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COOPS Weekly - Life from Kansas #12

Updated: Jan 15


People love their hair in prison. We have a barber shop...which is very impressive for Leavenworth, which is lacking in even the most basic of necessary areas. We have 2 barbers (inmates) who you can book with. They are packed every night (took me 2 weeks to get an appointment). So, I went to cut my hair this past week and 100% MY FAULT... I told the barber to use a lower blade on the Clippers to cut my hair short. WOW, not that short Carps...this is the shortest my hair has ever been (what limited hair I have left). The good news is I fit in more with the prison population (and also hair grows back) ...BUT is short.

Water was off for parts of 3 days (significant amounts of time). So, no showers or toilets, and no food (because the water is off, they can’t cook) ...I can’t begin to tell you how bad it makes things around here. Everyone operates with a short fuse and arguments break out. Also, phones have been out for the last week, so the computers are packed.

The Flu and some covid has hit the LPC. They have quarantined a few inmates and put others in an isolated unit. People feel very strongly about the vaccine/flu shot (they are ANTI VAC/ANTI FLU SHOT and very opinionated about it) .... Which is ironic considering most people are in here for drugs and I KNOW THEY DON'T use the same vigilance when worrying about the origin of the drugs they took (even if you are anti vac you know it’s at least as safe as the drugs you get off the street). I estimate less than a 1/3 of the people here have any shots/vac/booster. I’m keeping my fingers crossed...but it feels like EVERYONE IS SICK. In my unit alone over half the people are sick and have medical lay-ins.

I’m on my 6th pair of headphones. The ones we get are very low quality and they break easy. Also, since I have trouble sleeping because of lingering DT effects...I end up wearing them in bed and falling asleep which also breaks them. Tragic! Good news is there is always someone moving top notch headphones, so I think I am going to splurge and get a pair.

Strangest thing I have seen/heard up to date." This is going to be a recurring part of my newsletter (Everyday this place astonishes). A guy in C2 (upstairs dorm) has a cat. A REAL CAT. His girlfriend bought it for him and the cat just chills around the unit. Nobody messes with the cat since this guy is a badass (ex-boxer and a bit off) ... But it kind of cracks me up since this cat does whatever it wants, and nobody says anything because nobody wants to mess with the guy. For all I know people are allergic and it doesn’t matter. In case you’re wondering everyone knows about the cat...including guards & staff. It’s one of those rare situations that usually wouldn’t fly but everyone just kind of laughs about it.

Dog Program & new job/ RDAP update

I am absolutely fascinated with the dog program CTAP here at LEAVENWORTH. As part of a new job, I am training for (which I will get into more detail in a later newsletter) I am learning the ins and outs of the dog program. I AM STILL WORKING IN THE kitchen, but I will also be working in the education department as well. So, I’m working 2 jobs. I don’t know of another inmate working more than one job (what an overachiever??)

I had a big decision to make, usually I would probably ask for my friend’s feedback, but none of you are here. One of the benefits of the new educational job is you are given your own room in the dog unit. WHAT?? MY OWN ROOM!!!! I can’t explain to everyone how rare that is here at Leavenworth. I was really conflicted on what to do when this was offered.

For one thing, it would not affect my time here. I would still get out at the same time since I’m getting FSA for it. Additionally, most of THE WHITE-COLLAR GUYS are in there so it’s more of my tribe.

Living there is dramatically different than any other place in the prison (rooms are bigger, bathrooms/showers are bigger, more privacy, better entertainment, a CLOSET, bookshelves, better everything). The fact that this is even an option for me is pretty remarkable (I would guess the unit has 25 people in it.... There is probably over 350 people in the camp currently). Some inmates rarely leave the unit since you can cook/do laundry/eat without needing to go anywhere else in the camp.

After thinking about it for a day I decided against taking the room (AT THIS TIME... I am not ruling out that something could change). However, I started RDAP for all the right reasons and I feel like I would be quitting if I stopped now (I DO NOT QUIT THINGS like this). Part of RDAP is living in a unit and immersing yourself in the RDAP culture. There are no if I was to take the solo room, I would need to quit RDAP and I think that would be bad decision. Ultimately, I would like to have my own room and have a much easier prison experience. However, quitting RDAP is not something I am prepared to do currently. Most of my friends here think that I’m crazy for not dropping RDAP. With the changes to FSA credits, I would get out at the same time with or without RDAP. RDAP doesn’t end in have 6 additional months when I get out (RDAP meetings in NO CAL) .... So, I am making the choice to have a much harder schedule than I otherwise need to. There are plenty of things I don’t like about RDAP but overall, it’s hard not to acknowledge how intense and rewarding a program it is (I hope at far it is impressive). I’m only in the first part (I pre-dapped for 60 days) and already the experience has been amazing (I have never analyzed myself like this). It’s not easy by any stretch of the imagination but I need to do this.

It is hard for me to explain to everyone what goes on in RDAP every day and why I think it’s important. But as an example, this past week I was tasked to give a presentation on my addiction story. I spent a great deal of time on it. The speech was about 15 minutes and I presented in front of all RDAP on podium/microphone (reminds me of a graduation speech). The entire unit participates. It is emotional and other members give you feedback on how their own personal stories relate and how they think you should move forward. I know my speech was a hit for others based on the feedback I received. Of course, you feel good about that but also you feel like you are making difficult changes. I have fought admitting I had a problem because I really did not feel I had one. I know now I was wrong. Ultimately my addictions pales in comparison to what I see people going through here but the impact it had on my life was catastrophic and I need to continue to address it as best I can.

Back to the CTAP. The dog’s training regimen is fascinating. People will purchase these animals for upwards of around 20-30k. The dog is fully level trained. There are multiple dogs here that are trained specifically for veterans that have PTSD. The dogs follow a complicated command called "Go to Six.' Veterans with PTSD are often afraid of being snuck up on ...or they fear the unknown behind them. The dogs can sense this and often stay behind their owner to give them a feeling of security when PTSD symptoms come on. I hope I am explaining this enough for you to understand how amazing this is. The owner tells the dog “Go to six (6)," and dog goes to the back of owner. Watching this is amazing...Maybe you can only understand if you have experienced PTSD symptoms...but the relationship between the dog and owner is special.

Random info

20% of the prison population is over the age of 50.

LPC had the most covid cases of any camp last year. 2 people passed away from COVID here.

Hope all of you had a great Christmas.

And Happy Birthday Scott K.

Weekly newsletter. week 12
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