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"Dr. Prison's mission is to help you avoid being physically hurt, extorted, or possibly killed in prison."

CNN Transcript: Paris Hilton in Prison

ROBERTS: Paris Hilton got some visitors this weekend in jail. Her sister Nicky stopped by. So did an ex-boyfriend.

Paris is being held in the medical unit at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in downtown Los Angeles.

So what are conditions like in the jails in Los Angeles County?

AMERICAN MORNING'S Chris Lawrence is there to check it all out.

Chris, obviously, nobody likes jail. But how bad is it there?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, very different for Paris, versus some of the other female inmates who are here, John.

You know, she has told her attorneys that she doesn't want to appeal her sentence. So, whatever is left of it, she probably will serve it right here in the medical ward, or where she is being held in a room by herself. She probably won't go back to the women's jail, where her experience was anything but ordinary.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAWRENCE (voice over): Paris Hilton was immediately assigned a cell at Lynnwood Jail.

Quantrell Johnson wasn't so lucky.

QUANTRELL JOHNSON, FMR. LYNWOOD INMATE: I mean, I was down there for five days until I got a bed. Five days before I got a bed and one shower.

LAWRENCE: While Hilton was being kept isolated from other prisoners, Johnson slept on a reception center floor. Surrounded.

(on camera): Were there a lot of other women in the same room with you?

JOHNSON: In the same room. They put like maybe 35 women. It's one toilet and one little sink. And all...

LAWRENCE: In that space?

JOHNSON: In that space. And all of you guys would be crushed up in there like a sardine.

LAWRENCE (voice over): L.A. County is not supposed to hold more than 20 inmates at this reception center for more than a day. The sheriff is under federal orders to reduce overcrowding. In the past year, Lee Baca says he's had 52 other inmates with a sentence similar to Hilton's.

SHERIFF LEE BACA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY: And I can assure you with this policy, most likely most of the 52 didn't serve any time at all in the county jail.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome to Dr. Prison Radio.

LAWRENCE: Prison expert Steve Scholl (ph) has never heard of an inmate getting locked up, sent home, and brought back in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are kind of playing her as a ping pong ball.

LAWRENCE: But Baca didn't release Hilton solely due to overcrowding. He sent her home to deal with psychological problems. Inmates typically wait up to a week to see a doctor.

And Johnson says they are only let out on a stretcher for serious medical conditions.

JOHNSON: Other than that, you are in there. You are in there.

LEONARD LEVINE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I have never had a client actually get out of jail because of medical reasons. But again, it hasn't been necessary in a case like this because they already would have been out after serving a few days, just because of the overcrowding.

LAWRENCE: In fact, 32 counties in California release inmates early, with Los Angeles leading the way. In less than four years, the county has released 150,000 inmates. Some of them violent offenders.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

LAWRENCE: In fact, just last month, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an
$8 billion bill to relieve some of that overcrowding. It will pay for more than 50,000 new beds -- John.

ROBERTS: Chris, the tongues are wagging there in California today about some connection between Paris Hilton's grandfather, William -- Baron Hilton, and Sheriff Lee Baca, who was the fellow who ordered her to be released.

What's that all about?

LAWRENCE: Well, Paris Hilton's grandfather donated about -- donated $1,000 to Sheriff Baca's re-election campaign last year. And there's been some grumbling that because Sheriff Baca initially ordered her to serve out the rest of her time at home, there was some quid pro quo going on.

But the sheriff's spokesman says, you know, absolutely not. That was not the case. And since his campaign raised about $1 million, in that context $1,000 is pretty small.

ROBERTS: I'll tell you, though, it just raises all kinds of rumor mongering there.

Chris Lawrence in California for us this morning.

CNN Transcript: 2nd CNN Story on Dr. Prison

SANCHEZ: All right, there you have it. By one estimate there are 2 million Americans in prisons right now and for a San Diego businessman this fact represents an opportunity. Steve Scholl is a counselor who coaches people on how to act once they get into prison. This is an interesting story. We've got to warn you though the subject matter of this story may not be suitable for youngsters, so I'm going to count to three, in case they need to leave the room. CNN's Peter Viles reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PETER VILES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a problem nobody talks about. You're going to prison soon. You've never been before and you are terrified. Enter Dr. Prison.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome to Dr. Prison radio, with your host, Steve Scholl and Tom Miller.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: This is Dr. Prison radio, broadcasting live Saturday nights 5:00 to 6:0 p.m., Pacific Standard Time. If you're going to prison or jail, if your relative or loved one is going to prison or is in prison or you just got out, we want to hear from you.

