Posts Tagged ‘Winnebago’


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’s Friday and most everyone in our group is on edge awaiting news that their release paperwork has been returned by their judge having graduated the ERP.  It’s been 7 days since then.  Past groups that have graduated have always had more progress on getting people their paperwork than we have.  In addition, Milwaukee County has always been the slowest in processing this paperwork for past groups even though the courthouse is literally across the street.  My paperwork returned from Winnebago County on Wednesday and it’s a couple hours from here.  ERP group member Dean Stark became the first of the 10 of us to be released.  He left with no boxes just some papers in a bag.  I would be the next to get some news.  My C15 form authorizing MSDF to release me was sent by my parole officer (PO) Helen Gaither.  But the order was postdated for Wednesday June 22nd.  As our ERP social worker Ms. Grey informed me I admit to feeling disappointment at first.  I was hoping against hope to get released today or since Monday isn’t possible, Tuesday at the latest.  But as Ms. Grey walked away from me, I realized though I’m not getting out when I want, the fact the guesswork when I’m being released has been eliminated which rarely happens in this program.  As she left me, ERP group member Kevin House inquired if there was any news.  She told him “not to worry about it, you’re not going anywhere”.  You may as well have kicked him in the stomach because those words didn’t hurt any less.  What is she thinking?  This seems humorous to her, how the rats in the cage keep trying to find the way out.  We spent the rest of the day talking amongst ourselves off and on about what might be happening that is preventing the rest of the guys in our group paperwork from being processed.  At supper I again noticed the guard on duty reading my Green Bay Press Gazette before I got it.  Oh well.  At mail call I was delighted to again hear from my biological family.  My cousin expressed concern that I stay in touch after my release.  Are you kidding me?  I wrote back.  I’ve spent years looking for them.  No way am I going to stop talking to them. They like the idea of me visiting over Thanksgiving if I can arrange it.  They also want my phone number too which I should get when I pick up a cell phone on my way to my new home for the moment in Menasha, Wi.  I also heard from my friend Jill who has been following this blog almost since it started.  She is from Australia and has become a good friend.  She invited me to Sydney, Australia!  Of course, I suspect this would violate my parole!  But maybe someday.  I also want to see Israel and the West Bank someday as there is so much there related to my faith.  But that will have to wait too.  The day ended with ERP group member Scott Dietz again talking to his sister and again the same result.  No action on their cases.  Everyone says it doesn’t bother them but their eyes betray them.  I am grateful that it will soon be 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).  With ERP social worker Ms. Grey on vacation until June 6th, I anticipated a slow, boring Tuesday after Memorial Day.  It seemed like the biggest challenge we would be dealing with would be the heat.  The holiday weekend had brought summer like weather, with temperatures in the high eighties with extreme humidity.  It makes me grateful I won’t be here in July and August as I graduate this program June 19th and am anticipating release by June 20th.  I busied myself Tuesday morning with the assignments Ms. Grey had left us with.  I did the A and B plan, which lists what our plan is upon release, both a primary and a fallback plan.  I’ve been planning for that in some way almost every day as the blog sponsors will tell you!  As anyone will tell you when getting released, those kind of plans are tough as there are so many variables involved.  One variable changes or complications occur and the whole plan radically changes.  The other assignment was to write a paragraph on possible release triggers that we select from a list in a pamphlet.  I did 7 paragraphs.  Again, it’s obvious common sense stuff.  I know to stay away from bars, be honest, and get out of my head.  The general consensus is this is busy work for while Ms. Grey is gone.  It took me 2 hours to finish it all.  Most of the other guys in the group did theirs last week.  I pulled out the A edition of the encyclopedia and started reading.  Group member Kevin House indicated he wanted to change the quote for the graduation project program I’d worked on.  I felt like this might be an opportunity to fix the errors Ms. Grey made when she made changes to it.  We’ll have to wait and see if there’s time when she gets back.  Otherwise, we spent the day battling the heat and trying to stay occupied.  Cellie Malcolm Johnson as anticipated, is having some difficulty not stating his opinions in a constructive manner in Ms. Carr’s group as he came back upset with how they’re trying to “muzzle him”.  I’m sure  he’ll learn how it works here.  He sees things through the prism of racial bias, which while that is an element, it can’t be your focus.  Otherwise, as with a prism, it distracts your view of everything else.  Mail call was done early tonight.  My heart dropped when I saw an envelope addressed to me from the Winnebago County Courthouse.  Letters from such places are never good news and when you’re this close to release are grounds for a  heart attack.  The news isn’t good but it wasn’t about me.  I have a daughter from the relationship prior to JoAnn.  