Posts Tagged ‘Where’


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 am at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  After little sleep the previous night I wasn’t looking forward to hearing the essays from other group members for their ERP Goals and Objectives as I thought I’d fall asleep.  Of course I was wrong.  I’m not going to go into the rest of the readings except for one person because to a large degree many just plagiarized, almost word for word in some cases, what they read to the group.  Once you get to know a person you know when the words that come out aren’t their own. And of course several told me they did copy outright.  It may not be an entirely bad thing.  If you copy material, it still has to travel through the hand to the brain and back again.  The mission may be accomplished despite the unorthodox delivery.  Granted I’m reaching here but trying to put the best construction on the situation.  The last person to stand up and read was ERP Group member Scott Dietz.  Dietz has kind of become the one in the group whom everyone doesn’t like too much.  As noted before he tells what would be considered wild stories about his success in business and his travels.  Plus he has the annoying habit of always trying to top whatever story is being told particularly with his cell mates.  That won’t make you a lot of friends.  Dietz has also become known for registering uninformed opinions in group on what other members would say or do and do so in a manner that was unfriendly.  It was perceived he would do this to gain favor with ERP group leader Ms. Grey.  If that was the case it didn’t work.  Ms. Grey and Dietz would clash every couple weeks or so over some issue and she gave him a huge workbook on self-esteem for a treatment goal as she saw through his stories too I’m sure.  When he finished reviewing his materials for the group. Where they had been laid back in questioning others, now picked up the pace and the questions were more pointed.  Clearly there was some retaliation going on, though the questions weren’t appropriate.  I’ve learned that its not what you ask but how you ask it that makes all the difference.  My question was “Why was our opinion of you so important in that you share all these things about your life?”  I didn’t accuse him of lying and made the subject of the question about the value you place on our opinion of you. The response I got floored me as it had nothing to do with the question.  Dietz went on a rant about how certain people get away with everything, how he has been physically attacked with guards and inmates and nothing was done about it and how he has been mistreated by Ms. Grey.  I was just shocked as I think the rest of the room was too.  We found out why soon.  It seems last week an inmate who was cleaning the bathroom asked Dietz not to use the facilities after lunch though its commonly accepted practice here you have to clean around people.  Dietz insisted so the inmate took a swing at him in full view of Peters who is the regular 1st shift guard and the other unit manager.  The unit manager ordered a meeting between these inmates and their social workers.  That meeting was to take place right after our group and that’s why Dietz’s mind jumped there at my opinion.  After the meeting had begun, everyone in the dayroom in their rooms attention were fixated on the drama that was unfolding.  At first it looked like Dietz was going to get his wish as a witness who was known to be friendly with him came in and gave his version of events.  The accused inmate stormed out of the meeting and was confined to his cell.  We all assumed he’d get kicked out of ERP and go to the hole for sure.  But then a swamper who had just graduated ERP and another came forward and claimed nothing happened even though it was common knowledge  on the cell block it did happen.  That inmate then was summoned to return from his cell.  They were both given interventions which is additional work given by an ERP group leader to address a specific issue which will be shared with the group Thursday at the community meeting.  Things had backfired on Dietz in a big way on this.  He had wanted to get the inmate thrown out but now got extra work, the humiliation of bringing it up to the whole group Thursday, having to say he was wrong even if he doesn’t feel that way and draw the disrespect and of the inmates for “going to the police” on another inmate.  Of course he went around saying this happened because the black inmates stuck together (the inmate who swung and his witnesses are black) and how they’re shown favoritism.  My thought is he is just digging his hole deeper and deeper.  I’m so glad I keep to myself and don’t embrace confrontation here as I don’t think this is going to end well for him. 


