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A Lawyer Does Time

I have to admit that when I read about white-collar crime cases and sentences -- even those as outrageous as that of Jamie Olis (whose plight has been covered exhaustively by Tom Kirkendall at Houston's Clear Thinkers) --  I don't often think about what comes after. And of course, I've always assumed that convicted defendants doing time for white-collar crimes don't endure the same conditions as more violent offenders in maximum-security prisons.

Still, even lower-security prisons aren't a picnic, as borne out in this article, Enter a Hellish Place (Luke Mullins,, May/June 2007 issue, via Alan Childress at Legal Profession Blog). Mullins covers the experience of lawyer Alfred Porro, nicknamed the "Teflon attorney" for managing to evade numerous investigations, until they caught up with him and his wife -- who was also convicted for various fraud charges. 

The article is a long read, but it offers a fascinating and detailed account of prison life. Though the article focuses mostly on Porro's experience, there are other side stories about  a "sperm smuggling" operation (so that prisoners could get their wives pregnant)  or how prisoners can leave the premises but rarely try to escape because that would result in immediate transfer to a high-security facility.

As for Porro's experience, some aspects are unsurprising. As  a former lawyer, Porro predictably became the law librarian at the prison, taught constitutional law and worked as a jailhouse lawyer pro bono, helping other inmates with their cases. But his work as a lawyer didn't spare Porro from the monotony of daily chores, constant fear for his own safety and guilt at having put his wife in jail and harmed his son's career as an attorney.

Unlike other prisoners, however, who become "monsters" due to frustration of prison life, Porro believes that he gained some meaning during his time in jail. Among other things, he also began lecturing along with other prisoners at business schools, in an effort to keep others from making his same mistakes. And now that he's been released, Porro has another business as well:  serving as a consultant to white-collar prisoners sentenced to prison.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on June 13, 2007 at 05:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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