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 Great News from Prison 

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Michael Santos

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Great News from Federal Prison

  • The message below offers some great news from federal prison. Our friend surrendered to serve a 41-month sentence six months ago. Today he received news that will release will come to him much sooner than he anticipated. A person living in challenging times must remember that he or she can sow seeds for a better outcome.

Hello Hello! 🙂

I hope you are doing well! I thought it a good time for an update! 🙂

Its been 6 months since I showed up here. As nervous as I was on that first day knowing I would spend 2-3 weeks in a cell 24hr/day for quarantine I also felt a sense of joy, happiness, and relief knowing that I would finally begin putting this whole saga behind me. More like a perverted social odyssey into some unknown world!

Believe me, I didn’t want to come in but had no choice. I remember thinking to myself, litterly, “I have no choice here” (or atleast all other choices greater negative consequences), holly shit – “I’m gonna do this, here we go.” I think a lot about that day (and the many others that have experienced the same) and the idea of; “I had no choice – there’s no off-ramp,” no were to go but inside some small cage deep behind the barbed wire, for a moment in time, a day, a week, a month, who knows how long – into this unknown world! The first thing to go – complete self-agency! First thing to gain – inner strength, determination, balance, and a deep seething internal drive to overcome whatever they were going to throw at me next! What I had come to learn about this wretched system – I was going to get to see first hand. Here we go! And what a circus it turned out to be.

My research had shown that many many more people who become entangled in this so-called “justice system” are facing much longer sentences than me. Go head and search what the average federal sentence is nationwide. Its a strangely amount of time. Somewhere around 14 years. All those people!? All that time! After being here, getting to know many of those folks who’ve done those 14 years, their stories, I continue to feel deep soar for the impact it has on those men and their family’s. But at the same time, it makes me grateful knowing that I did not get sweep up into that level of tsunami.
When you stare into a man’s eyes who has been “down” (incarcerated) for over 20 years for a non-violet druug offense that took place in his 20’s, who has endured this life for so long (but much harsher conditions), you can’t help but ask yourself – why does our society allow this to happen! Or, an 82 year old, “old – man,” who can’t even walk himself to the bathroom at night so he deaficates on himself, doesn’t know where he is, and the only people to help him are other camp occupants. You ask yourself – what is going on here? And its not like these people are just the margins. These are the many people I am around on a daily basis. All kinds. You name it. A microcosm of society itself.

I think about my life on the outside and sometimes I would say to myself; “It can’t get any worse than this!” I would feel sorry for myself or situation at times, as everyone does. But after being here for this long I can affirmatively tell you I was very wrong, it can always get worse! Much worse! And that doesn’t just go for someone facing prison. It goes for all of us, at any given moment. This experience has given me a much deeper gratitude for life, for my life, and the vast opportunities that await me over the next several decades. So as challenging as all this has been – swallowing all the bullshit that landed on my head one day back in late 2018 – its only strengthened my resolve for life! As one person described; ” Like a volcano, pressure building, where one day it will erupt..”

What is really wonderful about this place is that amongst the men is an overall tone of gratitude. If you were to go around a room of 50 of guys and asked about their day on a scale form 1 – 10, how happy they were today, 95% would say 9 to 10! This actually happened and I couldn’t believe it. I would have never thought. One way a guy feels gratitude here, just look across the street at the FCI (The Medium Security Facility) for a minute and see the double barb wire fences, barred window’s, old decrepitate buildings that look like Nazi death camps. You think to yourself – there are guys (many guys) in there that will never get a release date. They will die in there then be buried at the cemetery just across the street from the compound at some old age after being long forgotten about for who knows what. A whole life just taken. Bad guys? Maybe, maybe not. I never thought I would feel so much gratitude just by looking at that FCI across the street. I can’t help but find joy in the fact that I will be leaving soon.

In February I took a new job working in what they call “The Training Center.” A guy who had been here for 4 years was released because of the First Step Act and I was offered the job by the one other person who works there. Great job for sure (because you have to have a job here or you are washing dishes – Even if you are 82!)! Its a nice reprieve from the camp and men and staff say its the best job on the compound. Its the little things that add up that help create small comforts that on the outside I, and most, take for granted.

What I learned here, like in life on the outside, the quicker you figure out the “in’s and out’s” of camp life – the better – and the best way to do that is to gather information and make connections with people. This allows a man when he gets here to quickly optimize the experience and get comfortable. What’s really interesting is to watch people when they first show up, stripped of everything, all resources they are used to having on the outside, their networks, etc., and see how they survive. Mostly mental and emotional survival. You quickly see the men who have good survival skills and the ones that don’t. I always try to help them. Some are glazed over – like they just had a lipotomy. Some wander aimlessly for a few days.. Some try to talk themselves out of the fact they are here. But if I can help, I always do. Maybe its just some friendly words, introducing them to people, or answering questions. I do my best to help whoever I can. But you see who is a survivor, who is not, as they make their transition some of whom will be here for YEARS!… A social experiment (I happen to be a mouse in) to say the least. haha.

