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COOPS Weekly - Life from Home Confinement #55

Quick update @ Leavenworth.

A fight caused a shutdown of the camp. It seems like it was a brief lockdown and restrictions have been lifted. Separately more phones and contraband were discovered in RDAP (so a participant was sent to the SHU). At least in the SHU most people have an opportunity to get sober/clean…it’s harder to get drugs (pretty ironic to say that getting away from the Camp/RDAP will at least help him have a better chance at cleaning up).

I got asked a question last week I can’t stop thinking about (it bugged me because I didn’t like my response and it is an interesting question). I’m paraphrasing but the question was “If you had one piece of advice for someone who is incarcerated what would it be?” My response:

“Treat every situation in the BOP, taking into account they are the worst/poorly run organization you will ever deal with (it probably sounds like I’m being unnecessarily brutal about the BOP, but I have thought about this a lot and I am just being honest. Anyone who has any interaction with them immediately gets what I’m talking about…if you don’t anticipate their ineptitude, it can affect you every step of the way) ….

My statement is not unnecessarily harsh…I would bet most BOP staff/management would agree as well. Nobody who works with or in this organization thinks it’s well run. Don’t assume anything with them. Be over-prepared, over-organized, assume things will NOT run smoothly.

Always bring your backup, paperwork, documentation, don’t rely on them to do what’s best or even what’s logical for you in any situation. Assume staff will tell you things that are not true just so they don’t have to do the work (or don’t know the answer).

The old adage applies if you have zero expectations it’s hard to be disappointed (or surprised). I hate saying this but if you expect them to do what they are supposed to do you haven’t been paying attention …. Accepting this premise at the beginning of my journey (or anyone else’s) would have been beyond helpful and saved me from massive amounts of frustration & time. I kept making the mistake that they would have my information, be prepared, follow their rules, do what they stated, or even care in rare instances…. they don’t.

Scott on Home Confinement

It is commonly thought by most that the next stage after release from prison will be easier. In my opinion it’s not easier or harder…. it’s different. It’s difficult to describe. I’m glad I’m out but there are new rules in place that are just as challenging as the camps/Half way House rules.

Here is an example: Yesterday immediately prior to a YouTube live video filmed with Earning Freedom I got a call from the reporting center. I was told that I needed to report. It was insinuated I might have done something that could be an issue (WHAT????). I thought we were done with this BS? (Am I forgetting the advice I just gave above). Absolutely I am…. I flipped out and demanded to be told what that was. I told them I couldn’t just drop what I was doing, I had an interview in 30 minutes. The center’s most important request for inmates is “have you found employment?” (which is ironic considering MY VERY 1st day I submitted 3 letters of potential employment…I’m still waiting on BOP approval). Also, I didn’t have a ride there at that moment. Remember it takes a couple weeks to get approved for a car (at least in California) so I cant drive myself.

I know better…I knew they don’t care and they aren’t going to say “good point Mr. Carper,” we will call back and schedule a time that works for you. To be honest the staff that called did feel bad and gave me some limited info…I had emergency surgery on my mouth and I guess some inmates use this as an excuse to use drugs/medication that aren’t approved. So, they wanted me to test. So, I was driven 90 minutes round trip to do a UI. But that kind of drop what you’re doing scenario is the new reality. Since home I have had to drive in on a moment’s notice 3 times and I have only been home 2 weeks. By the way I had an appointment to be drug tested the next day already. So, I was tested two days in a row.

One of things I find hilarious … the closer to the free world you get is the more normal things are (and you haven’t been around normal for some time depending on your sentence length). Two examples… The first is you start being able to use/sit/sleep in comfortable things. The beds/chairs actually have padding. There is not a single comfortable item prior to Home Confinement. Even the pillows are terrible. Every time I sit in a chair or on a bed, I am stunned it isn’t metal.

The second is (and I LOVE THIS….it plays into my thoughts on how to deal with the BOP at different stages) you finally start being able to enjoy being right again (as in What you say is correct). In prison you have to learn that being right doesn’t matter. For most it’s the hardest part of prison. It’s up to the BOP (if they say squares are round then they are round…doesn’t matter if you know they are 100% wrong, can prove it with scientific evidence, you are holding a Hulu hoop…not only do you need to accept they are right there are consequences for arguing with them) …heck, Staff most of the time doesn’t even bother defending their actions. You just have to do what they say because they said it. It’s one of the craziest things you will ever adjust to (being wrong even though your rt). I had my issues with this (in RDAP specifically) and when dealing with staff.

Well, that starts to change back to normal once you leave prison (so you need to remember to adjust). This transition back to a world where people can be held accountable if they are wrong beginning when you leave the camp. At the halfway house the staff starts to acknowledge their authority is less powerful than the staff in prison who have basically unlimited power. At the home confinement you start getting called “Sir,” or “Mr./Mrs. _______,”. HA…. if a guard called you Sir/Mam in prison you were either in trouble or it was a joke.


