December 28th, 2019

“The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you see one more card
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part”

Tom Petty – from “The Waiting”

She called me three times yesterday.

It doesn’t bother me that she called so often. It bothers me that I couldn’t do much to help her.

Every call she makes starts with a recording from a prison phone service:

“You have a call, at no expense to you, from (enter name), an inmate at the Ellsworth Correctional Center. To accept this call, press or say ‘five’.”

I always press “five”. The call isn’t really “at no expense” because I set up and paid for the prepaid phone service with the vendor. Well, whatever…she needs to call sometimes.

After I hit the number five on the phone, the recording said, “All calls not properly placed by an attorney may be monitored or recorded. You may begin speaking now.”

There was a momentary pause, and then I heard her voice say, “Hello?”

I answered, “Yeah, what’s up?”

She replied slowly, “I’m feeling really stressed. Some of the other girls here already know when they are going to be released, but I haven’t heard anything.”

“Do these women have cases in Kenosha County?’

The girl replied, “No. I am the only one from Kenosha county. They are from all different counties.”

I told the girl, “Well, every county in the state is like a separate kingdom. Each one has its own rules. Kenosha may be doing things differently than all the rest.”

She said, “It’s been a week since I graduated from the program. The people here should have sent my paperwork to the judge in Kenosha.”

“They probably did.”

She asked me, “Can you check on CCAP to see if there is anything new showing on my court case?”

“Yeah, give me a second.”

I went to CCAP site and checked on the young woman’s most recent court case.

I told her, “There is nothing new.”

“Nothing since September of this year?”

“No, nothing.”

“Well, okay.”

Then she said, “I hope the judge gets the paperwork and signs it, otherwise I will be here until June.”

“Yeah, that would suck.”

She sighed and said anxiously, “What if I don’t get out?”

I replied, “Your facilitator and your probation officer both seem to think that you are getting out soon. They already set you up with Medicaid/Badgercare. If they thought you would be staying in there until June, they wouldn’t have done all this.”

She thought for a moment and said, “Yeah, maybe you’re right.”

Then the  young woman asked me, “If I am stuck here until June, can I have a TV?”

I thought for moment, and said, “Sure.”

Note: TV’s for prison inmates have to come from a certified vendor. The outsides of these televisions are made of clear plastic, to prevent somebody from smuggling something into the prison. The televisions are of inferior quality and absolutely worthless in the outside world. They are also quite expensive.

She asked me, “Can you check with Kenosha County to see if they got my paperwork?”

“Sure. What exactly do I ask for?”

The young woman told me,”It’s called the ‘earned release program completion form’, and they should be able to find it.”


“Oh, and ask them if the judge has seen it yet.”


I told her, “I can’t do that now, but I can call the courthouse on Monday. I will visit you on Monday night.

She said, “That will be good. If I know that they at least have the paperwork, I won’t feel so worried.”

“Then that’s what I will do.”

“Okay, thanks. See you on Monday.”

She won’t stop worrying. I know that. I won’t stop worrying either. She knows that too. This will fester until we know for certain that she getting released.

I won’t know when she is getting released from prison until the night before. People have asked me why the folks running the prison system operate like that.

The answer is: “Because they can.”
















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