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#64 Coops Weekly - Life from Home Confinement

Updated: Jan 8

Craziest thing I have heard/seen on Home Confinement. Out of the 390 + days I have spent in some form of incarceration. MY SCARIEST day was this week (absolutely terrifying). This past Wednesday I was threatened with an "escape charge," (a 200 series shot) which has very harsh penalties. The penalties include being sent back to prison, suffering loss of credits, and being made to serve my entire 24 month sentence. For WHAT you ask did I almost receive an ESCAPE CHARGE? Well..we left early to go to XMAS dinner. By early I'm talking 15-30 minutes. We did in fact leave early (my parents like to get places early....we are the type of people that arrive at the airport a few hours before the flight leaves).

On home confinement whenever you leave you fill out a DAR (daily activity report). You specify times you will be leaving, arrival times, and departure times (to wherever you are going). You try your best to make accurate assumptions as to travel (will there be traffic? weather? or even accidents?). But its a guess. It is quite common to have an appointment get over early or late so you just do your best. The big issue is documenting (on your DAR) where you will be going (and in fact actually go there).

For example if one had a Doctor appointment at 10am, you might anticipate needing to leave at 9:45am (arriving at 10am). You also would make a reasonable guess as to how long the appointment will take. Lets say an hour. So you would write that you will be at your appointment between 10am -11am. But, appointments are not science they run late and you sometime end up leaving early. So lets say your Dr. appointment ends early and you leave at 10:30am. Your next scheduled DAR of the day is to pick up prescriptions at a pharmacy after your Dr. appointment (a reasonable assumption, you might need prescriptions by your Doctor.). But remember you anticipated the Doctor visit would take an hour (so you scheduled your pharmacy visit for 11:15am). So by leaving at 10:30 and arriving at the pharmacy at 10:45am, you are 30 minutes early. You have technically had unauthorized movement for 30 minutes. Now does anybody usually care? NO. As long as you are going where you say it is...there is not a problem. This happens to inmates on home confinement EVERY day... multiple times a day.

If you go to workout and you don't feel well and you decide you want to go leave early and head home (well that's not what you wrote on your DAR, you left early). Trying to regulate schedules perfectly would be impossible. Life is unpredictable. Staff advises us that they get it because it would be impossible to set up a system to take into account how uncontrollable life can be. So as long as you get to where you have been approved to go, usually it doesn't matter. At worst you can get a call from the reporting center asking what you are doing. Mistakes happen. But leaving early to go to an approved location happens every day with most inmates (people go to work early anticipating traffic, appointments end early, you change your mind on events). Well for some reason it mattered for me, this one particular time.

Now there is so much more I could say about this story but I won't. There is NOBODY on gods green earth that would believe I was trying to escape (with an ankle monitor.... driving a direct route to the approved location a house.... on XMAS day ....with my parents). C'mon, if I was escaping wouldn't the point be to have a plan that involved not going where you tell them. Also how is an escape going to work with an ankle monitor on?

But this is where they get you. If you are on their radar, they look for ways to control you or jam you up. They don't even need to be creative. They don't even need to be right. They have you. If we hadn't had picked up the phone in the car (my Dad answered put it on speaker) ..... I was told me they were going to send the "Marshall service." to pick me up and remand me back to custody. WHAT???? My first opportunity to explain myself would have occurred weeks/maybe months later at a hearing....meanwhile I am in jail. I would likely finish out my time before I even had a chance to contest this new problem. That's the brutal part of prison. Even if you are right they can still punish you....its 100% up to them. You could have irrefutable evidence in your hand proving your innocence and it wouldn't matter.

One of the most frustrating issues explaining the BP process (THE BP process is an inmates administrative remedy to solve problems) to families that have loved ones how long it takes and how the administration can do whatever they want regarding that process (who is going to stop them).....they can throw your response in the garbage, claim they never got it, delay for months, or simply just never respond. Families can't fathom a process that could be this bad. You would never believe it unless you saw it in action. It takes months and months to even get responses back (if you get them back). Most problems need easy quick solutions. Nothing is quick in prison. Most people will get out before ever getting anywhere close to resolution to their problem.

But here is why it remains (and will remain) such a problem. The key to enforcing injustice is effective action, done in a timely manner, by an impartial reviewer. The BOP is the enforcement. They are not effective, they are not timely, they have zero accountability, and they most certainly are not impartial. The only way to potentially see justice is to have your problem reviewed by an outside source (so BP10/11/12), where justice can be obtained, however, that can take months (or years). They have set up the perfect broken system and it works beautifully in their favor.

I will say this. For a number of reasons, most of you can guess, I am on the thinnest of ice. If it was up to certain people I would have received the escape charge. Luckily I have been an exemplary inmate (not perfect I have made some mistakes). But there is a cost if you advocate for yourself or others.

My punishment is loss of all privileges. I cannot leave the house for any reason (except programming). I cannot even leave to go to a Doctor's appointment unless its an emergency and it necessitates the need for me to "taken by ambulance." I have medical issues that require surgery (not one surgery, TWO surgeries)... that needs to be put on hold. I have countless appointments I have had to cancel. I can't even get gas at a gas station for the required programming (I need to have someone go get it for me).

My home confinement sentence ends on 1/14/24 (that should mean I am done the Friday - 1/12/24.... since it is a holiday weekend and per BOP RULE NUMBER: 5140.36, which allows an inmate to be released on the closest weekday when he is scheduled to be released on a holiday or weekend I should have my ankle monitor taken off Friday at 8am). This is the kind of insane stuff we study....You have to know your rights backwards and forwards (you have to know your rights so you don't get steamrolled). So...I have about 12 days hopefully assuming they follow their own rules. I will be at home until then and I need to be perfect. I'm not even going out to get the mail.

