Posts Tagged ‘week’


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 ran out of space in the last entry to tell you something else that happened.  Perhaps you recall me telling you about the guy who came  in some time ago that was extremely medicated and everyone gave him a hard time.  Anyway, apparently he struggled so much with the written assignments that the man who is this groups social worker, Mr. Silver, finally pulled the plug and terminated him from the ERP program.  Silver has a reputation for running the most difficult program here, giving the most work and is known as extremely dedicated.  I didn’t think the guy who got kicked out would last as long as he did.  It is ironic that a man with mental illness that he can’t help and that he is being treated for with medication can’t make it here yet so many that have come here for this ERP program clearly don’t belong here make it.  This isn’t the fault of the staff here or MSDF but is a reflection of the money based culture of rehabilitation and how it relates to mental illness.  But I’ll stay off my soap box.  Again, it was incredibly warm Friday (June 3rd).  Nothing much of anything happened until second shift arrived and when our old friend guard Mike Metcalf reported for duty.  He started off quiet but quickly showed his true colors as he gave warnings to inmates for having fingernails that were too long, how their shirts looked and so forth.  It’s just as well.  The new guys got their introduction to what this guy is about and will hopefully steer clear, as those of us who have been here awhile do.  Another sign I’m mentally checking out of here is how it relates to food.  I’m not interested in accumulating food, even with the good stuff like the cupcakes we got with the fish.  I don’t want to make deals with others.  I’m not the only one.  ERP group member John Lloyd tells everyone he just wants to be left alone by everybody and he’s getting more and more vocal about it every day.  It stayed extremely hot in here through Saturday.  Our group continues to distract themselves with cards and ping pong games despite how hot it is in the dayroom and rec room.  The rec room doesn’t have any air movement at all.  At least the dayroom as 2 large fans to blow the hot humid air around.  The rec room, which will double as our ERP group room next week, has the 2 exercise bikes and 2 weight machines so all these hot sweaty bodies plus no air movement makes for a pretty onerous smell.  Also, the shower procedure put in place by guard Art Coleman isn’t being followed by the other guards.  Though we like that it’s going to create this guessing game when we should follow that procedure.  Sunday came and finally a bit of cool down before sweltering temps are expected to return next week.  Cellie Larry Sands got a visit by his brother and was happy his release clothes will be sent tomorrow.  Release clothes are exactly what they sound like.  The clothes got send to MSDF staff no more than 60 days before your release which you get to wear out the door.  In my case, I’m just going to wear my sweats I got off the catalog.  The blog sponsor getting me is bringing my clothes they got from Waukesha County Jail after I was transferred to prison.  Those were the same clothes I wore 758 days ago when this whole thing began though I doubt the pants still fit!  But at least the shoes will be in better shape than the ones I got off the catalog.  I finished the day by reaching out to Barb via letter about the situation with Lexi.  I want to put my best foot forward with her despite our past relationship.  I’m hoping to get more information about what happened.  It’s all I can do from this cell to positively impact this situation so I’m doing it.  Believe me I know it’s not enough but I’m trying.  Tomorrow (Monday) our ERP social worker Ms. Grey will be back and this will be our final week of the ERP program.  It’s almost over!

