My name is Michael Santos, and I am writing this personal letter to welcome every participant to our course:
Preparing for Success after Prison.
In the 30-hour, First-Step-Act-approved course, participants will learn the value of self-directed efforts to improve:
- Communication skills,
- Critical thinking,
- Self-directed learning,
- Release Planning,
- Creation of tools, tactics, and resources,
- Progress on the execution of the plan, and
- Documentation of progress.
Those tactics help to restore confidence and advance prospects for success. They worked for me. I am confident they will lead to a higher level of liberty for anyone who adheres to a values-based, goal-oriented adjustment.
Although I concluded my obligation to the Bureau of Prisons in 2013, I continue using this course’s lessons. They are an integral part of the advocacy strategies our team believes will improve outcomes for all justice-impacted people.
Incentivizing a Pursuit of Excellence:
Our team at Prison Professors uses this course to persuade stakeholders to support reforms that will empower the Bureau of Prisons to incentivize the pursuit of excellence. Those arguments led to Earned Time Credits in federal prison and Milestone Credits in state systems. We’re continuing to advance those initiatives.
We must collect data to persuade stakeholders, including business owners, citizens, and administrators to join our coalition. Those influencers can show legislators why reforms that allow people to earn increasing levels of liberty through merit can improve the culture of confinement and contribute to community safety.
I began making those arguments more than 20 years ago while working through the depths of a 45-year sentence. I began serving that sentence during a different era. Legislators had passed laws that removed incentives, calling for truth-in-sentencing. If a judge imposed a lengthy sentence, lawmakers wanted people to serve the entire sentence.
Those legislative changes resulted in a larger prison population. As high recidivism rates show, they did not result in safer communities.
With our new course, we can present evidence that shows the positive results when people start sowing seeds early to prepare for success upon release. A researcher from UCLA is helping us collect data and publish findings in peer-reviewed journals. We hope those findings will lead to broader coalitions that will include:
- Probation officers, and
- Business leaders.
Together, we should work toward bringing changes in policies and laws that will empower administrators to incentivize the pursuit of excellence. Those incentives may include:
- Broader use of furloughs,
- Work release programs,
- Access to compassionate release and commutations.
We can only succeed in our work if imprisoned people invest in themselves. When people prepare for success upon release, we can show that we’re working to make prisons safer and lowering recidivism rates.
To broaden the initiative, we’ve launched PrisonProfessorsTalent.com. This website is part of our nonprofit enterprise. It allows people with access to email, directly or indirectly, to document the systematic steps they’re taking to build effective release plans. The website encourages people to memorialize their journey by:
- Engineering release plans,
- Showing the courses they complete, and
- Demonstrate the value they can add to prospective employers and stakeholders.
If you’d like to participate, please send an email to our interns:
We hope all participants will become a part of the change we want to see in the world.
- In what ways can you build coalitions that will help you succeed upon release?