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Our Mission

At Prison Professors Charitable Corporation, we envision a world where justice and rehabilitation go hand in hand. We empower those touched by the criminal justice system — from individuals bracing for incarceration to those navigating reentry into society, along with their families. We ignite hope and open doors to new possibilities through innovative educational content and training programs, fostering personal growth, legal understanding, and successful societal integration. 

Our partnerships with federal and state prison systems allow us to have a direct impact on the lives of more than 1 million people annually. We are a movement, dedicated to reimagining America’s prison system and helping people prepare for employment and success upon release. By championing excellence and advocating for increasing levels of liberty through merit, we are committed to advocacy that will reduce our nation’s prison population and lower recidivism rates.

1987

2024

After my arrest, authorities locked me in a solitary cell. I spent a year in confinement before a jury convicted me. A judge sentenced me to 45 years. A kind officer gave me biographies about Frederick Douglass, Socrates, and Nelson Mandela. Those books changed my life. They helped me to think differently and started my preparations for advocacy.  View the timeline by clicking the button below.

I never ask anyone to do anything that I didn’t do

My wife and I began the Prison Professors Charitable Corporation as a public benefits corporation to help all justice-impacted people. We create educational content and training programs to help people prepare for law-abiding, contributing lives. We strive to stop intergenerational cycles of recidivism by showing people how they can recalibrate while incarcerated. 

Further, we advocate to create programs that will incentivize excellence, and encourage people to work toward earning freedom through merit.

Our programs currently reach more than 300,000 people in jails and prisons across the United States. We collaborate with: 

  • The Federal Bureau of Prisons, 
  • The California Department of Corrections, with
  • The Edovo Foundation, and with others. 

The more people we reach, the more requests we receive from indigent people who want access to the books and courses we create.

Carole and I have been the largest financial sponsors for our nonprofit. We invite others who want to improve the outcomes of America’s criminal justice system to join us. All contributions support our advocacy in accordance with our nonprofit’s by-laws.

We consider our nation’s commitment to mass incarceration as one of the great social injustices of our time, and we strive to improve outcomes. Our team invites others to join our efforts with financial contributions. Each year, Carole and I contribute a minimum of $50,000 to fund our nonprofit, and we’re grateful to others who join us.

We’re striving to grow our budget so that we can give our resources away, without charge, to all justice impacted people. More than 1 million people serve sentences in America’s jails and prisons. With a $2 million annual budget, we can build hope, lower intergenerational cycles of recidivism, and create solutions to collateral consequences of mass incarceration. 

Our programs currently reach more than 300,000 people in jails and prisons across the United States. We collaborate with: 

+ The Federal Bureau of Prisons, 
+ The California Department of Corrections, with
+ The Edovo Foundation, and with others. 

The more people we reach, the more requests we receive from indigent people who want access to the books and courses we create.

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Reentry Success

An officer changed my life when he provided me with a biography of Frederick Douglass’ biography. By reading that story, I got inspired. I read about Socrates, Nelson Mandela, and Mahatma Gandhi. They helped me learn how to work toward living as the change I wanted to see.

Thanks to leadership in the criminal justice system, opportunities opened to reconcile with society. By collaborating with others, we changed laws and policies.

Pathway to Advocacy

Upon my release from prison, on August 12, 2013, San Francisco State University hired me to teach as an adjunct professor. While teaching The Architecture of Incarceration, I simultaneously collaborated with leaders at:

  • Stanford University, 
  • UC Berkeley, 
  • UC Hastings Law School, and 
  • The Robina Institute at the University of Minnesota Law School. 

I wrote or spoke about changing America’s criminal justice system in all my presentations.

Rather than measuring justice by turning calendar pages, I urged leaders to join efforts to reform prison and sentencing laws. I advocate for reforms that allow people to earn freedom through merit.

In 2015, the UC Hastings Law Review invited me to publish Incentivizing Excellence. Based on my work, The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals invited me to keynote a judicial conference. More than 1,000 people attended the conference. Federal judges, the Department of Justice leaders, and leaders from America’s prison system filled the room. 

During my presentation, I asked the leaders to assist in efforts for reform. Following the presentation, opportunities opened for me to work with the Department of Justice, the judiciary, the California Department of Corrections, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. 

In 2018, a bi-partisan Congress passed the First Step Act. With that legislation, thousands of people in federal prisons get opportunities to earn freedom.

UC Hastings

Since 1984, the federal criminal justice system moved steadily from indeterminate to determinate sentences. Those changes led to the abolition of the US Parole Commission and fewer opportunities for people to earn credits that could advance their release dates. I worked to change that system. People were not receptive. The system had become entrenched with a culture that obliterated hope. 

I wrote Earning Freedom: Conquering a 45-Year Prison Term to inspire reform. UC Hastings Law Review allowed me to publish Incentivizing Excellence, an article that opened discussions that led to the First Step Act.

Department of Justice

US Attorney Alicia Limtiaco invited me to spend a full week in Guam and Saipan to begin a reentry program. On that trip, I got to work closely with the Department of Justice, the U.S District Courts, and US Probation. While in Guam and Saipan, I led training sessions, participated in community awareness programs, and visited people serving sentences in jails and prisons to introduce our program.

First Step Act

Despite thousands of people advocating for criminal justice reform for many years, meaningful changes did not come until Jared Kushner pushed for reforms. Since visiting a federal prison when his father served a sentence for a white-collar crime, Jared understood that the system needed changes. When voters elected his father-in-law to the White House, Jared began pushing for reforms.

In December 2018, President Trump signed the First Step Act. That legislation would influence the lives of more than 1 million people. It presented a first step toward incentivizing excellence by authorizing “time credits.” With time credits, qualified people could earn rewards for participating in recidivism-reduction programs. 

