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COOPS Weekly - Life from Kansas #48

Updated: Nov 9, 2023

Spending my last week here at Leavenworth.

I cannot believe I am actually leaving this place. I remember when I first got here ...there was no need to think about leaving because it was so far away. Well now it is here and I don't know what to think. I know I have had it easy compared to some of my favorite people here who have been down for years. But overall, this was a crazy experience. I have said this before I am one of those weird people that like to do crazy things (experiencing things on all levels). I might have wanted to go to a prison just to say I did it. Assuming I could have done it for a short time period with no life time scarlet letter.

Let me say this about Prison. It is a massive waste of time and money. Prison is supposed to rehabilitate people and for the vast majority it fails miserably. Most of us sit around and watch TV, read, exercise, etc....The other half do drugs/drink or become far better criminals than when they got here. There is supposed to be programing (classes) but there isn't (the lack of programing is mindboggling...I don't know of a single BOP institution that actually lives up to 10% of what it claims it does). I won’t bang on about the system except to say that I think prisons are here for the people that aren't in them. They are here to make the public feel comfortable (comfortable about punishing people, safety, etc.). They certainly don't help most of the inmates. That being said. Prison worked for me. Not the rehabilitation part...but the "wow... I'm going to prison part." There is nothing like going to prison to make you get your act together.

Prison is/was fascinating to me. You get to meet people who you would never ever meet under different circumstances. You also spend so much time with people you get to know them on level that usually takes years (to me prison is like reverse dog years.... You spend so much time with people you get to know them quicker). I remember being on the prison professors weekly zoom call and listening to Scott Laney (Justin and him lead these groups to provide advice to incoming inmates among others) talk about that, if he could, he would go back to prison for a weekend. I remember thinking this guy is out of his mind. He wasn't. I have told people here who think I am crazy.... I will miss the people here and to some extent this place. I may be out of my mind but it is true. I will miss walking the track. I will miss playing cards every night. I will miss biking. I won’t miss the food.

This is the first newsletter I am struggling to write. It is not that I don't know what I want to write about It is that I don't really know how to say what I want to say.

One of my favorite things to do is walking the track with a small crew (Mr. Goetz, Mr. Newling, Mr. Hinton, Mr. Jones). The crew varies but the conversations are always fascinating. One thing we discussed that I can’t stop thinking about is that each of us said in some way shape or form...that coming to prison...saved us, changed us, helped us.... whatever version applied to that person. For me it is difficult for me to say this but coming to prison probably saved my life. Leavenworth camp

This experience however brutal and unfair at times.... did help me in so many ways. LET ME BE CLEAR I AM NOT GIVING ANY CREDIT TO THE BOP. The experience...More so the people.... they helped change my life. I met some truly amazing people here and I learned so much about myself.... I can’t think on this experience as a negative. I was so scared, mad, and humbled coming here. I was worried I would humiliate my family; I was worried I would lose all my friends, destroy my reputation.... No doubt I am humbled and my reputation has taken a beating. But coming to prison put things in perspective.... If I can navigate prison successfully it makes everything else pale in comparison. I am not saying things won’t be hard...of course they will but If I can survive this then I think I will ready for the rest of life's challenges. My parents and family will always love me. Most of my friends will still have my back...those that don't that's ok to. I said I would come out of this experience stronger...and the one thing I know is that I haveI completely leaned into this experience. I worked my ass of at a job I never in a million years would have taken. I never once touched a drug despite having more access to them than any other time in my life (there are so many people that didn't do drugs until they got here and now, they are is very sad). I worked the RDAP program as well as I could. I assisted with legal work for probably around 40/50 people in this camp I got is a good shape as I have been in years. I read over a hundred books and wrote accompanying book reports for many of them. I made the most of my time...of that much I am certain. Recently posted on the front window of the bubble (guard center at the front of Leavenworth) reads the following message: "Attention all you METH users...Time to test...You have had plenty of time to get clean. Time is up. We are coming for you. If you are having trouble, I will get you clean." A bit of a mixed message. But you are either laughing at this message or you are worried that your time is up. This is the CO Slickback’s (a notorious previously discussed guard) last week before the quarter ends so he is planning to go out with a bang. Slickback came through our unit on one of his last days for count and there was a 12 pack of orange soda somebody had out (it was a commissary purchase earlier that day). He just grabbed it and took it for himself. Nothing anyone could do (nothing the inmate could do). He just wanted it and he took it. That is someone who is supposed to uphold the law right? Let me tell you this I would never EVER have believed what guards were capable of unless I saw it myself. Some not all...but a far worse than the is just a fact. Unreal.

