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 firstname.lastname@example.org.