Tag Archives: prison re entry

Is America really the land of the FREE???

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America has never been more of a land of contrasts. The U.S Supreme court last week cleared the way for ALL people to have equal rights when it comes to marriage. A total victory for the LGBTQ community and all of us when it comes to civil rights.- Land of the FREE right?

Yet as we approach the July 4 holiday or Independence day- please do not forget that as far as the free world, America has the largest rate of INCARCERATION in the world. We also have a terribly out of control criminal justice system and of course let us NOT forget the big money involved in locking up Americans- especially women.

Have you ever heard of the prison Industrial Complex????

Money, money, money… yet we have very few programs for those who are incarcerated and re entering society and drug offenders are often denied aid for their children and other benefits. Plus who can forget the BOX that most employers make applicants check when applying for jobs about past criminal convictions. Thus, making it almost impossible to earn a living and really change lives.

SO is America land of the FREE and what can be done??? I am as a legal coach and crisis manager a solution oriented person. I also am one of the lucky people who can use past experiences to shine a light on a broken and busted system.

But, there is hope and the more Insiders like me speak out, the more we have a chance to bring about much needed change. I am often criticized for working with celebrities, yet how else to get out the message? After all- it is the message not the method that matters. If prison teaches you anything- for my clients and me it is to cherish your Freedom and to stand up and speak out.

SO back to the high levels of Incarceration in the U.S.- While looking at this do not forget that the numbers are as follows- 95% of those incarcerated are being released and most in less than 5 years. This is a HUGE problem. Sure we have Orange is the New Black and real prison TV shows like Lock UP, but whenever I am offered a TV show I ask- can we also talk about life after and the answer is NO- that is why I have yet to commit to a series- we must address all aspects of our system. Re-Entry and the struggle even I have.

Drug crimes with mandatory 10-year minimums are simply costing millions and solving nothing. The organization FAMM does much to help this cause but we need to understand at the root of Freedom is MONEY- just as with wars. For example, this is currently on Wikipedia-

“The term “prison–industrial complex” (PIC) is used to attribute the rapid expansion of the US inmate population to the political influence of private prison companies and businesses that supply goods and services to government prison agencies. [1] The term is derived from the “military–industrial complex” of the 1950s”

Prisons are job creators. But going deeper and after all we are talking about the Land of the Free and celebrating July 4- we still can not decide if prison is punitive or about rehabilitation. It simply must be both in most cases. This is why I ask all of MY clients, no matter what, to do community service and have written and spoken much about this.

It is time we look at crimes and determine based on that what will work to change the system- the war on drugs is an epic flop and unless we are talking kingpin regarding long prison sentences in drug cases, we must look at programs- much cheaper and they work. Spend more on probation officers and less on prisons and we may have something…

This is not to say that violent and terrible crimes do not stand alone- they MUST and then we can handle others. Oh, and while we are at reform and education here- let us ban the box and eliminate the statute of limitations on crimes against CHILDREN- simply unacceptable

For now- celebrate your choice to be FREE and America does have the best justice system, but before it is not repairable stop and think about this week of Freedom and what it all really means.

Have a Happy, safe and FREE July 4 and for those who are not free- change is possible with hard work. Freedom has many forms…

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 well known as a media manager and helps clients get their stories out while making the client relatable and human. She is also available for media commentary and has appeared on shows such as Today, CBS Early Show, Nightline, Fox News ABC News, She is a regular on the CBS entertainment shows The Insider and Entertainment Tonight and Inside Edition. Wendy is 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, People, New York Post,Page Six, Los Angeles Times, The Wrap and many others.  She may be reached at wendy@wendyfeldman.com.

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Filed under alternatvive sentencing, crisis manager, FAMM, july 4, orange is the new black, prison coaching, prison industrial complex, Wendy Feldman

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

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

George Zimmerman and Family what’s next???

Now that George Zimmerman is FREE what’s next for him and his family? Will they be able to move on with their lives and will they ever practice some Restorative Justice and do the right thing?

Just as many clients of mine, they will have an adjustment period. It is not as simple as being acquitted and now you are FREE! Freedom comes in many shapes and sizes. For sure Zimmerman and his family will need a lot of therapy and help. They have a lot of work to do and may never be accepted back into society. For one, it is hard to tell if he has any remorse and thus Zimmerman himself is NOT a sympathetic character. Can he be rehabilitated? I am not sure, but as I always say, change is possible, but he would need to admit he made poor choices and thus needs to change.

There are two components to a successful re-entry after jail or a trial. They are family support and community ties. The community ties are absent here. One idea if they were my clients is to have Zimmerman begin doing Community Service and walking the walk so to speak. As for his family, they too are victims as families often are. Families are always the forgotten consequences of crime.

