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COOPS Weekly - Life from Kansas #46

Updated: Nov 9, 2023

Leavenworth is called the HOTHOUSE for a reason.

It is a level of hot here I have never experienced. Like so hot that absolutely everyone (except staff who have AC) are miserable. It is 125 on the heat index with a 105-degree high heat in the units (hotter upstairs). I can’t begin to explain how uncomfortable this place is for the inmates. You get little to no sleep, and you drip sweat just sitting in a chair. To make matters worse we have no ice (the ice machines cannot keep up). The ridiculous part is there are portable AC units that could be used. However, the camp administrator (who hasn't been here in weeks/months) won’t let it happen.

RDAP Update. We had another threatened shut down (I run a week behind with the newsletter). This is getting repetitive...I feel like I am writing about a program suspension every other week. We were told that this is most shut downs for any one class. That's not great. For me personally it was the worst day I have had in RDAP. The community was accused of smoking (cigarettes) excessively in the unit ("You could cut the smoke with a knife," is what a CO stated). NOBODY was smoking in the unit. Most of the CO's/Guards hate RDAP so they are happy to throw it under the bus. We are surrounded on all corners by units that smoke constantly.... You can walk down the hall and at some point, you will smell weed/smoke coming from a number of other units. Anyway, the community got pretty upset and pushed back against the proposed shutdown. It got super tense between staff and the inmates. Some inmates walked out of the morning meeting. That was a first...never thought I would see that. That's all I will say for now...Overall it was a bad situation for everyone. We are continuing programing for now but it feels like a shutdown remains a possibility. People were as angry has I have seen them (People threatening to sign out of the program).

I am down to my last 3 newsletters while at Leavenworth (the last one might be tough since my email/phone will be turned shortly before I leave). I wanted to answer some questions I received for people that are on the way to camps/lows.

One. Explain how music and videos work for inmates (specifically cost)? Everything works off a system called corrlinks. It is as old as it gets. But you can work with it. Emails are limited to 13000 characters for both parties (you can’t cut or past or add anything, no pics, no links). Its super basic. Whenever you want to access email/music/videos you login with your inmate #, TRU #, AND PIN or fingerprint (all stuff that the BOP will provide).

With music there actually is a good selection/song (no profanity). Everything is charged by the unit. For 30$ you get 600 units (which is the most you can buy at one time). For 15$ you get 300 units (and so on). I think the smallest buy for units is 30 units (which is a dollar). Movies cost around 4-5$ (or 71-94 units). Songs cost around 1-2$ (24 -34 units). If you can get a tablet, you have access to the movies...they have a selection of about 25 movies. They are decent movies (popular titles...NEW Top Gun/Star Wars/Star trek. You get it). You get 2 days to watch the movie (but you can only watch it 1 and half times). The music is yours on your MP3 player or tablet. For some reason Leavenworth stopped selling MP3 be ready for that. I spend a couple hundred a month on emails/music/movies (most of it on email...but I email quite a bit).

Two. Explain your experience with BP8's (administrative remedies). I have helped several people with their BP8/9/10/11(yes there is a BP 12 & BP 13, they go to Washington DC/Attorney General’s office). My experience with the system is basically a slow long path to frustration. It is beyond rare for you to get a positive response within whatever institution you are reside (Leavenworth). Until you get to the BP10/11 your responses come from the Leavenworth staff and they are basically denied. You have time restraints that are really never followed by the institution which causes all sorts of problems.... Your BP is returned far past the documented deadlines. It is a source of great frustration for the inmates. I have only seen one positive response from a BP8/9 and that was for Mr. Bennett (he had a rock-solid argument and even then, we only got half of what we wanted). Now that being said we have had plenty of positive responses when things leave Leavenworth (BP10/11). Especially when the answer is given from central office Kansas or central office Grand Prairie. But you are looking at a 5–8-month turnaround and that is a long time, especially if your sentence is short. Evidently, we have had more BP8's filed in the last month then we had in the previous 10 months combined.

Updated Bucket Prison Bucket list

1.) Shave head. HA...I did this but if I'm being honest, it was kinda an accident. I told the barber (who is an inmate) not to use a clipper guard (I just spaced). There are a ton of inmates that have shaved heads here (lots of face/head tattoo’s) ...Maybe it’s an East coast thing...but its prevalent. During my Detox coma I went super short....and since I was super short, I figured why not and low as I could). Considering I have very little hair left this was interesting...

2.) Interview a CO. Not sure I can pull this one off. But when they talk, they dole out crazy stories and its fascinating. I did get permission from One CO to use his name whenever I write. That was a win.

3.) Write my favorite author. I have written Angela Duckworth (author of GRIT, my favorite book I have read here). Additionally, a group of us penned her a letter that was super cool.

4.) Beat the youngsters in BB. My hernia blew this one up. But it has been fun watching some of my buddies play the under 40's. Goetz, Newling, Kennedy & Salmeh came within a point of beating the kids the other night. They ran out of gas or otherwise they would have won.

5.) Dominos with the brothers. I am learning dominos. Running out of time on this one.

6.) Have the tattoo artist draw my pictures. Done. I had my Marie, Sparger and Jess drawn a couple times.... There are some insane artists in here.

