Journal Entry 

 A Path to Empowerment 

Picture of Michael Santos

Michael Santos

A Path to Empowerment

I’ve been traveling this week. This past Tuesday, I flew from Orange County, California to DCA, in Washington. After two days, I boarded another flight to Florida to attend meetings in Miami, Palm Beach, and Jupiter. These trips keep me away from my home, my wife, and my business–but they advance prospects of generating more support for our nonprofit organization, the Prison Professors Charitable Corporation.

Working toward reforms that will incentivize a pursuit of excellence has been a ministry for me every since I walked out of federal prison–after 25 years. I wanted to play a role in changing the system. To bring change, I had to take a series of incremental steps. Those steps included:

  1. Creating programs that would allow me to pass along lessons that leaders taught me while I served my sentence.
  2. Opening relationships that would allow me to produce those programs at scale.
  3. Leveraging those programs to open relationships with the judiciary, the Department of Justice, and prison administrators.
  4. Persuading universities to analyze the programs and assess whether they succeed in lowering recidivism.
  5. Using the data to influence policy changes that would include access to work-release programs, better access to home confinement, and expanded programs to incentivize a pursuit of excellence for all people in federal prisons.

The First Step Act encourages the agency to come up with more incentives. Unfortunately, the agency lacks resources. We can either use that as an excuse to stop working toward reform, or we can become creative.

With our nonprofit, it’s my hope to generate resources that will allow us to create and distribute all books and courses without charge. If the Bureau of Prisons lacks resources to hire staff, we need to provide people in prison with resources they can use to prepare for success. Those resources should be self-directed, helping people develop skills that will translate into high-paying jobs upon release.

For that reason, we built Prison Professors Talent. We want to show the talented people who are serving time in the federal prison system. We want to build a case that shows why those people are worthy candidates for release. Further, we want to show the reasons why taxpayers and administrators should support reforms that include work release and mechanisms that lead to higher levels of liberty for those who’ve earned freedom.

During my travels this week, I’ll meet with several people who have the ability to advance our nonprofit’s mission. They may donate financial resources, or they may introduce me to others who can donate resources. With those resources, we’ll be able to hire more formerly incarcerated people to advance the effort and bring more people into Prison Professors Talent. We’re striving to build a community of 10,000 profiles. We need active users who are showing the different ways that they’re preparing for success upon release from prison.

Would you like to be a part of the solution? If so, take the following step:

Our team of talented people will begin to build your profile. You should follow up by writing your biography, your journal entries, your book reports, and your release plan. The more you write, the more compelling your profile will become. 

Critical Thinking:

For prompts on what to write, in a journal entry, respond to our critical thinking question of the day:

  • In what ways does the record you’ve built since your judge sentenced you advance you as a candidate for an earlier transition to home confinement?

With hopes that you participate in our community, and invite others to do the same, I send you my personal regards.

Michael Santos
Founder, Prison Professors

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