I am at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  After dealing with the crabby guard, our ERP group leader, Ms. Grey, showed up along with intern Nikita and after our normal breathing exercises and prayer we began Week 13 processing of the ERP goals and objectives that had been decided on.  First up, just like when the autobiographies were read was group member Larry Sands.  His goals and objectives dealt with anger and grief dealing with the deaths of his son and father.  Just like when he read his autobiography, Ms. Grey jumped on him for failing to apply the books he’d been given to read to himself.  To be honest she was right.  He really hadn’t.  Next up was John Lloyd.  Lloyd has had something kind of odd go on with him as he’s lost partial muscle control in his left eye, unable to move his left eye all the way to the left.  I became alarmed over the possibility that a minor stroke might be taking place so I encouraged him to submit a blue form to the Heath Services Unit (HSU) on Sunday.  Plus his color is ashen.  I hope I’m wrong.  Anyway, it was kind of interesting, Lloyd read his essay on grief over the death of his father copying a poem from his book and essentially doing a book report as well but Ms. Grey complimented his efforts.  Then he read the letter to his deceased father and broke down in tears several times throughout.  Where Ms. Grey and Nikita were sitting they couldn’t see it but group members Russ Johnson and Kevin House sat and mocked him for doing so.  At the end she motioned group member Scott Bunker to go up and give him a hug.  The people in the room, already silent, shifted their eyes downward and everyone was uncomfortable.  He did give him the hug startling Lloyd.  There was little follow up to the reading of the letter.  We broke for lunch.  Sands caught up with me going on and on about how Ms. Grey was targeting him.  He clearly wanted my agreement.  I just told him she’s trying to reach you, trying not to take the bite.  Prior to the group starting after lunch the topic was the hug given by Bunker to Lloyd.  To Bunker’s credit, he said he didn’t mind.  But Lloyd and the rest just ripped on Bunker and Ms. Grey for it.  As is my custom I sat and listened.  But I knew on one level they were right.  You don’t hug in prison period and that includes MSDF.  If we were in a treatment group outside here I suspect it would be a different situation.  After lunch it was my turn.  First I read my essay on forgiveness based in part on the book Houses of Healing where I told of my path to forgive my biological father for the things that happened.  I read my second essay on the book of Anger Is a Choice by Tim Lahaye.  I also read my letter forgiving my father which came out more confrontational than forgiving.  Ms. Grey seemed ok with what I’d done and there wasn’t much feedback just like with everyone else except Sands.  I noted at the end that the nightmares and aversions to socializing I deal with are still there.  Later that day at mail call, I received a letter from my ex JoAnn.  She wrote she’s been dating a new guy who has been helpful to my former step-daughter Lisa.  I’m not the first guy in prison whose family’s needs are being met by a new guy.  Doesn’t make it any less painful of course.  I spent a good portion of the night unable to sleep.  I, like most of us guys in prison with families, know in the back of our mind this was going to happen.  But when faced with the reality it still hurts.  The next morning after a couple hours of sleep I prayed for their happiness and asked for the strength to put it behind me and to look forward.  After all, what else can I do?


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 haven’t written in about a week because I wanted to focus on getting my autobiography done.  Yes, it’s done.  Thirty pages it took and I was extremely detailed particularly in my early life not just the broad strokes I gave you.  I’m sure I’m going to get a lot of strange looks and treatment from some group members but I feel its important I be honest.  To get you caught up on what is going on, we lost the dryer on our unit for several das.  We had to use the washer for our clothes and then hang them in our cells, from the bunks, TV stands and such making the cell block look like a homeless camp with the smell of mildew in the air.  Those that work out a lot had the worst of the situation.  I had an interesting encounter.  I had my laundry bag lined up in order to get washed.  But the swampers in cahoots with my neighboring cell pushed their bags in front of min, claiming that 2nd shift guard Ruth Bartowski had told them to do so and she was going to take these folks over to the other cell bock where there was a working dryer which in fact she did.  Why Bartowski did this is unknown to me.  The fact all those guys were black and led some to conclude they felt they could do this to me (step in front of me) was because “I wasn’t tan enough.  The only problem with that is Bartowski is white.  But as I’ve said, this place is far more open about racial prejudice than anywhere I’ve been.  But I’m 20 weeks from release.  No way I screw it up over something like this.  In my ERP group, I got jumped on by group members Larry Sands and Scott Dietz for wanting “to fix people” especially in regards to my conflicts I’ve had with Andre Charles.  It is true people find me easy to talk to and some say, including Andre, think I help them.  I wish I knew a way to make it my life’s work.  But its clear to me that they have no idea what it is like to live with him.  By the time it was over, Sands and I were yelling at each other.  Russ Johnson, who has taken his turn as group leader and is experienced at treatment says this is typical of treatment group sessions.  They did ask me one important question.  Where did this need to fix people come from?  Was it because I couldn’t save my biological mother or even my biological father or others who suffered?  The other accusation was I manipulate people by helping them to my viewpoint or desired action.  I suppose to a degree it’s true.  Ms. Grey, ERP Group Coordinator, handed out a track called “King Baby” by Hazelden that seems to point to that (it’s an excellent read by the way) along with many other personality types.  But its something to consider.  We finished up through Chapter 8 of “Houses of Healing” book and read letters we wrote to our inner child.  In general they were, including mine, well pretty general.  But that’s ok.  We also watched a movie called “Antwone Fisher” starring Denzel Washington that was quite good.  Everyone in my cell is getting along.  Nothing has changed on where I’m going when I get out.  I still don’t know.  But I got an interesting letter.  My sponsors monitor my email and relatives of my biological father have made contact.  I had had out feelers for years on ancestry.com and they finally found them.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet.  It’s not as simple an answer as you might think.


