Teresa Giudice- The Countdown…

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Well, here we are days away from the surrender to Federal Prison of Teresa Giudice. I always told Teresa, as I tell many of my clients. The day of surrender will be a relief. An actual light at the end of the tunnel. A count down instead of an endless count and a road to nowhere. Yet that is a hard concept to grasp. She will wish she was on “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me out of Here.” Who knows, she may even think that?!

There is much speculation about me, Teresa and the entire mess. Oh and of course the amazing interest in what prison is like and what awaits her and then Joe. First things first. I do not intend to discuss the details of our arrangement, but to those who think I have violated confidentiality I suggest looking at what I have actually discussed. All is my opinion or facts that are my own. The actual crimes are never something I discuss with any of my clients. The reason is my job is to guide people through situations, not judge or defend them.

I work with people from all walks of life and on matters of criminal, custody and civil issues. I also handle media for many people and myself. Yet Teresa and Joe presented a unique situation. A husband wife both charged in FEDERAL COURT with many different crimes and still on a hit television show. A bizarre mix of crime, punishment and pop culture. Or a perfect  storm. A chance to draw attention to our broken criminal justice system and how it really works. I think if anything that has happened. I tell my clients- commit a financial crime and you have relationship for life with the Feds. This is true. Yet we have Martha Stewart, Wolf of Wall Street, Steve Madden and myself who have all come out and better than before. BUT with very hard work and as open books.

The case was also a test of social media and the court of public opinion. The amount of misinformation that was out and is still out is astounding. Almost impossible to navigate. Take all of this and add in all of my other clients and it was as I say in my upcoming book “A Year That was Bananas”- oddly the year ended with a client of mine known as the Banana Queen. Perfect.

Our society is fixated on crime and punishment, but we forget the rehabilitation component. Prison is easy. Re Entry is difficult. You can’t just waltz out of prison and think all is well unless you are a sociopath and you walk in that way. I am asked daily if that is the situation with Teresa. The answer is I have no idea. I do not think so. But I do know that a lot went into the sentencing and the hearing. The speech she read that every observer in court saw me sitting next to her all day madly rewriting. That speech was in process for weeks. It was a “collaboration”. The words however needed to be felt and then lived up to. For example, “I will make this right… Only time will tell.

I do know that it is well documented why I left the matter yet a major piece I have yet to share and will not at this time. I will say it is NOT a violation of privacy to voice my opinion and there is of course no NDA that I signed. Things should have turned out differently. There should have been no letter to Judge Salas as designations happen naturally everyday and the request for halfway house and community service now looks like what I said it was- FOOLISH-

WHY? Because there has been no effort, not even a tiny one to do anything good for anybody. No community service. No acceptance of any responsibility, no I am sorry, no I will make “this” right. There has been nothing. Well, some photo opps and a lawsuit blaming a former lawyer where discovery alone will open a new can of worms. But nothing. This was a golden opportunity for Teresa to own her actions whatever they were and show people that you can comeback. You can rehabilitate and you can change you life.

There is forgiveness but only if you admit there have been actions that need to be forgiven. It is not easy. It is not fun. It is why I worked with Teresa. I pick and choose my clients very carefully and many are pro bono. I have received almost 600 emails about Teresa. Few positive about her. Yet on social media I am the one bashed daily. That is OK as the message is more important than the messenger.

The fact is that as a mother that first night in prison is like none other. Teresa will lie on the top bunk of a metal bed and it will start to sink in. Day one you pee in a cup in front of an officer, are strip searched and must cough and squat to make sure you have no contraband. Prison is the ultimate equalizer. You are known by your registration number and last name. The lights never turn off and you wear a uniform with steel toe boots. It is not a bad place and the people are more interesting than those on the outside, but close your eyes and if you have a SOLE you realize this is America- Land of The Free- and your choices have led to your incarceration- how pathetic. Land of the free! Not for 15 months…

So, back to daily life in prison, what mental state Teresa is in and when she will surrender (probably not January 5 at 2 pm)…That’s for another day. For now all I know is as I always say change is possible but it takes hard work and honesty.

 

Wendy Feldman is a  family legal coach, crisis manager and a well known expert on alternative sentencing. She is available for private consultation on how to navigate the many aspects of our legal system. She is also available for media commentary and has appeared on shows from Today, CBS Early Show, Nightline, Fox News ABC News, She is a regular on the CBS entertainment show The Insider and Entertainment Tonight and featured in the hit series on E! Secret Societies of Hollywood. She is a regular contributor to The Wall Street Journal, Slate, BBC, NPR, People, US, New York Post, The Wrap and various radio shows around the world. She may be reached at wendy@wendyfeldman.com.

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Filed under Bravo, community service, crisis management, Federal Prison, Real Housewives of New Jersey, Teresa Giudice, Wendy Feldman

What’s new in criminal Justice???

Well not much new, but a lot of wrong things still going on. For example, here we are in 2014 and we still have a huge disparity in sentencings in drug cases and in cases where children are harmed. There are much tougher rules for both in Federal courts. Sad but true.

Federal courts still have mandatory minimums on what can be simple drug cases, and much harsher penalties on anything having to do with children. So, it’s a true mixed bag.

What I do know is that one can “program” easier in State prison and be released much earlier than in Federal Prison. This again hardly seems fair.

And of course both have almost no help for people who need real re-entry assistance. We must start here so that people stop going back for silly reasons. Our prisons are full of people who could have served creative alternative sentences that would help both the offender and society. Remember, almost everybody incarcerated today is coming home and most in less than 5 years. A sobering thought at best.

