Darrell Tatum @darrell-tatum ?

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Darrell Tatum/ Class 10: Leadership Training

June 11, 2012 in Leadership, Straight-A Guide Curriculum by Darrell Tatum

251. What does leadership mean to you?

Being a strong role model.  Be responsible.

252. In what ways have your past decisions prepared you for leadership?

My past decisions lead me into the situation I’m going through now.  Leading my peers into wrongful fruits of life.  Now, as I finish up my sentence, I’ve grown wiser to lead by an positive example.

253. Where does leadership begin?

Begins with the choices that we as people make.  Making the right decision now can help the younger people follow by positive examples.

254. In what ways can an individual measure his capacity to lead?

First of all, the individual has to commit to himself.  Therefore, he has to have the ability to lead the way he wants to live.  By that, setting positive goals to achieve within his life.

255. In what ways can an individual measure his effectiveness at leadership?

Striving in meeting his goals.  The more you do, the more you can gain as a leader.

256. What does it mean to have a vision?

A vision is a image of what you see and want to achieve in life.

257. How does a leader gauge the effectiveness of a plan?

Set out of the details, focus on the details, and pull all effort into these details of the plans you want to achieve.

258. Why would leadership require accountability tools?

Because you have to be responsible of your own actions.  Why lead, if you can’t set a good example.

259. How would a leader make the most effective use of accountability tools?

He has to be precise about his vision.  He has to make sure of all he  is putting out.  Be accountable.

260. How would you describe leadership by example?

Inspiring that person.

261. What does leading with integrity mean to you?

Leading with strong passion.

262. In what ways does personal leadership require an individual to put the concerns of others ahead of his own?

I focus around my family.  I try for them to be less stressed than ever.  i make a lot of value-based decisions to keep clear of who means the most to me.

263. How can our behavior in prison influence the lives of those we ask to support or sponsor us?

Decisions are made daily, so we have to stay focus and positive when exposing ourselves to our support or sponsor.  Keeping a positive view on everyday life demonstrates a commitment and shows our  love ones that we have made a strong change.

264. When living within the restrictions of prison boundaries, where can we turn for leadership training?

I read a lot of business books about the success of various people.  I also read a lot of workout magazines, learning more on training people who are in need of weight problems.

265. Describe an individual who has leadership skills that you admire?

I admire my girlfriend Malikah.  She has a strong ambition and vision.  She has her work   cut out during the day, but she makes times for me, visit me on a regular and oversees things that I need to get done.  She keeps me encourage when I get off focus.  her unconditional support has shown me that I have a good woman who can lead when I’m down.

266. To what extent would emulating such leadership traits influence your prospects for success?

Just her unconditional support.  I will show the same once I leave this place.  Her vision in life is so law-abiding that I have to stay on the right path.

267. In what ways do our day-to-day actions show our commitment to personal leadership development?

Everyday is a challenge.  You just have to keep that strong commitment and strive for better views of life.

268. How can a commitment to personal leadership development while in prison influence your relationship with people you haven’t yet met?

To me my commitment here will show the people I haven’t met the changed side of me.

269. In what way can the Straight-A Guide influence your prison adjustment?

It has shown me a lot.  For a person like Michael to take out his time to share his struggle, then encourage others to make a difference in life means a lot.  me involving myself is a big step of making a strong commitment of being a law-abiding person.

270. In what ways can the Straight-A Guide influence your prospects for a law-abiding, contributing life upon release?

This workbook helped me open up, and enlighten me on what I have been going thru.  You live, you learn has always been my motivation motto and at this point, I’m making a big difference in my life.

271. In what ways will you use the Straight-A Guide going forward?

Keeping me enlightend on how to look at certain things different keeps me on track from reliving my path.  I will commit to better positive views, stay law-abiding, nurture better with my girlfriend and family.  Day to day staying focus on the main things of life.


Darrell Tatum/ Class 9: Financial Literacy

June 11, 2012 in Straight-A Guide Curriculum by Darrell Tatum

223. How would you gauge your level of financial literacy today?

I’m still educating myself financially.  I’m learning more about stocks and various of investments.  The businessman that I am, I have to keep focus of the financial world.

224. To what extent would you suppose that financial literacy relates to your probability for success upon release?

You have to understand financial literacy for certain things in life:  How you manage your interest rates, calculating your bills, etc.

225. What opportunities exist for prisoners to improve their financial literacy?

Various financial courses

226. How would you summarize the total costs of your imprisonment?

It costs the taxpayer a fortune per year to house us.  To me, it is crazy for the taxpayer to house inmates that has minor crimes.

227. Describe ways in which in an understanding of the stock market may help you value investment opportunities.

It helps me cause there are plenty of investments that blows up in the market cause if a person like that product, they are going to buy it.  You have to understand the stock market cause it will give you opportunities to make a nice profit.

228. How would improving skills to analyze the fundamentals of a particular stock lead to becoming a better small businessman?

Like a certain product that will make headlines of profit.  Investing into that product and others that are very profitable.  I have a couple of investments that have profit throughout the time I’ve been in where

229. Describe the level of thought you are giving to your financial future.

My level is unlimited.  Im trying to invest into anything legal that is going to  help me make a good living.  Also, I will work hard to get my business growing.

230. Describe the level of preparations you are making to prepare for retirement.

Right now, I plan to work hard and put up a forth of my earnings toward retirement.

231. In what ways would an understanding of the U.S. tax code contribute to your preparations for release?

It will help for certain resources to help felonies gain employment.

232. What is your understanding of entrepreneurship?

That is a person whom made good investments into the companies they have.  A hardworking person who loves to make money with different traits of business.

