Blog Article 

 Publishing Opportunities 

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Michael Santos

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Publishing opportunities can help people in prison prepare for higher levels of liberty while also contributing to our advocacy efforts at Prison Professors.

After 9,135 days in prison, I transitioned to a halfway house in San Francisco. The person with whom I shared a room in the halfway house gave me the same messages I repeatedly heard while I served time inside. He told me everything wrong with the halfway house and that I would have to go through a series of classes for several weeks before the case manager would give me a pass to get out.

When I asked about the type of classes he thought I’d have to take, he mentioned course titles such as:

  1. How to get a job.
  2. How to get credit.
  3. How to interview.
  4. How to walk with a purpose.
  5. How to embroider.

Although a quarter century had passed since my arrest, I didn’t need to take any of those classes. I told my roommate why I felt confident I would get around the requirement to take those classes.

The following day, I met with the case manager for the first time. He brought an enrollment sheet, telling me I would need to sign up for the next series of classes that wouldn’t begin for a week. He said I would earn a certificate if I could pass the classes. Once I acquire the requisite certificates, I might qualify to get passes to go out and search for job interviews. In the meantime, I would need to perform janitorial services in the halfway house.

After listening patiently, I began to empty the tote bag that I had brought with me to the interview. I set the various books I had published on the table. He began to skip through the pages. “Did you write these books while you were in prison?” he asked.

I told him that while I served my sentence, I published extensively. Because of those publishing efforts, I persuaded many people to believe in me. Then I gave him an envelope that included a job offer. I asked permission to leave the halfway house so I could meet with the potential employer and begin working right away.

“If you managed to publish all these books while you were serving a prison sentence, you clearly don’t need to go to the classes.” The case manager gave me a pass to the DMV to get a driver’s license that afternoon. And by the end of the week, I had the passes I needed to leave the halfway house at 6:00 a.m. each morning. The pass authorized me to remain free until 9:00 each evening.

Will others have that level of liberty when they report to a case manager in a halfway house?

That depends. It depends on what tools, tactics, and resources the person will create before surrendering.

Sadly, many people leave face enormous challenges when they leave prison. They get frustrated by the rules imposed by an unwavering case manager in a halfway house. Each person should think about the tools, tactics, and resources he can create today to overcome the challenges he will face in the weeks, months, and years ahead.

Perhaps our team at Prison Professors can help.

Most people who receive our newsletters know my backstory. After serving 26 years in prison, I began building a career around lessons I learned during the journey. I reveal those lessons in various books I wrote, including Earning Freedom and Prison! My 8,344th Day. Those books show people how to maintain strength and restore confidence while traversing through long and short durations of imprisonment. 

The books led to the work I do now, which is to bring more awareness to the collateral consequences of mass incarceration. I hope to influence legislators and stakeholders on the need for more mechanisms to lead to lower prison population levels and more success for people after they return to society.

Prison Professors operates a nonprofit component to fund our advocacy work. I am asking people inside to contribute. I am not asking for financial contributions but contributions of time. Those who choose to contribute may find that the effort benefits other people and gives them a tangible way of showing how and why they’re ready for higher levels of success upon release.

Self Advocacy and Contributions:

They can use their time inside to publish book reports. Those who would like to contribute should adhere to the following process:

  1. The contributor should email our team’s address through Corrlinks: [email protected]. In the subject line, the person should write: “Book Report.”
  2. In the body of the email, the contributor should say: I would like to participate in the book report project.
  3. One of our team members will respond with instructions on how to send the book report through Corrlinks.
  4. The contributor should choose a book to read.
  5. After reading the book, the contributor should write a book report that responds to the format described below.
  6. The contributor should send the book report to our team with the subject line: Book report.
  7. Our team will transfer the book report from a Corrlinks file to a Word file. We will use our resources to edit the book report.
  8. We will publish the book report on our website at Prison Professors, which will be a contribution to our nonprofit.
  9. Each time we have a sufficient number of book reports (between 25 and 35), we will publish the book reports in a workbook that we will distribute to people in prison. The book reports will give credit to the author of the report.
  10. If a person contributes a sufficient number of book reports, we will publish the reports in a single workbook, giving credit to the author. 

By participating in this activity, the contributors would accomplish several goals, including:

  1. Develop tangible resources they could use to show stakeholders how they used time in prison to prepare for success.
  2. Provide something of value to other justice-impacted people who want to find resources that will help them through a difficult time.
  3. Contribute resources that support our advocacy efforts at Prison Professors.

Those who would like to contribute should adhere to the following format:

Publishing Book Reports:

Each book report should come to us in the same format. Contributors should include the following information:

  1. Name of the author of the book report (either using a real name or a pseudonym)
  2. Title of the book.
  3. Author of the book.
  4. Then respond to three questions that we will use as subheadings:
  1. Why I chose to read (title of the book):
  2. What I learned from reading (title of the book):
  3. How reading (title of the book) will contribute to my success upon release.
  4. Here is a paragraph about my story and what I’m striving to accomplish during my imprisonment.
  5. Three open-ended questions may prompt others to think about how they’re preparing for success upon release. For example:
  6. In what ways do you relate to the report I wrote?
  7. Describe your self-directed path to prepare for success upon release.
  8. In what ways do you contribute to building a better community?

We invite all members of our community to consider joining this effort to contribute to more self-directed learning courses. Prison Professors looks forward to creating more workbooks and resources that we can distribute to justice-impacted people.

Respectfully,

Michael Santos

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