CRISIS MANAGEMENT 101…

 

 

Many people ask me “what do you really do?” Well, that is a complex question that will more easily explained in my upcoming book. But suffice it to say that I have two main areas of expertise and by nature they overlap.

That is crisis management and alternative sentencing. I have written and spoken a lot over the years about alternative sentencing, the flaws in our criminal justice system and how to make re-entry a top priority.

This BLOG I am going to dedicate to crisis management. I am often called the “Real Olivia Pope.” In fact, there is a real Olivia Pope named Judy Smith. As expected she runs a crisis management firm and is very politically connected. What we do as far as business models is not even close. She is more corporate and I, mainly because of my inside experience and my alternative sentencing passion, am hands on and all in one on one. For many, especially those who need no legal help, she and her approach make perfect sense. I am more of a legal life coach. Believe me there are many others and room for more. Depends on the client, the issue and the relationship

On Secret Societies of Hollywood- a show I am a part of on E! the narrator said “lawyers get clients off the hook, but one woman. Wendy Feldman keeps them off the hook” This is often true but takes great work and lots of planning.

Crisis management means teaching clients to be risk prepared in their everyday lives- from shredding all mail, to always having people sign a NDA unless another agreement is reached that takes the place of that

. Some Crisis Management Rules I Have:

 

NEVER ALLOW GUEST’S CELL PHONES IN YOUR HOME – HAVE PEOPLE CHECK THEM WITH SECURITY

DO NOT GO TO A DR’S APPOINTMENT WITHOUT ALL STAFF SIGNING YOUR OWN NDA- BRING IT WITH YOU

DO NOT GO TO THE DR AND ALLOW THE DR TO HAVE A CELL OR CAMERA AROUND WHERE YOU HAVE NO CONTROL OVER THE PHOTOS

DO NOT ALLOW REALTORS TO BRING CLIENTS TO YOUR HOME WITH CELL PHONES UNTIL AN OFFER HAS BEEN ACCEPTED AND THEN GET PHOTO APPROVAL

WIPE ALL EMAILS OFF YOUR SERVER AND TO A HARD DRIVE EVERY TWO WEEKS (SONY HACK)

UNDERSTAND THAT TEXT MESSAGES CAN BE COPIED AND ALTERED AND FORWARDED- DO NOT SEND THEM UNLESS YOU WANT CERTAIN INFORMATION OUT-

ALWAYS BEGIN A CALL WITH MEDIA THAT ASKS, “ARE YOU TAPING THIS CALL”

ALWAYS BEGIN A BUSINESS CALL WITH “ ARE YOU TAPING THIS CALL” IF SO WHY AND DO NOT AGREE TO COMPLETE THE CALL IF UNCOMFORTABLE OR TAPING

 

These are just a few things I teach my clients as their crisis manager. Other things include advice on moving violations, NEVER BLOW- take a blood test- blood tests labs are over full- and advice on how to do deal with their image, image once there has been a crisis and of course their COMEBACK. THAT ONE IS EASY IS YOU ARE AUTHENTIC AND DESERVE ANOTHER CHANCE.

As a crisis manager I also set up and over see media events and often help script what a client will say. I say help because it must be a collaboration. There has been much speculation about Teresa Giudice and the speech she gave in court. That I will NOT address here. But the raw footage of me helping several clients exists. To that I say props to those clients. We do not shame people for having a voice coach or a work out trainer. Coaching people through difficult times is important and to seek help smart.

Would I have suggested Bill Cosby do a sit down like child molester Stephen Collins? HELL NO- NEVER-

The reason is why should he? There is no way to win that. No way to answer, so separate the work from the man and Cosby is giving fans the choice- It is America- make that choice and he will live with the consequences and does. This does not mean I believe him or many people I work with, but don’t forget. Clients are adults and not my friends. They make choices; I help them along the way. BUT I do not judge them nor do I ever ask if they did it. That is the benefit of my job. I know in a heartbeat- no need to ever ask.

The tips above are really just sneak peaks into one side of what I do and how I work as a crisis manager. Of course I did not talk much about media and other issues. This is just a peak. Much more will be in my book and in future appearances and blogs. For now never forget that change is possible, but it takes hard work!