VILES: Steve Scholl is a prison coach. He tells you how to avoid trouble in the big house.

STEVE SCHOLL, DR. PRISON RADIO: The company got started with the main focus which was how can we help someone, stop them from doing something stupid to inadvertently get themselves hurt. Walk in the wrong place, talk to the wrong person, you know, sit down at the wrong table, use the wrong telephone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi Dr. Prison, I'm Dave and I'm going to prison for three years and I would like some help if you could give me some help.

SCHOLL: What are you going to prison for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Manufacturing methamphetamine.

SCHOLL: Ok.

VILES: Scholl has never served time but his side-kick Tom Miller did, for dealing drugs. His advice is definitely not politically correct.

TOM MILLER, DR. PRISON RADIO: If you're hanging out with another race, then you're setting yourself up to get a beating. So that's number one thing. You don't steal. You don't gamble. You stay away from homosexuals. And you act, you treat people with respect.

VILES: The radio show is a webcast on drprison.com. Scholl charges $275 and up for personal consultation. We talked with one client in prison.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He taught me something like the three-second rule, sit with the anger for three seconds instead of charging at an inmate in here, you know, which is important, because you don't want to fight especially here. VILES: And that advice is free. Peter Viles for CNN, Los Angeles.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

-----------------------------

From the April 23, 2007 Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.

Shawshank education? Offering future cons a solitary refinement

By David Yas

So, you're going to prison.

Sure, it's going to be rough. Not too much outdoor time. The food is probably going to be too salty. And then there's the threat of being severely beaten at any given moment.

On the plus side, there's free cable TV and a wide-open schedule. You can't beat that, right?

OK, OK. In fact, the thought of spending a millisecond in prison is as frightening to us as the thought of Jonathan Papelbon tearing his rotator cuff. Or maybe worse than that.

Thankfully, "Dr. Prison" is here to help.

Who's Dr. Prison? Well, think of it this way: Criminal-defense attorneys counsel clients in an effort to keep them out of prison. Dr. Prison counsels them on what to do once they get there.

As in, how to survive.

Dr. Prison is Steven Scholl, an entrepreneurial California man who cooked up the idea for this service while talking to a friend who had done a little time on the inside. For a fee of a couple hundred dollars (the complete fee schedule can be found at www.drprison.com), Scholl and his partners will develop a full curriculum for you with specific advice on what to do once you're behind bars. He spends his time gathering information from people in the corrections system, which he then shares with those facing time in the big house.

Much of it, after all, is hidden from the public, he says. According to Scholl, there is a prison in El Paso where a rape occurs about once a day. And, yet, most of them go unreported. Riots, murders and the like — sometimes they never become public knowledge.

Dr. Prison's website screams: "Forget what you think you know. Here is the cold, hard truth about prison.

"If you don't know how to act in prison, you will have ...

"25-30 percent chance of getting killed during your prison sentence.

"10-15 percent chance of getting raped during your prison sentence.

"80-90 percent chance of getting beaten during your prison sentence."

Not to mention that, according to Scholl, overcrowding has resulted in some prisoners sleeping en masse, side by side hundreds of others.

"They tell you: Here's the building and find a place to sleep," says Scholl. "By the time they find a cell for you, you think it's a mansion."

To think that the cell is actually where you do want to be.

So, let's say tomorrow I finally fulfill my dream and rob a bank dressed in a gorilla suit. And I get caught. Soon enough I'll be wearing the orange jumpsuit. What do I need to know?

Scholl gave me a seven-point crash course last week. Here's what he had to say:

One: Stay with your own race.

"Don't play cards with people of another race. Don't get tattoos with people of another race. People have to be sure of what side you are on when a riot happens," he says.

OK, we're off to a horrible start. I'm already scared to death.

Scholl did mention that Massachusetts is a bit more forgiving than more violent places for prisons like California, Texas and Florida. Very nice places to visit, but you wouldn't want to do time there.

