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COOPS Weekly - Life from Kansas #43

Updated: Nov 9, 2023

RDAP is back


Programming has resumed once again. As punishment for the contraband that was found, the entire unit had to write a disciplinary plan (as if we were in the RDAP DTS shoes...and we were 4 years old) and present it to the staff. I truly believe that part of the program consists of shutting the program down on purpose to see how we react (everyone freaks out since it effects our release dates). This is the 4th time since I have been here that we stopped programing. With the exception of the covid outbreak earlier in the year each shut down is because contraband is found. Hopefully this is the last time we get in trouble. Since I Pre-dapped for 3 months I have plenty of time to spare (accumulated hours of programming to graduate) ...however it still could mess with my release date.



The problem is this prison (and prisons everywhere) are absolutely packed with contraband (phones, vapes, etc.) ...and that is not going to change. RDAP is rare since they want us to police ourselves (which is wishful thinking). Hopefully we can avoid problems moving forward.


You never know how much time you are going to actually serve when you get a short sentence. Most people do about 50-60% of their sentence. However, with the success of the Cares act things are changing for the better (well at least I think it is better). New ways to be early release are coming to fruition. In my situation I choose to take RDAP because it was a guaranteed 6-12 months off my sentence. However, since every prison is different you don’t/won’t know if it is the right call until you get there (the Case Managers/staff wield tremendous power and they can dramatically shorten your sentence if they choose to). It turns out (in terms of length of sentence) it might have been the wrong call for me. Inmates who have had similar short sentences to mine are going home quicker if they didn’t take RDAP. With all the research I did prior to getting here I felt taking RDAP was the surest way to get home quicker. That is not necessarily the case in my situation. I would be lying if I didn’t say I was bummed about this. Nobody wants to stay in prison longer than they need to. RDAP is a massive time commitment and a huge source of stress. There are plenty of inmates that won’t enroll in RDAP simply because of the workload. That being said...I do not regret my decision. RDAP has taught me a ton about my addiction and addiction overall. When would you ever get 9 months to focus on something 24/7.




Not only do you work on addiction issues but you also spend enormous time public speaking, working on presentations, & getting an opportunity to lead. That is a huge win and time spent I will not regret.



Someone I met from prison professors came to the LPC. His name is Luke (not his real name). He is a medical professional from the South-Central region of the country. Due to wording of his charges, he was not allowed any RDAP time (so no 6-12 months off for taking RDAP). He decided to remain in RDAP because it kills time and he can keep busy.


One of the big problems here is how slow time moves. With this recent shutdown of RDAP....things have gotten interesting. Every time RDAP shuts down our release dates move.... that means extra work for the staff (CO's, Case Managers, Counselors) as they will likely need to change RDAP inmates release dates. They hate the extra work that is created. As I have mentioned before they also dislike RDAP for a number of reasons (we don’t drug test, they think we are all on drugs, we have our own dorm unit, etc.). Well, this most recent shutdown has fired up some of the staff. Luke met with his case manager and was given the option to sign out of RDAP so he could leave earlier. He was then given a release date of January of 2024. He has the same sentence as a number of us in our core group (24 months) and he will end up doing 5 months. He will do half the time we have done and won’t have the RDAP requirements (Part of the RDAP requirement is 4-6 months of after care when you are released). (Dad Comment: I expected his time in a half-way house will be considerably longer that Scott’s).



We have a new CO Kitchen Boss and dealing with him is a real brain buster. I was working today and this is the exchange we had.

· CO: What are you doing?

· ME: Consolidating the food so as to put it on one tray. Is that ok SIR?

· CO: Its fine...but don’t call me sir?

· ME: No problem BOSS

· CO: NO NO, Do I look like a boss? Don’t call me that.

· ME: Well actually you are my boss so yes you do look like one.... but I’m not trying to be disrespectful...What would you like me to call you?

· CO: You can figure that out.

· ME: Ok...what’s your name (which is something a CO is supposed to tell you when asked)?

· CO: I’m not telling you my name...F&*k that. No F&*king way I will tell you that...then people can write me up.

· ME: (thinking to myself...Can’t call him "sir, boss, won’t tell me his name." Ok...I’m stumped). I just walked off.