233. What would you attribute as a primary reason for business failures in the United States, and why?

The economy costs.  Just the prices of oil has people cutting back on everything.  The employment resources are getting hard.  Especially for felonies.

234. If you were going to run your life as a business, how would you describe your preparation to succeed?

First of all, I will have to promote my businesss.  Then, follow thru with all the aspects of making it my life living project.

235. What resources do you have available to you now?

I have other associates that have various of companies that are willing to help me.

236. What potential markets exist for you?

Fundings to help me pick my janitorial company back up.

237. What level of resources do you anticipate having on the day of your release?

Several that will serve me good to be a great successful law-abiding person.

238. What level of earnings do you project during your first three years after your release?

I project making a descent amount to live comfortable.

239. What level of earnings do you project during your first decade after your release?

Hopefully, with Gods will, I envision myself as being well off helping other people into businesses.

240. What action steps can you begin taking to increase your financial literacy?

My view of this is that I have to enhance my reading and math skills to understand better.  I’ve been out of school 22 years and I was going thru college while in the military, so its been a while.  For better opportunities, I have to refreshen my skills.

241. What relationship do academic credentials have to enhancing financial literacy?

A lot.  Things have changed since I’ve been out there.   I have to be sharp on my academic skills.

242. In what ways would fluency with mathematical concepts and equations enhance your potential earning power or opportunities upon release?

It will help your financial skills. You won’t have to stumble on problems that you need to know.

243. In what ways would developing your skill with regard to reading, writing, and speaking enhance your potential earning power or opportunities upon release?

With good developing skills, you can be able to speak at functions, having your wording skills intact and understand more of what your learning.

244. Describe the types of books that might broaden your financial literacy and thus help you prepare for success upon release?

Stock and investing books.  I want to read about successful people whom been thru the same situations that we felonies have been thru and make it successfully.

245. What resources will you rely upon to make financial decisions in your future?

Successful business people.

246. To what extent do you anticipate investment decisions having a role in your future?

They will have a good impact on me.  Right now, I have some stock that I’m relying on helping me make a good start upon my release.  I have a family to support and I have to work hard legally to make this happen.  I have to plan for the future of my kids.

247. Describe the resources you anticipate relying upon as you advance in age.

Right now, I will have to rely on my janitorial company, my stock and the properties I have.  I will work hard to maintain them, but at the same time, I will look into more resources that can help me be a success in life.

248. What role will these resources play in sustaining your life?

A big role cause like my cleaning company, I’ve relied on that for the last 13 years and have survived.

249. How will you adjust your tolerance for risk as you age?

There won’t be any illegal risk at my age.  While I’m still at a good healthy age, I will find great opportunities, so I will take any necessary, law-abiding risk to support my family.

250. What influence would another problem with the criminal justice system have upon your financial stability?

It will be hurt me bad!  I barely made it this time.  Its hard to keep up business when you’re locked down.  Nobody can handle your business like you can.


Darrell Tatum/ Class 4: Life Management Skills

June 11, 2012 in Life Management Skills, Straight-A Guide Curriculum by Darrell Tatum

105. How would you define your life management skills?

I had a 100% commitment to my janitorial company.  I started from the bottom with one contract.  After showing my skills for a glass looking floor, I drew a lot of attention for floor contracts.  I made all the necessary decisions.  I worked hard, day in, day out to get where I was going.

106. What types of decisions influence how you will emerge from prison?

I made the decision to focus on my company and strive for whatever positive that is in store for me.  A decision to keep all negative aspects away from me that will blind me from what I’m trying to achieve.

107. In what ways does your daily schedule determine your potential for success upon release?

By my keeping on track and follow a daily schedule, will keep me not only on time, but in tact of the things I need to complete that day.

108. How do personal relationships influence our prospects for success?

It helps me especially when it’s someone positive and going the same way I’m going.

109. How can we cultivate and nurture personal relationships that may prove helpful through our prison journey and beyond?

I like to take notes from positive business-minded people.  I use these notes on investments or other helpful things that once I get, I’ll put them to use along with the business plans I’m working on.

110. In what ways did Michael’s decisions at the beginning of his term lead to the opportunities that opened for him through the decades he served?

He stayed focus with a positive attitude.  He made the right approach and respectfully handle himself as a human being.

111. In what ways have the decisions you made from the day of your arrest influenced your life today?

The decision that I made wasn’t the best, but now it has influenced me in a different way ’cause I’m away from my love ones, but it has made me stronger to be more aware of the decisions that I make.  I should think them out more ’cause coming here isn’t what’s up!

112. How would you compare and contrast the initial adjustment decisions of two prisoners who offered their profiles?

I compare from their background: Everybody comes from a different background and had different choices that they made.  Some was forced, but most of them just plain out bad decisions.

113. In what ways does your prison adjustment compare or contrast with the individuals profiled?

I adjusted myself as to be around positive individuals.  There is a lot of negative, but I stray away and keep my mind on the main things of life.

114. In what ways does your prison adjustment compare or contrast with the type of career trajectory that Greg Reyes or some of the other successful businessmen described?

I stay trying to find different individuals that has different skills, investments or positive images that I can learn from.  It’s never too much knowledge!  I’m a businessman myself and I like to find different trades that I can learn or invest in.

115. What steps can you take in the time that spans between now and your release date to prepare for a law-abiding, fulfilling life?

I have already mapped out a lot to be a law-abiding person, but what I mainly done was to readjust my thinking.  I took steps as far as just learning to struggle to get what I need instead of just getting it by any means.  I took another step to do hands on more on my janitorial company.

116. In what ways are your interactions with others in prison and beyond purposeful?117. How do your interactions with others relate to the individual you aspire to become?

I’m talking with positive people who made mistakes like me, but was successful businessmen. I take notes on various trades. I inquire on everything I can soak up.