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP). One thing that started yesterday was that it was our cells turn to clean the upper tier of the cellblock after each meal for the next two weeks.  We each get plastic gloves from the desk and go upstairs and clean.  Clean what, is the problem.  I’m the kind of guy that wants to know my assignment and let me go and get it.  I have little patience for “busy work” or standing around wondering what to do.  But if your not cleaning the bathroom that is essentially what you are doing.  So in a really weird paradox, the one job you’d think nobody would want – cleaning toilets and sinks – everyone in my cell wants to do so we’re not guessing what to do.  Of course, I find something to do.  I sweep the tier though I actually pick up very little.  I want to do this every time so I can know what to expect, but the other guys in the cell don’t want to do that.  They want to discuss what job each person will do each time.  My thought process/reaction is probably like this: “Oh man give me the worst job each time so I can get this done and move on.  Just STOP TALKING!”  A few companies I worked for as an IT guy and Software Developer, I chafed under the same idea that talking equals work.  In some ways, I find the discussion more stressful and complex than the actual work.  My ex-wife knew enough to give me a list of things to do and then get out of my way.  If this is a character defect or character asset, you decide.  But I’ve been like that since I can remember.  Everything was fine until breakfast.  I pulled out my broom to sweep the tier but not everyone was done eating.  One guy said to me to wait till everyone was done so dust wasn’t in their food.  He was right of course.  My problem was he yelled it to me in front of everyone.  Again, another pet peeve of mine is being called out in front of others.  I prefer one on one.  But that won’t happen all the time.  I said nothing and waited, then swept.  The guys then went to their ERP group.  Last week, no one cared if those of us not in the program slept during the day.  Today they cared.  We’ve seen guards who make up the rules as they go, but I’m convinced that wasn’t the case this time.  The guard came to my door and I was sitting on my bunk so he moved on.  But moments later Malik Pearl came with a smile on his face told me I can’t sleep even if I’m not part of the ERP group yet. I asked what prompted all of this and he replied that even though we weren’t part of the ERP group we still had rules to follow.  I then observed Malik and Andre Charles and the social worker talking and pointing up to the cell.  I’ pretty sure I know what’s going on here.  In their ERP group there was a discussion concerning non=program people and that complaint got raised which got the guard involved.  The guard, they don’t just suddenly get a spurt of ambition and create a rule that didn’t exist before.  Now whether Malik and Andre were behind it, I’m not sure but the fact Malik showed up right after the guard came by and announced the rule tells me I’m going to have to remember though they share my cell, they are not to be trusted.  It disappoints me as I would like to build a circle of people I trust.  But even though this is the ERP, I’m still in prison and I can’t forget that. 


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  Happy Thanksgiving to all of you reading this!  It’s November 25, 2010 as I write this.  I realize by the time you read this it will be probably closer to Christmas than Thanksgiving.  Such is the nature of this blog – the delay is intentional.  But I want to take this opportunity to thank those of you who have read this blog, many of you who have shared and/or expressed support via comment or email and to those of you who have someone inside whom you love and care about and possibly this blog has somehow helped you.  I thank you for not abandoning them, even though this separation is the toughest battle your relationship has endured.  Nobody but you knows how much you silently suffer.  Special thanks goes to Rebecca, Steve and Jill who have followed me almost since my first day, giving encouragement to me and giving a voice to those who aren’t able to be heard.  You all have put into practice the words of the Sermon on the Mount.  Another special thank you to Dr. Rachel Cook, my oncologist at University Hospital who was an awesome advocate for me, very patient, and expertly defeated my cancer. I also thank the few of my friends I had prior to prison who have not forgotten me.  I will always remember you and all I’ve thanked the rest of my life.  This blog and all of you have far helped me more than I have gotten from you, trust me on this. My biggest thank you goes to the sponsors of this blog who have tirelessly typed up the chicken scratch of my handwriting, managed this blog with expertise and dedication, in a pinch have helped me, and even provided a newspaper subscription. Quite frankly, none of this is possible without you and words aren’t adequate to express the amount of gratitude owed to you. Many of you that got involved hadn’t even known or worked with me previously.  That’s simply just awesome!  So thank you!  Finally, I thank God!  It was one year ago this week that my cancer was diagnosed.  It was the culmination of the absolute worst year of my adult life.  Where the loss of my wife, family, career, friends, music and finally my health were realized and just when it seemed it couldn’t get any worse, the isolation and despair of those days at Dodge Correctional Institution of early 2010 occurred.  It seemed you (God) had completely deserted me.  But it became clear that I had deserted him (God), refusing because of my silly pride and being concerned with material things and people I couldn’t control, had refused to seek help to stop the bleeding of my heart, mind and soul.  But you (God) were always there waiting for me to learn that simple yet difficult lesson.  The lesson is I don’t have the answers and I must surrender on a daily basis as I move forward.  This is 1 lesson I’ll continue to learn for the rest of my life.


