Friday, October 18, 2019

Can You Hear Me Now?

                        CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?
 a new FFUP email newsletter devoted to giving voice
                               to those entombed
in solitary confinement in Wisconsin prisons


  A note from the Editor, Peggy Swan, 
Founder, FFUP, Forum for Understanding Prisons.

            First, welcome to new readers, and hello again to those of you who have

 been following FFUP over the years.   FFUP uses the U. S. Postal Service mail to

send a paper newsletter entitled “Bridge of Voices” to about 500 Wisconsin

"Animal in a cage" by a former solitary confinement prisoner
prisoners.  In a recent mailing of Bridge of Voices, we invited prisoners who are in  long-term solitary confinement to submit introductions to themselves for a new email newsletter “for the public.”  The response was good and excerpts from some  of these submissions are featured here. I hope this effort grows to offer a real alternative to the despair these people feel at being forgotten.


            There are two main reasons for putting out this email newsletter. First, the idea came as a way to give prisoners a positive way to ground their frustrations  and anger. Many of the prisoners FFUP works with in solitary have long histories of self harming. The prison responds to these incidents with more solitary time. It is a heart-breaking cycle .FFUP tried to advocate for them and works to give them tools to get from day to day, but they need real change.

            Second, I hope in future months  that you will join us in contacting the new Governor, the head of the Department of Corrections (WI DOC) and/or your legislators, and generally help us spread the word about what is happening in our prisons.  We hope you can also see fit to send this newsletter to others you think might want to help with the effort. For the WI Department of Corrections ( WIDOC ) in the main has abandoned its mission to rehabilitate prisoners and keep the public safe. We hope letters from you, joined with those of currently active advocates, will allow the new administration to show courage in addressing this horror.

             Solitary confinement is used as the solution to the overcrowding and understaffing of the system. In response to activists’ efforts at real change, the DOC has doubled down on the punishment-only ethic that runs the place.  New, ever more corrupt ways to hide the abuse and waste blossoms everywhere. Staff quits in droves and new and remaining staff are amassing fortunes in overtime pay- sometimes working three shifts in a row. Due to overcrowding and understaffing, many of the max prisons spend a good part of the week in “lock down” (no one comes out of their cells)- so even general population is actually in solitary most of the time. Click here for a report on these conditions done by our new outreach worker, Ben Turk:

            It is hard to put this together- for the tendency is to overwhelm. One of the hard lessons in working with anyone who is in stress and suffering, is learning to sit with them, listen to their story, hold their pain with them and yet maintain strength yourself. There is much joy in the love that grows along with the pain; the effect can be real healing but it is important not to sink to the depths yourself. So this is a potpourri of introductions by prisoners and relevant articles. There are many links you can follow if you wish to go into more depth. To do this, go to our online version at:
Can You Hear Me Now?  Volume I #1 – October, 2019
Email newsletter mostly by prisoners in solitary confinement for people on the “outside”.
There are myriad ways the DOC labels its solitary units. We have learned to use the umbrella term “solitary confinement.”  
AC: Administrative Confinement
Here are the political prisoners, mostly litigators and natural leaders, overwhelmingly minorities. There is virtually no due process in putting people on AC.  The DOC perceives them as a “threat.”    There may be some inmates on AC that are truly dangerous, but we have not come across them. When the prison boom arrived in 1994, the “rules “for AC were changed from requiring  a current or recent danger to “a history of violence.” This led to the DOC using the prisoner’s crime decades ago as the reason for AC confinement.. In AC, the inmate stays for years- no end in sight.  For more info, see: “Administrative Confinement in Wisconsin- a dirty little secret”
 Cesar De Leon
Cesar DeLeon

Cesar DeLeon 322800; RCI
Mr. DeLeon is on hunger strike as I write this, marking the inhumanity of what is going on in our solitary units and the arbitrariness and lack of due process in AC placement. We are awaiting his introductory essay and in upcoming email newsletter will feature many other AC prisoners . For now, here is a link to his demands and some of his history :
demands handwritten:
 or go to www.solitary and click on link at side bar.

Ironically. the longest serving AC prisoner was transferred to Colorado  after a hunger strike in 2016. He had been considered dangerous and  incurable and was occasionally given “pychological tests’ to prove this. After being in solitary for 27 years,  he was transferred to Colorado, given a brief stint in a transition unit,  and then was transfer to general population. He is a gifted artist and is back to his drawing and doing fine.


