Journal Entry 

 Building an Income Stream After Prison 

Picture of Michael Santos

Michael Santos

Some people have a hard time building an income stream after their release from prison. Employers and prospective business partners may resist working with someone who has spent time inside. However, if a person prepares well, the time inside can become an asset. Each person should consider developing a “Personal Mission Statement” that can open opportunities.

Developing a Personal Mission Statement

To build a Personal Mission Statement, follow the steps we teach in our course, Preparing for Success after Prison. Clarify your values, beliefs, and goals, and show how this statement guides your decisions and personal development.

A commitment to personal development will lead to continuous evolution. By documenting your growth over the years, you will create an asset or resource that you can leverage to build support. Anyone who has followed my work can see how I did that while serving 26 years in prison, and how I’m still doing it today. This is why I send out these newsletters regularly. I want people to see that if I want others to support my work, I have to demonstrate that I’m not asking anyone to do what I’m not willing to do myself.

Building Support Through Public Statements

Public statements allow me to build more support in various ways, including financially. To the extent that I’m able, I use these resources to provide income streams for formerly incarcerated people, giving them a bridge to get started or to cover the costs of books that I send into prisons and jails across the country. Later, I hope to generate resources that will allow me to offer scholarships—but only for those who’ve worked hard to earn them. It’s a work in progress, and I use a Personal Mission Statement to show my commitment.

Template for a Personal Mission Statement

If anyone would like to follow the template that I use, here are the subheadings and examples of how I write about them:

My Core Values:

I live openly and transparently, showing people who live in struggle that they can work toward a better life. To succeed, I must ensure they know I would never ask them to do anything that I didn’t do, and that I will always be honest with them. People do not have to pay a penny to get the information I make freely available, as I want to earn their trust. Through my story, they should build hope and see that they can reach a higher potential.

My Long-term Goals:

By 2030, I want to influence legislation that will open more opportunities for people to earn higher levels of liberty at the soonest possible time. These changes should include opportunities for people to participate in work-release programs, home confinement, and ensuring all people qualify for earned time credits. (Notice how the goals are specific, with a clear date.)

I Want to Make a Difference in the World by:

Improving outcomes for all people who enter America’s criminal justice system. Our nation incarcerates more people than any other nation, leading to intergenerational cycles of failure. Through the work I do every day, I hope to show people that regardless of past bad decisions, they can begin sowing seeds that will lead to a better future for themselves and their family members.

My Guiding Principles for Personal and Professional Development Include:

I must work every day toward the goals I set. This discipline requires me to produce new instructional materials that people can use, even if the prison system blocks their access to classroom space or teachers. I must produce work in every format, including print, audio, video, and graphics. I must build relationships with prison administrators and create pathways to collect data, showing the impact we’re having. I must work toward developing relationships with prospective sponsors who will support this mission and build relationships with more people in prison who want to memorialize their pathway to success.

By publishing this information on my website, anyone can see what I describe as being important, and they assess my authenticity. This strategy has helped me build businesses since I got out, and those businesses have allowed me to grow a nonprofit that I use as a resource to bring positive changes to America’s prison system. 

Anyone can use the same strategy to open new opportunities in prison, and upon release.

Today’s Question:

  • What influence could a Personal Mission Statement have on your future?

Steps to Build Your Profile:

1. Send an invite to [email protected]

2. Once accepted, send an email to the interns with the following information:

   – Your name

   – Your number

   – Your location

   – Your sentence length

3. Respond to any questions presented in the newsletter by sending your answers to the email above.

By taking these steps, you can memorialize your journey and demonstrate your commitment to a better future.

Keep striving for greatness. Your efforts today will pave the way for your success tomorrow.

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