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COOPS Weekly - Life from Kansas #24

Updated: Jan 15

Fallout from Quarantine

Things are crazy here right now. We are not being moved back to our original bunks and people are very upset. More than 5 people have dropped out of RDAP out of frustration. Several others are talking about dropping out. That is not good for the program. Very stressful. I am trying to convince people to stay in the program, however there is only so much I can do. Inmates have very valid concerns.

We will see how it shakes out. As I mentioned last newsletter, I will be set back at least a month because of quarantine that also is no bueno. If additional setbacks occur people with shorter sentences will drop out (It is something I will need to consider). I don’t want too but I am not going to stay in prison longer than I need to. That is crazy talk.

Speaking of crazy.... Craziest thing I have seen or heard @ the LPC this week.

One of the inmates in RDAP really keeps to himself. He has been in prison for over 17 years (starting at a high, then medium, low, and finally 2 camps). We say hi but never talk. He has just started talking.

I was riding the exercise bike this am and he jumped on a bike next to me. I read while I exercise...I was surprised when he asked me if "I liked the book I was reading." That started off what turned into a thoroughly interesting conversation.

He has lived in a cell (much more private than the dorm we live in now) he is getting used to what he feels is a big adjustment. He asked me all about what is happening in the free world. Most of the things I mentioned he has never seen and most never heard of. He had never seen Facebook until recently...can you imagine??? He told me about the first experience he had seeing the new IPHONE. He has been out of prison once in the last 15 years...

Scott with 5 of his 7 girl cousins at our 50th wedding anniversary

While out he saw Facebook for the first time. Not only did he use Facebook to catch up on old friends...he also used it to look up a 15-year-old daughter he has never met. His first exposure to Facebook was seeing a daughter that he had never met but had been told looked like him. Wild.

Reentry Plan Story

I have previously mentioned that I am helping others with their reentry plan (a very detailed plan that demonstrates how you intend to reintegrate back into society successfully).

A guy that I came here with (he is in prison professors with me) ...Put together this beautiful well written plan. We spent hours on it. His intent was to bring it to his case manager and have it put in his central file (your central file is the area that can be accessed by most BOP it helps with halfway house/parole...etc.). He was super excited to be finished and went to his case manager’s open house to drop it off and update him. I was standing at the computer terminal as he went in. This is exactly how the conversation went...I was 5 feet away.

INMATE - "Hello sir I’m here to update you on my progress and turn in a reentry plan." The case manager’s exact response...."Get the fuck out of my I will not take that re-entry plan."

ARE YOU KIDDING ME???? That ladies and gentlemen is the kind of cooperation we get every day. EVERY DAY....I hope none of you have ever been treated like this. It is mind boggling. There is nothing he can do other than try again another day. He was devastated.

Among the issues addressed in his reentry plan was his release address. At this point he can’t change his release address without the cooperation of his counselor, and the current BOP plan is to send him to a state other than his home state for his halfway house. The best he can do is file a grievance...but even if he wins it won’t be in time.


Every month I meet with Dr. Kerivan (Head of RDAP) as part of the MAT program (medically assisted treatment). Basically, this is a shot I take once a month for back pain, It has some interesting side effects and she needs to make sure I am not going to go crazy. When I used to meet with Dr. Wells (the previous RDAP Doctor) he used to just ask me If I had any suicidal thoughts. I would say "No," and then I was sent on my way. Dr. Kerivan is very helpful and super intelligent. She spends time and really seems to care how I am doing (including asking questions associated with taking the Vshot). I have gone out of my way to not bother the RDAP staff. I think there are other people that need her time rather me. Regardless she has gotten to know me pretty well and she has shown me areas I need to improve. I have been very impressed with her and the feedback she has given me.

Quick story that applies here.... When I was in my 30's and at the height of being in pain (my stomach/back damage) whenever I was asked how I was doing I used to give these really depressing responses. "How are you, Scott." "Oh, I’m doing terrible." I usually still had some witty spin on it being sarcastic. Regardless At some point I became so disappointed in those consistent terrible responses. Nobody wants to hear people complain and that is all I was doing. Anyway...I promised myself never matter how bad I felt I would never have that attitude again

So fast forward to today. In prison I have been nothing but positive/upbeat. Whenever someone asks me how I am doing...I always respond "fantastic." I have been that way for several years now. Well, every time I met with Dr. Kerivan no matter how my life was going, I would always say everything was spectacular. In my last meeting Dr. Kerivan after discussing the recent deaths of 2 people who were very important to me.... She stopped and stated, " I find it hard to believe you are doing FANTASTIC." This point resonated with me. Although I did feel like I was doing some ways I really wasn’t. More importantly she brought to my attention that my attitude that everything was always great made it difficult for some people to relate to me. Again, my philosophy is nobody wants to hear people constantly complain and I have vowed not to be that guy. Also, I am happy 90% of the time...I think that one of the reasons people enjoy my company is I am always positive.

She felt some people in RDAP might be put off by me (WHAT???? I never saw this) .... She wanted me to open and admit I have trouble like everyone else. She is not the first person to say this to me (my core group here has also brought it up). One of my assignments was to discuss my friends passing (show vulnerability) in process group and morning meeting. Although I really did not want to do this (I hated it) .... I did it. Surprisingly it has made an impact. I never want to give off the impression that I see myself in a different light than others here. Afterall I am here after making some catastrophic mistakes. Nobody came up to me and said anything directly (other than support) about being more approachable. Since then, I have noticed a change in some people. Could be a coincidence? Who knows. But I really appreciated the feedback and I feel like she may have been on to something. Makes you think.

Love everyone. Thanks for the continued support. Talk soon.

Weekly newsletter. week 24
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