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 Prison Designation? 

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Michael Santos

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What should defendants understand about prison designation and the prisons system?

The concept of a prison designation isn’t something most people contemplate. Why should they?

The United States confines more than 2 million people. We put more people in prison per capita than any other nation on earth. According to the PEW research center, one person out of every 100 adults in America is incarcerated. That’s a lot. But the figure also means that 99 out of 100 people never think about confinement. Accordingly, they don’t think about a prison designation.

When federal authorities indict white-collar defendants, the defendants have to broaden their thinking. They need to think about topics that never crossed their mind before. Some hire a criminal defense attorney and then hope for the best. Others take a more proactive approach. They assemble a team of experts to guide them. A criminal defense attorney is necessary to navigate judicial proceedings. Yet since defendants know a conviction is possible, they find others who can prepare them for challenges that would follow.

Sentence mitigation expert:

A defendant who wants to position himself for the lowest sanction possible may choose to hire a sentence mitigation expert. A sentence mitigation expert will work to create a comprehensive narrative of the individual’s life. Preparing that narrative will require considerable amounts of one-on-one time.

The sentence mitigation expert will use a question-based approach to develop a full understanding of the defendant’s life. Then, the expert will work to craft a narrative that shows the individual’s humanity. Ideally, the narrative will highlight good work the individual has done. That sentencing package will help to mitigate the crime, showing the defendant as a contributing member of society.

A good sentence mitigation expert will also work to build supporting documentation. It should include testimonial letters and character references from others. This highly personalized narrative will strengthen the defense attorney’s argument for the lowest possible sentence. Further, the strategy will prepare the defendant to deliver a compelling testimony at the sentencing hearing.

Prison Consultant:

To round out the defense team, the defendant should work with a competent prison consultant. Choosing an effective prison consultant requires due diligence. Many people who were convicted of fraud served a few months in a single prison and consider themselves experts on the prison system. Others are former prison guards. They collect pensions from the BOP while marketing themselves as prison experts, advising defendants on boilerplate that is available anywhere.

A true prison consultant offers more valuable information. He empowers the defendant. By drawing upon a depth and breadth of experience that is easily verifiable, the prison consultant will prepare the defendant to master the prison experience. He will position the defendant for a prison designation in the easiest facility, and he will teach the defendant about options he can pursue to lead a life of meaning and relevance inside. Further, a strong prison consultant will help the defendant establish a comprehensive strategy to ensure he returns to society with dignity and with opportunities to resume a life of relevance.

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