44-Books and Courses
Those who want to continue working independently through the Preparing for Success after Prison series may invite their family members to visit our website PrisonProfessors.com to see the supporting self-directed books and workbooks. If they’re not available in the prison’s library, we recommend the following books or self-directed courses:
Earning Freedom: Conquering a 45-Year Prison Term
This lengthy book reveals the journey from the day that I came into prison, facing life without parole. It takes readers through the day that I transitioned into a halfway house. Each year I update the book to apprise readers of how a solid release plan helped to prepare for the journey.
Prison! My 8,344th Day Workbook
This self-directed workbook shows readers the importance of making intentional decisions each day. The exercises help participants see how they use their time inside to prepare for success upon release.
Success after Prison Workbook
This self-directed workbook shows the results after I returned to society. Readers will see how decisions inside opened opportunities to build a career in real estate investments, and how revenues from those decisions provided resources I could use to advance my work in advocacy for prison and sentence reform.
This self-directed workbook offers insight participants can use to overcome the challenges that accompany confinement. By learning to think differently, and to adjust intentionally, people position themselves for resilience.
Release Plan Workbook
This self-directed workbook offers insight into how participants can build an intentional release plan. It should put them on a pathway to argue for higher levels of liberty, at the soonest possible time.
Each workbook in our Preparing for Success after Prison series provides participants with a clear picture showing the importance of celebrating small achievements. If those achievements happened in one prison, we could dismiss them as luck. Yet the books and workbooks offer story after story, showing how small achievements accumulate from one prison to the next.
Regardless of what decisions administrators make, or what laws pass, people can always work to:
- Develop a more robust vocabulary,
- Develop better writing skills,
- Develop better verbal communication skills,
- Develop better critical thinking,
- Develop a self-directed work ethic,
- Develop a comprehensive release plan, and
- Develop accountability logs that highlight incremental achievements.
Through all the coursework, readers get to learn about people from every background. They all show one coherent message: The decisions a person makes today influences the opportunities that open in the weeks, months, years, and decades ahead.
If this strategy only worked for me, some may say I was lucky. I agree that I’ve been fortunate, and I am grateful. Yet I urge students to pay close attention to the people I profile in the accompanying books and the supplemental videos that we make available in our Preparing for Success after Prison series. Participants will find interviews with many people who once served life sentences, yet now they’re free. Each person validates the concept that I’m striving to convey. They describe how each decision in prison put them on a path to new opportunities and, eventually, freedom.
Every person who transforms while in prison inspires me.
You may have seen the award-winning movie Training Day with Denzel Washington. Denzel plays the role of Alonzo, a corrupt police officer that trains a rookie. Alonzo tells the rookie, “This is chess, not checkers.”
The memorable line from Training Day describes a complicated challenge with many moving parts. Everything can change in an instant. To succeed, we’ve got to see the big picture. Winners anticipate what will happen many moves in advance. They are deliberate with every choice. They know how to celebrate small wins. Those small wins lead to significant gains. Never forget that without a steady flow of small achievements, big wins are not possible.
In an earlier lesson, I wrote how Suzy Welch, an author, inspired me. She wrote a book about making good decisions, calling her strategy ten-ten-ten. Think of how every decision will influence your life.
Make decisions in ways that can lead you to a series of small achievements. Together, those achievements build hope. You will see how yesterday’s choices led you to overcome struggles and launched you to higher levels of success.
Leaders know how to get out of a bad situation and climb to a better position. Since the end is sometimes too far away, they focus on small steps they can take today. Those small steps make it more likely to achieve outcomes.
Make a 100% commitment to putting yourself in the best possible position to succeed. Celebrate small, incremental achievements along the way. If those achievements align with your values and goals, each success will bring more success. You will be able to say:
“I am the person I am today because of the decisions I made yesterday.”
How will your decision influence your life in the next ten minutes?
How will your decision influence your life in the next ten months?
How will your decision influence your life in the next ten years?