Once incarcerated, a prisoner is required to abide by a set of rules set out in the Wisconsin Administrative Code covering the Department of Corrections, Chapter 303.  It’s known as ‘the 303.’  It’s worth your time to look at the 64 listed offenses (DOC  303.01 through 303.64) and the 25 listed Disciplinary Procedures and Penalties (DOC 303.65 through 303.90) all of which can be found here:

If a prisoner breaks one of the 303 rules, he is ‘written up’ on a form called a Conduct Report [a ‘ticket’].  There then follows a hearing where his guilt (usually) or innocence (rarely) is confirmed and he or she is then assigned a certain length of time in disciplinary segregation [‘the hole’].  The nature of the 303 rules is such that Correctional Officers have a very wide degree of latitude, personal judgment, opinion, or discretion about what constitutes an ‘offense.’  Here is but ONE example of a 303 rule, namely 303.28 which defines “Disrespect.”  

                 Any inmate who shows disrespect to any person is guilty of disrespect, whether or not the subject of the disrespect is present and even if the expression of disrespect is in writing. Disrespect includes derogatory or profane writing, remarks or gestures, name calling, yelling, and other acts which are made outside the formal complaint process, which are expressions of  disrespect, and which have a reasonable potential  to negatively affect institution security, safety, order, or inmate discipline.

            Prisoners who repeatedly break rules outlined in the DOC 303 face an accumulation of violations resulting in solitary confinement.  Most of these inmates are mentally ill and have poor impulse control and thrash out when feeling threatened; some resort to self- harm. We believe the DOC is getting around the rule that they cannot punish an inmate for behavior over which they have no control (mental illness) by changing diagnoses from serious (MH1) to non serious (MH2). We will be doing open records requests and investigating this process.

 Following is from an article by the WI Center for Investigative Journalism about DOC psychologist  Boivin, who quit his DOC job specifically because of this practice.
“When he returned from a medical leave in early 2016, psychologist Bradley Boivin discovered a troubling pattern among Waupun Correctional Institution inmates who had been held in solitary confinement. Thirteen of his patients’ mental health classifications had been changed without Boivin’s knowledge — and in his opinion, without proper assessment. The re-evaluations came after a July 2015 memo from Deputy Secretary Cathy Jess to psychological staff to reassess the mental health classification of the most seriously mentally ill inmates in solitary confinement, according to a memo provided by Boivin to the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. Boivin resigned from Waupun in 2016 because of a “difficult environment” at the prison after he expressed strong disagreement with prison officials over several issues, including the treatment of inmates, especially those with mental illnesses. Boivin said some of the conditions for inmates in solitary confinement are “beyond unacceptable” and “inhumane.”
“Does it (solitary) cause mental illness? Those sorts of things are debated,” Boivin said. “But the reality is you see a lot of mental illness and you see things exacerbated in that environment, and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist, a psychologist, to understand that when you put someone in that kind of an environment — very loud, everywhere you go if you move even to see your therapist you’re shackled — it’s just a very vulgar environment. I refer to it as a very toxic environment.”

Michael Pietila
                                Submissions by prisoners:
Michael Pietila

Michael Pietila 377076 WCI (BD1984).

Editor’s note:  Michael has taken full advantage of FFUP’s offer to set up an individual blog post for any that want  to continue writing. We will post parts of the new writings in future newsletters and provide links to their blog posts.
Introducing Heathen ( AKA Michael Scott Pietila #277076) 
A good friend who is also an advocate for my rights along with many others felt some would appreciate my thoughts, feelings and understanding as a blog. I’ll honestly say I had and have, no idea anyone valued myself to such an extent. I guess we’ll see as this blog progresses.
            ….I am diagnosed as bipolar I, PTSD, paranoid personality and major depressive disorder. At times I’m in such a manic state (such as this mild mania that is allowing me to pen this introduction) that I cannot get enough done. I know I need to seize these opportunities because in between my ‘manic episodes’ I suffer debilitating depressive states where I’m like a robot going through the motions of existence and let me travel deeper to my lowest levels of depression and I may end up in the hospital getting stitched up from my latest artistry with a razor blade.
            ….I’m currently housed at Waupun Correctional Institution and with this drastic lack of corrections officers that they have here this seems to be the black hole of the WI department of Corrections. The lack of employees is compounded by the draconian way we are treated by many employees. Granted we as Inmates, prisoners and convicts (very distinct differences) do not help ourselves with our macho posturing, selfish needs, or alien personalities but in the end WE ARE STILL HUMAN, just like all of you. What’s sad is I’m currently in segregation (restrictive housing unit) by choice and I’m not getting out anytime soon…

Michael Pietila’s full essay can be found here:

