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 Liberty > Prison 

Michael Santos

Michael Santos

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Getting Higher Levels of Liberty after Prison

Article:

After 9,135 days of imprisonment, a profound change awaited me. On a clear Monday morning, August 13, 2012, my wife Carole picked me up from the federal prison in Atwater, California. The warden had previously approved my transfer to a halfway house in San Francisco, where I was ordered to report within three hours, marking the beginning of my final year of sentence outside prison walls.

Our marriage began within the confines of a federal prison’s visiting room on June 24, 2003. Until that day in Carole’s car, we had never experienced a moment of privacy together. Despite our longing for time alone together, I was focused on a greater goal – achieving the highest level of liberty possible. Since I wanted to have the highest level of liberty, we decided to postpone our desire for alone time together.

To push toward the highest level of liberty, at the soonest possible time, a person should postpone the pursuit of immediate gratification. Liberty after prison requires methodical planning, a vision for the future shaped by today’s actions. During the drive to San Francisco, I shared with Carole a bold ambition: to earn our first million dollars within five years of my release. This goal required unwavering dedication to securing and maintaining my newfound freedom.

Contrary to widespread beliefs about the stringent regulations governing life after prison, my experience at the halfway house was notably different. Two days after my arrival, I had an opportunity to present my extensive portfolio of work accomplished during my incarceration to my case manager. This collection, showcasing my relentless effort and preparation for post-prison success, visibly impressed him. It’s one thing to claim readiness for a new life. To substantiate progress with tangible evidence like books, testimonial letters, and job offers opens opportunities.

I’ve learned that the earlier an individual begins to document their journey towards rehabilitation, the stronger their potential for self-advocacy after release. 

The earlier a person begins to memorialize the many ways that he prepared for success upon release, the more effective he will be in building an impressive record. That record should include:

  • A biography that will help stakeholders learn more about the individual.
  • Journal entries that show how hard the person worked to build a pathway to liberty.
  • Book reports that show the many ways a person worked to prepare for success.
  • Release plans that show how hard an individual worked to prepare for success upon release.

When I showed those documents to my case manager, I made an immediate impression. He saw me differently from others who serve long terms in prison, and he waived requirements for me to go through a series of classes. Instead, he uthorized me to leave the halfway house to obtain my driver’s license and, subsequently, to purchase new clothes and commence my pre-arranged employment. 

This journey of mine, and the lessons derived from it, form the foundation of a business I have since built. Through my story, I offer guidance to those currently incarcerated, helping them prepare for success after prison. Our course, ‘Preparing for Success After Prison’, provides a structured approach to this preparation.

The essence of my work transcends personal achievement. It serves as a testament to the power of preparation and the pursuit of a higher level of liberty. Send an email to [email protected] to get started. In the subject line, request our workbook on creating release plans. If you’re reading this article in the community, visit PrisonProfessorsTalent.com to learn more.


Critical Thinking:

In conclusion, I pose a critical thinking question for reflection: 

  • When facing a case manager in your halfway house, what compelling evidence of your transformation will you present? 
  • How will you prove that you are deserving of a higher level of liberty?

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