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COOPS Weekly - Life from Kansas #49

Updated: Nov 9, 2023

My last week at LPC

I’m writing this from a cell phone so bear with me (yes, I have a cell phone day at the halfway house and it is not against the rules.) Ok so let’s talk about one of the first things I can talk about now that I’m out of Leavenworth. Do you remember me writing about the OSHA violations that hit Leavenworth (leaks, mold, infestations, general brutal conditions of the facility….an inmate in RDAP falling in the wet floor & busting his elbow). Well, that OSHA inspection didn’t exactly happen for no reason. Two other inmates & I were behind it (Mr. Scott, myself & one other who I will not name since he could still get in trouble…. they know Mr. Scott is involved…. I will explain more in a bit). Mr. Scott’s parents came to visit on a weekend during the heat wave…. they saw their son drenched in sweat…thus they found out we have no AC. They couldn’t believe it and started asking additional questions. Most inmates don’t talk about the conditions of the facilities…. what’s the point? Mr. Scott hadn’t…. when he did his parents were livid. They happen to be connected to the Kansas political scene (senator & congressmen). They spoke to senator Jerry Moran who in turn asked us to write a letter detailing the conditions. I wrote that letter. I was brutally honest. Now the funny part is I have a distinct way of writing…. I include a lot of periods and am rather sarcastic on certain topics. When OSHA came in and posted the complaints they literally cut and pasted what I wrote. People close to me knew it was my writing. Most of the inmates loathe the facility and would love to see the BOP suffer. However, some like the existing system of chaos and disorganization, the facility in a constant state of broken (if you’re doing drugs all day you don’t want people coming in to mess anything up). Anyway, none of us thought anything would happen. Well, the week before I left Mr. Scott was called into the bubble by the camp administrator. It turns out that the OSHA warning might turn into something. They knew he was involved because he had to sign paperwork acknowledging an investigation was occurring. They threatened him with a Shot (insubordination) & sending him to the SHU. Luckily, he has been down for a long time and has a solid disciplinary record (he also does run the church services & band room for inmates) ….so he has some juice, but he needs to be careful. My guess is nothing happens still…. maybe some people at Leavenworth have to fix some stuff (do their jobs). But the new camp is being built ….



They will stall…. or flat out not fix anything. But making things difficult for them seems like a win. The conditions of the camp are ridiculous.

My last few days in Leavenworth camp were a trip. My hernia is very inconvenient so I was worried my last few weeks were going to be with me just laid up, But I was able to get a hernia belt (or something similar) and that has made all the difference in the world. It makes it manageable. I spent a lot of time writing letters to people that made an impact on me. But mostly I just walked with buddies, worked on my speech for RDAP graduation, and got ready to leave. I gave the graduation speech, which was fun (I wish I could show everyone that). I talked about the three rules of navigating RDAP (my 3 rules). I compared it to fight club (first rule of Fight club….no talking about fight club). So here are “the rules for surviving RDAP.” Rule 1 - Know the rules of RDAP. Criminal/common thinking errors, 8 attitudes of change, pro social lifestyle, external /internal obstacles, etc.

Within the first rule you also need to come to three conclusions

  1. You made some sort of mistake to get here (prison/RDAP)

  2. Your actions had a ripple effect. You didn’t just hurt yourself (you are not the only one you hurt)

  3. You have some problem with addiction you need to come to terms with.

Rule 2 - Adapt to the environment. Pull from RDAP what you need. If you want to get good at public speaking then work on that. If you want to lead run a committee or be a mentor. If you want to lose weight, then walk the track or work out. Whatever you want to get a good at you need to show yourself you can do it. That will lead to confidence and success. Also, you need to practice it. It can’t be partial success. You need to show yourself you can follow through. Rule 3 - Fight for each other. The best RDAP resource is the people. At what point in your life are you ever going to meet people this diverse? When are you ever going to spend this much time with those people? I truly got to know close to 100 guys in RDAP. I knew their strengths and weaknesses, and what they do well and what they need to improve on. In conclusion, I thanked everybody that made a huge impact on me. I made them stand individually, and then I told them what I admired most about them. Most of those inmates have family attached to this email. I truly believe that I met some really fantastic people in prison that I hope I can stay in touch with. They made me better and I thank them for that. I also talked about getting my word back (doing what I say). I lost that prior to coming here. My number one goal was to get that back. I would be lying if I said I didn’t get emotional for graduation. RDAP is a lot. It’s exhausting mentally and physically and what I can say now that I really couldn’t say earlier….is you put up with the pettiest shit you have ever encountered. You eat & sleep RDAP…. if there is drama in the unit it affects everyone.


