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COOPS Weekly - Life in Kansas #47

Updated: Nov 9, 2023

We are down to 2 (out of 12) Camp Phones

(the phones 298 of us use to call loved ones) so I won’t be making any calls anytime soon (the wait for phones is ridiculous). Also, we have been issued an order to comply from OSHA because of all the hazards/violations in the camp.

Dangerous water leaks, asbestos, mold, infestation, everything you can think of. The notice was posted on the camp bulletin board. (I have a great story about this but it will have to wait)

RDAP is in trouble again. We were caught with produce from the garden (watermelon's) and now we are awaiting further punishment. So far, we have to write a 2-page paper on "integrity," and we are not allowed in the unit between 11am-4pm (which is brutal). You have to take your laundry bag and fill it with essentials. If you need to use the bathroom you have to find a DTS/staff and ask permission. So let recap you can be caught with DRUGS, leaving the premises (Some inmates in RDAP got caught coming back in from the outside at like 3am... Guards were waiting to grab them...that's a possible escape offense), Fail a Drug test and nothing happens but bringing in produce from the garden causes the wheels to come off. Hard to figure that one.

On that note our garden at Leavenworth produces close to 20,000 pounds of produce that is donated to local food shelters. Pretty cool.

One of our counselor's continues his super vacation (or whatever it is) UNBELIEVABLE. Depending on who you ask he has not been here for at least 2 1/2 months. WHAT? So, half the inmates can’t get visitor forms approved, no BP8's, no legal mail. This is crazy. Of course, the counselors don't like each so the other counselor will not help with the workload. So, nothing happens. Nobody cares, that's just life, that's Leavenworth (298 customers complaining and nothing will happen). Imagine you couldn't get ahold of someone essential to your life for 2 months. Complaining does not matter...that counselor can do whatever they want without repercussions. Tell me another situation where this can happen outside of prison. If someone took off for 2 months on the outside, there are consequences or other ways to handle the situation.

The BOP is the very definition of corrupt, incompetent, dysfunctional, inept, broken, & unaccountable. I have never seen anything even close to this before. If this was a business it would be the worst company in the world (and I'm being nice).

So, as I get close to the door its time again for me to have somebody else fill you in on what is going here (specifically with me). So, I asked Goetz and Decker to weigh in on my progress. Goetz hates doing this but it is good for him.

What I will remember about Mr. Carper (by Phil Goetz)

There are many things I personally will remember about Scott. His intelligence, hard work, thoughtfulness, caring, loyalty, etc... these are all traits that everyone around him saw on a daily basis. The one thing that I saw and admired above all was his ability and drive to help others. Mr. Carper has truly made a huge impact on myself and countless others in the camp. This was highlighted when we gave speeches on our "success statements," for RDAP. After Carper read his statement there was time for feedback from his peers. Now normally 2-3 people stand up and give feedback. Not For Scott, I'm guessing at least half the class stood up and one by one said something nice about him. Every single one of these people included a specific time when Carper had helped them with something. It was very emotional and impressive that lone man could touch so many people, strangers he didn't even know 11 months ago.

Scott’s success at the camp did not happen in the typical inmate fashion. Most people have to change who they are, how they behave, just to fit into the culture of prison. Scott was able to remain true to himself. He remained the same kind hearted, happy, sometimes quirky, even a bit naive, to the very end. He didn't have to put on a macho hardened inmate facade.

And not only did he fit into the camp; he earned the respect of so many people at the LPC. So much so he was unofficially dubbed "the Mayor of Leavenworth."

Now I don't know how these fits into the Coops weekly format, but I want to take this time from the bottom of my heart to thank Mr. Carper. Scott, I thank you for helping me believe in myself again, restoring my confidence. Being a sounding board for my thoughts and ideas. Teaching me new ways to think and to live. Through watching and learning from you I have been shown a roadmap to become successful in life. I am truly honored to call Scott Donald Carper my friend.

The life & Times of Scott Donald Carper (by Josh Decker)

What will I remember about Carper? Carper and I had a lot of laughs; and being in prison, laughter is more important than medicine (who am I kidding we don't get medicine anyway). Et tu Brutus?

How did he do in RDAP?

Carper has become the greatest expert of all things RDAP. Not sure what he is going to do with this newfound knowledge but I do know he gets great joy helping others. There is not a single person in RDAP he didn't go out of his way to help.

A story I will remember about Carper?

After I made a blunder that had some rather large 'ripples' (RDAP term) in the community, he came to me and said "hey let’s talk a walk." He then started our walk by saying " So tell me how did you royally screw up?" Thanks Carper. Big help.

How has he helped Me?

I wish I had the right words to describe how much Carper has meant to me, especially in a short amount of time. He has been a huge source of emotional support and a much-needed sounding board. His energy, passion, and intelligence make him one of a kind. In all seriousness, let’s be real - he helped me acquire Coke Zero, when it was nearly impossible to get.

Top 5 things I want to do when I get out (I asked my fellow inmates to get their responses and this is somewhat of a composite.

1.) Take a normal shower. We have 6 showers in D1/D2 (total). You can imagine the privacy. You get used to it. But here is the thing... it is not so much the privacy it is the wearing shower shoes every time. We want to take a shower without shoes. You can’t even walk around in socks here. The floors, although we clean them every day, are not something you want to touch. One of the first things you are told is do not let your feet touch the floors. So, I look forward to the day when I can cruise around without worrying about that.