 

 

Wendy Feldman is a  family legal coach, crisis manager and a well known expert on alternative sentencing. She is available for private consultation on how to navigate the many aspects of our legal system. She is also available for media commentary and has appeared on shows from Today, CBS Early Show, Nightline, Fox News ABC News, She is a regular on the CBS entertainment show The Insider and Entertainment Tonight and featured in the hit series on E! Secret Societies of Hollywood. She is a regular contributor to The Wall Street Journal, Slate, BBC, NPR, People, US, New York Post, The Wrap and various radio shows around the world. She may be reached at wendy@wendyfeldman.com.

www.custodialcoaching.com

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Filed under alternatvive sentencing, Olivia Pope, prison preparation, scandal, Teresa Giudice

Federal Prison- From Myth to “Reality”

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There are so many “finals” when dealing with Federal Prison that it becomes almost surreal. But when you think about it, the entire process is. Especially the case of Teresa and Joe Giudice. There has been much speculation and none of it true as to what happened and why I worked on this matter. The theories run from “loads of money was paid to huge fame.” None of that is true. Clearly, Teresa is a polarizing figure. One who with the right guidance good “make this right” and help people on a large and impactful scale. After all. We have made Piper Kerman a warrior and symbol of reform, Wolf of Wall Street a “fictional hero” even though he owes $100,000,000 (but has he helped a lot of people?) and Michael Vick has worked his way back the hard way to the NFL.

Teresa posed that rare opportunity to see if she was going to stay on the straight and narrow or go left or right and off track. A real chance for a platform. But here ware are- P DAY- SURRENDER- let’s get to it…

As of January 5, 2015 Teresa Giudice will be property of the BOP for the next 15 months and then 2 years of supervised release. Upon finishing her time in “camp” she will be released to a halfway house and then home.

Life will never be the same. I promise one thing. This is true. Life is never the same. Some things you never forget. Like the sound of the guards walking up and down the hall and their keys clinking together. You never forget that sound. Ever. When the guards want to sneak up the hold their keys so you do not know they are there. Keys are still a symbol of many things for me. You never forget the keys.

Day one Teresa Giudice will check into hotel Camp no way out and stay there less than a year. She will be able to bring a wedding band with no jewel (fake or not) and a necklace with a small cross. Eyeglasses, pictures and legal papers. And some addresses and a list of medications although few are given.

She will while in receiving have to urinate in a cup while a guard watches and be strip-searched. Finally she will have to cough and squat- a real gem- Why is this done? Because many are there on drug crimes and carry in drugs up their A%#. Pleasant. Not sure if they do this on I’m a Celebrity Get Me out of Here but a good agent won’t help here. Nothing will but HUMILITY and calm- UH OH…

I have prepared many people including myself for this and not one problem I do not expect one here. Maybe I am naïve or spent too much time with Teresa, But I think she will be fine or pretend to be. She will then be given two pairs of khaki pants, shirts, and steel toe boots. Bras and underwear. That is IT. And a Doctor will come tell her what medications she will NOT get and suggest therapy Next an inmate will become her greeting committee and show her to her bunk space. She will be given a military blanket, sheets and a crappy pillow. NO showers shoes, toothpaste, shampoo or amenities!

Then the welcoming committee inmate will show Teresa to her bunk. Probably a top bunk in a poor location- AKA – waterfront property- (next to the bathroom) because of her lack of seniority.

And this is when the bizarre begins. Women will offer all kinds of things even though it is against the rules. Shampoo, soap, shower shoes, sweats, AND bible class. Some are not trying to be nice and some will be trying to screw with her.

This is a game that goes on everyday in Federal prisons thought the United States. Teresa is dammed if she does and damned f she doesn’t. She won’t be able to go to the commissary to buy amenities until whatever day is her shopping day and depending on if the BOP has attached her books- I suspect not because the ruling by Judge Salas addressed this in the Inmate responsibility plan.

Once settled in their will always be 4PM count time. This is when you stand up hold our ID card and get accounted for. Just like it sounds! After that it is dinner, some cook in the microwave, I was a master at this because I had Kosher food, and then free time. That first night is odd. Not hell because it is too soon to realize that it is for real. And too soon to make phone calls or emails. She will be allowed one two-minute call. That will be it until her phones are set up.

