I’m Michael Santos. If you’ve been working through our courses, then you may know about my partner Justin Paperny and me. If so, feel free to advance to the next lesson.
On the other hand, if you’re new to Prison Professors courses, then read on for some background.
I made many bad decisions as a young man. In the mid-1980s, when I was 20, I began trafficking cocaine. As a result of those crimes, authorities arrested me in 1987, when I was 23. They locked me in a federal holding center. More than anything else, I wanted to get out. As a result of not understanding the system, I made a series of bad decisions.
Rather than accepting responsibility and preparing for the best possible outcomes, I feigned innocence. Scores of people were lining up to provide evidence against me. Still, I chose to plead not guilty. I hired a defense attorney that told me what I wanted to hear rather than what I needed to hear. Then, I proceeded to make a series of decisions that exposed me to severe sanctions:
- I failed to accept responsibility,
- I committed perjury on the witness stand,
- I continued communications with codefendants,
- I did not stop the criminal conspiracy that I knew was ongoing.
After a jury convicted me of all counts, I realized the magnitude of my errors. I made really bad decisions at every stage of the journey. While locked in a holding cell, I made a decision to change. I documented that transformation, or change of thought in my book, Earning Freedom: Conquering a 45-Year Prison Term
The abbreviated version follows:
- I worked toward a three-pronged strategy to prepare for success while I served my prison term;
- I earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from inside prison walls;
- I created business opportunities that allowed me to earn a sufficient income while in prison to emerge with more than $100,000;
- I built a solid pathway that would lead to success upon release.
During my final five years of imprisonment, I met my partner in business, Justin Paperny. He was serving a brief sentence for violating securities laws. We developed a friendship inside of a minimum-security camp. We began to collaborate, creating content to teach and inspire people that faced challenges with the criminal justice system. Should you like, you can read more about the story by getting Justin’s free book:
After Justin completed his sentence, he began building a series of ventures that would spread our message. Together, we’ve helped more than 1,000 people prepare for their best outcomes.
We hope that you’ll find value in our message and through all of the content we provide.