Two: Don't tell lies.

"If you lie to them, you don't respect them," says Scholl. "And everything goes back to: 'Am I respected or not?' If you have to fight somebody, for example, it is more important that you fight; not important that you win."

Umm ... but in general you don't want to fight, right?

"No, that's true," he says. "And we have talked to some people who have gone 20 years and never had to fight."

Now there's a success story.

Three: Don't volunteer too much personal information.

It's very common, says the good doctor, for people in prison to contact outside family members and extort them with the threat of beating up or killing the inmate.

"A family in Minnesota recently gave up $20,000," he notes.

Four: Don't join a gang, no matter what.

Rats. I had my eye on Satan's Elves. I thought they would really like me.

Five: Don't snitch, no matter what.

"The guards are not your friends," says Scholl. In fact, guards "try to keep tension focused between prisoners, so they don't direct it to guards. Guards are outnumbered. A guard walking through the yard could get killed in an instant."

Six: Let people come to you.

"Don't be Mr. Congeniality," says Scholl without irony. "Those people are pleasers, and pleasers get taken advantage of."

So, I guess running for cell block president is out of the question.

Seven: Ask permission before you enter someone's cell.

"That's your house," Scholl stresses. "People get beat up constantly for that."

Scholl says he has between 200 to 300 clients and that his business is profitable.

And why not? We have consultants and therapists and advisors and coaches for everything else we do. Why not one just to stay alive in prison?

I may never rob that bank in a gorilla suit. But just to be sure, I'm keeping Dr. Prison's website bookmarked.

 

 

The San Diego Union Tribune: Published on 2/8/07
Source: http://www.signon san diego.com/news/metro/20070208-9999-1n8drprison.html

It's just what the doctor ordered: paid advice for the prison-bound

By Elizabeth Fitzsimons
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

February 8, 2007

NELVIN CEPEDA / Union-Tribune
Steve Scholl of Dr. Prison sat in a holding room at the county courthouse in downtown San Diego last week. "We are trying to help the person who probably is most vulnerable," Scholl said of his client base.
The client wore a $95 navy Burberry shirt tucked into jeans held up by a grosgrain ribbon belt, and blue socks with black penny loafers. He was freshly shaven, and his short, brown hair was shiny and stiff from the gel that held it in place.

In five days, he was going to prison.

He offered the men across the table a cup of coffee. Then he carried his oversized wallet to Starbucks and returned with a large cup and a muffin, which sat uneaten until an uncomfortable silence during their visit grew intolerable and peeling away its wrapper provided him with a diversion.

“How many fights you been in?” asked the man in the Chargers beanie, leaning forward. He wore sunglasses, though he was indoors and it was a rainy day.

“I'm not a fighter,” the client said. “I have a big mouth, but I'm not a fighter. I'm afraid to fight.”

The two men sat with that for a moment. But then they asked again. And they pressed their client, driving him into a corner until he admitted a misdemeanor conviction for spitting in a cop's face and an arrest for “going after” a co-worker.

And there was a lesson learned: In prison, the men said, always answer a question truthfully the first time. The client nodded his understanding.

Convicted of wire fraud and tax evasion, the client had been sentenced to 10 months in federal prison. He had only ever spent a few hours in jail.

That was why he had paid hundreds of dollars and come here, to a noisy food court in an East County shopping center, for advice from Dr. Prison.

Dr. Prison is a consulting business, based in La Mesa and run by a San Diego man, that coaches men and women who are about to serve sentences in jail or prison. Dr. Prison teaches them how to talk, how to carry themselves, how to make allies and how to avoid making enemies. Really, how to survive.

“Dr. Prison's mission is to help you avoid being physically hurt, extorted, or possibly killed in prison,” the business says on its Web site, www.drprison.com.

“Just because you didn't know you shouldn't walk into another person's open cell because you didn't ask permission doesn't mean you should get the crap beaten out of you,” said Steve Scholl, who started Dr. Prison about two years ago.

Scholl has never been to prison, but he works with 10 on-call ex-convicts. He carefully selects the right ones to match the client's background and crime. Each client – he sees about two a month – is charged a fee based on the amount of time and attention they need.

“They will always have directly across the table from them someone who has served time,” Scholl said.