The first week is Admissions and orientation and a job is given. You do NOT get to decide unless you have a college degree and can be useful teaching. Teresa does not. So likely jobs will be dishes, bathrooms etc..Factory jobs are rare. Don’t expect that. And then there are shakedowns or raids. All of us suffered through those. Your bunk is turned upside down looking for who knows what and when.-

Myths-

Sorry to say there will be NO mug shot released ever. This is Federal Prison. They protect privacy. Any you see is fake. And she will be able to buy make up. Usually Revlon. Hair extensions- well they better be gone by Monday. Also, the visiting. It is not a scary place for children. We discussed this. Her children will be able to sit on her lap and it is important. They will want to see whom she is there with. What are the other women like? I asked my daughter last night if she would do it over again would she visit- her answer- “in a second, those were awful times, yet special and I felt so much better knowing you were safe.” But I had told my children the truth.

I encourage my clients to visit and be honest. Children want to know TWO things- Do you love them and are you safe. That is it!

So for Teresa this is how it will go. The honesty part- you decide- I made my decision long ago-

I have included links to the commissary. And to the Admissions and Orientation process. And do not forget, the BOP can always furlough transfer at anytime. Who knows where Teresa will walk out of but she won’t be dancing. She has a lot of work to do. As I said. Sleeping on a metal bed with a 1” mattress should change you…

My tag line has always been- change is possible, with HARD WORK…

Wendy Feldman is a  family legal coach, crisis manager and a well known expert on alternative sentencing. She is available for private consultation on how to navigate the many aspects of our legal system. She is also available for media commentary and has appeared on shows from Today, CBS Early Show, Nightline, Fox News ABC News, She is a regular on the CBS entertainment show The Insider and Entertainment Tonight and featured in the hit series on E! Secret Societies of Hollywood. She is a regular contributor to The Wall Street Journal, Slate, BBC, NPR, People, US, New York Post, The Wrap and various radio shows around the world. She may be reached at wendy@wendyfeldman.com.

www.custodialcoaching.com

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Filed under Prison Consulting, Prison conultants, prison preparation, Teresa Giudice, Wendy Feldman

Teresa Giudice- The Countdown…

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Well, here we are days away from the surrender to Federal Prison of Teresa Giudice. I always told Teresa, as I tell many of my clients. The day of surrender will be a relief. An actual light at the end of the tunnel. A count down instead of an endless count and a road to nowhere. Yet that is a hard concept to grasp. She will wish she was on “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me out of Here.” Who knows, she may even think that?!

There is much speculation about me, Teresa and the entire mess. Oh and of course the amazing interest in what prison is like and what awaits her and then Joe. First things first. I do not intend to discuss the details of our arrangement, but to those who think I have violated confidentiality I suggest looking at what I have actually discussed. All is my opinion or facts that are my own. The actual crimes are never something I discuss with any of my clients. The reason is my job is to guide people through situations, not judge or defend them.

I work with people from all walks of life and on matters of criminal, custody and civil issues. I also handle media for many people and myself. Yet Teresa and Joe presented a unique situation. A husband wife both charged in FEDERAL COURT with many different crimes and still on a hit television show. A bizarre mix of crime, punishment and pop culture. Or a perfect  storm. A chance to draw attention to our broken criminal justice system and how it really works. I think if anything that has happened. I tell my clients- commit a financial crime and you have relationship for life with the Feds. This is true. Yet we have Martha Stewart, Wolf of Wall Street, Steve Madden and myself who have all come out and better than before. BUT with very hard work and as open books.

The case was also a test of social media and the court of public opinion. The amount of misinformation that was out and is still out is astounding. Almost impossible to navigate. Take all of this and add in all of my other clients and it was as I say in my upcoming book “A Year That was Bananas”- oddly the year ended with a client of mine known as the Banana Queen. Perfect.

Our society is fixated on crime and punishment, but we forget the rehabilitation component. Prison is easy. Re Entry is difficult. You can’t just waltz out of prison and think all is well unless you are a sociopath and you walk in that way. I am asked daily if that is the situation with Teresa. The answer is I have no idea. I do not think so. But I do know that a lot went into the sentencing and the hearing. The speech she read that every observer in court saw me sitting next to her all day madly rewriting. That speech was in process for weeks. It was a “collaboration”. The words however needed to be felt and then lived up to. For example, “I will make this right… Only time will tell.

I do know that it is well documented why I left the matter yet a major piece I have yet to share and will not at this time. I will say it is NOT a violation of privacy to voice my opinion and there is of course no NDA that I signed. Things should have turned out differently. There should have been no letter to Judge Salas as designations happen naturally everyday and the request for halfway house and community service now looks like what I said it was- FOOLISH-

WHY? Because there has been no effort, not even a tiny one to do anything good for anybody. No community service. No acceptance of any responsibility, no I am sorry, no I will make “this” right. There has been nothing. Well, some photo opps and a lawsuit blaming a former lawyer where discovery alone will open a new can of worms. But nothing. This was a golden opportunity for Teresa to own her actions whatever they were and show people that you can comeback. You can rehabilitate and you can change you life.

