by Julius Lige

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

I strongly believe a person success upon release from prison begin with discipline. Having the discipline to avoid any criminal activity, embraces an attitude of willingness to work hard to succeed legitimately. With the right attitude, faith, family, and finance are values that will provide a concrete foundation.

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

When a person makes the commitment to live by their values, everyday life decisions are made in accordance to those values. Living a value based life requires you to demonstrate conduct related to your values.

66. How does a person strengthen his integrity?:

A person integrity is strengthen through their ability to live accordingly to their values. Through actions, they must live by the words they speak, and through thoughts, they must believe in themselves, responding to any adversity from a position of strength.

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

The day a prisoner is release from prison, he will be confronted with the challenge of transitioning his life to complete independence. No longer will he be provided three meals a day, clothing, and shelter. His daily responsibilities will increase tremendously. He must seek housing, transportation, employment, and medical coverage immediately.

68. Housing:

To secure housing cost, a prisoner must accumulate enough saving to pay rent for, first month, last month, and a security deposit. With that in mine, an estimated move-in cost, will be $2500. I suggest a prison save an additional month rent $1000, in case of an emergency situation. Total amount for housing $3500.

69. Household furnishings:

Furnishing a household can become expensive for a prisoner. With that in mind, a prisoner must spend his money wisely for shopping for household items, such as living room and bedroom furniture, cooking and kitchen appliances, also electronics. I estimate a prisoner will spend $5,000 on household furnishings.

70. Clothing:

An individuals appearance plays an important role when seeking opportunities. Therefore, the prisoner must accumulate enough money for a business wardrobe, along with a social and athletic wardrobe. I estimate that an entire wardrobe cost around $5,000

71. Transportation:

Transportation cost for a new dependable vehicle ranges between $25,000-$30,000. Therefore, an individual will need a 10% down payment of $2,500 to $3,000. With a job and good credit, the bank will issue an afforable car note with $350-$400 a month. With that in mind, my estimate for transportation costs is $5,000. $3,000 down payment, $2,000 for five months car payments.

72. Incidentals:

With an estimated monthly spending cost of $3,000, an individual must keep $36,000 in his account. The monthly $3,000 covers bills and expenses. With financial stability in place, a prisoners transition into society is less stressful.

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?:

After spending years in prison, most individuals who are released from prison come home to a limited amount of financial resources. In order for an individual to have a successful transition into society he must have financial resources. Individuals will need $5-$10,000 cash to begin his quests towards creating financial opportunities that will allow an individual to utilize his skill set comfortably in a job environment.

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?:

Perspective landlords, employers, creditors, and others in society will hesitate to offer opportunities to an individual who disclose his criminal record. However, we are living in a society with a large number of ex felons. Therefore, it’s possible to overcome the many prejudices that are shown by members of society.

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

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

With an understanding that the US job market is predicted to suffer for the next few years, I am preparing myself by developing a skill set for two different industries. Plan A and plan B, will consist of me being knowledgeable about the fitness training industry and diesel industry. Both industries are felony friendy, with opportunities to reach pay scales of $45-$65,000 a year. With a stable job in place I could then focus on executing a business plan, establishing residential care facilities.

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

Candidates for employment in the fitness industry are certified through personal training companies that require them to know general information about fitness, nutrition, and anatomy. Candidates for employment in the trucking industry requires them to attend a trucking school, complete an eight week course, and pass the written and drivers test. I am studying to take both fitness and trucking tests upon my release.

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

A prison record influences possibilities for employment negatively. Due to societies perception of convicted felons, there are many obstacles prisoners will face in regards to employment. Each prisoner is held accountable to prepare himself to overcome these obstacles through education and skilled development prisoners will increase their chances to land opportunities in the workforce.

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

According to an article in the Oakland tribune, the unemployment rate in my East Bay community has improved. The unemployment rate is lower than the previous year which is a sign of progress for our economic future.

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?:

Regardless whether the unemployment rate is high or low, an individual with a criminal history will face challenges. In the industry that I plan on pursuing, my individual skillset will allow me to succeed during bad economic times.

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

Preparing for a successful career upon my release, is something I focused on when my imprisonment began. Therefore I plan on securing a job within 45 days of my release.

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 expect to be released to the halfway house, therefore I’m required to pay 25% of my gross earnings to the halfway house. I will budget the remainder of my monthly take home pay, using 25% for daily expenses and depositing 50% into a savings account.

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

The average household in America earns between $40,000 an $50,000 a year.

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

I anticipate my income to be in the same range of the average American household, with that in mind, combining my income with my wife’s income, we will exceed that yearly average.

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

When we obsess on issues beyond our control, we begin to introduce the emotions that create stress, such as anxiety, discouragement, sadness, hopelessness, and anger. Those emotions only complicate the issue, therefore you must focus on things you have control of.

