Journal Entry 

 Santos-Tough Days 

Picture of Michael Santos

Michael Santos

Sometimes we have tough days. We need a tool to help us get through. My journals helped me through those tough days while I served my sentence. Since I invited others to hold me accountable, I felt a sense of duty and responsibility to live up to their expectations. 

Overcoming expectations helps us to build a coalition of advocates. When someone faces a sentencing hearing or climbs through a prison sentence, people sometimes get lost in the moment. Preparing for success after a crisis requires us to look ahead. We’ve got to think about building a coalition of people who will advocate on our behalf. Inspiring more influential people to join our advocacy team requires good planning.

Converting our adversaries into advocates requires us to develop our tools, tactics, and resources. Although I developed many of those tools while I served my term, the daily journal proved invaluable. With a journal, I knew I had to keep moving toward the release plan I pledged to build.

I encourage others to use these tools in the same way. Journaling should become a task, like brushing our team or eating. If we make journaling a part of our daily routine, we develop a powerful resource. The journal becomes a permanent record that we can use to overcome the negative influences that others want to use against us.

I still use this technique today. The daily journal helps me triumph over adversity I encounter while working to reform the criminal justice system.

Obstacles to Success:

As people in prison might imagine, I constantly face opposition. It doesn’t surprise me that entities or individuals oppose the concept of incentives that would allow people to work toward earning freedom. Incentives that lead to liberty for people in prison can threaten livelihoods or profits for companies that benefit from mass incarceration.

Daily journals show a commitment to transparency. If we make our journals public, we feel a sense of duty or obligation. People expect us to do what we say. The journal memorializes the record. It helps us people see our authenticity. 

We must show that our success resulted from well-laid plans and that we can replicate that plan in other areas of our life.

As human beings, we all face crises or challenges. We muster the strength to rise above with our daily preparations. If confronted with a tough day, as I did yesterday, I get back on track by asking a series of questions:

  • Who is my most influential adversary?
  • What do I want my journal to reflect tomorrow?
  • When will the next opportunity open for me to influence more people?
  • Where can I develop more resources to advance advocacy efforts?
  • Why are people opposing my efforts to introduce work-release programs for people in federal prisons?
  • How can I convert more adversaries into advocates?

Those kinds of questions prompt me to become more productive. Instead of complaining, I find ways to act. For example, I wrote an article to describe the purpose of our new platform, Prison Professors Talent. Below, I offer the description:

Who We Are:

I’m Michael Santos, founder of Prison Professors. While serving 26 years in prisons of every security level, I spent every day preparing for a life of success. Since completing my term, in August of 2013, I’ve built a career striving to show others how they can use time in prison effectively, so they can emerge with their dignity intact and opportunities to live with meaning and relevance.

What We’re Building with Prison Professors Talent:

We’re building a platform to profile thousands of people who use their time inside to prepare for success outside.

Where we’re making Prison Professors Talent Available:

We’ve opened relationships with every state prison in California and every federal prison in the North Central Region. We’ve also opened relationships with the leading tablet providers. Together, we’re collaborating to help more people understand how to use time in prison to prepare for the best possible outcome.

When we’re building Prison Professors Talent:

Following a tour, we began building this website that exposed our work to more than 1,000 people in state and federal prisons across America. Those one-on-one interactions convinced us that people who lead “extraordinary and compelling” lives should memorialize their journey. The work they do inside will lead to more opportunities upon release.

Why We’re Building with Prison Professors Talent

We incarcerate far too many people in America, and they serve sentences that are far too long. With Prison Professors Talent, we can bolster our advocacy to show why incentives such as work-release programs, furloughs, and meaningful access to other incentives will improve the culture of confinement and the outcomes of our nation’s criminal justice system.

How We’re Building Prison Professors Talent:

We never ask anyone to do anything that we’re not doing. Our for-profit companies donate at least 10% of all revenues to fund our nonprofit, The Prison Professors Charitable Corporation. We’re building collaborations with businesses and individuals to join our efforts to impact the lives of more than 1 million justice-impacted people. Resources allow us to provide income opportunities for formerly incarcerated people and match resources that prison systems purchase to improve the culture of confinement.

Our community at 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

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