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COOPS Weekly - Life from Kansas #50

Well, it looks like I left Leavenworth at just the right time.

Sometime this past week there was a brawl (not just a brawl…. some guy took a world class beating). He went to the hospital and the place has been put on lockdown. Not good. So just to give everyone perspective. The extent of my ability to walk around this place….is 83 paces from the “out of bounds,” line to the rooms….so that’s about 150 feet (the length of a football end zone…. Not quite…. HA). Everyone who read all my newsletters remembers my beginning drama with detoxing. I went through withdrawals because of years of being on a drug called Suboxone (this was my 2nd time going withdrawals). Per BOP formulary Suboxone is offered at their facilities. The drug is actually a fantastic drug that helps lots of people. The opiate crisis is out of control and it helps not only with pain but it blocks the opiate high. Well one of the first FRUSTRATING things you learn is although the facilities are supposed to follow BOP policy these facilities do what they want to do. Leavenworth camp does whatever is best for Leavenworth staff. Leavenworth staff didn’t want to administer Suboxone even though they have it and the BOP tells them they are supposed to use it. The problem is it wasn’t easy to give the drug to inmates (keep in mind there are 2 inmates out of 300 who take it per a doctor’s prescription….and one of them went to the SHU for Meth….so it was just ME). By NOT easy I mean it was labor intensive for staff (inmates had to sit on their hands for 30 minutes to make sure they didn’t fake taking it). Staff claimed someone abused it at Leavenworth (which is probably true, Suboxone is huge in prisons…. some people put it on their eyeballs for a crazy high). I won’t bang on Leavenworth medical too much (it’s really just a nurse). She was super sweet and I think she tried her best to help us.

So again, I was under the impression I could keep taking Suboxone when I got to Leavenworth otherwise for the over 2 years, I was on pretrial I would have tapered off it safely rather than go through a brutal detoxBut again, that was back when I thought the BOP operated under some semblance of logic & consistency (I mean I didn’t think they would mess around with schedule 3 drugs…drugs that have dangerous effects if not taken properly). So, no more Suboxone (which you take daily) …. Leavenworth said no. Hello alternative drug Vivitrol. Vivitrol is a once a month shot that is easy to administer and can’t be abused, makes sense that the camp would want you to take that…it’s easier and little work comparably. So, my whole god-awful detox situation could have been avoided if the BOP would have done what it stated. So now I’m on vivitrol which I had to detox from Suboxone to get on. Make sense? So long story short i am obviously terrified of ever detoxing again on anything. I’m really only on one med…which is vivitrol….so when I was leaving, I asked Leavenworth medical will I still be on vivitrol or will I have issues getting it moving forward? I don’t want to detox again, they told me with 100% certainty they will offer vivitrol at my halfway house. Matter of fact they acted offended I even asked. “That would be dangerous,” they stated. SO, what do you think happened when I got to the halfway house? Do you think they offer vivitrol? Of course, not …. They do not have anyone that could administer a shot. They never even heard of it. So, what do they want to do? They want to put me back on Suboxone. The medication that I severely detoxed from they want to put me back on. I said no…. but this is frigggin hilarious. Luckily the withdrawal from vivitrol is minor comparably … I’m told. But let’s recap this insanity. Leavenworth wouldn’t let me take Suboxone because of people abusing it (they didn’t care how miserable detoxing was) …. they put me on the alternative vivitrol. Fresno won’t administer vivitrol so they want to put me back on Suboxone. CRAZY!!! Speaking of Crazy.

Craziest thing I’ve have seen or heard At Leavenworth (or now…. Fresno halfway house). For those of you who haven’t heard there is something called “Meth Mouth.” It basically is what it sounds like…. it’s severe oral health issues caused by meth …. including advanced tooth decay, staining, rotting and gum disease. So basically, you lose your teeth. So, there are plenty of people who don’t have front teeth at the LPC. Well, if you have been down awhile, they can give you dentures or false teeth. So, this inmate we know got his new teeth (front dentures) before traveling from his old prison to his new one. He’s super happy/proud of them. It took years to get the BOP to approve them, get the dental work, etc. He is traveling/flying CON AIR…. which is also exactly what it sounds like…an airline of just inmates. Inmates find all sorts of spots to store drugs….one spot is underneath the area you would put your false teeth in…so in your mouth. As he is boarding Con Air the guard (call him guard one) notices his brand-new teeth, not wanting to search the teeth or the inmates mouth he tells him to take his teeth out and hold them for the flight (he checks the teeth and roof of the inmate’s mouth). While walking down the plane making sure the inmates are secure another guard (let’s call him the nicer guard) notices him holding his teeth. He tells the inmate you can’t hold these in flight, plus you could damage them….” I need to take them and secure them in a locker at the front of the plane.”

He is reluctant… reiterating how hard it was to get these teeth and that he does not want to lose them (“I’m fine holding them.”) The nicer guard promises he will get them back. Unfortunately, the guard one sees this conversation with the other guard….and although he doesn’t hear it…. he assumes the inmate is making a big issue about holding his teeth. The flight ends and the inmate is walking to deplane. He sees the nicer guard getting his teeth out of the locker. He sees the not so nice guard go up and have a brief conversation with the 2nd guard. He hears guard one says to the nicer guard “oh, I will make sure he gets these back.” As the inmate exits the plane he asks “can I get my teeth back?” The guard one responds “what teeth?” A few words are exchanged…. The inmate just shakes his head and leaves the flight without his brand-new dentures.

But here is the best part…. these teeth are not cheap. He gets called to medical/dentist and staff asks about his dentures (it’s not like he can lie about them…they are gone). He tells them they were taken out and stored during the flight and never returned. Staff does not believe him and he is given a shot and sent to the SHU while an investigation occurs. He is given the option of paying BOP back (the cost for his teeth) and leaving the SHU early or remaining under investigation (and promised his life will be miserable). He is set to go home so the choice is easy. He is still paying for his flying stowaway teeth to this day.

Hopefully next week I see my counselor/case manager & I can start trying to get home. The new guys get trash duty (me and another guy) … who refuses to do it….so I filled 4 dumpsters today. 2 people went home today from the halfway house. My roommate goes home Wednesday.

Bye from Fresno.

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