Is Orange the New Black???

The popular TV Show has made the secret world of Federal Prison a hot topic. But is that what Federal Prison Camp is really like? Well, in a word NO. But, what the show has done is what I have said for years. Prison is a great equalizer and a place to really learn humility and respect. Look at /how the women must learn to live in a small space, eat crappy food and yet they find things to smile about.

The truth is that there is nothing cool about Prison. But, as I always tell my clients, changing your life is cool. Prison often affords that chance because one has time to reflect.

The show also is making it a lot easier to discuss the taboo topic of prison. Especially women in prison AND their families. Families are truly the forgotten consequences of crime. When you go to prison, so does your entire family. Prison is an equal opportunity employer.

But we are sending to prison at record rates and we must look at alternatives that work. We really can’t afford to have people out of the work force and separated from their families for most of the crimes that fill our prisons today. Yes, some people do belong in prison. Some for life, but never forget that over 95% of those incarcerated are getting released and most in less than 5 years.

SO, we must make changes now. For that, I welcome Orange is the New Black and I say let the discussion begin and continue until we find solutions.

 


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, 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 alternatvive sentencing, drug treatment programs, prepare for jail, prison coaching, Prison Consulting

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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George Zimmerman and Family what’s next???

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 wendy@wendyfeldman.com

Follow @thewendyfeldman

 


 


 

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Filed under George Zimmerman, prepare for jail, prison coaching, prison consultant, Restoratice Justice, Trayvon Martin

Knock Knock- The Zimmerman Trial

Seminole County Jail

The jury is about to get the case of Alleged Kid Killer George Zimmerman. Sadly, this has been one of the strangest trials ever. From the opening statements where the defense attorney told a “knock knock” joke, to Zimmerman himself.

The defense team clearly did not prep their client well as Zimmerman rolls his eyes, is agitated and appears the angry man that he must be. If he were my client I would have prepared him much better, and there would be no doubt that he made a mistake and had remorse. But the truth is Zimmerman appears to have NO remorse that a child is dead, and worse yet the prosecution is now asking the judge for a lesser included. That means the jury will be allowed to find Zimmerman guilty of a crime like manslaughter that carries a very light penalty.

This tells me that the prosecution is hedging and does not believe they have proven guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Sad but not surprising. This case has been a mess from day one. Is it a racial case, a case of a “wanna be” cop or just a tragic accident? No matter what, we will never know the truth, and justice will not be served. That because we don’t know what justice is in a case like this.

Truth be told, the U.S. has the best system in the world, but it becomes more flawed every day. Budget cuts and personal and political agendas make for confusion. Add into that the “for profit” prison industrial complex , and we have a real mess. This will NOT change until we as a society distinguishes between certain types of crimes and decides if we are punitive or rehabilitative.

The Zimmerman case should be one that we study for all of these reasons. There are answers and ways to make our criminal justice system better for all of us. But implementing the answers will take, hard work, patience and of course and insider’s point of view

 

 


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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State Prisons and Internet

I have received numerous emails, tweets and comments about Jodi Arias and her access to social media and internet. To be clear, Arias will have NO access to social media ever again.

But, she may have access to the internet. This access is on a restricted server and is for certain monitored purposes only. The uproar and confusion is simply solved by looking at facts and not rumors or fake TV shows pretending to spend time inside.

Prison, crimes and the aftermath are no joke. 

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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

Will life be a box of cherries and Commissary Snacks for Arias????

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Everyday people ask me what life will be like in State Prison for Jodie Arias. People are especially interested in the quality of her life. To be sure, her life will not be all snacks and fun, but it is not that bad either. And, if she is sent to death row it may be even better. There are only two women on death row in Arizona. Both are at Perryville State Prison where Arias will eventually end up no matter if she receives life or death. She will DIE there.

But life inside a maximum-security prison is not all hard times and labor. In fact, some prefer the maximum section of the prison. It is here that one is allowed their own TV and sometimes Internet. No mass TV room, no waiting but no privacy from the guards either. It really is life in a fishbowl. But, for a narcissist like Arias, this will suit her perfectly.

Jodie Arias says she wants to accomplish many things while in prison. While this may seem unfair to many people, the truth is that she may be able to do. The alternative is that we keep paying for her and others to do nothing. Arias however will not be allowed to come and go as she pleases and her ability to exercise of the “yard” will be very limited if at all. This as she has been convicted of first-degree murder.

But, let’s not forget that Arias has been held in the infamous Maricopa county jail headed by none other than master criminal himself Sheriff Joe Arpaio. A true case of birds of a feather. For those in a rush to have Arias sent to State Prison at Perryville, stop and consider that Sheriff Joe runs the WORST county jail in the United States and conditions are horrific. They even have a section known as “tent city” where inmates live in tents outside in the Arizona heat. I would prefer Arias stay there but once formally sentenced she will move to the more plush Perryville in Phoenix.

I have worked with many women who have been and are at Perryville and the treatment depends on the crime, the time and the behavior. Do not expect it to be easy for Jodie Arias but it certainly will not be hard time. And yes, she can order all kinds of snacks from the commissary. Is this rehabilitation? Nope, but a life sentence is not designed for that. I for one am closing the Arias chapter and turning my attention to those who need to rehabilitate and their families. Never forget that over 95% of all people incarcerated in the US are coming out and most in less than 5 years. We must learn to deal with this population now.


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, Jodie Arias, prepare for jail, prison consultant