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COOPS Weekly - Life from Home Confinement #58

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

This week’s newsletter has been timed perfectly to coincide when I’m in a mood for the week.

Some good news from Leavenworth first.

This December 18th, the next RDAP class will graduate (leaving shortly thereafter). Specifically, Hinton, Salameh, and Newling. All of them had a huge influence on me personally and they are a big part of making people’s lives better at Leavenworth. This class will graduate 22 out of 31 (so far….as long as DTS Wilson breathes air the potential for holding someone back remains a possible occurrence).

Ojo returned from County jail (was at Leavenworth for a short period of time) and is now at a halfway house in Tulsa. He actually called me and tried to disguise his voice in this weird joke attempt. This is hilarious in itself because his voice is so distinguishable….I still don’t really understand/know what happened to him. Maybe someday.

Leavenworth is in the news. Another inmate on the run. This time it’s the Leavenworth inmate bus driver who is checking himself out early.

“The prison notified the U.S. Marshals Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigations and other law enforcement agencies. The prison has started an internal investigation into the escape.”

My favorite part is the prison has started an “internal investigation into the escape.” Ha…WHAT??? Let me sum up that investigation right now. Both guards on duty that day can neither confirm or deny they saw anything suspicious the one time they looked up from the computer (while browsing the internet) in the security bubble. When pressed for more information the guards emphatically stated:

“If we did the rounds that day nothing stood out,”

“I mean usually when we mess with the inmates…...We usually find some great stuff…. We don’t recall finding anything worth taking home…

"I mean confiscating.” Yeah, we didn’t confiscate anything.

Just jokes, I’m sure there is a first-class investigation going on and I’m sure whatever staff is responsible will be reprimanded appropriately (plus I’m sure they will just feel awful about the whole thing).

Depending on who you speak to…. the head counselor at Leavenworth has been gone for a minimum of 4 months (but really, I think it’s closer to 6 months). Most inmates are claiming over 6 months, but why exaggerate when you don’t even need to. How is possible for an integral part of staff to be gone for that long? Do you know how important a counselor is to an institution? He takes care of legal mail, visitation, ADMINISTRATIVE REMEDIES, to name a few functions. There is no substitute, only he can handle certain things. So, all the stuff he oversees has basically just stopped. The other counselor (there are 2 at the LPC) is not happy about it either but instead of helping he just yells at anyone who is not on his caseload that asks for help.

Now just so everyone has all the facts…. the missing counselor is also the union representative …. which gives him godlike powers to come and go whenever he sees fit. He can excuse any absence with the unverifiable statement that he had a union duty. But 6 months of not a single appearance is spectacular job performance. Inmates try to explain it to their loved ones who can’t get visiting forms approved and it’s almost unbelievable. Imagine you just get to prison and you try to explain this situation to a loved one (most likely your credibility is already shot). All those forms, all the BP’s (which are time sensitive), legal mail, now likely need to be started over.

Friends, family (children) are not getting approved because he’s not there to do his job. Unbelievable. So of course, you’re thinking your loved one should go to his boss, (Warden Hudson or Ms. Main - 2nd in command), there has to be some accountability…. NOPE. Their answer. “Sorry, there is nothing we can do.”

Try filing a sensitive BP 9 or have family members call Grand Prairie. Absolutely unreal. When I retire, I want to get a job as a camp administrator. Watching grass grow daily is a more taxing job.

The new hot topic I am hearing from current inmates…. FINALLY….is the profound REALIZATION about how powerless Grand Prairie really is.

I was asked the question if someone who was truly wronged what is the best method to receive some swift or fair resolution (I know swift and fair are 2 very different things but I wrote the question exactly as I was asked it). This person believed Grand Prairie was the answer.

What is Grand Prairie? Grand Prairie is widely considered by the inmates as the head head honcho institution. It’s the very top of our hierarchy. Inmates know about “central office,” and “district offices,” but the top dog is considered to be Grand Prairie. That is the one place most inmates believe staff can be held accountable.

Their number is the one phone where if you call MAYBE, you can get a live person.

Let me provide these numbers just in case. This list was actually a pain to find/gather (thanks to Doc Randy who helped me track down these numbers)

972-352-4400 (Grand Prairie)

Regional or Central, they are in the same building in Kansas City, Kansas. 913-551-1117 in the main office

Residential Reentry office


When a family can’t get ahold of an inmate (you go to the SHU) or something serious goes down and of course you can’t reach your institution you turn to Grand Prairie. As far as I know that is the extent of their power…getting answers to very basic questions. Although they are advertised by everyone else (including staff) as to having some power. When the BP process has stalled or failed, and you have tried everything else, you can reach out to Grand Prairie. They can email case managers/counselors directly. They are supposed to be able to hold staff accountable.

I remember my dad being concerned about reaching out to Grand Prairie when my FSA never started up and he wanted to find some answers. He was concerned complaining/or pushing for answers might cause problems. I remember I told him to hold tight.

I have been shaking my head at the countless stories I have heard from inmates conveying what Grand Prairie told their loved ones. Things like …they are springing into action and contacting a case manager to get answers. “An email was sent to XXXX, demanding answers…. should have answers within the next week or so.” There is real empathy (or at least that is what it seems Ike…. remember central office/Grand Prairie is on the outside ….so they are dealing with our families, there is some accountability). My favorite rotating story is Grand Prairie “shares in the frustration and this kind of thing is unacceptable…. XXXX staff member, is going to hear about it. “You are correct, your release date

Should be X, your right. you should be receiving X amount of FSA…. etc.…. etc.”. They do listen & they generally come to the same conclusions you do. But listening and claiming follow up seems to be the extent of their actual power.

It broke my heart to hear word from an inmate who has been down for a while…. that his wife recently received an update from Grand Prairie (& central office) that certain written promises about him being released via the cares act (yes, the BOP program that ended quite a while ago) will finally be moving forward. This is not the first or even 2nd time a promise like this has been made. Although I am 99% certain nothing will come from the Grand Prairie update. I am 100% certain he’s not going anywhere. I don’t understand why Grand Prairie even states the things they do. Do they actually think they can make things happen? Are they unaware? Or do they simply not care? I’m not sure I want to know the answer…. All bad. I do know family members are going mental trying to hold Grand Prairie /Central office accountable for their statements.

I will say this…. I do remember a couple situations where Grand Prairie has helped…. significantly…. (I know I wrote it down in my notebooks, but I looked all last night and I couldn’t find the specific examples) …. So, there’s a good chance I’m going crazy…. or maybe…just maybe… I want to believe that the BOP can do something good. Nah…I’m probably going crazy. It was in the early stages of my incarceration and I was detoxing.

So, what is my point? My point is you will hear comforting words from Grand Prairie (and maybe it’s real or genuine) …. but as far as them providing action or a resolution …. sadly, I have come to the conclusion your only recourse is a lawsuit (and that presents its own set of challenges)

As for me, I’m good. I should be able to start working after thanksgiving (six weeks after I gave my case manager my job offers letters.).

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