Residential Drug Abuse Program

January 19, 2015

Residential Drug Abuse Program

I attach a short video and provide a brief overview on my lesson plan that covers the Residential Drug Abuse Program:

The Residential Drug Abuse Program results in 12-month time cuts (plus six months in the halfway house) for thousands of federal prisoners. Successful completion of the drug program, commonly known as RDAP, results in participants being released from a Bureau of Prisons facility 18 months sooner than if they did not participate. Unfortunately, many defendants do not learn about the Residential Drug Abuse Program––RDAP––until after they completed their pre-sentence investigation or surrendered to federal prison. By then, they realize that original statements they made during the Presentence Investigation process might forever disqualify them from being able to participate in RDAP or reap the benefits of an 18-month time cut.

At Federal Prison Advice, we urge all defendants to understand everything they can about the Residential Drug Abuse Program. The sooner defendants learn about RDAP, the sooner they can make a decision of whether they want to participate. Our program on RDAP discusses the program in its entirety, helping readers understand the advantages and disadvantages. Most of our clients realize the primary advantage of the RDAP program is that successful participants serve up to 18 months less in prison than they would serve if they did not complete the program. Others, like one of our RDAP coaches, Philip Jamison, highlighted the cognitive transformation RDAP presented him and other prisoners at Lompoc Camp. The primary disadvantage is the somewhat complicated process they must endure in order to ensure that they qualify.

Since the Residential Drug Abuse Program represents the only opportunity defendants have to work toward completing their sentence sooner, many want to learn about it. The more they learn, the more they realize that people with serious substance-abuse problems aren’t the only people who participate or benefit. We have worked with countless defendants who ran businesses, who were well educated, and who had achieved high levels of economic or professional success. By understanding how the system operated, they were able to position themselves to qualify for the Residential Drug Abuse Program. As a consequence of RDAP, those clients completed their prison terms 18-months sooner than they otherwise would have served.

If you think that you would like to receive up to 18 months off of your time in prison, then you owe it to yourself and family to learn everything you can about the Residential Drug Abuse Program. At Federal Prison Advice, we can help you position yourself to qualify for RDAP.

Justin Paperny

Do Your Homework

Lying businessman observing his long nose

January 15, 2015

Do Your Homework

Over lunch in New York city last November a mentor told me I should not bash my competitors. It shows weakness and detracts from the business, he said. With those thoughts in mind, and in the interest of time, I will be more polite than I might have been had I not been given that advice. To put it simply there is a lot of scum–hold on, someone could read that and think I am bashing. I am going to take a few minute break from this blog to find the correct word.

Okay, I have returned and deduced, much to my mentors chagrin, the only word to describe some in my business is scum. I cannot resist. In fact, I would comfortably say most in this game are bold faced liars. Other than serving time they have not really walked the walk, as the cliche holds. They have neither documented how they are qualified to offer prison advice nor do they have the testimonials (I mean real testimonials with a first and last name that they did not write) to back it up.

What most of these people have learned to do, however, is play on fear and offer assurances and guarantees that simply do not exist. One former guard turned consultant tells his clients that he can guarantee a designation and that because he worked as a guard he has influence inside the prison. And the price for that guarantee? Seven-thousand five hundred! When it does not happen he goes dark, does not accept the email invite from the prison, and hopes the issue will resolve itself over time–in sum the prisoner eventually grows tired of fighting from the wrong side of prison boundaries.

Lying businessman observing his long nose

I do not want to use the word scum again so I am pulling out the dictionary app on my iPhone to find some synonyms for this character. Some options for us to consider: A) Dreg of society; B) Lowest of the low (simple but profound); C) Lowlife; D) All of the above.

Most others of course play on fear: How to survive prison? Really? Our country, I think, releases more than 700,000 people a year. They all survived prison. The whole approach they take is adolescent, and lacks any shred of ethics, reason or data to support their claims. For clarity, other than two people in this field, I do not consider any of them my colleagues.