Advice for families

Rates start with the phone/e-mail package, at $275 for jail preparation and $375 for prison. The personal visit package runs $375 for jail, $575 for prison, with the client paying for travel expenses; and the video teleconference deal costs $900 for jail and $1,200 for prison.

Dr. Prison also works with families of convicts, advising them how to best support their loved ones as they deal with the sentence from their side of the bars. This month, Scholl and his consultants will start hosting a national, online radio talk show Saturday nights on www.wsRadio.com. Listeners can call in for advice.

Scholl and his consultants usually meet their clients in a public place, the noisier and busier, the better. They want the client to be distracted, agitated. They want to mimic the stressful environment in prison, to tease out any weaknesses that might attract unwanted attention.

Clients contact Dr. Prison on the advice of their lawyers or bail bondsmen.

“They're generally middle-class people, people like you and me, people with $400 in their pocket,” Scholl said.

They aren't gang members, and certainly aren't people who have been in prison before.
Dr. Prison's Survival Tips

  • Stay with your race.
  • Don't lie.
  • Don't volunteer too much personal information.
  • Don't join a gang.
  • Don't snitch.
  • Let people come to you.
  • Ask permission before you enter someone's cell.

“We are trying to help the person who probably is most vulnerable,” Scholl said.

A few years ago, Scholl was talking with a friend who had been released from prison.

“He was telling me stories about how things work in there, what you should and shouldn't do. I thought: this is valuable information,” Scholl said.

“It's a pretty fearful thing to think, 'My gosh, I'm going to go to prison.' Most of the stories you hear, they're true. And I thought, I'd pay someone to clue me in.”

Aura of science

Based on interviews he conducted with released convicts, Scholl says a person who doesn't know how to act in prison has a 25 percent to 30 percent chance of getting killed; a 10 percent to 15 percent chance of being raped; a 30 percent to 40 percent chance of getting stabbed; and an 80 percent to 90 percent chance of getting beaten.

The numbers are hardly scientific.

“He plants the fear in people, if they didn't already have it, that something terrible is going to happen to them in prison,” said Paul Sutton, a professor of criminal justice at San Diego State University.

The percentages give the aura of science, Sutton said. But they're nonsense.

“The advice isn't necessarily nonsense,” Sutton said.

Although Dr. Prison may be preying on people's fears, and implying that the politics of maximum-security prisons apply to all levels of facilities, Sutton said the business does provide some sound advice.

“This kind of information, or at least useful survival information, needs to get to people somehow, and the prisons don't provide it,” Sutton said.

Upon entering prison, inmates are given a handbook that lays out the rules and punishments for infractions.

“It's important stuff, but it doesn't tell you how to survive or tell you how to get along,” Sutton said.

He recalled a visit with his students to a state prison, where the guards stopped in the yard and told the group how each public phone belonged to a certain race, and using the wrong phone would result in a beating from other inmates.

Sutton asked the guard whether they shared that tip with new inmates. The guard said no. It was up to the inmates to learn for themselves.

Scholl's goal is to give his clients a head start.

Recently, when he met with the client going to federal prison, he called in his consultant Tom, who served nearly two years for drug convictions.

Tom, in his beanie and sunglasses and gray Vandyke beard, frowned and stared at the client. Tom, an addiction counselor, asked that his last name not be used. The client's name was not given because he feared for his safety in prison. Scholl, in a Hawaiian shirt, read from an assessment questionnaire.

“I hate the cliché, but it's a good cop, bad cop thing,” Scholl said before the meeting.

Be straightforward

In this meeting, the client kept fudging the truth. When Tom asked how long he had been sober, the client said 15 years, then backtracked. Well, it actually was five years, then five and another five, because he had a few lapses.

The men stared at their client. Wouldn't let the matter drop.

“Any inconsistencies, any hesitating, means something to a greater degree,” Scholl told him later.

Rather than blurting out something that isn't true, take a moment and think. Then answer truthfully, Scholl said. But don't give too much detail.

“Specific things are better than nothing because nothing means you're hiding things,” Scholl said. “Be more straightforward. Answer in straightforward generalities.”

Later, they were reassuring. Tom encouraged the client to stick with his drug addiction recovery, and to make plans for his release.

