It goes without saying that your life changes the moment a state or federal agency charges you with a crime and no matter who you are, you’re going to need help beyond that which a criminal defense lawyer can provide. The question is where this help will come from. Is it your friends and family, a support group, or a prison consultant? We can’t quite tell you whether your friends and family are a good resource for this, and we can only encourage you to give a support group a try, we can help you think through the decision of whether to hire a prison consultant.
Most prison consultants provide individuals with advice on how to cope and survive the journey through pre-sentencing, life away, and re-entry, and can sometimes serve a useful role as a consultant to a criminal defense team. Prison consultants are professionals who offer guidance and advice about prison life, serving as a resource as a soon-to-be incarcerated individual prepares for life in prison. Typically, prison consultants have been incarcerated themselves, bringing direct and personal experience.
The big question you should ask yourself is this: do you need to hire a prison consultant? This is a question each individual must answer themselves based on their needs.
What Does a Prison Consultant Cost?
The services offered by prison consultants are diverse and tailored to the specific needs of their clients, leading to a wide range in the cost of these services.
On the lower end, some basic consultation packages may start around $2,000, offering general advice on preparing for prison life. However, for more comprehensive services that include detailed guidance on navigating the legal system, building effective sentencing packages, personal coaching for court appearances, and extensive, ongoing support throughout the duration of incarceration, the fees can escalate significantly. In some cases, particularly for high-profile or complex cases requiring extensive preparation and support, the costs can soar to $50,000 or more. This variance in pricing reflects the customizable nature of the services provided, catering to everything from basic preparatory advice to in-depth, long-term personal consultancy.
There is the basic question of whether you can afford such an expense in the first place, but also consider the financial needs of your family while you are facing the prospect of incarceration.
Consultants Provide Advice You Can Find Elsewhere
Advice for navigating the challenges of prison life can be found through resources beyond traditional prison consultants. One notable avenue is the White Collar Support Group, which offers a free supportive community for individuals dealing with the repercussions of white-collar crime. This group provides a platform for sharing experiences, advice, and strategies for coping with the legal process, incarceration, and reintegration into society. The support group emphasizes peer support and shared learning, making it a valuable resource for those who might not have the means or desire to hire a private consultant.
Additionally, websites (like WhiteCollar.blog) were built specifically offer insights and guidance tailored to individuals facing white-collar criminal charges. Our blog serves as an informative resource, providing articles, personal stories, and practical tips for dealing with the complexities associated with white-collar offenses. Our guides even cover things like helping loved ones prepare for visitation, repairing your personal search results, and how to think about your pre-sentencing character reference letters.
Such online platforms are often free or more affordable than hiring a personal consultant, offering accessible advice and support to a broader audience. The primary difference is these resources are not personalized advice, tailored for your circumstances, but there are great guides on things like handling negative reactions when people learn you’re a white collar criminal.
How Do I Find the Right Prison Consultant?
Finding the right prison consultant requires careful consideration, especially given the lack of formal training or certification for these professionals. Here are key steps and considerations to guide your search:
- Research Their Background: Since there’s no formal governing body for prison consultants, it’s important to research their background. Look into their history, how long they’ve been providing services, and any specific areas of expertise they may have. This can include their own experiences with the prison system, legal knowledge, and success stories.
- Consider the Relevance of Their Experience. If this is your first exposure to the criminal justice system, you may think that time incarcerated is time incarcerated and that one consultant should be able to speak on all experiences. That’s not the case.
- Make sure the prison consultant you are considering has experience with the federal system (or your specific state, if it’s a state case) as the difference between federal and state is vast, and each state operates in a truly unique way.
- Be mindful of the differences in the justice system for men and women. This is true every step of the way but is most clear in daily life at federal prison camp: neither is easier or harder, but there are many small details in day-to-day life that only a person who has lived that experience will be able to speak to. Considering other key demographics is worthwhile: the experience is different if you’re in your 30s vs. in your 80s, for example.
- Broadly, the best advice will come from someone who most closely matches your circumstances. Think about the charges the consultant faced, their family situations, and the like.
- Evaluate Recency of Experience: The most valuable insights come from consultants with recent experience in the prison system, as this ensures their knowledge is current and relevant. Prisons evolve, and so do their rules and social dynamics. A consultant who has recent, firsthand experience can provide more accurate and practical advice.
- Ask for References: Don’t hesitate to ask potential consultants for references or testimonials from previous clients. Speaking to others who have used their services can give you a better idea of their effectiveness and reliability. A reputable consultant should be willing and able to provide references.
- Be Aware of Scams: Unfortunately, the lack of formal certification means that some individuals may pose as prison consultants to run scams. Be wary of those who promise guaranteed outcomes, such as significantly reduced sentences, or who demand exorbitant fees upfront. A legitimate consultant will be transparent about what they can and cannot do.
- Consider the Cost vs. Benefit: Fees for prison consultants can vary widely. Weigh the cost of their services against the potential benefits. Remember that while a consultant can provide valuable guidance, they are not miracle workers.
Making the Decision
A good fit with your consultant is crucial because this is a person you’ll depend upon during some of the most trying months or years of your life, seeking input on extremely sensitive subjects. They should understand your specific situation and needs. During initial consultations, assess whether they listen to your concerns and offer the voice you’ll want on the other end of the phone.