An Open Letter to Criminal Defense Attorneys

How to deal with difficult, petrified and/or unstable clients, or clients that want or need more time and hand holding than you can politically, financially, legally or ethically allocate.

Do you need help with any of your clients in guiding them through the criminal justice and penal process? As a defendant and attorney myself, and as someone that went to prison, I know there are so many aspects, nuances and complexities of the criminal justice system that are outside the mandate or scope of services that criminal defense attorneys can effectively provide to their clients. Having personally been through the process of being “processed,” dealing with the day-to-day complexities of pre-trial and my pre-trial officer, deciding whether to accept a guilty plea, preparing my pre-sentencing report, preparing for and dealing with prison life and prison designation, learning first-hand the pros and cons of halfway houses and home confinement through probation and supervised release, and finally experiencing post prison life as a felon in America, there were so many aspects of the criminal justice system that my attorneys did not provide to me.

For example, and these are just examples as the list is very, very long, my attorney’s could not:

  • Politically deal with the day-to-day nightmares of dealing with the changing rules and whims of my pre-trial officer.
  • Hold my hand in the decision to plead guilty, what to plead guilty to, and how that would affect my life in prison and my life on supervised release and thereafter.
  • Deal with the numerous problems related to halfway houses and halfway house designation and the nuances of home confinement and how it works.
  • Tell me the RULES of prison, gangs, shot callers, commissary, laundry, and the mess hall.
  • Tell me where I could and could not not sit in the mess hall and who I could and could not talk to.
  • Prepare me for the “hole.”
  • Explain to me how my medical needs would or would not be met and how to get medication.
  • Tell me how to deal with sadistic prison guards and personnel.
  • Teach me when to stand and fight and when not to.
  • Explain to me how “the yard” works and what I could and could not do on the yard and who I could and could not talk to.
  • Deal with ever changing probation officers and their capricious and ever-changing rules.
  • Walk me through how to get early termination of supervised release, or how to rebuild my life after termination of supervised release.

The list goes on and on.

The aforementioned examples are just a few of the numerous things I wish I had guidance and help on when I was going through the criminal justice system. Unfortunately, my criminal defense attorneys were too busy “doing more important things” on my case and/or didn’t have the time or personal experience to adequately prepare me for the instances I mentioned. For example, for political reasons my criminal defense attorneys could not deal with the day-to-day problems caused by the daily whims of my probation officer and I wish I had someone that had been through the drill who could tell me how things work and what was and was not possible. In short, although my criminal defense attorneys were experts at criminal law and criminal procedure they could not help me on day-to-day issues that were of huge importance to me but outside their mandate as my criminal defense attorneys. Like probably most of your clients, I was petrified but you didn’t have the time, mandate, legal authority and/or the personal experience to help with all the issues and I had to navigate on my own.

When I finally exited supervised release, I decided I wanted to fight back and give back to help people less fortunate than myself. Therefore, I formed The Lawrence Goldfarb Judicial Reform Foundation ( followed by Lawrence Goldfarb Criminal Justice Partners ( My Foundation and Company’s goals are to help defendants from all walks of life, and those indicted for all types of crimes, to navigate through the complex labyrinth of the criminal justice maze on a day-to-day basis. We do not take upfront fees and we work on a sliding scale so that we can help as many people as possible, regardless of their economic capabilities.

I am well aware that there is a flourishing industry of “prison consultants,” and frankly, in my utter fear mode of going to prison, I hired and was fleeced by one of them. Unlike most prison consultants, my resume is impeccable, and my background and experience speaks for itself. I am not doing this for the money, I am doing this because I have become a student of our criminal legal system and processes and truly believe they are in drastic need of change from sentencing to prison reform. I personally watched way too many people needlessly die or rot away in prison. I also learned there are many, many things I can do, that lawyers quite frankly just can’t, to help defendants and felons that are not yet in prison, those who are already there, and those who are released. For example, I can deal with pre-trial officers, probation officers and prison officials on a day-to-day basis in ways that would be politically inappropriate for criminal defense attorneys to interact.

If you or someone you know is caught up in the criminal justice system, please call us at 415-497-9800 or email us at or go to our website at for more information about the services we provide.

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