Joe Turney 466457
Joe Turney 466457;
Joe Turney
BD 1981 (31Y.O.)
My Introduction from Being Up In Solitary So Long 
My name is Joe Turney 466457. I’m housed at CCI and anyone is okay to write me.Everything I am about to tell you readers are things that I myself been through or witness with my own two eyes but before I go any further let me say this    “if we the people let the DOC tell it, all the inmates are either over- exaggerating or lying” 
        I been in prison since 9 25-2013 and since I been locked down I been in solitary for at least five years. A lot of this have to do with my mentally ill issue. For years I have been a “MH-1A inmate” and for those of you that don’t know what that is, it means my mental health code is very high and I need treatment. And out of nowhere just a few months ago CCI just drop everyone MH- code down to a “MH-2” so that the DOC-CCI can benefit  from it. I was sent from WCI to CCI in 2017 and since I been here I been in solitary 22 months… I have been beaten by staff … dragged down the hallway naked. ….been refused meds and refused mental health treatment. I been thrown in control because I told staff I wanted to kill myself! I have been put in a room for days, weeks, without any clothes until I told staff I wasn’t going to try to kill myself. ….. Were being refused phone calls to our family with nothing we can do about it! OH and please don’t let me talk to you people about the inmate complaint system they have here at CCI. Just let me say this its no winning with these people…..
            One thing I have learned here about CCI its not such a thing as a cry for help! because they don’t give a damn about you! Thank you for reading this may you all be blessed!

To become a penpal, write to Joe Turney 466457, P O Box 900 ( CCI),  Portage, WI 59631

Fredrick Morris today

Fredrick Morris 2017
              BD 1992. 26 y.o.

Fredrick Morris #579941
my Pain runs deep
so deep I wish the forever sleep
where I don’t hear peep
my eyes dry no time to weep
shot fired but no blood I leak
cause I’m away from it all at peace I sleep.

I have been in confinement from county to prison since March 27, 2013. you can look  me up on the internet -they gave me 29 years, 20 in 9 out for battery to 2  cos because the judge in my case said I should not be allowed around people until I am reincarnated….On 7 4 18 I hung myself to end being alone. My family that is in WI, has left my side cause not only do I have a lot of time but I can’t have contact visits so as  they see it I am dead so I pushed for death- it was welcome in my time of  pain – see I will not lie, I say the cos abuse me/ they will say they fear me – I am working on my anger so I don’t hurt no one once they let me out of confinement. I have problems that I keep inside, one being that I got real bad trust issues. It is like I can talk for so long you will learn nothing about me . I am better if you ask me stuff then I can answer but I will tell you.

To become a penpal, write to:  Frederick Morris #579941, P O Box 19033 (GBCI), Green Bay WI  54307
 Editor’s Note:  The following are submissions from prisoners who will be released in the relatively near future without mental health treatment and with no support following release. 
            So many people are stuck in isolation as it is the only room the DOC has and the only way it can deal with the lack of staff. Here are 2 that need transfer to WRC( Wisconsin Resource Center, the one treatment center available to male inmates) NOW- they will be released soon, after  long term solitary abuse and no treatment. They beg for a chance to make it on the outside and need real treatment. Right now that is only offered at WRC. And the WI DOC has refused to refer these people.
       We are working on two legal actions based on suits that have been won. One will overhaul treatment in WIDOC and mandate the building of a mental health treatment center, the other will end Administrative Confinement without due process (political prisoners)  and provide  wise, humane ways to deal with combative prisoners.

Tyler Milton #596157
Tyker Milton
bd 1998  20 y.o.

Tyler L Milton #596157  (release date 2-4-20)

I am writing to let you know that I had a failed suicide attempt. The stress is getting to me. Multiple correctional officers have been telling me a lot of messed up things. Some examples  of what they have been saying include: “just kill yourself already”;“you have nothing to live for”;  I’ve been gone two days, why are you still alive?”  “I’m going to poison your food”, “I hope you die in your sleep tonight. That way you die peacefully and I won’t have to put up with you ever again. That’s a win win situation, it can’t get better than that.”;  “Next time you cut yourself, cut deeper. Hit a vain. You won’t feel a thing.”;  “oh, your back? I was hoping you wouldn’t make it through surgery.”