“I think you will do well and one of the reasons is because you're a smart guy,” Scholl told him.

“I thought you guys hated me,” the client said. No, the men said. They were just trying to help him.

After the client shook their hands, thanked them and walked off, Tom pulled off his beanie and removed his sunglasses.

He had gray, receding hair and a kind, gently lined face. Going to prison could be a positive experience, he said. Like it was for him.

“It changed my life.”

The San Diego Reader: Published on 1/4/07

Lockup 101
By Joe Deegan

'The first thing that came to my mind," remembers Tom Miller, "was to arm myself with a screwdriver. The Rodney King riots were taking place in Los Angeles, and the tension in the yard was incredible. Everybody seemed ready for a fight."

Miller, 52, is telling me about his 1992 stint at a prison firefighter training camp near Boulevard in East County. He went to the camp as part of an 18-month incarceration for selling illegal drugs. A job assignment in the tool shop gave Miller easy access to the weapon he suddenly counted on to protect him. He did not have to use the screwdriver that day, but other prisoners were now on notice.

I ask Miller whether inmates back then ever wanted him to get weapons from the shop for them. "All the time," he says, "and my answer was always the same. 'No.' It was the same answer I gave to guys who offered me booze or drugs."

While on bail before entering prison, Miller joined a 12-step recovery program where he met an ex-con he credits with teaching him how to act in prison. "I was very scared of going to jail," says Miller. He is grateful that the man, who became his first recovery-group sponsor, also spoke to his mom, who was worried what would befall him in jail. "The guy told her, 'I can't say your son will or won't get hurt in jail, but one thing is certain, that if he keeps drinking and using, that's going to be a problem in there.' And the talk gave her a lot of comfort," says Miller.

Miller kept up his recovery program in prison and continued it after getting out. He obtained an associate of arts degree in substance-abuse counseling from San Diego City College. At the same time, he worked with a therapist, first as a client and later as a trainee. "The man became my mentor," says Miller, who for the past 12 years has been counseling people either going to prison or getting out -- and their families.

In the meantime, a company called DrPrison.com appeared in San Diego. Its purpose was to prepare people to survive prison stays, to avoid being killed, beaten, raped, or robbed. It was founded two years ago by management consultant Steve Scholl, who had spent most of his career troubleshooting for large construction project-management companies.

How, you ask, does a management consultant end up counseling soon-to-be inmates in the art of surviving prison? "What piqued my interest," Scholl tells me, "was a series of conversations I had with an old friend who just finished 15 years of doing time. I talked with him at length about his experiences in prison. It fascinated me. And even though I had no prospect of going to prison, imagining what it's like scared the heck out of me. My feelings were probably like a lot of peoples', especially people who are drawn to television shows like Prison Break and documentaries that show various aspects of prison life. And if the number of these shows is any indication, there are many folks out there who have a fascination with what goes on in prison."

As his friend explained the tactics he used for coping with prison life, Scholl had a moment of recognition. Many of the tactics were the same ones he was used to sharing in management consulting. On the basis of these recommendations, Scholl wrote a 30-page manual on how to deal with prison life. And his friend worked as his partner in getting DrPrison off the ground.

I remark to Scholl that comparing business and prison tactics seems entirely fitting. He gives me a polite nod and then acknowledges that Martha Stewart paid for services much like the kind his company offers before she went to prison. We agree that if Jeffrey Skilling, in his business life, had made use of DrPrison's insights, he might not now need them for life behind bars.

The original DrPrison partners eventually went their own ways. But this summer Scholl met Tom Miller. On the basis of Miller's 12 years of prisoner counseling and Scholl's experience with 22 clients so far, the two have decided to expand DrPrison. To date, the company has worked only with people heading for prison. Now it intends to continue helping prisoners while they are incarcerated and when they get out, including arranging anger management and parenting classes and assisting with parole requirements. And it is offering services to prisoners' families. To customize service, it will outsource consultations according to gender, race, and other factors. Miller and Scholl are currently spreading the word about DrPrison through bail bondsmen, defense attorneys, and therapists.

There is an objection to DrPrison that some people are sure to make. I run it by a small donut-shop coffee group one morning. Why should anyone, I ask, want to make prisoners' lives easier? Aren't they being jailed to suffer for their crimes?