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  The fallout from the institution wide shakedown has continued. Several times a day people are paged to report to the social worker’s office from the guard desk.  When the page comes from the guard desk and not from Ms. Greer you know this isn’t going to be a visit to that office that will end well.  People are going there for ticket hearings and are being told to bring property receipts with them that prove the confiscated property belonged to them.  Bunk confinement of varying length is the normal punishment.  Every once in awhile someone actually wins a hearing.  You know they did as they celebrate like they scored a touchdown.  Slowly but surely life is returning to normal. Somehow the smokers managed successfully to hide tobacco though I hear the asking price for a rolled cigarette has gone up to four to five dollars of canteen from two to three dollars.  Clothing bought from the catalogs that was lost is the biggest issue for folks as buyers and sellers are trying to get together on a price.  Where am I at on this?  My little routines I hang onto to preserve some organization from the chaos around me at at times my mind can sink into serve me well here. Additional clothing or property just for luxury sake would disrupt the routines I’ve developed.  I know that sounds weird but if you’ve been reading awhile you’re used to it by now.  Occasionally the guys laugh at me because for many things I do everyday I do them like clockwork. I don’t care if they laugh.  Their opinions matter little. It’s usually good natured.  One of the guys I’d call one of the winners around here is being released Monday.  A strong Christian who was liked by all he is one of those guys that has a personality that can light up a room.  He’s headed to Texas where he has a wife and church to support him.  Originally FMCI would have taken him via bus to Fond Du Lac, WI (thirty miles away) and let him off at a bus station as they do all who are released and have no one to come get them or some other arrangement through a Parole Officer or something like that.  He wrote to a church in the area just out of the blue and someone responded indicated a willingness to pick him up here and give him a ride to the airport.  How cool is that?  That’s the kind of courage I need to learn.  We also got a new guy in who opened up to me out of the blue.  It seems he was approved for Act 28 release but the judge in his case had denied him.  They have to let him go in February, and when I pointed out to him he most likely would have been on electronic monitoring for 6 months had he gotten early release, he indicated he didn’t care.  He’d been down for eight years and the only thing that mattered was getting home to his kids. Inwardly I smiled. I so understand that desperation and desire.  Finally, congratulations to Chris Tomlin, one of my favorite Christian artists, on finally getting married this week.  I wish the very best to him and his new wife!

 


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  I had the second part of my root canal done today.  One of the differences in my trip to the dentist and your trip to the dentist is there is no idle chatter about the weather, how you are doing or your job.  I kind of prefer this actually because the dentist isn’t trying to make conversations while digging in my mouth.  I always did find that annoying.  Today’s trip was to apply filler to the enamel I guess.  The only snag was the infection he had hoped to eliminate with  antibiotics last time was still there, so he rinsed it with peroxide.  If there was a difference this time it was me.  This time I was running a low grade fever and my sinuses were plugged.  If you’ve ever gone to the dentist in such condition, it makes it suck even more.  Once he finished, he said, “All done”, and walked away.  The hygienist told me I’d be back in 2 weeks once the enamel had hardened. I returned to Unit 9 and my bunk.  I’ve spent a good part of the last 2 days there because of my touch of the flu.  If I’d had to go to work though I would have.  I’m not alone on the flu thing.  A lot of guys are running around here sniffling and such.  I am not surprised.  As you might imagine, this is a ripe environment for the spreading of the flu.  A day ago I saw a younger man at the sinks in the bathroom bent over and blowing his nose into the sink.  It took everything in me to keep from berating this person.  But prior experience has taught me that I would accomplish nothing by talking to him.  But its just another reason I can’t wait to have my own place again someday.  It’s part of being in prison, part of the penalty for my crime.  Deprivation of a basically hygienic environment is not thought of as a part of your sentence by judges, lawyers or defendants, but trust me, it should be.  But really, how could the DOC do it any differently, assuming that they’d actually want to?  Where there is a mass of people, germs will flourish.  They can’t provide things like bleach because it can be used as a weapon so the situation is what it is.  My attitude has changed since my early entries on this.  It’s just acceptance of the fact that these conditions are beyond my control and stressing on it will do no good.  Still, I recommend Howie Mandel or other germaphobes stay out of prison.  It won’t be good for their psyche.