There is forgiveness but only if you admit there have been actions that need to be forgiven. It is not easy. It is not fun. It is why I worked with Teresa. I pick and choose my clients very carefully and many are pro bono. I have received almost 600 emails about Teresa. Few positive about her. Yet on social media I am the one bashed daily. That is OK as the message is more important than the messenger.

The fact is that as a mother that first night in prison is like none other. Teresa will lie on the top bunk of a metal bed and it will start to sink in. Day one you pee in a cup in front of an officer, are strip searched and must cough and squat to make sure you have no contraband. Prison is the ultimate equalizer. You are known by your registration number and last name. The lights never turn off and you wear a uniform with steel toe boots. It is not a bad place and the people are more interesting than those on the outside, but close your eyes and if you have a SOLE you realize this is America- Land of The Free- and your choices have led to your incarceration- how pathetic. Land of the free! Not for 15 months…

So, back to daily life in prison, what mental state Teresa is in and when she will surrender (probably not January 5 at 2 pm)…That’s for another day. For now all I know is as I always say change is possible but it takes hard work and honesty.

 

Wendy Feldman is a  family legal coach, crisis manager and a well known expert on alternative sentencing. She is available for private consultation on how to navigate the many aspects of our legal system. She is also available for media commentary and has appeared on shows from Today, CBS Early Show, Nightline, Fox News ABC News, She is a regular on the CBS entertainment show The Insider and Entertainment Tonight and featured in the hit series on E! Secret Societies of Hollywood. She is a regular contributor to The Wall Street Journal, Slate, BBC, NPR, People, US, New York Post, The Wrap and various radio shows around the world. She may be reached at wendy@wendyfeldman.com.

www.custodialcoaching.com

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Filed under Bravo, community service, crisis management, Federal Prison, Real Housewives of New Jersey, Teresa Giudice, Wendy Feldman

What’s prison like on Mother’s Day???

Originally posted on Notes From An Insider:

Prison on mother’s day- the busiest place on earth. Certainly not the happiest, but the busiest. Mother’s day is the number one day for visitors in a women’s prison. You see it all. From kids who have not seen their mom’s in a year or more, to every baby daddy on earth trying to do the right thing even if just for a moment.

Mother’s day is also the hardest day if you are in prison and a mom. For many it is the only day of the year they allow themselves to be sad or even remorseful. People in prison all use different coping strategies to deal with the loss, anger and isolation of  their choices. When I was in a Federal Prison camp for mother’s day, it seemed like the only day when everyone got along with each other, or at least tried. In fact, I saw…

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What’s new in criminal Justice???

Well not much new, but a lot of wrong things still going on. For example, here we are in 2014 and we still have a huge disparity in sentencings in drug cases and in cases where children are harmed. There are much tougher rules for both in Federal courts. Sad but true.

Federal courts still have mandatory minimums on what can be simple drug cases, and much harsher penalties on anything having to do with children. So, it’s a true mixed bag.

What I do know is that one can “program” easier in State prison and be released much earlier than in Federal Prison. This again hardly seems fair.

And of course both have almost no help for people who need real re-entry assistance. We must start here so that people stop going back for silly reasons. Our prisons are full of people who could have served creative alternative sentences that would help both the offender and society. Remember, almost everybody incarcerated today is coming home and most in less than 5 years. A sobering thought at best.

It is 2014 and the time to change is NOW. It is not that complicated a system that we cannot change it. But, we need to understand it first. Prison is BIG money and the fewer people in prison the less money made by the Prison industrial complex. This too must change and will.

There are plenty of people who do belong in prison, but let’s work on those who can change and be rehabilitated first, This will actually make room for the people who belong there.