117. How do your interactions with others relate to the individual you aspire to become?

I’m to become very successful, so I learn more by listening to some people whom have strived to get where they’re at now.  I learn not to be greedy about anything  forcing negative image.

118. What types of activities, interests, and discussions motivate or inspire your closest acquaintances?

I have a couple of acquaintances that is interested in investing into the commercial cleaning business that I have.  I have a couple who likes the promoting entertainment that I used to do.

119. In what ways will the relationships you cultivate help or hinder your aspirations?

It will keep me motivated to do the right thing!

120. If Red had a stable job with opportunities for growth, what do you suppose would have tempted him to revert to crime?

Being around negative friends.  Trying to show that he isn’t scared, which are bad decisions that he made!

121. In what ways could a prisoner manage his life to persuade prospective employers that he lives by different values from men like Red?

Staying focused and being patient!  Think first about their kids, wife/girlfriend, mom!

122. How does an individual’s diction influence perceptions?

I feel that he speaks what he really want to do in life, but it’s always something that he judges among himself.

123. How does an individual’s personal grooming and presentation influence opportunities?

A person’s personal grooming and presentation shows what type a person he is.  How he can handle any situation.

124. With regard to the attitude attribute of the Straight-A Guide, what does it mean to make a 100 percent commitment?

To me, showing a 100% commitment means a lot.  That’s a big turnaround and if you don’t have a strong willpower, you won’t make it.  You must invest in the goals 100% to what you want to achieve.

125. How would you assess your acquaintances with regard to the attitude attribute of the Straight-A Guide?

Right now, if a person isn’t on the same level that I’m on as far as a 100% commitment to positive goals, then I don’t indulge myself with them.  I stray away ’cause I don’t want any bad judgments rub off on me.  I have a couple of people here that I deal with that are on some Straight-A-shit!  We all want to stay out of prison, but we have to do all the positive things to stay out.

Darrell Tatum/ Class 5: Self-Improvement Training

May 28, 2012 in Life Management Skills, Straight-A Guide Curriculum by Darrell Tatum

126. When you assess your environment, what opportunities for self-improvement can you create or seize?

To be honest, here at Forrest City, there isn’t a lot of opportunities, but the handful of people that I’ve met, I can get some opportunities, but I want more for self-improvement.

127. What is your interpretation on the value of self-imposed structure of free time?

Me, I use all of this free time to strengthen my mind, get physical and mentally stable.  Refocus on life itself and most important get all the negative out of my systems.

128. What relationship do your daily activities have to the vision you have for your life upon release?

My Bible study keeps me steady.  My workouts keeps me focused.  My studying on new skills and tasks keeps me motivated!  Just staying positive keeps me in check.

129. Imagine that you were to replicate your activities or use of time yesterday every day or your sentence. If you did, what level of preparation would have to triumph over the obstacles that await you upon your return to society?

Really, just work them into the more important things that I have to do out there.  Just like a everyday routine.

130. What activities within the prison environment can you pursue that will enhance your strengths?

Overall, to stay out!  I’ve taken a couple of classes that has strengthen my brain to take to the outside.

131. What activities within the prison environment would you categorize as a weakness?

Being around the negative people.  The limitation of vocational classes here causes a weakness, ’cause it don’t help a person improve with a skill.

132. What activities within the prison environment would you perceive as offering opportunities?

The CDL class, home investing and towing/recovery.

133. What activities within the prison environment do you perceive as threatening your prospects for success upon release?

Listening to people who speaks on doing the same thing when they get out!

134. To what extent do the activities you pursue inside the prison environment contribute to your strengths and opportunities?

As far as the CDL, I want to renew my CDL license ’cause I haven’t had them since I was in the military.  The home buying relates to what I’m doing now and towing/recovery is another investment I want to inquire in.

135. What steps do you deliberately take to minimize your exposure to weaknesses and threats?

Stay away from that surroundings.

136. Using the SWOT-assessment technique, how would you assess your decision-making process prior to imprisonment?

I know what will keep me out and I know what I want in life.  I just made bad decisions and I’m aware of my surroundings, so I know you live to learn and I want to live strong!

137. In what ways can the SWAT-assessment technique guide your decisions as you prepare for success upon release?

I’ve weighted all my assessments.  The more positive I be, the better.  I can’t put my life in prison again!

138. What types of activities in prison fall into quadrant one: low-risk/high-reward?

Staying out of trouble.  Taking up various of classes.

139. What types of activities in prison fall into quadrant two: high-reward/high-risk?

Doing all the wrong stuff.  Fighting, smoking, stealing.

140. What types of activities in prison fall into quadrant three: low-risk/low-reward?

Being a inmate!  They think of us as another person.

141. What types of activities in prison fall into quadrant four: high-risk/low-reward?

Getting out early.  No reward from getting a disciplinary infraction.

142. To what extent do your consider risk-reward analysis when assessing activities, interactions, or time allocation in prison?

I stay committed to being focused and make the best of this time.  Whatever trades that I learn, I’m taking that knowledge back out to get a better productive life.

143 What type of self-improvement programs would enhance an individual’s prospects for success upon release?

Programs that will direct that individual to making a difference upon their release.  They can actually learn something that they wanted to do and use that as an advantage to be law-abiding.

144. What thoughts have you given to the type of employment you want to pursue upon release?

I’ve always worked in warehouse driving the forklift.  Until I get my janitorial company back on track, I would go back to operating various of forklifts.

145. Define the qualifications necessary for the type of job you want to pursue?

Drug free first of all.  Knowing how to shift the controllers.

146. How do your self-improvement programs prepare you for the type of job you want to pursue?

I was always focus, so I can say they just enlightened me more to be criminal minded free and be all the way legal.

