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COOPS Weekly - Life from Kansas #31

Updated: Jan 10

In RDAP our leaders are chosen at the end of each phase.

Michel Santos is a principal of the Earning Freedom suite of companies which includes Prison Professors. PP provides free resources to those subject to federal prosecution for nonviolent crimes. From Michael's website “I’m a writer, a speaker, and an entrepreneur. I create learning resources and teach strategies that help others overcome struggle and become more successful.” The common mantra of those who use his resources including Scott is” I only wish I would have known about you earlier.”

Four (4) leaders are selected by the Drug Abuse Treatment Specialist (DTS), staff, and the inmates to run CORE (overall there are close to 80 participants in 4 leaders out of 80 people). Core runs RDAP for the inmates. It is a big honor to be chosen. Today I was asked to join CORE and lead RDAP for my last phase. I would be lying if I didn’t say I was excited. I was a unanimous choice by the existing core, so I am super flattered. Should make the last few months even more insanely busy than they already are.

Craziest thing I have heard or seen @ the LPC.

I heard the most intense story this past week...There are several women guards up at the medium (Leavenworth has a medium also). One was serving food to an inmate that was in a cell for violent behavior and she thought she had locked the gate but apparently not correctly. The inmate (he was a big guy evidently) was able to open the gate and knock out the guard. He didn’t stop there...He proceeded to really do a number on this female guard. Some inmate orderlies witnessed it and reluctantly jumped in... They ended up saving her life. They pulled the inmate attacking the guard off her and restrained him. That is a huge problem. Under inmate rules (unwritten but known by all nonetheless). No matter what the scenario, inmates are not allowed to help guards (under any circumstance). Most of the time the orderly inmates would have been put in protective custody immediately, however the CO's (the guards in charge) felt they would be safe because of the circumstances. They were not...the minute they got out into the yard they were stabbed. They did not die; they are now being sent to protective custody...But they will serve out the remainder of their sentences in isolation. They are not safe anywhere. CRAZY....

What would you do? Knowing you would be punished for helping a guard (insane consequences) ...or jumping in to save someone? Not an easy call. I am told (but don’t know) the judge is cutting significant time off the orderlies sentences because they saved the guards life.... But they still have serious time left. You can ask me when I am home what I think I would have done in that situation.

Pickle ball battle. Jones vs. Lang (the new kid). The battle to find a pickleball king @ the LPC continues to rage on

We play insane amounts of pickle-ball (well I don’t.... everyone else does). Goetz and Jason are the two top dogs. People don’t even want to play with them anymore because they keep crushing people.

Last week there was a challenge made to a new inmate. A one game winner takes all. If one lost, he had to shave his eyebrows. If the other lost, he had to shave his head. Shaved eyebrows doesn’t look as bad as you might think.

Michael Santos Comes to Leavenworth

If you are associated with advocating for inmates (or in prison, like me) and you haven’t heard of Michael Santos I am guessing you live in a cave with your fingers in your ears, and your eyes shut. Santos is the Walt Disney of felon advocates (Ha, Let’s just say he is well known in the circles I currently reside in).

I am guessing I watched close to 100 hours of Michael Santos programing before my arrival in prison. He has hundreds of videos discussing everything you can imagine regarding incarceration and what to expect. I hired the company he founded (white-collar advice, prison professors) to guide me through the scariest event of my life. The team of Justin, Larry, Scott, and Carole (Michael’s wife and one of the nicest people ever) were a huge help in preparing me for prison.

On Tuesday morning Michael stopped at the LPC as part of his "Earning Freedom," tour. He is visiting numerous prisons and camps in the US during the year. All RDAP was in attendance. I cannot begin to tell everyone how hard it is to get in front of us. All the DTS staff was asking what kind of pull this guy must have to make this happen. They have tried to get speakers before without much success. I can’t imagine want went into making his visit happen.

He spoke for almost 2 hours discussing various topics. His focus being his attempts to improve life for inmates during and after prison. He is currently working with the BOP to bring a new round of classes that inmates can take while incarcerated. The class will focus on helping inmates reintegrate into society. Specifically working on a release plan (something I have mentioned several times to everyone on my newsletter). Release plans are an incredibly useful tool for successful reentry back into society. These classes will also provide inmates with another way to earn First Step Act (FSA) credit. Michael stressed the key to being successful is focusing on always bettering yourself, especially in prison. Make the most of your time incarcerated and focus on bettering yourself in every way you can. I have personally followed his suggestions (I work, take classes, read and write book reports, and provide a weekly newsletter documenting my journey).

Mr. Santos spent 26 years in prison (he stayed in over 19 prisons in total). This experience gives him special credibility with inmates. I watched 20-30 people walk up and introduce themselves to him, all with their own problems. He was very generous with his time. I was able to introduce myself, shake hands, and spend a minute with him. Overall, everyone was very impressed with his presentation and there are lots of inquiries into the classes he will be offering. I truly believe Michael wants to help as many people as he can. Hard not to like a guy that works this hard for something in which he believes.

Weekly newsletter. week 31
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