Tag Archives: community service

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

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

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

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

Follow @thewendyfeldman

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February 27, 2013 · 10:11 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

Lohan and what price she might pay…

Lindsay Lohan has once again landed herself in a heap of legal trouble. Just as she found out she would be charged next week in Los Angeles for lying to police after a June car accident, she is in yet another bind. A new arrest in NYC for assault. I call people who commit a variety pack of crimes people in need of an Incarcervention. That is an intervention with a criminal legal component. It is common for people in this pattern to not only commit several crimes, but also several types of crimes. With Lohan we have DUI’s, theft and now assault. Quite a combo.

The new charges in Los Angeles are all misdemeanor charges that would normally be eligible for an alternative sentence of rehab, therapy and community service, but because she is already on probation, she may actually do some jail time. In addition, if she is found to have violated her probation she could be ordered to serve a larger part of that original sentence. Now Lohan also faces an assault charge in NYC. Time will tell if the DA files a criminal complaint in that case.

But, no matter what, it is clear that Lindsay is in need of a new round of therapy, accountability and a dose of humility. I tell all of my clients to get a head start on the humility train, as that is a key to success once in our criminal justice system. The two keys are respect and humility. As for Ms Lohan and all of the other celebrity cases in the news this week- acting entitled gets you nowhere except a mug shot gallery. But, change is possible as I always say. But that takes work.

 

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, Criminal thinking, Lindsay Lohan, prepare for jail

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