Blog Article 

 Back to Prison Day 4 

Michael Santos

Michael Santos

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Flying from St. Louis to Boston to meet with US Probation Officers. The transition from prison to Supervised Release can bring complications. We’re striving to remove those complications and to help people get the highest level of liberty, at the soonest possible time.

November 4, 2022

Dear members of our community,

I’m typing this letter while sitting on an airplane, enroute from St. Louis to Boston. Although I won’t speak at a prison in Boston, I’ll meet with leaders from the federal probation system. Advocacy requires that we reach every stakeholder in the criminal justice system. Since probation officers hold considerable discretion over people’s lives, our team strives to impress upon them the importance of granting the highest levels of liberty, at the soonest possible time. I look forward to making that case during a lunch meeting today. Next week, when I’m in DC, one of my meetings will be with other leaders of probation, including the liaison to the Bureau of Prisons.

Before getting on the flight, I communicated with my friend Halim Flowers. People who’ve gone through the Prison Professors curriculum may know Halim’s inspiring story. I profiled Halim in a video. While a teenager in DC, he took a human life and a judge sentenced him to sentence of double life. Despite starting his term when he was only 16, Halim made a commitment to transform and grow and improve his life. After 22 years, the law changed, allowing Halim to get out. Within a few years of liberty, he transformed his life from prisoner to influential artist, selling more than $1 million worth of paintings.

Halim’s paintings depict the tragedy of our nation’s commitment to mass incarceration. Since he transformed his life from struggle to prosperity, he’s an outstanding ambassador of our message at Prison Professors. For that reason, I invited him to join our board of advisors. I look forward to seeing him in DC next week. Today, he wrote, he is still in Saudi Arabia. For the past several weeks, he and his family have been touring the Middle East, with stops in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and now Saudi Arabia.

Through Prison Professors, we profile many people who transformed their life while going through the indignity of confinement. Our job is to take those messages to influential stakeholders—showing why we need reforms that bring more mechanisms that incentivize people to work toward earning freedom.

For that reason, I’m enthusiastic about continuing this trip.

Soon after we checked into the Sheraton Hotel in Boston’s Back Bay, I set out to meet with two US Probation Officers, and one retired US Probation Officers. People that leave prison sometimes face challenges while on Supervised Release. We’re striving to remove obstacles so that people get the highest level of liberty at the soonest possible time.

After sharing the different ways that our team is working with the Bureau of Prisons, I showed the probation leaders how we could build similar tools, tactics, and resources for US Probation. Next week, while I’m in DC, I’ll meet with their contemporaries.

Following the meetings, I recorded a series of videos near the Boston Courthouse, I walked through historic areas of Boston, and then I enjoyed time with my nephew, who is a student at the famed Berklee School of Music.

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