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COOPS Weekly - Life from Kansas #40

Updated: Nov 9, 2023

It is so friggin HOT here

....and to make matters worse our ice machines suck (they are constantly dripping water and/or are empty) ...imagine 300 inmates without AC living together 24/7 while the guards kick it in their air-conditioned rooms. Yeah... that’s a recipe for harmony.

We just finished watching the new Indiana Jones movie (I missed Guardians of the Galaxy the other night). My god that was long. I was worried I might be released before it was over.

For around 290 days I have served milk every morning for breakfast (We work 7 days a week). I do not drink milk but there are some inmates who drink it every day (and they drink a lot of it). Not sure if there is a shortage of milk outside...but there is here at the camp. Ha...So its pissing off the guys who work out all day.

We have a pretty large group of guys who lift around the clock (and take steroids...they are huge). Working out at the LPC is a big thing. Some people run...some people sports.... but some lift weights...and I mean lift heavy. These guys down about 5/6 glasses of milk every morning. I have seen inmates go from normal sizes to crazy ripped in pretty short periods of time. So, watching these gigantic guys get disproportionately pissed about a lack of milk is pretty funny.

Remember I a few newsletters ago I wrote about some guards who won’t let visiting children use any sports equipment (balls). Inmate visits can last almost a full day so its natural kids get bored and want to play. So, we try to get them games or sports to help them have fun. The battle continues. When the guards come and take the balls the inmates open up their windows and throw new ones out.... It’s pretty funny. The CO's gets frustrated and keep running out to collect the balls and hide them (or kick them on the roof or over the fence). I watched one particular CO walk up to a kid 7/8 years old and take a ball out of his hands...The kid had a puzzled look on his face and the inmate father just shook his head...CMON!!! Who does that???? It is interesting what collectively gets inmates pissed off. Messing with kids is something that universally gets this place fired up.

Somehow, we are short staffed here at Leavenworth. Guards are pulling double shifts. One of the areas that lacks adequate personnel (or anyone for that matter) the camp secretary. What does the camp secretary do? ALOT evidentially. She (or he) is responsible for making sure you can leave when your time is up. Well....the last secretary left (I wonder why???) and they are in no hurry to fill the position. So, the paperwork needed to exit prison is not getting done. People are stuck here for additional time because nobody will do the paperwork. It is awful. Families are driving up (it is a big event) to celebrate their release.... Only to be told...You can’t leave (although you have served your obligation) ...The paperwork hasn’t been done. "You should be able to leave soon." What is soon? For one buddy of ours... OH... ONLY OVER A MONTH....45 Days to be exact.

Craziest thing I have heard or seen at the LPC this week (RDAP VERSION)

RDAP is like a soap opera...There is so much going on. It is so entertaining. There are so many odd rules in RDAP (stuff you would never agree to under any other circumstances...but you don’t have a choice) ...but my rule is just to do what I am told and remember it is for the greater good of getting home as soon as I possibly can. I am in the minority though. Most people lose it (at some point) when they are forced to live by rules that make no sense. There is a guy two bunks over from me who was set to graduate...when I say graduate...he was days away from being done and going home. Well not so fast. He didn’t pass his knowledge test... (but again we are not a testing program). Very confusing. they put the brakes on him graduating and set him back a phase (Everyone heard this part of the story already in a previous newsletter) .... Well, he got more than upset and tried to fight the set back.

He wrote just about everybody complaining that his setback was unjust. In a less then brilliant move he actually wrote the Psych department...which went directly to the head of RDAP (Dr. Kerivan). I can’t imagine that went well (Actually it didn’t go well). He also went to our Camp administrator (she’s like the assistant warden), who doesn’t appear to be a fan of RDAP.... and she agreed with him...she handed him his travel tickets and sent him on way. He was sooooo HAPPY. He was convinced he was going home. So, he had a bus ticket and halfway house to report to, and he left the LPC early in the AM.

Well, when the RDAP staff found out he was going home.... they went to work....and as he arrived at his halfway house, he was denied entrance and sent back here. WOW...WHAT???? He was done (traveled halfway across the country) ....and they turned him around. He was certain he was going to win this round...He didn’t...I was stunned when I found out he was going home. You don’t win these battles against staff. He now is in my class doing an extra couple of months.

In that is another RDAP event that I wouldn’t have believed unless I was here to witness it. Each unit has its own bathroom for around 40 guys (so it is always full). The bathroom consists of 4 sinks, 3 toilets, 2 urinals, and 3 showers. The bathroom is in terrible shape. There is always something wrong with one or more of the sinks/toilets, etc... (And nothing gets fixed unless the inmates do it...with limited tools/parts). Anyway...we share/clean everything as best we can. As you can imagine washing your hands is a big thing...especially since we are forced to shake hands in morning RDAP meeting.