Why the sudden rage? This rage I feel stems from a call I received from a worried mother. She was trying to help her son with an issue he is facing and some charlatan made a promise, and in so doing squeezed some funds out of her. Of course, he did not deliver and it took a call from me to get the issue resolved.

I highly encourage people to conduct their due diligence, to check references (I frequently put prospects on the phone with my clients), and to access the consultants history through prison. Certainly, I am proud of the ethical business I have built since my release from prison. If I did not have such a passion for consulting and helping others through the system I would have continued pursing a full time speaking career. (Note, I will be giving a keynote speech to more than 1,000 money managers in New York City on Feb 10). I consult and create these programs because I love it. Yes, I have to earn a living. Still, repeatedly my clients tell me the investment they made in me was one of the best decisions they have made.

A spiral-bound book offers Best Practices ideads for success, co

To close, before considering myself an author or speaker, I proudly consider myself a prison and ethics consultant who has committed his working live to helping others emerge stronger from this experience with their reputation and dignity in tact. I wish others in this industry would follow my lead.

Justin Paperny

P.S. –  I received two inquiries today and one last week about the residential drug abuse program at Lompoc. I can confirm RDAP is closed at the camp, and those prisoners waiting to enter RDAP will have to be transferred–most likely to Sheridan, Oregon. JP

Foreword To Lessons From Prison

January 14, 2015

Very thankful to my friend Michael Santos for writing a foreword to my expanded and updated addition of Lessons From Prison.

Foreword to Lessons From Prison, by Michael G. Santos

Defendants facing prosecution in the federal system will not find a more honest guide than Justin Paperny. It pleases me to provide this personal testimonial as a Foreword.

Those who read Justin’s compelling book, Lessons From Prison, will find that I have a unique insight into Justin’s character. When he surrendered to the Taft Federal Prison Camp, in 2008, I had already been incarcerated for longer than 20 years. That journey provided an unparalleled depth and breadth of personal experience. After multiple decades in prison, I was well positioned to assess the sincerity of an individual’s commitment to preparing for success.

I met Justin within days of his surrender. We became friends as he told me about his remarkable career in the financial sector. Then, when we discussed his plans for the career that he wanted to lead upon release, I became even more impressed. Justin wanted to help people make better decisions. He aspired to teach people that although they may have faced challenging times in the past, they could take a principled, deliberate course of action to recalibrate their life and move forward.

Justin’s passion for working to make the world a better place inspired me. As the weeks turned into months, I became even more impressed with Justin’s commitment to follow through. Anyone could say that they wanted to overcome struggle. Investing the time and energy to do so was another matter entirely.

Justin adopted a disciplined schedule in prison. He woke before dawn to begin his work. Each day he sat alone at a table with a pen in hand, determined to write the next chapter of his life. Those efforts resulted in the book that you now hold in your hand. In addition to writing the manuscript, with nothing more than a pen and blank pages of typing paper, he wrote daily blogs by hand. He made all the right decisions in prison.

As a consequence of Justin’s strategic approach to serving time, he emerged from prison precisely as he anticipated. Despite returning to society during the worst economic recession of our lifetime, Justin hit the ground running. He began consulting for global corporations and individuals. His probation officer was so impressed with Justin’s adjustment during his first year of liberty, that he extended Justin the respect of liberty. His success after prison was a direct result of the strategies he set, which makes him uniquely qualified to teach others who are working through the complexities of a criminal charge.

. He has personal experience of dealing with matters that include a presentence investigation, a sentence-mitigation strategy, surrendering to prison, and adjusting through prison in a deliberate, principled way. Most important, however, is the indisputable evidence of how he returned to society. Rather than being crushed by the experience of a criminal prosecution, Justin has thrived. He has built an extraordinarily successful career in leadership, inspiring tens of thousands to move beyond current struggles and achieve new heights in their personal and professional life.

