In this era of rising incarceration rates and the “business of prisons” it is important to understand who can change, who cannot and what works. First of all we must understand that our criminal justice, even with all of it’s flaws, is the best in the world. The United States does have a system of innocent until PROVEN guilty. But, in order to affect a system that really works we must decide if we are to be strictly punitive or also rehabilitative. This is where a real understanding of True Crime is needed. As a prison consultant, legal coach and insider I have seen it all. That means I also know what works and HOW to bring about change.
The first step…
As in rehab for addicts, re-entry is the hardest and most misunderstood part of our criminal justice system. To change anything means to admit that one must indeed need to make changes. Seems like an easy concept yet it is the one thing that keeps people from living their dreams and making the changes.
This is where the need to understand true crime is key. It is why judges need to understand that jail is not the answer and neither is an AA meeting. A better solution in some cases is a combination or Alternative Sentence. That can mean many things but should always include Community Service.
The second step…
To truly bring about change in an individual they need to ADMIT they need to change something about their life. This is where the hard work begins. This admission and taking of responsibility is key to everyone making positive changes, but especially those in our criminal justice system. This is where passion and empowerment become integral. You see that most people after an incarceration have very low self-esteem and many feel they will never recover. But one can find their passion and hence rebuild their self-esteem. It takes work and some risks but it can be done. This is something I have done and work with my clients on everyday.
The last step…
Once we understand and agree that we need to empower each other and ourselves, we then need to find a way to do that. One way in the criminal justice system is through Community Service. As I have written many times before, Community Service should be a part of everybody’s life. But in crime cases is a MUST. This because it will empower the perpetrator and allow a healing to begin that will carryover to all aspects of his life and the life of his family and friends.
The bottom line is find your passion and you will find your peace.
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, Fox News, NBC News, CNN, NPR and Nancy Grace. She is a weekly featured guest in the syndicated America Now radio program. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.