If you are going to federal prison, you have to create your release plan.

As you may know, I was a stockbroker at Bear Stearns, then UBS. Bad decisions I made on behalf of a hedge fund manager led to a government investigation. When I learned of the investigation, I prevaricated and I misled. I didn’t want to acknowledge my role in the crime nor did I want people to perceive me negatively. The result was a longer federal prison term and more pain for those that love and support me.

Had I better understood the value of a release plan and the perception of all the government stakeholders, I would have made better decisions.

Who are these stakeholders?

  • Judge
  • Prosecutor
  • Case Manager
  • Warden
  • Halfway House employees
  • Probation Officers

After I was charged with a white-collar crime, I should have created my release plan, then considered:

What do these stakeholders know about me?
What do these stakeholders not know about me?
What is their perception of me?
How can I change their perception of me?

Instead of answering these vital questions, I clung to delusions that I had been wronged. The result was a longer federal prison sentence.

Your job, regardless of where you are in the journey, is to work to change the narrative. If you have been sentenced, you must begin to create your release plan.


Case managers loathe prisoners asking for things.

“If you were so concerned about your family, you should not have broken the law.”

Rather than ask, you need to show why you are worthy of an earlier release from prison and higher levels of liberty in the halfway house and on probation.

For example, you could start your release plan by asking and answering the following questions:

In what ways are you defining the best possible outcome?
How do you intend to document that journey?
What priorities must you put in place, before the start of the journey?
What tools, tactics, and resources can you create to differentiate yourself from every other person that wants to get out early?
How will you show that you’ve executed the plan?
In what ways will you invite the world to hold you accountable?
How transparent will you make your execution strategy?
In what ways will the documentation you create advance your candidacy for relief?
How will your strategy show that you’ve worked hard to make amends?
In what ways will stakeholders see you as being different from the expectations of people that have gone into the system?
This is a lot to take in, I know. That said, it is time to get to work and change the narrative. Only then can you emerge from this wretched system with a plan and your dignity.

Please participate in our free, weekly, interactive webinars to get answers to your questions. Or you can schedule a call here.

As Abe Lincoln wrote a long time ago, “work, work, work.”

We’re here to help.

Justin Paperny

P.S. To learn more about my journey, read this timeline from the White Collar Advice site. I choose to put my release plan online for the world to see. How about you?