Journal Entry 

 Plan, Prioritize, Execute 

Picture of Michael Santos

Michael Santos

Since 4:02 this morning, Sunday, July 9, I’ve been working to develop our new platform, PrisonProfessorsTalent. Since we have limited financial and human resources, I feel a real sense of urgency. We’re very much in startup mode. I would never ask anyone to do anything I would not do, which means I must grind, grind, grind. 

Writing these journals represents a great way to show our community what I mean when describing the pathway our course, Preparing for Success after Prison, recommends. For those interested, consider these daily journal entries a case study. Think about how a daily journal could help you reach a higher potential.

STEP 1: Define Success

I want to influence laws and policies that will open more mechanisms for people in jails and prisons to work toward earning freedom through merit.

STEP 2: Create a Plan

The plan I create must anticipate opposition from people and organizations. They will argue that if a judge sentenced a person, the person should serve the time. My plan must make a compelling case showing the many reasons society benefits when incentivizing the pursuit of excellence. Policies that reward excellence bring systemic changes. We must show how the plan would help society rather than a single person. Our strategy must clarify how incentives would lead to lower recidivism rates, lower expenses, and a better culture. We must promote that plan in words, pictures, videos, and audio files. 

STEP 3: Set Priorities

  1. Set aside resources to build a platform that can scale. It must be able to feature thousands of people who engineered “extraordinary and compelling” adjustment records in prison.
  2. Architect the site to lessen the likelihood of administrators opposing the platform while increasing the prospect for employers and citizens to support the platform.
  3. Work with engineers and graphic artists to create an initial design. Write the content that will explain our vision so that others can understand the value of this strategy. 
  4. Build mockups and then test the platform. 
  5. Inspire a team of others to join our initiative so that we can profile thousands of people in prison and use their extraordinary and compelling stories in our advocacy.
  6. Provide examples that will prompt people in prison to invest their time and energy to document their release plan. Team them to prioritize their steps and build tools, tactics, and resources that will advance prospects to emerge as law-abiding, tax-paying citizens.
  7. Build a beta site featuring at least 100 active users. Identify the active users, publishing at least once each week, and convert them into ambassadors who can spread the importance of building effective release plans and memorializing preparations for success after prison.
  8. Tweak the website to feature active users, drawing attention to their cases. Show how hard they’re working to prepare for success upon release rather than complaining about what happened to them. 
  9. Use those stories to persuade employers and citizens to support the initiative. Seek sponsorship from corporate enterprises, small businesses, and individuals to support the nonprofit, so we can cover the costs of profiling more people in prison who work to build extraordinary and compelling adjustment records.
  10. Use this advocacy initiative to show the cost-effectiveness of societal benefit reforms that incentivize the pursuit of excellence. Argue that those reforms should include work-release programs, social furloughs, access to milestone and time credits for all, and other programs that would lead to lower recidivism rates and a growth-oriented culture in confinement.

STEP 4: Create tools, tactics, and resources

The tactic of building this platform will become an integral part of our strategy. Once we profile 100 people, we will should have an easier time persuading others to join our coalition. As we grow our coalition, we’ll succeed in raising more resources to advance the advocacy initiatives we’re after.

STEP 5: Measure Progress

I will record daily journal entries to show our work and the step-by-step guide to grow. We must be transparent, showing our efforts to all. As we grow, our team will make incremental improvements to the website. We must promote individual profiles, using technology to introduce tools to notify each participant’s community. If a person takes a step toward preparing for success, we should notify the person’s support network.

STEP 6: Execute the plan daily, adjusting as necessary

Every day should show progress toward our specifical, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, timebound goals.

If others hate being in prison as much as I hated being in prison, they may join these efforts to be the change we want to see. For that reason, I am encouraging all people in federal prison to connect with our advocacy team. Email [email protected]. Aleyah, our director of advocacy, will accept all requests. 

Once authorities authorize Aleyah to send messages, she will prompt recipients with ideas on what to write on their profiles. To start, she will ask them to create a biography. Family members can send her a digital headshot to include an image.

We encourage them to begin their profile with a short biography. Their elevator pitch should show their commitment to preparing for success upon release.

People may want to journal daily, showing how they work daily to evolve their release plan.

Then, people may want to complete lessons we send or write book reports showing how they’re pursuing a self-directed pathway to be the change that they want to see.

We hope that more people in prison will articulate their release plan and use journals to show their commitment to succeed regardless of their obstacles. That strategy empowered me through the 26 years that I served, and I’m confident it can empower others, too. As evidenced by this post, I’m still using the strategy today—as I get closer to my ten-anniversary since completing my obligation to the Bureau of Prisons (August 13, 2023).

Michael Santos

PS. I just heard from members of our community that they need to receive a mailing address and a phone number to add addresses to Corrlinks. That is new information for me. This week, I will learn the costs of getting a new mailing address and phone number that we’ll reserve specifically for our nonprofit.

I appreciate the input.

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