Several years passed before the Bureau of Prisons began authorizing programs leading to time credits. We’re proud to have an approved program in the Bureau of Prison’s official catalog.

Productive Activity

People who participate in our program, Preparing for Success after Prison develop hope. In 2023, the Bureau of Prisons Reentry Services Division approved our program as a Productive Activity. Those who qualify for First Step Act credits advance release dates by earning credits.

Founder's Background:

When Michael Santos was 20 years old, he began trafficking in cocaine. After a lengthy trial, a jury convicted him, and a federal judge sentenced him to serve a 45-year sentence.

A prison officer convinced Michael to read literature that described the lives of:

  • Socrates,
  • Frederick Douglass,
  • Nelson Mandela, and
  • Other leaders whose life stories show that a person can use crisis to prepare for lives of meaning, relevance, and dignity.

Those books taught Michael to think differently. With help from his family and mentors, he learned to stop dwelling on the lengthy sentence and how to develop a tri-part plan that would prepare him for success upon release. That plan required Michael to focus on earning academic credentials, building a support network, and becoming an authority figure on improving outcomes of America’s prison system.

While serving multiple decades in prison, Michael executed his plan. He earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. He wrote books about America’s prisons and the people they hold; university professors adopted and assigned those books to students as a part of their coursework. Through those efforts, Michael built an extensive support network that opened income opportunities and even led to his getting married in prison. 

During his 16th year, on June  24, 2003, Michael and Carole Santos married inside of a prison’s visiting room.

Multi-Modal Advocacy

Building advocacy programs requires a multi-pronged approach. We must work to create programs that we can bring into prisons. Then we must work to build relationships with more prison administrators. Data must show that our programs improve the culture of confinement, preparing more people for success upon release. Then, we must bring awareness to the broader population, showing the value of reforms that incentivize excellence.

Be the Change You Want to See

Michael and Carole Santos seek like-minded people who want to support efforts to transform the prison system from one that incarcerates more people than any other nation. Join our advocacy efforts to:

  • Reduce the number of people that prosecutors bring charges against,
  • Introduce release mechanisms that provide for federal work-release programs,
  • Open social furloughs to help people in federal prison restore family and community ties.
  • Create mechanisms that incentivize a pursuit of excellence and open opportunities for people to earn higher levels of liberty through merit.

We invite others to join our efforts by making a tax-deductible contribution to support our advocacy, the mission of the PPCC, helping justice-impacted people, and ending intergenerational cycles in recidivism.

Impact Stories or Testimonials

Program Descriptions

Michael Santos creates self-directed programs to help people in prison prepare for law-abiding, contributing lives upon release. Because he served 26 years in federal prison, and he built successful businesses after he finished his term, many people in prison view him as an authority figure and someone from whom they can learn to emulate his success.

The Bureau of Prisons, the California Department of Corrections, and other agencies purchase the rights to use some of the courses that Michael creates. Our nonprofit also works closely with the Edovo platform to distribute our courses to more than 300,000 people in jails and prisons each year. 

With that scale, the nonprofit receives requests from both administrators and people serving sentences for supplemental courses. Consistent with the by-laws of the PPCC, our nonprofit creates courses, books, and supplemental content that the nonprofit distributes without charge to institutions and to justice-impacted people.

To improve outcomes of America’s prison system, PPCC needs a pathway to raise more resources until it becomes a self-sustaining entity.

Validation:

Thanks to a generous grant from Bill and Marie McGlashan, PPCC retained Dr. Stacy Calhoun, a social-science research professor from UCLA to conduct a preliminary study on the effectiveness of the Preparing for Success after Prison program. A collaboration with the Edovo nonprofit allowed us to collect data from more than 1,000 justice-impacted people who worked through our course, Preparing for Success after Prison.

In 2024, Dr. Calhoun expects to publish her findings in a peer-reviewed journal. We anticipate that her findings will show the impact we’re having on improving outcomes for people in jails and prisons.

Publishing Dr. Calhoun’s findings from her research in a peer-reviewed journal is a first step toward becoming an evidence-based program. We will need to conduct further research, over many years to show the impact of our program on lowering recidivism. To gather such data, people must:

Advance through our program,

Build a record that shows their preparations for success upon release,

Complete the service of their sentence (which could require years),

Demonstrate that they are living as responsible, law-abiding citizens despite the term they served in prison.

Published findings with Dr. Calhoun’s research will allow us to open conversations with the National Institute of Justice and other government agencies in pursuit of additional funding for ongoing research with Dr. Calhoun and her team of researchers at UCLA.

Financial Transparency:

The Prison Professors Charitable Corporation begins 2024 with the following:

  • – Cash balance in Bank of America: Between $150,000 and $200,000.
  • Pledged from donors: $4,000 per month.
  • Pledged donation from Michael and Carole Santos: $4,000 per month.
  • Revenue for use of intellectual property: $2,000.00
    • Anticipated Monthly Income: $10,000
  • Costs to fund sponsorships on Prison Professors Talent: $5,000
  • Content development and maintenance of Prison Professors website: $2,000
  • Costs of providing jobs for formerly incarcerated people: $5,200
  • Scholarship Oversight and Administrative Support: $4,000
  • Distribution of Content:
    • Books / Courses: $2,000-$4,000
  • Projected Monthly Expenses:
    • $20,200 to $22,200
      • $Projected monthly deficit: $11,000.00 to $13,000

PPCC intends to cover the monthly deficit from reserves while we simultaneously strive to find additional funding sources.

Approximate funding: 12 months operating.

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