AN INSIDE LOOK
by Shawn Alexander
Throughout the Wisconsin Prison system are hundreds of different personalities. One of the major personalities I deal with on a daily basis would have to be manipulators- whether they're manipulating friends, family or whomever. Now don't get me wrong- I'm not speaking up for the DOC. The Department of Corrections is my enemy due to their lies, oppression and corruption. But people must understand the truth behind WSPF and their inmates.
I have spent quite some time at WSPF and have experienced first hand the oppression that is forced upon us. here are the biggest problems at WSPF.: Violating our religious freedoms, lack of rehabilitation, under trained staff that don't know how to interact with inmates, all our outgoing mail is read by the prying eyes of the staff.
Although there are a couple of mentally ill inmates here, inmates tend to hype that up. I have seen inmates smear their feces which to you would be a sign of sickness or being mentally ill. Bu t one must understand SOME of the inmates who do that sick act. (Note: those people are less than 1 percent). Most of the people who do that are making an attempt to get moved out of WSPF to a facility called "Wisconsin resource Center" which is for the mentally ill, and their prison setting is more "laxed", if you will. My point is that inmates put on an act to get to a better environment.
Now, I don't want prison activists to think all inmates are like that, because their not. The inmates who choose to live a lifestyle of lies are beyond help. And they'll try to manipulate whomever they can to get what they want.
Another subject that I ear a lot about is "racism" against Blacks in the Wisconsin prison System. I'll tell you what I know, hear, and see. I'm a male, white and I've been locked up for almost 5 years. never once have I seen an incident that can be labeled as "racist." Prison staff, in my eyes , appear to be prejudiced against inmates period. There is no race involved. I was called a cracker by a black guard at GBCI. The African Americans are quick to call racism. I feel that the white guards show them more respect for fear of a false claim of racism. We all feel that we are being help in a modern day slave camp, but we unfortunately placed ourselves here. It is herein my opinion that there is not a problem of racism but a problem of control and prejudice against prisoners.
I've learned a lot by being in prisons and especially WSPF. Many inmates feel the need to have guards and other DOC officials as their enemy. Not all guards are sadistic people. This is their job and one must accept it, so long as our rights are not being violated. There are guards who come to work , do their job and go home and then there are those who come here to make our lives miserable. If we inmates continue to see all guards as sadistic, we will have a miserable life in prison. Instead of worrying about them, we should further educate ourselves, whether it is law, psychology, sociology, etc. We must make something good out of this bad time. Think about it.
My Life in Prison by Shawn Alexander
On 5-23 -2, an unfortunate decision was made on my behalf, that landed me in The Wisconsin Prison System, but first I was in the county jail. The food was meager, and quite nasty, staff were corrupt, living conditions were atrocious, and I was fighting all the time. Visits were only 15 minutes long on an early Sunday morning. Our constitutional rights were being violated daily. So as I sat my time in this foreign world, fighting my case, I realized early on that survival in prison would depend on myself, family and friends. On Valentines day of 2003 I was sentenced to 20 years; 7 in prisons and 13 out on probation, a stiff sentence if you ask me. Only days later I started my prison term at Dodge Correctional Institution, where the degrading and sadistic ways started.
So as this "prison life started, tests, (mental, physical, education) etc were being conducted. Meeting people from all walks of life, I was thinking to myself, "ok, this should go smoothly" but I couldn't have been more wrong. I was so used to the life of freedom, and now a life of no freedom. I was sent to (where?)on or about May 27th, 003. When I first arrived my thoughts were "clean, new" etc. But as my time went on I realized I was around a bunch of young ignorant people who didn't want to do good with their lives. Only 11 days after arriving, I was in segregation for something that usually would be recognized as a first amendment right. So the persecution began. I was placed in "main seg" which was filled with ignorance, loudness, and stupidity. No sleep, because you have 20 people banging on doors all times of the day.. This was for my first major ticket, and I received a 4 and 360 day segregation in Supermax-meaning One year in seg. But I thought it would be alot smoother upon arriving at Wisconsin secure program Facility. On 8-29-03 I arrived to "Hell in America". Staff were seemingly worst- bad attitudes and bad treatment.
During my approximately 9 months journey at WSPF, I realized that this place is not filled with people who belong here, this place has NO rehabilitational process. This place is designed to breed criminals and make them worse off. They love saying "Oh, we got programs" etc. So what? That does not mean they're properly designed programs. During this journey, I've seen bad treatment and a form of psychological warfare.
So as my prison journey continued at WSPF, I met someone who's still to this day is a good friend. he got me interested in law and most importantly my religion of ASATRV(name?). At this I've come to realize there ain't many solid, decent people in Wisconsin and I've come to know how to do prison time #1 only associate with a select few who are doing something with their lives. #2 Choose to stand up against the wrong, unlawful treatment against us. My time had come to leave WSPF May 7,2004.
