My name is Michael Santos. As part of my work to improve the outcomes of our nation’s criminal justice system, I have spoken with many federal judges. Two of those judges agreed to participate in a video interview. I asked them about steps a person could take to prepare in advance of sentencing. Listen and learn from what they said in the videos below. In the presentations, both judges spoke with me about the importance of character reference letters:
I came into the system without an understanding of what to expect.
How badly do you want to prepare for the best possible sanction at sentencing?
Some people say they hope for leniency at sentencing. Yet many experts tell us that hope is not a strategy. I agree.
While serving 26 years in prison, I learned a great about preparing for sentencing. The insight came from interviews I’ve done with more than 1,000 people that faced sentencing. Besides the work in prison, I learned a great deal because of the work I’ve done with judges. This page includes videos that validate what I’ve learned from judges.
Without exception, judges say that they want to hear from the people they’re about to sentence. Lawyers may make a compelling case. Yet the defendant’s preparations for sentencing will have the most influence on the judge.
Since Judges know the law, neither the prosecutor nor the defense attorney will offer much in the way to sway the judge. Although sentencing guidelines are only advisory, judges will rely upon those sentencing guidelines as a starting point. Leniency, or a downward departure from the guideline range, will hinge on mitigation efforts that a defendant makes before sentencing.
In our Sentence Mitigation course, participants get ten comprehensive modules to prompt them in building sentence-mitigation strategies. The strategy will help a person show the reasons why he or she is a worthy candidate for mercy.
A defendant’s loved ones know why the person should not receive a severe sanction. But unless the defendant puts together a comprehensive sentence-mitigation strategy, the judge may not know.
To help people who are facing the most challenging time of their lives, our team at Prison Professors has created this sentence-mitigation course. We encourage you to read through the materials, watch the videos, and use the critical-thinking questions to build a persuasive sentence-mitigation strategy.
Watch the remaining videos on this page to learn why our team at Prison Professors is an excellent resource for you if you’re facing sentencing or prison.
Besides Judge Bennett, who gave us invaluable insight, we can also learn from Judge Bough, who speaks about the importance he places on a defendant’s preparation for sentencing. If you’re serious about wanting to work toward the best possible outcome, learn how best-practices for preparing.
If you’re facing a criminal charge, you’re in a critical time of your life. The decisions you make every day will have an enormous influence on your future. For that reason, our team at Prison Professors offers considerable amounts of information to help.
I was 20 years old when I began making decisions that led me into trouble with the law. Authorities arrested me in 1987 when I was 23. Had I understood more about the challenges ahead, I may have made better, more informed decisions.
Instead, I went through the judicial proceedings blindly. I did not know what options were available to me, and the lawyer I hired did not help. I am responsible for the bad decisions I made. By not understanding the system, I exposed myself to severe sanctions.
After a jury convicted me of all counts, a judge sentenced to 45 years in prison. Had I made better decisions, my sentence would have been far less.
Don’t go into a criminal charge blindly. Start preparing for sentencing immediately with our Preparation for Sentencing Course.
The video below will show more about my journey through 26 years in prison, and some of what I learned.
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