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COOPS Weekly - Life from Kansas #23

Updated: Jan 15

I am back.

What a brutal couple of weeks. I got sick with covid.... I was one of the first 5 (I think???) to get it at Leavenworth...what an honor right?

They locked down the RDAP unit and began quarantining everyone who was sick. I will provide more details later. Most of the camp ended up getting it (which was about as predictable as knowing the sun would rise in the morning). We were told that 2 inmates died during this time (one at the camp, and one at the medium). Crazy!!!! You really don’t want to get sick here.

This newsletter will be my covid edition (being stuck 24/7 with lots of new people makes for some spectacular stories). HA. I am very excited to be able to use the phones and email again.

I completed my leadership class this past week. Kind of a bummer that I had to take the final exam from quarantine. Regardless I still managed to get the top grade in the class (which was no small feat as the class is made up of Lawyers, Doctors, hedge fund hacks, etc... all criminals...but let’s call them the smartest of the criminals). I absolutely loved the class.... I will talk more about the teacher in a separate newsletter (He teaches most of the interesting classes) .... He is awesome. We got these tokens for completing the class. It reads "Be intentional." We carry them everywhere. Love it. My new class begins tonight.

One of my initial big surprises was not going to either Lompoc (southern California) or Sheridan (northern Oregon) as these camps are far closer to friends and family. As I have mentioned previously, several inmates have transferred to Leavenworth camp from those places. I have now met multiple campers from both places. In quarantine I spent time with new inmates that had just transferred. I heard many great stories about each of these places.... There are two I want to share.

Sheridan (Oregon camp) - Sheridan is the closest camp to my home that has an RDAP program. There are no camps in California that have an RDAP program. (Go figure). I have wondered from day one why I did not get sent there. It is crazy that I was sent halfway around the country to Kansas, but I digress. I learned a little more this past week about RDAP at Sheridan. 3 new RDAPPERS transferred here from Sheridan. Turns out the RDAP program in Sheridan has been on hold for the last 8-10 months. One of the inmates in the program died of a drug overdose. Besides being incredibly ironic, it is also very sad (someone dying of a drug overdose in RDAP is pretty much the worst scenario anyone could imagine).

So, people are being transferred here from Sheridan so they can enroll in RDAP. Very interesting. It appears I was lucky I did not get sent there.

Lompoc - My neighbor in quarantine (he is pre-RDAPing....HE HAS 2....Not ONE....houses on the strand.... Manhattan Beach & Hermosa Beach....WOW!!!!!) He just came in from Lompoc. Anyway, he has some crazy stories about covid at Lompoc. Both his bunkmates in quarantine at Lompoc died from Covid. WHAT???? He was so superstitious about it he demanded a single bunk. Nobody had a problem with him getting it. Really cool guy and a LA neighbor. Small world.

Craziest thing I have seen or heard at the LPC this week.

Some of my quarantine buddies came from county prison (Highs and Medium). They have a military style RDAP unit in Missouri (OCC Missouri). WOW....The stories they have are crazy. Mike, who is my favorite, joined this RDAP unit during a punishment session called "Tighthouse." The counselors were punishing the unit because it was "SICK WITH SECRETS." The unit was committing to many BLT infractions (BLT stands for Borrowing, Lending & Trading).The punishment was for 21 days...For that period nobody in the unit could speak...WHAT??????? Also, for the entire day ...from the hours of 6am to 8pm the entire unit had to sit in the gym staring straight ahead, with perfect posture, no sleeping/talking or doing anything (hands on knees, staring at one another). If anyone laughed or fell asleep an extra day was added. If you wanted to use the bathroom you had to raise your hand and ask for permission. If the counselors believed you were just trying to get out of sitting, you had to perform a silent song and dance to the song "I’m a little T-cup." WHAT?????? Who thinks of this stuff? that is insane. Pretty creative torture.