SO SWITCHING GEARS....HA. Not an easy segway.

As more friends (the people I care a great deal about) are getting out I am hearing about their challenges (from their perspective).  It’s surreal.  Gardner, Fernandez, Cortez, Jones, Gladwin, Salamah, Tirado, Hinton, & Newling all have been recently released.  They are at halfway houses all across the country (Missouri, Texas, Utah, Iowa, LA to name a few).  They are jumping on social media, catching up on the changes since they have been out, reestablishing/rebuilding relationships.

For the most part the consensus is that the halfway houses are not great.  They are an awkward transition that is essential for those that need to save some money and begin again.  For those that have family or a place to go it’s an unnecessary step that is incredibly boring.  

Can you imagine being in prison for 15 years and then trying to navigate a new world with a cell phone with which you are unfamiliar, a transit system that has changed, stores that are brand new.  All in the four hours you have been allotted on your pass (navigating buses & metros is hard enough). I am reminded of Brooks in Shawshank redemption who poignantly cannot adjust to the outside world (of course without the suicide part).  I stayed in contact with Hinton while he experienced this & it was stressful for me.  I can tell you for certain it was stressful for him. How do you establish a bank account without ID? How do you get an ID without money? How do you explain to a potential employer that although your a felon you will work your ass all you need is a chance? The questions (and what if's) are dizzying.  

It’s fantastic to be able to talk to these friends normally…it is fascinating to hear about each persons journey. From finding jobs to navigating the city.  Boredom seems to be the biggest obstacle & the continued BOP bureaucracy. 

Each one of these guys are people I have written about or were featured in my newsletters.

Fernandez is always Fernandez, being positive & finding ways to help others. I wouldn't by surprised if he finds a way to coach or work in some religious capacity.

Gardner.  Hit the ground running and had a job within seconds.  No doubt he is probably running that company by now.

Cortez could have been sent to the North Pole and somehow he

would have taken Santa’s job.

Jones, always answers “who is this?” every time he’s texted because he erases messages (paranoid).  But he was joining his family last time we spoke so he’s content (for now). NO PIC (lame)

Gladwin, continues to crack me up with his very direct banter.  He will be back to his crypto kingdom shortly. 

Salamah, was probably my funniest catch up session, his charm will help him survive even in his 3 foot square room.

Tirado (Moses), you have to hear this story. He saw his new born (little Moses) for 10 in his wife had the baby. Tirado got to hold him for 10 minutes and then he was off to prison (it wasn't via a direct route....but you get the picture). So this is a big reunion between his soon & him.

Hinton, is chomping at the bit to take over the world, his biggest problem is the health guru is surrounded by the worlds worst food at the Halfway house.  He’s going to have to actually eat carbs.

Newling, the man who is unflappable, and his worst ideas still impress me. I’m still waiting for the day I actually see him frustrated.  Seeing his girls is all the man needed.  

I admire each one of these gentlemen for very specific reasons.  They all taught me something & made Leavenworth a more tolerable place. I watched each one of them make other peoples lives better.  I know some of us will drift apart, that’s life.  But I learned along time ago it doesn’t matter when you meet great people in life (in this case prison).  You hold on to the good ones …. Simply because …they make your life better.  It will be interesting to see what happens to each one of them and how life moves on from here.

A friend asked me what were the best and worst parts of prison.

My answer was easy...the best part was the people I met. I will continue to say this whenever I can... I met some of the most amazing people ever (and some major jackasses).

The worst part. That was easy also. The food (kidding/not kidding).

No, seriously, The worst part is losing the freedom we take for granted everyday. But losing your freedom is bad enough....The worst part is the way it is done. For almost 400 days I have had to ask permission to do everything except breathe. I was scared every day that I would screw up and have that little freedom I had taken away even more. I was scared my friends would get in trouble doing something that in the free world they would be commended for (sticking up for somebody, helping the little guy). Prison in any shape or form is terrible because it takes you away from the people you love...and the life you have built for yourself. But our prison system is so broken its beyond words. The worst part is it doesn't even work. I'm so conflicted about this whole process because the experience changed me in ways I can't explain (positive)....but giving credit to an organization (the whole incarceration industrial complex) that is so unethical, disorganized, promotes a culture of suffering, and profoundly awful would be worse then any crime I ever committed.

There were 100 different (better/more productive) ways you could have taken away my freedom. Somehow we have figured out the worst possible way and although we know it doesn't work we just stick with it.

So what got my through prison. It was the best part. It was the people (my family/friends).

Podcast - I was a guest on Nightmare Success with Brent Cassity. Here is the link should you wish to hear it.

On spotify

On apple

Its been weird posting on social media about my life in prison. I don't really have a specific strategy. I just want to be honest about my journey. I also want to help people who are justice impacted. The one thing I feel like I have done a good job of is documenting the entire journey. I promised to keep writing until I am done with this process. I doubt I will continue to write weekly once I am on supervised release (that shouldn't be much of a story)...but I will continue to discuss the process because I feel like people need to understand how long this event impacts you (and how it does). There is so little information available about all these topics. We only care about this kind of info once it happens to us.

The response to my newsletter (now blog) has been very positive so for that I am grateful.

Happy New Year EVERYONE. Talk soon. Please sign up for my newsletter by clicking the Contact link after you fill out the contact page & checking the "Signup," for my NEWSLETTER BOX. OR click on this. THANKS.

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3 comentários

15 de jan.

super fun hearing the updates on the other inmates. Hard not to root for everyone


03 de jan.

congrats on getting to the finish line. These blogs are a lifesaver.


01 de jan.

Im sure someone has told you this but you need to write a book. This is your best newsletter yet.

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