George Zimmerman may have “gotten off” but he is far from free and able to lead a decent life. After all, what was his life like before he used his gun to kill somebody? That is the question and the answer is that sadly many “rent a cops” are not qualified to carry a weapon and should not be. Now Zimmerman has a second chance and an opportunity to make something of his life and maybe help others. Time will tell. But for the short term, I suggest Zimmerman assemble a quality team to assist him with his transition so that nothing like this ever happens again. The trial is over, but the hard work is just beginning.

 


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

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Filed under George Zimmerman, prepare for jail, prison coaching, prison consultant, Restoratice Justice, Trayvon Martin

Knock Knock- The Zimmerman Trial

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The jury is about to get the case of Alleged Kid Killer George Zimmerman. Sadly, this has been one of the strangest trials ever. From the opening statements where the defense attorney told a “knock knock” joke, to Zimmerman himself.

The defense team clearly did not prep their client well as Zimmerman rolls his eyes, is agitated and appears the angry man that he must be. If he were my client I would have prepared him much better, and there would be no doubt that he made a mistake and had remorse. But the truth is Zimmerman appears to have NO remorse that a child is dead, and worse yet the prosecution is now asking the judge for a lesser included. That means the jury will be allowed to find Zimmerman guilty of a crime like manslaughter that carries a very light penalty.

This tells me that the prosecution is hedging and does not believe they have proven guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Sad but not surprising. This case has been a mess from day one. Is it a racial case, a case of a “wanna be” cop or just a tragic accident? No matter what, we will never know the truth, and justice will not be served. That because we don’t know what justice is in a case like this.

Truth be told, the U.S. has the best system in the world, but it becomes more flawed every day. Budget cuts and personal and political agendas make for confusion. Add into that the “for profit” prison industrial complex , and we have a real mess. This will NOT change until we as a society distinguishes between certain types of crimes and decides if we are punitive or rehabilitative.

The Zimmerman case should be one that we study for all of these reasons. There are answers and ways to make our criminal justice system better for all of us. But implementing the answers will take, hard work, patience and of course and insider’s point of view

 

 


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

 

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Filed under alternatvive sentencing, George Zimmerman, prepare for jail, prison consultant

My time with the Bling Ring…

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Recently I have been contacted everyday about the new movie coming out called The Bling Ring. The movie is based on events of several teenagers who “stole” items from celebrities homes. The case itself has two major players, Rachel Lee, my client and Nick Prugo. One of the very minor players, Alexis Neirs was rewarded with a reality show on E! and a light sentence and rehab.

ALL of these players have spoken extensively to the media except Rachel Lee. Lee has never spoken publicly except for a letter she wrote to her sentencing judge. Lee received the harshest sentence 4 years in State Prison but was released to a “fire camp” after over one year. This fact and that Lee has refused all media has made her a case of much speculation and mystery. Yet Lee should be the easiest one to figure out.

I worked with Rachel to prepare her prison and to help give her the proper guidance for entry into Fire Camp. I also helped her family and still keep in touch with them. So, the story of Rachel Lee is a private one that is hers to tell. What I can say, as I did recently in the Los Angeles Times , is  that there is often a reason NOT to talk to the media and in fact I often advise my clients not to. After all, what’s in it for them?

There is also the issue that this crime spree is nothing to be proud of  or be famous over. Thus, if a person is trying to really change and improve their life after such a catastrophic event that should be respected. I often say that Prison can be a transformative experience.

But in order to understand the crimes the Bling Ring participated in, it is helpful to understand criminal thinking in general. There are eight criminal thinking errors including grandiosity, entitlement, mollification and cut off. Many of these apply in this case. Add this to the fact that I often see people get away with things and then take bad behavior to the next step. For example, Lawrence Taylor went from drug crimes, to white-collar crimes and recently a prostitution related crime. Each time the crime gets bolder and bigger. This is when people need what I call an INCARCERVENTION- a legal intervention of sorts. Otherwise, we see bad behavior get rewarded and grow.

There is no mystery to the bling ring kids and no reason to continue the saga unless people want to understand that poor choices happen and it’s what one does with those choices, the teams they put in place and the family support that makes the difference and what matters.

The media speculation can continue, but the truth is that this was a series of crimes that  became bigger and bolder not because the players were such criminals, but because of the fascination with celebrity and most importantly the excitement of “getting away with things.”

As for Rachel Lee and her family, they may make a statement at a future date but they are not naïve enough to help promote a movie that does not show them is the best or most truthful way.

 


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

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Filed under alternatvive sentencing, Bling Ring, incarcervention, jail, prepare for jail, prison consultant

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

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Filed under Adderall, alternatvive sentencing, Lisa Bloom

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