I signed up today for a new ACE class, SMART goals so I am really excited about that hoping I’ll get picked as it is hard to get into any type of class here. On all of the FSA class lists, they have waiting lists of 300-400 people, and when each class consists of 8-10 people, and we have one instructor for most classes. People here are literally on waiting lists for YEARS before they are chosen for classes that they have needs for, and want to learn from and NEED in order to lower their PATTERn score. It gets aggravating because being here for a money crime of $4,000, I want to and am changing my life around and want to take all the classes I can possibly take but the staff shortages stop us from doing so. Being a minimum security level it would be more beneficial to be able to go to a halfway house or home confinement and get into classes (mental health and educational) that would be more available to me in the community, including drug treatment. I consider myself very lucky to have gotten into the classes that I have gotten into. I have been waiting to start Rdap (Residential drug and alcohol program) since I was accepted into the program in July 2022, while I was at FCI Dublin and was told that I would start in October 2022. The wonderful thing about Rdap is that upon completing the program the incentive to inmates is it takes a year off of your sentence. So with the year off and my halfway house time, I would have been leaving the prison to go to Montana halfway house in July or August of 2023 (this month or next). But because of internal conflicts amongst BOP staff and the horrific conditions, we found ourselves in, Dublin FCI following the sex abuse scandals that involved the Chaplain and the Warden going to prison for sexual abuse of inmates and led to 47 officers being fired and walking off the campus with charges still being filed against many of the officers…so Dublin’s Rdap was permanently shut down. Over 200 of us inmates were shipped out at the beginning of October 2022 to various prisons to start Rdap elsewhere. Around 30 of us ended up here in Waseca FCI. When we arrived we were told we would start the 9-month treatment right away, then it was switched to a December start date, and then March, then June, and it is almost August and we continue to wait with no starting point in sight. At this point, many of us won’t get any time off as an incentive because they have waited too long to start us. Also, remember if we are waiting to start Rdap, we have been diagnosed with severe alcohol or drug addiction, and what a lot of people don’t know-drugs are rampant in federal prisons and overdose is a scary fact with any addiction problems not being treated. So these people with severe drug addictions who are seeking help through the bop’s programs are getting pushed to the back burner and treatment for our disorders and addictions are not being met. Whereas, many of us are low or minimum security levels and could have already had the drug treatment we needed if we were in the community.
As it stands, I strive to get into any ACE or FSA class I can possibly get into and I have been fortunate enough to have been able to borrow money to pay for a paralegal correspondence program that will help lead to my success after prison. I just wish there were more opportunities while in prison to do more college-based educational programs and work release programs. I truly believe if inmates were given more opportunities to educate themselves beyond the basic GED they wouldn’t go back out and do things like sell drugs and commit crimes to make money to support themselves and their families. Education, work release programs, and more staff to initiate the treatment programs needed is essential.