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COOPS WEEKLY - Life from Home Confinement #56

Throwing money away at the US’s oldest prison.

Dignitaries at recent Leavenworth ground breaking ceremony

The news from Leavenworth.

“Politicians mark start of $532 million project to replace Leavenworth’s 126-year-old penitentiary … New Camp is being showcased. Sections (ha…all of it) of the Leavenworth prison were over capacity in terms of inmate population, which led to frequent lockdowns and a more hostile environment for employees and prisoners. The existing penitentiary was “falling apart” and the new prison complex would be better for prisoners and staff. It was unlikely, Toot said, to resolve the staffing shortage guards needs HIRER wages.

Leavenworth’s new prison would have state-of-the-art programs for treatment, education, work and to connect with family in a more normalized environment.” (Ha. No, it won’t)

So, in anticipation of the red-carpet rollout. They engaged their prison workforce to clean the place up. Repaint, plug holes…. basically, do more of what the inmates do already daily. It had rained recently, I’m told, and there are several buckets collecting water. Also, at nights it’s COLD (temperatures in the low 30’s). Shocker the heat is/was out so inmates are dealing with that while the VIP’s are there. I’m sure the Gov politicians will be appalled at the conditions and demand change (yeah right! in a perfect world every BOP official, judge, prosecutor and Joe and Josephine citizen would have to spend one week in jail and then let’s see how sentences/punishment gets determined)

HRC rules (Home re-entry center)

The question I’m getting now that I’m on home confinement is what are the rules? One of the things I try to do with the newsletter is document each part of the journey so it can be useful to everyone at different parts of their journey. So, you would think that because you have an ankle monitor on 24/7, they are aware at all times where you are (and they do know…they know when you’re getting the mail/taking out garbage).

Your first/biggest rule is keeping the unit charged. The ankle monitor is not small. We have watches/devices that can monitor your mood and are tiny….so it’s surprising this clunky device is the best they can do. Its weight & size are bit inconvenient when it is charged (but manageable).

But when you have the battery on it is heavier & bulkier - hiding it under clothes gets tough. The battery & ankle monitor can be separated so you place the battery on the charger (or you can hook up the unit with a SHORT chord - but you would have to sit on a chair and wait).

It’s suggested you charge the battery during the day and put it on while you sleep. There’s a noticeable difference when you have the battery attached. …. Without the battery the monitor is noticeable only if someone stares at your feet (it’s hidden for the most part). The battery falls off quite easy while sleeping or if you bump into anything). The good news is it charges quickly (and the charge lasts a whole day). So, if you sleep with it on (which seems like the best play) you will most likely need to go searching for it under the blankets at some point after you wake up.

Now I have been told some people have trouble sleeping with it (which you will understand when you wear it….im guessing significant others LOVE IT) ….so they charge it at different times in the day.

Reporting is your 2nd big rule (calling in). You are given a call log to mark when you call and whom you speak with. You have to call twice a day every day. The first call is in the AM (so technically starting @ 8:30am - 11:59am - although they want you to call between 8:30-9am). Then you have the short time window, end of night call (THIS HAS TO BE the last 30 minutes the center is open). So, on weekdays it’s between 7:30pm - 8pm, on WEEKENDS THEY CLOSE EARLY so it’s your second call is between 1:30 - 2pm. You can leave a message if nobody picks up…. it’s a risk though as I was given examples of inmates getting told no message was received.

AT MY CENTER WE ARE TOLD THIS IS THE MOST COMMON REASON FOR INITIAL WRITE UPS/punishments. Bizarre, considering we are wearing a monitor and they know where we are.

We went around the room in class and most of the inmates had some situation that arose where they received a write up for not calling/or calling late, The prevailing theory from the inmates I spoke to is by itself calling late is usually just a write up (which still goes on record somewhere so you don’t want it)….but when/if you do something else to get in trouble the not calling in is used to say the person is breaking numerous rules and bigger punishments occur. At each stage you see staff having their go to reasons that seem like petty punishments…. reasons to either get you in line, or punish you. This seems like one. I have already heard stories about punishments being given for a single missed call. Falling asleep, emergencies…. they don’t care. Miss your call you’re going to get written up. Or if something bigger happens that needs some additional juice to show you’re not complying they add the missed checking call there.

So of course, what happened? I missed a call in…. Sunday afternoon call….

