By Derek Kucinski
We’re currently locked down for the rest of the night here at U.S.P. Atwater, CA, one of 15 U.S.P.s in the federal system. We just got off a one week lockdown and have been coming out of our cells two hours at a time, top tier in the morning and bottom tier in the afternoon. It is exhausting mentally. I have been in for 11 ½ years on this sentence and have about 6 or 7 years left. I was charged with bank robbery, felony possession, and using a firearm in a crime “924(c).” I was sentenced to two mandatory minimum sentences running consecutively for a total of 22 years.
I will be 37 on June 1st in a couple days. Currently, I have a compassionate release motion in the courts that is the only thing that the “First Step Act” gives me. I am hoping that it and praying will give me some relief. I do not qualify for the extra earned good time due to the 924(c) gun charge. Others get extra good time for programming and classes, but I don’t get any incentives. I still program and do education courses, more out of the hopes that something will change and everyone can qualify for incentives and extra good time.
Right now there aren’t any laws that affect me. I am patiently waiting, as is my family and my fiance. We will never give up hope that a law will go into effect or a change in policy for the “First Step Act” to apply to ALL. Really my hopes are that the Feds do away with mandatory minimum sentences. I see people getting less time for murder. When I was arrested, I was an alcoholic and drug addict. The federal system has no defense options that involve being an addict. They don’t have a diversion program and don’t try to rehabilitate people. The environment in here is toxic, filled with drugs, violence and a brainwashed culture. The administration encourages segregation and separate groups so that we “control our own.”
This institution has been understaffed since December 2022. At least once a week, we are locked down due to understaffing. They use group punishment, creating violent culture then locking us down for it. We are usually locked down on all holidays. I am so burned out from this life. I just want to go home to be with my family and my girl. They do this time with me, and I know it is not easy for them. I’m hoping my motion goes through, so I can get out early. I plan on filing for clemency as well. I never give up hope with things in here; the day you give up hope is the day you get lost in the system and become your assigned number. Right now, I am still Derek Kucinski, and I have a fiance and family that loves me and will never give up on me.