Category Archives: jail

Is everybody who commits a crime a CRIMINAL???

 

There are many people I work with who think life is over once they are in the criminal justice system. But, I ask them if they consider themselves criminals. This may seem like a strange question, but it is very simple. There are eight common criminal thinking errors:

Mollification- Justifying behaviors

Cutoff

Entitlement- hello celebs

Power Orientation- threats

Sentimentality- I did it for my family

Super optimism- This is a sure thing- one time only

Cognitive Indolence (lazy behavior)

Discontinuity-I was working and then a good show came on

Many of us have one or more of these ways of thinking in our everyday lives, but people who commit crimes or are substance abusers have more than one or two. Yet, I still would not call most of my client’s criminals. They are people with generally good character who have made some very poor choices. In fact, maybe only one poor choice like drinking and driving. A true criminal goes about everyday life with an angle for everything.

A criminal act is much different than being a criminal. Once you understand this and decide if you are capable of many crimes it is easy to determine that most people in prison today are not in fact true criminals. They are people who commit crimes and have made some criminal thinking errors. Thus, they can CHANGE.

So, the next time you judge somebody remember their shoes could fit your feet. The goal must be identifying and understanding those who make mistakes and poor choices and those who will never rehabilitate. This is the key to our criminal justice system’s problems. My experience is that for most change is possible with lots of hard work.

 

Wendy Feldman is a criminal justice expert, crisis manager and family legal coach. She is the leading expert on Alternative Sentencing. She is also head 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 Criminal Justice, jail, prepare for jail, prison, prison coaching, prison consultant, prison preparation, prison re entry

My Birthday in Federal Prison

 

Yes, today is my birthday. And as I sit here watching the new Netflix show Orange is the New Black, I am reminded by the birthday I spent in a Federal Prison Camp. Life is a trip, and if we remember the good times and the bad times with some humor, the ride is a lot more fun and compelling.

As my readers and followers know, I am now a highly sought after legal coach and crisis management strategist. But I never forget that SIX short years ago I celebrated my birthday with strangers. Strangers, yet some of the most loyal and interesting people I ever met. And yes, many of us keep in touch. Sorry DOJ.

In fact, my dorm mates decorated my cubicle, made me gifts and of course a legendary “prison cake.” I always say that prison is a great equalizer and nothing proves my point more than memories like this one.

What happens in the secret world inside is not only a tale of survival, but also one of humanity. After all, on the outside when the going gets tough, who is really there for you? How often do people, especially friends, go out of their way to make you feel special? Sadly the truth is that many of us are way to “busy” to really think about people in our lives. Even people who are important. That is one of the “gifts” of prison- time! Time to reflect and time to make the most of the little things, not trip out on them. Would I go back? Of course not.

My birthday party was filled with fabulous decorations- toilet paper streamers- gourmet dinner- a rice and cheese soufflé- and the glorious prison cake. A prison cake is a specialty that many learn to make. It is made up of bags of crushed up cookies and prepared in the community microwave. And the gifts I received ranged from the popular crocheted scarves, to specialty water smuggled from the warehouse. Ah, the little things…and the maxi pads!

Orange is the New Black is just a sneak peak inside our world, but the memories, good and bad are very intimate. I can never replace the time lost with my family and children. But the people I met inside made me realize to never take things for granted, and I try hard to live this everyday. So on this birthday never let it be said that I have forgotten any of the unique and bizarre times that have led me to the place I am today. The past is just that, and the present is a gift that I love opening everyday.

 

 


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 in the media on The Today Show, The CBS Early Show, E! News, People.com, Fox News, NBC News, CNN, NPR Slate, Wall Street Journal, Discovery Network and others. She is a weekly featured guest on the syndicated America Now radio program. She may be reached at wendy@wendyfeldman.com

Follow @thewendyfeldman

 

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Filed under jail, prepare for jail, prison, prison coaching, prison consultant, prison re entry, probation

My time with the Bling Ring…

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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 wendy@wendyfeldman.com

Follow @thewendyfeldman

 

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Filed under alternatvive sentencing, Bling Ring, incarcervention, jail, prepare for jail, prison consultant

What is State Prison Really Like- Jodie Arias?

