Journal Entry 

 Changing the System 

Picture of Michael Santos

Michael Santos

I was very fortunate at the start of my sentence. I came into the system in 1987, at the start of America’s War on Drugs. The charges I faced carried a potential life sentence. Because of the potential for a life sentence, jailers put me in the hole. While there, I got to know an officer. He passed me several books. Those books changed my life.

I had been a terrible student as a young boy, and I hadn’t been much of a reader when I went into the system. But I wanted to change my life. To change my life, I understood that I would have to learn how to think differently.

If you’re reading this newsletter, I’m wondering what you want.

If you know what you want, then you can take next steps to begin working toward a better future.

Since I hated being in prison, I knew that I wanted to use my time inside to prepare for success outside. By now, I hope that some of you have received the books that our nonprofit sent to you. They include: 1) Earning Freedom; 2) Success after Prison; 3) Prison: My 8,344th Day; 4) Preparing for Success after Prison; 5) Release Plan; 6) Digital Economy. Those books offer more details to show the relationship between the way a person spends time inside, and the opportunities that open on the other side.

If you want to have an extraordinary life on the other side, then you’ve got to follow some basic principles with your adjustment. Some of those principles may include:

One: Be willing to do hard things.

Two: Make sure that what you’re doing aligns with what makes you feel happy and fulfilled.

Three: Be willing to do the hard things over and over.

Four: Make  sure that you’re memorializing your story, by writing out the ways that you used time inside to prepare for success.

You cannot wait for someone else to change your life. Each person must take the steps today, and the steps you take today should put you on the pathway to new opportunities. 

I want to help you get those opportunities. But I cannot help people who do not build clear documentation that shows the various ways they worked on personal development. Today’s question will ask you to think about innovative ways that we could incentivize more people in prison to quit wasting time, and start using time as an investment in personal development.

What thoughts do you have on how we can accomplish such a goal?

Here is my thought:

I need to create a mechanism for more people in prison to write out the reasons why they’re worthy candidates for support. Building support becomes easier when you have built a record that shows you’re likely to succeed. If you write your story, I will be able to point people in the direction of your story.

With more stories, I will be more successful in persuading business leaders and individuals to support this mission. In time, I hope to raise financial resources that will be available to people who come out of prison–but only to people who earned it. People may want to apply for micro loans, venture capital, or scholarships. To apply, they will need to show a record that shows how hard they worked in the toughest of environments.

If you can prepare for success while in prison, and focus on personal development, you will be far more likely to overcome the challenges that complicate life for others.

Today’s Question:

  • What changes in America’s prison system would you like to implement?

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 start memorializing your journey and demonstrating 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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