A woman observes something about prisoners not all being the same. Lester Mathis then offers a tale. By his own acknowledgement, Mathis is a "tough guy" and has gone through some hard times. But he says several years ago police arrested him for failing to show up in court to face a misdemeanor charge. "Somehow they accidentally put me on the fourth floor at county jail, which is where they process all the felony people. I was only there a short time, but one day I accidentally threw this great big guy's lunch away. He saw what I did and started giving me hell about it. I apologized and, since I still had my own lunch, I gave it to him. And that settled things down. But those felony guys are a different sort. They've got nothing to lose, and they don't care what they do to you, especially if someone shows weakness. They'll punk somebody and then start trading him around to their friends," says Mathis.

In other words, although prisons and jails do house hard-core sociopaths, far less dangerous people pass through too. Tom Miller tells me that the first seven days on the inside are the most dangerous because the jailers haven't yet segregated inmates according to their crimes. "Fairly mild-mannered people will be thrown together with murderers, who later will be separated from the others," he says. And he argues that helping all prisoners is justified. "If any of them learn how to take care of themselves in prison," he says, "they are bettering themselves. Once people get a taste for improving their lives, they want more of it." And that's why Miller and Scholl believe that what they teach will help their clients not only in prison but beyond.

So I ask, "What do you teach?"

They have a seven-step program, they say, which they consider a trade secret for business reasons. But, in summary, it's something like this. In prison you constantly face inescapable situations, serious or trivial, that other inmates force upon you. For instance, someone might steal your shoes and you end up walking around barefoot all the time. "You can't call the cops," says Miller, "and you can't leave." Isolating can work for a while in some situations. "But other prisoners will not permit loners for long and will force confrontations in the yard, where everybody eventually has to go. They want to see how you'll act."

Scholl tells me that in their first consultations with clients, he and Miller try to discover "emotional vulnerabilities." "When you first walk into the yard," he says, "the other prisoners will be looking for them. Are you a hothead? A controller? A pleaser?"

So DrPrison tries to alert clients to the emotional signals they are likely to give off. "We find them by pushing their buttons in the consultation. Then suddenly, when we've hit the right one, they will react strongly." And the idea is not to stop reacting in that way entirely, but to control your style, use other styles, and vary them according to the situation. "Even the strongest and most controlling prisoner," observes Miller, "cannot get away with threatening behavior all the time. Five other prisoners will easily take him down."

The three main coping styles in prison, according to Miller, are the Controller, the Pleaser, and the Loner. Each is effective for protecting yourself sometimes, but never as an exclusive strategy. Doing something for somebody, such as acquiring money or stores from home, will become expected, and you may have to say no in a forceful way. It's the varying of styles that will save you.

"Sometimes you may have to fight," says Scholl, "but winning the fight is not crucial. Even if you get beat up, you are likely to land a few good blows. And the willingness to stand up is what gains respect."

The work with prisoners' families is likely to take up a big percentage of DrPrison's time in the future. That's because one of the greatest fears many people have who go to prison concerns what will happen to their relationships while they're gone.

Miller tells me of a woman who wrote a first letter to her son in jail. "It read, 'How dare you disappoint the family?' It berated him something terrible. I told her, 'Not good. All this is going to do is bring about resistance. You're not an agent of change here by doing this.' She had no idea. She thought she was going to make him feel bad so he'd have a change of heart. That's not what was happening. I told her he's only going to say something to please you because he needs you. So she finally called me last week to read me a new letter. She wrote, 'I know when you get out there will be a lot of blocks to your getting ahead in society. But you told me once you have an interest in photography.' And she sent him a magazine on photography."

Connecticut Post: 11/29/06, 4:45 AM EST
Source: http://www.connpost.com/fastsearchresults/ci_4738231

Violence unlikely for setup for Ganim, Newton

By Charles Walsh

Two former Bridgeport politicians serving time in federal prison are unlikely targets for the brutal brand of prison violence that befell ex-Waterbury Mayor Philip Giordano last week.

Sources knowledgeable about prison life say ex-Bridgeport Mayor Joseph P. Ganim and former state Sen. Ernest E. Newton II enjoy relative security at a minimum-security federal prison camp in Fort Dix, N.J.