One of the best parts of writing this newsletter has been hearing from inmates here with families who receive this newsletter that have commented on something I have written. It is hard to discuss what is going on here and the newsletter serves as a tool for updating people. Several inmates have come up to me and told how much their family has enjoyed the newsletter and/or informed me that it is a fun thing for them to talk about. That means the world to me. I want to give credit where credit is due. The idea of writing something weekly was not mine it was an idea given to me (Santos, Justin, Laney gave me the idea) .... Making it into a newsletter was my spin on it (my dad formatting it and adding pictures was a massive undertaking.... thanks dad). I think its valuable for the families that read this to know what is going on here and sometimes the inmates choose not to talk about it because they don't want to worry anyone (or they are worried about retaliation from the staff since everything on the phone/email is monitored). I am quite certain I made my life interesting by writing some of the things I did. But I don't regret it for a second. Writing these newsletters has been a blast...and I feel like I kept my word to my closest friends/family that I would talk as honestly as I could ABOUT EVERYTHING I COULD. I was open about when I struggled, and I was open about my experience, and the RDAP program. Thank you to everyone who reads this or has someone they care about here. Please know we could never do this without you. We talk so much about family I feel like I know some of you. The family of inmates that have received this newsletter are the families of my favorite people at the camp and people I feel lucky to have met. In my opinion they all have something remarkable about them and they way they feel about their family. I look forward to when they get to tell you ... They will be home soon....

Graduation is next Tuesday. 26 of us will be graduating. Our entire class is super close. A personal cool moment for me here in RDAP was regarding being chosen to give a speech. There are two speeches given at graduation. The success statement speech and then the commencement speech. My Blue wallet class selected Jones and me to give the speeches. Jones will be giving the success statement and I will be giving the commencement speech. Bummed nobody on the outside will get to hear it. I love doing these things. My speech will be about the people that helped me get through the program. There is not a single person in the class that I do not respect and have learned something from. As crazy as RDAP was...and it was still was a life changing experience.

Today (last Friday) we had our walk for Recovery Awareness Month. Over 150 inmates walked for someone that is important to them. I walked for my M's (Marie) mom Catherine McHugh who I absolutely adore. The RDAP staff put it together and they did an absolutely amazing job.

These are some of the helpful inmate legal and support sources that I have used while incarcerated. (you email Mike Berlon to get his newsletter on corrlinks.... good for basic info.)

For families of inmates- (go to the web to read the updates)

For inmates. (email Lisa to get added on corrlinks)

Craziest thing I have heard or seen at the LPC.

I have mentioned a number of times... lots of people have a hustle in prison. Well, this one takes the grand prize for strangest. Smoking is big in prison as well as chewing (tobaccos/DIP). Tobacco can at times be difficult to get in prison in the quantities needed to satisfy the large smoking population. Well get this... in order to meet demand there are inmates that go around collecting the used spit from chewing tobacco. They collect it.... let it dry out...and resell it to be used for rolling cigarettes. Evidentially it works pretty well. How much do they make doing this? Inmates can makeover $100 dollars a week collecting this and selling it to use for cigarettes. WHAT??? One of the higher paying gigs.

This time next week I will be Fresno. I am off to the Halfway house. I leave @ 9:35am on wed. Fly from Kansas to Denver. Then on to Fresno. My dad will be waiting to pick me up in Fresno. I will have big problems if I am not there before 6:35pm. An hour after I land. I am told I will be able to have my cell phone (same number as always). If I can...I will call... I look forward to talking to many of you for the first time in forever on the phone.

Lots of people have asked I going to stop writing the newsletter? Not Yet! First off, I have worked on some ways to keep in touch with people at LPC. I will keep providing information to anyone who needs it for as long as my obligation to the BOP exists. I think it is essential to hear firsthand what is going on in these places. The information that I received from people that left the lows/camps even a short time after they left (the information I received prior to coming in) is not as good as the information that is recent. There are so many changes going on that is positive for inmates that I want to help as long as I can with the best information possible. Plus, I want to keep track of the people I care about who are still here but hopefully leaving soon. After writing a newsletter, every week, I think it is likely I will write a book about my experience (the stuff that I could not talk about.... which is plenty!!!). I mean I basically have one already in the form of the newsletters. I have written plenty of things but never a book... I would like to make that happen.

Be safe everyone. Talk soon.

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Dec 01, 2023

Slickback is a Mormon and doesn’t drink Caffeine. The 12 pack was taken because he didn’t think that brand was sold on commissar, it was returned to the owner about 30 minutes later. The Meth users about five that letter was directed towards all had multiple positive drug tests and after many meth pipes and meth had been found their time was up for chance. they will get sent to the SHU and get clean there so yes “I will get you clean”.

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