I didn't know where I was going, so I was therefore caught up in my thoughts of where I would land. When we arrived after a 4 hour bus drive, I asked where we were. And they told me "green Bay". Oh, I've heard a lot about G.B.C.I.- "Gladiator school" etc. and as I went through the start process, and ended up in the cell hall, I was shocked. It looked like the movies- 4 tiers tall, open faced gates, loud noise, and the air was filled with a weird unidentifiable smell .As time went on, I settled in my single person cell, hung out with a couple people, went to religious services, and just tried to get used to this new environment. One thing I have noticed throughout my time is the oppression of my religious ways. During this time at GBCI I became disliked by a couple ignorant people who think there're still in the hood, because I didn't let people walk over me.
I did 9 months without any trouble, and then I was set up by those individuals who didn't like me and they finally got me in seg. But as time went on in GBCI I was doing good, and the time came for me to defend myself on this ticket. But it is impossible, they rarely find people innocent. "Guilty" he said and "transfer back to WSPF" repeated for days in my head. I was wondering, Why was I going back to WSPF? They had no explanation. People have done more and worse. They were just itching to get me out.
On may 7th, 2003, I was transferred back to Hell In America. I had heard good has finally come out of this place- air conditioning, outside recreation, etc, but on arriving I see that the good was limited. Yes we had outside recreation- in a 12 X 12 cage. They say there's "air chillers " but I'm still trapped beneath my sweats as I lie down. It's become quite clear that WSPF has fetalized in a sense. On hot days we used to get ice, for summer we used to receive shorts to wear. But that is all gone. When wintertime rolls around and we go to outside recreation, we are basically forced to freeze. We get these shoes with no padding or insulation. It's like going outside while 10 degrees with a pair of socks on. I feel that they are trying to deter us from going outside. So as this new journey at WSPF started, I realized early on that if I would like to rehabilitate myself, I must do it on my own. Because it's quite obvious that WSPF does not want to rehabilitate people. For example: I caught a minute conduct report back in 2005 and received 180 days seg, 20 days loss of rec, 30 days cell confinement, 30 days loss of tv, 10 days extension of release. Clearly, all this place believes is in stiff punishments instead of help. Their disciplinary rules are designed to keep people in trouble.
Throughout the following months after 10-3-27-05, I never once received a conduct report until 9 months later, because myself and a friend were publishing articles exposing this place. Therefore, the gang coordinator and a sergeant conducted cell searches on the both of us, confiscating material that was being used for a lawsuit and wrote me a ticket. And a couple of weeks later I was mover to a secure,, restricted unit (alpha) with no privileges. I've yet to be found guilty of the conduct report as of date 8-12-06. I'm on administrative confinement -a non punitive status- and your not supposed to be on a punitive status unless found guilty. There fore they're violating their own policy and due process rights. All because of choosing to expose this place.
Over here on alpha, I'm being deprived of all my rights- no books, only one ten minute phone call a month ( I had 3 fifteen minute calls a month) etc. Alpha unit has staff that purposely do little things to pick at people. - Not answering the intercom, handcuffs and shackles too tight, slamming the trap, talking rudely, flushing our toilets while we're sleeping etc. They drive unstable people into an even more unstable state. I've seen recently a man smear his feces all over his cell, and they pepper sprayed him and got him out of his cell. The janitor arrived to clean his cell, to which we were forced to lay in this bio-hazardous place and smell it for hours. People may argue that he did it for attention. I argue that these people have used psychological warfare on him and damaged his everyday life. People don't smear feces over their whole cell for attention.
Throughout my 51 month journey, I've come to learn that Wisconsin department of corrections does not wish to help us, rehabilitate us or wish us good.. Instead they know that if they did rehabilitate us, a lot of people would lose jobs because we'd all become productive members of society, the prisons would soon be extinct if they taught us to do good. But instead, they stick people in modern day "criminal breeding camps." Some of us may have come to prison as minor criminals, but will leave a knowleged criminal. People of today' society are probably thinking" Oh they can change regardless". Very true, but when you have an alcoholic and stick him in a room of alcoholics, he'll drink. Now if you take an individual who's a so called criminal and stick him in an environment where criminality is being taught instead of rehabilitation, temptation will most likely win.
A lot of people have no social skills. It's fortunate that I'm a sociable person because to be dropped back off in society, one must possess social skills as a key component to survival in society. I'm not trying to make things sound like prison needs to be a first class hotel. But what I am saying is that we need rehabilitative tools to help us re-enter society. This will only come with your help, by contacting the DOC in Madison. But I also suggest to all prisoners that wish to do good in society, to help yourself while behind that glistening razor wire. Take this time and use it wisely. Although I'm at this "supermax", I've got nothing but time. So as I lock this up, I hope it has opened up the eyes if many people. If you have any questions, comments, you can be reached at :
Shawn Alexander #439226
WSPF ( Wisconsin Secure Program Facility)
Po Box 9900
Boscobel, Wi 53805