[PODCAST] Larry Lawton was America’s biggest jewel thief, on the FBI’s most wanted list, and spent 11 years in dangerous federal prisons. Released from prison in 2007, he focused on decision making and bringing awareness to his “The Reality Check Program” which guides people away from the felonious life path and brings clarity to the likely consequences of crime: losing your freedom, reputation, self-respect, and connection to family. Read the full blog post for episode #140 at safetyphd.com.
DIRECT LINK to MP3 of this Episode: https://tinyurl.com/SDP140-AUDIO
ABOUT LARRY LAWTON
Larry has one of the fastest growing channels on YouTube and appears on TV and radio as an expert on crime, drugs, youth issues, and law enforcement community policing. He’s also the first ex-convict to become an honorary police officer and the only ex-con recognized on the Floor of the United States Congress for his work with helping young people and law enforcement agencies connect with the community.
The book Gangster Redemption tells the true life story of Larry’s journey from making bad decisions to shifting the meaning and focus of his life to saving young people from habitual crime and incarceration.
SA can be defined as “knowing what is going on around us” and comprehending the meaning of those events and how they might project in the near future. For example, recognizing dark clouds and thunder affords a person time to seek shelter before the storm. In other words, there are 3 levels of situational awareness: (1) perception, (2) comprehension, and (3) projection. Larry mastered each level.
CASING A LOCATION
As a prolific jewel thief, Larry was an expert at situational awareness. Before robbing a store, he observed the location for weeks – learning its vulnerable points and nuances, such as the specific time of day the reflection of the sun off the windows would make it difficult for anyone outside to see what was happening inside of the store. He identified vital patterns that most people would simply overlook in the bustle of day-to-day life.
AWARENESS IN PRISON
Situational awareness in prison is sharply amplified – it’s a non-stop survival asset as being able to detect slight changes in routines or behaviors might literally keep an inmate from perishing by attack or from psychological collapse. Already adept at monitoring his environment, Larry refined and adapted his observation skills to an unmatched level while inside the nation’s toughest prisons.
CAN YOU WATCH TV OR USE THE INTERNET IN PRISON?
Prisoners are able to watch some TV channels, but not allowed access to social networking websites. Postal mail is monitored. The schedule is also highly regimented and prisoners grapple with the reality that most choices are made for them, such as when they will eat, sleep, or the temperature of a cell. There isn’t the convenience of a quick Google query on a laptop and there’s a tendency over time to become very dependent upon the institution for information. Larry explains how being an inmate separated him from keeping pace with changes in society – as familiar brick cell phones evolved to flip phones — and his surprise, when released, to discover Subway restaurants attached to gas stations!
TEACH PEOPLE HOW TO DEBATE
Larry encourages people to learn to debate and that communication is a tool to advance discussion and peacefully resolve matters. This means attempting to learn the other person’s argument and trying to view the issue from that perspective. He notes that across society, people are hunkering down with their viewpoints and unwilling to be informed by new knowledge. Larry offers an example of how his own debate skills improved as he studied legal cases.
THE VELOCITY OF INFORMATION
How were inmates informed about what was happening outside of prison? Larry describes how he learned about the September 11, 2001 terrorists attacks and strategies to ensure that he was receiving accurate information.
MEMBER CHECKS IN PRISON
Member checks are people that tell you what you need to hear and not what you want to hear. There’s a constant churn in prison as inmates are directed to change cells every few weeks, moved to different units, and transferred to other penitentiaries. Larry describes how he vetted a member check network as a jewel thief, prisoner and now as a consultant.
WHAT WAS THE MOST INACCURATE INFORMATION LARRY RECEIVED IN PRISON AND THE CONSEQUENCE
All personal protection systems fatigue. We make decisions without assessing risk or we trust the wrong person. Larry shares an experience when flawed information almost cost him his life.
This is episode #140 of The Safety Doc Podcast
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