Blog Article 

 7—Accountability Metrics 

Picture of Michael Santos

Michael Santos

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When developing projects for years in the making, we need to create accountability metrics. An accountability metric helps us assess the progress level we’re making. Distractions or interferences may impede our progress. The accountability metrics we create should provide the insight we need. That insight can help us adjust as necessary.

Three DEA agents arrested me on August 11, 1987. I didn’t know what to expect because authorities had never put me in custody. They told me that the charges I faced exposed me to the possibility of life in prison.

The following day, I attended the incipient court proceedings at the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. A judge would not allow my release on bail. A few days later, the US Marshals transferred me in chains to stand trial in the Western District of Washington. I didn’t know what to expect.

Like anyone else in such a predicament, I wanted to get out of jail. But after a jury trial and a unanimous verdict on many counts, my judge imposed the 45-year sentence. I didn’t know what to expect. It wasn’t until after I settled into those first weeks in prison that I learned about the concept of good-time credits. 

The sentencing laws in 1987 meant that I would receive 19 years in good-time credits at the start of my sentence. I didn’t have to do anything to earn the good-time credits. But if staff members charged me with violating the disciplinary code, they could take those good-time credits away from me. 

I could do the math. If I didn’t lose any good-time credits, I would complete my sentence in 26 years. That would be better than serving 45 years. But I didn’t know how to process the concept of 26 years—I hadn’t been alive that long. It occurred to me that if I had served the entire term, I would have lived more of life in prison than outside.

That was a wake-up call for me. It prompted me to commit myself further to that three-part strategy I mentioned previously:

  1. I would earn a university degree.
  2. I would become an author.
  3. I would build a support network.

I intended to reach each of those three goals within ten years. 

The accountability metric I created would help. 

A reader may wonder how I designed a form to help me stay accountable. 

I can tell you that it looked very much like these journal pages. The prison wouldn’t allow us to receive “journals” in the mail. But wanting to keep track of my progress, I created my journals. 

On blank pages, I drew calendars. At the start of the journal, I wrote what I intended to achieve in the quarter. I also wrote out what I expected to accomplish before the end of the year. Since I knew what I meant to accomplish during my first decade in prison, I could assess whether my daily progress would lead to success. 

The accountability metrics I created helped me to exceed expectations. Within four years of the day I transferred to prison, I earned my undergraduate degree. After eight years, I had a master’s degree. In the process, I opened mentor relationships with several influential professors, and they opened opportunities for me to become a published author. I’d build a support network that included dozens of people.

  • In what ways do educators use accountability metrics?
  • In what ways do business leaders use accountability metrics?
  • In what ways do athletic coaches use accountability metrics?
  • In what ways do parents use accountability metrics?
  • In what ways do investors use accountability metrics?

Word of the day: incipient / Define incipient:

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