Skills for Success: Preparing for Life After Release
My name is Michael Santos, and I am the founder of Prison Professors Talent. I created this enterprise to show more people in prison how to use the time inside to prepare for success after release. The earlier a person starts sowing seeds for success, the more effective a person can become at opening opportunities.
This strategy of continuous preparation opened many opportunities while I worked through 26 years in federal prisons. I began serving my sentence in 1987 and didn’t conclude my obligation to the BOP until 2013. That journey brought me through prisons of every security level.
Fortunately, leaders taught me how to use time wisely. I learned to do the following:
- Visualize the life I wanted to lead when I got out of prison.
- Create a plan that would help me prepare.
- Put priorities in place.
- Open opportunities to develop resources and relationships.
- Adjust along the way.
That strategy helped me avoid problems while inside. I did not get out of prison one day early, but laws are different today from the time when I served my sentence. Now, people in federal prison qualify for the First Step Act. This law opens opportunities for people who build “extraordinary and compelling” adjustment strategies.
But as leaders advise us, if you cannot measure your success, the success doesn’t exist.
Once I got out and began building businesses, I opened job opportunities for many people who were in halfway houses, on home confinement, or on supervised release. Sadly, many of those people faced an unfriendly job market. We did our best to create a bridge.
It’s a bridge they would not have needed if they had prepared well during the time inside.
If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to ask the reentry coordinator at your institution to offer Preparing for Success after Prison. It’s a Productive Activity, authorized for credit from the First Step Act.
Besides the course, I created PrisonProfessorsTalent.com. We offer this program free to people in federal prison. We want people to memorialize the steps they’re taking to prepare for success upon release. Anyone can participate in this service that our nonprofit sponsors at no charge to people in prison. Think of Prison Professors Talent as being like a “Linked In” site for people to memorialize the progress they’re making to prepare for success.
If you’d like to participate, simply an email to [email protected]. Or have a family member who can access the internet visit the website.
By memorializing the different ways that you’re preparing for success upon release, you will open more opportunities. That strategy worked for me and I’m convinced it can work for you. The one promise I always make is that I’ll never ask anyone to do anything that I did not do while I served my sentence, and I’ll never lie to you.
If you choose to open a profile at Prison Professors Talent, start by writing a biography. In what ways would you describe yourself to a prospective employer or mentor?
The earlier you start thinking about that question, the more effective you’ll become at getting people to consider you for all that you’ve become, and not only for the challenges that put you in prison.
I wish you the best!
Founder of Prison Professors