October 5, 2014
A Minority in the White Collar Circle
Let’s start with the numbers first. Here at Herlong there are about 120 inmates at the camp. Of that, I’d guess approximately a dozen of us are in here for white collar crimes. I’m the only insider trading guy but the other offenses range from mortgage fraud to tax evasion to prescription drug fraud. This place is diverse enough so the white collar guys don’t separate ourselves or form some clique. But I have had the opportunity to talk to pretty much each of them and learn about their crimes.
My conclusion? Apparently, I’m the only guilty white collar felon in here (at least, according to them). There may be a handful of guys who confess to committing their crime but that admission is quickly followed by a statement about how the government screwed them or how them being here is just not fair. When it gets to my turn, it is EXTREMELY tempting for me to join in on the pity party. I could dwell on the prosecutor’s attitude or the comment made by the judge about the need to “make an example” of me. But I hold back. For the most part, I don’t get into that stuff because it’s not going to do anyone any good. My standard line is typically, “I made a really stupid mistake. No excuses. I wish I could go back and change it but I can’t. Hopefully others can learn from my experience as that’s all I can do now to make the best out of my foolishness.”
Unfortunately, this response is usually a conversation killer, at least on the topic of our crimes. I don’t take a cavalier attitude or act like I’m better than anyone else here, and believe me when I say that some of the stories I’ve heard in here definitely makes me question how many truly innocent people are in here that I’m serving time with. But the universal lack of remorse is evident and a little troubling.
I get along with most of these guys but unbeknownst to them, I’m always studying them. I want to dig into the psyche of a white collar criminal. Sure, I can introspectively look into my own situation but I’m now learning how to draw upon others’ experiences as well. In the future if I were to continue giving talks espousing corporate ethics, individual self-control, moral dilemmas, etc., I have no doubt that my conversations with each and every one of them will be beneficial to my future audiences.
In the meantime, it’s lonely being the only guilty and remorseful white collar guy in here…