147. What types of self-improvement programs can you pursue independently that will enhance your prospects as a candidate for employment upon release?

The programs that I took was stress management, time management and business investments.  It got me more ready for release.

148. In what ways do academic credentials influence an individual’s candidacy for employment?

Knowledge is the key.  Just keeping them academic skills sharpens your ability for various of employments.

149. How do prospective employers gauge the value of academic credentials?

They value a person who has finish high school.  Certain jobs requires academic skills, so they can rise within their company.

150. What types of self-improvement steps trump academic credentials?

Not staying focus!  You have to keep a positive strive.


Darrell Tatum/ Class 7: Support Networks

April 12, 2012 in Straight-A Guide Curriculum, Support Networks by Darrell Tatum

174. In what ways do you perceive relationships with people you knew prior to confinement to evolve over the course of your imprisonment?

i see some people treats me as out of sight, Out of mind.it gets hard to keep a strong relationship being locked down.

175. In what ways have you nurtured support networks during the time you’ve served thus far?

well,I’ve written several letters to people inquiring in several different classes,investments&franchisise.just letters to some friends to just help me from the outside to maintain steady skills & knowledge

176. In what ways will the support network you have in place now contribute to your success upon release?

like my uncle,he has made sure that our business operate smoothly. my best friend keeps me in tact of everything else. They have me a job positions lined up when i finish my halfway house. They have maintain my contracts with my janitorial business

177. In what ways would you build a strong support network while you climbed through years of imprisonment?.

I stay in contact.i’m always mapping out new investments with people outside the fence

178. In what ways do support networks or the lack of support networks influence prison adjustments?

support networks will keep you up on things vs.the lack of support. the support that a inmates needs to keep a positive image for that person

179. To what extent are the values that those in your support network embrace harmonious with the values you profess to embrace?

a lot of my good friends have high professional jobs.i take all of their advice to strive for a change in my life. i follow their lead.it was me to make the decisions that i made.

180. What steps are you taking now to build or nurture your support network?

before i came in on this violation,i was taking positive steps.fight now,i’m in my books studying better investments,futheing vocational learning&focusing on my kids future

181. In what ways can those in your support network facilitate your aspirations?

they can keep me upon the right things to go by.i depend upon their decisions to help me make the right one.

182. In what ways is your support network helping you now?

locating me various contacts on the floor work.finding different sponsors who accepts felons as like me.

183. What level of allegiance do you pledge to your support network?

i give them a high level of allegiance. Like my mom&brother,they have been therefor me since day one. they kept faith in me

184. What incremental action steps can you to take to bring people you do not currently know into your life?

i can reach out to insight troubled teens to make a turning point in their lives cause prison isnt whats up!

185. What thoughts do you have about people who would be most influential to your possibilities for success upon release?

i know they will have faith in me cause although i did the things i did, i was always supported to their fundraisers,etc.

186. Who are they?

law abiding citizens who are honest&devoted to what they do.

187. What interests do they have?

to better themselves as well as others on a daily basic

188. How can you make them aware of your aspirations?

keeping them up with what I’m doing positivity..i set goals & strive for them. i ask them to help me on certain plans.

189. What impression would your adjustment through prison thus far make upon them?

a more positive person. it have made me more patient&focus. i had time to rethink of all the mistakes i have done&how to correct them

190. In what ways are you working to cultivate mentors?

right now,i’m working hard on making a big difference of my thinking. i always focus on business,but when things get slow,i fall back on other activities which leads me in here

191. In what ways does your behavior or activities within prison boundaries influence your relationships?

i dont let my activities in prison influence my relationships. now,i do speak on commiucation &keeping yourself in tact to overcome the criminal activities.

192. How would you assess the preparations and commitment your closest acquaintances make to a law-abiding, successful life upon release?


193. If you were to receive a disciplinary infraction, in what way would that influence the support network you’re striving to cultivate?


194. What relevance does the phrase “It’s not what you know but who you know” have to you?


195. To what extent would your actions show that you’re conscious of the influence others have on your prospects for success upon release?


196. How can a prisoner open more opportunities to broaden his network of support?


197. How would your transition to society change if you had a job offer in place before your release?


198. What steps will you begin taking now to broaden, nurture, and protect your support network each week that you remain in prison?


199. How will you hold yourself accountable?


Darrell Tatum/ Class 8: Relationship Training

April 12, 2012 in Relationships, Straight-A Guide Curriculum by Darrell Tatum

200. What relationship do you have to others in the world?


201. To what extent do the decisions we make have an influence on the lives of others?


202. In what ways does a relationship with God influence the choices we make or behaviors we pursue?


203. In what ways does our relationship to anyone else influence the choices we make or behaviors we pursue?


204. If everyone in society made decisions from the same code of personal values that we embrace, how would the world advance or decline for future generations, including our children?


205. To what extent do your choices and behaviors match the choices and behaviors you would want your children or people you love to see and emulate?

they cant match because this lead me to prison.now,like in question#204,the decsions&behavior i have now,will be a positive role model that people with the same mind frame will emulate

206. What does it mean to you to live with integrity?

to live with some morals of life.

207. What does it mean to you to serve a prison sentence or to confront adversity with dignity?

to serve a prison sentence for the mistakes that i made in life.it s a life changing situation.you live to learn,but bad decisions you have to pay the price.

208. In what ways do your relationships with other prisoners influence your possibility for success upon release?

i only have a couple of good positive friends in here that i can say is on the same mind frame as i. we encourage each other to make the best out of nothing legally when we get released. We share each others goals.

209. How do your relationships with other prisoners influence the way that prison staff members assess you?

i don’t let staff get to me. i keep it simple around them.