SO, I went in and took accountability, apologized, which I thought was the right. play (usually admitting accountability at least buys you some good will). It didn’t matter what in this case. They begin to formally write me up (and begin discussing possible repercussions). Asked me to sign zone paperwork without indicating/or knowing what my punishment could /would be…. WHAT???? (More on that in a bit)

Now there was a reason I missed my afternoon call …. I want to mention it because this is the kind of stuff that happens. My mom is not a tech fan, but like most people she needs her cell phone. At 1:25pm (exactly when my alarms start to go off to remind me to call) ….my mom realized her cell phone was missing. The search party sprang into action. Now, I have my phone set up to find her phone (using “find your friends” …both my mom & I have Apple phones/my dad does not) …. So, my phone is being used to find hers. We found my mom’s phone but I completely forgot about the call. I realized my error at 2:01pm …. at 2:03pm they called instructing me I had violated rule 309 (not following written instructions or rules). Seems super formal right???? Now the HRC, in my opinion, is by no means a picture of organization (I mean wow…. you have to see it in action). I figured it would be no big deal, this has to happen all the time with new people …. but of course, you freak out a bit. Now the way my mind works if you are going to quote rules (rule 309 was specifically stated) you better have your house in order (which they do not). So right then I started prepping…. making mental notes of the various ways they are not complying with their rules/handbook (some quick examples….they haven’t authorized my jobs within their stated time frame, they haven’t given me a case manager….and they asked me to sign paperwork stating I had my case manager orientation….I’m not going to sign that if it didn’t happen (a few case managers quit so they have a staffing shortage), next they tried forcing me to take classes I don’t need to take because of RDAP (which the RDAP guy had to straighten out), ….oh and LAST but not least … they promised follow up on my status of my MIA-FSA…. I shouldn’t even need to be on home confinement, which central office, Grand Prairie, and everyone who I can actually speak to all agree on…..but it matters not, I’m sure that information will be available around the time Hunger Games 147 comes out.

So anyway, I rattled off the areas where they were not following protocol or made mistakes that were unacceptable (jeopardizing my health, finances & time). Now I was lucky the boss boss was there and she got to hear my situation….it worked…. kinda (as well as it could) …. but here’s the kicker…. what did I get? I got a minor win…. but not much of one (I know I pissed some of the staff off) ….and I still got a warning which goes in my HRC file - not BOP - but it was a verbal one as opposed to written. Now I couldn’t have known what was gonna happen. But I’m mad at myself because I could have handled the whole thing much better. I got to upset and for what. They don’t know me well enough yet to know that I just want to get through this. They probably think I’m going to challenge everything (I’m not).

So quite predictably actuality…this did cause separate problems…. they are pushing back (they denied all my job requests, with the main reason being “the BOP SAID NO.”) Also, they told me to stop using Skool, helping others without getting specific permission, including “Project Rebound,” - A criminal justice program at the local college which THEIR CENTERS RDAP coordinator recommended me for. HA…. wow ok). I am hopeful I will sort this out (I have already have taken my argument up the chain) but we will see.

So, my point is document everything with staff…. and MORE IMPORTANTLY set reminders EVERYWHERE. I’m not good at stuff like this…. but I should have known better. You’re better off failing a drug test here then calling in late. That’s crazy. Also remember if you’re going to press staff expect them to push back with a far better arsenal then what you have.

Other rules. (See Accountability rules at end of newsletter)

RULE ****this is the other top rule) ANYTIME you leave the house you will fill out a DARs form (it’s a breakdown of where you will be going). Imputing these appear like staff’s biggest job (see sample form). They ask for every bit of info you can imagine. EVERY TIME. They have to be completely filled out or it will get kicked back. You have to account for travel time and the only stops you can make are for gas. So, a true example of how someone got a write up for navigating in the grey area. This mom went to the mall (which obviously has multiple stores) and just put one store down on her DARs (you can’t just write you want to go to the mall…. you need to be specific, each store) …. she had her child with her…. her girl walked into a neighboring store…. she freaked out and went looking for her…. boom…. busted. That’s how it works. She had statements from employees (even a lady who wanted to come in and back her) …. didn’t matter. Seem a bit rough/hard to believe? You are given this scenario as an example when you get your DAR forms. There are other crazy examples I heard first day of class…. people going to work early and they didn’t write on their DARs they would be leaving that early (said 6am & left at 5:30am) …. stopping off for coffee…. or medications….so

many scenarios. Now I truly believe these are harsh examples but most people had some kind of head scratching example so it needs to be taken seriously and done right. I bet there are instances where other places are far laxer. But who knows. I just want everyone to know what I know.

RULE - You are required to take MRT (moral something) classes if you’re on HC. They are easy for a 2-year-old. I have seen ZERO people in my classes struggle with any of the material. It’s stuff like “name a quality of a bad person.” And it gives you examples to choose from (no trick question stuff).

RULE - You will take a drug test no matter what your crime is at least once a week.

RULE- Church/health/medical are all easy asks for daily time allotment, meaning it shouldn’t get denied (you still have to write up a DARS ALWAYS). I go to the gym every day from 6-9am (I’m bored) so I walk and write my ridiculously long emails/newsletters.

RULE- There are 4 phases you move up in according to time, job, following rules…. you do well you move up…we have a points system…picture grammar school where you get points for good behavior. I was tuned out until I heard we get points for correct answers which can speed up access to privileges.

