Journal Entry 

 Philadelphia and UC Berkley 

Picture of Michael Santos

Michael Santos

Every day, I’m reaching out to advance my pursuit of success—as I define success. Even though I concluded my obligation to the Bureau of Prisons on August 12, 2013, I feel passionately about improving outcomes for all people in the prison system.

Inmate or Convict?

Notice that I write “people.” Others use words like inmate, convict, or prisoner. Those labels, however, have a negative connotation. I understand that when a judge sentences a person “to the custody of the attorney general,” the person is in prison. 

Still, everyone in society benefits when we recognize and acknowledge our shared humanity. No one wins by defining people with words that have negative connotations.

I remember Counselor Hood, a nice lady who presided over my case during my 15th year of imprisonment. She asked me, “Do you see yourself as an inmate or a convict?”

She didn’t like my answer. She could choose to use labels, but I would always see myself as an American man and would not allow the system to define my life.

I look forward to sharing this message with large and small groups. Later this week, I’ll travel from Southern California to attend a conference in Philadelphia. More than 1,000 people who hold leadership positions in corrections will attend the conference. I attend those gatherings because they open opportunities to advocate for the importance of reforms that will incentivize people to work toward higher levels of liberty. 

I hope to help administrators understand that it’s in their best interest to support changes to law and policy. If people in prison can work toward “earning freedom,” more people would work to differentiate themselves in positive ways.

Prison Professors Talent:

We built Prison Professors Talent with that specific goal in mind. If people show that they’re working hard to develop skills and resources that will make them likely candidates to succeed upon release, we can fortify arguments for the changes we want to see. Over time, we hope to profile 10,000 people on the website. When we can show the progress that thousands of people are making, we can persuade more people to support the changes we want to see.

Currently, we profile approximately 200 people on the website. Each of those people should work to:

  1. Create a biography to help others understand their life,
  2. Write journal entries to show others how hard they’re working to prepare for success,
  3. Publish book reports to show their self-directed pathway to learn, and
  4. Show their release plans, and invite others to watch their progress.

I use those profiles as resources in our advocacy. If we’re not featuring your profile yet, then isn’t time to start?

We cannot advocate for a single person. That strategy would not bring the results we want to see. If we want to see results that allow people to work toward home confinement, then we need to advocate for all people in federal prison. And we need to convince cynical people that changing laws and policies that incentivize excellence is in every one’s best interest.

Besides the Philadelphia conference, I’m attending universities to advance these ideas. Later this month I’ll present these ideas to a group of students at UC Berkeley. And if we’re fortunate, I’ll get to share a stage at the famous South-by-Southwest Conference in Austin with Brian Hill, CEO of Edovo. 

Many people in society share our passion for prison and sentence reform. 

Will you work to become a part of the solution? If so, contact us by sending an invite to communicate with [email protected]. We hope to feature you!

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