 


Wendy Feldman is a criminal justice expert, crisis manager and family legal coach. She is the leading expert on Alternative Sentencing. She is also director of the Alternative Sentencing Program at Cliffside Malibu. She is available for private consultation on how to prepare for a successful incarceration, probation and re-entry. She is also available for media commentary and has appeared in the media on The Today Show, The CBS Early Show, E! News, People.com,US Magazine, Perez Hilton, Fox News, NBC News, BBC, CNN, NPR Slate, Wall Street Journal, Discovery Network ID and others.  She may be reached at wendy@wendyfeldman.com

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Filed under alternatvive sentencing, Criminal Justice, prepare for jail, prison coaching, prison consultant, prison re entry, probation

Are some people beyond help? AKA CONRAD MURRAY

 

Conrad Murray is getting lots of press lately. I am not sure why as the media is just fueling the fire of a very ill man who can not be rehabilitated. This should not come as news to people who know my work, as I very publicly spoke about FIRING  Murray on Geraldo two years ago. He is one of the few who is so mentally ill that there is no chance of rehabilitation. NONE.

I meet all kinds of people in my work and most can and are rehabilitated in some way. Yes, even Lindsay Lohan and Chris Brown. But Murray is a sociopath who has his own agenda. What is amazing is how certain people in media keep giving Connie another 15 minutes and many even still call him a doctor. That’s is insane.

As a legal coach and alternative sentencing expert, I try to make a difference. But, the sad truth is that some people are beyond and are untreatable and unchangeable. Murray is one of these people.

It may be shocking, but even people who have done violent crimes can change. They may not be able to leave prison, but they can change and even make a difference while behind bars. Murray did not learn anything inside except how to order commissary.

I prefer to focus on those who need me, appreciate learning from past choices and make a positive difference in the world. There are more than enough of these people to make the world a better place, and to make working in criminal justice worthwhile. Yes, thank you Perez Hilton for calling me the “queen of the criminal justice system.” That may not be true all the time, but more often than not when people get real and get honest it works!

 


Wendy Feldman is a criminal justice expert, crisis manager and family legal coach. She is the leading expert on Alternative Sentencing. She is also director of the Alternative Sentencing Program at Cliffside Malibu. She is available for private consultation on how to prepare for a successful incarceration, probation and re-entry. She is also available for media commentary and has appeared in the media on The Today Show, The CBS Early Show, E! News, People.com, Fox News, NBC News, BBC, CNN, NPR Slate, Wall Street Journal, Discovery Network and others.  She may be reached at wendy@wendyfeldman.com

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Filed under alternatvive sentencing, Conrad Murray, crisis management, Lindsay Lohan, prepare for jail

CHRIS BROWN- did he do it again???? NOPE

Once again Chris Brown has been arrested. Last year he was accused of stealing a woman’s cell phone, and this time he is accused and was CHARGED with felony assault for hitting a man in Washington DC. But did he?

Now late in the day, after a weekend in jail, the charge has already been reduced to a misdemeanor and the DC judge refused to order a standard drug test for Brown. The truth is celebrities like Brown have a target on their back.

Yes, Brown should no better to go anywhere near an area where a fight is likely to break out. The same is true for Lindsay Lohan who should stay far away from drugs and alcohol especially in public. As with all celebs, much of the problem is the people who are around them after the experts like myself leave.

Many celebrities I have worked with retain me or a sober coach to work with them long after their court case has been handled. These are the people who do the work and thus have a better chance of staying out of trouble and actually making positive changes.

There is no doubt that many celebs including Chris Brown and Lindsay Lohan have received amazing alternative sentences. Last week on an E! Network special, Secret Societies of Hollywood, I was called the person who helps KEEP clients out of jail long after their lawyer is gone. While I do my best and many treatment centers do as well, in the end it is up to the person to make proper choices. Sometimes people are just not ready to give up the press even if it is negative.

As for Brown, the truth is he will have another day in court, and the truth will come out about this latest incident, but for now imagine life with a target and how YOU would handle it. Clearly Brown needs a little more help staying on the right track no matter what. Many people do, but as I always say, change is possible if you work hard.

 


Wendy Feldman is a criminal justice expert, crisis manager and family legal coach. She is the leading expert on Alternative Sentencing. She is also director of the Alternative Sentencing Program at Cliffside Malibu. She is available for private consultation on how to prepare for a successful incarceration, probation and re-entry. She is also available for media commentary and has appeared in the media on The Today Show, The CBS Early Show, E! News, People.com, Fox News, NBC News, BBC, CNN, NPR Slate, Wall Street Journal, Discovery Network and others.  She may be reached at wendy@wendyfeldman.com

Follow @thewendyfeldman

 

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Filed under alternatvive sentencing, Chris Brown, community service, crisis management, incarcervention, prison consultant