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COOPS Weekly - Life from Kansas #38

Updated: Jan 11

So, I have been here almost nine months

We finally had our introductory Orientation meeting (the meeting that tells us what we can and can’t do at the are supposed to have this meeting the first week you are here). Yeah, that didn’t happen. Everyone was wondering why now? What made us finally have this all-important orientation?

Well, the answer...We had inspection teams come in here and they almost shut the place down. Leavenworth got blasted for not providing even the most basic of services. Very little programming (classes), staff problems, poor condition of the building...It was hilarious during the inspection the staff was calling announcements on the PA...

."Ceramics is beginning in the education department in 5 minutes." HA ...ARE YOU KIDDING??? WE DONT HAVE CERAMICS CLASSES.

Just in my unit...It has been 7 months since our water heater/filter broke and they still haven’t fixed that. We have a hole in the roof that pours water into our activity room every time it rains.

The sinks, urinals/toilets/showers all are broken in some way. This place is not in great shape.

When you first arrive at the LPC you need shoes and toiletries, food.... lots of new inmates have questions about commissary.... When you first shop, you are encouraged to write "FIRST TIME SHOPPER," so you can get a few extra items and go over the $90 limit (after all $90 doesn’t go far when you are buying shoes or an MP3 player). Anyway, the head of commissary got up and said "I don’t give a FU^K if you write first time shopper you are only getting $90 worth of goods, so don’t bother." You just have to laugh...


Each week I wonder if I will ever run out of material for my newsletters and then the week begins. So much crazy stuff goes on here every day. This week has been INSANE.

Getting caught with a phone is serious.

However, over the past few months if you were caught with one...most of the time the guard just broke it in front of you and moved on.

This week things changed...If your caught with a phone you are going to the SHU then to a low or medium security prison. Having Slickback around changes everything. He doesn’t mess around. One of the strategies he employs is asking you if you want to bond out (bonding out means you trade contraband for getting let off the hook). It is usually some crazy trade that most people can’t make so it doesn’t happen.... if you are caught with a phone, he will tell you can walk on the charge if you find 10 phones and like a few hundred dollars’ worth of meth (or some other drug). So that can be hundreds of dollars in contraband you need to come up with in order to get off. Inmates will make the trade to avoid going to another facility.... There is usually a time in... you have a certain amount of time to make it happen or the offer is revoked. Which is what happened to one of my fav guys here. He was asked to find 10 phones to get out of his charge. He has been in jail for a while so he wouldn’t agree to it. He went to the SHU. We just finished packing him up. Bummer.

The possibility of going to another higher security prison is scary enough for me to absolutely to NEVER get a phone.... But to some people communicating with their wife/kids without being monitored is worth the risk. Anyway, anyone caught with a phone now is immediately sent off to the SHU then shipped to a higher security institution. The SHU is jam packed with people who have been caught.

Speaking of the SHU...Our good buddy Ojo was taken there for reasons I can’t fully explain to everyone while I am here. This story is beyond crazy

Thats all anyone has been talking about here. Everyone knows Ojo and likes him...well everyone except his case manager. I truly wish everyone could have witnessed what went down. If you recall Ojo is from South Africa. He is my partner in cards ever night in our spades game. He is a wonderful guy (fun, super happy, charismatic). He doesn’t do a thing wrong here. He follows all the rules. But this is another story of what happens when you get on the radar of staff.

Although Ojo is as nice as can be...He also won’t back down (which is something you need to learn here...You need to swallow your pride and basically be is hard...some people can’t do it). Also, he had enough of some of the BS that follows us around here on a day-to-day basis. It is hard to explain.... for some people it is hard to put on a happy face each and every day and deal with insane levels of incompetence. Ojo should be home by now however his FSA is not being calculated correctly (which is super common...To date I have zero FSA credited to my sentence) he is here far longer than he should be. Now most of us just accept that we can’t do anything to fix these issues...But Ojo has stronger than normal reasons for wanting to get home. So, he was determined to hold staff accountable (or at the very least push them to do their jobs). This culminated in a very public fight where his case manager tried to get Ojo fired from his job running the GED program in education...It was brutal. At that point Ojo was on his radar.... Once he was on his radar it was just a matter of time. Ojo was called out for not wearing the proper uniform and disobeying a direct order (To give perspective there was probably 10/12 other inmates in the hall that all weren’t wearing a proper uniform). He was given a shot and sent to the SHU. I probably will never see him again (he may lose his FSA/Good time credit and might end up at a low/medium...spending an extra year or so in prison). It is awful.

(Dad comment: Phone call last night. Ojo was just released from the Shu)

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

They found my escaped roommate/bunkmate. It was on the news...I’m sure you can google it if you want some additional info. The news was pretty entertaining for us...They made it sound like he was Houdini. He actually just walked out the front door. I wonder what everyone would think if they knew campers could leave whenever they want. The guards realized he was gone during 4pm count. Evidentially someone spotted him down by the river, some guards and dogs went after him but he lost them by likely jumping in the water. He was found later at his dad’s house. He now will spend a much longer time in jail. He would been released by years end. Why didn’t he just wait? Good question.

(Dad Comment: My search found coverage on him leaving the camp but little about him being found.)

If you don’t know let me, tell you I HATE THE HEAT....HATE it.... I may move to Seattle, Ireland or Japan when I am out because I can’t stand hot.... So, living in Kansas without AC is hell for me. You can’t imagine how hot it is here. People just lay in bed absolutely miserable...Sweating. It is going be a long summer.

Several articles have come out about how brutal the conditions are at certain prisons (especially the locations without AC... which Leavenworth is one) .... I find this fascinating since the budget for prisons could power most small countries. It is insane where all the money goes. Prisons in this area are running without AC, water or basic medical services. Jay Z just came out with a documentary where inmates are filming the conditions of some of the worst prisons with cell phones and I’m told its beyond brutal (remember we can’t watch streaming idea I have not seen it yet). Other countries (Europe. Australia, Japan) .... including the European Court of Justice.... are refusing to extradite prisoners to America because they consider the conditions in most of our prisons to be "cruel and unusual punishment." WHAT????? (Legal News - Monthly newsletter published by Ex inmates).

I just find this stuff interesting. Honestly, I have made no secret that I am not fond of this place.... But it could be worse.... After all

I am in prison.

Weekly newsletter. week 38
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