210. In what ways will your relationships with other prisoners influence the probation officer who supervises your release?

thats a good thing about this question!i want be on any probation. when i was ,i abide all rules,bur i made that turning point that costed my freedom.

211. What efforts are you making today to influence the relationships you will have in the months and years to come?

staying focus,positive,hardworking,family orientated and god’s child.

212. In what ways can you influence relationships with people beyond prison boundaries while you’re incarcerated?

i can ensure them that i have a game plan of being  law binding citizen. i can show my efforts thru certain things that is beneficial.

213. How would maintaining relationships with people who embrace criminal values influence your potential for success upon release?

personally,i would have to stay away from their criminal activities. i am striving for success&won’t let their values get in my way

214. In what ways do grooming and personal appearance influence your relationship with others?

grooming &personal appearance is a must!that really shows how a person cares about themselves.if you are  nasty&not being rude,but i don’t need u around me.

215. How do writing skills influence the potential for opening new relationships that may lead to success upon release?

i do think u can strengthen yourself successfully with writing skills.when i write out my proposals for various companies,trying to gain a contract with them,it takes writing skills to really spread out the details of how the building should be done.its a big influence that will lead to success

216. In what ways are you working now to nurture relationships that may help you succeed upon release?

staying focus is the main thing for me to nurture relationships.

217. What influence will your relationships with others have on your possibility for success upon release?

well,i have a lot of positive support that will help me stay on the right path of success.

218. How would prospective mentors respond if they were to hear you attribute your predicament to the choices or actions of another?

i think they would have a good response to all of my positive goals

219. In what ways does the blaming of outside forces strengthen or weaken your potential for success upon release?

well,having some of the negative peopl around me now seeing how there are now,really strengten me for success. i see that all they want is the easy way out.

220. How do your relationships with others influence the people closest to you?

well,it really don’t have an effect. we all can relate on certain issues.

221. To what extent does living with transparency, or as an open book, influence relationships?

you have to live your life the best way that you can.you can’t live by other peopl,so to relate to this question,i will live my life as a law binding citizen.

222. How would behaving one way with one group of people and another way with others strengthen or weaken your potential for success upon release?

well,all people is different,so if you keep positive people around you and you want to live right,then you won’t need another group of people to hang with.

Darrell Tatum/ Class 6: Communication Skills

April 2, 2012 in Communication Skills, Straight-A Guide Curriculum by Darrell Tatum

151. Describe situations you can recall when inadequate communication skills led to decreased opportunities in your life.

I have tried to have good communication skills, but I can remember one time 10 years ago.  I was just getting another contract for my janitorial company.  I was so anxious to get the contract, that I didn’t read the fine prints of the contract.  I let one of my employees perform the nightly duties which he brought alone a friend of his.  Well, this was a bank and they don’t allow anybody else that isn’t on the contract.  Well, I lost the contract and almost got prosecuted, ’cause it was a theft that night.  Just inadequate communications.

152. Describe situations where stronger communication skills may have enhanced your prospects for success.

I always check on my employees daily to make sure every was done properly.  I try to communicate with all my surroundings.  If I have a problem that I can’t solve, I don’t just go at it.  i communicate with that person to get a better understanding.

153. What do communication skills mean to you?

Means a lot.  To pass knowledge from one person to another.  Whats good to have a steady relationship without communication.

154. In what types of ways can improving communication skills assuage the burden of confinement?

Try to get everybody on the same page in confinement.  We have to live together, so communicating among each other will assure the burden of confinement.

155. What types of influence do communication skills have on an individual’s prospects for success upon release?

My point of view from this question is that when you talk with positive people who are on the positive path of success.  You can always learn something out of the conversation.  Especially if it’s somebody that is trying or have done the same thing that your trying to do once release.

156. How can developing communication skills open opportunities through imprisonment?

With the right people and open minds you can develop all types of opportunities.  It’s all about who you know and what they want out of life.

157. In what ways can an individual take clearly-defined, measurable steps toward improving communication skills?

Learning to speak up.  Think before your actions.  Open up your feelings.

158. In what ways have you taken measurable, deliberate steps to improve your communication skills?

Well, I always believe and used communication.  The steps I took to improve my communication skills in the past was to think on how to approach and talk to that certain person.  It’s all in the language.

159. What value do enhanced communication skills offer to a prospective employer?

It offers a lot.  Say for instance that you’re late for work.  Some people might not call to say they’re late which is the wrong way.  Always call for anything.  Good communication goes a long way.

160. How can a prisoner convey the extent of his communication skills and his personal investment to improve such skills?

He can improve his skills if he puts his mind and heart into it.  Practice makes perfect.

161. How does the prison experience influence an individual’s development of communication skills?

Now this is a good one ’cause in here all you have is your word!  Only a prisoner will communicate to get around.  That’s all we have to do, but you still some that is just stuck stupid  To get what you want, you have to communicate.

162. In what ways do developing communicating skills resemble the development of physical fitness?

To me I write down weekly on what type of exercise I’m going to do.  I keep a record of it to see what developments I have achieved.  Now, if I’m training somebody else, I’ll write them down a routine.  Thats relating the weekly drills.

163. What does it mean to read with a purpose?

To strengthen your vocabulary.  Reading something that your interesting in doing positive in life.  When going to college, you have to read to learn.  This is the best way to improve your knowledge.

164. Describe the pattern of books you have read throughout your term in prison. What kind are they and why do you read them?

Well, this time around, I read the Bible thru my studies.  I read that to keep me calm in mind.  Thats something that I always have done.  I read the books for this course (Earning Freedom, Straight-A Guide, Prison! My 8,344th Day). I can relate to everything the author has to say ’cause I’m going thru the same thing.  I’m not other people in here that  still read the urban, street books.  They still have that criminal thinking.

