibility to throw Whalen off this plan somehow, even if he didn’t want to cross those guys.  I just feel bad for Whalen.  I’m afraid he’s going to get himself hurt with his biggest crime being he wants to be liked.  As the day and night progressed more and more people began arriving to take beds for the next ERP group that’s starting.  The problem began when an inmate arrived with a lower bunk restriction and there were no lower bunks to be had at this point.  The guard in charge, not a regular, decided to bump the swamper in that cell next door, that is making this deal with Whalen off his bottom bunk for this guy.  He put him in a cell on top bunk above an inmate when many think this is the nastiest guy here.  But the guys in the swampers cell vehemently protested, wanting instead for them to move Sands out of our cell and move the new guy here.  They tried to convince the guards to do this but no dice.  The female guard got to the point she tossed their cell (inspect for contraband) after they said one of the reasons they couldn’t move him was that they all combine their canteen which is of course a rule violation.  I don’t know how the inspection came out but Sands was mad that they tried to disrupt his situation just because they didn’t like what was happening.  These guys made it clear to Sands once regular second shift Ruth Barthowski returns she’ll make him move as they believe they have influence over her.  I’ve seen it but I don’t think she’ll let them push her into this.  We’ll see.  Through it all, I’m still relaxed which is remarkable for this anxiety junkie.  My thoughts are outside of this place, for a day when I can write you about the positive things out in the world even if I’m struggling. 


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  It was another tough night but the good news is I got up at 5 am, ate breakfast (I haven’t been eating much), and then went back to sleep.  It was the best sleep I’d had in some time.  After I got up, word had apparently gotten around that Percy had written me up.  Many were there to point out to me how foolish I was not to have accepted the summary punishment Percy had proposed (3 days bunk confinement), others who bunk in the area urged me to fight it as they saw I was next to my bunk when Percy saw me.  I’m not accustomed to all the attention from these folks so it was a little unnerving but I was ok.  I think for many it was weird to see me in any kind of trouble as I have a reputation here as a bit of a straight arrow.  Later on that morning, I was called to the guard desk and I was given the paperwork that Percy had prepared for the ticket.  It was for “being in an Unassigned Area” (303.511) and “Violation of Institution Policies” (303.63).  It was categorized as a “Minor offense” (303.75).  I’m guessing that means it won’t affect my ERP program start date at Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF).  The paperwork included a description of the offense and that a hearing was needed.  When I walked away from the desk, I thanked the guard that gave me the paperwork.  That was a mistake as far as the other inmates who had been watching were concerned.  One asked me why I would thank the guard for giving me a ticket.  Yes, this didn’t help my “cred” as an inmate.  But it wasn’t the guards fault and part of my personality is I try to be polite.  I explained the first part to the inmates who were watching.  They laughed and mocked a little.  It was meant in fun but even if it hadn’t, the vast majority of who I’ve been locked up with, I could really care less what their opinion is of me.  As the day progressed, seeing as it was election day I anticipated attention would focus on the news.  Nobody really was interested however, which kind of surprised me.  In fact, people were annoyed that the election results were running along the bottom of the screen and coverage preempted some of their programming.  My favorite program “Parenthood” got bounced, but it goes with the territory.  Perhaps you were annoyed too.  After Scott Walker was projected as a winner, some guards and inmates made noise about how dire the situation will be for state employees and inmates.  I, however, was more concerned with the Assembly and Senate elections.  They both went Republican which means whatever bills Walker or the Legislature want they’ll get.  There will be no check on extremism, which should scare everyone.  It’s going to get interesting if nothing else and I’ll bet by the time 2012 gets here, everyone will be paying attention.