My quarantine experience

What a disaster? I mean an absolute disaster....and that is being nice. People get happens. I’m not mad about that.... I’m bummed about how it was handled. Ultimately this covid outbreak affects my programing (RDAP Is SHUT DOWN during this outbreak). This time off will cost me a month at best...I will now get out at the end of this year (probably October instead of September) ...So of course I am upset... as are lots of other people. The worst part probably could have been avoided. We have Doctor's here (including an infectious disease expert), nurses, and medical staff. These people made suggestions on how to handle things and their input was ignored for reasons I still don’t truly understand (I can speculate why.... but my thoughts on this are bizarre so you might find it hard to believe).

On Sunday I started feeling terrible. Over the weekend I worked out super hard so I thought I might have just been rundown. Then later that night it became clear I was not feeling well....

Not sure how many of you have had covid. You know something is wrong. It feels least it did for us here. It is not like any cold you have experienced before. You are down for the count. Anyway, when I woke up Monday morning I went right to the medical unit. When I got there, I saw five other guys from RDAP in as bad a shape as I was. We all took tests and, they were positive.

RDAP is divided into 2 upstairs unit which has 40 people in it and a downstairs unit which has the same. I was the only person in the downstairs unit that tested positive. It was not ideal. It was pretty shi**y. I didn’t want to go back to the unit, but I was forced to. People were trying to distance themselves from was rough. I understood it but it was still super uncomfortable...It wasn’t like I could do anything about it. So, I just got into bed and slept. I woke up when the camp administrator came into the unit and told us that everyone would be testing. All 80 of the RDAPers got tested.

The first round of tests produced over 20-25 positive results. So, tons of people had it and the weird vibes turned immediately into blaming the BOP instead of any the people that were sick initially. It was actually pretty funny...

So, what do you think happened? Despite the advice from medical suggesting that we shut the whole camp was decided to take the people with covid and move them to another unit. So sick as hell I was forced to pack up and move to the upstairs unit. I can tell you that I was more than upset. I was the maddest I have been since I got here. My close friends here saw how upset/sick I was and bigtime saved me. Phil, Jones, and Ojo moved me and helped me get situated. I can’t stress how lucky I am to have these guys. Especially Phil (he is one of the coolest people I have ever met). It was huge. They were huge. The people that pick you up when your down are the ones that will forever have my loyalty. That is a true friend.

So, they moved everyone into 2 quarantine units....rules were set in place that nobody was to leave. Which c’mon...this is prison.... Those rules are going to be broken by the majority (not me) ...But you were never going to keep people out of each other’s units. It was completely predictable that covid was going to spread bigtime.... which is exactly what happened. By the next week 60 out of the 80 people had covid and an entire new wing was set up for the new people that just tested positive. Permanent lockers were moved to accommodate the new wing (so even if I wanted to move back to my original bed, I don’t have a locker was moved to another unit). It is a complete and total disaster. I wouldn’t be surprised if we never moved back (cross your fingers that doesn’t happen).

In quarantine we basically had to sit in our rooms and watch local TV (like 3 channels). Breakfast brought to us at crazy hours (breakfast was 5:30am, Lunch was 9am. Dinner was 3pm). Mail was brought to us. Most people just slept all day. Those of you who know me know this is torture. Luckily, I had my legal stuff and books from UCSB group, Dad, and friends. Lots of things were promised that never happened. We were supposed to have access to phones...didn’t happen. We were supposed to have people come up and do our laundry.... didn’t happen. We were supposed to have the water fixed (one of the units didn’t have hot water to cook/clean) .... didn’t happen. Nothing promised happened. People were furious. We couldn’t contact our loved ones; people went to the computers anyway and now the threat of being punished is on the table (but of course there will be no accountability for BOP staff for any of the things that they were supposed to deliver on) should be an interesting week. Hopefully RDAP starts up soon and we can get back to trying to get out of here.

I hope this email is not too negative...Despite a brutal 2 weeks.... I am doing great. I was excited to go back to work ( tables). People are frustrated and I think it is important to convey what is really going on here. It is just prison...which is what we say here when things don’t make sense here. You really must throw logic out the window. We can get in trouble for anything, but the LPC or the BOP can do whatever it wants with ZERO accountability. It is just the way it is. Regardless I am not down...quite the opposite. I am optimistic and doing great...and no matter what is thrown at me I will get past it. This experience will make me stronger.

Dad: How I picture Scott in Quarantine

Weekly newsletter. week 23
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