Posts Tagged ‘walls’


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 couldn’t believe it but on Friday evening the Koss headphones I bought off the Jack & Marcus catalog cracked over the right ear piece.  Cellie Corey Ball had tape and managed to make them useable for the short term.  He and cellie Brian Whalen are graduating May 6th, over over 2 weeks away so they each tried to get me to buy their headphones or ear buds.  I had to say no because in the event of an inspection that could be trouble for me.  But these plastic clear headphones are frustrating.  They appear to have no more than a 4 to 6 month life span before they break and doubly so because I’m 2 months away from release.  I bit the bullet and put in an order for a new pair of headphones.  After Ball and Whalen leave I’m going to have 2 new cellies come in for my last 45 days or so and no telling what they might be like. Headphones are an essential piece from going crazy at times.  Guard Roscoe Peters was very professional in signing the disbursement form and such even if he was distant.  Since this blog was discovered, professional but distant, would be the way to describe how most of the staff treats me.  No joking around and such, but that’s ok.  Many ask me about specific blog entries, especially the identify of the guard who had a drug problem.  I’ve taken to saying its all made up just to avoid the questions even though of course it isn’t.  Nobody buys it anyway as they all think they know who it is.  Anyway, one thing I haven’t covered here are the visits we get, mostly because since my arrival I haven’t had any.  But once you are called for a visit, such as Whalen was this weekend by the therapist who sent him the letter. (who by the way are doing quite well) You go into the room that doubles as the computer room on the top floor and as the library on the bottom.  Anyone in the room at the time has to leave.  It’s a video visit more like what you would do over a webcam or in a county jail.  The biggest problem you might have is the inmates walking by and checking out who is visiting with you and what they look like.  And of course, then the comments and catcalls you receive after.  It’s very easy for others to see the person because of the glass walls and the size of the screen.  I’m sure this is designed this way for security reasons though.  When Whalen finished, of course everyone in the room joked about his visit which he enjoyed.  The good thing about this cell is when people joke around with each other it doesn’t get taken too far, unlike some other cells here.  On Sunday I got to speak with my adoptive parents, Charles and Victoria Martin.  After wishing each other a Happy Easter, they let me know my ex-wife had had her father pass away a week prior.  Like many inmates I get annoyed with the time delay in getting news.  But what are you going to do?  I wrote her a condolence letter which considering how angry I used to be with her, is quite remarkable.  In it I shared a memory of her father, expressed hope that her and the kids were okay and told her I looked forward to seeing the family at Charles Martin’s retirement in July even though it also makes me nervous.  Honesty is good and this isn’t something I would have done almost 24 months ago. 


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP). Due to the snowstorm canteen got pushed back to Thursday night.  It didn’t matter to me though as I had somehow forgot to turn in my canteen order last week.  I’m the type to plan ahead so the only things I will come close to running out of were the prepaid stamped envelopes and single blade razors.  I used to think I couldn’t shave my head without my 4-blade Shick razor.   Now I can do it with a previously used disposable single blade razor.  The secret is just to take your time!  The rest of the night was pretty quiet except cellies Andre Charles and Brian Whalen arguing usually in a good natured way about who owes what to whom.   Today it was my ERP group member Scott Bunker’s turn to read his autobiography.  We were joined by intern Nikita which made all the guys happy. There were a couple of significant things I took from his story.  First, he said he had expected great things of himself as a kid and is saddened he won’t achieve it.  At the end I raised my hand and told him that he shouldn’t lose hope, that at 57, there is still time for him to do great things. I sensed in him a great despair, a beaten spirit.  I had similar thoughts when I was in Waukesha County Jail (WCJ) and occasionally as you’ve read, on this blog.  But we’re 4 months from release and if we don’t start believing now we never will.  Bunker has lost 6 1/2 years in prison to OWI offenses (he has 7) and lost his love of 26 years and another wife of 11 years due to it.  But it was clear he was still mourning the loss of his first wife not even able to look at pictures of her with her new husband or the kids with him.  I understand that pain too.  People we love move on without us and we feel the desperation in our hearts, wanting to cry out that they will wait and not forget.  In many ways, for us its like mourning the death of our loved ones or at least we think it is.  Truth is though, and as it was pointed out with Bunker, the opportunity for a relationship with them is there.  It’s just not the one we might want.  His first wife had reached out to him but he wasn’t receptive to what was offered.  That would have required him to let go of his anger and resentment.  But I think that anger and resentment was there to prevent him from feeling the pain that she is gone produces.  I so understand that.  But you may only make yourself miserable doing this.  I had to accept and extend forgiveness in order to move on.  It’s not an overnight thing or one where those feelings don’t come back some days.  But it gets easier.  I imagine it’s the same for the loved ones out of prison as they try to move on.  Anyway, Nikita struggled in asking questions but did okay.  We were done early again but this time there was no talk of real estate or such as Ms. Grey, our ERP Group Coordinator, didn’t allow it in front of the intern.  Our afternoon session began with a video called Good Intentions, Bad Choices, Overcoming Errors In Thinking featuring Stanton Samenow Ph.D by EMS Productions.  This video focused on bad intentions and choices then can be done by those newly out of prison or in recovery and unrealistic expectations.  It was far better than the video from yesterday.  We reviewed the worksheets from yesterday as well and then Ms. Grey brought in posters related to recovery or promotion of African American hero’s for ideals.  We taped them to the walls of the rec room that doubles as our group room.  It would have been pretty funny to watch all of us along with Ms. Grey and Nikita, none of us really knew for sure if any of this will actually stick to the wall.  But we’ll see.  We have this thing where we end each group day with reciting the mission statement I had written. In the confusion it’d been forgotten.  Group member Mark Hogan prevailed upon Ms. Grey to pull us all back together so we could do just that.   We were all still smiling as we finished and wished Ms. Grey and Nikita a good weekend.