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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).  This past weekend confirmed what I already knew about a few things.  I knew cellie Larry Sands has a bit of a backstabber in him so it didn’t surprise me when new cellie Jose Michaels let me know he wasn’t my friend.  Sands and cellie Malcolm Johnson had asked me to take a turn to ask Michaels to turn off his radio at night.  I had agreed even though it doesn’t bother me all that much as I’ve been using earplugs.  But it allowed him and I to have a pretty in-depth conversation.  He has been in prison many times since 1990, never being free for more than 90 days at a time.  He’s a skilled mechanic and had gotten busted on drug charges.  But he is a thoughtful person and considers himself a  skilled psychologist and has little time for those who talk behind others backs or so he says.  Sands likes to criticize me when I’m not in the room, his favorite issue being that I think I’m so smart.  I don’t really care to be honest.  Speaking of being out of the cell, I actually played ping pong this weekend and I even actually won a game!  I beat Kevin House one game, but lost 2 others to him as well as to Sands and Michaels.  Les Simon is having trouble adjusting.  His impression is that it feels like a mental hospital.  It’s not too far off to be honest.  I helped him with a bag for his laundry but somehow he got in a tiff over the laundry procedure with others.  He’ll be ok though.  Monday came and it was eventful.  Right off the bat group members John Lloyd and Larry Sands got their rules for community supervision – the rules given by the parole officer (PO) which we will have to live by after our release – given to them.  Being that both were from Milwaukee County, they had a large number of rules, including banning cell phones and being put on the ROPE Program.  It allows police officers to enter your home at night and check for violations of rules or laws.  Lloyd was extremely unhappy with all the hoops as he called it they were making him jump through.  I do believe he is also as crabby as I had been.  Sands took it in stride though clearly he was unhappy too.  I’ll be getting my rules soon so I’ll be going into more detail on those then.  Then I asked if our ERP social worker Ms. Grey, had the printout of the graduation project.  She did not.  She made it clear no work on the board for the ERP graduation ceremony could happen until she got back the week of June 6th.  Of course, the group didn’t like that.  She then went to do PO calls for Sands and Lloyd while we watched Chalk Talk on Alcohol Revised by Father Martin, which incidentally is very informative.  After they returned, she dismissed us for the day, saying there was nothing to do.  She told Sands and I to return to our cells which was fine by us.  But he was unhappy Ms. Grey wouldn’t do anything to help him with his warrant after he had the nerve to ask the PO for help with the situation.  But we figured we’re largely done with group.  Ms. Grey goes on vacation Thursday and PO calls will dominate this week.  The following week she is gone and the next week is graduation.  At the afternoon session, we sat in the dayroom and it got noisy.  Guard Roscoe Peters had told us to quiet down.  Shortly after Ms. Grey returned calling us back into group.  She told us she had been ordered to do something with us during the afternoon session.  Although many groups are left unattended for hours at a time, we figured Peters snitched on her as there had been bad blood between her and the guards and well really everyone else as well which if you’ve been following along you’ve seen.  So back in group we went, this time watching a video from HBO targeting teens, warning them about the dangers of drinking and driving.  It actually wasn’t a bad video.  Meanwhile cellie Malcolm Johnson got back from HSU with a lower bunk restriction.  It meant either Sands or Michaels would have to give up their bunk, as they were on lower bunks.  Neither was happy.  But Sands had volunteered before to do so and now changed his mind which infuriated Michaels.  Peters decided not to do anything as both went down to make their case to him.  Sands and Johnson worked out a deal to switch bunks after next week but didn’t tell Michaels as they were sore at him still over the radio issue.  They want him to stew over losing his bunk.  But this whole thing isn’t about the radio, it’s jockeying to see who is running things in this cell.  It’s not me I’ll tell you that as I’m not getting involved.  I smiled that night after seeing movie advertisements on TV that will be coming out after I’m out.  There are so many things I’ve missed the last two years that I can’t wait to do again.


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Cellie Brian Whalen just as recently released forcer cellie Corey Ball, was released shortly after breakfast, about 7:15 am.  His parole officer (PO) came to get him.  Just like Ball and Andre Charles, he swore he’d write but I doubt he will.  It’s just Larry Sands and I in the cell for now.  We both dread having to take on new cellies with this short amount of time left for us but with a new ERP group starting next week, it is inevitable.  Most of the guys from the last ERP graduating class are still here because of various reasons such as judges haven’t signed off yet or problems with getting their place to live approved.  I’m grateful my situation, though not ideal, is pretty much set.  I started my ERP morning group session bringing with me the disc I had put all our graduation materials on to give to our ERP social worker Ms. Grey to be printed.  I was happy to be done.  The session started with Ms. Grey letting us know that she’d be on vacation the week beginning May 30th through June 4th and next week, the week of May 23rd, would be devoted to the final PO call for group members, though two members had their PO calls today. Augie Prescott had his call and no clue how things went.  But Mark Hogan also had his call and his parole was supposed to have been transferred weeks ago from Milwaukee County but no go.  They wanted to put him in a transitional living place (TLP) in Milwaukee if it doesn’t get worked out.  