Release From Prison Journal: Day 433

Sunday, October 19, 2014

 

Christian Denmon is an attorney from Tampa with the firm of Denmon and Denmon. He reached out to me today to share an extraordinary infographic that illustrates the ugliness of our nation’s wrongheaded commitment to mass incarceration. I’m proud to feature it on my website. On October 29, I’ll lecture in front of more than 500 undergraduate students at UC Berkeley, in Wheeler Hall. I’ll use this infographic that Christian and his team put together to highlight the greatest social injustices of our time.

For more information on the outstanding law practice of Christian Denmon, please visit his website at Denmon & Denmon, or email him at Christian@denmonlaw.com.

Wretched facts of mass incarceration, the greatest social injustice of our time. Infographic by Denmon and Denmon

Wretched facts of mass incarceration, the greatest social injustice of our time. Infographic by Denmon and Denmon

 

Days since my release from prison: 433

Miles that I ran today: 12.1

Miles that I ran so far this week: 12.1

Miles that I’ve run during the month of October: 114.49

Miles that I ran so far in 2014: 1,978.51

Miles that I need to run in order to reach my annual goal of 2,400 miles: 421.49

Miles I’m ahead of schedule to reach my 2,400-mile goal by the end of 2014: 53.5

My weight for today: 168

Release From Prison Journal: Day 432

Saturday, October 18, 2014

 

Today I enjoyed a pleasant dinner with my mother. If I’m not mistaken, it’s the first time the two of us when out for dinner together alone since I’ve moved here. Usually we’ve dined with Carole and my grandmother, or if Carole was working, with my grandmother. When I walked into the restaurant this evening, I was surprised to see that my mom was alone. We had a great meal at Red Robin, which is one of my favorite restaurants to eat a cheeseburger. While eating, I told her all about the many responsibilities of my career, and the pressure that I feel to succeed. The self-imposed pressures I live by drive me. In another year, I promised, I’ll start to decompress. But for now, especially until Carole graduates, I need to continue working very, very hard. I served 26 years as a prisoner, so I must work 26 times harder than my peers just to catch up.

 

Days since my release from prison: 432

Miles that I ran today: 0

Miles that I ran so far this week: 24

Miles that I’ve run during the month of October: 102.39

Miles that I ran so far in 2014: 1,966.41

Miles that I need to run in order to reach my annual goal of 2,400 miles: 433.59

Miles I’m ahead of schedule to reach my 2,400-mile goal by the end of 2014: 47.97

My weight for today: 168

Release From Prison Journal: Day 431

Friday, October 17, 2014

 

Today I took a lesson on online marketing with a company called Infusionsoft. It’s an interesting company that makes automated email campaigns easier to manage. I won’t say that I mastered the system because I haven’t. But I can certainly see how powerful this service will be for me when I launch Prison Professor. I’ll be able to reach out to law firms and show the reasons why I’m uniquely qualified to add value to their firms through the products and services I create. It’s a very exciting prospect, and I’m investing hundreds of hours to further the concept. If all goes according to the schedule that I’ve set, I’ll be ready to launch by Thanksgiving. But that will mean many sacrifices, like my running, which I haven’t done since this past Tuesday. When I set goals, I become obsessed with them. My current goal is to stay on track with the writing scheduled I’ve imposed. To reach the goal, I need to make sacrifices sometimes. If I make good progress tomorrow, I’ll resume running on Sunday.

 

Days since my release from prison: 431

Miles that I ran today: 0

Miles that I ran so far this week: 24

Miles that I’ve run during the month of October: 102.39

Miles that I ran so far in 2014: 1,966.41

Miles that I need to run in order to reach my annual goal of 2,400 miles: 433.59

Miles I’m ahead of schedule to reach my 2,400-mile goal by the end of 2014: 54.54

My weight for today: 168

Release From Prison Journal: Day 430

Thursday, October 16, 2014

When I looked at the calendar today, I realized that 12 years ago, I waited for Carole to come visit me for the first time in a federal prison. I was confined in Fort Dix, New Jersey back then. I had served longer than 15 years, but I still had a very long 11 years of imprisonment ahead of me. Nevertheless, Carole and I had built a romance through correspondence, and when she visited me on October 17, 2002, it was the first time that we would meet in a prison visiting room. I remember the entire event as if it just happened. On the night before our first visit, I felt more enthusiastic than a child on Christmas morning. When guards called me name for the visit, I remember walking over with total excitement to hold her in my arms for the first time. I knew that we’d be under intense scrutiny by guards and surveillance cameras that pervade the federal prison system, but I didn’t care. I also knew that with her, I could build a new life. Since that first visit, we’ve come a long way. With Carole’s help, I built a quasi career while incarcerated, and resources we generated allowed her to return to school. She earned her credentials as a registered nurse, and now she is approaching graduation with her master’s degree in nursing. When others ask me what I’m most proud about, without hesitation, I say that I’m most proud of the loving relationship I’ve built with Carole. Despite longer than a decade in prison that separated us from our first night together, we have an exceptionally strong relationship, and I’m grateful.

