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COOPS WEEKLY - Life from Home Confinement #59

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

I keep getting asked this question. “I heard staff/inmates don’t like RDAP….is this true? At first, I used to give a mellow answer but then some people called me out for being too careful in my response.

So here is my straight answer …. NO Staff does not like RDAP. Inmates don’t care if you are in RDAP. They will make fun of RDAP…. but that’s to be expected.

Here is my favorite story to highlight staffs love of RDAP. When I first arrived at the luxurious Fresno halfway house you immediately dive into a mountain of paperwork with a staff member. We were about an hour into the initial interview and he says (and I’m paraphrasing). “Shit…. I forgot to ask are you in RDAP?” I said “Yes,” I am in RDAP. He was surprised. He tossed his pen in the air and laid back in the chair & exclaimed “well that was a waste of time.” He then asked “if I was like most Rdappers and hopped up in meth?” WHAT??? That’s cold. I wasn’t sure if he was kidding or not but I told him I don’t mess with that stuff. He rolled his eyes. He immediately stopped doing my paperwork and grabbed gloves (every innate knows the glove grab indicating at best you’re getting tested or something less fun….). He instructed me to go into their testing bathroom. Then he got into story mode…. telling me stories about Rdappers…that more than any other inmates that arrive get immediately sent back. His crack analysis is because being in RDAP gives you a free pass to be high the whole program (it might suck what he said …. But let’s be honest….is he lying? For some inmates…. his statement is true). He further rationalized his response by stating RDAP participants don’t get tested until they get to halfway houses and then they get booted because they never kicked the drugs.

So, in conclusion staff likes to test all RDAP participants before beginning the ridiculous amounts of paperwork you do switching custody designations…. Because we are more likely to fail … WHAT? RDAP…. you need to work on the Public Relations campaign.

Ha, I love asking staff their thoughts on RDAP. I still do. It’s fascinating. You know the response I NEVER HEAR from staff about RDAP…. a positive one.

This is probably one of my favorite newsletters.

My whole game-plan for navigating my prison journey consists of figuring out the rules and finding a way to live within those rules (no matter how ridiculous they are). I will let other people get the negative attention while I hopefully survive without trouble.

Now why I am now having trouble …. it’s because the rules keep changing and I don’t know what to expect.

This place is crazy. Absolutely crazy. People are getting in trouble left and right. Here. ITS HOME CONFINEMENT FOR GODS’ SAKE. Any beliefs that things get laxer when you get out of the camp…. dispel those notions. ALSO, YOU DON'T JUST HANGOUT AT HOME. It’s more like you get to sleep at home.

BLACK FRIDAY UPDATE- The BOP has deemed BLACK FRIDAY, the worst day for felons on halfway house/home confinement. We are not allowed any recreational time, community time…. the only time you can leave the house is for an emergency. What’s the significance of Black Friday besides “big sales,” …. I have no idea. But we had an emergency meeting on it.

I have been writing this newsletter to memorialize my experience but also highlight how the BOP’s methods challenge basic logic and imagination. I am stunned that this late in my journey I am encountering this kind of craziness. This current stage of my journey is blowing away my already super big tolerance for ridiculousness. I am more worried about getting in trouble here than at any other time in incarceration.

MY (not saying everyone’s) home confinement stage is characterized by incredibly strict rules, making me wish I could return to LEAVENWORTH to finish my time (I am not kidding…100%

serious). Each day some new twist is occurring.

Now let me first stress something feels off about this place…. super high turnover (staff is leaving for whatever reason). I have listened to them say their goodbyes to the inmates they manage (and heard the reactions of the inmates when they learn who will be there new Case Manager).

MAYBE ITS A NOR CAL THING (I don’t like causing undue worries for people, things may be different at other Halfway houses). But the rules are strict in Sacramento.

So new staff is going to be coming in and jumping right into case managers role (which is a bit scary since this is a complicated role). That’s like someone being promoted to a life guard after their very first swim lesson.

We have a book of HRC rules, which I have become an expert on (I read it every night, I kid you not…. those of you at Leavenworth are laughing because you know it’s true) …. I will be ready for anything that goes down…. problem is this rule book excels at giving very vague explanations that can be (and are) interpreted in whatever way best benefits the case managers argument.

We are mandated to spend a minimum of 10 hours weekly at the HRC, mostly devoted to classes, with the bulk of that time dedicated to Transition Skills, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and a computer lab (which only one of the 12 computers work (ha, of course) so you are supposed to do that at home).

For example …every week you meet with staff on multiple days…. staff is supposed to take your work schedule into account and schedule as few days possible for your trips to the HRC…But that doesn’t happen. They schedule your events when they feel like it.

