Mitigation Post Sentencing 

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Mitigation Post Sentencing

Build ongoing strategy to advance candidacy for mercy


At sentencing, a federal judge says that he sentences a person to the custody of the attorney general. After sentencing, the person moves from the judicial branch of government to the executive branch, likely going into the Federal Bureau of Prisons. If the individual wants a better outcome, he had better engineer a post-conviction mitigation strategy.

I learned the importance of post-conviction mitigation strategies after my judge sentenced me to a 45-year prison term. While incarcerated in federal prisons of every security level, I learned from leaders like Nelson Mandela, Viktor Frankl, Socrates, and others who had to build a pathway to overcome a crisis. 

Your mitigation strategy should help you recalibrate, restore strength, and overcome the crisis of a criminal conviction. Remember that although you cannot change the past, you can always work toward building a brighter future.

The Purpose of Post-Sentencing Mitigation Strategy

Prisons tend to obliterate hope. A post-conviction mitigation strategy will help a person navigate the storms of confinement in the same way that a compass helps a sailor get back to the calmer waters of port. Without that strategy, a person can get lost, being pulled in the wrong direction. 

During the 26 years that I served, I knew many people who got into worse trouble because they did not have a solid plan to help them work toward an earlier release date. Besides making decisions that either exacerbated their problems in prison, or extended their stay, they did not have a plan that would help them emerge successfully, with their dignity intact.

A good post-conviction mitigation strategy will help. I always encourage people to use the same multi-pronged strategy that leaders taught me:

  1. Start by defining success,
  2. Analyze strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
  3. Develop a plan.
  4. Put priorities in place.
  5. Create tools, tactics, and resources to succeed.
  6. Measure progress in weekly, monthly, yearly increments.
  7. Adjust as necessary.
  8. Execute the plan.

Key Components of a Post-Sentencing Mitigation Strategy

Consider stakeholders: Think about the people you will encounter in the future–the different stakeholders. Contemplate how your post-conviction mitigation strategy will advance you as a candidate for mercy.

Educational and Vocational Training: Engage in educational and vocational programs available in the prison system. These can enhance your skills, making you more employable upon release.

Rehabilitation Programs: Participate in rehabilitation programs, especially if your sentence is related to substance abuse or mental health issues. Showing progress in these areas can be crucial for parole hearings or sentence reductions.

Build Support Networks: Develop a strong support network, including family, friends, and mentors. Regular communication and positive relationships can provide emotional support and practical assistance post-release.

Documenting Progress: Keep a record of all the programs, courses, and jobs you participate in while incarcerated. This documentation will prove invaluable as you work to create new opportunities from the midst of crisis.

Reentry Planning: Build your release plan early, and iterate the plan as you develop new skills. This includes identifying potential employment opportunities, housing options, and community resources that can assist in your transition.

Update your plans: Keep stakeholders informed about your progress and achievements in prison. Your ongoing progress can differentiate you from those who do not use time in prison as effectively as you.

Staying Mentally and Emotionally Resilient

Setting Goals: Set personal and professional goals will help you restore confidence. Rather than waiting for calendar pages to turn, you can work toward projects that will give you a sense of accomplishment, or personal development. Those goals should align with how you define success. Adjust those goals as you advance.

Engaging in Positive Activities: Participate in activities that promote mental and emotional well-being, such as fitness, education, personal development, or faith-based programs.

Avoid negative influences: Succeeding after a criminal conviction requires a person to understand the environment. Try to minimize exposure to problems by avoiding people who do not have a good post-conviction mitigation strategy.


Preparing a mitigation strategy after sentencing is about proactively working towards a better future. It involves educational growth, rehabilitation, building supportive networks, and strategic planning for reentry. My experience has taught me the power of a well-prepared post-sentencing strategy in shaping a successful reintegration into society. Remember, the journey doesn’t end at sentencing; it’s a new chapter where you have the opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to change and a positive future.

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