Release From Prison Journal: Day 396

Friday, September 12, 2014

 

Today I contributed to an all-day session discussing probation and parole in the United States. As a member of an advisory council sponsored by the Robina Institute at the University of Minnesota Law School, I’ll work alongside several leaders who seek to improve outcomes of our nation’s criminal justice system. Other members of the council have impressive credentials. The man sitting to my right in today’s meeting is Vice-Chairman of the United States Parole Commission. Other members of the panel include Directors or Chairman of the probation and parole system in Utah, Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. There were consultants and academics on the panel as well. This council will meet twice each year for the next three years. Our task: to build a profile that will outline the probation and parole systems that operate in the 53 different jurisdictions across the United States, and to conduct a survey that will gather data on how these systems operate across the nation. Although the other members of the panel have distinguished backgrounds, I bring value to the discussion by providing the voice of someone who has experienced the criminal justice system first hand. I will draw upon all that I learned to help these government leaders understand the influences this system has on prospects for success upon release from confinement.

 

Days since my release from prison: 396

Miles that I ran today: 0

Miles that I ran so far this week: 23.36

Miles that I’ve run during the month of September: 59.07

Miles that I ran so far in 2014: 1,770.06

Miles that I need to run in order to reach my annual goal of 2,400 miles: 629.94

Miles I’m ahead of schedule to reach my 2,400-mile goal by the end of 2014: 88.14

My weight for today: 168

Release From Prison Journal: Day 395

Thursday, September 11, 2014

 

I was locked inside of a prison cell when I heard about the terrorist strikes in New York and Washington. Today was different. Instead of being locked in a prison cell watching the horrors of that day, I traveled to the airport as I had to board a flight. Government leaders invited me to participate on an advisory council that would study America’s probation and parole system. We have more than 750,000 people being released from confinement each year, and high recidivism rates cost society enormous sums of money. By working to improve outcomes of our nation’s criminal justice system, we can improve community safety save taxpayer dollars. I was proud to accept the invitation to contribute. Other than a lengthy delay at the airport that kept me stuck on a plane for several hours longer than necessary, I did not mind the commute. I looked forward to making a contribution to the all-day discussion that would take place tomorrow. After arriving in Minneapolis, I met my new “colleagues” at a restaurant. I was surprised to hear that one member of the panel happened to be a Vice Chairman of the United States Parole Commission. As one of five members of the U.S. Parole Commission, he would have an influential role on determining whether continued supervision was warranted in my case. I found that to be a serendipitous meeting and I looked forward to making a favorable impression on him.

 

Days since my release from prison: 395

Miles that I ran today: 0

Miles that I ran so far this week: 23.36

Miles that I’ve run during the month of September: 59.07

Miles that I ran so far in 2014: 1,770.06

Miles that I need to run in order to reach my annual goal of 2,400 miles: 629.94

Miles I’m ahead of schedule to reach my 2,400-mile goal by the end of 2014: 94.71

My weight for today: 168

Release From Prison Journal: Day 394

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

 

I have a new role as Director of Communications. This responsibility will require that I focus on two areas: internal communications and external communications. I created this role with the intention of advancing our organization into a best-in-class company. From my perspective, a best-in-class company must focus on professionalization. I have clear ideas on what steps we must take to professionalize our organization, and today I outlined those steps for each Director that reports to the COO. The first step will be to write out clearly-defined job descriptions for each of the six directors. To provide an example, I wrote out the role of the Director of Communications. It includes a brief narrative of the position, followed with a bullet-point list of responsibilities. Then it provides a reporting, or accountability metric that will guide productivity during the quarter and outside of the quarter, as well a reporting mechanism to document progress throughout each week. Finally, the role description provides guidelines by which the COO can hold each director responsible during quarterly performance reviews. After outlining the performance of the role description, I provided each director with a template and asked that they go through the process of writing out their role. Once they completed that task, the next step, I explained, would be to write a description for each subordinate within each director’s department. We set a goal of completing those role descriptions by the end of September. Once those we complete those descriptions, we will turn our attention to writing the policy manuals and procedures for each task. This exercise, I’m convinced, will allow us to achieve higher levels of efficiencies as we all strive to pursue excellence in our roles. My responsibilities have become much more clearly defined with today’s meeting, and my work load has increased in a big way. I welcome the challenge.

