To overcome struggle, we must sow seeds early. I began sowing those seeds at the start of my journey. As years passed, I found mentors that have been enormously influential in my life. One of those mentors is Joan Petersilia, the Adelbert H. Sweet Professor of Law at Co-Director of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center.

While I was in my 22nd year of imprisonment, Joan reached out to me. She told me that she had been using some of my books to help her students understand America’s prison system. She invited me to contribute a chapter to her book, The Oxford Book of Sentencing and Corrections, a scholarly book that is used in universities across the United States—including Stanford University. Being invited to contribute a chapter to Joan’s book was one of many highlights during my 26-year journey through prison.

As I approached the end of my time in confinement, I asked Joan for an endorsement. The letter I attach is what she wrote on my behalf. Joan later updated her letter so that I could use it as a resource for an entrepreneurial venture I was beginning.