Prison – What About My Safety? Yagman’s Choices and Consequences

November 24, 2007

Stephen Yagman – recipient of the 2004 Clay awards for his outstanding achievements in Civil Rights Law was convicted of tax evasion and bankruptcy fraud in June of ’07.

Claiming that he made enemies in law enforcement for his campaigns against police abuse, Yagman (through his attorney) argues that he should be spared an active prison term due to his fear he would be physically harmed in jail.

His story is stated here by the Associated Press:

Creative…I’ll give him that. But I would be shocked if the Federal Government prosecutors would have any interest in Yagman avoiding an active prison sentence and instead – teaching at a university.

Here’s a reality check – Yagman will find that his ego will be severely deflated upon entering prison. First, most of the inmates have no clue who he is and, frankly, won’t care.

For his crime he’ll likely be sent to a minimum security prison. Fact One, the inmates there are short timers and are anticipating getting out. They have no desire to do anything that will prolong their stay. So his safety is not an issue.

Fact Two, he’ll likely be sent to a place where his enemies won’t be. For example, he would likely be shipped to a federal minimum security facility out of state – fewer people who have any knowledge of his identity.

Fact Three, Yagman has shown from his conviction that he has a disregard for the law through his actions related to hiding assets in bankruptcy and from the IRS (tax evasion). Hence, it would be far reaching to think that the government would consider him a likely candidate to teach morality.

I know what Mr. Yagman is facing as I’ve spent time in Federal prison for tax evasion myself. I did not enjoy the experience. It was humbling to say the least. However, there are several things that I learned from my prison experience that were invaluable:

  • To learn about yourself – what and what you really are – after having all aspects of ego stripped away is priceless. Sometimes you might not like what you see or come to learn, but you do learn and from that have the opportunity to grow.
  • I learned that success was not in any way defined by the things that surround us – those are the things that feed our ego’s. Rather, I learned that success comes truly from the impact you have on other people. My time in prison gave me the opportunity to come to know others and myself. It gave us all a chance to become real rather than to hide behind the illusion of who we project ourselves to be.
  • I learned that Every Choice Has A Consequence. Whether the consequence is negative or positive is up to you and the choices you make. You are in control of your choices and therefore the outcomes.
  • Finally, through a simple opportunity to speak to others about what not to do…I found my life’s calling – speaking to others and sharing simple truths.

Perhaps Mr. Yagman will learn as I did about the truth of who he is and what true justice means. I wish him well and respect his fight…but over time, when ego identity is stripped away, perhaps he’ll come to learn more that he could have ever taught.

Any commensts?

Business Ethics Speaker – Chuck Gallagher – signing off…Texas Motivational Speaker, Chuck Gallagher