Success after prison doesn’t materialize by accident. In fact, statistics show that people who encounter struggles from the criminal justice system frequently slide into cascading troubles. Individuals who proceed through the system without proper guidance can easily suffer consequences that extend long after the sentencing hearing, the prison journey, or the release date.

People who once led successful entrepreneurial careers can become so traumatized by a criminal prosecution that they completely lose their way. It may take them decades to get back on their feet. They may suffer from the trauma in both emotional and biological ways. They can lose their family and support network. They may suffer from unemployment, lack of access to credit, and an inability to carve out a new path when they return to society as a convicted felon.

Justin’s expert guidance can help defendants get a jumpstart on creating a new life. I’ve worked alongside him to write lesson plans that anyone can follow. In addition to the lesson plans, Justin offers consulting on sentence-mitigation strategies and preparation for the prison journey.

Justin spends as much time as necessary with his clients to ensure that they embark upon their path to a better life with confidence and a clear understanding of the outcome. He is uniquely qualified to serve as an expert sentence-mitigation strategist and prison consultant for a number of reasons. I’m confident that anyone who works with Justin Paperny will find the investment enormously valuable. For those reasons, I am proud to give my categorical and unequivocal endorsement of Justin Paperny as sentence-mitigation expert and prison consultant.

Michael G. Santos

How Much Does It Cost To Live In Prison?

Budget Newspaper Clipping

January 12, 2015

How Much Does It Cost To Live In Prison?

Yes, it is easier to sit to write a blog, then use my subpar video and editing skills to create a video. Still, I welcome the challenge of trying to convey through a new modality how someone can better prepare for prison. The content of my prison advice, regardless of its delivery, should trump all. I hope my readers or viewers agree!

Through my work I get into all issues related to preparing for life in prison, to the Residential Drug Abuse Program, to life in prison, and of course, life after prison. Some of these topics are severe as “How to manage a $10 million dollar restitution?” Some are as simple as budgeting. To that end, I created a short video on budgeting inside a federal prison. If prison is in the future for you or your loved one, I would watch it.

Justin Paperny

P.S.- My next video on the Residential Drug Program should be posted this week so check back here or subscribe to get notified.

Preface To Second Edition of Lessons From Prison

January 9, 2015:

Preface To Second Edition of Lessons From Prison

Several years have passed since I surrendered to the Taft Federal Prison Camp in 2008. I wrote this manuscript by hand while I served an 18-month sentence. Although you’ll read details of my history in this manuscript, I can provide a thumbnail sketch in one paragraph.

After graduating from USC I became a stockbroker. While working in that capacity I represented professional athletes and a number of hedge funds. When I learned that one of those hedge funds was involved in fraudulent transactions, I failed to act appropriately. Authorities responded with a criminal investigation. Again, I failed to act appropriately. Rather than accepting responsibility for my bad decisions, I prevaricated and misled. As a consequence, I faced civil charges from the SEC and then I faced criminal charges. The ordeal lasted for several years, costing more than a $1 million and culminating in the 18-month prison term that I served at Taft.

If you’re reading Lessons From Prison, I suspect that you’re in a similar situation. Our crimes may be different, but the situation is the same. You’re going through the worst time of your life. You’re waiting for an attorney to make decisions on your behalf. Judicial delays keep your life in a state of limbo. The process brings an emotional torment as you contemplate how this tragedy will influence your family, your career, and your future. On top of all that, you worry about prison.

I can help.

Through Lessons From Prison, you’ll read that the worst time of my entire experience were those months that preceded my surrender to prison. I was completely lost and sinking, as if into an abyss. You’ll read that as soon as I had a plan, I began to take affirmative steps to change my life. That deliberate approach made all the difference. I emerged from prison on August 16, 2009. As a consequence of the preparations I made in prison, I walked out of prison as a completely different man. Preparation restored my confidence, opening new opportunities.

