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by Peter Moskos

June 2, 2011

Prison for life, as a free man

I received an email yesterday from Lorne Caplan, who gave me permission to republish it with attribution. I've edited it slightly:
As a former investment banker and having recently been freed from prison in 2007, I have to agree with much of what you said today. Most importantly, it is the culture of eternal punishment that has developed in this country.

My own situation suggest you are absolutely right to try to avoid prison, since once you have a felony on your record, it is like being branded for life. My own prospects for work have been essentially taken away by what I did and what the system continues to do, as Google can't seem to lower the references to my incarceration and conviction, and any company with an HR department won't even consider me.

As for qualifications, that is also funny, since I have been published in trade and consumer magazines, have the Masters, etc. It doesn't matter. It only makes me overqualified.

I am curious if you have run across organizations for white collar criminals that have found no support and a complete taking away of family (my children haven't had food on occasion because I can't find work, UPS won't hire me, McDonald's and so many others), friends, work prospects etc.... Yes, there should be consequences to peoples actions, but a lifetime of no prospects hurting family, children, etc? I don't think that is what the US population really would want.
I was first interrogated as a witness in 2002 and after 21 or so meetings with the FBI, a wire tap, and the usual threats to family, I heard nothing for 3 1/2 years, until one day they showed up at my ex-wife's door looking for me. The perp walk ensued, lawyers and their expensive (useless) defense, the pleading, sentencing, etc. And all the while, no work, income, devastation to the family, etc. I got out to no prospects, the joke of half-way house, and programs that are menial and insulting. All to say, almost 10 years into this and I am still suffering from the decisions and consequences. I don't believe those in industry understand that it isn't just a couple of years and some time playing tennis at a minimum security prison in the US. Your life will be destroyed, completely.


B-Mac said...

I have much respect for Mr. Caplan for sharing his story. I think a defacto lifetime ban from the finacial sector for those who defrauded nearly a million dolllars could be in the public interest.

I imagine white collar crime is the opposite of street crime in that a good job enables, rather than prevents recidivism. Does this idea agree with current sociology?

PCM said...

I could agree with a ban from the financial sector... but not a lifetime ban from all employment!

Eddie said...

Thanks for publishing Mr. Caplan's email. I think of all the young people that I had encountered during my career who had made stupid mistakes and violated the law. If possible, I would shitcan these because I realized that arresting them would serve no purpose other than to ruin whatever future they may have had. I don't agree with all your views about flogging, but I do wish that some of these kids had that option, to take lashes for these minor crimes in exchange for a clean record. You have young people trying to start out in life who can't get a job flipping burgers at McDonald's, all because of a low level pot sale. How does that benefit anyone?

Jeff N said...

This guy didn't commit a minor crime. He stole almost a million bucks. I am amazed he only got 3 years.

And he isn't banned from getting a job. People don't want to hire him, big difference. He says the programs they have for him are menial and insulting, which to me says there are jobs for him, he doesnt want them.

I might hire him to mow lawns or paint houses. I wouldn't hire him at a Mcdonalds or especially at a UPS where he would have access to backroom assets he could steal. Some kind of job where the only thing he could steal would be what I put in his hand is what I could see for him.

Stealing as much money as he did demonstrates that he has no ethics, and I don't think 3 years in jail would cause him to sprout them (and the way our prison system is, I don't think 20 years would have caused him to sprout them either!)

Jive Talkin Tool said...

this might also have something to do with why he hasn't found work:

"She ordered Caplan, 41, to pay back $945,000. She said the government can pursue any assets Caplan might have or he can pay it off through 10 percent of his salary for 20 years after he gets out of prison."