Journal Entry: Friday, May 17, 2024

Journal Entry

A Story of Determination

At the start of a criminal prosecution and follow-on prison sentence, most people are afraid of what comes next, including the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction and prison.

In this video, I learned about Lawrence Hartman’s determination through struggles, which gives me hope that I can get through my own problems with the criminal justice system. My name is Jessie and, like Lawrence, I am a lawyer facing fraud charges, disbarment, and lengthy prison time.

Lawrence recounted his sense of panic and decimation after his arrest and indictment. In his plea deal, the proposed prison sentence was ten years, which was more time than he spent going to college and law school combined. I can relate so much to his plight. I can also learn from him.

First, I have to realize what Lawrence first realized, which is that he needed to accept his new reality if he was going to get through this and make a new life for himself and his family going forward. I cannot remain in denial now that I am under indictment, lost my bar license, and will be going away to serve time in prison. I have to prepare and gather all the determination and grit I have left to come out on the other side.

Lawrence is now on the other side of his case and his prison sentence, and from him I can learn about preparing for my new reality and future. For example, I will prepare by writing down all of these experiences. Writing everything down will help me process what I’m going through in a more healthy way than denial and avoidance. It will help me cope and not lose my mind thinking about the parade of horribles I am about to endure. It will help me document the journey, as Michael Santos teaches.

Writing this part of my life story will help me process my emotions and mental challenges and figure things out. I can learn from others’ experiences in the criminal justice system, but I have to put in the work to figure things out for myself as well. No one else can do the work that belongs to me.

We should all be grateful for people like Lawrence sharing their journey. We need a lot of determination when facing life’s uncertainties. I can take control of this challenging reality by learning from other historical figures who overcame challenges. I can also read the classics, philosophers who years ago provided insight into the meaning of life and how we can find purpose in the middle of pain.

A lot of people, including Lawrence, say that practices like yoga and meditation help settle down the mind and the heart and help people endure. They share how those practices help curb anxiety because a lot of anxiety comes from living in the past or in the future. Anxiety gets reduced when we live in the moment and stay in the present. I am persuaded to try. My family needs me to make it to the other side, so I have to put in the effort for them and for me.

It’s interesting to hear about the 10,000-hour rule in this video story. Many experts believe that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master something. In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell popularized the notion that 10,000 hours (about one year and 51 days) of practice is what people need to become experts. During his confinement (both pretrial and post-trial), Lawrence applied this concept to writing, seeking to improve and become a writing expert. He saw a possible future for himself in writing. I can follow. I have a similar background to his, and I can use this time when everything else is lost to begin a new career as a writer.

He wrote five books while serving his 10-year sentence. Two of them are published. Lawrence worked hard to achieve that. That means that with determination, new things are possible even after a criminal conviction and prison time. It’s all about learning to make the most of whatever I am going through. I can waste all my time blaming and excusing, or I can look for new possibilities in the aftermath.

What else can I do? I can seek therapy for my substance abuse issues and take the RDAP program in prison. I can learn about 12 Step Programs as well. Through writing, meditating, and dealing with the personal issues I have buried for so long, I can’t help myself lift the fog of sadness, regret, shame and uncertainty that I have been feeling since my arrest.

Another specific thing Lawrence did that is worth emulating is that he wrote articles about his addiction and sent them to a magazine to help people struggling with addiction. He decided to use his personal experience to help other people, and he did not wait to get released before trying to help others. Amazing. Today he gives away some of the content he created in prison, to help others. It’s not all mercenary and transactional. I love that!

As Lawrence wrote in his book 101 Tips to Stay Clean and Sober, going to prison was rock bottom for him, but that experience provided the right environment he needed to finally face his problem with addiction. People should not have to go to prison to finally get sober, but sometimes that is what it takes.

Here is another example of determination that I can use in my own life. Lawrence wrote 5 books, and two are published, but he is still seeking publication avenues for the others. He is not giving up.

Click below for Lawrence’s book about America’s criminal justice system:

Guilty Til Proven Innocent by Lawrence Hartman.


I want to be someone who makes the best out of every situation, including my current predicament with criminal charges. Lawrence is grateful, stating that he is “Thankful that now I am a better version of myself!” I find that message very powerful. Like him, I plan to overcome the frustrations of prison and the lack of control that people in my predicament feel. To prepare for the future, I will focus on what I can control.