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 remember when I told you about back pain from the foam I sleep on?  Well at breakfast this morning word got around that the juice carton called “Suncup”, 4 ounces distributed by Gregory Packaging, Inc., PO Box 5188 of Newark, NJ 02105, had mold inside the cartons.  The guard at the desk finally announced that we should not drink it.  MSDF is supposed to use it within 10 days of being unfrozen so who knows how it got moldy.  But this wasn’t the first time.  In addition to the lower back pain I’d had some physical symptoms.  I’m going to spare you the details but safe to say it’s related to output.  But as I talked with others it seems they too had similar symptoms.  I think MSDF is lucky this didn’t cause a serious health issue.  I returned to my cell.  Weekends are different here.  After count, the lights are turned off again and everyone sleeps again.  I took advantage to shower.  The showers here make the showers at Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI) looking sparking clean.  There is grime and mildew built up on the puke green walls that make me feel like I need a tetanus shot, once I came out.  If my immune system keeps me infection free here my oncologist will be impressed. I also shaved my head with a single blade razor, just like I did back at Dodge Correctional Institution (DCI).  It’s not fun especially since I’ve gotten used to double blades.  When I got back to my cell, everyone was awake – and feuding.  It seems Malik Pearl was upset when he overheard Brian Whalen and Andre Charles talking about him, which he accused Andre of instigating.  Andrew dose have a bit of an instigator in him.  As usual, I stayed quiet. I’ve learned to be content alone, and not worry about such things.  But after Andre and Brian left Malik told me he wasn’t going to hang with those guys anymore.  But he often isolates like I do anyway.  I’m betting it’ll all be better soon.  The night was pretty uneventful.  We all watched “COPS”.  Ironic, huh?  When I went to sleep, I don’t have a clue why, it was much worse than normal.  I was up and down in various positions on my bunk.  The next morning Malik and Andre were all over wondering why I stare into space for what seems like forever, sitting up every time they looked up.  Andre made the comment I must have a lot on my mind and it got left at that.  But I’m sure they know I’m not completely normal.  It does give me pause.  I mean someday I’ll be free and hope to have a relationship again.  Will I be afraid to allow them to see this side of me or be afraid to explain it?  I wonder if this is why I tried so hard to hang onto my ex-wife and family not wanting to have to go through the process of creating new relationships.  It’s hard just doing that much less adding in our baggage to the equation.  Despite my problems, I believe God will guide me in this area if I trust him and don’t rush it.  Easier said than done I know. 

All 4 of us in my cell are watching the San Francisco 49’ers lose to the Green Bay Packers and I’m going to enjoy the game.


