Release Plans: An Iterative Release Plan

Release Plan

When authorities arrested me, on August 11, 1987, I didn’t know what to expect. I was 23 years old. The charges I faced stemmed from a series of bad decisions I began to make during the recklessness of youth. When I was 20, I began selling cocaine. In a futile effort to avoid prosecution, I hired others to hold or transport the cocaine. That crime exacerbated my problems, exposing me to the potential of a life sentence.

President Ronald Regan and his wife, Nancy, frequently spoke about the need to increase penalties against people who sold drugs. Since my crime carried the possibility of a life sentence, jailers locked me in the special housing unit. While in isolation, I wanted one thing: To get out of prison.

In that vulnerable state of mind, I acquiesced to my defense attorney. He told me that there was a big difference between an indictment and a conviction. With the right amount of money I could win.

Despite knowing of my guilt, I pushed the government to the test. I went to trial. I perjured myself on the stand. A jury convicted me.

The First Release Plan:

When I returned to my cell after a jury convicted me, Officer Wilson stopped by my cell. I knew him as a kind person who worked in the detention center. He spoke to me through a locked cell door and asked how it went.

“Not so well.” I told him that a jury convicted me on every count.

Officer Wilson offered to bring some books that he thought might help me.

I remember reading about Frederick Douglass, a person born into slavery who escaped. Instead of going on with his life, Frederick Douglass devoted his life to becoming “the change he wanted to see.” He learned how to read, how to write, and how to communicate. By writing a series of biographies, he used his life story to become a force for change.

Officer Wilson brought me other books. I read about Socrates, Nelson Mandela, Viktor Frankl, and Malcolm X. Those people didn’t cry or complain about the challenges they faced. They created life plans. They inspired me to use my time in prison effectively.

I needed a plan. That plan would evolve over time.

During the first ten years, I pledged to focus all my efforts on a three-pronged goal:

  1. I would try to learn and earn academic credentials.
  2. I would strive to contribute to society in meaningful, measurable ways.
  3. I would strive to build a support network.

That plan would carry me through the first decade of my confinement. If I adhered to the plan, I hoped to earn university degrees, become a published author, and convert my adversaries into my advocates.

Then, I would launch the next iteration of my plan.

Without a plan, I would be able to consider my strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, or threats. I didn’t have a plan after my arrest. Instead, I allowed my defense attorney to make my plan. I didn’t want to continue making such mistakes. I needed to craft my plan. I learned that a good plan requires us to:

  • Define success as the best possible outcome,
  • Build the plan that will take me from where I am to where I want to go,
  • Prioritize my decisions and work toward new opportunities,
  • Develop my tools, tactics, and resources to accelerate the plan,
  • Measure progress with accountability tools,
  • Adjust the plan as the world changes, and
  • Execute the plan daily.

Deliberate Release Plans:

The plans that I created would change over time. They all would show my commitment to prepare for success after prison. My plan prepared me to triumph over a 45-year sentence. It would differ from the plan for a person who served a shorter sentence.

I wanted the plans I created to show:

  • That I understood the influences that led to my imprisonment,
  • The reasons behind my imprisonment,
  • How my crime influenced others in society,
  • How I worked to make amends,
  • How I held myself accountable,
  • The challenges I faced along the way,
  • The strategies I implemented to triumph over adversity,
  • The progress I made as months turned into years, and years turned into decades,
  • The tools, tactics, and resources I created to advance my plan
  • How I adjusted over time.

The more time I invested in my plan, the stronger I became.

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.

Now I challenge others to create their own iterative release plans.

  • What is your plan?

Our community at opens opportunities to memorialize your preparations. If you’d like to publish your profile, email our team:


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