I provide this book to prospective clients for a purpose. Whether a defendant chooses to begin working with me or not, I want them to see that the sooner they begin working to build a better life, the sooner they can restore confidence. With renewed confidence, a defendant will stop the free fall and sleepless nights. With renewed confidence, a defendant can begin to forge a path that will lead to a new future.

The question I have is whether you’re ready to begin forging your new future.

From my perspective, defendants who are reading this book may choose one of three options. Each option has consequences, which we can explore.

The first option, of course, is to wait. Waiting doesn’t take any effort. In fact, while waiting, the individual doesn’t have to do anything. As a consequence, however, the defendant may continue to live in fear. The defendant may continue to deny or minimize the magnitude of the problem. Instead of acting, the defendant will cling to a fantasy that events will improve, or magically disappear. The defendant may fail to live productively while in that “waiting” mode.

Rather than working productively to restore confidence, defendants who choose the first option will surf the Internet looking for information when he or she can’t sleep. I know this option well. I endured it for several months prior to my surrender to prison. I felt lost, invaded, hopeless, afraid, and tormented by anxieties about what was to come. It’s not an option that I recommend for anyone.

Defendants have a second option. They can hire me to guide them through the journey ahead. Let’s explore the ramifications of what would follow. If a defendant is tired of the sleepless nights and the torment of anxieties, he or she will sign a fee agreement with me. That fee agreement will include a clearly defined scope of work. The defendant who chooses the second option will collaborate with me on building a deliberate strategy to proceed. Depending on what stage of proceedings the defendant is in, we can work to prepare a sentence-mitigation strategy to prepare for the lowest-possible sentence, or we can limit our work to preparing for prison and the best possible outcome.

The highly personalized work will depend on a number of factors. I do not offer legal guidance, but I collaborate with many defense attorneys who introduce my programs and services to their clients. The work that defendants and I do together will focus more on preparing for the challenges of imprisonment. More importantly, we will work together to prepare in ways that provide the defendant with a clear and deliberate strategy to emerge from prison with dignity in tact. Further, the defendant will advance prospects for his success upon release. Defendants who proceed with this second option will have a renewed sense of purpose. That work will lower the levels of anxieties as the defendant advances through the judicial and prison process.

Of course there is a third option. A defendant may choose to hire me. But hiring me alone will not suffice. My methods require preparatory work. Together with my colleague, Michael Santos, I’ve developed a series of lesson plans and scope of work that have proven to be a best-practice guide to preparing for the prison experience. During an initial, free consultation, we could review that scope of work. We could come to an agreement. Yet if the defendant fails to engage and participate in the work, the progress will not follow. We cannot purchase restored peace and confidence. We must work to achieve it.

Which option will you choose?

By working together, we become part of a coordinated, collaborative team with a clear end in sight. Defendants who retain me become less of a burden to their defense attorneys. They can allow their defense attorneys to focus on the best possible outcome through the judicial process. Simultaneously, we work together for the best possible outcome from the entire proceeding. Whereas the defense attorney’s work may conclude after the sentencing hearing, our work will have lasting ramifications, regardless of the outcome at sentencing.

We prepare for the new realities that accompany a criminal conviction. Life as a felon means that defendants must prepare for press releases from the government. Those press releases retain high rankings in all search engines, even after the defendant is released from prison. Those press releases can complicate the possibility for employment, for credit, for business opportunities upon release. Criminal problems can bring family complications. The entire debacle can derail a defendant’s life.

Defendants who retain me, and who choose to prepare, will embark upon a disciplined, deliberate plan to improve their outcomes. They will recognize improvements within our first session of work together. I guarantee it. If they continue, I am confident that they will return to society after this experience much differently from the defendants who fail to act.

I walked out of prison as a convicted felon on August 16, 2009 during the worst economic recession of our lifetime. Anyone who ran a Google search of my name would see my criminal record. Yet as a consequence of the strategies to which I adhered during my imprisonment—strategies that I teach to my clients—numerous opportunities awaited me.