The instructor, who I will give her credit, is trying to make this stuff fun. She asks us to find a partner and we will make a game show quiz out of it (she wants us to pick someone we don’t know well…. since this is my first day of class this was easy). Nobody likes this find a partner when you don’t know anybody…. but this entire prison experience is about being uncomfortable….my favorite people at Leavenworth constantly reminded me to lean into this stuff (embrace it).

So, I decided to TRY to partner with our resident HRC TOUGH GUY (who looked at me like I was a crazy white boy when I told him we were partnering …actually I asked POLITELY) …. but in my ask I included that I 100% guaranteed a win. Answering questions on addiction and/ or people’s behavior happens to be a subject I feel confident in. The winner gets 3 points (no idea what that gets you) and a card that you can redeem. We won 10-0. I doubt they will repeat that idea again.

Craziest thing I have seen or heard (in home confinement)

This situation blows my mind and I actually started writing it weeks ago but I kept revising it as additional info came out.

If any of you read/watch the news maybe you heard about this story…. but I doubt it. Although this was national news this kind of thing goes largely under the public’s radar.

Leonard Allan Cure, 53, was the first person to be exonerated by the Conviction Review Unit of the Broward State Attorney’s Office (Florida). He served 16 years for a crime he didn’t commit. Governor DeSantis awarded him close to a million dollars for his wrongful imprisonment.

The robbery he was accused of committing purportedly netted $1,700 for the yet-to-be-known perpetrator from a giant corporate pharmacy (that was repeatedly in the news for robbing thousands of patients of hundreds of millions of dollars by overcharging them). So, it was largely thought the robbery was done by one of the patients seeking revenge. Cure had never even heard of the company.

Cure never was never allowed a proper defense attorney, exposing him to a court system which is notorious for convicting individuals even when lacking evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.

Cure by all accounts seemed to have turned his life around. Despite being wrongfully imprisoned…. He wasn’t mad at the jury that convicted him without any concrete evidence (he went to trial multiple times…the first instance ended in a hung jury). He wasn’t bitter at the law enforcement/prosecutors who ignored the fact he had a very “solid,” “verifiable.” alibi accounts. As matter of fact, he publicly stated “prosecutors have a hard job to do,” and there were no hard feelings (bigger man than me). The prosecution team was so stunned by his patience & understanding they hired him…. he began working with young prosecutors in their office on how to help defendants who claimed innocence be treated more objectively (presumed innocent…something prosecutors struggle mightily with doing).

After being released, he enrolled in college (studying music) and began a job in security.

On Monday October 16th, he was stopped while driving by a Broward deputy …. “Cure complied with the officer’s commands, including getting out of the car, the Georgia state agency noted, until police told him he was under arrest.” When he heard he was being arrested (without a reason being given, which in this country, the United States, is illegal) … Cure lost it. A common theme since his release from prison was the constant worry, by him and his family, of going back to prison for a petty reason. Cure had become an expert on his legal rights.

So, when he was arrested…Cure demanded answers from the deputy (after all it was just a traffic stop). All the deputy did was continue to shout at him and get angrier and angrier (I have never heard a human being shout at another person like this).

Interesting side note…. this deputy has had problems everywhere he has gone. He had been fired by multiple law enforcement agencies for having a history of violence (most recently having been fired from the Kingsland, Georgia, police department in 2017 after he slammed a woman to the ground during a traffic stop). Every time he was fired, he simply moved cities and applied stating he had previous experience in law enforcement.

The deputy didn’t feel he needed to justify his actions. Within seconds he deemed Cures behavior too aggressive and tazed him twice/hit him with his baton…Cure fought back. They struggled and the officer quickly was overpowered. Although Cure was forcing the cop into submission the cop got ahold of his gun … he shot Cure and killed him. I watched the entire 40+ minutes of the videos that was released. Its available on you tube if anyone wants to watch it. It is awful.

Broward Law enforcement still has given no reason for why Cure was stopped the deputy claimed speeding was the cause but any verifiable information is mysteriously missing). In Georgia it’s at an officer’s discretion if they want to arrest someone for speeding (it’s the only state that this is allowed…its usually just a misdemeanor).

About 1,000 fatal police shootings are reported each year in the US —the arrest rate for officers involved is less than 1 percent. Even if the circumstances are suspect. Then there’s the actual law, which gives police wide latitude to use force. Under the legal standards set by the Supreme Court, police officers can be legally justified in using force if they MERELY perceive a threat, even if a threat isn’t there. Just seven officers have been convicted of murder in police shootings since 2005.

This situation is a tough one. I made myself watch the video and the cop may have been as PROBABLY justified in shooting him (it kills me to say this). The cop, although bigger than Cure, was no match strength/stamina wise. Cure had him overpowered and on his knees…. The thing that bothers me is it never should have got to this. This deputy had no business being a cop and having this kind of power.

If all jobs worked liked law enforcement. I should be able to get a job as a drug enforcement agent or border patrol guard (even though I was arrested for drugs at the border…. I could just work at the Tecate border instead of San Ysidro.)

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