I looked up ‘bedlam’ in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and the etymology reads: “Bedlam”, popular name for the Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem, London, an insane asylum…”. It lists 2 definitions 1) aninsane asylum; 2) a scene of uproar and confusion. It is also necessary to note the definition of ‘uproar’ : “ a state of commotion, excitement, or violent disturbance.” With this in mind I conclude that the term Bedlam fits the description of each segregation unit I have been in neatly. And I have always said that Columbia Correctional Inst. Is not a prison; rather it is a mental institution or insane asylum masquerading as a prison, an incognito nut house. At least that’s what I’ve been saying since I arrived here August 2009 on a seg trade from Waupun’s Health and Segregation Complex a.k.a. H.S.C..
The H.S.C. at Waupun is better termed as the New Super Max.. The difference between H.S.C. and Wisconsin Secure Program Facility ( formerly ‘SuperMax’) is the DOC is prohibited from housing the mentally ill at WSPF if they would be a harm to themselves, whereas the conditions of HSC are puportedly worse than WSPF ( I have not been to WSPF, but this is the general concensus), but HSC seems to be filled with the seriously mentally ill. To me it presents itself as a dumping it presents itself as a dumping site for the mentally ill inmates the DOC would like to send to WSPF but can’t. A loophole in the system. ( Myrespects go to Mr. Shaun Matz, Mr. Matthew Schumacher and their recent and ongoing litigation challenging the conditions of Waupun’s HSC.)

I’ve done some thinking about what can be improved here for the seg inmates. Right now they are doing groups for us on DS – 1 , DS-2 and HU- 7, DS-1 groups were just started earlier this year and I they they have started doing more on DS-2 and HU-7. They have also begun getting guys out for 30 minutes or so a week to listen to books on tape, but there is not much time for that. They also hand out puzzles on request to whomever wants them. Right now what we need is some educational stuff. They currently offer nothing educational for us except for guys under age 18. I had written to a teacher about 2 weeks ago asking if she could get me some stuff to work on to better my essay and creative writing. She wrote back and said she would and that she is ‘always happy to provide educational materials” but I never got anything so I’m going to write her back and see what’s up. I wanted to give her some time first. She was my teacher in 2005-2007 when I was at Mendota; she started here less than a year ago. If we could get her or others to take some time to teach seg inmates or set up some in-cell study, that would be very helpful for us . Materials on excercises we can do in our cells or in the rec pens outside would also be very beneficial.
One major change that needs to be made is the way CCI’s segregation ‘step’ process works. Here it consists of 3 ‘steps’ ( 1, 2, and 3). I think the privileges/incentives of each step is adequate. It’s the duration I have a problem with. At CCI it works like this : When an inmate recieves their seg time they spend 1/3 of their time on each step. On step 3 you get the opportunity to come out to the dayroom twice a week for an hour to use the phone, watch tv, play cards and converse with other step 3 inmates. You also have the privilege of having either your personal tv or radio in your cell (not both, which I disagree with. On step 3 in Waupun you can have both) . It is a concern that guys without their own tv and/or radio wont get one. CCI does have loaners that inmates may borrow, usually old tv/radio combos that inmates have donated or DOC has confiscated (uusually unjustly) but I’m not sure whether seg inmates can get a loaner. I do know that only SMU inmates get loaners, meaning only units 6 and 7 where they have most of the more seriously mentally ill inmates. But I’ve digressed. Back to my issue with duration of the steps. Usually, whatever amount of seg time a person gets, it is cut in half so an inmate only actually does half of the actual sentence. However, if they place someone on Administrative Confinement Tracking” the seg time is not cut in half and means that the inmate will be referred for A.C. Tracking (such as myself) are doing 360 days of seg.. Therefore they have to wait eight months to get their tv or radio. I think Waupuns’s 3 step program is better in that step 3 inmates can have both their tv and radio and no matter how much seg time you get, you do 30 days on step 1, then 30 days on step 2 and the rest on step 3. I think that is a much more reasonable way to do it and would propose to have it done this way at CCI as well. Note: Waupun used to do it like CCI’s current program but changed it to the 30 days on step l and 2 for everyone at the end of 2007.
I’ll keep thinking about it and write if I have more ideas.
I haven’t gotten around to the survey issue that was raised in the recent Bridge of Voices. Frankly, I don’t think I will. I’ve been putting it off so long that I don’t want to lie to myself or you and say I will do something with it.
On a more productive and positive note, I just started reading a book last night called “Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries” by Naome Wolf. It is fairly new, published in Sept. 2008 and talks about how ‘America’ has changed over the last 200-some years and is no longer what our founding fathers intended it to be. I’ve only just started it but it appears to have some of the same principles we have about getting things changed, eliminating unjust laws, etc.. Have you heard of the author? If not, you should google her name. Her book has been very enlightening and impressive thus far. I don’t know if you have time for reading books, but I think you and everyone else would benefit from reading this one.



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