Blog Article 

 Michael Tausek: Earning Freedom 

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Michael Santos

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Michael Tausek began using Prison Professors courses when he served as a deputy warden in Maine state prison, and again when he served as the deputy commissioner of the New York City Department of Corrections. He’s joining our team at Earning Freedom.

Two years after completing 26 years in federal prison, I received a voice message that inspired me. Michael Tausek identified himself as an associated warden in the state of Maine’s high-security penitentiary. I recall him saying that he had become familiar with Prison Professors and the Earning Freedom program. He wanted to bring the program into the state’s prison system.

I remember those early days of my prison journey. I made terrible decisions when I was 20, and by the time I turned 23 in 1987, authorities arrested me for trafficking in cocaine. A judge sentenced me to serve 45 years. While locked in a solitary cell, I remember looking ahead. I thought about how I wanted to get out.

I hated being in confinement. Yet I couldn’t dispute that my actions had put me there. I wondered how making good decisions could influence my future.

Fortunately, a prison staff member brought a book cart to my cell. I found a book that told the story of Socrates’ experience in jail. When I read that story, I realized that if I wanted a better outcome in my life, I would have to change the way I think. Instead of thinking about the problems I created, I would have to think about solutions. 

  • What could I do to make things right?
  • What would people in society expect of a man who had made the criminal decisions I had made?

If I could answer that question, I believed that I could transform my life.

Michael Tausek: Earning Freedom

My response was that I could use a three-pronged strategy to guide my adjustment:

  1. I could educate myself while in prison.
  2. I could work to build a strong support network while in prison.
  3. I could work to contribute to society in meaningful, measurable ways.

If I adhered to those three strategies, I believed that more opportunities would open.

Michael Tausek helped to fulfill that vision I had while still locked inside the Pierce County Jail—awaiting transfer to a high-security prison.

Michael and I developed a friendship over the phone, and he became one of the first law-enforcement officers to purchase the Prison Professors digital course. I pledged to teach the strategies that leaders like Socrates, Mandela, and Gandhi taught me through digital lessons that I produced in the video, audio, and text files. Further, I would respond to questions participants in the Maine state prison would ask.

Michael Tausek taught the course in Maine’s state prison. When he accepted a new position as the deputy commissioner of the New York City Department of Corrections, he purchased a second license to use the program. Michael Tausek will join Earning Freedom as an ambassador now that he has retired. He’ll help the program grow, so we can reach millions of people that serve time in jails and prisons.

We offer people in prison the tools they can use to teach themselves.

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