It started with The Grammy performance by singer Chris Brown. I could hear the outrage through my Twitter feed and on every media appearance I did. I must say that this level of outrage as well as the lack of empathy and understanding surprised me. Better yet, I was surprised that people think that because I am a woman I should be anti Chris Brown. How absurd. As anybody who reads my blog or follows my work knows, I believe that in most cases change is possible. I have written a lot about the Chris Brown case. In fact, I wrote that the judge put such strong orders and requirements in place over a five-year period of time that a small jail sentence may have been easier. Brown had that option but took the Five-year probation deal that included anger management, therapy, probation and community LABOR. He is still on probation. To date, Brown has done everything asked of him by the court even though he has a large target on his back. Just look at the case last week in Florida where a woman claimed he stole her cell phone?! Believe me this would never be a case with police action and press if didn’t involve Chris Brown.
To be clear, I do not condone the actions that landed Chris Brown is trouble. I am not sympathetic to men who abuse women, especially having been one. But, I do know that over time if somebody is given a chance and they take it seriously, we must give that person a second chance in order for all of us to learn and go on to other productive things. Look at Michael Vick? Amazing comeback.
The other name in the news is Lindsay Lohan. Lohan is set to guest host Saturday Night Live March 3 and will be on The Today Show March 1. From what I hear this will not be a piece of cake interview by Matt Lauer. There will be tough questions and there should be. If we are giving a person like Lindsay Lohan the chance to host a big network show, then we have the right to expect her to answer some questions and at some point lead by example. Once again I have received a very negative reaction to my support of Lohan. So, once again I state that anybody who receives an alternative sentence like Brown and Lohan has an obligation to take it seriously and show judges that community service, therapy and strict probation work.
I handle alternative sentence deals everyday for my clients. They are an important part of our criminal justice system, yet they are very misunderstood. The good news is that when handled properly they work and we can all look at the examples. I strive to bring awareness to the issues that can help our incarceration nation and can actually look at the big BUSINESS of prison. There is often a better way. Keep in mind that 95% of people inside prison are coming home and most within five years. If we don’t start to understand the issues now, we only create problems for the future.
To Chris Brown and Lindsay Lohan I say keep up the good work and the world is watching. Don’t let us down. Change is possible!
Wendy Feldman is a prison consultant and criminal justice expert. She is available as a media commentator and for private clients and speaking events. To contact Wendy visit www.custodialcoaching.com or email Wendy@custodialcoaching.com