And unlike Giordano, convicted in 2003 on charges involving sexual abuse of children, their corruption-related crimes are unlikely to provoke fellow prisoners to target them.

Child-sex offenders like Giordano become targets even if they're kept away from other prisoners, in a unit with others convicted of sex crimes, says Steve Scholl of DrPrison.com, a Web site dedicated to helping new prisoners survive.

"There is a stratification in the segregated unit. People charged with rape and other sex crimes will attack child sex predators," Scholl wrote.

Giordano was attacked Saturday by an inmate armed with a battery-filled sock at Connecticut's Garner Correctional Institute in Newtown. The attacker was serving time in the high-security facility for sex-assault charges. State prison officials said Giordano required no medical treatment.

According to state statistics, the attack was far from an isolated incident.

In 2006, there have been 450 incidents of inmate-to-inmate violence in Connecticut's 18 prisons, said Brian Garnett, spokesman for the state Department of Correction. He stressed that the number of attacks has fallen 69 percent since 1994 among the state's 19,000 inmates. A reportable incident of violence can range from a simple shove to a fatal stabbing, Garnet said.

"Overall, I think Connecticut's prisons are safe, secure and orderly," Garnett said.

There have also been 208 incidents of inmates attacking prison staff this year. Only one of those cases was considered serious, Garnet said. Although state correctional officials gave no reason for the attack on Giordano, even a minor infraction of the unwritten code of inmate behavior can bring a violent reply.

One Web site devoted to advising prison-bound convicts says that merely looking into another's prisoner's cell while passing by is a violation of the code, and grounds for an assault or long-term extortion.

Ganim and Newton are both serving out federal sentences at Fort Dix. Ganim is in his third year of a nine-year corruption sentence. In April, Newton started serving a five-year term for accepting bribes.

Another prominent former Bridgeporter who served nearly a year in a minimum-security federal prison camp in Otisville, N.Y., said there's less violence in a federal camp where inmates have privileges that can be taken away as punishment. In a 2004 article for Connecticut Magazine, former Ganim aide Leonard Grimaldi said those camps are a world away from the high-security facilities where many hardened prisoners do time.

"In a high security facility, a guy doing 30 years for carving out someone's heart could care less about cracking open a guy's head with a can of tuna in a sock," wrote Grimaldi, who declined to comment for this article.

A source who keeps in touch with Newton said that he has reported no problems with violence by other inmates at Fort Dix. Ganim, who has been described as a model prisoner, is not known to have scuffled with fellow inmates.

Traci Billingsley, spokeswoman for the federal Bureau of Prisons, said the bureau has strict policy guidelines on what is and is not considered acceptable behavior by inmates. She said even if an attack should occur in a federal prison, there is no guarantee it will be made public.

"It's a matter of the inmate's privacy rights," Billingsley said. "We would only release information on an incident of violence if the prisoner who was attacked requested it."

In 2003, a federal jury convicted Giordano of violating the civil rights two girls, aged 8 and 10, by repeatedly sexually abusing them. He is appealing that conviction.

He is being held in state prison, rather than a federal facility, because state charges of 18 counts of sexual assault are still pending against him.


La Prenza: Volume XXIX Number 28 July 15, 2005
Source: http://laprensa-sandiego.org/archieve/july15-05/050715.html

FrontPage Stories

Trained to Live Behind Bars

By Katia Lopez-Hodoyan

The questions were direct and personal. How could a reporter endure the hardships of life in prison? Could she overcome the violence, commotion and solitude of life behind bars? Better yet, could she survive all the unwritten rules inmates live by? One by one, these questions were asked and slowly, after a series of deep breaths and lip biting, they were all answered. The client was a brown haired, 120-pound woman who stood 5’3’’ tall. The sentence she was about to face however, was much higher.

With a nonchalant vibe, that seemed more fitting for a cocktail party, Brian James kept on asking these questions. He, more than anybody, knew the correct answers. After coming in and out of prisons for more than a decade, life behind bars had become second nature to James. So much so that recently, he and his partner Steve Scholl decided to create a business out of his experience.


Mr. Scholl showing a Dr. Prison booklet.