Her name is Lexi.  Her mother, Barb, through the years did everything she could to prevent Lexi and I from having a relationship.  She was the kind of person that wouldn’t hesitate to call the police and make up a story about you which is actually what let to our breakup.  I focused on JoAnn’s kids after she had begun making untrue allegations against JoAnn and later on against my adoptive parents, Charles and Victoria Martin concerning the treatment of her son from another relationship, Eli.  Lexi and I were very close while we were together and she loved JoAnn and the kids when we got to spend time with them.  But this paperwork indicated that Lexi had been removed from the home and they wanted to change her placement because of violence in the home which they were blaming on Lexi.  It was so unlike the loving, sweet, shy girl I’d known.  Eli had been removed from her home for similar reasons a  few years ago.  Since Ms. Grey was on vacation and the hearing is June 2nd (today is May 31st) I went to another ERP social worker Ms. Nell Presley, for help.  I wanted to at least attend the hearing by phone but would need their help to do so.  She didn’t seem motivated at all but said she would try.  She is the same social worker that divulged journal info to former Andre Charles.  Whenever you get legal papers, other inmates see that envelope and immediately know something’s up.  I briefly described it.  I’m just numb.  Why are all my kids following down my path?  And my father’s path?  And his father before him?  I feel extreme guilt and sadness.  I’m powerless to do anything behind these prison doors and I know that.  I just so wish I was there and able to meet her needs.  All I can do is pray and say how sorry I am which of course won’t help anyone at all. 


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 soon as ERP social worker Ms. Grey got our group in session that morning, I immediately asked her about who were the guys with warrants.  It has been the topic of conversation with us since she dropped that bomb the day before.  Obviously, we’re making plans for our release in 21-31 days.  Whoever of us have the warrants, it’s going to present a complication.  Ms. Grey said the people were cellie Larry Sands and group member Augie Prescott.  Sands had thought it was possible it was him but he reasoned it was a good thing as once he sits in Waukesha County Jail for the fine he owes he’ll actually get released before the rest of us will.  For Prescott, it’s a little more complicated.  His interstate compact had just been approved.  How this will affect everything for him is unclear.  But then Ms. Grey told him she wasn’t sure it was him, thus continuing the uncertainty.  I’m not worried about this.  But I feel for Prescott and Sands.  We started out taking the test we took when we first started our ERP group.  This time we corrected each others.  I got 6 wrong.  I don’t remember how I did last time.  Then she announced our second test will actually have to wait.  Apparently there are things we hadn’t covered yet so we couldn’t take the test.  Two things of interest that happened in our morning session.  First, former cellie Malik Pearl and one guy in his cell were the last ones left from the last graduating ERP class were moved to the ninth floor.  Pearl’s paperwork hadn’t returned from the Brown County Judge involved after 14 days.  They needed their beds for the incoming ERP class so off they went to the ninth floor.  Man, I hope I don’t have issues like this when my time comes to get released!  My paperwork will come back from a Winnebago County Judge so we’ll see.  The second thing was a guy who slept in a bunk near me at Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI) named Les Simon arrived.  He played guitar there and I had been impressed with him as a person.  After lunch he joined me at my table in the dayroom while I waited to go to the afternoon session.  I got him up to speed on the routine here and he got me caught up on some of the stuff that had gone on there.  It seems Percy had gotten him too, giving him 5 days bunk confinement for a petty offense there.  The worship team doesn’t exist anymore after team members repeatedly stole instruments.  They did put on a concert there that raised a lot of money for charity that included a Native American dance put together by my former bunkie prior his release in January.   I’m sorry I missed that.  But a lot of those I mentioned while I was there are gone.  Ms. Greer continues to work hard for people there but she had to set some boundaries.  Quite understandable.  Far and away she was the best social worker I’ve encountered in my time in prison.  In our afternoon session we watched the movie Omar and Pete, which I’ve seen on the institutional channel at FMCI.  It was quite good, depicting the story of two inmates trying to stay out of prison.  We got a 19 question worksheet on this movie due Monday.  Afterwards, Ms. Grey had complained about not being able to find the pictures of the transformer for the graduation program. She took me to her office and it turned out all she had to do was scroll across the screen to see it.  It was a little embarrassing.  She printed it and said she’d bring it to be seen by us but she never came back.  That night in the dayroom Les pulled me out into the dayroom to chat some more. That night new cellie Jose Michaels got taken to task by Larry Sands playing his radio out loud, after 11.  I didn’t like it but I put in my earplugs.  I’ve got 21 days to graduation.  I’m not going to let stuff like this get to me.