With covid still being a big thing, we had Purell hand sanitizer stations inserted in the bathrooms next to the sinks. Although the BOP is obligated to provide soap, they only do so occasionally (the departments fight over who is to supply it so nobody does). We are forced to find creative solutions...including buying our own soap/dish detergent and bringing it in the bathroom every time we need to use the restroom (can you imagine how ridiculous this is). So naturally soap bars are placed by the sinks to help everyone. We get in big trouble for this. We cannot have soap next to the sink...The whole unit had to write 5 pages essays on how we could do better in sanitation because a bar of soap was found on an inspection. Kinda trivial.... Kinda ridiculous.... But we have been told not to leave soap next to the sinks so I can live with the rule even if it is silly. The RDAP inmates at the safety department brought down these sanitizer bottles for us to use since using soap was a pain and/or against the rules. Well, the DTS staff didn’t like that. The reason? The Purell product has a minute amount of alcohol. WHAT???? These sanitizer stations are extremely rare. Getting alcohol here is about as easy as breathing. Any alcohol.... I mean anything...instantly.... So, it’s pretty silly they are worried about someone drinking Purell. But here is the best part. The guy who brought down the sanitizer got pulled into disciplinary team and warned. He would have been given a formal warning if this would have happened last week. We had the head head of RDAP (central office) come here last week and put a halt to the formal warnings (she called them petty and felt they were getting out of control). So, he wasn’t given one.... But an email was sent to the head of safety recommending that all 6 RDAPers that work in safety SHOULD BE FIRED!!!! FIRED!!!! Over soap and trying to keep sanitary...CMON!!!

The Return of OJO (kinda)

So big good news this week. OJO is back. My South African buddy sent to the SHU for "disobeying a direct order," was let out and allowed to return to the camp. I can’t tell you how happy we were. We came walking around the corner on a break and OJO was walking the Halls with a big smile on his face. He was released from the SHU. The SHU truly sucks (although it does have AC). Insufficient cause to hold him longer than a week, was the reason he was let out. He still received a 300 series shot (which he is contesting) and his access to commissary and email/phone is being withheld for the month as punishment. Most of his clothes/personal effects were mysteriously lost (They weren’t lost...its most likely part of the game being played...its punishment). The real bummer is all his legal paperwork was lost.... and that is irreplaceable. The same CO that issued the shot and sent OJO to the SHU is the same one that packed up his personal effects. So, he got to look at copies of OJO's complaints. In what world is that even allowed.... that is ridiculous and not safe. I actually was warned to stay away from this situation (I was trying to gather some information on how he was doing when he was in the SHU). It is well known in the camp that I help people and a certain CO is locked in a battle with OJO...and asking questions (even harmless ones) makes you potentially collateral damage. Sadly, I am very muted as to what I can say. There is so much more. SO THATS THE GOOD news. OJO was back.

NOW the bad news. OJO was sent to the SHU again (and another shot was written) by the CO that is determined to punish him. Not even 2 days passed. If it sounds crazy...good...IT IS CRAZY!!!! This time he was walking out of the gym and he was accused of going in another unit (which he didn’t do) ...But even if he is something everyone does. You would have to send everyone to the SHU...Nobody gets sent to SHU for that...I have never heard anyone get a warning for it (except if you are in RDAP...then you can’t go into other units...but he graduated and moved out of the unit...but even if you did just get a verbal warning). There is so much going on here to unpack. If a CO wants to get you, he will ...whether there is a reason or not. If you get loud about anyone’s conduct you put a target on your back. What do you do? Is it worth it to fight? If you win and get this CO in trouble, is it worth the wrath you will incur from other staff? How do you want to do your time.... under constant scrutiny...being constantly messed with? or without problems? It is not so simple. Most people just want to do their time without incident...the advice I have received (and still receive) is keep your head down. But here is what you need to some point even if you try to be perfect something will happen that will put you on the radar or put you in a spot to get in trouble. How you handle that particular moment is huge in prison. Again, if you are you argue/fight???? If we all just keep our head down (and not fight) how are things supposed to get better. Just something to think about. I understand why OJO is doing what he is doing...and even if I disagree with his strategy, I respect him for taking up the fight.

Let me say this I hope nobody who reads this never has to deal with our exhausting/expensive legal system...or the BOP. I promise will not go anything like you can imagine.

Less than 2 months left. I graduate RDAP on September 12th....I leave for Fresno the next day. Be safe everyone.

Weekly newsletter.week 40
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