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 up about 4 am at Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI) knowing it was my day to go, so I could shave and shower as experience has taught me there are no guarantees how things might go initially.  Then I went back to my bunk and slept.  About 7 am, the guard woke me up and told me it was time to go.  I cleaned up my remaining linens.  My cellie told me “not to let the door hit me in the a—“ with a smile on his face.  They told me to walk down to Unit 10 where another inmate named Scott Bunker on his way to MSDF for ERP as well joined me.  He had gotten to keep his electronics the last 5 days!  The guards gave him a hard time about that in a good natured way.  They pretended to strip search us and then got on the same kind of bus that brought me to FMCI.  We were joined by John Lloyd, who had managed to get staffed straight to ERP at MSDF from Dodge Correctional Institution (DCI).  I let him know how totally lucky he was.  John was in for his 5th DUI and Scott was in for his 7th DUI.  John had some good news.  He had reviewed the “handbook” on each institution and our ERP was only 13 weeks!  I was on cloud 9!  I’m going to be out by April!  We got to MSDF, which is across the street from the Milwaukee County Courthouse and got sent to a holding cell.  Everything screams a county jail to me here from the dingy walls to the layout of the facility.  They took the greens issued to me my first day in prison.  They gave me bright yellow clothes with a white t-shirt.  I look like a banana!  Then they went through my property.  Turns out I got to keep everything except the clothes I bought out of the catalogs, including my electronics which everyone said I couldn’t keep.  Now I’m in a great mood!  They threw away my old badge, gave me a new one and the nurse checked in.  All of the staff was by far the most professional and courteous I’ve seen in my time in jail or prison.  Then we got lunch.  Oh boy.  It was some kind of hoagie and it tasted awful.  Again, the food resembles county jail food.  Well, I wanted to lose weight so I’ll get that wish.  I got to the 4th floor where I was assigned a cell.  Top bunk again of course.  It’s a 4 person cell with 4 full length grayish blue lockers in front, 2 bunks on each side, 2 TV stands on each side, and 2 desks.  The walls are a dingy white with a maroon door.  Just like a county jail its a 2-tier setup. My 3 cellies were all there and they clearly weren’t expecting me as my locker and TV stand were being used.  Then they dropped the bomb on me.  Its actually a 24-week program.  We’re talking June release.  I got bummed.  How could I be so stupid as to believe inmate information?  We’ve learned this over and over again.  I got settled in, figured out where the TV shows I watch were.  I’ve got till December 13th to get used to this place.  I’m so very tired.


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  It was quite the day.  Pops went to the hole after the put off inspection took place.  No one is quite sure how or why they happened to pick him to have his bunk inspected.  But as it turned out he had every kind of contraband he could get his hands on – hooch, tobacco, etc.  when they tore apart his bunk.  In fact, 3 hours after inspection the guards were still going through his things and getting them boxed up.  Everyone has long known he was engaged in things but we turned a blind eye.  I did get called to see the doctor today and I asked them to make sure he had blankets.  When I was in chemotherapy I remembered how cold I got.  They were noncommittal.  I thought if these are the compassionate ones he’s in trouble.  But in all fairness to them, it sounds like his problems predate my arrival by a considerable amount.

Then this morning I saw something I’ll probably never see again.  I got up at 4:50 am and as I approached the desk I saw an officer… and an inmate…. singing together!  They were trying to figure out a song title and first she (the officer) would sing, then the inmate, then the two together.  I grinned from ear to ear.  I’ve never seen such a sight!  They must have seen me grinning, because the guard commented that she never sees me sing.  She is correct.  As others will attest, when I sing in the shower the water goes the other way!  They don’t want to hear me sing.  But I said nothing.  I don’t really want, well really its that my default position is to not pursue personal relationships, in general, not just with blue shirts (guards).  So that’s probably a defect in my personality.

Then tonight I got some great news!  They are finally going to let me have my property!  Which includes my electronics like my TV!  Finally!  I’ll be able to NOT watch Maury Povich and Jerry Springer if I choose!  And I’ll get to listen to NPR when I want.

Finally, I got to get canteen after awhile.  Can you imagine the reaction of a  man dying of thirst given lots of water  That’s right, yours truly is on a bit of a sugar buzz!  It’s just because I haven’t had any sweets for a long time.  I’ll settle down tomorrow.  But for now, it’s good to be me. 

Like I said, an eventful day it has been.  I’m going to go bounce off the walls and actually be sociable for awhile.  Now that’s a mood that rarely strikes me here! 

If your wondering about the title to this entry, there was a scene in the production of “West Side Story” that had a cop and a character singing together.  Which after this mornings duet inspired me to name it so.