165. In what ways do books you read prepare you for success upon release?

They can give you great ideas business wise.  Now, I do read investments and business opportunities magazines and gets me prepare on trying different skills upon release.

166. When you consider the amount of free time available to you on a typical day, how do you determine the most effective ways to use it toward preparations for success?

There are a lot of things to do, but I can speak on my time and how I use it.  First, I work out in the morning and doing lunch.  After that, I go into my notes on preparing myself.  I find various of business magazines and take notes.  All of this on a daily basic.  I take time out to write my kids.  I make sure that I use my time wisely.

167. In what ways do you work to improve your dexterity with language, using words, sentences, and paragraphs to communicate ideas?

Well, I read a lot of magazines of all kinds, so when I run upon a word that I don’t understand or just can’t pronounce, I get out the dictionary.  I try to keep them words in mind so the next time I’ll already know and how to pronounce it.

168. How would you describe the argot of the imprisoned class?

I would describe it as very different from the outside.  In here, the slang is different and I can relate to it, ’cause it’s like we are in our own small world.  As you know, a lot of the words in here isn’t in the dictionary.

169. In what ways does the jargon of imprisonment compare of contrast with the language in the society you expect to encounter upon release?

A lot of language in here is slang and it’s comparable, but not in a proper manner.  you have to speak clearly and professionally.

170. What does an individual speaker’s enunciation convey to his listeners?

He makes sure that his listeners understand exactly what he is saying.

171. In what ways do an individual’s grooming habits or manner of dress communicate his values?

A great deal of values.  How you do in here is how you done on the streets.  While you have plenty of time in here, it is good to start good grooming habits and appearance.  That’s a good step upon release.  Your appearance shows a lot in person.

172. To what extent does documenting a prison journey communicate an individual’s commitment to success upon release?

It can show what a person has gone thru and gives that individual the outlook of what not to repeat in life.  It shows them their mistakes.

One of the exercises Michael embraced to develop his communication strategy included writing book reports. In Earning Freedom, he wrote that books opened opportunities that contributed in meaningful, measurable ways to prepare him for triumph over the obstacles he expected to encounter. Each book had a purpose, and to stay on course, he used the following format to write his book reports:

  • How I came across the book (title of book):
  • Why I choose to read (title of book):
  • What I learned from (title of book):
  • Ways in which (title of book) will contribute to my success upon release

173.  In what ways would writing similar book reports contribute to the development of your communication skills and preparations for success upon release?

Each format is a question that you ask yourself.  Writing what you have learned throughout your journey in prison helps you develop better skills and preparations for success upon release.  Keeping good notes and using that literature strengthen your abilities to be successful in life.

Darrell Tatum/ Class 3: Accountability

April 2, 2012 in Accountability, Straight-A Guide Curriculum by Darrell Tatum

97. Describe your thoughts on whether accountability logs would help, hinder, or provide indifferent to your opportunities for success upon release.

They help because I know if I am on track. If I set a goal I write it down then track it.

98. In what ways will probation officers respond to efforts you’ve made at documenting your values, goals, and commitment to preparing for a law-abiding life upon release?

I hope they appreciate all the steps I have taken to prepare for release. Rather than tell them, I can show them how hard I worked.

99. Elaborate on ways that full transparency with regard to your prison adjustment through accountability logs can influence potential employers or support networks.

I have accepted responsibility for my crime and work to better myself. I have been held accountable, and my record proves I am working for a better life I think that is clear.

100. Describe the role accountability logs played in their success:

They are like a compass keeping me on track. That is the key. I know where I am going because my logs show me. Every prisoner should use them.

101. How do universities evaluate which students to admit?

Grades, test scores, references, writing ability.

102. What information do creditors consider when deliberating on whether to extend loans?

Past credit, trustworthiness, references, income, job.

103. What governs investment decisions that people make?

Learning about the markets tells me I will safe and invest in a way that is conservative but also allows for some growth. I must safe when I get home.

104. How do your responses to the above questions support or refute the value of accountability logs?

They prove they work. They keep me on track. I am not floating which is the key. I can always refer to them and I know an employer will appreciate it. I follow through.

Darrell Tatum/ Class 2: Goals

April 1, 2012 in Goals, Straight-A Guide Curriculum by Darrell Tatum

64. What values might lead a person to success upon release from prison?:

Keeping a positive image and striving for what is best in life the right way!

65. How does a person ever become his values?:

Staying focused and doing it, not just talking about it.

66. How does a person strengthen his integrity?:

Have faith, believe in what you are doing, and doing the right thing when it can be hard.

67. What immediate challenges will a prisoner confront the day his prison term expires?:

Work, being around old friends who are still doing the same negative things.

68. Housing:


69. Household furnishings:


70. Clothing:


71. Transportation:


72. Incidentals:


73. How much in the way of financial resources should a prisoner expect to need in the way of financial resources to transition to society?:

The way it is now a decent apartment might be around $800 a month, plus utilities. A car is a must. I will need at least a few thousand to start.

74. How will prospective landlords, employers, creditors, and others in society respond to an individual who discloses his criminal record(s) and history of imprisonment?:

At first they will follow the stereotype, but when I show them the steps I took they will feel different.

Describe the job market in the sectors for which you would like to find employment::

75. What range of income does the market offer?:

A warehouse may offer minimum wage, but if you have forklift experience you can make more. Computer skills also help.

76. What level of education or experience do candidates for such employment typically have?:

I have two associate degrees, and I am always told I am qualified. Now a days even a high school diploma is acceptable for a good job. Hard honest work matters most.

77. In what ways will a prison record influence possibilities for employment?:

Like I said earlier there will be stereotypes but if I can show my path and how capable I am I think I will be in good shape. I can direct employers to this profile so they I was always working.

