September 10, 2009

Ex-Con Says Judge Judy Is Out Of Touch With Reality

9-10-2009 National:

Former inmate, now president of the nation's only woman-run prison coaching business, says Judge Judy has no idea what she's talking about, and should be ashamed of her lack of criminal knowledge

Judge Judy Sheindlin, host of TV's "Judge Judy," appeared on Larry King Live September 8, 2009. She is living proof that our criminal justice system is out of touch. Her salacious comments regarding prison programs, prison re-entry and incarceration in general are outrageous. She fails to distinguish between different types of offenders, while quoting the high rates of recidivism.

Is Bernie Madoff so much better than a violent offender?

More than 60% of the people in prison are now racial and ethnic minorities. While the rates of recidivism are high, the rates for inmates who participate in programs are considerably lower. For example, the number of people in prison with substance abuse and other mental health issues is over 75%. There is a real case for rehabilitation and treatment in these cases. The United States is the world's leader in incarceration with 2.3 million people currently in the nation's prisons or jails -- a 500% increase over the past thirty years. This despite increasing evidence that large-scale incarceration is not the most effective means of achieving public safety. Something is just not working. Judge Judy also claims that our criminal justice system is based on punishment. This is not true and as a former family court judge she knows better. Even different states have the idea. In California the system is called the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Judge Judy says some people are “just wired wrong.” This may be true and some people do not deserve to be free. But, these are the worst of the worst, not the norm. There are a number of programs, even for violent offenders that have success. The RSVP-project in San Francisco is a prime example. Judge Judy also claims that sex offenders and others are not living in good neighborhoods. How untrue. They are unfortunately everywhere.

So, what to do? First, we must distinguish between different types of offenders. Madoff too has victims. The term victim is relative and we must be careful how we lump all offenders together. Then, we must evaluate and treat the mental health issues. Our prison system is now the largest mental health facility in the United States. This was not the intention of our system, but is now the reality.

Judge Judy has many buzzwords and anger provoking comments, but no solutions. Yes, some people may be wired wrong and many deserve to be in prison for life. There is no debate needed. But, Judge Judy-look at the facts- almost anybody sentenced to prison will be released, most in less than five years. My challenge to Judge Judy and others is to GET A CLUE and honestly address the many issues facing us in hopes of lowering the rates of crime and the collateral consequences. Let’s stop pointing fingers and using infamous cases to promote our own agenda.

-- Wendy Feldman

Wendy Feldman is president of Custodial Coaching, the only woman-run Prison Coaching organization in the United States. Feldman served 18 months in Federal prison for financial crimes. She is available for media interviews, and offers insight into the Federal Prison, the Bureau of Prisons, life behind bars, and how to best return to a normal life after incarceration. Custodial Coaching is the leading prison preparation and advising service in the United States.

Wendy Feldman is available for media interviews and insight into the Bureau of Prisons. Please telephone Wendy Feldman at 310-740-4932. Email Online:


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