 

Days since my release from prison: 394

Miles that I ran today: 8.18

Miles that I ran so far this week: 23.36

Miles that I’ve run during the month of September: 59.07

Miles that I ran so far in 2014: 1,770.06

Miles that I need to run in order to reach my annual goal of 2,400 miles: 629.94

Miles I’m ahead of schedule to reach my 2,400-mile goal by the end of 2014: 101.28

My weight for today: 168

Release From Prison Journal: Day 393

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

 

Today I had to meet with a federal probation officer in Orange County, California. When I completed my 26-year journey through federal prison, I was assigned to the federal probation office in the Northern District of California. Throughout my first year on supervised release, I had to comply with the terms imposed by my probation officer. They did not interfere with my life too much. Other than having to submit a monthly financial and accountability report, I was free to live my life as I saw fit. I found the process to be only minimally invasive. Anytime I wanted to leave the jurisdiction, I had to ask permission. But I received that permission in a timely manner. Also, the probation officer had the liberty to visit me in my house unannounced, but that didn’t bother me too much. Now that Carole and I have relocated to Southern California, I am having to begin again with a new probation officer. A few weeks ago a federal judge signed an order that supposedly liberated me from Supervised Release, leaving me with the impression that I was free from the criminal justice system. Unfortunately, the issue turned out to be more complicated, as we’ve since learned that although I’m free from “Supervised Release,” a federal judge lacks the authority to free me from “Special Parole.” The good news is that I’m stable and able to comply with the restrictions of this term. I met with the new probation officer in Orange County today. As I experienced in the Northern District of California, I feel that I’ll have support from this officer as well.

 

Days since my release from prison: 393

Miles that I ran today: 6.8

Miles that I ran so far this week: 15.18

Miles that I’ve run during the month of September: 50.89

Miles that I ran so far in 2014: 1,761.88

Miles that I need to run in order to reach my annual goal of 2,400 miles: 638.12

Miles I’m ahead of schedule to reach my 2,400-mile goal by the end of 2014: 99.67

My weight for today: 168

Release From Prison Journal: Day 392

Monday, September 8, 2014

 

I’m launching a new initiative to market our products to a segmented market. Some simple I completed revealed some startling facts. More than 80 million Americans will retire over the next 20 years. Wow! That’s an average of more than 10,000 people retiring every day for the next 20 years. Those numbers make a compelling a case for new business opportunities. The business that I’m going to pursue includes providing those retirees with options to spend their golden years in paradise. Accomplishing the goals that I’m setting will require a lot of planning and a lot of persuading. First I’ll need to write that plan out in a manner that will make a compelling case for prospective investors. To write the plan, I’ll need to invest considerable amounts of time to learn as much as I possibly can about the market that I’m trying to penetrate. I’ll work with a consultant who can provide more insight with regard to legal ramifications that will govern the type of structure that I want to create, and then I will need to complete more market research that will assist me in reaching as many of those retirees as possible. It will be my goal to help them understand why the product that I’ll have a role in bringing to market will meet their needs and bring incredible value to their life. With this challenge in mind, I’ll use video, print, and audio. My mind bursts with ideas. Now I must discipline my schedule further to ensure that I record them all, then set clear timelines and goals to advance this incredibly exciting project.

 

Days since my release from prison: 392

Miles that I ran today: 0

Miles that I ran so far this week: 8.38

Miles that I’ve run during the month of September: 44.09

Miles that I ran so far in 2014: 1,755.08

Miles that I need to run in order to reach my annual goal of 2,400 miles: 644.92

Miles I’m ahead of schedule to reach my 2,400-mile goal by the end of 2014: 99.44

My weight for today: 168

Release From Prison Journal: Day 391

Sunday, September 7, 2014

 

My friend Justin and I are working to expand the Michael G. Santos Foundation. Our organization faces many challenges, but we’ve done quite well since launching the initiative. By working together as a team, we’ve created a living project, influencing more than 10,000 people. Administrators in prisons, jails, and schools use our Straight-A Guide program to teach others how they can prepare for success, regardless of past decisions or current circumstances. The message is quite simple. When individuals identify the values by which they profess to live, they take the first steps toward establishing a personal constitution. That constitution should guide all of their future decisions. Once they establish those value categories, they can effectively set goals that harmonize with those values. Then they must make a 100 percent commitment to achieving the goals. That’s it. It’s a three-step plan. Visualize. Plan. Execute. We’ve built our Straight-A Guide Program around that simple concept, and now thousands of people are learning from our collaboration. Yet we have many more people to reach. The challenge of course, is raising the capital necessary to grow. That’s why we’re putting our heads together now, anticipating that we can raise additional funding that will spread our program further over the next few years.

 

Days since my release from prison: 391

Miles that I ran today: 8.38

Miles that I ran so far this week: 8.38

Miles that I’ve run during the month of September: 44.09

Miles that I ran so far in 2014: 1,755.08

Miles that I need to run in order to reach my annual goal of 2,400 miles: 644.92

Miles I’m ahead of schedule to reach my 2,400-mile goal by the end of 2014: 106.01

My weight for today: 168

Release From Prison Journal: Day 390

Saturday, September 6, 2014

 

Today I worked closely with the Chief Operating Officer of our organization. We began to map out a organizational chart that would guide us going forward. Without an effective organizational chart, one that includes clearly defined roles, as well as clearly defined polices and procedures, it’s easy for people to lose focus. Hours may be lost each day in busy work rather than on advancing the goals of the organization. I’m spearheading an effort to professional our organization. We worked side by side for several hours today to outline this strategy. It’s my hope and expectation that this effort will improve efficiencies. It also will empower the COO to keep his finger on the pulse of the organization, allowing him to more effectively assess the return on the investments he make in personnel expenses as well as other resources. I appreciate this opportunity I have to contribute in meaningful, measurable ways. In truth, the work that I’m doing is quite similar to the work that I did while I was in prison. To succeed through prison, an individual must master discipline and establish clear paths that will lead to intended outcomes. I find the same principled approach to success is necessary in the corporate world. It pleases me to have this role of sharing all that I learned as a long-term prisoner with individuals from every walk of life, even senior corporate officers.