It is 2014 and the time to change is NOW. It is not that complicated a system that we cannot change it. But, we need to understand it first. Prison is BIG money and the fewer people in prison the less money made by the Prison industrial complex. This too must change and will.

There are plenty of people who do belong in prison, but let’s work on those who can change and be rehabilitated first, This will actually make room for the people who belong there.

 


Wendy Feldman is a criminal justice expert, crisis manager and family legal coach. She is the leading expert on Alternative Sentencing. She is also director 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,US Magazine, Perez Hilton, Fox News, NBC News, BBC, CNN, NPR Slate, Wall Street Journal, Discovery Network ID and others.  She may be reached at wendy@wendyfeldman.com

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Filed under alternatvive sentencing, Criminal Justice, prepare for jail, prison coaching, prison consultant, prison re entry, probation

Are some people beyond help? AKA CONRAD MURRAY

 

Conrad Murray is getting lots of press lately. I am not sure why as the media is just fueling the fire of a very ill man who can not be rehabilitated. This should not come as news to people who know my work, as I very publicly spoke about FIRING  Murray on Geraldo two years ago. He is one of the few who is so mentally ill that there is no chance of rehabilitation. NONE.

I meet all kinds of people in my work and most can and are rehabilitated in some way. Yes, even Lindsay Lohan and Chris Brown. But Murray is a sociopath who has his own agenda. What is amazing is how certain people in media keep giving Connie another 15 minutes and many even still call him a doctor. That’s is insane.

As a legal coach and alternative sentencing expert, I try to make a difference. But, the sad truth is that some people are beyond and are untreatable and unchangeable. Murray is one of these people.

It may be shocking, but even people who have done violent crimes can change. They may not be able to leave prison, but they can change and even make a difference while behind bars. Murray did not learn anything inside except how to order commissary.

I prefer to focus on those who need me, appreciate learning from past choices and make a positive difference in the world. There are more than enough of these people to make the world a better place, and to make working in criminal justice worthwhile. Yes, thank you Perez Hilton for calling me the “queen of the criminal justice system.” That may not be true all the time, but more often than not when people get real and get honest it works!

 


Wendy Feldman is a criminal justice expert, crisis manager and family legal coach. She is the leading expert on Alternative Sentencing. She is also director 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

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Filed under alternatvive sentencing, Conrad Murray, crisis management, Lindsay Lohan, prepare for jail

CHRIS BROWN- did he do it again???? NOPE

Once again Chris Brown has been arrested. Last year he was accused of stealing a woman’s cell phone, and this time he is accused and was CHARGED with felony assault for hitting a man in Washington DC. But did he?

Now late in the day, after a weekend in jail, the charge has already been reduced to a misdemeanor and the DC judge refused to order a standard drug test for Brown. The truth is celebrities like Brown have a target on their back.

Yes, Brown should no better to go anywhere near an area where a fight is likely to break out. The same is true for Lindsay Lohan who should stay far away from drugs and alcohol especially in public. As with all celebs, much of the problem is the people who are around them after the experts like myself leave.

Many celebrities I have worked with retain me or a sober coach to work with them long after their court case has been handled. These are the people who do the work and thus have a better chance of staying out of trouble and actually making positive changes.

There is no doubt that many celebs including Chris Brown and Lindsay Lohan have received amazing alternative sentences. Last week on an E! Network special, Secret Societies of Hollywood, I was called the person who helps KEEP clients out of jail long after their lawyer is gone. While I do my best and many treatment centers do as well, in the end it is up to the person to make proper choices. Sometimes people are just not ready to give up the press even if it is negative.

As for Brown, the truth is he will have another day in court, and the truth will come out about this latest incident, but for now imagine life with a target and how YOU would handle it. Clearly Brown needs a little more help staying on the right track no matter what. Many people do, but as I always say, change is possible if you work hard.

 


Wendy Feldman is a criminal justice expert, crisis manager and family legal coach. She is the leading expert on Alternative Sentencing. She is also director 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

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Filed under alternatvive sentencing, Chris Brown, community service, crisis management, incarcervention, prison consultant

Can money buy you FREEDOM???

 

I am always asked this very question. In fact, I am featured on a special on E!  Entertainment Thursday October 24 about this very issue called Secret Societies of Hollywood.Heidi Fleiss

The answer is very simple- NO. Money does make access to key talent and legal professionals easier however. But far too often these “pros” are simply not worth the money they are paid and actually make the issue worse in the long run. I always tell clients a lawyer’s job is to get them off the hook, and my job is to keep them on the right track. But none of can buy our way out of a legal mess.

This is 2013 and the old tricks simply do not work. Yes, jails and prisons are overcrowded, but that alone is not enough to keep people out of them. I strive to present to judges a road map to an alternative sentence that makes sense to everybody. The defendant, the system and society, but far too often others make this process way to complicated and people get off the hook in one case and pick up another. This is why I coined the word Incarcervention. Simply a legal intervention for people who may have some elements of criminal thinking and who keep breaking the law in one way or another. Celebrities often do this because they have giant entitlement issues and really do think that money can buy freedom. It just aint so.

Currently, there are several cases in the news that would be perfect for an alternative sentence like Cee Lo Green, Heidi Fleiss, Lamar Odum and others. In those cases the money can help bring about freedom if a person has the money to go to treatment. But in the end change and true freedom is up to the person in trouble.

As I always say, change is possible but it takes real work and honesty.

 

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

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October 22, 2013 · 8:46 PM

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

Follow @thewendyfeldman

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Filed under alternatvive sentencing, prepare for jail, Prison conultants, prison preparation, Restoratice Justice