I’ll cover the importance of building a release plan in today’s journal. When creating a profile on Prison Professors Talent, a person should include those four sections:
- Biography: This section helps readers understand more about the backstory and how a person defines success going forward.
- Journal: This section should show a person’s commitment to success, highlighting the daily progress toward specific goals detailed in the biography.
- 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.
- 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.
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:
- Define the best possible outcome.
- Create a plan to help me cross the chasm from being in a prison cell to leaving prison successfully.
- Prioritize the first steps I would have to take to implement my plan.
- Develop tools, tactics, and resources that would accelerate my plan.
- Create tools to measure progress and hold myself accountable.,
- Adjust the plan as necessary.
- Execute the plan every day.
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:
- Earn academic credentials and get an education,
- Contribute to society in meaningful, measurable ways, and
- 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.
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:
- What influences led you to prison?
- What do you understand about the reason why you’re in prison?
- In what ways did the crime or conviction influence others in society?
- In what ways does your plan show that you’re working to make amends?
- How are you holding yourself accountable?
- What challenges will you face in reaching the outcome you want?
- What strategies have you created to triumph over adversity?
- What level of progress should people expect from you?
- What tools, tactics, and resources can you create to advance your plan?
- 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 PrisonProfessorsTalent.com opens opportunities to memorialize your preparations. If you’d like to publish your profile, email our team:
Prison Professors Charitable Corporation
32565 Golden Lantern Street, B-1019
Dana Point, CA 92629