Days since my release from prison: 390

Miles that I ran today: 8.03

Miles that I ran so far this week: 49.01

Miles that I’ve run during the month of September: 35.71

Miles that I ran so far in 2014: 1,746.7

Miles that I need to run in order to reach my annual goal of 2,400 miles: 653.3

Miles I’m ahead of schedule to reach my 2,400-mile goal by the end of 2014: 104.2

My weight for today: 168

Release From Prison Journal: Day 389

Friday, September 5, 2014

People sometimes contact me to inquire whether I’m available to consult on issues pertaining to prison. With 26 years of confinement behind me, an extensive depth and breadth of experience shapes my perspective. The same discipline and strategies that governed my actions inside have continued to open opportunities since my release last year. Yet the career I’m building leaves less time available to work with individuals who are going to prison or individuals who are coming out of prison. I cannot work with too many people on a one-to-one basis. The books I wrote should prove helpful for those who choose to read, as they detail every challenge I faced and show the way that I navigated my way through. Anyone could apply those same strategies to maintain a high level of discipline and energy, even when facing struggle. I wrote those books with hopes of teaching others that they could find the strength within themselves to succeed, regardless of what challenges they faced. Since I cannot possibly talk with everyone who reaches out to me, I hope that the words I wrote will inspire them to live in the world as it exists rather than as they would like it to be.

 

Days since my release from prison: 389

Miles that I ran today: 7.63

Miles that I ran so far this week: 40.98

Miles that I’ve run during the month of September: 27.68

Miles that I ran so far in 2014: 1,738.67

Miles that I need to run in order to reach my annual goal of 2,400 miles: 661.33

Miles I’m ahead of schedule to reach my 2,400-mile goal by the end of 2014: 102.74

My weight for today: 165

Release From Prison Journal: Day 388

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Today I discovered the MailChimp service. A friend of mine introduced me to the service several months ago but I never learned how to use it effectively. My website included a signup page for a newsletter, but until I learned the basics of MailChimp, I wasn’t able to blast out email messages. After spending several hours on the site today, I succeeded in sending out an overview of how I use the Straight-A Guide to keep me focused through challenging times. Then I blasted the message out to people who opted in to receive a newsletter. I’ll make this a routine affair. Next month I’ll write a second newsletter, focusing on values. I’ll write each month to teach others the strategies that guided my life through 26 years in prison can guide them through challenges in their own life.

Days since my release from prison: 388

Miles that I ran today: 0

Miles that I ran so far this week: 33.35

Miles that I’ve run during the month of September: 20.05

Miles that I ran so far in 2014: 1,731.04

Miles that I need to run in order to reach my annual goal of 2,400 miles: 668.96

Miles I’m ahead of schedule to reach my 2,400-mile goal by the end of 2014: 101.68

My weight for today: 168

Release From Prison Journal: Day 387

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

When finishing with federal prison, we have to deal with terms of supervised release. A federal probation officer oversees us. As my release-from-prison journal shows, I’ve been writing about my experience since I left prison.

My probation officer in San Francisco gave me a little more clarity on my evolving status. Although he generously supported the early termination of my “supervised release,” as did the U.S. Attorney’s Office and a federal judge, I still have to deal with complications that accompany a term of Special Parole that, apparently, no one else considered. The U.S. Parole Commission is its own entity. Although the federal judge signed an order expressing unanimous consent from all parties that further supervision in my case is unnecessary, that order does not influence the U.S. Parole Commission. Despite the spirit of the parties in agreeing to release me, I am stuck in a quagmire that will require more time. It may be months, it may be years, it may be decades before I’m free. These are further examples showing that we must always expect more in the way of challenge and struggle. Fortunately, I have can rely upon the discipline and energy that carried me through 26 years of imprisonment to empower me through this disappointment as well.

Days since my release from prison: 387

Miles that I ran today: 0

Miles that I ran so far this week: 33.35

Miles that I’ve run during the month of September: 20.05

Miles that I ran so far in 2014: 1,731.04

Miles that I need to run in order to reach my annual goal of 2,400 miles: 668.96

Miles I’m ahead of schedule to reach my 2,400-mile goal by the end of 2014: 108.25

My weight for today: 168