My days now are spent reading lots of books, exercising like an Olympic athlete mostly 2x per day, studying business, group abstract business development sessions, and as you can guess – taking a deep dive into getting to know some different people in here. I find people and their experiences fascinating. The different relationships I’ve formed while under this institutional umbrellas of “corrections!” (haha!) has been rewarding and intriguing to say the least. Better than any TV series, believe me! You seriously can’t make some of this shit up! You take a man, stripped him down of all his power, all things he has attached his identify to on the outside, put him in green kakis and they either build character – or become one! If they become one – its even more entertaining to watch! They get stuck in the past – or are looking toward the future! The guys who get stuck in the past typically become ostracized. No one wants to hear it, or why they got “fucked.” No one cares here. These types hunt around for others to listen to their story, suck the air out of the room, over and over again. Almost like a guy who keeps taking about his high school football days – Its over bro! Best way I have seen guys integrate is to accept the world as it “is”, not how it “should” be. Because lets face it, the U.S Government has a way of ALWAYS winning! The only question is – how many pounds of flesh are you going to give them until you say MERCY!

Diet is a big one around here. A few guys I know have lost well over 120lbs in less than 1 year despite the food options. When I see how they work their diet it makes me think about all the excuses people on the outside make to lose weight. It reminds me of how good I have it at home. There’s plenty of opportunities here to stuff your face with sweets / carbs, and garbage. I came in at 205lbs, my heaviest ever. Right now I am a solid 180lbs, can easily do 25-30 pull ups straight, 1,000 pushups a day, and keep going. That’s what guys do if they’re not sitting around playing botchy ball all day or pickle ball. Now that the sun is out, its baseball season and teams are starting to form. I, however, will not be participating. It all looks normal until you get hurt and realize that an x-ray, or any real medical care, is about 2 – 3 months away if something happens. Triple antibiotic ointment can only cure so much! Oh, I forgot, we have Band-Aids from commissary! That should do it!

Vanessa came to visit me last Sunday for the first time in 3.5 months. We had a great visit for 4.5 hours. And no masks! But no one really wore them before anyways. So I was able to see her pretty face and sit close to her. But no touching, no hug, even though the facility is at a Level 1 for covid. Maybe once the country starts to get their 10th booster shot we can start to hug. Things move slowly here when it comes to policy, so I will take the no mask thing all day long! The right hand rarely knows what the left hand is doing.

It was great to see her and we really connected. She continues to be a grounding force for me while I’m on this odyssey and she does an amazing job making sure I stay hyper relevant with my son’s Grayson & Parker.. When I call her I typically get from Grayson an; “I love you Dada.” Or,”Goodnight Dada, I miss you!” And there is nothing cuter than to hear your 2.5 year old son in his little squirrel voice say that! The other day Vanessa told me that he was in his car seat sitting quietly, then looked over at her and said, “Mama, Dada, Grayson, Happy Family – Happy.” I can’t wait to get home to all of them.

Speaking of coming home! BIG NEWS! I was called into my case managers office for my “team” meeting. “Team” is a technical term but there is nothing team about it. It lasted about 1 – 1.5 entire minutes! (I got extra time with her!). During the meeting you sign some papers, and that’s it… BUT GREAT NEWS TODAY FOR ME!
She said this exactly, “I am ‘putting you in’ to GO HOME right after the RDAP program. When does it end October?”
I said, “Yes, October 7.”
She said, “Then it would be October 8.”
And she started typing on her computer! Hell YAH! 🙂

This is really great news because until today, all I could do is estimate / guess when they would release me. You just never know with the BOP until they affirmatively tell you something and she has the power to determine when I leave. You really can not count on anything with them unless you get word like I did today. So with those words, her spoken intention, that means that I am on the back stretch of this! I am overly grateful that my time here is limited. You know what they say, “when your going through hell – keep on going.” Where I couldn’t see the light before – I can see it now – the door! One step closer to putting this behind me and moving on with my life. Like a cannon ball just waiting to be fired! That will have put me inside for only 12 months, with only 6 exact months to go! Super exciting stuff! 🙂

I hope you enjoyed the latest and the greatest update! Right now I am going to get my sweats on, do some yoga in the grassy field, work-out around the track (200 pull ups!), and enjoy the sunshine outside before I come back in for my business study group with of guys here….. Seize the day! (they say). That is what I am doing today, and will continue to do every day I wake up and my feet hit the ground! Wherever you are, whatever you are doing – make it a good one!

See you on the flip side! 🙂

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