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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Now that George Zimmerman is FREE what’s next for him and his family? Will they be able to move on with their lives and will they ever practice some Restorative Justice and do the right thing?
Just as many clients of mine, they will have an adjustment period. It is not as simple as being acquitted and now you are FREE! Freedom comes in many shapes and sizes. For sure Zimmerman and his family will need a lot of therapy and help. They have a lot of work to do and may never be accepted back into society. For one, it is hard to tell if he has any remorse and thus Zimmerman himself is NOT a sympathetic character. Can he be rehabilitated? I am not sure, but as I always say, change is possible, but he would need to admit he made poor choices and thus needs to change.
There are two components to a successful re-entry after jail or a trial. They are family support and community ties. The community ties are absent here. One idea if they were my clients is to have Zimmerman begin doing Community Service and walking the walk so to speak. As for his family, they too are victims as families often are. Families are always the forgotten consequences of crime.
George Zimmerman may have “gotten off” but he is far from free and able to lead a decent life. After all, what was his life like before he used his gun to kill somebody? That is the question and the answer is that sadly many “rent a cops” are not qualified to carry a weapon and should not be. Now Zimmerman has a second chance and an opportunity to make something of his life and maybe help others. Time will tell. But for the short term, I suggest Zimmerman assemble a quality team to assist him with his transition so that nothing like this ever happens again. The trial is over, but the hard work is just beginning.
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 email@example.com
If you commit a crime, bully and abuse people and then need positive PR- who you gonna call? OPRAH of course.
Well, maybe call Oprah back in the day when she actually had an audience. Now it is just a very pathetic way to try and manipulate the court of public opinion.
Lance Armstrong has now confirmed what we all knew- he used performance-enhancing drugs for many years. SURPRISE! The issue really isn’t that he used the drugs, it is the lying and the bullying that he participated in.
From a criminal justice standpoint the issue is did Lance Armstrong open himself up to any legal issues? I say yes and time will tell. What is certain is that he opened the door to immense civil law suits and all because he still wants his 15 minutes. Lance- that is long over. Your fame is now infamy.
I have been asked if I think that Lance Armstrong deserves to go to prison. My answer is simple- YES. He lied, broke laws and strong armed people. Prison is the perfect place to teach him humility and respect. We waste time putting small time drug dealers in prison but it is people like Armstrong who belong there. This because he felt the rules and laws did not apply to him. He obviously still feels that way or he wouldn’t make such a grandiose gesture of coming clean.
Entitlement and grandiosity are two criminal thinking errors and are common in many people who break the law. Armstrong did try hard to mitigate his criminal activity with his philanthropy but one does not in any way make the other right.
Lance Armstrong- prison awaits. At least a prison of your own making. Not even the best prison coach- me- can help you now.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
As a criminal justice expert and consultant, one of the questions clients always ask me is about forgiveness. Often they are told to try and make amends or simply ask for forgiveness from those in their life and those they have harmed. Yet, this is rarely such a simple task and if taken lightly can cause even greater harm.
First of all I think that Forgiveness is a wonderful thing, and I have both forgiven others and been forgiven myself. But, I said forgiven not forgotten. None of us should ever forget what poor choices we make and the consequences of those choices. Too often people re-enter society from rehab or prison and feel entitled to forgiveness. There is no such thing. Forgives takes work on all sides. Simply apologizing, or as 12 step groups call it “making amends” is not enough. You must mean it and earn it.
In criminal justice circles there is a concept called Restorative Justice that emphasizes repairing the harm caused by crime when victims, offenders and community members meet to decide how to do that, the results can be transformational. This is much more than saying I am sorry or asking for forgiveness. It is also a way of owning one’s own actions.
Think about it- in all aspects of life we need closure and simply asking for forgiveness may be one sided. This is why forms of restorative justice work. But a key question I ask my clients when they complain about not being forgiven is simply- “DO YOU FORGIVE YOURSELF?” Ask somebody this and often the response will be “I never thought about that.” It is my experience that one should not ask for forgiveness without doing the work and starting with themselves. Once you forgive yourself the rest will fall into place.
In a world that has gone a little crazy and in times of stress, forgiveness goes a long way towards the healing that usually needs to take place. Currently, many courts and even prisons around the United States are looking into this concept to bridge worlds that have been affected by crime. Those re-entering society should always look inward first and once done- they will have a more successful time.
I know that change is possible with hard work. So now let’s all look at somebody in our life and start the process of forgiveness.
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 Today, CBS Early Show, Fox News and Nancy Grace. She is a weekly featured guest in the syndicated America Now radio program. She may be reached at email@example.com.
Today Lindsay Lohan had the strangest of moments in a Los Angeles courtroom. Lohan appeared before Judge Stephanie Sautner for what was to be a regular probation review. It was anything but! As we all knew, Lohan had not been showing up for her community service or therapy sessions. But, the probation office put forth a report that Lohan WAS in compliance and yet the DA sought that the probation be revoked and Lohan go to jail.
Needless to say this is all not the way it usually works. To complicate matters, the Judge was furious and indeed sided with the DA and has revoked Loan’s probation. As most people in criminal justice know, it is highly unusual for a judge to be at odds with the probation department. After all, judges look to the reporting of the probation department to be accurate. It seems that judge Sautner doubts some aspects of the report as well as disagrees with others. For example, Lohan apparently “phoned” in some therapy sessions and yet her probation officer approved that. The Judge also stated that probation was wrong to allow Lohan to transfer her community service to the Red Cross. The transfer was made because Lohan was kicked out of the program at the women’s shelter after failing to appear for the mandated time. Believe it or not, I have several people I coach through community service because they do not see it as important. But, once they become immersed and see the benefits for them, they thrive.
Further, Judge Sautner was furious with the poor attitude that Lohan has shown, especially where Lohan has stated that her community service at a woman’s shelter was “unfulfilling.” Yikes! The judge has now ordered Lohan to perform 16 hours of community service at the Los Angeles Morgue! In addition Sautner also stated that the probation-approved travel to Europe was supposed to be a work related matter and yet there are numerous pictures of Lohan partying the night away. At this point Judge Sautner has revoked the probation and ordered Lohan to jail. Don’t worry, Lohan will be bailed out quickly and she will then face a full probation violation hearing November 2.
So, what’s a judge to do? Well, community service is supposed to be rehabilitative not solely punitive. But, in this case there are few options. She could order Lohan to jail for 18 months but as the judge pointed out in court, California is overcrowded and going through a realignment process that would lead to a very short actual jail time for Lohan. The bottom line is how to get Lohan and others the message that there are consequences to actions.
This case is one big frustration for the judge and one big bill for the taxpayers. My advice is to have Lohan serve two types of community service, one that is punitive and one where she can actually begin to give back! What a concept right? Lindsay, you might actual enjoy giving back and helping people. It is never too late to start practicing Restorative Justice. And, while you are at it, get some quality therapy.