Journal Entry: Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Journal Entry

Memorialize Journey in Prison

How to Turn Prison Term into an Asset

Would you like to learn how to turn a federal prison sentence into an asset? Start by memorializing the way that you engineered an extraordinary and compelling adjustment.

I wouldn’t ever minimize the trauma that comes with a federal prison term. In reality, it’s only one type of crisis. Through the course of our life, people face all types of crises. To overcome, I’ve learned that a series of deliberate steps can help:

  • Step 1: Define success as the best possible outcome.
  • Step 2: Create a plan.
  • Step 3: Put priorities in place.
  • Step 4: Develop tools, tactics, and resources.
  • Step 5: Create accountability tools to measure progress.
  • Step 6: Adjust as necessary.
  • Step 7: Execute the plan as days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months, and months turn into years.

My name is Michael Santos and I learned those steps while I climbed through a lengthy prison sentence. I went into prison in 1987 due to bad decisions I started making when I was 20. I didn’t get out of prison until 2013, when I was 49 years old. 

Lessons through that journey, however, became an asset. By memorializing the journey, I persuaded many people to believe in me. They understood that any human being can make a bad decision. But getting up and thriving after that bad decision inspires others. It can lead to income opportunities, and more influential relationships.

More than ten years have passed since I concluded my obligation to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Despite finishing the term in 2013, my career leads me back into prisons several times each year. I create programs to help people understand the importance of using time in prison to prepare for success upon release. 

As many management gurus tell us, if we cannot measure the progress we’re making, our progress doesn’t exist. That’s one reason that I launched the platform I wanted to provide a platform that people in prison could use to memorialize all the ways that they were working to develop skills and become more valuable in the marketplace.

Had I not memorialized the efforts I made to earn academic degrees, publish books, and build a strong support network, my life after prison may have faced bigger obstacles. For those who don’t prepare well, time after release from prison can be even more traumatic than being in prison. They may face an unwelcoming job market, lack of access to financial resources, and a changed environment that they don’t understand.

When I heard an inspiring podcast describing Airbnb’s innovative effort to help engineers find employment after the pandemic, I got inspired to build Prison Professors Talent. Our nonprofit covers the cost of development. We hire formerly incarcerated people to assist us with building profiles that individuals can use to show how and why they can bring value to the marketplace.

If you or anyone else would like to build a profile to memorialize a productive journey through prison, visit us at Or send an email to our team of talented interns:

We’ll do our best to help. 

Critical Thinking:

Consider the following question as a prompt to develop critical thinking skills:

  • How will the way you memorialized your journey through prison influence your access to liberty at the earliest possible time?

If you don’t know how to answer that question, consider reading my book: Earning Freedom: Conquering a 45-Year Prison Term. Request a copy at and we’ll provide it if you’re without resources.