They both prepare soon-to-be-prisoners for jail under their San Diego based consulting firm Dr. Prison. During a close-knit meeting, James, Scholl and a client go over a few files that describe the felon’s crime, sentence and personality traits. With this information at hand, Scholl, the businessman and James the ex-convict, make recommendations of what the client will need to be aware of as an inmate in prison.

During a mock session, for instance, a reporter’s body language showed too much emotion. A characteristic that was sure to instigate trouble in jail. Her direct eye contact and listening skills however, showed one of the most important tools needed in prison: respect.

“Trust nobody, don’t be talkative or people will think you’re a snitch,” says James. “Don’t tell anybody what you’re in for or show any type of frailty because inmates pray on the weak. And remember, you have no friends…. only allies.”

As far as being locked up with women, one recommendation was clear. “Be careful, women are ruthless.”

While being imprisoned for drug distribution and consumption, James witnessed stabbings, riots and even a dozen murders while doing time. He saw people come and go, but the unwritten prison rules stayed intact throughout time and locations. He learned to never owe any favors or money to inmates, for it is the number one cause of death in prisons. Strength in numbers means survival and even if a matter doesn’t concern one directly, one must act or risk being attacked later on for lacking ‘heart’. On the lighter side, food in jail is lousy, treats such as sodas come sparingly, jobs pay pennies on the hour and prison ministers are always there to help.

“Our goal is to help them [prisoners] from being injured, extorted or killed in prison”, says Scholl. “In prison you can’t make the same assumptions you make in the real world. Using humor, sarcasm or even typical social interactions can cause some serious trouble. You can’t take a candy bar and think you’ll pay the guy later…you might get killed.”

Extortion in prison is a huge powerhouse. Inmates are allowed to have a credit line account that enables them to buy anything from television sets to Raman Noodle Soup through a catalog. A point system, which is where their paycheck goes to, is used for such purchases. Family members and friends can also contribute by donating money to their relative’s credit line. It is to be expected then, that items are sold at such high prices internally.

“You can get anything in prison. Anything,” says James. “Some of the best drugs I bought were in prison. But a joint that would cost me a few bucks on the street would be worth $60 in jail.”

It is a well-known fact that danger, violence and isolation are prison factors. Hence, begging the question, is a business like Dr. Prison really needed? Does one need to be reminded to keep to oneself and not take things that don’t belong to one in prison? The owners acknowledge that consulting companies such as Dr. Prison are a type of luxury that not too many delinquents think of. A legal attorney and bail bond manager come first in mind when someone is going to jail. Nonetheless, almost two-dozen inmates sought this service before Dr. Prison completed its first year in business. Prices for the consultation as well as other services range from $275 to $1200.

“About 30 percent of the material we give out, one could know intuitively,” says Scholl. “The other 70 percent are facts that can keep you out of trouble and alive.”

Perhaps what prompts people to use these consultation firms are the statistics on prison violence. According to Prison Policy Initiatives, a non profit based organization, inmates face a 10 to 15 percent chance of getting raped during their sentence, an 80 to 90 percent chance of getting beaten during their jail time and a 25 to 30 percent chance of getting killed.

Heightening the tension in prison is also impacted by race in gang affiliations and rivalries. As a general rule, during a riot or direct confrontation, hispanics and whites will team up against blacks. Anybody who doesn’t join in the fight will pay dearly for it later.

“Once you’re in jail, it doesn’t matter what gang you were in back on the streets, or who you had problems with,” says James. “You go directly to your racial group, and they will take you in. If there is a problem though, you better make sure you’re first in line to fight.”

Weapons are made in prison with seemingly inoffensive items. A sharpened toothbrush can prove to be harmful during a fight. A utensil can be an inmate’s worst enemy and anything that has the slightest possibility of having a pointed edge rapidly becomes a needed possession.

“Inmates run prison,” says James. “Guards are just there to baby sit, but prisoners control everything.”

So, does this business have a future in San Diego County where there are more than thirty thousand bookings every year? Two middle-aged men seem to thinks so, but just like in prison, inmates will control this factor.

After an hour and a half session, James sums up what he has lived through in more than ten state prisons.

“One can only run as far as the fences in the wall. So I think one needs to be prepared.”

For more information on Dr. Prison one can visit their web-page at www.drprison.org


The Star News: Vol. 124 No. 20  May 20, 2005
http://www.thestarnews.com/

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