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COOPS Weekly - Life from Kansas #36

Updated: Jan 11

Correction Officers

CO's at Leavenworth work for 3 to 4 months at a time and then they rotate to other prisons. We have some interesting guards here. By far the most feared (and disliked) a guy named Slickback (he was here at the beginning of my incarceration). I am not even sure of his real name. Everyone just calls him Slickback. If there was ever a nickname that fits it is his. He is about 6'2”, fully tatted with slicked back hair (most of the guards have tattoo's everywhere...they look like most of the inmates here just with a different uniform). He was in serious car accident a few years back involving an inmate’s visitor. (Crazy right?). Anyway...He is intense. Its best to just stay off his radar. When he is here, he messes with everyone. When he is here the inmates are miserable

One day this week I headed out the front door and passed the visitor center to take a walk. I had on my headphones and I was studying my flashcards for a RDAP "knowledge check," (The RDAP bosses won’t refer to this as a test even though that is exactly what it is...we are not supposed to be a testing program...but we are). Those who know me know I am not without my eccentricities.... I have no problem talking to myself. So, each time I got a correct answer from one of my flashcards I would make some sort of comment rather loudly ("nailed it" "correct[A1] ." "Booyah.") You have to remember I am out in the middle of nowhere. Anyway, I notice Slickback is following me. We make eye contact and he tells me to freeze..."Who are you talking to.... Let’s see your phone." I tell him I don’t have a phone. I get searched (A very thorough search). He is dead certain I have a phone. I explain to him..."listen, I am not sure if I was singing or just talking to myself...but that’s the kind of stuff I do...I’m out there." He looks at my flashcards and eventually realizes that I don’t have a phone but he isn’t happy about it. He tells me I am walking out of bounds (I wasn’t...we have this thing called a fence that denotes where you can and can’t go) and that if it happens again, I will get chores. CHORES? I didn’t want to get on his bad side so as he is walking away, I ask him if he liked my singing (trying to make a joke) ...He tells me that he has heard worse and that I should be careful talking to myself...."it’s a bad look." Me singing to myself is a bad look.

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

We have a guy here who did close to 20 years for a bank robbery. This is his 2nd stint in prison. He tells this story about when he got out of prison for the bank robbery.... He went to this local restaurant...and while there he sees this woman who looks super familiar. The women freaks out after seeing him.... She runs in the bathroom and boards up the door. The staff try to get her out.... but she refuses to come out. Eventually the cops come but instead of getting her out they arrest the inmate.

Apparently, the woman was the bank teller he robbed 20 years before. She remembered his face.... When the cops arrived, she ran out of the bathroom and exclaimed "that’s the guy who robbed us.... He put a shotgun in my face." She didn’t know he had been caught and had served his sentence. He had to explain to the police he had already done the time and that this was a big misunderstanding. She insisted he be arrested and even when it was explained to her that he had received his punishment she followed him home and called the cops a 2nd time. He eventually had to get a restraining order against her.

The RDAP drama continues

The program continues to set participants back and dish out formal warnings. Being set back means you are pushed back a minimum of 3 months. You can be set back for any reason however it is usually because you don’t understand the material (or you fail to participate).

Being set back is devastating. Basically, there are 3 phases in RDAP....denoted by wallets. Red wallets (beginning) is the orientation phase, Green Wallets (middle...I am a green wallet) is the core phase, and blue wallets (final) is the transition phase. The blue wallets are TWO DAYS away from graduating (with most of them going home).

One of the blue wallets upset about the "knowledge checks," (which are actually I explained earlier in the newsletter) tried to email Central Office and complain. It didn’t go well for him....and instead of going home in 2 days he is spending an additional three months in the program. He will be joining my class set back a phase. WOW...BRUTAL....

Several other participants including me were given formal warnings (which I will get to next). Formal warnings can be given for anything, but lately they are given for reasons that are the very definition of petty. Some formal warnings are for things like a pillow curtain (that was put up to block bugs coming in). A beanie (hat) under your bed. Having a poor attitude, having anything out on your locker other than a fan or clock.... CRAZY!!

So, a brutal week. I received a formal warning. I will do my best to explain this...but if it sounds ridiculous that’s because it is. I include the write up of my formal warning...and my response.

We have inspections every Wednesday and Friday. The Dr/DTS staff come in and view the unit and make sure it is inspection ready. If anything is out of place (AND I MEAN ANYTHING) you can get in trouble. I can’t possibly explain this to anyone who is not in prison. You would never believe anyone could get in trouble for the stuff we get in trouble for (I doubt the military is this strict). An extra bar of soap near the sink, a cup on a locker, a light out, etc... all areas that will bring about the wrath of the staff. Our unit is by the far the cleanest unit at the LPC...its immaculate. If you think the priority of RDAP is drugs you would be wrong. You get the same punishment for having a coffee cup on your locker as you do if you have a cell phone or testing positive/taking drugs (even though RDAP doesn’t test for drugs for some reason.... figure that one out???).