Was my success after prison a matter of luck?

No. I created that success, just as I will teach you how to create your success. Since my release from prison I have collaborated with global corporations, with law enforcement (including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and The United States Pre-Trial Services Office), with universities, with law firms, and with hundreds of defendants. I am passionate about teaching strategies that others can use to reach their highest potential. For those who want further validation on my work, I encourage you to review my client list and a handful of testimonials.

If you are ready to begin restoring confidence and preparing for new opportunities, then contact me today for a free consultation. I’d like to work with you in establishing a scope of work that will guide you through these challenging times.

Justin M. Paperny

Off To Class In Federal Prison

January 8, 2015

Off To Class In Federal Prison

I signed up for two classes at the education center, “Public Speaking” and “Business Finance”. There were a total of ten classes offered covering a wide variety of subjects. Prisoners are allowed to sign up for a maximum of two classes, only, to insure everyone has the ability to take at least one class. There is a mass sign up for everyone at the same time so the line gets long very quickly. I was a little late and ended up near the back of the line (I will not make that mistake again). As a result, I did not get my first choice, a Spanish language class.

The classes are taught by inmates who have knowledge in the subject matter. For example, the Spanish class is taught by a native Spaniard with college teaching experience.

The classes meet for one and one-half hours per week for 12 weeks. In addition to learning some new skills, the prisoner accumulates programming points which are looked upon with favor by your unit manager and unit counselor. Programming points can affect your inmate security classification and the amount of halfway house time you receive.

I attended my public speaking class yesterday. The instructor was very professional and outlined what we could expect over the next 12 weeks. We received a homework assignment on PowerPoint presentations.  I also have to give a short speech on this weekends football games at our next class.

My Business Finance class was today. The instructor is a former attorney/CPA. He is quite motivated and plans to teach us how to prepare a complete business plan by the end of the quarter.

Going to class offers a brief respite from the daily grind of federal prison life. At times, you forget where you really are when you are in class. In addition, it looks like I might learn something along the way and satisfy my obligation to secure programming points.

Signing up for federal prison education classes is a no brainer.

Ken Flaska

Don’t Blame The Rat

Rat, 3 year old on white

January 5, 2015

Don’t Blame The Rat

“So I need you to write a letter to the country club for me,” a prospect told me a couple of minutes into our scheduled call yesterday.

“What would you like me to tell them?”

“Well, I would like you to tell them in a round about way to go F themselves, that they have no loyalty. Make it clear I am not the only rich felon walking around that locker room. Also, make it convincing enough so they allow me to stay in the club.”

“If they are not loyal and they are threatening to kick you out of the club because of your guilty plea for tax evasion, why would you want to stay? Further, how did you respond when they pressed you about your actions?”

Rat, 3 year old on white

“Well, I told them some snitch ratted me out, and that useless was not a strong enough work to describe my lawyer who is trying to squeeze another hundred out of me.”

“I am sorry, but please do not blame the rat! I cannot write your letter and take your money. You see if I wrote the letter it would have to be honest. Blaming others, like your lawyer or this rat you speak of, is not a path to recovery—presuming you really want to recover from this minor setback. At the end you still might get kicked out, but if you do it honestly and from a position of strength at least you’d have your dignity. Isn’t that even better than staying in a club that no longer wants you? Further, moving forward I would try to avoid the prison parlance—snitch, rat and so on—it does not fit you. Next you’ll be saying, “Snitches get stitches”. For me to help, I need to know why staying in this club is so important.”


“You going to put this in your blog?”

“Only if you give me permission, as others do. Most do not. Perhaps my readers can learn from you.”

“Go ahead.”

“Now, tell me why this is so important.”

“This club is my life, my identity. Kids got married there, had my weekly golf game, the picnics, and holidays. Going to Federal Prison is easier for me than dealing with this fallout.You gotta keep me in.”

“Okay, now we are getting somewhere. Let’s get to work.”

