Category Archives: prison preparation

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

Families ARE the Forgotten Consequences of Crimes

I have said this before, and I am saying it again. Far too often we forget about the families. Not just the victim’s families, but also ALL of the families.

Last week I handled a very high profile, rather ugly case involving an ex LAPD officer. The point of my involvement was not to make life easier for my client, but to make life go on for his families and the family he victimized. My client had three children under 5 and the victims’ family had two children. Lots to worry about. In cases like these it is human nature to only wonder about the victimizer and maybe his victims. But everybody is a victim. And both families will need to learn a new normal and a new way of life in order to move forward.

Criminals are often selfish, or at least selfish in that moment. The truth is the legacy lives on long after the crime. This is where are system has NOTHING in place, and where I often have the privilege of stepping in. Of course the crime and the criminal intrigue us, but we cannot have true change without looking at the larger picture. Here is where some restorative justice can make a world of difference.

My experiences, my media and my platform allow me to shine the light on stories we normally do not see and rarely talk about. The truth is that everybody has a story and society at large is severely affected by crime and those left behind. That is why we need to offer services such as bringing children to visit incarcerated parents. Therapy and quality re-entry programs.

These are how we will stop the cycle and make the past a lesson. For more information on services and what you can do visit my website at www.wendyfeldman.com. And- help make a change, if not for the person who committed the crime, but for all families.

Wendy Feldman is a criminal justice expert, crisis manager and family legal coach. She is the leading expert on Alternative Sentencing. 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, prepare for jail, Prison conultants, prison preparation, Restoratice Justice

What is State Prison Really Like- Jodie Arias?

arias

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’s a LOHAN supposed to do???

 

The Lindsay Lohan saga in criminal court just got even more LINSANE. Really- nobody could make this up. Lohan or a lawyer on her behalf was supposed to appear in Los Angeles court today. But, neither appeared. Well, a “lawyer’ named Mark Heller did. Mark Heller- the formerly disbarred NY lawyer appeared for Ms. Lohan. But, as previously written and talked about, Heller is not a California lawyer and California criminal law and jails are much different than New York’s.

Judge Jim Dabney admonished Heller for not having local co-council and went as far as to state that Lohan must hire local lawyers or appear and state that she understands she has an “incompetent” lawyer and is willing to take that risk. So, what is Lohan going to do? The answer is as complicated as the many issues Lohan has going on.

Lohan faces charges of lying to police and a probation violation. In fact, she faces multiple jail terms and jurisdictions. This is not just a simple misdemeanor case. Lohan also faces allegations of IRS problems and a large UNPAID bill for an amount due to her previous lawyer Shawn Holley. Holley was sadly fired by Lohan after years of helping her escape jail and turn her life around. Many of us who believe in alternative sentences have seen the Lohan case demonstrate what creative options are possible for those who want to work hard to change their lives.

So, again what CAN Lohan do now? The lawyer who takes her on will have to put in many hours and be able to be creative. A global solution involving all of the criminal cases should be sought. But the problem will be who is going to pay the bill, and who is smart enough to structure such a deal. This deal will need to involve rehab, psychiatric help, probation expertise and the respect of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office. A LOT of work. This legal coach suggests that Lohan get real, get busy and get a solid team together yet again. And Lindsay, I said TEAM. And that will involve a sponsorship by a quality rehab and all of us to believe. Well, it is Hollywood the land of make-believe!

 

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, Lindsay Lohan, Los Angeles District Attorney, Prison Consulting, prison preparation

What is prison and who 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

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February 27, 2013 · 10:11 PM

The System- AKA- What goes on in criminal cases- A New bi monthly series

 

During my years handling my own criminal case and now working on cases all over the U.S., I am certain that people have NO idea how our criminal justice system really works. This includes Judges and Lawyers. Nobody understands all aspects and while some are experts in their fields, none grasp how all of the pieces fit together. In some ways this is easier for me because I am an OBSERVER and an INSIDER. That as we say is true CRED!

