Journal Entry 

 March 2, 2024 Release Plan 

Picture of Michael Santos

Michael Santos

If you’ve been in prison for several years, like many people in our community, you may not know the ease of shopping. Instead of going to the store, we place orders on our computers. Companies like Amazon deliver the products to our doorstep.

Early this morning, Sunday, August 20, 2023, I opened my door to find a box filled with books. I didn’t remember ordering anything. After getting my coffee, I used a box cutter that I keep by my door for these purposes. 

When I opened the box, I found a few dozen copies of our newest book: Release Plan—2024 Guidebook.

I’m so happy to have received this box. If I received the package of books, other people began receiving their copies. Our little company donated more than 1,000 copies of the Release Plan—2024—Guidebook to people in jails and prisons across America.

We want justice-impacted people to live with a sense of urgency. They should know an essential lesson:

  • It’s never too early or late to sow seeds for something better. 

As I wrote in yesterday’s journal entry, we can never wait for “someday” to start preparing. We must prepare for the success we want to build. 

The Release Plan—2024 Guidebook shows people how to start sowing those seeds for success, regardless of what stage of their journey they’re in. I never ask anyone to do anything I didn’t do while serving my sentence—and I’m not still doing today. 

I finished serving my sentence in 2013, but I’m still deeply committed to helping people inside learn how they can self-advocate and work toward a better outcome.

Since people confined to jails or prisons cannot access the internet, we inserted images into the Release Plan—2024 Guidebook. Those images show people how we designed our new platform, Prison Professors Talent, as a resource that they can use to memorialize the way that they’re preparing for success. People in custody can open new opportunities by documenting how they’re working to build a life of meaning and relevance. 

This strategy empowered me through each of the 9,500 days that I served. If I read a book, I would write a book report. That book report would show why I chose to read the book, what I learned from it, and how the lessons from that book would help my success upon release. Those book reports became an asset for me. I leveraged that asset to persuade others to believe in me. Instead of telling them how hard I worked to prepare for success, I could show them. With hundreds of book reports, you can show the Case Managers you’ll meet, the Wardens you’ll meet, the Probation Officers you’ll meet, and the Employers or Business Partners you’ll meet that you’re different from what they expected. You didn’t whine and complain about what the system didn’t do for you, but how you prepared for success despite obstacles you encountered in the system.

We all need to build a story that validates who we are and how we can bring value. To the extent that we do it well, we open more opportunities.

Start sowing seeds today for the success that you want to become tomorrow. If you haven’t gotten a copy of the Release Plan—2024 Guidebook, visit our website at Prison Professors and click on the resource tab. You’ll find books and resources to help you or your loved one in prison. Your purchase will also support our advocacy efforts. If you have internet access, visit PrisonProfessorsTalent.com, and you’ll see how we’re working to build the change we want to see.