His response?  He wants to go back to PRC and have them send him to a minimum security facility once he graduates ERP.  He doesn’t want the more intense scrutiny of Milwaukee County than he would get at the rural county he wants to go and where he owns land.  So I get it.  The topic turned to our graduation project.  I gave her the disc.  I thought that would be the end of it.  We had a lot of spare time at the end of our morning session and Ms. Grey said it was extreme torture having to sit here with nothing to do which drew a big laugh from us with some commenting that she now knew how they felt.  It thought that whole thing was interesting.  In the afternoon session, she had returned with the disc I had given her and had complaints about how some of it was worded.  I said that was fine, she allowed me to go to the computer room and change that.  Once I came back, I gave the disc back to her but it was pretty clear they had been talking about the project and me while I was gone.  Ms. Grey claimed it was her idea that she was unhappy with the amount we had borrowed from the previous ERP class design though her words were strikingly familiar to the terms used by Larry Sands in his objections.  She took a vote and it was voted that they basically wanted to start over with a new transformer and colors, the bumblebee.  I was extremely unhappy.  After all it had been decided as a group previously, we had wanted as little work as possible to have to be done for this project.  It did mean Ms. Grey would have to find a new picture of a transformer.  And at least I’ll have a whole week to work on it.  But I won’t lie.  I am still unhappy.  We did our Phase 3 goal presentation today.  It took the tone of lets hurry up and get it done.  Little to no feedback from anyone really.  Tomorrow we are supposed to read our victim impact letters.  We were supposed to have gone over those in private with her and determine if it was going to be read to the group.  Now we’ll have 5 minutes to review it.  I’m guessing the time crunch is coming into play here.  We’re also supposed to review the ripple effect poster.  So it’ll be an interesting day tomorrow.  And I already can’t wait for it to be over with!


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  The day started off with a notice from one of the other ERP social workers that our ERP social worker, Ms. Grey, would not be in today.  We didn’t know why she wasn’t here but many of us didn’t mind.  With all the assignments piled on us as of late, many of us welcomed the break.  Of course we have another ERP graduation coming tomorrow so cellies Corey Ball and Brian Whalen are happy and bouncing off the walls as it’s not their turn.  Whalen and Ball both insist they’ll stay in touch.  I don’t put a lot of faith in this but you never know. I’ll be in Menasha, WI and they’ll be in southern Wisconsin so its pretty unlikely.  In light of the direction they both have indicated they’re going, it might not be wise to stay in touch anyway.  I’m happy to report my cravings and dreams have subsided.  A sponsor sent me materials on this and it seems its perfectly normal.  I remain irritable.  This swamper job isn’t helping that at all.  Our excitement for the day was started by members of the graduating ERP class.  They decided they wanted to call out several members of the group at the community meeting for poor hygiene.  Guess who was the focal point of this discussion?  My ERP group member Scott Dietz of course.  Unfortunately it is true as well. Many have complained about his smell.  Somehow, my cellie Larry Sands got roped into this.  They also went around to each room asking them to identify people who have issues with hygiene.  Sands asked me what I thought.  I urged him to make sure if they were going to do this they do it in such a way that doesn’t make the person feel attacked.  I suggested they call them out as a group, not individually.  Sands would eventually consult with another ERP Social worker, Ms. Carr, who would tell them to stand down because she’ll address it in the community meeting (again) and speak with the people involved individually.  So I thought that would be the end of it.  When the time for the community meeting came at 3, the time for issues in the community came up and sure enough Ms. Carr spoke up and said she’d be talking to the people on the list.  It probably would have stopped there had it not been for one guy on the list responded by just going on and on about various reasons why people might smell.  The former swamper who is planning on robbing Whalen and is graduating ERP tomorrow as well, spoke up and specifically called out Dietz for failing to wear deodorant and smelling up the rec room when exercising.  This was very bad.  His reaction is bad enough when he gets put on the spot in group.  How much more will it be in front of a group of 40!  They went at each other back and forth with Ms. Carr stepping in.  Dietz clearly was in a bad way as he made a face and sound of disgust at Ms. Carr that others close to him picked up on.  The other ERP social worker present acted as if she was going to challenge Dietz on that but didn’t.  Mercifully, we moved on.  Once again, community member participation is laughing.  Ms. Carr said we’d have to write down our responses to the quote, word of the week and defense mechanism if it didn’t get better like we did before.  By the way, the word of the week which Sussex provided was “sacrifice” which was explained extremely well.  He reminds me of when I was a new Christian.  Every conversation turns into a sermon on his part on how I should do this or that.  I told him at one point he talked too much, but with a smile on my face indicating no malice was intended.  He’s young and on fire for God.  Life taught me that not everything is as black and white as I thought it should be when I was young in matters of faith or love.  But I’m not going to say anything to him to make that realization come any sooner.  In that mindset people don’t listen well.  The night ended with Dietz working out and using the phones while sweating and smelling and everyone grumbling.  So this whole thing is obviously not over.