I don’t care how strong you are you get worn down. But overall, I got a ton from it. I have thought long and hard about all the people I let down because of my actions (which was another part of my speech. The way our behavior affects others). I look forward to addressing those thoughts when I am home/LA.


About 7/10 days before I left Leavenworth, I tried to get my information (driver’s license, social card, med card) From the camp administrator but she wasn’t going to give it to me…. she can…the camp administrator has a ton of power (she would tell me I will get it when I leave, my case manager would just say no….” the camp secretary’s does that and she quit …so no.” I knew it was going be an issue (and it was). You know they say you need all your information when you report to prison but you absolutely never ever use any of it…they figure out who you are with basic identification). Honestly, I would tell people bring a duplicate license or old card. Your chances of getting these VERY IMPORTANT ITEMS back from most institutions is very low.


It is a reoccurring theme at the 1/2-way house that you do not get your essential documents back (I haven’t met anyone from my halfway house that was given their ID’s/social back - so that’s multiple institutions). Everyone has a story. You can call or have the halfway house secretary reach out to your institution (they know you need it), but again you are at the mercy of people that don’t do their job and have zero accountability. So now I can’t work or really do anything until I get that information (pain in the ass).


Let me say this. I was told my information (license, etc.) was in my central file by other inmates (Newling, Peterson). I knew they were right. But somehow, I believed I would get these things back. I was told multiple times by staff I would be given it at R & D (receiving & departure). I’m mad at myself for slightly thinking this might be true (that staff would do their jobs). Your license/info is most definitely in your central file. Stay firm on that point. I’m not saying it would matter, my case manager barely gave me my departure itinerary, when I asked him to get my Driver’s License he just said No (and that I was wrong about it being in my central file) but you should know it’s 100% there. Also be clear about a driver’s license vs. an ID (they do give you a prison ID at R & D). Will this help you get it …probably not? But I want you to know where it is with 100% certainty.


Airport


So, I leave for the airport & the person I left with got dumb the minute he knew he was leaving (he who was one of the few people at camp I didn’t know at all). His family met him there and blinged him out (gave him a ton of jewelry/ phone, to hold /wear). We waited 10 minutes while he put all this stuff on. He didn’t listen to the town driver or me telling him we were not out yet. You still have to go up to the medium and fingerprint…so it cracked me up he had to take it all off. Also, he almost walked into the medium with his cell phone (which would have been a huge disaster). I’m amazed this guy was getting out.


When you leave you are given a federal ID, documents, credit card, & money (I was given $11…. that’s for 2 meals…. Ha….) Also, the credit card you are given you have to activate and unless a relative picks you up you don’t have a phone …. (Remember I live in California and was not being sent to my home city so relatives helping made no sense). Pay phones are next to nonexistent now … so that means you have to borrow some random persons phone (ha…. I’m sure some people will not like that).


You are dressed in grays or greens when you leave (with a laundry bag that is see through and or a gym bag that is see through so you look the part of a prisoner …. Or military maybe). What cracked me up at the airport is everyone knew I was an inmate…as in they said something (I’m not guessing that they knew…. they did know). That was surprising.


Your federal ID is brand new (at least this version of it) ….so I was stopped at security and made to wait for a half hour while they did whatever airlines do for inmates to clear them.


I needed to get my Visa card activated (which has any money you have left on your books transferred to it). So, I’m standing in front of an airport music store scoping out who I want to ask to use their cell phone …. A salesman at the store says “congrats.” I replied “what for,” he then answers “you just got out of prison right?” …. I laughed and said that obvious huh?” He asks me if I came from Leavenworth and we strike up a conversation. Turns out he knows an inmate named Alvarez, who I was friends with, well everyone knows Alvarez. He then replies…you can’t like using those terrible head phones (I was wearing my MP3 player and some skull candy headphone’s, one of 2 available pair from commissary…. they actually aren’t bad). I said they work fine…. he asks if I wanted a new pair. I told him I can’t buy anything until I use a phone and activate my card…. he laughs and tells me he wants to give me a pair for a dollar…. he proceeds to let me use his phone and gives me a $35 (remember it’s the airport so it’s expensive anyway) pair of headphones. How cool is that? The people that work at the airport obviously see a lot of inmates come in to fly out. Makes sense.