2.) Sleep in a normal bed WITHOUT HAVING A LIGHTS SHINNED ON ME 3 times a night. Our beds have a solid metal frame. It is like sleeping on concrete. Each count at night (12am, 2am, 5am) 2 guards walk through and make sure you are in your bed. They love flashing the lights in our face and waking us up. Good times.

3.) Have a phone call without worrying what I say. Everything is monitored here.... So, I rarely use the phone. I can’t stand that. Also, a 15-minute time limit sucks. Plus talking on a payphone look alike sucks. Plus talking with other people next to you sucks. Plus hearing a women's voice come on every five minutes reminding you this "call is coming from a federal prison" suck. Plus waiting in line to use the phone sucks. This place sucks!

4.) Eat normal food. Make your own food (we don't have microwaves here). We have very few fresh ingredients. Personally, I want to eat Chinese/Japanese food. I want chicken katsu from Osho Sushi in Manhattan Beach. Or a turkey/bacon sandwich from Manhattan Bagel. Or 10-piece McNuggets from McDonalds. We want to have a pizza with crust NOT made from Tortilla's...but bread. Speaking of bread, I want it toasted. We miss butter (no butter here). We want BACON or steak.

5.) Get a PT/Chiro appt. This is the longest I have gone without therapy since I was 19. My back/hips are so out of alignment...I'm crooked. I need major maintenance. I have to stretch constantly all day. I am a mess. 10 days left. My back will survive.

Craziest things I have seen or heard @ the LPC.

This is one of my favorite stories to date. People in Western Kansas love their guns. I have some white-collar guys next to my bunk who tell some great stories. One had a recent visitor who brought a gun to the visit in his vehicle. On this particular day there was a checkpoint in front of the prison (they often check cars on certain days to try and stop contraband from coming in. (My dad was just here and drove by one). His buddy got stopped at the checkpoint and the officers inquired about the gun. Supposedly it is a nice gun and something his buddy never leaves at home. Well, this sends up all sorts of red flags with the officers (especially since within the last 9 months a gun made it into a camp visitation room in Arizona and an inmate tried to shoot someone.... luckily it misfired...but it caused all sorts of commotion.... you can look it up it was in the news).

(Dad Comment: The checkpoint officers unhappy to find the gun told him he needed to find the nearest police station and to drop his gun off. He goes to the nearest station and the cops (who don't really like guards at the prison) tell him no. They tell him to throw it in a ditch. So, he goes around trying to find a vacant area. He hides the gun in a ditch...he then gets 2nd thoughts worrying some kid may come upon it. He retrieves the gun and goes back to the police station where another cop tells him he can keep it in his car and then uber there. The whole trip takes a few hours and he gets to the camp.... His visit lasts barely an hour (the guard shut it down early). Even funnier...I was talking to him about this and he was telling me that he and his friends used to bring guns to show and tell in 6th grade (someone brought an assault rifle) .... Definitely a bit different in Kansas than California.

Craziest thing I have heard or seen @ the LPC (part II).

Mr. Hinton got his MRI today. Great news, right? Well, is it? Guess how long it took? It took the BOP 3 years between request and test. He almost left prior to getting it. HA. Thank God it wasn't an emergency. Before Hinton and I became friends I witnessed his dodgy knee in action when he fell off his top bunk while another prisoner’s bed area was getting searched by Slickback at like 3am. Luckily his head bouncing off the locker broke his fall.

Justin Paperny from White Collar Advice asked a good question on Skool (a private forum for online communication for those impacted by the federal justice system). My dad sent me the question over corrlinks and I put my own spin on it. I asked my closest friends here at Leavenworth the following.

"What one word (it can be two words) would you use to describe your prison experience?"

Here are the responses:

Mr. Newling - Humbling

Mr. Goetz - Eye-Opening

Mr. Salamah - Surreal

Mr. Freeman - Enlightening

Mr. Gladwin - Uncanny

Mr. Jones - life-saving

Mr. Tirado - Nightmare

Mr. Couch - getting fucked (he just got 4 months half way house after serving 6 years so he’s a little upset rt. now)

Mr. Scott - harrowing (not sure I spelled that rt)

Mr. Martinez II - Cruel

Mr. Decker - Demoralizing

Mr. Kennedy - miserable

Mr. Hinton - redemptive

Mr. Sosa - unbelievable (he is referring to the shit CO's get away with)

Mr. Wine - Fucked

Mr. Tucker - unique

Mr. Partlow - absurd

Mr. Gillum - revelatory

Mr. Lang - unpredictable

Mr. Finley - edifying

Mr. Kemp - Humbled

Mr. Bennett - arduous

Mr. Peterson - disappointing

Carper (mine) - transformative, life changing or sweltering (referring to the heat)!

Final thought: Ever since I hurt myself, I have had more than my usual amount of time to think (and I think a lot anyway). I have thought about how much I have learned from this experience. I started playing a game where as I watched people walk by my bunk, I thought about what I had learned from each one. There are some truly fantastic people here...people I feel fortunate to have met. This was a brutal chapter in our lives...but I have watched people grow and become better in ways that I would have never imagined. That's inspirational.

I know a number of families of inmates here receive this newsletter. I haven't met many of you yet but I can tell you with 100% certainty I have heard countless stories about you. I feel like I know some of you so I really want you to know you are the reason we are going to make it through this experience stronger.

Thank you for sticking by us.

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