Monday class is mandatory for all inmates (between 12-15 of us). We also have to be here another day for a one-on-one meeting with your case manager. Lastly you also have one additional meeting that staff is supposed to try to schedule on a day you are already there or reporting (like they do for your one-on-one day). So mostly likely you are reporting a minimum of 3 days a week (most likely 4, or sometimes 5 days). Now keep I mind you are supposed to have FULL TIME EMPLOYMENT…. Now also keep in mind people drive from all over the place. Some people drive over 3 hours one way. My drive is usually about 45 minutes (one way). So that’s a lot of time driving. We have a women participant who drives around 15-20 hours a week back and forth to meet her obligations to HRC classes. She gets gas twice a week.

So surprising to no one the topic of better managing our time is on everyone’s mind. This all came to a head in class…. ha…you will love this …. ironically the class is focused on TIME MANAGEMENT …. I’m dying …can you imagine? All sorts of chaos have ensued since the clear solution is organizing how to do less shuttling back and forth to the facility.

It’s not supposed to be easy and after all we are felons (which we are constantly reminded of) and we need to figure it out (no matter how tough it is) …. the problem is the programs focus is supposed to be on working, volunteering, meeting whatever specific requirements we have for our situation (for some its financial, some RDAP). But we can’t do that if we are at the HRC center daily (driving there whenever they call)

So, I’m not done. Let’s get into it more. EVERY WEEK YOU WILL DRUG TEST. Inmates are checking in and staff is forgetting to get them to drug test when they are there (should the inmate double check …SURE…. I DO…and it has saved me a couple trips so far, but you can’t expect most people to do that). So, what happens when a staff forgets to administer a drug test? The inmate leaves and then is called back hours later to come test. Further note…. you can only drug test with a same sex staff member. So hypothetically inmates are being called back and the proper sex isn’t available to administer the test…Argh!!!!

Most inmates plan their work schedules around the weekly classes.

So, leaving abruptly Causes all sorts of problems with the company you work for (who is not exactly thrilled you’re a felon in the first place). Each week the inmates are getting a drop everything phone call and being told to “come in and test”. You are telling your boss you need to test and getting in the car and driving to go take the test.

These people use one of the more top of line drug tests (comparably)…. remember the BOP IS CHEAP so this was a surprise (most places use a 5, 8, 10, or even 12-point panel test…. the HRC uses a 13-panel test…if you have something in your system, they will know about it).

So again, I think this place is way stricter than most but who knows. I wouldn’t have believed most of this stuff without seeing/hearing it with my own eyes.

Craziest thing I have seen or heard in HOME CONFINEMENT.

Monday classes are close to 4 hours. They are frequently interrupted by inmates being called by staff in for one-on-one staff meetings -opportunities to discuss infractions (IRs - Incident reports). The reason is because almost all participants are in ONE place on MONDAY.

The number of issues occurring & individuals getting in trouble only became apparent to me recently. Since my arrival, I've seen over 4 individuals get sent back to prison or some equivalent (i have barely been here a month). The reasons people were sent home were shared openly today at a meeting with staff and the inmates.

Participants were returned to prison for reasons such as…. A (one) failed drug tests (understandable), improper Daily Accounting and Reporting Sheets of inmate’s daily schedule (DARS), displaying an unacceptable attitude (arguing with staff), being late, employment refusal (not finding a job in a timely fashion), or failing to participate in class.

However, the primary reason for being sent packing was ankle monitor violations, some of which seem ridiculously petty.

Examples include stopping for gas in emergencies, flat tires, deviating from the fastest route home (due to getting lost, or “going the long way”), stopping for medication post a doctor's visit, or even using an ATM.

Moreover, residents cannot visit any residence (other than their home) unless pre-approved, eliminating the possibility of holiday events at relatives' homes. Those events must occur at the HRC-approved locations.

The big topic was that most of the inmates know you can’t deviate from your itinerary…. but there need to be exceptions. Especially if you call in to discuss it with staff…. (emergency situations). Or immediate needs (kid needs to go the bathroom, meds, money, etc.).

The problem is each time a deviation from your schedule occurs you need ALL THE INFO RELATED TO THE LOCATION you are stopping at (address, phone number, etc.) ….so people called in & got permission from staff to stop for an emergency BUT didn’t/couldn’t provide that info.