 

Days since my release from prison: 430

Miles that I ran today: 0

Miles that I ran so far this week: 24

Miles that I’ve run during the month of October: 102.39

Miles that I ran so far in 2014: 1,966.41

Miles that I need to run in order to reach my annual goal of 2,400 miles: 433.59

Miles I’m ahead of schedule to reach my 2,400-mile goal by the end of 2014: 61.11

My weight for today: 168

Release From Prison Journal: Day 429

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Today I went to speak at a juvenile detention center in San Dimas, about 50 miles inland from where I live in Orange County, California. I spoke with a group of teachers at the Camp Rocky detention center a few weeks ago, and today I returned to speak with the young men who are serving time inside that facility. I hope that I inspired the young people to begin making better decisions with their life. It’s never too early and it’s never too late to begin preparing for a successful life, I told them. I could see that they were astonished that I began to change my life while I was in prison. They couldn’t believe that I was in prison, and I told them that if they didn’t believe I was ever in prison, then plan had worked brilliantly. From the start, I explained, I set a path in place to ensure that I could emerge from prison successfully. Through various books I wrote and videos our organization filmed, they could learn how to implement the same strategy. The Los Angles County Office of Education purchased a license to use our Straight-A Guide Program, and the school district is piloting the program inside the Camp Rocky facility. If the children respond to it well, more opportunities could open for us to influence the lives of young people in Los Angeles County. I’m grateful for the opportunity.

 

Days since my release from prison: 429

Miles that I ran today: 0

Miles that I ran so far this week: 24

Miles that I’ve run during the month of October: 102.39

Miles that I ran so far in 2014: 1,966.41

Miles that I need to run in order to reach my annual goal of 2,400 miles: 433.59

Miles I’m ahead of schedule to reach my 2,400-mile goal by the end of 2014: 67.68

My weight for today: 168

Release From Prison Journal: Day 428

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The market continued to fall today. Oh well. I’ve always known that roller coasters go up and roller coasters go down. The only way you get hurt on a roller coaster is when you jump off. So I made my decision to stay in the market today and ride out the storm, at least for a little while. I’ve been an active speculator in the stock market since 1998. I’ve always known that October, historically, was one of the worst months for stock market performance. But I’ve been an aggressive trader over the years, going through different cycles. Clearly, I know the emotions at play, with greed for higher gains and fear of further losses capable of driving decisions. These contemplations generally occur when I’m losing equity. And I’m losing equity today. I have to live with those ups and downs. My wife hates the stock market, especially when she watches the emotional pull it has on me. I become obsessed.

Days since my release from prison: 426

Miles that I ran today: 0

Miles that I ran so far this week: 24

Miles that I’ve run during the month of October: 102.39

Miles that I ran so far in 2014: 1,966.41

Miles that I need to run in order to reach my annual goal of 2,400 miles: 433.59

Miles I’m ahead of schedule to reach my 2,400-mile goal by the end of 2014: 74.25

My weight for today: 168

Release From Prison Journal: Day 427

Monday, October 13, 2014

I made a lot of money in an Apple trade last week. While enjoying a 12-mile run this morning, I gave a lot of thought to my next play on the stock. I like Apple a lot. From my perspective, investors are undervaluing the company. Yet my perspective doesn’t matter. All that matters is what the market thinks, and as a whole, the market likes Apple. Still, I’m convinced that the stock trades higher in the months and years to come. That said, I had some big gains in the stock, and those gains were on my mind as I was running this morning. I thought that I could leverage the gains higher by trading out of Apple and deploying my assets into another high-beta stock that the market has undervalued, from my perspective. I set my sights on Twitter. Twitter had touched a multi-month high of $55 last week, but it sold off toward the end of last week during a broad market sell off. It had dropped to around $50. My thoughts were that I could sell the Apple, take the profit, and buy Twitter at a discount. Then profit again. Well, the idea was great, but the execution was flawed. I sold Apple at $101.55, just after the market opened. It was a good trade, as I booked new gains. But just as I sold the Apple, Twitter started to run. I placed a big order for Twitter, at the market. Well, when the trade went through, I learned that I purchased my shares in Twitter at 51.90–which was the highest price of the stock all day. Immediately after I made the purchase, Twitter started to drop in value. By the end of the day, the Twitter tumbled to the high 40s. It erased the entire gain that I had been celebrating in Apple. Had I waited a few hours, the plan would’ve worked well. But the right decision at the wrong time, I’ve learned, is the wrong decision.

