Fourth Quarter Report, 2008

By · Saturday, January 10th, 2009

The fourth quarter of 2008 has come to an end, and I feel pleased with the progress my wife Carole and I have made. I now have more than 21 years of imprisonment behind me. Regardless of what happens legislatively or administratively, I do not expect that I will pass more than three additional holiday seasons inside the boundaries of a federal prison. This news brings Carole and me cause to celebrate, as we know my time in prison is coming to an end.

We still do not have clarification on exactly how much more time I must serve. As an old-law prisoner, I have issues to resolve concerning good-time calculations and parole eligibility; besides those matters, it is too early to determine how much halfway house placement I will receive. Either way, Carole and I expect that we will enjoy the holidays of 2012 together as husband and wife. In light of the 2008 elections, however, we feel optimistic that my release will come much sooner.

The fourth quarter of 2008 has kept me busy with preparations for release. Those who follow my work know that I hope to build a career as an author, speaker, teacher, and consultant upon my release. The Internet and the Web sites that Carole maintains on my behalf serve as key components of my strategic plan. During the fourth quarter, I read several books that broadened my understanding of Web technologies Carole and I can use to build my brand.

I continued my work with Dr. Sam Torres of California State University. He is a professor of criminal justice and Dr. Torres uses my book Inside: Life Behind Bars in America as a teaching resource. The students he teaches are pursuing careers in law enforcement. As part of the course work, Dr. Torres requires the students in his class to write letters with individual questions about my book or my perspectives on prison. I wrote more than 90 responses to the university students, and to preserve the dialogue, Carole published those responses on I appreciate these opportunities to contribute to the students’ understanding of America’s prison system. Although I give them a long-term prisoner’s perspective, I am confident that my work adds value.

During the fourth quarter I led a group of 30 other inmates in a 10-week class designed to help them prepare for success upon release. The class is part of a course called The Entrepreneurial Compass, designed by Scott Evans, a motivational speaker from Los Angeles. Through the class, I facilitate the participants in seeing steps they may take to overcome various challenges or obstacles in their lives.

During the latter portion of October, I joined several other inmates on two separate field trips to Bakersfield. We were under staff supervision as we drove to schools where at-risk adolescents were waiting for our presentations. Our group, which operates under the acronym of TOAD, discusses the bad decisions we made as young people and how those bad decisions led us into lengthy prison terms. We perform a few skits to help dramatize the ways that peer pressure can lead to the loss of freedom and devastation. These projects provide a real value to society, as we prisoners have a degree of credibility with the students. Together, we can help them make better decisions and avoid the tangled web of the criminal justice system.

In November, of course, Barack Obama won the Presidency of the United States. Carole and I followed his candidacy from the first primary election that happened in Iowa during the first days of 2008. I subscribed to several news magazines and I read the newspaper daily to watch his progress in the campaign. Although the President does not influence the lives for most Americans in the same way that he does for a prisoner, this year the entire country had an interest in politics. I felt a surge of hope with candidate Obama became President-elect Obama on November 4th.

Our country is in a financial crisis and we remain at war on two fronts. Clearly, President Obama will have issues to confront that are of far greater importance than prison reform. Yet his leadership brings the real possibility for reforms that could have an immediate influence on my family. Namely, he could sign legislation that would result in my release to Carole. That is a huge deal for us; even the possibility of freedom buoys our spirits.

Besides release, President Obama could appoint a new Director of the Bureau of Prisons that may ease some of the struggle in maintaining family relationships for prisoners. Prior to the election of George W. Bush, for example, we had a policy that did not limit telephone access for prisoners. At the very least, I am hopeful that President Obama will restore more telephone access so that Carole and I can speak for longer than 10 minutes per day, and so that I can resume phone calls to extended family members and friends.

In an effort to influence the possibility for prison reform, Carole has launched a new platform for me at This new site launched on December 11, 2008, and I have made a commitment to write at least one blog post each day for the site. My hopes are to build an audience and persuade readers of the need for prison reforms that will lower recidivism rates. By allowing prisoners to work toward earning freedom, prison reforms would vastly improve the system of corrections in America. Through my work, I hope to influence that legislation.

In late November, I saw that President Bush commuted the sentences of two prisoners. Surprisingly, the news left me feeling somewhat sad and neglected. Perhaps I am biased, but I feel as if I have worked harder than any other prisoner toward earning freedom, and with more than 21 years of being locked inside prison boundaries, I feel that the greater crime is to continue my separation from Carole and my family. After a difficult evening, however, I woke early to resume my work, knowing that I had a duty to continue preparations for the challenges that await my release. Unemployment rates were reported at 6.5 percent in November, and I’m sure they are significantly higher for people with prison records. Perhaps it’s best that I wait out a few more months inside the comfort of a prison camp.

During the year of 2008 I ran more miles than I have run during any other year of my confinement. In October I ran 182 miles, in November I ran 230 miles, and in December I ran 282 miles. My total mileage for the quarter was 694 miles, and for the year 2008 I ran 2,600 miles precisely. That will be tough to beat, though I feel up to the challenge.

Besides all of my work with the blogging and writing updates for my Web sites, I am working as a ghost writer to help another prisoner with a biography that he is writing. This work has required that I wake well before four each morning, as I write best when the other prisoners are sleeping. All of this work, however, is helping me to hone my discipline and my skills. I feel confident the efforts condition me well for the challenges that await my release.

In 2009, since I feel that I am moving much closer to home, I have decided to publish weekly updates. Those updates will come in addition to the quarterly reports, which I will continue. The weekly updates will help readers understand how I spend each day in confinement, and they will memorialize the journey. I am sure the record will prove useful to me when I begin my speaking career upon release.

I appreciate the interest and support, and hope readers will continue to follow the progress Carole and I make as we continue these final preparations for my release.

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2 Responses to “Fourth Quarter Report, 2008”

  1. Yolanda Perez says:

    After reading your article Fourth Quarter Report, 2008, I realized that you are very fortunate to have such a loving and caring wife. As you stated on your article it has been more than 21 years of imprisonment behind you and hopefully you only have a few more years left to finally be with your wife and other family members. My first question to you will be, what reaction or impression you think you will have, the first day you get out? Second question is, if you did not have such a caring wife by your side, what would your inside world will be like? And last, upon your release do you think you will have any fears? If so, what would they be?

  2. Hi Yolanda,

    Michael responded to your questions here:

    Best wishes,
    Carole Santos