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Wednesday is the day when no ERP groups are held.  Usually it’s a slow day but not for me.  I had my second call with my parole officer scheduled for today at 10:30 am.  This call would introduce me to my new PO from Outagamie County and helps prepare both of us for my release.  Of course, this assumes I go to my adoptive parents Rev. Charles and Victoria Martin, home in WI and not a halfway house in Waukesha County.  To make this even more confusing, their home is actually in a part of a town that is part of Calumet County, while the rest of the city is in Winnebago County.  So, I ‘m being assigned the PO office in Outagamie County because it’s the closest to their house.  Got all that?  I figure that geography lesson might be important to understand later.  Anyway, 10:30 am came and went and no Ms. Grey.  I checked with ERP group member John Lloyd who had his PO call scheduled before me and she hadn’t shown up for his call. After deliberating what to do, I decided to ask regular first shift guard Roscoe Peters to call her.  Clearly he’s had his fill of the trouble on the unit as Ms. Grey is seen as the cause, judging by the things he said about her.  Finally about 10:40 am she showed up but it was too late for the call with Lloyd’s PO as they weren’t available now.  Then it was my turn.  I didn’t ask why she was late.  Nothing good could come from the question.  My new PO was able to take the call.  She identified herself as Helen Gayther.  It was apparent Charles Martin had had discussions with her previously as I was able to quickly secure permission to attend his retirement party in July.  She came across fine to me, a very bottom line type.  I explained my plan as I have to you in my long term goals and objectives.  While doing so, Ms. Grey is nudging me to ask about if any kind of electronic monitoring would be put on me after release.  My philosophy was to let the PO bring it up if it was to be.  But Ms. Grey of course brought it up.  Ms. Gayther than said that yes she would have me wear one for 90 days after I get out.  It’s purpose was to make sure I’m in at a certain time every night.  This didn’t really upset me.  What got to me was my own social worker seemed to be trying to make things more difficult for me.  Then the discussion turned to the day of my release and if I’d have a ride to where my parents residence, which was a couple of hours northeast of Waukesha.  I immediately thought of one of this blog sponsors so I said sure.The call ended with Ms. Grey telling me afterward my PO had to put me on the bracelet so she was just getting that established.  I thought well if that’s true (which I know is at the PO discretion) then why are you concerned about it?  But I kept my mouth shut.  After the call I found out the procedure for release if you don’t have a PO or staff transport.  They take you to the bus station along with your boxes and drop you off there.  Problem is they don’t have a specific time they will do it.  This sponsor that will get me is from Green Bay, WI so how that is going to work isn’t clear.  Release will be between June 10 and June 24th so hopefully it comes into focus.  We’ve got time as its only April 6th.  Later on that day guard Ruth Barthkowski returned to work and she chose to talk to me this day.  She tells me she suffers from fibromyalgia which makes her feet hurt and she is extremely susceptible to stress.  With her having left in the middle of her shift the other day with all the drama going on , it now makes sense.  She is thinking she might retire before the budget repair bill law goes into effect which is real soon.  She is a thirty year veteran of corrections and this law will gut her benefits.  She worries how she’ll make a go of it financially in retirement.  I do feel for her.  These are real world worries I’ll be dealing with myself soon too.