I decided on BBQ for my first meal out & got chicken nuggets (for those that know me that is no surprise). The cost was $22 (far more than the 11 dollars I was given for 2 meals…ha). One of the many differences I noticed being out was how expensive everything is…. WOW. Pack of beef jerky $11, soda $7.


Fresno welcoming and honoring Military veterans at the same time Scott arrived.



You are on a tight schedule. You have all these numbers to call if you are delayed…which is stressful. Luckily, I got in on time. My Dad was worried since I was last one off the plane…. also, Fresno airport had some massive military veteran’s homecoming so the airport was packed. Bands, bagpipes and news coverage. It’s a bit crazy I was given an hour to report to the halfway house from the airport during 5pm traffic. Most directions on the freeway were bumper to bumper, except the way we were going…. which I wondered why???? I was thinking that’s some luck until I realized where exactly we were heading (far away from downtown Fresno). We are not allowed to take pictures of the halfway house…. oh, I wish I could. It’s awesome. The halfway house in Fresno is an old make shift trailer park hotel out in the middle of abandoned mills, auto shops. It is in fact an old motel (still has the motel sign). It reminds me of the area next to OutFront/CBS outdoor in downtown La…. next to county USC hospital. It’s brutal. We are out in the middle of nowhere.



Golden State Residential Reentry


This place holds prob 40 people (coed). My dad brought me clothes, phones, some other essentials. He brought a TV (which is a waste….no cable…no Wi-Fi….no place to put said TV). I share a room with a guy named Alvarez who is an old Paisa head …. he came from Lompoc/Sheridan camp (I think he was there the same time as Newling/Bloom). Super nice guy.


The other inmates are cool…. people seem keep to themselves. Some rules are stricter some are looser than Leavenworth. We can get deliveries (although I learned the hard way you need to get flame resistant items & nonperishables). You can get door dash. There is lots of clothes/hat restrictions (because of gang activity).


I can’t leave the compound for the first 2 weeks until I speak with my case manager & have a RDAP follow up. Since Sacramento is too far …weekend travel should be challenging. I have a few things working in my favor that might speed up home confinement. My hernia needs to get fixed, so that is a priority…. also, I can’t work until it’s fixed which is an important part of living at halfway house…. they want you working. I have a home to go to which I’m learning is rare for most people at this particular halfway house. The staff is baffled I am here. I’m not the usual inmate here (I know that might sound weird but they take specific inmates that check certain boxes and I don’t check those boxes). Unless I work at an auto shop/mechanic/fast food my work options are limited. Most of the people here work as mechanics or construction or on the chicken farm. As good as I am mechanically (ha, I’m not) I don’t know what I would do unless I drive a bit away…. which they don’t like)



If I’m out on home confinement hopefully I can get transferred to a Sacramento half-house for my weekly check ins. 7 hours round trip is too far to go home for just for the weekend. From the staff I have spoken to they suggest home confinement seems to be smart for me and the house. We will see though…. nothing at the BOP ever goes according to plan. (Dad comment: or makes sense).


As far as how I feel. I’m good. I won’t lie talking to my people is exciting but stressful. I know I wasn’t down for a long time comparably…. but for me almost a year is a long time. Having a phone again is weird…. getting back to being on it constantly is a weird adjustment. Going on social media and seeing friends/catching up on their lives is very surreal. If I haven’t been in touch I will. I’m getting there. When you get to a new environment in prison you need to be careful & find out how people carry themselves…. offending people is much easier….so I want to find out how people handle themselves here before calling everyone…. there is very little privacy here so calling people is awkward unless it’s in my room. I will get there.


The craziest thing is we get bed checks every 2 hours from 10pm till 8am. So, they open the door to your room and check to make sure you’re there every 2 hours. I wake up every time.


I have had such amazing support. The jokes are starting already, which I love. Landing in prison is my fault…and I’m not going to be shy about talking about it if people ask. And so far, there are a ton of questions. But I promise I will answer them all. I’m still the same Carper…. actually, I would argue I’m better than ever. But that is for others to decide for themselves. To my family and friends, I’m sorry I put you through the wringer with my prison experience and years of being…. well…. not the best version of myself.


I’m in my room watching season 4 of succession…. please let me know what I missed? Or any recommendations. I can’t leave the compound for 2 weeks so I’m catching up on what I missed.


Talk soon.


Sent from my IRISH phone


(Dad comment: When I called the half-way house to ask about the rules and conditions, they told me there was a computer lab. Scott says not true so he wrote this newsletter on older iPhone.


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