78. Where is the general employment rate in your community?:

High, and higher for felons.

79. How would you expect the general employment rate to compare with the unemployment rate for people with your background, considering prison record, educational record, and experience?:

It is higher with a felony. I know it will be rough when I come home. But I must be ready and prove why I am worthy of a chance.

80. How much time do you anticipate needing between your release date and securing the job you expect to land?:

I am researching now and when I get in the halfway house I will be on a mission to get a job, and show employers why I am ready. I will not be wasting anytime. I am also working on proposals for various office businesses.

81. If halfway house placement requires forfeiture of 25 percent of gross earnings, of your monthly take-home pay, how much do you anticipate you will keep during the time you’re in the halfway house?:

I’ve been through this before. The balance will go for bills and to help me go to home confinement.

82. What do statistics show that average households in America earn each year?:

About $0,000

83. How so you anticipate your income will compare with that average one year after your release from prison?:

It may be a struggle, but I will life within my means.

84. What emotions do we introduce when we obsess on issues beyond our ability to influence?:

Sometimes I get emotional when I get to the point that I cannot take care of the things that need to be done. I usually try to slow myself when this occurs. I pray, work, and keep striving to complete my mission. I overcome.

85. How can we overcome the despair that accompanies imprisonment?:

Stay focused, prepare, work on different skill sets, all in a mission to do what others say is impossible.

Michael wrote about the numerous ways that his behavior could lead to the extension of his prison term or the aggravation of his prison conditions. No one wants to serve longer prison terms or serve sentences under harsher conditions. :

86. What types of behavior lead to such outcomes?:

If a person in prison has a weak mind they will give into the negative influences. They are the people to stay away from but some do not know that or find out too late. Only hang around people who are positive and want to do good. Otherwise you get transferred, get a longer sentence, all of it.

87. How do harsher prison conditions influence an individual’s ability to prepare for success upon release?:

First with more trouble you get treated like an inmate not a man. And you cannot focus if you are in shu or getting transferred.

88. How does behavior that leads to harsher prison conditions influence the lives of those in our support network?:

It is hard on our loves ones already, but when we make it worse it is harder on them. I want to prove that I deserve their trust and if I make it harder then I am not being honest. I need them.

89. Although the prison system offered ways to lengthen a prison term or aggravate the conditions under which a prisoner served his sentence, what objective mechanisms exist within the system for a prisoner to distinguish himself in a positive way?:

Some prisons have vocational programs that allow us to obtain skills for the real world. You must have a strong outlook and work hard. it can be tough in here. I must stay focused and be around positive people. A lot of it is up to me. No matter what programs exist I must prepare.

90. How then does the system encourage individuals to work toward reconciling with society, prepare for law-abiding lives upon release, or earn freedom?:

The system does not. I do not see it. They encourage failure. Either way I must stand ready and we must be prepared as a man, to honor the kids, or wife, or girlfriend or parents who stuck by us. We owe it to them. There are some good guards who will encourage you but not many. Many are miserable and just work there.

91. Describe the goals you have set?:

I want to finish this program and get my third aa degree. i want to use this program to help me get a job. Justin mentioned we could begin sending it to potential employers which is great. They can see how hard I work in here. I also want to stay in shape, and stay close to those that support me.

92. Describe how your goals relate to your professed values?:

They relate. What I say I do. I work out, study, stay close. I am in line!

93. How clearly can you gauge your level of success toward each goal you set?:

Well, these were some of the things I was already doing. While in here I have been researching for a better path, ensuring I reach all of my goals. By writing them out I know if I am on track.

94. In what ways does one goal lead to the next?:

You reach it, appreciate it, then move on to the next ,never forgetting where you were or how hard you worked to get there!

95. If you achieve all of your goals, how will they influence your prison adjustment?:

They will make my adjustment comfortable. All I have to do is keep working hard, staying positive, and have real goals.

96. How will the goals you set influence your prospects for success upon release?:

I must keep my mind focused in here. I must have a successful future. I am motivated, balanced, determined, and ready.


Darrell Tatum/ Class 1: Values

February 8, 2012 in Straight-A Guide Curriculum, Values by Darrell Tatum

16. Who are you?

I am a person who believes in family.  A person who will help a person in need. I am a person of many trades.  I strive for everything in life that I have obtained.

17. Describe your background with regard to your education, vocation or career, troubles with the law.

My education was good. I stayed in school to get future learning.  I went to college to obtain an assoicate degree in civil construction, then I received my certification in HVAC.  I made a 8 year career with the US Armym but I still had my run ins with the law.  I started when I was 15, but I left for military and when I came back to the states, I ran into trouble again. Just bad decisions.

18. What are you going through now?

Being away from my kids, mom and grandma is hard, brutal. I was there sole providers. Being around people who really do not want to improve. That makes me sick here cause I am surrounded by this, but like the Straight-A Guide says, I must stay focused, driven and all I need to do and let others do their own thing.

Describe your vision of the best person you can become during the following time frames:

19. Time remaining to serve.

I must have the mindset of a businessman; I must take every course I can, learning different skills. I cannot waste a day.

20. One month after release.

Striving to stay out by focusing on expanding my business, and spending time with my family.

21. One year after release.

Continuing to stay close to family, and working to make sure my goals are completed.

22. Five years after release.

Hopefully, successful in all areas of my life, and involved in franchising or sub-leasing.

23. How do those in society perceive people in prison?

People follow the stereotypes they see on TV. The truth is there are a lot of educated, hardworking people in prison. I am one of them. We just made some mistakes, and are paying a heavy price.

24. Describe how television programs and movies depict prisoners:

They make it out as a very bad, brutal place.  Always killing or raping or just plain violence.  Do not get me wrong. That can happen to some in prison but not all the time and not in all prisons.

