Posts Tagged ‘Whether’


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Our ERP social worker Ms. Grey started off the day finishing up the workbook The Price of Freedom is Living Free. Relapse, Recidivism, and Recovery by Jack. D. Cooper and the video that goes along with it.  She pointed out the entry on the last page (52) entitled “The Beginning” really sums up the choices before us, to live free or to live in bondage.  I wish I had the space to share it but I sent my copy to the blog sponsors and they can link or post it per their choice. Here is the excerpt:

“The Beginning – Those of use who have made the choice to live free understand that the choices we make will always have a price tag.  We just need to be clear on what price we are going to pay:  the price for freedom or the price for bondage.  Both choices in living are available to us.  The pay-off for our old values in living are consistent and predictable…standing for count, random strip searches, the constant roar of inmates, correction officers, concrete and steel or waiting for that letter that won’t come.  What price are you going to pay?  In making your decision, you might ask yourself, “Am I prepared to spend another month, decade or lifetime locked up for a few hours of excitement here on the street?”  If your answer is yes, the system will gladly refund your misery. The choice rests with you.

Whether we are locked up or on the streets, we can choose to live free.  As “values” in living are rational, sound and sensible.  We recognize that we possess the ability to feel, appreciate and understand, as we learn to change the internal and external condition of our lives.  We can take care of ourselves while simply caring for others.  We can start living our own lives usefully, respecting other people’s rights to live as they choose.  We will understand that getting is not always better than giving, and that chasing objects and holding attitudes that set us apart from other people are not as important as seeking values that will bring us together.  Finally, we will see that we’ve been brought back into being…living with value and living free.”

For lunch we were having chicken salad, one of the better meals here.  For me as a swamper, what it meant is we would go through more bread than normal.  We’re usually provided 3 loafs of bread for the meal but inmates are accustomed to asking for and getting more than the 2 pieces allotted by the menu, which is okay, considering they cheat us on the quantity on most other things such as potatoes!  But toady I wasn’t going to be able to give more than 2 slices.  Inmates weren’t happy when I wouldn’t give more than 2 slices, but oh well. I treated them all the same, my cellies, guys at my table, everyone.  I told those who gave me a hard time they could come back for anything left over.  As I finished serving I heard a remark made by ERP group member Mark Hogan that since I’d become a swamper I was acting like a cop.  He was talking to someone else but clearly intended for me to hear it.  Like an idiot, I stopped at his table and asked him if he had something on his mind.  Fortunately he said no.  What would I have done if he hadn’t????  Of course, I didn’t let it go at that.  After the meal while I was cleaning up, I went to his cell and asked him what the problem was.  Hogan apologized and I reluctantly tapped his knuckles.  I don’t believe his apology but I’m betting he was smarter than me today knowing nothing good would come from this.  At our afternoon ERP session, Ms. Grey showed a movie I think we’ve seen before called Smoke Signals, a movie showing two Native Americans who attempt to overcome their own issues from their past each for their own perspective.It was obviously effective on some level for Augie Prescott as he was moved to tears.  I thought it was a good movie.  But I decided during the movie that this swamper experiment is going to have to end.  The reasons I took the job weren’t nearly as important to me as graduating.  ERP in 28 days on June 10th.  It had given me the material for my Phase 3 Goals and Objectives on improving socialization and patience so it wasn’t a total bust.  Only thing the guard who’d have to approve the change, Roscoe Peters, wasn’t working so I told the sergeant on duty I wasn’t feeling well.  I got the guy who had the job before me and who still wanted it to take over for me until Peters got back.  Many, including former cellie Malik Pearl who had tried to scheme him out of the job, weren’t happy he was coming back but I just don’t care.  I felt like a huge load was off my shoulders.  I got more good news.  In the mail, blog sponsors let me know my biological relatives had checked in and they were safe.  Also, cellie Brian Whalen who is being released Monday, that though he wishes to to maintain contact with the former swamper who wants to rob him, he is no longer willing to engage Whalen in any kind of business dealing since Whalen has a bit of a tendency to talk too much.  You think????  But Whalen doesn’t have any idea of the kind of bullet he has dodged.  Next week is the third PO call and our presentation of Phase 3 Goals and Objectives, while working on our legacy project.  Let’s keep it simple from here on out.

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I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  After the afternoon count was cleared around 1 pm, as is my normal practice I walked around the track.  On my first lap, when I got to the front of the building I witnessed 2 people in a heated confrontation.  I couldn’t see exactly what went on but there was a lot of pushing and shoving in the least.  My policy with such things is to not involve myself in what is going on between people.  Whether you consider that policy to be right or wrong, it has kept me out of trouble. My priorities are different here than they were in the real world and those are dictated by self preservation.  So I continued on the track.  I was joined by another inmate.  I usually prefer to be left along out here but he seemed genuinely interested in my input into his situation.  I explained that the rehabilitation he was seeing will have to come from the inside. It’s not going to come from the prison system.  Unfortunately, another guy joined us who filled us in on the gory details on the stupidity I had witnessed.  A guy called “saddlebags” here because of his huge backside in comparison to the rest of his body had become upset with “Bill” for snitching on him about having a radio he wasn’t supposed to.  The pushing and shoving I’d witnessed had included them slapping each other.  Yes, I said slapping!  The way our friend who witnessed it had described it as that they were trying to impress him but had failed.  Now in all honesty, Bill is the kind of person whom everybody knows is a snitch, but he is the worst kind of snitch because he snitches not just to benefit himself but sometimes solely to hurt people.  With folks like this, you accept no favors and resist any attempts they made to pull you into their world or to get into yours.  I avoid Bill like the plague.  Saddlebags is the kind of person who will always be better than you, or so he says.  He talks real tough about hurting people but it doesn’t take a professional shrink to see the over compensation for his insecurities.  My few conversations with him I just let him believe everything and everyone he has is better than me.  His words don’t change the facts as I see them.  Do I doubt Saddlebags story that Bill snitched on him?  No I don’t.  Did he gain any street cred here for slapping Bill and yelling profanity?  No he didn’t.  In fact, people are laughing at him even more than they had because of the slapping involved.  The reaction from the rest of the inmates wasn’t to take sides but to try to stoke the fire of the disagreement between them just because to them it was entertaining to watch each one react to the stimulus the feud gave them. I know I’m supposed to feel empathy for people but all I can really do here is roll my eyes and hope they both stay away from me.