Tag Archives: prison coach

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

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

What is State Prison Really Like- Jodie Arias?

arias

Jodie Arias was just convicted of first degree murder in Arizona. That means she will soon be transferred to Arizona State Prison. And that means Perryville even if she goes to death row. I have known many women who have served time at Perryville and currently have several clients who are still there. Bottom line- Perryville is NO JOKE. It is hard time. They do offer inmate programs for various issues, especially substance abuse, but Arias will no doubt be a lifer and that is a whole different world.

The Perryville complex houses various security levels, but Arias will be in Maximum Security and will have non contact visits and be housed in a cell not a dorm. She will have access to television and like all inmates will be able to buy a radio and various items from the commissary. In fact, high profile cases like Arias, Scott Peterson, Manson and even Casey Anthony often have strangers deposit money on their books for such items. The most popular commissary item is Ice Cream- especially in Arizona in Summer!

But, this prison stay will be no cake walk and contrary to media reports, there is no tweeting or even computers or cell phones. And yes, there are female gangs at Perryville. SO what will life be like for Jodi Arias and her family? ROUTINE. Remember, the family is a victim of Arias also and they will need to decide if they keep in contact with her. No matter what the Arias family has an adjustment period also. I often coach families on how to deal with a loved one’s incarceration. In this case it will be a whole new normal as she is never coming home.

Often the person inside tries to hustle the outsiders and play on their sympathies. I suspect Arias will do this as well. Her family will need to learn boundaries and get over any guilt they may have while showing empathy and compassion for the victim and his family.

As for Jodie Arias she must prepare for long, boring days and lonely nights now that the court drama has ended. Perryville and it’s hard core rules await.

 


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

23 Comments

Filed under death row for women, jail, Jodie Arias, prepare for jail, prison coaching, prison preparation, women in prison

The TRUTH about rehab and JAIL…aka LOHAN

 

Much has been written about the recent court order that was allegedly sending Lindsay Lohan to “lockdown” rehab instead of jail. Of course there is NO such thing. That is called the PSYCH ward and many people go there before residential treatment for detox and evaluation.

The courts often confuse mental illness and drug addiction. In addition, our court system is not geared towards treating those with mental illness. In many cases a DUI class or diversion is ordered. In the case last year of actor Johnny Lewis, rehab was ordered even though many of us knew he had no drug problem, and in fact was sober at the time of his death.

Now we have every “expert” talking about the sentence of Lindsay Lohan. There are even reports that she wants to stay on the drug Adderall while in treatment. What people are failing to understand is that it is common procedure to stay on any medication that the treating psychiatrist deems necessary and helpful. SOBER does not mean without medication. Thus, many people need psych meds, and a quality program will allow these.

The term lockdown rehab can and does mean many things. What is key in alternative sentencing cases is that the person receive the help and treatment they need while obeying the court order. This is usually accomplished by following the rules of the treatment center and the treating psychiatrist. In the Lohan case she will need to go to a facility that is strict enough to obey court orders and not a typical Hollywood rehab where money talks. Most quality rehabs or residential treatment centers will have house rules that can be modified for court orders. This is common procedure.

SO, to all of the “experts” this is how it works. Now the key is to get courts onboard to address the psychosocial issues that come with drugs and crime. This is where education matters and standard AA and diversion fails. Without a synergy between mental health treatment and addiction treatment, people will keep the cycle of arrests, rehab and jail. Let’s hope the Lohan case draws attention to how our system needs to improve.

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

 

1 Comment

Filed under Adderall, alternatvive sentencing, Lisa Bloom

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

Leave a comment

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

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under alternatvive sentencing, Chris Dornin, jail, prepare for jail

Why Lance Armstrong is a DOPE!!!

 

 

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 wendy@wendyfeldman.com

Follow @thewendyfeldman

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Lance Amrstrong, prepare for jail, prison coaching, Restoratice Justice