One of the DTS's noticed I had a 2nd pillow. I have had a 2nd pillow since the first week I was here. I have slept with a 2nd pillow for as long as I can remember (probably 16 years old). I don’t do it for fun I do it for elaborate back and pelvic pain. You need to get approval to do anything in prison. When I first got here, I was told by another MTC member I couldn’t have a 2nd pillow without permission. I went to the head of RDAP (Dr. Wells...who is now retired and not at the camp anymore) who I also saw for the MAT program (medically assisted treatment) and asked for permission to have a 2nd pillow. Which he gave me permission to have. He was well aware of my back/pelvic issues. Its crazy hard to get a lower bunk pass for back problems...But I have one...only because I had all my medical records sent in and it was approved by medical here. In addition, 2 of my neighbors heard me speak with Dr. Wells on 2nd occasion about the pillow. In addition to his permission. I have witnesses that can verify my story. So once the pillow was seen I was immediately told I would need to go to disciplinary team that day. Instead of addressing the issue right then and there I was respectful and decided to wait to tell the formal team (if you argue with a DTS at all you can get into big trouble). Once in team I explained my situation (they agreed I had a valid medical reason to have the pillow) ...they however, switched up their argument to state I wasn’t following rules (and I also had entitlement & sentimentality issues) .... WHAT????????? In short, they had already made up their mind to discipline me for something. I wish I could go into more detail but I really can’t since I am formally disputing the issue. Like most things in prison, it is not simple however not a single person in RDAP believes I did anything wrong.

So why am I mad about this? I am mad because I didn’t do anything wrong. My DTS (drug treatment specialist) Ms. Katz (who is awesome) agreed with me and fought hard for the formal warning to be withdrawn. It was not withdrawn. Again, I can’t go into too many details because I am still fighting this situation. If you read my write up hopefully it explains the situation.

The real reason I am fighting for the last five years I have fought to rebuild my reputation. When you are rebuilding your reputation, everything matters. I have been as perfect here as one can be. The formal warning is something the staff doesn’t feel is a big deal. However, they don’t get to decide that. This is on my permanent record and who knows what a judge or parole officer will read into it when he/she sees it (they will see the formal warning is for a second pillow and it is being disputed). One of my goals after prison is to finish getting my law degree (possibly becoming an attorney) .... I don’t want any blemishes.... certainly not for a friggin 2nd pillow. Anyone who is not here can’t possibly imagine how easy it is to get in trouble so explaining this seems silly. But I have done my best to explain it. I promised I would be brutally honest with everyone. My goal is gaining peoples trust and I know that is a long hard I am frustrated that I have to explain something like this.

(Dad comment: Scott’s warning reads as follows. I did not edit it)

Formal Warning

Carper was seen in treatment team on May 31st. 2023. RDAP staff members observed that Carper had 2 pillows on his bed. The unit rules allow for only one pillow, but Carper expressed that he was given permission by the previous DAP Coordinator, Dr. Wells, when Carper joined the RDAP program in October 2022. Carper reported that medical staff and Dr. Wells were aware of Carper's health issues that would justify a second pillow. A few treatment team member (sic) reported in team that Carper had already been issued three previous attitude checks (verified (sic) later to only be 2 attitude checks) and that he was struggling with entitlement and sentimentality. During this team, Carper agreed that he would sometimes struggle with entitlement, but reported this was not his intention in the current situation, and that he has serious health issues that require a 2nd pillow which is why he met with Dr. Wells in October. Treatment staff felt that he should have come forward in the here-and now and made sure that staff were aware of his agreement with Dr. Wells. It was decided Carper should receive a formal warning.

Following this treatment team, a second treatment took place on June 5th, 2023, due to Carper's drug treatment Specialist objections to the formal warning. It was decided by the DAP coordinator at this team meeting that the formal warning would stand and that the focus would be on entitlement and seemingly unimportant decisions.

Carper has been informed of the consequences of failing to complete the attached interventions, including remediation and possible expulsion from RDAP. This is first formal warning.

treatment interventions:

1. I will evaluate how I made seemingly unimportant decisions (SUDS) that led to my incarceration's. I will work with 2 members of my process group to create either a poster or a whiteboard drawing of the SUDS that led me to this point. I will present this to my application group for feedback on 6/16/2023.

2. I will consider (sic) examine the difference between entitlement and humility. I will speak with two members of my MTC who know me well and ask them how they see me struggling with entitlement and how they see me making positive strides with humility. I will share this with my process group. Due by 6/22/2023

Consequences for non - compliance with this treatment intervention or continued behavior may include (but are not limited to) expulsion from RDAP.

Scott’s response

Mr. Carper met with Dr. Wells, the previous DAPC, on multiple occasions regarding health issues and participation in the MAT program. During one of these meetings, he was given permission to have/use a 2nd pillow. Two (2) Fellow MTC member were witness to a 2nd conversation affirming said permission to have the pillow.

Mr. Carper was called to team for having a 2nd pillow. After hearing Mr. Carpers' explanation for having the 2nd pillow the DTS did not dispute that need (permission was also reaffirmed by Leavenworth Medical, Dr. Clark & Nurse Hanna added the 2nd pillow formally to his medical call sheet). After agreeing Mr. Carper had permission and a verified need for the 2nd pillow the team/formal warning should have never taken place.

Despite the justification for a 2nd pillow the treatment team continued with the pursuit of discipline. A new argument was made that Mr. Carper had been issued 3 attitude checks for specific reasons. Reasons the DTS staff cannot recall or provide. Mr. Carper maintains there was only one legitimate attitude check. Mr. Carper also questions why he was given attitude checks as the exact reason he was given them by the DTS/ Dr. Kerivan is unknown by them.

Mr. Carper stated, "in the past, he has HAD problems with entitlement". That was the only mention of entitlement in the treatment team.

Mr. Carper has agreed to complete the attached section: "Treatment interventions," to avoid any possibility of trouble/expulsion. However, he is disputing the formal warning and its addition to his permanent record.

I know it sounds like kindergarten but it is our life.

Enough for now...Miss everyone.

Weekly newsletter. week 36
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