While running yesterday, I listened to lyrics from a song I liked. The song was called Me Olvide de Vivir, a Spanish song by Julio Iglesias. I rarely listen to Spanish music because I’m not fluent. But the song reminded me of the time before my arrest, in the mid-1980s, when I lived in Miami.
When I finished my run, I looked up the lyrics. The title translates to “I forgot to live.” People close to me tell me that the phrase applies to what I’ve been doing since I completed my sentence. They say that I forgot how to live.
Next month, on August 12, 2023, Carole and I will celebrate ten years of liberty since completing my obligation to the Bureau of Prisons. Yet every day, my head remains in the space of prison. A person cannot serve 26 years inside and not have lasting influences.
Before getting out, I wrote Earning Freedom: Conquering a 45-Year Prison Term. I wanted to encourage changes in law and policy. Rather than measuring justice by turning calendar pages, I advocated for reforms. If people could earn higher levels of liberty through merit, we would lower recidivism rates and open opportunities for more people to succeed.
When I began those advocacy campaigns, people did not believe laws would change. Since then, Congress passed the First Step Act. That law helped, but as people in prison know, we have a lot more progress to make. For that reason, I continue working every day.
Some people speculate that, on account of my serving so much time in prison, I forgot how to live. They would be correct if “living” means how I spent my time before going to prison. Of course, I aged. I started serving my sentence when I was 23. I got out when I was 49. I’m now 59. My interests from the mid-1980s have changed.
I may listen to music while running, but I’m also thinking about new strategies I can implement to advance reforms that will allow more people to earn freedom.
Similarly, people in prison should always think about what they’re doing to work toward success as they define it.
- What steps can you take to work toward higher levels of success?
Sometimes, we have to take many steps. And the steps we take today put us in a position to seize new opportunities. For example, in August, I’ll travel to Philadelphia. I’ll attend a conference of the American Correctional Association. With airline tickets, hotels, meals, and consultants, this trip will likely cost more than $5,000.
For a small company like mine, investing $5,000 to attend a conference for prison officials is a big step. If I don’t take the additional steps of creating assets, I will not get the same impact. With our new platform, Prison Professors Talent, I’ll have a new asset that I can use. It will allow me to show the number of people who are working to build “extraordinary and compelling” adjustment strategies. I hope to use this asset in arguments I make for more incentives.
Will you become a part of this initiative? We cannot succeed in persuading legislators to change laws if we do not build stronger coalitions. We need adminsitrators to support the changes. And we need to collect data showing that people inside are working to prepare for success upon release.
Later today, we’ll send a PDF to people in our community. The PDF will show images of the new platform. We are developing our platform daily, but we need people in prison to do their part. They should flesh out their profiles. They should write bios, journal entries, and book reports and show how they evolve release plans.
Be a part of the change that you want to see.
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