Tag Archives: Federal Prison

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

Follow @thewendyfeldman

Leave a comment

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

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

 

2 Comments

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

Leave a comment

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

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

 

1 Comment

Filed under jail, prepare for jail, prison, prison coaching, prison consultant, prison re entry, probation

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

 

 

Leave a comment

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

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under alternatvive sentencing, incarcervention, jail, Lisa Bloom, 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

 

2 Comments

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