Author Archive

A Short History of Nearly Everything

Date Read: December 3, 2009 Book title: A Short History of Nearly Everything Author: Bill Bryson Book Publisher: Broadway Books (2003) Non-Fiction / 544 pages A Short History of Nearly Everything was the 19th book I read in 2009. Why I read A Short History of Nearly Everything: A friend I met at Taft Camp, […]

The Upside of Fear

Date Read: December 7, 2009 Book title: The Upside of Fear Author: Weldon Lang Book Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press (2009) Non-Fiction / 199 pages The Upside of Fear was the 20th book I read in 2009. Why I read The Upside of Fear: My friend Justin Paperny, read a review of The Upside of […]

A Moveable Feast

Date Read: July 22, 2009 Book title: A Moveable Feast Author: Ernest Hemingway Book Publisher: Touchstone (1964) Non-Fiction / 211 pages A Moveable Feast was the 12th book I read in 2009. Why I read A Moveable Feast: A friend of mine here at Taft Camp, Steve Urie, passed along A Moveable Feast to expose […]

Twenty-Three Thanksgivings in Prison

Today begins my 23rd consecutive Thanksgiving holiday as a federal prisoner. I’ve now passed as many Thanksgiving holidays in prison as I passed as a free citizen. Prison has numbed me–I no longer experience the excitement and joy of holiday celebrations, though I know the season represents a time of significance for citizens of the […]


Last week I spoke with Bam, a prisoner and former gang member serving time at Taft Camp. Bam’s been incarcerated for six years, though his initial prison adjustment led to problems with prison officials and transfers to higher security prisons. Bam has listened to a number of my presentations at Taft Camp–I often speak to groups of […]

Intelligence Trumps Force, Professor David Kennedy Suggests

David Kennedy, a professor at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, uses common sense to reduce crime and keep communities safer. In the February 9, 2009 issue of Newsweek, Suzanne Smalley reported on Kennedy’s techniques and the significant drop in crime (in 2008, one Nashville community saw a 91% decrease in drug crimes and […]

Prison Administrators Should Not Discourage Successful Adjustments

Many years have passed since I read A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. When I read the story, I was locked inside the impenetrable walls of the United States Penitentiary in Atlanta. I was in my early 20s then, and staring down the long end of a 45-year prison sentence. A character from […]

Breakout: Voices from Inside

WNYC Radio is partnering with PEN’s Prison Writing Program to present BREAKOUT: VOICES FROM INSIDE The event will feature luminaries from the theater and writing world, including John Turturro (Do the Right Thing), Eric Bogosian (Law and Order: Criminal Intent), Lemon Anderson (Def Jam Poetry on Broadway), and Patricia Smith, four-time winner of the National […]

Third Quarter Report, 2009

The third quarter of 2009 has been one of my most productive. On August 11th of this year, I completed my 22nd consecutive year as a federal prisoner, and I completed a solid draft of my new manuscript, Earning Freedom. This new manuscript describes my entire journey through the prison system, from the day of […]

Writing With Style

Book Title: Writing With Style: Conversations on the Art of Writing Book Author: John R. Trimble Book Publisher: Prentice-Hall (1975) Date Read: June 19, 2009 Nonfiction / 143 pages Writing With Style was the 9th book I read in 2009. Why I read Writing With Style: This was the second of two books on writing […]

Teaching the Entrepreneurial Compass Class at Taft Camp

Since the summer of 2008, I’ve been leading a class at Taft Camp. The 10-week class is called The Entrepreneurial Compass. Scott Evans is a motivational speaker who designed the course, and with the sponsorship of the Chaplain at Taft Camp, Scott began offering the course to inmates. I sat as an observer and participant […]

Prison Reform

Earlier this year, Senator Jim Webb introduced a bill in the senate to establish a committee that would study the need for reform of the entire criminal justice system. His announcement came with a considerable amount of media attention. Parade magazine featured a front-page spread, and numerous other national publications publicized the proposed legislation. Over […]

Nurturing My Marriage Through Prison

Nurturing relationships while struggling through the complications of a prison term requires a daily commitment. Carole and I understood the challenges we would have to overcome long before we agreed to marry in a prison visiting room. I wrote about our courtship and marriage in several previous articles. I meet many prisoners, however, whose wives […]

Michael’s Daily Prison Journal

Michael’s daily prison journal now appears on

Prisoners Must Learn to Thrive Despite Administrative Obstacles

My lovely wife, Carole, sent me a copy of a legal decision recently published by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. The case of Bonner v. Outlaw illustrates the position I have known many prison wardens to take. Although the inmate prevailed in this case, the warden’s attempted defense evidenced a dereliction of his duty […]