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  While laying on my bunk, a guard accompanied by Lt. Brodie woke me up. I’m sure they figure me for a freak for the startled reaction.  You know better.  They were conducting an inspection and told me that I wasn’t allowed to have my box on my bed and that it had to be broken down.  I of course complied.  Every facility has a handbook describing rules and regulations that govern it and I went to consult it to see if this was in fact a rule violation.  Section 11.2 covered what you could have on your bunk and a box wasn’t forbidden.  But even though the 303 code prohibits arbitrary rule creation by guards or white shirts (supervisors) in practice it happens all the time.  If the inmate refuses to cooperate, the guard or white shirt will discipline them for failure to follow an order, thus the inmate has no immediate vehicle with which to address their grievance or perceived injustice.  The inmates’ only recourse is to comply and then to fill out an inmate complaint form and in several weeks some bureaucrat from the Department of Corrections (DOC) in Madison, who doesn’t have the benefit of context and whose supposed impartiality isn’t fooling anyone, makes a ruling.  The effect of a relationship where one side has all the power is to embitter the other party and this is no different.  Inmates can easily get in deep trouble over what started out as a minor problem because they perceive disrespect from the officer involved.   In my case, I began the first step of the complaint process which was to send an information request to Lt. Brodie to allow him an opportunity to address my grievance without the complaint process.  He has never answered my information requests in the past or from others I’ve talked to.  He was still there so I handed it to him personally and after reviewing it he replied that I’d better comply (getting rid of the box) and if I don’t like it, to fill out an inmate complaint form.  His attitude towards me was how one might react to a tiny dog, powerless as the animal is as he nips at your heels while being ridiculed, ignored and who only inspires annoyance.  I told him I planned on doing so but I needed a written response to my information request to demonstrate I’d completed the first step.  He replied he had just responded.  I emphasized the word “written”.  Brodie waved me off.  I don’t think I’ll ever get a written response.  The thing is, if Brodie demonstrates basic people handling skills, this problem would most likely go away.  But as I’ve noted previously, he doesn’t see us as human.  In all honesty, I’ve probably got a month to go here before going to ERP, have got the choir, conflict going on involving Brodie and I am the type to avoid problems unless absolutely necessary.  The last thing I want is to get in a tussle over a minor issue.  But I’m sure Lt. Brodie counts on this, that inmates won’t follow through. I haven’t decided what to do.  I am happy though with how I conducted myself in this, doing what I’m suppose to do and dealing with Brodie in a manner that is adult, even if he didn’t return the courtesy.


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  It may not come as a shock to you that many inmates have problems with boundaries.  The real question for me is whether or not the person violating my boundaries has acted in a malicious manner or is it just the way they are.  Most of the time I have an opportunity to assess the situation or person and methodically make a decision how I’ll react to a violation.  That wasn’t the case today.  This particular situation involved an inmate named Charlie who lives in my row of bunks on Unit 9.  Charlie who has been in many years, goes up and down the aisles, begging coffee, food and it is rumored he is not above taking something left out on a bunk or cupboard.  In fact, it got to the point where inmates in other rows in an effort to defend their row  without having to snitch, joined together and told him he was banned from their aisle.  Policing themselves has mixed success at a minimum security level.  It is more effective in a medium environment where the threat of violence is more prevalent.  Unfortunately, since Charlie lives in my aisle, he can’t be banned here.  The problem for Charlie as I perceive it, is he has nobody to help him financially on the outside.  Neither did I, but I received money for valued possessions which I use for my expenses.  If he did that, how long since it dried up.  Many of us are not without heart.  We gave him coffee and other items.  He promised many he would pay them back in some fashion.  But he repaid very few.  I was one of the few.  You might ask if others expected to be paid back, how are they showing heart or compassion?  Because nothing his ever free, not in the real world but especially here.  When he didn’t pay back the others, fact is no one would do anything about it because Charlie is a physically imposing person.  He is at least 6’8” and at least 300lbs.  But what made people even more angry was he took much of what was given him and traded it for cigarettes.  People felt hustled because they felt they had given to meet his needs.  From his perspective, he had taken what he had gotten to trade to meet his real “need”.  Charlie had misrepresented his intentions to others – again not shocking behavior from some inmates.  The effect of all this was that no one would have anything to do with him.  I thought the situation would improve for him once he got a job in the kitchen.  He would be able to scam food out of the kitchen to trade for his wants or needs, which is exactly what happened.  But for these folks like myself he did pay back, somehow in his mind this represented a bond between him and each individual.  He would come by our bunk areas and want to peer in our cupboards, wanting to know what we had in canteen and trying to propose various deals.  No one was interested and I could see the confusion in his eyes.  But my understanding attitude evaporated yesterday when he came up to me from the side, put his arms around me and whispered he needed food and wanted to trade.  He could have told me he had a pardon from the governor and my reaction would have been the same.  I jabbed my elbow in his rib cage and warned him to step off (back).  Looking surprised he asked me what was with the attitude.  He really didn’t understand this.  Yes, I have issues.  Did I overreact?  I tried unsuccessfully to explain in my agitated state about my space, my boundaries and his need to respect that.  He walked away and it was over.  Normally in these situations one might fear retaliation from others.  Not this time.  Charlie is universally disliked.  But the task before me is to figure out how I can handle a situation like this differently in the future, why I fear people getting in my space so much and what to do about it.