7.) Adopt a dog. I was stopped cold on this one. I'm told California has dogs. Lost that argument.

8.) RDAP trivia vs. DTS. I have made the challenge. Doesn't look like it will happen. Let’s be honest nobody wants to go head-to-head with me on RDAP trivia. There is nobody that knows the material like I do (not sure that is a good thing).

9.) Take DISC class. I wanted to take this the minute I got out...and Matt Petersen ended up teaching it here (so I saved some $ on this). Matt's classes are dynamite (we are lucky to have him). DISC classes are a personality type class (kind of like the MYERS Brigg tests). You learn how to classify then interact with different personality types. Loved the class. (Dad Comment: DiSC® is a personal assessment tool used to help improve teamwork, communication, and productivity in the workplace.)

Prosecutor Tactics

I have discussed (interviewed) at length, a number of inmates that I feel MIGHT be not guilty (let me be clear.... I am not saying these people are innocent...I truly don't know.... I am saying I think it is possible). But I have noticed one common denominator and it sickens me. All these people were threatened to take plea deals (over half of them resisted) by the prosecutor and/or their family/loved ones/& friends would be indicted. Several of those people's families get this newsletter. It is no secret prosecutors can be downright shady when it comes to putting together their case or indictment. Until I got here, I never really thought about the tactics prosecutors use. One of the go to moves is threatening loved ones to get you to plea.

Based on my trial I am not the biggest fan of prosecutor’s tactics. My prosecutor was admonished by the judge for flat out making stuff up. The specifics of some inmate stories are brutal (I can’t discuss some of them since there are appeals in the works). I have multiple friends in here who beat multiple rounds of legal battles only to end up taking a deal after years of fighting. Newling, Decker, and Gillum were all threatened by the prosecution if they didn't take deal (go after their family in some way or another). You go into court thinking you are going to fight no matter what then a prosecutor threatens to bring everyone you care about into the situation. What would you do? Not so easy to keep fighting.

A success statement is one of the last steps we have in RDAP. We prepare a speech that covers what you have learned about yourself in the program. During one inmate’s success statement, he told us his prosecutor threatened him by telling him he will charge his mother, brother, and sisters if he didn't plead guilty. WOW!!! This was after having beaten the first 3 charges brought by the prosecutor. If a prosecutor loses and he/she can simply keep trying (adding new charges as he goes). After this inmate pled guilty his town rallied for him and had banners and shirts made during a parade that read "Where here because your there." That's a powerful image.

Craziest thing I have heard or seen at the LPC (part 2).

This is hilarious. There is a dog in the dog unit.... that at every day at 4pm (4pm - EVERY DAY is count for the inmates). The dog stands next to his trainer and won’t move until he sees his owner counted by the guard. Love it. Maybe you have to be here to get how funny this is. Counts can take a long time so this is no small feat of patience for a dog.

I absolutely hate quitting things. My back/stomach (hernia...whatever it is) is not getting better so I was forced to stop working earlier than I would have liked. It really fills the time so I was hoping to work up until the end. This past week I spoke to my kitchen boss and told him I needed to manage my injury better so it was time to stop. He was super cool about it and offered to keep me on the payroll until I leave. I'm still allowed to use the kitchen anytime and come in early for all meals. He even shook my hand and wished me well. That sounds silly but I thought it was cool (that doesn't happen here).

I struggle to take advice from people...however I ended up taking advice reluctantly here and I knew it was the right call. Really stubborn about some things. But I am learning to take advice from some people I trust here and I am lucky to have a solid core group (Goetz, Jones, Newling, Hinton, Freeman, Decker)

So that leads me to hopefully my last story I will write about almost getting in trouble doing absolutely nothing. When you work you get put on a different count list. Counts are done several times a day to make sure all inmates are present, depending on the guard they can be somewhat serious (no talking, watching movies, while count is going...some places are way stricter than Leavenworth on this but you hear stories). Since I work during the day I am usually being counted at my job (kitchen) as opposed to be counted in your unit (just on weekends when we have a 10:30 COUNT). Since it is super-hot here, we have a ton of fans running in our units...that means you rarely hear announcements. Since I am no longer working in the kitchen, I was taken off the kitchen count. Somehow a mistake was made and I was put back on for Saturday. So, when the 10:30 count came I was not in the kitchen and they started looking for me. I was in my unit waiting.... They made a couple of announcements and I couldn't hear anything because of the fans. A Lieutenant was here (which they never are) and he got pissed. He said "Carper is not here, send him to the SHU." WHAT??? I don't control the count sheet. Luckily my boss was there to go to bat for me and explain it was their mistake...but if it had been another kitchen CO I would have been screwed. I would have been in the SHU for the weekend Minimum...perhaps a couple weeks, until it was resolved. The rest of the kitchen staff heard it got resolved but let me think I was on my way the SHU as a joke. I tried to act calm but I was a mess. NOT FUNNY. That would have sucked. (Dad comment: I was flying to Kansas City and if Scott had been put in Shu would not have been able to visit).

I got fingerprinted last Thursday with four other I am one step closer to the door. See everyone soon.

Weekly newsletter.week 46
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