September 18, 2014

Sharing Your Expertise In Federal Prison

A friend and client is preparing to surrender to federal prison on September 30. Like me, the judge hit him with a sentence of 18-months, and he was ordered to serve 3 years of supervised release. On a call earlier this week my client asked if I had any “last minute suggestions”. By now, we have covered most everything. “Once you are settled”, I said, “consider sharing your expertise in federal prison by leading a class or series of classes.”

My experience through Taft Federal Prison Camp taught me too many prisoners focus on the limitations surrounding their environment. For some they prove to difficult to endure. Rather than focusing on what they could accomplish, they become enmeshed in the daily “pity party.” These parties take place in the chow hall, tv room, or on that dusty track. These prisoners whine about all the outside forces holding them back, or the prosecutor that set them up, or the snitch that dropped the dime on them. Other than gaining a few minutes of entertainment, it was boring to hear, and worse, their worthless tirades added no value to their life or the lives of others. As I told one white collar offender, “blah, blah, blah. It is old man. Get a new shtick please.”

I encouraged my client to be different, to set an example that others could be proud of. Indeed, my client has considerable business experiences from which others can learn. If he were to teach a class, or mentor others individually, not only would he bring meaning to his prison term, he would be giving back to others.

So for some free prison advice on this Thursday morning, September 18, I say give back! Avoid the negativity! Not only will you thrive through prison, but you will avoid the misery and rancor that holds so many good capable men back.

Justin Paperny

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