Journal Entry 

 Bridging the Gap 

Picture of Michael Santos

Michael Santos

Nurturing Family Connections from Prison

I didn’t know what to expect when I began staring down the long end of a 45-year sentence. I spent the early days in an isolated housing unit. Fear and uncertainty clouded my thoughts. At 23, I faced multiple decades inside. Then, an officer brought me some books. They changed the way that I thought. I realized a pivotal truth: my sentence could be more than about serving time. I could use it as an opportunity to rebuild, recalibrate, and redefine my life’s trajectory.

I’m grateful to an officer who brought me books about other people who triumphed over their sentences. They inspired me. Stories about people who succeeded after prison demonstrated the power of a positive plan, the strength in setting goals, and the importance of nurturing self-worth. This journey transformed my prison experience into a crucible for growth, not just for me, but also for my family.

Family—the cornerstone of my resilience. Their belief in me became my driving force, turning days of despair into progress. Reach new milestones with your goals. 

My relationship with my family evolved from a source of shame to a wellspring of pride. This transformation led to the most profound connection of my life: meeting Carole, my partner in life, and love. We married when I began building our relationship when I was in my 15th year of confinement. And we got married inside the federal prison visiting room at Ft. Dix on June 24, 2003. 

Together, Carole and I navigated the complexities of a relationship. Had I not spent the first years of my sentence preparing for success, I would not have had the continuing support from my family. And had I not had support from my family, I would not have built a track record that I could use to persuade Carole to marry me and go through my final decade in prison.

I wanted to share this journey with others. I believed that others could find hope, and perhaps begin building their own story of redemption. It’s a testament to the power of family bonds and the relentless pursuit of personal growth, even in the most challenging circumstances.

Our course, “Preparing for Success after Prison,” encapsulates this ethos. It’s designed not just as a roadmap for navigating prison life but as a blueprint for life beyond the bars. I use it every day.

We invite you to join this journey of transformation. Document your progress, share your successes, and engage with a community that believes in the power of change.

For those eager to delve deeper, we offer an array of resources. By sending an email to [email protected] with “Request a Book” in the subject line, you can access a wealth of knowledge through our books: “Earning Freedom: Conquering a 45-Year Sentence,” “Success after Prison,” “Prison! My 8,344th Day,” “Release Plan 2024,” and “Preparing for Success after Prison.” 

These books are more than just reading material. They help others draft their own blueprints to resilience and lay the groundwork for a brighter future.

As you journey through this path, remember, the most profound change starts with a single step.

Critical Thinking:

Challenge yourself today with a critical-thinking task:

  • Reflect on one positive goal you can set this week.
  • How will this goal bring you closer to the person you aspire to be?
  • How will it strengthen your bonds with your loved ones?
    • This exercise is more than just an introspective task; it’s a step towards rebuilding, recalibrating, and redefining your journey, with your family walking beside you, every step of the way.

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