December 17th, 2011

With the pick up in white-collar crime convictions, I am busy. Helping others prepare for prison is satisfying, and also emotional–it never gets easy hearing the crime stories that so often ruin families, and create victims. It was Montaigne, I think, who said we must move forward and forget the past. So in an effort to move forward I am going to offer some useful tips that will help others prepare for the strange world of federal prison. These tips, like my blogs from Taft Camp, will cover all areas of the justice system.

#1- Avoid the T.V. Room

Thriving through prison, and accomplishing anything worthwhile while away, whether it be writing a book, getting in shape, re-connecting with family and friends, takes discipline. It also requires one to understand their environment.

Earlier this week a nice woman called to tell me that her husband was sent to SHU (special housing unit) due to an altercation in the TV room. I did not even have to hear her excuse on what happened or why–I served time in prison, I know the routine.

The unfortunate truth is her husband, a white-collar executive serving a few years for tax fraud, has forgotten one of the cardinal rules of serving time in prison: it is always tougher on our loved ones. His “standing up for himself,” may make him feel more like a man, but it has brought dire consequences for him, and worse for those that love and support him. He will be transferred to a higher security prison, and he may lose some of his good time.  This man, clearly, lacks discipline and he has failed woefully in understanding his environment. I feel not for him, but for his family.

The lesson today for all incoming prisoners?: shut up in the tv room; no, better yet, stay out of the television room, and work on things that relate to the challenges that await your release.

Justin Paperny

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