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COOPS Weekly - Life from Kansas #22

Updated: Jan 15

Busy Week / Big Week

I gave a presentation (actually, 2 presentations) based on what is called a release-plan. The presentation took place in our gymnasium. A release plan is what inmates use to show we are ready to reenter society (kind of like a much more detailed resume of our life and prison experience). It is basically every piece of information involving your rehabilitation...future housing, work plans, insurance, letters of recommendation. (I first learned about the usefulness of this from Michael Santos of Prison Professors before beginning my prison term). It is incredibly helpful in navigating this process. I used huge chalkboards/dry erase boards, and terrible handouts written on notepaper, it was fantastic. The presentation went well. There were 40 inmates in the first round...20 in the second. Why did I do this you ask? I did it because I like helping others. I also did it because I know this will drive the staff crazy. They hate all these inmates being better organized and pushing for better release terms. I have been surprised at little most inmates advocate for better release terms. I have probably helped (and my poor dad who must email some of these plans) 15/20 inmates with their release plans. I will help as many people as I can.

Craziest thing I heard/saw at the LPC this week?

One of my fellow inmates came here from Yazoo City federal prison camp in Mississippi. He has a cousin at that camp that he has been trying to reach for over a month. They are super strict about contraband. A month ago, an inmate was caught with contraband (weed and a phone). The warden went ballistic and ordered all 97 camp inmates to be sent to the Shu (the hole) until the person who brought in the contraband came forward. Nobody came they just passed 30 days in the hole. The SHU is a tiny cell where you are only allowed one hour of rec a is brutal. The entire camp sent to the SHU seems logistically impossible but somehow, they are making it work. I’m not sure if you can understand how crazy this....but for us its insane.

Trouble will find you at the LPC

One of the things I promised myself & everyone else (friends & family) I would absolutely stay out of trouble. I have said to myself I will avoid all trouble in here AT ALL COSTS. From the outside you might say to yourself that should be is not.... matter of fact it is scary how easy it is to get in trouble even if you try to be careful. The point I want to make is the littlest things regardless of intent can get you in trouble. It is completely up to the staff. They wield incredible power. If you get on a correction officer’s radar, they can make your life miserable.

So of course, there is a story.... let me tell you about the close call I had this week. I was walking by my counselor’s office and I noticed my name on a brand new list on his door. It is very difficult to track down either your counselor or case manager so if you catch them in their office you need to pounce. Also, if you do see them your time is limited to a few minutes’ tops. Most of the interaction consists of them giving incredibly vague answers or telling you they are done with you, and you need to get out.

Anyway, my name was on the list, so I knocked on my counselor’s door. He needed to see me since I had legal mail. For those of you who don’t know.... My father retired and let his law license expire.... Due to my legal problems and the difficulty communicating or navigating the prison/legal system.... he unretired and got his license back. So as one of my attorneys he has sent me mail. This mail goes directly to my counselor office. This mail must be opened in the counselor’s presence.

My dad tried sending me my newsletters since they are part of what I do here (and they are part of my release plan). My counselor opened the mail and immediately started chastising me for receiving mail he did not feel was legal mail. Now remember It doesn’t matter what I think (they are ALWAYS right.... even when they are wrong). I obviously made my case that the mail was legal. However, he wasn’t having it.

He felt My father (Papa Carper) was abusing the legal mail privileges (WHAT???? That’s crazy). He informed me he was going to have to write me up for receiving mail he felt did have legal merit. WRITE ME UP???????? Are you kidding????? For getting mail that HE DIDNT FEEL was legal. Now a write up is a formal warning or what is called a shot (FORMAL WARNING come in different levels...a 100, 200, 300 series shot/formal is a permanent record of your can have substantial can set you back months from your release or far is no joke). I was speechless for a minute. WHAT????? For mail???

Dad Comment: Here is what I sent and why. Scott had a small assessment at sentencing. $100. I paid it. They started deducting $25 a month from his commissary account to pay it. Not a particularly big deal but it was not owed. Scott told them he did not owe the money, but they did not believe him. I decided to send a copy of the canceled check with a notation of its purpose and a receipt from the court. I also sent two copies (in Black and White) of his newsletter for inclusion as part of his release plan. I considered it legal mail as it is related to the conditions and scope of his confinement. Aware of BOP rules I certainly did not consider it contraband. Scott did not know I had sent it.

The contents of the mail were nothing I was trying to sneak in....I would have literally walked that contents of the letter 10 feet over to give to my case manager.... but again, it doesn’t matter what I think or say is entirely up to him. I spent several minutes making my case and trying me best to talk him out of giving me a shot. Eventually he agreed and told me I would be receiving a disciplinary infraction.... AGAIN...WHAT???? a disciplinary infraction is just a lower form of a formal warning. Again, I reiterate that this is a simple misunderstanding and there must be another way to solve this. He was intent on assigning me some sort of punishment so we went back and forth for another couple minutes.

In the end he decided my attorney (My father) was to blame and he should be punished. So, my father, the most honest person I know, has been put on the BOP watch list and his mail will go through multiple levels of screening prior to me receiving it. This is the BOP at its finest. Unilateral decisions made with zero accountability. The scary thing is if I wouldn’t have been prepared, I could have received a formal warning. Terrifying.

The good news is I believe I am at about my halfway point of my incarceration. Thanks to everyone for sticking by me. I couldn’t do this without everyone.

Dad Comment: The below are the rules of the BOP which I do not blame you if you do not want to read. They do require that if the BOP is following their own rules I am to be given notice if my privileges are restricted. To date I have received no such notice.

“28 CFR § 540.18 refers to Section 10 of this Program Statement. (c) Grounds for the limitation or denial of an attorney’s correspondence rights or privileges are stated in part 543, subpart B.

If such action is taken, the Warden shall give written notice to the attorney and the inmate affected.

Part 543, subpart B, refers to the Program Statement Inmate Legal Activities. Any violation of the attorney/client correspondence privilege is referred to Regional Counsel, who, in conjunction with the Office of General Counsel, may restrict the inmate or attorney from further correspondence privileges.” Source BOP

Weekly newsletter. week 22
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