Some reading this might think, “Come on. I might lose my job and freedom due to my guilty plea and conviction and this rich guy is worried about getting kicked out of a country club. Give me a break.”

One could draw that conclusion, I suppose, but for the purpose of this blog I would like to focus on a different message. Namely, there is nothing more important than emerging-or working through this experience or our life—with our dignity in tact.

I have clients facing an avalanche of problems that I lack the ability to explain. Some of them might be worse than getting kicked out of country clubs. Some frankly are much better. But because of their response to an adversity they alone created—not some snitch, rat or lawyer—they have managed to find peace and serenity. As a result they have regained their dignity—that can be more valuable than money, and it can even sustain us through some of those dark days in prison.

Dignity Message

I make it no secret that before my surrender to Taft Federal Prison Camp I focused on things that did not bear much relationship to the challenges I would face upon my release. Foolishly, I was joining Lakeside Countryclub to keep up the façade that all was good. I ate double cheeseburgers, chewed that Redman, which I still love but have the discipline to avoid, and I blamed, blamed, blamed. I lacked efficacy and did not feel worthy of the support others so generously bestowed upon me.

Then I went to prison. I worked hard. I mean I really worked hard. I returned home broke, in debt, but had something more valuable than money: my self-esteem and a belief that I could do anything.

That is the message that I conveyed on my call yesterday. For more than 30 years others in this club knew this man as a successful, honest businessman. That respect reverberated around the clubhouse as others looked to him for advice, tutelage. It would be a shame, I told him, to focus on something so badly, namely remaining a member, but lose his sense of self and dignity in the process. Further, crafting a narrative that explains how his lifetime of work and service to the community makes him much more than this bad decision he made would have a better impact than calling them disloyal.

He agreed. I will work with him to write a narrative and letter.

For those in trouble, you too, should consider a narrative that will ensure that those judging you—whether it’s a stuck up board at a country club or a judge or prosecutor—views you differently than a bad, out of character decision you might have made years ago.

Justin Paperny

Why Should You Prepare For Your Presentence Investigation?

The question Are You Prepared? on a background of question marks

January 2, 2015

Why Should You Prepare For Your Presentence Investigation?

Happy New Year!

A few hours into the New Year I received a call from a gentlemen expressing his regrets. Apparently, the probation officer that wrote his pre sentence investigation did not adequately represent who he is, what he has done throughout his life and so on. Even more tragic the report said he lacked remorse and contrition. What do we call that type of news in my world? Yes, tragic is a good word.

Through my call I learned this was a really proud man, a father, and husband. Opening up about what happened was like ripping a bandaid off a wound (too cliche?). But failing to open up properly and speak to how his behavior impacted others, impacted him in the eyes of those that will judge him. As a reminder, I know some of those reading this blog are not convinced of their guilt. I believe others are truly not guilty and at worse charges should have only been brought civilly. Many took or will take a deal because the ramifications at trial could be disastrous. I get it. But if you plead, you must go all in and you should be prepared. I have a client about to sit for his interview; we have been preparing for more than four months. He is ready. To succeed, one must sell a strategy that says you get it. Let’s not forget you did sign a plea deal. Rather than get righteous and encourage you to accept responsibility because it might be the right thing to do, I would rather you understand that accepting responsibility could simply be a means to a better end: a shorter prison term in a better institution.

The question Are You Prepared? on a background of question marks

Regardless of your motives or the anger you might feel in having the government rip apart your family, there are some strategies you should pursue to succeed through the pre sentence investigation. For that reason, if the pre sentence investigation is in your future, I would begin preparing. If you prepare, I know, you will achieve results that will positively impact you and your family for years to come. But you will have to do some work. I put a significant amount of energy and time into creating these programs. I ask my clients to match that energy. I cannot totally deliver if you do not meet me halfway.

To help you understand the relevance of the pre sentence investigation, I provide an overview of my lesson plan.