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 saw the ERP group leader for cellie Andre Charles go to our cell and talk to him on Wednesday and it was what I expected.  She was letting him know the judge in his case had signed the paperwork approving his release since he had completed ERP.  It now has to get sent back and his group leader then has to get it back and his parole officer than has to get him out. I’m not entirely sure about how that last step goes.  I’m watching closely as I wonder what will happen with mine.  I’ve already completed my “in time” for my Waukesha County case and so it’ll go to my Winnebago County case judge.  But Andre should get out Tuesday we’re all guessing.  I’m genuinely happy for him despite everything that’s happened between him and I.  Today is a slow day as there are no scheduled groups.  Our ERP group leader, Ms. Grey, is filling out evaluations on each group member as we are about to complete Phase I of ERP on Friday.  As part of that process she collected our journals she handed out our first week.  It’s now the 13th week.  Most ERP group leaders collect them every week or two so it has been kind of a running joke amongst all of us if she’d ever collect them. I didn’t think anything of it as I’ve kept it up faithfully.  That is up until Andre came up to the cell and confronted me.  I had mentioned something came up missing in one of these journal entries.  As I’ve said here, I had no conclusive proof so I went no further with it.  Apparently, Ms. Grey mentioned it to his group leader who asked Andre about it. For the next 2 hours I tried to explain to Andre that I had not directly accused anyone and I certainly wouldn’t have put it in the journal if I thought they’d handle it this way.  He told me I was a fool and the tension in the room returned to its previous level.  Cellie Corey Ball tried to help by pointing out we all mention things like this in our journals, but Andre would have none of it.  Cellie Brian Whalen said nothing. But Andre’s probably right.  I was a fool for putting that down.  I wasn’t happy with how Ms. Grey handled this but I decided I’d talk to her first before making any decisions on how I’ll deal with this.  That night I got a lead on someplace I might live if I would stay in Waukesha called a Sober Assisted Living (SAL) boarding house.  Apparently the group that owns them has several in the area.  The rent is high (over $500 a month I’m told) but it’d be a start.  I’m confused why no one on staff here knew about this when I was looking for options.  But in my cell it is quiet and it is extremely tense.  I was really dumb to write anything of importance in that journal or to trust it would stay confidential.  Tomorrow group will be interesting.  


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  The Thanksgiving holiday started off quiet.  Almost all the regular guards have been gone the last 2 days as many of them have gone deer hunting.  The result of that is we had guards unfamiliar with how things really work as opposed to by the book.  This created some tension but most of the time we just laughed.  Early in the morning several inmates began preparing a feast of canteen items, making burritos, cakes, chili and such on the counter we line up by for lunch.  I wasn’t invited as you had to contribute canteen that was needed and since I was packed up to go to Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF) for my ERP program on Monday I didn’t have anything.  There were those that wanted to participate but others already involved didn’t want them to.  Food made by the inmates is usually pretty good though quite spicy, usually too much so for me.  But to be invited to contribute canteen and eat is usually indicative of the positive social status of the inmate.  The downside of this activity is the microwaves on the unit are occupied for the duration.  I and other inmates had to sneak  over to the other side of the unit to warm up our coffee.  It might surprise you to know that we all were watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade.  It was a nice memory for me as I had played tuba in the band and marched competitively back in high school, all 140 pounds of me back then.  Boy I feel old at 42 and 195!  Our “Thanksgiving meal” wasn’t until supper so I put on 2 coats, hat, gloves and tied up my hood and walked on the track.  As you might expect, my thoughts were far from FMCI, and not really even about MSDF.  They were more about my future and the focus on what I need to do when I get out.  I waver between rational and anxiety drive trains of thought.  Technically inmates have to go back to the area were they committed their crime (Waukesha county) but if you have a job and a place to go they’ll let you go there.  As I’ve noted before, I’m in Information Technology and a .NET Framework programmer.  My adoptive parents are in Winnebago County so perhaps Green Bay, WI is where I should go which is near them.  There’s few jobs like that in Waukesha County and besides my ex-wife and all those triggers associated with that are there.  How can I pull this off?  The thought process gets tangled between obsession, fantasy and reality.  The thought occurs there is little I can accomplish on my own without help.  I wrote a letter to one of my sponsors expressing all this, pretty scatter brained sounding I’m sure, asking for help with how to do this.  I’m not sure they’ll know what to do but they’re who I have in my corner right now.  I really need to be focusing on finishing ERP at MSDF in the short term.  Supper consisted of turkey loaf, cranberries, stuffing and mixed vegetables.  Though everyone complained, I didn’t see anyone giving their food away.  That’s alright, when I get out, to celebrate, I’m getting a NuWave oven like I used to have and am going to make a huge turkey, peach cobbler, stuffing and fruit salad.  Everyone is invited but please RSVP! 🙂  But back to this reality.  Unfortunately, they ran out of turkey loaf so they had to do something else for the guys at the end of the line and a servery (kitchen) worker fell and shattered his elbow. We all watched the exciting conclusion to the Dallas Cowboys – New Orleans Saints game.  As for me, my stomach did back flips as one of the guys who was cooking canteen earlier in the day offered me a left over burrito. It was good, but man it was spicy!