Coops Weekly

Issue #55

During orientation at the home confinement center they give a speech that staff here wants to focus on treating you as humane as possible thus the more respectful acknowledgment (I am sincerely doubting it’s for that reason). I’m betting it’s more because we actually have some more power at this point.

I have a funny story to illustrate how normalcy begins to return. I am in a meeting with staff and I’m going over some things I want to accomplish immediately (health related). Now with regard to certain things I am really confident I know my rights. If you know me you know if you give me something to study, if it’s important, I will become an expert on it (so I know my rights under home confinement - some similarities to Pretrial). So, a certain NEW staff member, who I assume is enjoying this newfound power based on the way she is acting, tries to tell me that I need to get ADDITIONAL approvals (beyond the ones I already got). For example, the rule book states we can take medication that is prescribed (we just have to provide a copy of said prescription) …. She tells me “No,” you still need approval PRIOR to take any medicines (which can take 5-10 business days). I know she is wrong about this statement so after politely disagreeing with her she gets frustrated and tells me to stop arguing with her. I’m frustrated, but then it hits me, I remember this isn’t prison anymore I can handle this differently. So, what did I do? I took out my phone and started recoding my conversation with her (I also indicated I was going to get my attorney on the phone). What a bluff. I haven’t spoken to my attorney of record in a year…. The only thing my attorney responds to are television interview requests on topics unrelated to his clients (or you can find him on social media championing topics like “Ukraine remains free,” an ironic statement he can’t say about his clients since he is the world’s hardest attorney to reach)…Sorry I digress, I’m a little bitter about that subject, not because I don’t think he isn’t a talented litigator but his knowledge about actual incarceration is as severely lacking as is his effort to communicate.

So ok. As I mentioned in my last newsletter, I filled my time helping inmates at the halfway house with their legal problems. One inmate was getting sued in small claims court. We devised his strategy one day prior. This is hard to explain so bear with me. The halfway house inmate (let’s call him Sam) was his being sued by his ex-wife’s boyfriend. This person was a main reason his wife and Sam got divorced. According to Sam this guy all the way back to his 20’s (Sam is 38 now) has been on the winning end of every problem they have ever had (including wrecking his motorcycle/boat while Sam was incarcerated…what’s Sam going to do about it he’s in jail). So, there is bad blood. To complicate things further they spent time at the same prison and constantly battled.

One day a dispute erupted at the institution they both resided in over the ex-boyfriend sitting in Sam’s chair. Well Sam beat the brakes off this guy. I read the administrative shot for fighting and it listed several interesting things. One…there were no significant injuries (although it appears there were) & two…both inmates participated in the fight (so the write up basically acknowledged it wasn’t one guy beating on another). Well, there must have been significant fall out for Sam because he was punished with a 200 series shot - fighting (the other inmate was not) and he was transferred back to a HIGH security prison.

So fast forward to now. Before I got to Fresno Sam’s mom was served with a summons for Sam to appear in court. His nemeses accused Sam of breaking his jaw in prison and he was requesting thousands of dollars in damages. That small claims trial day was a few days after we officially met. Another inmate suggested we speak the day before his court appearance. So, after hearing his WHOLE story and how he got worked by this guy at every turn we sat down and came up with a strategy. And this is the part I don’t feel great about. Back to premise #1. Most of America, including judges, incorrectly think inmates get free healthcare. Also, most of America thinks the BOP is inept but they could never imagine how bad it really is. So that was my game winning strategy. Sam should suggest that if the plaintiff was really hurt. “Why wouldn’t he take care of the problem since he has access to free healthcare.” Second strategy the only record/documentation (Which is on the shot Sam was given as punishment) stated “no serious injuries”. Now we know that the BOP is terrified at harmful paperwork…. but again, a judge doesn’t know that. Now of course I wasn’t there. But Sam came back ecstatic claiming the judge ruled in his favor despite his nemesis objections that the BOP didn’t/wouldn’t fix anything health wise (most likely true) and that he had massive injuries but the BOP didn’t document it (also probably true). The judge of course wanted to believe the system is somewhat fair. That was my bet (that he wouldn’t think the BOP would be that broken).

Anybody who wants to judge me I would remind you this is what attorneys do every day. Of course, I felt a tiny bit bad but I based my decision to help on a fight is a fight (if it’s fair you live with the outcome). Sam & his nemesis fought fair and square (Sam won). Also, I truly believe Sam was the underdog and I always root for the underdog. Lastly this guy thought he would get a default judgement because Sam wouldn’t be able to show (maybe). Hopefully I helped the rt. Person…. but wow it’s scary how much people want to believe information that is so easily disproved. People want to believe inmates get health care.

Hope everyone is well. Talk soon.

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