NOW…you would think staff would have asked for that pertinent information (they literally input this info into the inmate computer that tracks everyone) …. Something a helpful staff will make sure happens…but since most staff is new and doesn’t know…. it was put on the inmates to know the rules (which again the book is vague as to these rules…if you ask me, it doesn’t address emergency situations like this at all). So, since staff is rarely wrong, the fault is placed on the inmate (now I would be willing to accept that blame can be spread out …. but nothing on staff even though they approved these actions ….is …. wrong…. not cool)

Let me share two examples that illustrate rule violation absurdity:

1. An inmate was asked by his brother's wife to pick up sandwiches on the way home. Despite it being a minor detour without permission, the inmate adamantly argued with his brother that they couldn’t make the stop, the brother refused to believe him “there is no way they will care,”. When they arrived at the sandwich shop the Inmate exited the car and started walking home (“I’m not gonna get in trouble for this.”) …. Get ready for this, this example got him written up 3 times.

First for going to the sandwich shop…

Second…for taking a short cut through a wooded areas (remember these monitors know if you are in the frozen food section of a market…. the monitor registered him as off a road)

Last …. you are always are on a timer. You enter prior to going somewhere how long it should take time wise. He didn’t anticipate it would take so long. So, he was late getting home……

WRITE UP / consideration for removal from program…. WHAT????

2. Another individual, on their first day on a job, was unexpectedly called back to the HRC for various essential paperwork that was mistakenly not done (now how would the inmate know what paperwork is needed or not). Regardless arguing it’s your first day and reminding the HRC this impacts your job may get you a little sympathy but you’re still coming in. As he arrived the HRC staff was waiting (in the rain) to have him sign paperwork (now that was nice of staff). Now he’s back on the road hauling ass. He gets another call from the HRC, “you need to come back again we forgot to give you your drug test / breathalyzer,”. He argued to no avail & ultimately turned around and headed back…. he gets back to the HRC, takes the breathalyzer and heads to work. Realizing he has driven far more then he could have anticipated he asks if he can stop for gas where a new staff member says yes you can. He gets to work with only a few hours left on his shift.

The next day he is written up (incident report) for not filling out a DARS, including the name and address, phone numbers of the gas station he went to in an emergency (he didn’t know where he was going to go, plus he thought he had approval) …to top things off that day he was also fired from that job.

Disclaimer - I obviously can’t prove the validity of a lot of the stuff I’m taking about, there are 2 sides to a story…. but these were stories told publicly (not privately) with staff present. So, take it with a grain of salt. Although I personally I believe them. Staff participated in these discussions & certainly didn’t object to the content.

I mentioned above that I personally believe the stories. But also…. there is nothing like personal experience to help bring clarity to what one believes can actually happen.

So here is what is going on (everyone is getting in some sort of trouble, including your truly).

I was pulled aside and I was issued a verbal warning for …get ready…. not “addressing people with the proper decorum.” WTF???? They were concerned that my use of words like “buddy,” “groovy,” “pal,” “amigo,” & “bro.” are reserved for those people in your life you have a “SPECIAL, “relationship with.

An unverified/unknown person thought my use of these friendly terms could be misconstrued as favoritism by other inmates. When I greet a case manager (or staff) with one of my quirky saying it might seem like we know each other better then we should and an inmate may feel I’m getting special treatment…. WHAT???? I don’t know what to say to that…. I talk how I talk. I can assure everyone that example is not addressed in the handbook. I’m not sure how an inmate shows preferential treatment to staff…. but I would love to hear about it.

They weren’t done (and I promised 100% transparency here). They went through my phone AND after an in-depth search (AND I MEAN THEY GO THROUGH YOUR PHONE LIKE NO OTHER…. better than the FBI did in my actual case).

“Questionable,” content was found (pictures of weed, Instagram PICS, Girlfriend pictures…. they deemed were inappropriate) …. for those that don’t know I worked in cannabis for 2 years…. I am part owner of a clothing company that has a cannabis theme line of shirts, pants, & bags. I visited legal farms/events all over CA (but it doesn’t matter…. it’s not legal federally). All these photos were from a time before and unrelated to my criminal charge.

But here’s the problem I already went through my phone and deleted anything questionable. I’m sure I missed a couple pictures…. but they wanted pics of clothing, advertising, anything cannabis related. With regard to questionable content with my friends or women I dated…. they were mostly talking about pictures you find on social media. Nothing even remotely risky (now granted that’s my opinion but objectively it wasn’t bad). I just erased everything. But it wasn’t fun. You don’t get a chance to ask for specific examples…you just get your write up.

So, this place is a dream. But I’m almost done so cares???? Another group of the people I care about are getting out ….

I’m absolutely buzzing with excitement for some of my friend's upcoming checkout from

Kansas & North Carolina…. It's not just about stepping out; it's about embarking on a journey where a bunch of felons create a meaningful impact and contribute to changing the world for the better. The prospect of being part of this transformative process fills me with anticipation and a sense of purpose. I can't wait to dive in, collaborate, and witness the ripples of change we'll bring together.

Miss you all. Talk soon.

Also, I would appreciate

Any feedback on my website.

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