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  As I was being returned to my unit from the hole after 6 days for investigation on possible charges related to this blog but for which I’d been cleared.  I looked through the windows and saw regular 2nd shift guard Ruth Barthkowski who smiled at me and tried to work through the paperwork that was deficient with my arrival.  The inmates seated at the tables in the dayroom smiled as I walked in but I couldn’t tell what was behind it.  Barthowski began to give me the lay of the land right away.  Everybody now knew about the blog staff and inmate alike.  She also told me she had worked on people trying to get me out of the hole and I thanked her for it.  My property was still in Segregation and wouldn’t arrive.  I was assigned my old bunk and old cell which I was grateful for.  Barthowski took me up to the linen closet while I got the rest of my yellow outfits.  Guys at the tables in the dayroom welcomed me back but their body language indicated some mistrust.  Once I made it to my cell, ERP group member and cellie Larry Sands gave me the rundown of what had happened in group.  Apparently the night they took me last week the guard on duty, a by the book type named Mike Metcalf had announced I was on a bus back to Dodge Correctional Institution.  Regular first shift guard Roscoe Peters was upset over being named Roscoe.  Guys in my ERP group knew they hadn’t been named but still wanted to know what was said about them.  But probably the most interesting development was what had gone on with ERP group leader Ms. Grey.  The week I’d missed she had been smiling, engaging and being kind.  The last while she has seemed distant and combative.  But she had discussed my situation with the group telling them that day I returned that I was not going to return but then telling them something different later in the day.  It seems that yours truly who always sought to avoid attention was the focus of the entire pod this past week.  That and of course this blog.  My main concern wasn’t any of this though.  I was concerned about seeing Peters and Grey the next day.  What would they reveal about me?  I’ve laid myself bare on this blog.  But I also felt a sense of pride and strength, that no matter what might happen I was going to be ok.  That didn’t mean the anxiety about how tomorrow would go in group wouldn’t give me a restless night.  But as it turned out I shouldn’t have worried at all.  Peters wasn’t working on Friday .  And Ms. Grey was engaging and kind throughout the morning.  And then the most surreal thing.  In the afternoon session her and intern Nikita broke us into two groups and had us play Uno!  That’s right, the card game!  Everyone was smiling and had a good time.  Had Ms. Grey read the blog and not liked what she saw and decided to change things up?  Or did something else happen to cause the change?  Whatever it is it’s promising.  On another note, I’d considered asking the sponsors to shut down the blog, much as I did 15 months ago when I got cancer.  After with everyone here knowing about the blog, this may no longer be the typical prison experience.  But I’ve got bigger concerns.  The blog helped me and has helped others.  It’s worked up till now.  I’m going to stick with 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).  On Thursday afternoon we had our weekly Community Meeting.  Nothing was really remarkable about it until the floor was opened to concerns anyone might have and a new guy stood up and announced he was tired of how cliquey people were, the disrespect shown and how many inmates who have been here for awhile act like they have ownership of things here.  He went on to say from now on he was going to start pointing out people who were doing such things at future community meetings.  Throughout the room was stunned silence.  My ERP group leader Ms. Grey nodded her agreement, the other group leaders looked just as stunned as we were.  I’d find out later he was upset with his cellmates for farting in the cell instead of going outside to do that and for inmates trying to run the rec room.  He finished up his comments about how dedicated he was to this program, and he didn’t want that to have such things going on.  After an uncomfortable silence we moved on.  I did decide that night that with all the negativity going on I was going to pull into my shell even more that I have been.   I just feel like nothing is good is going to come out of hanging around people these days.  Maybe its because I’m 72 days to graduation and I fear all this work and time being for nothing because of some stupid incident.  The next morning began with Scott Bunker being sent to the hospital for his bleeding problem as it hasn’t gotten any better.  Graduation for another ERP group began at 9:30 am.  This was an OWI ERP group like us.  This group called themselves the “Unchained” group.  It was a nice ceremony, followed by cookies being given out.  I’m happy for them but my thoughts are on myself.  I have so little time left.  I’m happy but I’m afraid.  Where I’ll go, what I’ll do, how it will happen, these questions overwhelm the anxiety junkie in me.  I’ve learned to have faith during times like this, to surrender the illusion of control I cling to but I still have my moments of weakness.  After lunch we saw a video about the evils of inhalants (sorry, I didn’t catch the title)and on prescription drugs which was quite good, especially as it focused on elderly addiction.  At the end I brought up that I’d learned  that the TOP program in Waukesha County was applied to aftercare.  No housing was involved like she had said.  She insisted it was true though, and they’d explain it to me when they visited in mid-April.  I asked if I’d hear from them before my next parole officer (PO) call and she said no, that call was coming up next week!  It was like she had remembered herself that this was happening at that moment.  Anyway, around that time Scott Bunker joined us after his hospital visit so it would seem he must be ok.  The guards were unhappy today as they’ve installed electronic stations around the unit they have to check in with a gadget.  It ensures they’ve actually made their rounds.  But it’s okay.  Week 16 of 26 is complete.


