Recently I have been contacted everyday about the new movie coming out called The Bling Ring. The movie is based on events of several teenagers who “stole” items from celebrities homes. The case itself has two major players, Rachel Lee, my client and Nick Prugo. One of the very minor players, Alexis Neirs was rewarded with a reality show on E! and a light sentence and rehab.
ALL of these players have spoken extensively to the media except Rachel Lee. Lee has never spoken publicly except for a letter she wrote to her sentencing judge. Lee received the harshest sentence 4 years in State Prison but was released to a “fire camp” after over one year. This fact and that Lee has refused all media has made her a case of much speculation and mystery. Yet Lee should be the easiest one to figure out.
I worked with Rachel to prepare her prison and to help give her the proper guidance for entry into Fire Camp. I also helped her family and still keep in touch with them. So, the story of Rachel Lee is a private one that is hers to tell. What I can say, as I did recently in the Los Angeles Times , is that there is often a reason NOT to talk to the media and in fact I often advise my clients not to. After all, what’s in it for them?
There is also the issue that this crime spree is nothing to be proud of or be famous over. Thus, if a person is trying to really change and improve their life after such a catastrophic event that should be respected. I often say that Prison can be a transformative experience.
But in order to understand the crimes the Bling Ring participated in, it is helpful to understand criminal thinking in general. There are eight criminal thinking errors including grandiosity, entitlement, mollification and cut off. Many of these apply in this case. Add this to the fact that I often see people get away with things and then take bad behavior to the next step. For example, Lawrence Taylor went from drug crimes, to white-collar crimes and recently a prostitution related crime. Each time the crime gets bolder and bigger. This is when people need what I call an INCARCERVENTION- a legal intervention of sorts. Otherwise, we see bad behavior get rewarded and grow.
There is no mystery to the bling ring kids and no reason to continue the saga unless people want to understand that poor choices happen and it’s what one does with those choices, the teams they put in place and the family support that makes the difference and what matters.
The media speculation can continue, but the truth is that this was a series of crimes that became bigger and bolder not because the players were such criminals, but because of the fascination with celebrity and most importantly the excitement of “getting away with things.”
As for Rachel Lee and her family, they may make a statement at a future date but they are not naïve enough to help promote a movie that does not show them is the best or most truthful way.
Wendy Feldman is a criminal justice expert, crisis manager and family legal coach. 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 on shows from The Today Show, The CBS Early Show, E! News, People.com, Fox News, NBC News, CNN, NPR and Nancy Grace. She is a weekly featured guest on the syndicated America Now radio program. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org