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Jodie Arias was just convicted of first degree murder in Arizona. That means she will soon be transferred to Arizona State Prison. And that means Perryville even if she goes to death row. I have known many women who have served time at Perryville and currently have several clients who are still there. Bottom line- Perryville is NO JOKE. It is hard time. They do offer inmate programs for various issues, especially substance abuse, but Arias will no doubt be a lifer and that is a whole different world.

The Perryville complex houses various security levels, but Arias will be in Maximum Security and will have non contact visits and be housed in a cell not a dorm. She will have access to television and like all inmates will be able to buy a radio and various items from the commissary. In fact, high profile cases like Arias, Scott Peterson, Manson and even Casey Anthony often have strangers deposit money on their books for such items. The most popular commissary item is Ice Cream- especially in Arizona in Summer!

But, this prison stay will be no cake walk and contrary to media reports, there is no tweeting or even computers or cell phones. And yes, there are female gangs at Perryville. SO what will life be like for Jodi Arias and her family? ROUTINE. Remember, the family is a victim of Arias also and they will need to decide if they keep in contact with her. No matter what the Arias family has an adjustment period also. I often coach families on how to deal with a loved one’s incarceration. In this case it will be a whole new normal as she is never coming home.

Often the person inside tries to hustle the outsiders and play on their sympathies. I suspect Arias will do this as well. Her family will need to learn boundaries and get over any guilt they may have while showing empathy and compassion for the victim and his family.

As for Jodie Arias she must prepare for long, boring days and lonely nights now that the court drama has ended. Perryville and it’s hard core rules await.

 


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 wendy@wendyfeldman.com

Follow @thewendyfeldman

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Filed under death row for women, jail, Jodie Arias, prepare for jail, prison coaching, prison preparation, women in prison

What is prison and how do we find FREEDOM???

Everyday I work with a wide variety of clients. Sometimes I am preparing the defendant for prison, sometimes I work only with their families, prepare people for court, prepare alternatives such as community service and rehab. Always I am in crisis management mode. But recently I have noticed a sharp increase in the number of people who have not only addictions but also mental health issues. Often these are not genetic issue but problems that have developed due to abuse, stress and trauma.

So, I ask the question- what is PRISON? Many people I met while in prison myself were not only growing and learning from their experience there, but also had developed a lightness about their circumstance and re-entry. Yet, many people recently seem to be in a very dark place. Maybe this is timing, maybe this is based on the fact that they have had other chances and failed and maybe the real issue is that I am finding it necessary to have most of my clients seek serious therapy now and not just AA and other rehab options.

Thus, many people are in prisons of their own making and just do not know how to find freedom. Prison is a relative term now to me. I learned a lot from prison. Just as money can’t buy you class, escaping jail time cannot and will not buy you FREEDOM.

All of the recent repeat offenders suggest just this. We can’t expect that AA and rehab is going to turn a person’s life around. They must do the work and get to the heart of the matter. Celebrities are always in the news for repeat DUI arrests and even other crimes including shoplifting and other cries for attention. This is not a coincidence. This is a cry for help, attention and a true lack of coping skills.

One culprit may be the lack of personal connection many feel in this age of social media. It certainly adds to the stress level of many and the isolation of many more. Add those together and we have loneliness and a type of self imposed prison.

Where we find Freedom is an extension of what is prison. The answer to both is within. There is no doubt that 30 days in jail changes nothing but long term work and treatment does. So does community service and being of service to others. As I often say, Community Service should be mandatory for anybody finding themselves in a courtroom. This may indeed be the key to the path to FREEDOM.

Wendy Feldman is a criminal justice expert, insider 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 wendy@wendyfeldman.com

Follow @thewendyfeldman

 

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February 27, 2013 · 10:14 PM

Murdering COP on the loose..OF COURSE!!!

Once again we have an event that should make us look at our mental health problems in America. Ex cop Chris Dorner is armed and dangerous after killing three people and terrorizing the Los Angeles county, the police officers, the DA’s office and judges. There is fear he may even appear at the Grammy awards. This is ONE man! Yet, the power of his training AND his mental illness make him a domestic terrorist. I have several court cases that were continued last week as the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office focused on this case and how to protect themselves and the city.

