Early Termination 

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Early Termination of Supervised Release

I’m Michael Santos and I want to describe the steps that led to early termination of Supervised Release. First, it’s important to understand that I spent a lot of time preparing. Authorities arrested me on August 11, 1987. I remained in prison until August 12, 2013. During the 9,500 days that I served in federal prison, I spent all my time preparing for success after prison. In fact, after I completed my term, I created a digital course to teach other people how to use time in prison to prepare for success.

I like to quote the great basketball coach, Bobby Knight. Coach Knight used to say that every person has the will to win. But not everyone has the will to prepare to win.

That same quote applies to people in prison. Every person in prison wants to succeed upon release. But not every person does the preparation. To succeed through prison, and to succeed in a request for early termination of supervised release, a person must prepare.

Every person’s case is different. But every person needs a plan. When I visit prisons to teach my course, Preparing for Success after Prison, I advise people to take the following steps:

  1. Define Success,
  2. Create a Plan,
  3. Put priorities in place,
  4. Develop tools, tactics, and resources,
  5. Create accountability metrics to measure progress,
  6. Make adjustments,
  7. Execute the plan.

That strategy led to my working through the decades that I served in a methodical manner. I adhered to a three-part plan necessitating that I work to educate myself, to contribute to society in meaningful, measurable ways, and that I build a support network of positive role models.

By adhering to that plan, I spent the first portion of my sentence working to earn academic credentials. Then, after earning a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in prison, I began to publish. I wrote about the federal prison system, the people it holds, and strategies to prepare for success after prison. Through those publications, I built an extensive support network. My network included Carole, the woman who became the love of my life. She married me inside of a prison visiting room. I also met many mentors who played a huge role in opening income opportunities for me after I concluded my obligation to the Bureau of Prisons.

San Francisco State University offered me a position to work as a professor. While teaching a course that I called The Architecture of Incarceration, I invited subject matter experts to join the discussion. I invited probation officers, US Attorneys, judges, and prison officials to my classroom. They would provide their perspective, and I would help students understand the perspective of a person who lived in prison.

Those discussions opened relationships. Those relationships began to advocate for me. And after a year, a US Attorney in San Francisco filed a motion to request a US District Court Judge to grant early termination of my Supervised Release.

I provide the story of how a judge granted early termination of my supervised release as a teaching tool. Others may get inspired to create their strategy. I encourage them to memorialize the journey, showing all the ways that they prepared for success after prison. The more they document the microsteps they took while living in the adversity of confinement, the more compelling their request for early termination becomes. For those who want to use our resources, I encourage them to send an email to [email protected]. If they request our workbook on Release Plans, we’ll send the book without charge.

Critical Thinking:

Consider the following critical thinking question:

  • In what ways will the adjustment strategy you engineered to guide you through prison advance you as a candidate for early termination of supervised release?

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