Federal Prison Advice’s lesson on the Presentence Investigation (PSI) Report is essential for anyone who has been charged with a federal crime. Whether an individual has been charged with a white-collar crime, drug crime, or any other type of felony, the Presentence Investigation Report will have enormous implications if there is a finding of guilt. The judge may rely upon the Presentence Investigation Report during sentencing. Besides the judge, however, administrators within the Bureau of Prisons and the federal probation officer who oversees Supervised Release will rely upon the Presentence Investigation Report when classifying the offender.


Experience has taught us that defendants who encounter the criminal justice system for the first time rarely invest the time and resources necessary to understand the relevance of the Presentence Investigation Report. Essentially, after a finding of guilt, a federal judge will order an officer from federal probation to initiate a Presentence Investigation. The probation officer will conduct some preliminary background work to learn what the United States Attorney had to say about the case. The probation officer may also interview law enforcement officers who were involved in the case and the probation officer will want to hear what victims had to say as well.

Within a few days or weeks of the conviction, the probation officer will meet with the defendant. That meeting between the defendant and the probation officer is of monumental importance. The probation officer will listen to what the defendant has to say and take detailed notes. If the defendant fails to appreciate the importance of the Presentence Investigation Report, he may make comments that result in his serving more time in prison than necessary. He also may find that his Presentence Investigation Report results in his serving his sentence in a Bureau of Prisons facility that has more restrictions than would otherwise be warranted in his case.

Since the Presentence Investigation Report has such enormous implications on a defendant’s case, at Federal Prison Advice we strongly recommend this lesson as a starting point for all of our clients.

Investigation Results words stamped on a yellow envelope contain

Take It To The Bank

December 31, 2014

I had assumed yesterday would be my last blog of the year, but I was wrong. I woke this morning to a blog posted by the mother of Steven Dybvad, a client and friend serving time in an Ohio State Prison. I am sharing the blog because Steven’s approach to overcoming his current struggle is something we can all learn from. I know Steven. I have visited Steven in that filthy Ohio State Prison. I know Steven does not use drugs. I know someone set him up. Through it all, however, he perseveres, while finding perspective and meaning. In my early sessions with Steven I encouraged him and later sent him the writings of the Roman Stoics–you know those that tell you not to complain, to recognize matters could always be worse, and to handle adversity with dignity and purpose. Steven’s lengthy record from the inside demonstrates he has taken their message to heart. I post his blog below:


“So here I sit, on cell isolations punishment, a three months’ sentence for a urine screen that supposedly tested positive for T.H.C…This wouldn’t be such a hard pill for me to swallow if I had actually smoked pot recently, I would have been prepared for such a punishment, accepting a ninety day sentence for a poor decision and moving on, but since I haven’t used drugs in more than three years this has been very difficult for me to deal with. I was caught completely off guard, devastated by something I was convinced I would never have to go through again as a recovering addict, and yet here I sit until December 31st. I remember my first few days after finding out about this that I felt much like the same way I felt after my arrest, sitting in the county jail, facing a sentence for committing a crime, feeling helpless. I don’t know why I felt the same way, going through a situation that I’m not responsible for, all I know is that it was a horrible feeling, a feeling I never want to have for the rest of my life. Maybe it’s because I know how easily one can get trapped within the system, guilty or not guilty, the sad fact of prison is that an inmate is guilty until proven guilty and there’s nothing you can do about it. So they took away all of my personal belongings and packed them away in storage, my guitar, my watch, my books, all my clothes, my vitamins, even my hygiene supplies, forcing me to purchase everything I’ve accumulated from the commissary all over again. They also took away my prison issued shirts and pants and made me wear a one piece jump suit to separate me from the general population, standing out in a crowd, making it easier for the guards to see who the problematic inmates are. If in fact I have to remain on cell isolations for the full ninety days that means that I’ll be in here for the rest of the year, unable to see my family on a video visit for the holidays, or even talk to them on the phone for that matter. Visitations where my family can come see me, bring my children so I can hug them, kiss them and see how much they’ve grown have been taken from me. Now I sit here in a desolate cell, with some annoying kid that’s just a year older then my daughter, with terrible hygiene, smelly feet and spends all day singing rap music out loud, making it hard to concentrate or even think. I don’t know why this is happening to me right now, I’m trying to find the silver lining hiding in all this mess, but all I can come up with right now is that this is just another harsh part of being a prisoner of the state. I did this to myself when I chose to break the law 3 1/2 years ago. My advice to any one reading this is if you’re living a life that gambles with your own freedom and you don’t like reading about what I’m going through as an inmate then stop what you’re doing, find help for yourself, make the necessary changes in your life before it’s too late. If you’re on your way to prison, and then prepare yourself, it’s not going to be easy, but you can make a difference, you can change your future, it’s not too late, it’s not going to be easy. I’m learning that the good things in life are never easy to attain. Even today with all that I’m going through, my life and my future is better and more promising than ever and that’s because I continue to live at a higher standard, one with goals, morals, values and more importantly one that’s free from the use of substances. You can take that to the bank.