This conversation did not end. Other workers joined the conversation asking the same question..."how do we interact with you." "What do we call you?" NOBODY got an answer that solved the problem.


SCAMS


There are always scams going on to try and take advantage of inmate family members. The big one rt now is actually involving inmates scamming other inmates’ family members. When you first get to the Leavenworth Camp you are put into quarantine in the SHU (for covid). During this 14-30 day stay you have next to no outside contact.


You can’t get ahold of your loved ones and quite naturally those loved ones start to freak out. There are a number of inmate orderlies that have access to you (they bring you food/essentials, etc.). These inmates approach you and offer to reach out to your family and give them updates. Seems harmless. You pass on your info and numbers for spouse/loved ones. Well....at some point down the road they contact your loved ones and tell them you need money for an emergency/clothes/food...something reasonable and believable. They tell you to pay an account via Cash APP. The other way they contact family member is they have someone on the outside post messages via Facebook. This can be a disaster since some of the inmates try to keep their prison term private. A fellow MTC member was just outed to his entire high school because someone tried this scam on him...He was devastated...


Craziest thing I have seen or heard at the LPC

I have mentioned the dog unit a number of times to everyone. The dogs are constantly all over the compound. Some of them have pretty hilarious personalities. One dog in particular cannot stand the guards. Whenever Slickback (the guard) walks through and does count this dog barks and/or goes after him. At first it was just Slickback but now this dog picking out others (clearly the dog is a genius). This week some of the CO's were patrolling the yard (which they really never do). Next to the Bochy ball court (yes, we have a Bochy ball court) there was a speaker system that plugs into a MP3 player. Yes, this is an example of contraband.... But most guards leave this stuff alone because it is no big deal. The majority of guards just care about phones/vapes/ and drugs. They would rather us watching TV, listening to music and exercising, or doing something productive. Well, this particular CO grabbed the speakers and started to walk off. The dog ran up to the CO and started barking, trying to protect the equipment. The inmates did not teach the dog to do this...he did it on his own. HA...inmates were cheering on the dog....he has become the official inmate mascot of Leavenworth.


OJO the freeman.


Here is another Ojo story that is pretty incredible (but incredible in a good way). I have mentioned to everyone in previous newsletters that there are actually some people I have met in here that I believe our innocent. Ojo is one of them. Ojo has maintained his innocence throughout his time here. You spend so much time with people in here that you really get to know them. You see them on their best behavior but you also see them stressed & angry (which gives you a full picture of what kind of person they are). You get a sense with most people whether or not they are capable of committing a crime. It is hard to explain. For most people the reason they are in here makes sense at some point based on behaviors they exhibit. With Ojo his charges don’t match his behavior (he is in here for a PPO scam, that he claims he didn’t know was a scam/what he was signing). Ojo is far from perfect.... he actually is one of the few people here that drive me crazy (we have gotten into over cards, or political discussions), and sometimes he does thing I do not agree with, but also there is sometimes a communication barrier with him (again he is from South Africa). He maintains that he signed some documents based on bad information. Most of us believe him. This fits with things I have seen with him and again his behavior does not lead me to believe he could break the law in a way that lands him here.


One of the conditions of RDAP is you need to admit you committed your crime. The theory is part of your recovery rests on taking ownership of your actions. Some RDAP participants hate this part since we feel like there is some injustice to us being here (not that we are completely innocent but that we didn’t do what we were accused of). Ojo actually almost got set back in the program because he wouldn’t admit his crime.


It turns out Ojo was right to battle as hard as he did. Ojo will be going home soon. He won his appeal and the charges will be dropped. I cannot tell everyone how rare this is. Battling anything in the federal system takes huge amounts of time and resources. He lost property, his life savings, and almost lost his house fighting this. All just to prove he was innocent. We play cards every night and we talk about his case. He had this super good feeling about his appeal based on the argument his lawyer was making. I must admit I thought his lawyer did an excellent job but I know how rare it is to overturn something (or to win...remember the Feds have a 97% conviction rate) ...So I cautioned him to not get his hopes up. He did anyway....and he won.... that is absolutely amazing. He will have served over 14 months on a crime he did not commit. Crazy. Now he waits. Nothing moves quickly in the BOP....His attorney thinks it will take months for him to be released.


Miss everyone. Stay safe.


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