As flawed as our system is, it does work most of the time. But, one needs to know how to work it. For example, my clients always tell me that the US Attorney or DA has it “out for them.” This is rarely true and the sooner they realize that these people are simply doing their jobs, the better our result is going to be. Similarly, lawyers often push so hard that they leave a prosecutor no room to save face and negotiate. Remember who has the power? NEVER the lawyer. They just have the large fee. Then we have judges. Judges, like lawyers, have no post conviction experience or understanding. This is why we often see judges order things that are not possible. For example, I had a judge order that my client be allowed certain medication to be brought into a Federal Prison by her family. Anybody who knows how the BOP works would understand that they would never allow this. But, how are everyday citizens supposed to understand the SYSTEM without a consultant like me, and is that fair?

The answer is that of course it is not fair and there are few people who can tie it all together, understand ALL sides and thus help the defendant, their family, the courts and society. The problem is that there is only one me. My understanding of The System has recently led to one client being able to undergo treatment for Lupus while in custody while keeping his disease under control, a possible life sentence that was reduced to probation and a woman being allowed to go to Rikers Island where they have a nursery for women with babies that is quite remarkable. These are versions of Alternative Sentences and just simply showing options to a judge can help. Another aspect that judges and lawyers do not understand is community service. My readers know that I write much about the benefits of Community Service- and urge my clients to get involved court order or not. What judges fail to see is that service empowers defendants and should ALWAYS be a part of a criminal sentence. Not the whole sentence, but a part.

The System is certainly a balancing act and a careful respect of various power and egos. That is one way to work it, and the other is to learn everything and develop a true passion for those who can change. The greatest thing about my job is that I get to help change lives. That does not mean that my clients have not done things that are wrong. It simply means that I choose to work with people who I know have learned their lesson and will go on to lead happy, productive and quality lives. This is what our system is supposed to be- part punitive and part rehabilitating. No, some people do not deserve this chance, but most do and the facts back this up. Remember that more than 95% of people incarcerated are coming home and most in less than 5 years. With this in mind I suggest we ALL learn a little more about our system. Knowledge is power and there is nothing better. Take time to learn a little everyday and in this election year and time of change urge your representatives to change also.

 

 

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 Criminal Justice, prepare for jail, Prison conultants, prison preparation, Rikers Island

Sentencing Day for Sandusky…

Sentencing day is here for Sandusky and what is he doing? Making media statements from Jail of course! So, either his attorneys have given up telling him not to talk or they all are media whores and nuts. Whatever the case, this is NOT the type of thing I ever let my clients do. A statement to the judge is crucial and must be carefully crafted. There should be no media comments whatsoever.

Yet look at the statements Sandusky is making. He says he is innocent of “the alleged disgusting acts.” WHAT! The acts are disgusting not allegedly, they are. Why Sandusky uses the word allegedly tells us a whole lot about him. You see he really doesn’t think the acts are disgusting or they wouldn’t be allegedly, they would just be. This is one very ill man.

I have been asked what will happen to him once he leaves county jail for State Prison. The answer is not much. He will be held in protective custody for a while and then he will join the general population. What people don’t realize is that that general population is apt to have many sex offenders just like Sandusky. Yes, we often house them together. Then it becomes a kind of don’t as, don’t tell.

I often work and coach people who can and have changed from their criminal thinking. I write that change is possible with hard work and I am living proof. Plus, I really believe this. Well, except when it comes to child molesters and rapists. There simply is no evidence that this population can change. SO, the question becomes what to do with people like this. Sad to say but the only option is incarceration, we must protect our children. As for famous cases like Sandusky, let these be lessons that there are consequences and they will catch up to you. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

 

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 in the syndicated America Now radio program. She may be reached at wendy@wendyfeldman.com

Follow @thewendyfeldman

 

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Filed under child abuse, jail, Joe Paterno, Prison Consulting, prison preparation, success after prison