Tuesday, August 5, 2014

RDAP-ing It

Shipping Out of Prison Camp on a New Adventure

Just when I'd pretty much settled in around here, I learned that it was time to move on: yesterday I was told that I was accepted to RDAP, the Bureau of Prison's residential drug treatment program. 

The good news is that by successfully completing the 9-month program I will have a year taken off my sentence. Together with good time and halfway house, this means that if all goes as planned I'll serve only about half of my 50-month sentence here in prison.

The bad news is that RDAP is literally and figuratively a separate program from the prison camp where I've been since I checked myself in. Although it's only a few minutes bus-ride away and I'll still go back to the camp for commissary, intermingling is definitely discouraged: prison camp inmates are considered "negative peers". So the move is somewhat discombobulating. Although I had my complaints about this place and a few of my fellow inmates (as readers of this blog will already know), I'd made friends and settled in for the long haul. Now it's time to say good bye. 

In the BoP's usual fashion of 'hurry up and wait' followed by 'you should have been there yesterday', after learning of my acceptance to RDAP I had an evening to pack up my stuff and prepare for the move early the next morning. This was not as hard as it may otherwise seem, since all my worldly possessions were stuffed into a small metal locker. The only problem is that at RDAP, the lockers are even smaller. We'll see what fits and what doesn't but at present my stuff is packed into several clear plastic garbage bags. To my surprise, I've managed to accumulate an embarrassingly large number of books in my short stay. In my usual pack-rat fashion, I'm loathe to part with any of them.
I've spent my remaining time saying good bye to my friends, and I'm happy to say that I truly do consider them friends. In honor of the prisoner's code of omerta, I haven't yet written about most of them. I can say that one of them is Cinammon, the writer of last week's guest post. Others include a great Indian guy, my bunkie the (almost) lifer and Yoga guru, and a few more that you will hear from shortly (they're all working on guest posts). I even managed to get in one last yoga class and attend the camp's Friday night Sabbath celebration, where everyone said good bye as we ate matzos with butter. 

The move wasn't a complete surprise; only the timing was. I knew of RDAP coming in and worked with my lawyer to ensure that we properly presented my background to meet the acceptance requirements. I just thought that I had another year or so before they accepted me. So the timing came as a shock. It's actually a lucky thing that the camp is so close. Many of my fellow cons have experience with ConAir (the prison transport service) as well as Diesel Therapy (endless bus transfers between BoP facilities). But those are subjects for another post.

Since learning of the transfer, I've been inundated with gossip-mongers. The RDAP program here is notoriously tough and rumors abound, so much so that I'm not sure what, exactly, to believe. Some speak of strange hazing rituals, others speak of mind washing and group think. I've listened to all these stories with a grain of salt. At this point, I feel as if I'd walk barefoot across hot coals for the year off: I feel I owe it to my kids. Compared to law school, living abroad, and my terrible life before prison, how tough really can it be? I'm actually looking forward to change.

At a minimum, though, I expect to have less time to write. And less freedom. I hear they do their best to make you earn your year off. But I'll do my best to keep you updated on my latest adventures - and misadventures - here in the BoP. Keep reading. And I'd love to hear from you.

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