Business Insider | 2015

Published July 13, 2015 by Adrienne Gaffney

Here’s how ‘prison coaches’ prep C-suite criminals for life behind bars

It’s no easy task to go from life behind a desk to life behind bars, but a good prison coach can make all the difference.

For plenty of C-suite executives, having a consigliere — whether to assist in greasing wheels in Washington or counsel on the intricacies of international expansion — is a necessity.

So, when Masters of the Universe find themselves facing time behind bars, many of them hire a prison coach.

Los Angeles-based consultant Larry Levine, who has been doing the job for eight years, says the skills he learned during a 10-year sentence for drug trafficking, securities fraud and racketeering are what make him a successful coach.

“I helped out so many people while I was inside — with medical assistance, early release, transfers — I thought, I could turn this into a business,” he says. He wasn’t the only one.

The field, which has blossomed in recent years, includes coaches coming out of careers within the prison system as well as ex-convicts who can offer critical insight.

And while some coaches specialize in shortening sentences — consultant Herb Hoelter cited community service to help Beanie Baby billionaire Ty Warner avoid jail time in a tax evasion case — others help prepare clients for life on the inside.

Other advisers focus on helping relatives cope with the change. “People watch ‘The Shawshank Redemption,’ and they’ve got a perception of prison,” says Levine, “but it’s not necessarily like that.”

For criminals at minimum-security camps, life isn’t much like a prison movie.

“It’s people just like them who made some poor decisions and ended up convicted,” Levine says. “The important thing is everybody there is getting out one day and they don’t want to get into trouble.”