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Cocaine and crack was the topic of our ERP group morning session. Again this wasn’t my thing but it was largely informative.  The first video we watched was Cocaine and Crack Back From the Abyss, another Hazelden production.  It described the hell cocaine addicts go through in the first part, the process of recovery in the second, and continued growth in the third.  We followed that with another Hazleden video called Cocaine Beyond the Looking Glass.  Though it appears quite old, the video effectively told the same story, with a particularly compelling story told by a man who lost his hand to cocaine psychosis.  We then took the cocaine/crack test.  As it turned out though, the literature contained factual errors.  It called cocaine a Schedule III drug and described cocaine being present in Coca Cola until 1904  though our ERP group leader Ms. Grey claimed it was between the 1940-1960 era.  Sometimes I feel like I’m in a third rate mail order correspondence course.  I try to present the facts to you and let you draw your own conclusions but sometimes my frustrations boil over.  Sorry.  Anyway, after the test was corrected, we had time for discussion.  The question of when our next parole officer (PO) phone call came up.  Many of us aren’t staying in the county of where our offense was committed upon release which requires a transfer, which will possibly include me.  For many that work isn’t complete yet.  Ms. Grey told group member Mark Hogan, who is trying to get to another county, he’d just have to talk to the PO in Milwaukee County if the work wasn’t complete.  He usually acts goofy and keeps everyone loose with his humor.  But he went off on Ms. Grey.  He told her if they were going to keep him in this county they may as well send him back in front of the Program Review Committee (PRC) and have him taken out of ERP.  The tone he took in the ensuing discussion was menacing, almost threatening.  It was so out of character, at least in what we had seen up to this point for him.  Ms. grey reacted very calm, almost coming across as if she was afraid of him, as she used a very soothing tone.  In conversations among us later, we were amazed Hogan was still in the group after that exchange.  After that she announced we all had to review our Phase II goals and objectives again to verify they were compliant with SMART – that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Reasonable, and Timely.  I had gotten min approved yesterday so I thought I was good.  But then she also announced she didn’t have everybody else’s goals and objective sheets even though everyone had turned them in.  This, of course, made everybody unhappy as people argued the point.  She had been referring to mine as not being SMART.  So now I approached her and asked what was wrong now.  The bottom line is it has to be rewritten.  Lunch was interesting, as the guys in the group just were freaking on Ms. Grey and how she appears to be not at all wanting us to succeed.  After lunch we saw the movie 28 Days starring Sandra Bullock and were assigned to a discussion sheet to fill out this weekend.  That night the theme of frustration continued as the new people coming in were trying to get in on the exercise bike and machines in the room that is our group room, that doubles as the rec room.  I’d seen fights nearly break out over the amount of time certain people spend on the machines so I stay away.  It’s not worth it.  But the new folks don’t know how it works and complained to guard Ruth Barthowski who tried to enforce the 30 minute limit on the machines that’s never followed.  This just ticked everybody off at the “snitches” though no one really knew who they were but that didn’t stop them from guessing.  Week 15 is over, but signs of stress, fatigue, with the environment and frustration are showing.  I suppose this is normal and was inevitable.