Get it now- guns plus metal illness makes or TRAGEDY. As with all cases like Dorner’s, there were signs of instability but nothing could prepare us for what is happening now. A large part of the LAPD and the FBI are dedicated time and money into capturing this mad man. Dorner, a fired and disgruntled former Los Angeles police officer, said in the so-called “manifesto” he released that he was targeting LAPD officials and their families and will keep killing until the truth is known about his case. We need to take anger seriously. Not waste time on petty drug cases or giving people a zillion chances on DUI cases. Let’s stop crime by looking at why it happens and then how we can prevent it.

Certainly, there was no way to predict Dorner would go this insane but he now will go out with a blaze of glory instead of as the disgraced cop that he was. As with all Mass Murders, this is about power. Do not give him any. Capture him, he will probably kill himself and never show his picture. But nonce again use him as an example of mental health issues. Was he given proper counseling when he was fired? Is  there adequate therapy for those who face danger everyday? These are questions we must ask and address.

The fact is we can not stop violence, but we can prepare for it better and we need to start now. From alternative sentences on up to maximum security the mental health component is broken. Time to fix it.

 

Wendy Feldman is a criminal justice expert, insider 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 wendy@wendyfeldman.com

Follow @thewendyfeldman

 

 

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Filed under alternatvive sentencing, Chris Dornin, jail, prepare for jail

Will Prison help Lindsay Lohan???

Dare I say it- Lindsay Lohan is back in the news again for legal problems! Shocking no, but this time there are reports that she has been evicted from her Los Angeles home. This may or not be true for now, but it will happen. And here is why…

Lohan-, who I have been a huge supporter of, has never had to suffer any consequences, despite her numerous legal problems. In fact, she was not even ordered to what I would call PROPER therapy or Community Service. Working at the morgue will not help rehabilitate anybody and may make him or her so disengageged that they are worse off.

This is why I always insist that my clients perform Community Service, but service that is matched to them. For example, I have a client who is a young man who loves music; hence he is teaching music to at risk youth. The benefit is obvious to the kids but for my client it has helped him build some much-needed self-esteem and learn Gratitude. Everybody facing prison has low self esteem.

There are two key words for being in criminal legal trouble- gratitude and respect. Both lead to finding the often-elusive humility. In the Lohan case, as in many, the lawyer feels her job is done by getting the client “off”. The reality is that is short sighted as people like Lohan need much more than just to get out of trouble. They need to learn the life skills needed to STAY out of trouble. That’s where I usually come in unless I have also worked on the alternative sentence being presented. Obviously, that has not happened with Lohan. She needs an Incarcervention and not just for her crime sprees.

I do believe that Lohan will not serve jail time for her probation violation and probably not for her new charges of lying to cops. In that case she may face some LA County jail time that may be done under house arrest, as LA is so overcrowded.

But, I do see Lohan being sent to The BIG HOUSE- aka Fed town for her many IRS issues. This is not unusual and would not be simply because she owes back taxes. It is more likely that she is under investigation for not reporting cash that she receives for events etc…In normal cases this is called Tax Evasion or even money laundering, and this is where the Feds have the power. If I were Lohan’s lawyer I would look for a federal specialist before my predictions come true.

On the other hand, the question of prison actually being helpful is a likely one. In cases of people like Lohan who just have so much entitlement, a tad of mental health problems and substance abuse, prison may be the only thing that helps her turn her life around. The time needed to do this would fit right in with a year or so in a Federal Prison Camp. Lindsay, you may not agree now, but you will thank me later- well that is if you had some gratitude.

So, there you have it. I DO think that in some cases prison is a transformative experience and this is one of those cases. I know most of my clients with shorter sentences feel the same way. It’s when we get into the multi year drug sentences that we can all agree there is NO benefit.

For now an eviction for Lohan is not the point as BIG HOUSE ready or not, here she comes!

Wendy Feldman is a criminal justice expert, insider 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 wendy@wendyfeldman.com

Follow @thewendyfeldman

 

 

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Filed under alternatvive sentencing, incarcervention, jail, Lisa Bloom, prepare for jail