            ….  I am a seriously mentally ill inmate with at least 4 suicide attempts in the last 5 months.  WCI psychological department keeps telling me that I am harming myself and trying to commit suicide for attention when in fact, I really want to die. Psychological services telling me I try to kill myself to get attention gets more focused on trying to die. WCI is horrible.  3 inmates have been beaten in 3 days, this week already. I have been in RHU since 9 8 2018.  A Correctional officer brought me: a nine volt battery, a metal melding rod, 2 cigarettes, electrical wiring and more things. I swallowed the battery, requiring surgery, 10 days later after I swallowed the battery, they decided to have it removed. Correctional officers have been retaliating against me and many other fellow inmates.

Here he names the most abusive officers. It is to be noted that in 2014 a series of articles on 40 alleged assaults perpetrated by staff on inmates were featured in the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and after a big public outcry and pretend rule changes by the DOC , it all went back to “normal” and conditions are worse at WCI in that the guard involved in most the assaults now heads the unit- promoted for his abuse, looks like.  Articles are linked on our websites and

To become a penpal, write to:  Tyler Milton #596157, P. O. Box 351 (WCI), Waupun, WI  53963

Jordan Cosby
Jordan Cosby 501015; WCI 
bd 1991  27 y.o.
requesting treatment at WRC;  release date 4 27 20
I am strictly asking for an immediate transfer to WRC for mental health treatment in general population on unit 17  specifically long term treatment due to the need of individual treatment and also a diagnosis examination for MH2A  paranoia, PTSD,
Schizophrenia and a restraining order against WCI and WCI staff!  They been fucking with me so much that I can’t take this shit no more. I just writing you for your help. I have been in segregation since 6 7 17 for a self defense  physical
altercation where it was a group fight. They are oppressing me and using corporal punishment which is prohibited . They are retaliating against me due to them violating my constitutional rights by using excessive force by knocking my teeth out by slamming me and lying about and they settled the claim is there charged me facing 17-1/2 imprisonment and fail to transfer me to another institution or county because they are going to railroad me. 27 years young black in a generation of Black Lives Matter and police brutality is at its high and I’m a victim of it with mental health problems . I need to get out of this prison and this county.
            I placed myself in observation after another inmate name H----. he’s a white man, did not get his name- he was in a cell A-202 RHU and has been literally cutting and ripping his ear and they not doing nothing about it. He’s been to the ER 3 times in Madison and it was a flash back trigger for me and I severely cut myself and they did nothing so I write you and Cristal and my mother before I faint. So for intentionally keeping myself in OBS until Madison comes talk to me. I wrote Jim Schwochert DAI administrator to come talk to me or they transfer me . Dr van Buran has been abusing her authority just placing people in obs for no reason and since she been here since WCI 2015 numerous inmates committed suicide. Just recently in July.

To become a penpal, write to:  Jordan Cosby #501015, P. O. Box 351 (WCI), Waupun, WI  53963

Penpalling- all prisoners would love a penpal . Addresses are with the prisoner’s photos here, we have penpal blogs and anyone on any of our 30 some blogs would love to hear from you. FFUP provides forwarding service so you do not have to use your own return address. It is very rewarding, for most people take time with letters and generally are more open than with tweets and twitters and emails. Also these people have gobs of time and know how to focus. I am available to discuss any concerns brought to me, as working with prisoners can be difficult- Sometimes you have to show them what a friend is.
       Forwarding address if you do not want to your own: your name ( or make up name) c/o FFUP; 29631 Wild Rose Drive; Blue River, Wi 53518. My phone and email: Peg Swan 608-536-3993; Make sure you give me your real address and name so I can get the inmate’s mail to you. Again, I am here to answer any questions and concerns you have about writing a prisoner.

About FFUP and this newsletter:
FFUP has been working with prisoners and their families for nearly 20 years. It has been a non profit since 2004 with a main mission to be a voice for prisoners and to help prisoners survive their time with their psyches intact. We advocate for individual prisoners and network with any and all other relevant organizations as we try to break the chains that keep this most corrupt system intact.

We need to spread the word about what is happening in our prisons and this is one effort . We would love your ideas and feedback. We know how difficult this subject is and yet nothing will change without public pressure. If you have any ideas on how to make this newsletter more reader friendly, please share them. call or email or wire; Peg Swan; 608-536-3993;; 29631Wild Rose Drive; Blue River, WI 53518. We hope to put out a short edition like this every two weeks.  Let us know what you think.

“Can You Hear Me Now” is a news newsletter of Forum for Understanding Prisons ( FFUP)  a 501c3 non profit .Donations cans be made through our gofundme site( or by addressing check made out to “prisonforum” and sending it directly to FFUP by mail: FFUP ;c/o 29631 Wild Rose Drive, Blue River, WI 53518. All donations go to projects with prisoners and no staff is paid. We Also have paper newsletter that goes to prisoners and can be read here: