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