Skill Development

Community Building

Text of a recent Toastmasters speech Michael gave at Taft Camp– Community Building I don’t know how many of you remember studies of early Western Civilization, but on the pages of a history book that’s circulating I read a passage describing the early Greeks. As founders of the first known city, the Greeks recognized the […]

David Muniz Graduates

Administrators at Taft Camp generously sponsored a graduation ceremony for a dozen studious prisoners and their families on June 4, 209.  My friend, David Muniz, invited me to attend as his guest, and I felt grateful for the privilege, as I know how hard David worked to earn his high school equivalency certificate.  I watched […]

Deliberate Adjustment Plans

The Pew Charitable Trust estimates that by 2011, American jails and prisons will be releasing 750,000 prisoners into society each year. Of all those people returning to their communities, the Pew Report tells us, two out of every three will return to prison. That high recidivism rate has been steady since the time I began […]

Does Mandatory Education Help Prisoners Prepare For Release?

In federal prison, those inmates who cannot offer verification that they have earned a high school diploma or high school equivalency are required to attend classes. A staff member assigned to the education department oversees a cadre of inmate tutors who assist those who are mandated to attend. Prisoners who lack high school equivalency and […]

Does Anyone In Prison Respect Nonviolent, Goal-oriented Prisoners?

My focus has never been on earning respect in prison. I strive to prepare for the life I want to lead upon release, and I do not allow anything to interfere with my progress. In books I’ve written about prison, and articles published at, I’ve described how a different set of values pervades higher […]

When Prisoners Ask Me for Guidance

After more than 21 years in prisons of every security level, I am usually the most senior prisoner in any institution where I am held. Others who are serving time frequently ask for my guidance. Rarely do I offer any suggestions pertaining to their legal standing, as I am not a lawyer. My area of […]

Prison as Part of my Future

Provided I receive permission from the parole officers who will supervise my release, I hope to build a career that will help individuals avoid prison, and that will help those forced to struggle through prison emerge successfully. Besides working with at-risk adolescents, I hope to lead seminars inside of our nation’s prison system that will […]

How I survived Prison Without Becoming Anyone’s “Bitch”

Despite the more than 21 years that I have served, I have not once had an altercation with another prisoner. That was by design. I completely understood the perilous environment in which I was forced to live. Men with whom I was confined, especially during my first decades, were violent and predatory. Some were rapists. […]

How to Avoid the Negative Drama of Prison

My focus during this lengthy prison sentence has always been on preparing for the law-abiding life I wanted to lead upon release. I understood that I would spend several decades in prison. Yet I was only 23 when I was locked inside a high-security penitentiary. If I did not focus on how I wanted to […]

Educational Opportunities in Prison

Many readers write me with questions about educational opportunities in prison. During the more than 21 years that I have served, I’ve worked hard to educate myself. Those efforts paid off, as Mercer University awarded me an undergraduate degree in 1992, and Hofstra University awarded me a graduate degree in 1995. I urge all those […]

Pass It On Seminar

Description of my participation in dynamic personal growth seminar, Pass It On, at Taft Camp, led by Scott Evans. As a long-term prisoner I am grateful for every opportunity to learn and interact with society. Yesterday, on April 11, 2008, I felt fortunate to attend a three-hour personal growth seminar that administrators at Taft Camp […]

A New Earth – Chapter One: The Flowering of Human Consciousness

As part of Oprah’s online class, my wife and I are working through Eckhart Tolle’s book, A New Earth, together by reading and answering the weekly workbook questions. Following are my answers to the questions posed in the Chapter One workbook: Why did you decide to read this book? My wife, Carole, sent me Eckhart […]

Speech On Leadership

At Taft Camp, as has been the case in any other federal prison where I’ve been held, I am responsible for creating my own opportunities to grow. My motivation is not to earn any meaningless certificates, or even to ignite hopes of advancing my release date. I strive for improvement because I find fulfillment in […]

Those Outspoken Against Drugs

For the first time since 1987, I left prison to participate in a community service program. More than 246 months had passed since I walked in society. The sensations surprised me. They began soon after I walked out of the Taft camp and sat in the back seat of a van that our staff sponsor […]

Taft Prisoners Contributing to the Lives of Others

TOAD is an acronym for a leadership group in which I participate under the direction of Counselor Griffin at Taft Camp. The letters in TOAD stand for Those Outspoken Against Drugs. Several inmates participate in the group with the intention of helping others make better decisions. Each month, Counselor Griffin escorts a group of TOAD […]