Blog Article 

 Release Plans 

Michael Santos

Michael Santos

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Iterative Release Plans Show Commitment to Success

When creating a profile on Prison Professors Talent, a person should begin by writing the following four sections:

  1. Biography: This section helps readers understand more about the backstory and how a person defines success going forward.
  2. Journal: This section should show a person’s commitment to success, highlighting the daily progress toward specific goals detailed in the biography.
  3. Book Reports: This section shows that a person invests energy and resources to learn in a self-directed way, regardless of what challenges exist in prison.
  4. Release Plan: This section helps readers understand that the person’s success isn’t luck but the execution of a plan that the person engineered to prepare for success after release.

Ideally, the person should create a release plan early—preferably before going to prison. But as we say through all our courses, it’s never too early, and it’s never too late to begin sowing seeds for a better outcome.

Learning to Create a Release Plan:

I didn’t know how to create a release plan when authorities charged me with violating crimes that would eventually lead to my serving 9,500 days in prison. When the agents took me into custody, I only thought about getting out. Despite knowing I had committed the crimes, I clung to a fantasy that my lawyer would persuade a jury to acquit me.

Without a plan, I didn’t consider my strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, or threats. Instead of putting trust in a plan I could have created to navigate my way to a life of meaning, relevance, and dignity, I made decisions that exacerbated my problems.

After the jury convicted me, I became receptive to reading books that an officer brought to me in the Special Housing Unit. While locked alone in my cell, I read about people who transformed their life while in prison. They returned to society to lead productive lives when they finished their term. 

I needed a plan that would help me turn my time inside into a better life. That goal required me to:

  1. Define the best possible outcome.
  2. Create a plan to help me cross the chasm from being in a prison cell to leaving prison successfully.
  3. Prioritize the first steps I would have to take to implement my plan.
  4. Develop tools, tactics, and resources that would accelerate my plan.
  5. Create tools to measure progress and hold myself accountable.,
  6. Adjust the plan as necessary.
  7. Execute the plan every day.

Iterative Release Plans:

A good plan could help me restore confidence. It could show that I understood the gravity of my situation and help others see that I wanted to reconcile with society. Each step would lead me closer to the life I wanted once I finished serving my sentence.

I started making that plan after my conviction. The judge hadn’t sentenced me yet, though the mandatory-minimum sentencing law required him to impose a lengthy term. My plan would focus on the first ten years. It would require that I work to:

  1. Earn academic credentials and get an education,
  2. Contribute to society in meaningful, measurable ways, and
  3. Build a strong support network that would help me advocate for better opportunities.

Since I understood that I would have to serve at least ten years, I needed that interim plan. It would carry me through time in a high-security penitentiary and later when I hoped to transfer to a medium-security prison.

Deliberate Release Plans:

Each person should create a deliberate plan that relates to his or her circumstances. A plan for a person with a multi-decade sentence would obviously differ from a person with an 18-month sentence. Define success, and make the plan. All plans, however, should cover the basics:

  1. What influences led you to prison?
  2. What do you understand about the reason why you’re in prison?
  3. In what ways did the crime or conviction influence others in society?
  4. In what ways does your plan show that you’re working to make amends?
  5. How are you holding yourself accountable?
  6. What challenges will you face in reaching the outcome you want?
  7. What strategies have you created to triumph over adversity?
  8. What level of progress should people expect from you?
  9. What tools, tactics, and resources can you create to advance your plan?
  10. What adjustments have you made to your plan since you began?

The more thought you give to crafting your plan, the stronger you become.

The plan I created helped me grow through 26 years in federal prison, leading to a series of successful ventures when I returned to society. When obstacles or challenges surfaced, I adjusted my plans. This strategy carried me through prison and I continue to follow it today.

  • What is your plan?

Our community at opens opportunities to memorialize your preparations. If you’d like to publish your profile, email our team:

[email protected].

Prison Professors Charitable Corporation
32565 Golden Lantern Street, B-1019
Dana Point, CA 92629


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