by Michael G. Santos

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

Accountability logs represent one of the tools that prisoners can use to help open new opportunities during their imprisonment and beyond. I don’t think any prisoner would say that accountability logs could hinder their preparation for success upon release. Other than those who engage in behavior that they want hidden, men understand the value in keeping accurate records. They provide a basis that enables a man to measure progress, to gauge areas where he can improve. Without an accountability log, a man easily can spin in circles, never really knowing whether he is making advancements toward clearly defined goals.

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 have been preparing for my meeting with anyone and everyone who will evaluate me upon my release. I began those preparations soon after guards locked prison gates behind me. One day, I always knew, those prison gates would open and I would return to society. When I did return, I wanted to be ready. I understood that others would judge me with skepticism, especially a probation officer. To prepare for that meeting with a probation officer, I began keeping clear records. I recorded my progress through the years I served because I anticipated that my probation officer would have an entrenched cynicism when it came to evaluating men who had been in prison for decades. I suspected that he would have a hard time seeing me for anything other than the crimes that resulted in my imprisonment. It was my duty to persuade him to judge me for the man I have worked hard to become rather than the foolish and reckless young man I was when I began serving this sentence. By documenting as much of my prison journey as possible, I hoped to earn a bit of good will from my probation officer. I didn’t know whether the strategy would succeed, but I knew that transparency could strengthen my case. The more evidence I could bring to show my commitment to leading a law-abiding, crime-free life, the more liberty I anticipated my probation officer would grant. I still believe that thorough records and total transparency will serve my interest, not only with probation officers, but with everyone I encounter.

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

The Internet has really changed the world. Although I’ve been incarcerated since 1987, long before the Internet became a house-hold word, I understand how much people in society rely upon it to check up on an individual. A simple Google search can yield all types of data about an individual. Those of us who have a prison record should expect that others will have details of the actions that led to our imprisonment. I expect that many people would like to hold the bad decisions of my early 20s against me forever. My accountability logs will help me refute such prejudices. Of course an accountability log has its limits. It becomes a tool to the extent an individual leads a disciplined, deliberate life. When I began serving my sentence, I anticipated what people in society would expect of a man in prison. Once I answered that hypothetical, I set a plan in motions. To the extent that I followed that plan, I expected to exceed what others would think possible for a prisoner. My accountability would provide the play-by-play, showing how I worked toward the goals I set day after day for every day of my lengthy imprisonment. Meticulous record keeping, I hoped, would intrigue those who would stand in judgment of me. It didn’t matter whether it was a probation officer, a potential employer, or someone I wanted to join my support network. They would want to know the choices I made while I served my sentence. If could show others that I served my term with dignity, in deliberate pursuit of self-improvement and reconciliation, I hoped to advance my cause or agenda.
In Triumph! The Straight-A Guide, Michael discusses what he learned from individuals who achieved world-class levels of success. Those individuals distinguished themselves as exceptional businessmen, professional athletes, and community leaders.

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

In writing Triumph!, I had the privilege of learning from many leaders. They came from all segments of society. I wrote about Lee Nobmann, the CEO of a lumber company that employed several hundred people. To manage his business effectively, Lee described how he relied upon sales reports, financial statements, balance sheets, cash-flow analysis, inventory reports, and other accountability logs. Each of those reports allowed Lee to monitor the health and profitability of his company. By evaluating performance daily, he could make adjustments as needed. Lee attributed his accountability reports as an integral component of his success, enabling him to preside over a privately-held company that generated billions of dollars in business. I also wrote about Brad Fullmer, a professional baseball player who played for eight seasons in the major leagues. He was one of few players to have hit a homerun during his first major league at bat; he stole home plate during the World Series, contributing to the Angels’ victory. The Montreal Expos drafted Brad after his senior year in high school. When I asked Brad what he used to evaluate his performance, he said that he relied upon the statistics. He was always striving to outperform, improving his batting average, his homeruns, his stolen bases, and his runs batted in. Those statistics, of course, were simply another form of accountability logs. I also wrote about Justin Paperny. As the executive director of a public charity, I consider him a community leader. He has the responsibility of helping offenders prepare for law-abiding lives upon release. To further his mission, he must communicate with all types of individuals. It is one thing to write and produce lesson plans and literature. It’s quite another to persuade people in prison to embrace the mindset necessary to prepare for the challenges that await release. In order to reach them, Justin must first persuade prison administrators to allow him to offer his course. He also must persuade businessmen, philanthropists, and government leaders to fund his activities. What does he rely upon to make his case? The answer is accountability logs. Justin strives to document his success by keeping accurate logs of people who participate in the courses he makes available. In comparing those logs against statistics of others who don’t take his course, Justin can measure his level of success. Without accountability logs, he would not have a means of tracking his performance.

101. How do universities evaluate which students to admit?:

Universities rely upon all types of accountability logs to evaluate which students to admit. They rely upon a student’s records that include; grade point average, attendance, test scores, athletic distinctions, community service, and other records that help define the individual. All of those accountability logs help admissions officers assess an individual’s capacity as a student and evaluate what strengths he or she may bring to the university campus.

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

Bankers, credit card issuers, mortgage lenders, and others who provide financial services rely upon accountability logs. The type of accountability logs that are important to them include credit reports, payment histories, debt-to-equity ratios, and other logs that may indicate an individual’s capacity and likelihood of repaying a loan.

103. What governs investment decisions that people make?:

People who make investment decisions must evaluate whether a buy or sell decision harmonizes with their investment objective. To assist them with such evaluations, they consult various forms of accountability logs. In other words, they review how an asset, or potential investment is performing. Depending on the type of asset, some of the accountability tools may include price-to-earnings ratios, debt-to-equity ratios, cash flow, revenue growth, profit or loss reports, market valuation, book valuation, comparison with alternate assets, etcetera. Accountability logs provide investors with the tools they need to govern their investment decisions.

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

My responses to the questions above indicate that accountability logs serve an invaluable purpose. They empower people to make good decisions. For the prisoner who must navigate his way through the many challenges of confinement, accountability logs can serve as a reminder. They keep him on track, reminding him that if he does not use each day wisely, he misses an opportunity to prepare for the challenges ahead. The more discipline he exercises in documenting his journey through prison, from my perspective, the more likely the individual becomes to emerge successfully.

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