Journal Entry: Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Journal Entry

Engineering Mitigation

Advance candidacy for a lower sentence in federal court with a mitigation strategy

When preparing for sentencing in federal court, it’s crucial to consider the perspective of stakeholders. Who are they? What do they think of you?

To many people go into a federal sentencing hearing thinking about themselves. They do not want to go to prison. They do not want to lose their liberty.

That’s understandable.

But stakeholders in the system do not care about the wants of a defendant. If a person goes into a federal sentencing hearing with that reality in mind, the person may be in a better position to engineer a mitigation strategy.

My name is Michael Santos and I did not understand this concept of engineering a mitigation strategy after my arrest. I only wanted to get out of jail. My judge sentenced me to serve a 45-year sentence, and I had to remain in federal prison for 26 years.

Had I known more about mitigation strategies, I would have prepared differently.

Understanding the Purpose of a Mitigation Strategy

A mitigation strategy is a plan designed to demonstrate to the court that you are more than the sum of your charges. It’s about humanizing yourself, showcasing remorse, and illustrating your potential for a positive future. The goal is to show that you’re working to make amends. Hopefully, the work you do will influence the judge to consider a more lenient sentence.

Steps to Develop Your Mitigation Strategy

  • Start with Self-Reflection: Begin by understanding your actions and their consequences. Acknowledge the harm caused and genuinely reflect on your experiences and the lessons learned.
  • Gather Personal History: Compile details about your background, including educational, employment history, and any personal challenges or hardships you’ve overcome. This context can provide the judge with a broader understanding of your life.
  • Document Your Efforts to Make Amends: Show the court any steps you’ve taken towards rehabilitation. I urge you to be creative. For example, work through our various websites. You will see that I never ask anyone to do anything that I didn’t do.
  • Develop a Future Plan: Outline a clear vision for your future post-sentencing. This could include career goals, educational aspirations, or plans for community involvement.
  • Empathy and Remorse: Expressing genuine remorse and empathy for the victims is crucial. Consider writing a personal statement that conveys your understanding of the impact of your actions.
  • Character References: Collect letters from people who know you well and can vouch for your character. These should come from a diverse range of individuals who can provide different perspectives on your life and character.
  • Legal Counsel Collaboration: Work closely with your attorney to ensure that your mitigation strategy aligns with your legal defense. Your lawyer can provide valuable insights into effectively presenting your case to the judge.

Engaging with Your Attorney

  • Open Communication: Maintain transparent and regular communication with your attorney. Discuss your ideas for the mitigation strategy and get their input.
  • Review and Revise: Go over your strategy with your attorney, refining it to ensure it addresses key aspects the court will consider during sentencing.

Presenting Your Mitigation Strategy

  • Organized and Timely Submission: Ensure that all components of your mitigation strategy are submitted to the court in an organized and timely manner. This includes any written statements, character reference letters, and documentation of rehabilitation efforts.
  • Personal Involvement: Be actively involved in the presentation of your strategy. This could mean speaking at your sentencing, depending on the advice of your attorney.


A well-prepared mitigation strategy is an invaluable tool in the sentencing process. It allows you to present a complete and humanized picture of yourself to the court, potentially leading to a more favorable outcome. Remember, the effort you put into preparing your mitigation strategy can significantly impact your future. Approach this process with diligence, thoughtfulness, and strategic planning.