Blog Article 

 Mass Incarceration and Mitigation 

Michael Santos

Michael Santos

Collateral Consequences of Mass Incarceration and Mitigation

Every person facing challenges with the criminal justice system wants the best outcome. To get the best outcome, a person should think about resolving big societal problems. The article below offers an example of how we’re working at this stage. Click this link to see an example of how David, a member of our community, used the strategy before sentencing.


As a person that went through 9,500 days in federal prison, I sense both a duty and a responsibility to contribute solutions to the collateral consequences of mass incarceration.

Indeed, since my release from prison, in August of 2013, I’ve been working to build businesses that would help resolve some of those problems. For formerly incarcerated people, those problems include:

  • Challenges getting into the job market,
  • Establishing financial relationships that will allow people to function in the modern economy,
  • Creating housing solutions.

Mass Incarceration and Mitigation Strategies

Solving big problems requires planning, leadership, and building an infrastructure. For those reasons, we’ve established the following entities:

  • Earning Freedom Corporation
    • Our parent company is a California-based S corporation.
  • Prison Professors
    • A digital education company that offers considerable amounts of digital content to teach people going into the system, or people who serve sentences. We influence more than 100,000 people that serve time in jails and prisons across America.
  • Compliance Mitigation
    • This venture helps businesses with risk assessments and mitigation strategies. We want to help them comply with regulations in order to avoid government investigations and charges for white-collar crime.
  • Prison Professors Charitable Corporation
    • Our nonprofit arm exists to provide learning resources for people serving time in jails and prisons; we also provide jobs for formerly incarcerated people.

While we’re working to build the infrastructure of our business, I’m simultaneously thinking about bigger problems that we need to resolve. Two of those problems include employment and finance. If we could contribute solutions to those two problems, I think we’d go a long way toward building a better mitigation strategy for everyone involved.

Temporary Employment Agency:

In May of 2021, I visited San Francisco, where I met with two friends that operate large businesses. Cumulatively, those two businesses employ more than 1,000 people. The owners of those two companies have gone through the system and they understand the problem. 

People on our team have scores of friends that we will approach, after we get a system in place.

I spoke my two friends about an idea we’re developing. We’d like to create a temporary employee agency. Both of those employers pledged to hire people from a temporary employment agency if we could create such a venture and get it off the ground.

We think many employers would participate in such a program. 

Problems for Formerly Incarcerated People:

Over the years, we’ve learned that people have a hard time transitioning from prison to the employment sector.

Many employers resist hiring people that have recently been released from prison. From their perspective, formerly incarcerated people:

  • File claims that can raise their workers compensation insurance rates,
  • Initiate lawsuits for wrongful termination or other problems
  • Bring the potential of a criminal element that could initiate problems in the business.

We understand the problem from an employer’s perspective. A business may want to contribute to resolving social problems like those that follow for a nation committed to mass incarceration. Still, they have a responsibility to shareholders and to all of their stakeholders.

We’d like to remove the barrier, or resistance employers have in hiring formerly incarcerated people. If we create a temporary employment agency, we could accomplish the following objectives:

  • Help people build bridges to sustainable employment
  • Provide virtual training in job readiness with video courses
  • Allow employers to test drive employees 

I am currently exploring options to establish such an agency. Like building anything else, we need:

  • To create a process, get an understanding of costs, and create marketing materials.
  • Open worker’s compensation insurance.
  • Create a system to handle payroll for the people we place in jobs.
  • Develop an accounting structure that would allow us to accept payments from the businesses that pay our agency for labor.
  • Put leadership in place to manage this process.

Members of our team are giving preliminary thought to this issue.

To find job candidates, we could coordinate meetings to recruit from both halfway houses and prisons. We’ll also use a YouTube and social media strategy.

Cumulatively, these efforts would bring more awareness to the collateral consequences of mass incarceration—and hopefully strengthen our efforts to contribute solutions. 

Finance:

Another major collateral consequence of a felony conviction concerns banking. Many banks “fire” people after the banks learn of a felony conviction. We’ve known scores of people that received letters from brokers like Charles Schwab, Wells Fargo, Chase, Bank of America, and so forth. Those letters give the people a short window to move accounts. It causes a real problem for people, particularly if the person is in prison.

This problem complicates the challenges of a felony conviction.

We’re contemplating how we could build solutions to these problems. We could create some type of “rehabilitation” program that financial institutions would support. If a person completed a program we created, participating financial institutions may open banking relationships. Financial institutions that worked with us would get business from people we brought into the system, and the would also get good will. People need a place to put their assets after other banks fire them. 

Mass incarceration and the collateral consequences associated with this problem complicate the lives for millions of Americans. We’re thinking about strategies we could develop to contribute solutions. With today’s emphasis on social justice, we think the time is right. We could build campaigns, urging millennials to get behind the solution—supporting businesses that support our mission, and boycotting businesses that remain a part of the problem.

Challenge:

We have challenges on several fronts:

  • Financial capital
  • Leadership and bandwidth

We’ve formed a nonprofit entity, and we’re striving to raise capital that will help us start building solutions. Our nonprofit has a mission of reserving all resources for the purpose of either providing learning resources to people in prison, and to providing jobs for formerly incarcerated people. We should have a campaign that would help us raise more resources to fund these initiatives. 

A temporary employee agency would generate revenues to operate as a self-sustaining entity. The preliminary plan follows:

  • Explain the collateral consequences of mass incarceration and intergenerational recidivism to our audience.
  • Frame the social problem as one that influences the life of every America and show how we’re striving to contribute solutions.
  • Show our solution, with transparency of costs.
  • Build relationships with employers that would agree to hire people we vetted.
  • Develop contractual relationships that would cover our costs.
  • Through our process, we would hire and pay formerly incarcerated people.
  • As they built experience, people would transition from temporary employment to fulltime jobs.

We’re inviting others to join our initiative of finding solutions to one of the greatest social injustices of our time. Such efforts would go a long way toward building a personal mitigation strategy.

As we work to complete the infrastructure build of our company, we’re simultaneously working on these efforts.

We need people with expertise in operations, and access to resources we need to launch this initiative. 

Those who have interest should reach out and let us know how they would like to get started, and in what capacity. Resolving big social problems would help anyone that wants to show community involvement.

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