Journal Entry 

 July 20, 2023-SXSW 

Michael Santos

Michael Santos

Our commitment to reforms that will influence the lives of more than 1 million justice-impacted people requires considerable planning. We’ve got to be innovative to open coalitions, bringing people from diverse backgrounds together. I’m thrilled to collaborate with the founder of Edovo, an Ed Tech platform that currently reaches more than 200,000 people daily in jails and prisons across America.

People who access the Prison Professors’ course, Preparing for Success after Prison, know that we need reforms to incentivize the pursuit of excellence. We need to reform laws and policies and strive to help more people work toward developing skills that will help them overcome the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction. 

Yet justice-impacted people are only one part of the equation. We also must strive to influence people who don’t think they have a relationship with the justice system. That is a more challenging group to reach.

With more than $100 billion in government expenditures, many people want to keep the ecosystem of mass incarceration going. Prison profiteers invest heavily to influence taxpayers. Many of the people behind mass incarceration oppose the changes we’re advocating to bring, including:

  • Access to work-release programs for people who qualify in federal prison,
  • Access to furloughs for people in prison so that they can recalibrate as law-abiding citizens,
  • Pathways to earning freedom through merit rather than through the turning of calendar pages.

South by Southwest (SXSW):

The team at Edovo opened an opportunity for us to get our message out to a broader audience. They invited me to collaborate with Brian Hill, the CEO of Edovo, for a “fireside chat” at the South by Southwest Conference (SXSW) in Austin, Texas. The conference’s website describes the conference as:

“an opportunity for the global community of digital creatives to encounter cutting-edge ideas, discover new interests, and network with other professionals who share a similar appetite for forward-focused experiences.”South by Southwest Conference

The conferences are highly competitive, requiring an elaborate application process. Early this morning, I worked to prepare my portion of the application. I’ll show the application in the video accompanying today’s journal entry. It validates the lessons we teach in our course, Preparing for Success after Prison.

I’m submitting my portion of the application today, July 20, 2023. The deadline for all applications is Sunday, July 23. Whether the conference selects our presentation, we must do the work. Had I not spent my time in prison preparing for success, I wouldn’t be able to create a compelling presentation.

As justice-impacted people, we’re always auditioning for new opportunities. That means we should work daily to show how our decisions today influence our pathway to success—as we define it. I may or may not get to reach a global audience by presenting at the South by Southwest conference. Either way, I must work to build an “extraordinary and compelling” presentation.

If the conference selects us, we get an opportunity to influence more people on the need for reforms that incentivize the pursuit of excellence. If the conference doesn’t select us, we will try again. The pursuit of excellence is what we’re after.

People in prison must do the same. We must always show why we’re worthy of opportunities. If we work toward our plans, we will build tools, tactics, and resources that lead us closer to success. We must push ourselves harder, working to prepare for success every day, even though we may not always get the prize. We must keep striving. 

Although I have been out of prison since August 2013, I continue working every day to advocate for changes that will allow more justice-impacted people to work toward earning freedom. Because I define success as working to improve outcomes of our nation’s jails and prisons.

  • How do you define success?

Our community at PrisonProfessorsTalent.com opens opportunities to memorialize your preparations. If you’d like to publish your profile, email our team:

[email protected].

Prison Professors Charitable Corporation
32565 Golden Lantern Street, B-1019
Dana Point, CA 92629

818-237-3460