Steven Dybvad”

Last To The Party!


December 30, 2014

Last To The Party!

Through my work I learn so much about the human condition and what drives us. For example, I can tell you that most of the people that reach out to me tell me that their highest priority is their family and maintaining their freedom. Actually, I would argue 99% of the people that reach out to me say just that. Makes sense, right? When in struggle we often reflect on what matters most to us.

But when I dive deeper into their recent behaviors it is clear that family and freedom are not their highest values. Rather, engaging in half-truths and staying stuck in denial consumes their days. Worse, while engaging in self destructive actions they do not realize how they are influencing what they claim to value most. Namely, their family and freedom.

Yesterday, for example, I received a frantic call from a prospect in the northeast. This young man is not enjoying the holiday time. As I picked up the phone to say, “Hello, this is Justin” I realized I had seen this number on my phone before–I have a thing for looking up a city when I do not know the area code. In a matter of a second, or as I was saying hello, I remember him telling me on our first call that there were many players in his case, and that rather than run to take a deal and cooperate, he would wait. Yes, he also told me freedom and family were his highest values.

As it turns out he was pretty much last to the party. When he decided to come around prosecutors had very little need for him. It might sound sickening to some, but sometimes those that are more complicit receive shorter sentences than those who were involved tangentially. The justice system is both twisted and warped.

On our call I reminded this young man that it was never too late to take action. I believe that. I waited and wasted a lot of money before taking aggressive steps to improve my outcome. For that reason I empathize with the pain he is feeling during this holiday time. This is not easy, I know.

Several minutes into the call he said, “I won’t wait any longer–let’s move forward.”

“You ready to go all in,” I wondered.

“I am.”

I am confident that my new client will be better prepared for the road ahead. He will immediately begin working more honestly with counsel, and we will make substantive efforts to ensure the government views him differently than his criminal conduct, which by all measures was aberrational. After the new year we will begin planning for the pre sentence investigation, some charity work to keep him active, letters of support (effective ones with a strategy behind them), which federal prison might be best given his circumstances, and also discuss the residential drug abuse program, halfway house, federal probation and more. We must always be focusing on serving the shortest sentence in the best possible environment.

I have gotten some heat from others for saying this, but here it goes: My programs are not right for everyone. Tell me someone who has succeeded without hard work. If someone is looking for an elixir to make this all better, I am not the guy. There are plenty of people out there who will sell that vision–of great results without aggressive action–but I am not one of them. If you are not prepared to act don’t hire them or me.

To close, I shared this story because my new client asked me to. In his own way he hopes others can learn from his decisions. He admitted he had been on my blog for months (loves David Applegate’s blogs) and had picked up the phone several more times to call me, but stopped. He was finally ready. Now, he can finally mean it when he says family and freedom are his highest priorities. Time to get to work!

Justin Paperny