25. Compare and contrast your prison adjustment with the prison stereotype.

I adjust in my own routine, my own schedule, not letting the institution define my happiness. I must stay strong, ready, and respect others. I stay focused on coming home.

26. In what ways is your adjustment similar?

Similar in that respect is important. It matters here.

27. In what ways is your adjustment different?

I avoid all criminal activities, unlike what you see on TV.

Describe what opportunities for personal growth and development exist in the different prison security levels:

28. High security.

Respect! Taking responsibility of your actions and begin putting your life back in order. Make positive plans.

29. Medium security.

Learn vocational skills and attend programs that might be around.

30. Low security.

Planning for future, getting yourself ready mentally and physically.

31. Minimum security.

Same as above.

32. Prior to release, what do prisoners generally say about their prospects for returning?

All say they are not coming back.

33. In what ways, if any, do those who never return to prison serve their sentences differently from those who do return to prison?

They stay in their zone, keeping all the things that put them in prison out of their mind. They focus on bettering themselves, and being around positive people.

34. What steps can a prisoner take to improve chances of success upon release?

Find god, find a trade, and think positively and plan.

Sentence length is not a factor that is controlled from within prison, but adjustment inside prison may influence success upon release. For a better understanding of prison expectations, describe your thoughts on:

35. What length of time would you consider long-term imprisonment?

More than a year.

36. What expectations do those in society have for long-term prisoners?

A lot of people I come across think little of us, and when they do think we are just bad.

37. What expectations do you suppose long-term prisoners have for themselves?

The goal is to use all this time wisely. We must strengthen ourselves mentally and physically. We must take classes that will benefit us on the outside.

38. What do prison administrators and staff members expect of long-term prisoners?

Some really do not care. I hate to say that but it is the truth.

39. How would you define a “model inmate”?

A positive person who accepts what he has done wrong and now is correcting it and bettering himself. A person who is getting ready to be a law-abiding citizen.

40. How does Michael’s prison journey support or refute prison stereotypes?

He was striving to make the best out of a bad decision, never complaining, and always trying to improve. Some people do not expect that.

41. What role did the prison infrastructure play in influencing Michael’s journey through prison?

His mentors played a large role. They believe in him because he worked hard.

42. What vision governed Michael’s decisions as a prisoner?

His vision was education, and improving. To prove that any prisoner with work can do the impossible.

The Straight-A Guide includes seven attributes that he describes explicitly in the books Triumph!  And Success! What do the following attributes mean to you?

43. Attitude: What level of commitment do you make to preparing for success upon release?

I am always positive. I make goals and work to stick with them.

44. Aspiration: Where do you see yourself at various checkpoints in the future?

I aspire to be a better father, and be successful and gage progress along the way.

45. What distinguishes an aspiration from a fantasy?

Fantasy is just a dream, an aspiration is striving for a goal.

46. Action: What steps are you taking toward aspiration?

I have a plan, and  continue taking certain steps to complete my plan.

47. Accountability: How are you measuring progress?

I’m still doing research on this, but check my progress frequently to ensure I am on track.

48. Awareness: How knowledgeable are you about the atmospherics around you?

Very knowledgeable. I only have a handful of people I really deal with.

49. In what ways do you reach beyond the boundaries that currently confine you?

I learn and give my own business advise to others, and try to share those skills and my work ethic with others outside prison. I want them to see how hard I am working.

50. What do you know about the challenges that will confront you upon release?

I know what is out there. Life is a challenge itself, so I will have to make better decisions and prepare.

51. Achievement: When do you celebrate success?

Celebrating is a thank you prayer, knowing I am on the right track.

52. Appreciation: What role do others have in your success?

I hope others get involved in my success and see how hard I am working to change and improve, especially my son.

53. Where did those choices lead?

My choices in high school led me into the dope game, a losers game. It almost led me to jail at an early life.

54. What did you value then?

I valued nothing. I was able to maintain myself and put up for a rainy day. That took a lot of pain from my mom paying my way through school. I kept that away from her by having a job on the side.

55. How would you guide your children if they were making choices in the same way? 

I will show them that there is always a better way. You just have to be patient and strive for better things in life.

56. What would you do differently if you could?

Not be in the drug trade. I would have stayed in the Army and strived for a BA or masters degree.

57. Describe the differences in your life today from the first days of your confinement.

More focus on the right things. I changed my thinking. Working on a good life.

58.  How have your activities from last week led to your activities for this week?

I just take it day by day, but I do a lot of work and researching on anything that is positive.

59. Identify the values by which you live.

I valued my kids, mom and grandma. Thoughts of them keep me focused on the tasks ahead.

60. To what extent do your daily activities harmonize with the values by which you live?

They harmonize because I am always working and staying productive.

61. How do your professed values relate to your perceived role in society?

I make all my values count! If I follow them I will stay on track and lead a good life.

62. Where does your allegiance lie?

My allegiance follows living the Straight A Guide, and to be a positive role model.

63. Are values situational or absolute?

Situational. Sometimes values are different and we must be aware of that.



Darrell Tatum/ Personal Journal Entry: Oatmeal Diet

January 2, 2012 in Personal Journal Entries by Darrell Tatum

January 2, 2012

2 the ones who are trying 2 lose that weight I have the perfect diet that I’ve done several times. Its the oatmeal diet: You only eat oatmeal 5 times a day every 3 hrs. Small portions will help cut down the cravings & I assure you will lose the weight! I’ve lost 13 lbs in 10 days of the diet. All u eat is oatmeal & drink plenty of water. Give it a try for a week and lose some of those pounds from the holidays.

Copyright 2019 The Michael G. Santos Foundation