Journal Entry 

 Be Extraordinary 

Picture of Michael Santos

Michael Santos

I’m immensely grateful to the members of our team who help us build advocacy campaigns. We do our best to provide income opportunities for formerly incarcerated people. When Cherie connected with us, I felt fortunate. As a law school graduate and former prosecutor, Cherie has the expertise many in our community need. While she oversees communications from people on Corrlinks, I can focus on building our new platform.

To work toward the goals we want, we always need plans. As we teach in our course, Preparing for Success after Prison, we must start by defining success. Then, we need to prioritize tasks. Then we can build tools, tactics, and resources to accelerate or support our efforts. We must execute our plans daily.

Our new platform, PrisonProfessorsTalent, is our latest resource to support our advocacy efforts. It allows participants to profile how they prepare for success upon release. The website, which will feature outstanding candidates, gives us a visual to show skeptics. When they argue against the expanded use of incentives, we want to profile people who should be home, working, and not wasting resources in prison.

Telling my story doesn’t work nearly as well as telling the story of 10,000 people.

We must profile people’s accomplishments, showing why they’re extraordinary and compelling. If we profiled complaints, we would not advance our objective. Success requires us to focus on the objective: Advocating for policy and legislative changes that incentivize a pursuit of excellence.

No one can change the past. When a federal judge sentences a person, the Bureau of Prisons carries out the judge’s order. Supreme Court decisions have given the BOP discretion. 

Together, we can show how to improve the outcomes of this system. Rather than threatening excessive punishments, we need changes that incentivize the pursuit of excellence. By profiling 10,000 people working to prepare for success upon release, we build stronger arguments against opposing forces. They want to eliminate incentives. We want to show data highlighting that if a person has a residence, a job, and a solid release plan, that person should be home.

If I profile my story alone, opponents say that not everyone can do what I did in prison. If I profile ten stories, people say we don’t have a statistically significant sample. If we could profile 10,000 stories, we would have a stronger voice.

Human stories change minds. Please develop a powerful story. Show the extraordinary and compelling release plan you engineered. Describe how you stayed positive in times of adversity. Detail your progress in your journal, by the books you read, or in your biography. Describe how your release plan has put you on a pathway of continuous growth.

Any person can memorialize the journey by sending an email to [email protected]. Aleyeah, our director of advocacy, will accept all invites. Then she sends prompts that anyone can use to develop the profile.

Work toward building your prospects for success, and we will use your story to persuade others of the need for reforms that include:

  1. Federal work release programs.
  2. Expanded use of furloughs.
  3. Access to compassionate release and clemency.
  4. Reinstatement of US Parole.

To bring positive changes to the system, we need to profile more stories of people who pursue excellence.

Let our team of interns know the steps you’re taking to reconcile with society. Our director of advocacy will find ways to use it.

I’m writing these daily journals to prompt you to do the same. 

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