 

Days since my release from prison: 427

Miles that I ran today: 12

Miles that I ran so far this week: 24

Miles that I’ve run during the month of October: 102.39

Miles that I ran so far in 2014: 1,966.41

Miles that I need to run in order to reach my annual goal of 2,400 miles: 433.59

Miles I’m ahead of schedule to reach my 2,400-mile goal by the end of 2014: 80.82

My weight for today: 168

Release From Prison Journal: Day 426

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The march to complete Prison Professor is heating up. I received an invitation to speak at symposium on federal prison reform that the UC Hastings Law School is sponsoring next February. Before attending that conference, I need to have a working version of Prison Professor up and running. That means I’m writing feverishly to complete the project. If I am productive this week, I should generate another 15,000 words of content. This work will be in addition to the daily I must complete on my job. For example, today I wrote grant requests to continue funding our nonprofit, The Michael G. Santos Foundation. I’ve written a number of grant requests that have been successful generating several hundred thousand dollars in funding. Those resources have allowed us to generate products and services that we’ve designed to improve the outcomes of our nation’s criminal justice system. I still have passion for reforming that system, as I consider our nation’s wrongheaded commitment to mass incarceration to be one of the greatest social injustices of our time. It’s a big issue, influencing the life of every American citizen. Obviously, I don’t know the outcome of our grant request. It’s like fishing: I cast a line and work to generate interest. The next phase of the process will be for a committee to review the request I wrote. If I pass that hurdle, the committee will as for a more comprehensive proposal, including a budget narrative. So, a lot of work ahead—though I don’t expect the second phase of the request will take place for a few months. We’ll see. All I know is that I’ve got more work on my plate than I thought possible. Fortunately, I’m accustomed to working long hours, seven days each week. And fortunately, my wife supports these efforts.

 

Days since my release from prison: 426

Miles that I ran today: 12

Miles that I ran so far this week: 12

Miles that I’ve run during the month of October: 90.39

Miles that I ran so far in 2014: 1,954.41

Miles that I need to run in order to reach my annual goal of 2,400 miles: 445.59

Miles I’m ahead of schedule to reach my 2,400-mile goal by the end of 2014: 75.39

My weight for today: 168

Release From Prison Journal: Day 425

Saturday, October 11, 2014

 

I now have completed six full lessons for Prison Professor. Today I wrote about the Bureau of Prisons staff hierarchy and about the administrative process. This week I wrote more than 20,000 words on the subject. To provide some perspective, to print 20,000 words would require about 100 pages. The amount of content I’m writing may show readers my level of commitment to this effort. I’m convinced that others will find value in this work. By Thanksgiving, I expect that I will have written the first full course of Prison Professor. Of course I’ll never finish the work, as I can write forever on the subject. After serving 9,500 days inside, there I’ll never have a shortage of content to write.

The time may not yet be right for me to judge the market for Prison Professor with any degree of accuracy. That said, I cannot help but believe that a national market exists, both at the retail and wholesale level. I’m taking a strategic, disciplined approach. First I’m writing a considerable amount of content in the form of individual lessons. Then I will write some extensive marketing materials. Then I will work with a graphic artist and a web designer to convert all of my content into a digital program.

The challenge thrills me, though it keeps me from being able to enjoy much time with Carole. Of course Carole is working as many hours as I am, maybe more. We’re both looking forward to next May, when graduates. We’ve promised to spend more time together then.

Days since my release from prison: 425

Miles that I ran today: 12

Miles that I ran so far this week: 45.18

Miles that I’ve run during the month of October: 78.39

Miles that I ran so far in 2014: 1,930.41

Miles that I need to run in order to reach my annual goal of 2,400 miles: 469.59

Miles I’m ahead of schedule to reach my 2,400-mile goal by the end of 2014: 64.53

My weight for today: 168

Release From Prison Journal: Day 424

Friday, October 10, 2014

 

Today I learned the Orange County office of Education has expanded its relationship with our foundation. We’ve sold several license agreements for our Straight-A Guide to Orange County, and today we learned that another institution will use our products. I feel a great sense of fulfillment when I learn that educators find value in our work. Justin and I invested thousands of man hours to build our Straight-A Guide Cognitive Skills Development Program. We’re looking forward to seeing the program grow in the years to come. As we gather more data on how our program prepares individuals for law-abiding, contributing lives, our prospects for success increase dramatically. Also, I received an invitation to make a presentation at the largest law firm in the world. I’ll only speak to a group of 30 attorneys, but perhaps this will lead to other invitations. They invited me to speak about my journey through prison and about my knowledge of the executive clemency process.

 

Days since my release from prison: 424

Miles that I ran today: 0

Miles that I ran so far this week: 33.18

Miles that I’ve run during the month of October: 66.39

Miles that I ran so far in 2014: 1,930.41

Miles that I need to run in order to reach my annual goal of 2,400 miles: 469.59

Miles I’m ahead of schedule to reach my 2,400-mile goal by the end of 2014: 64.53

My weight for today: 168