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

Strategically, I overcome the despair that accompanies imprisonment, by focusing my time on preparing for a successful release.

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?:

The behavior that leads to such outcomes usually stems from a prisoner’s involvement in contraband, violence or any disruption to the prison.

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

Harsher prison conditions require you to put up with prison politics, race riots, and prison gangs. In such a tense environment, the ability to prepare for success upon release becomes much more difficult.

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

Behavior that leads to harsher conditions influences the lives of those in our support network with disappointment. It’s a major letdown to our family and friends when a prisoner behaves recklessly and is transferred to a higher level institution. They become more worried, knowing that their loved one’s safety is jeopardized in harsher prison conditions.

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?:

Regardless of how a prisoner is perceived by staff, he is responsible to make an individual effort towards towards personal growth and development. Although his accomplishments may not be recognized by the system, he will receive acknowledgement from members of society on his positive transformation.

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

An individual cannot depend on the system to encourage them to work towards reconciling with society. It is a prisoner’s responsibility to overcome the many challenges of prison and to prepare themselves for law abiding lives upon release.

91. Describe the goals you have set?:

As I complete my final years of incarceration, I have set several goals. I will continue to strengthen my spiritual faith by reading chapters from the Bible daily. I will work hard everyday towards obtaining knowledge in fitness, with a goal of completing the certified fitness training course before my release. I am continuing to study and learn about the trucking industry as I also have aspirations of starting a trucking company. I will continue to improve my public speaking with a goal to one day speak to kids in the community I once negatively impacted.

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

My goals relate to my professed values in many ways. I must show discipline in order to reach my goals. I will use skillsets to execute my business plans. Integrity, fitness, marriage, and spirituality are values that I will apply to my daily life as I work towards accomplishing my goals.

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

Through my everyday activities, such as exercising, researching the Bible, and studying material for future business plans, I have learned to gauge my success by evaluating my performance and knowledge daily. Everyday assessments allow me to work on areas that need improvement.

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

With a clear understanding of my goals and the impact they will have on my life, strategically I work towards combining each goal so they can work in tandem to prepare me for success upon release.

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

By achieving all of my goals, my goals will influence my prison adjustment with a direct impact on my character. It takes discipline, focus and determination to remain committed towards achieving goals. Each day I wake up in prison, my focus is on enhancing my opportunities for success, and not allowing the prison system to disrupt my momentum.

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

As the goals I reach begin to work in tandem, I will apply them to prospective opportunities that will increase the chances for success upon my release.

by Justin-Paperny

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

Values mean nothing if not actively pursued. For too long in my 20s , I talked about living a values based life. But it was only talk. Now, I live according to my values; they guide me as a compass guides a fisherman at sea. I do not talk about living openly, honestly; I live that way. For me part of the challenge is accepting how difficult it is to life according to the values that we have defined for ourselves.  In other words, it is easy to say one is ethical, honest and so forth. It is much harder to follow through.

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

By working at it every day, understanding that there will be setbacks. I strive to live openly, decently. That does not mean that I will never error again.

66. How does a person strengthen his integrity?:

A person strengthens his integrity by doing the right thing, îespecially when it may cost him the most. To speak up, to do the right thing, to dissent, not only strengthens a persons integrity, it also helps that person develop self worth and confidence.

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

I read that 70% of felons remained unemployed after one year. That is a challenge I must confront. I must accept that others will judge me for my crimes, rather than who I am striving to become. I expect to face financial challenges as I move back into my home. That said, I feel ready because of the efforts I have made since coming to Taft.

68. Housing:

For someone that does not have a home or apartment, I expect that it could cost several thousand to get adjusted. Security deposit, rent, and so forth are expensive and it is incumbent on the prisoner to prepare for these expenses.

69. Household furnishings:

Bedding, computers, and so forth could cost at least $6,000.

70. Clothing:

Depending on the length of incarceration the costs will vary. My friend Michael Santos will need a whole new wardrobe, while for me it will cost very little.

71. Transportation:

Depends on where the prisoners releases. In Los Angeles one needs a car. Buses, taxis, etc are doable but unrealistic. I expect to lease a reasonable car at a reasonable price.

72. Incidentals:

Liquidity is an important issue as one leaves prison. It may take a while to secure employment. I am expecting to begin working immediately, but that does not mean the money will flow immediately. I couldn’t imagine working with less than $15,000 as I make my transition.

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?:

$10,000 at least, or less if a job has been secured. Anyone in prison should use every day to reach out and try and secure employment both in the half way house and upon their full release. I did and it worked!

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?:

I know that landlords that do no care and some that do. I am a landlord and have never cared. That said it will be a barrier for some. Some landlords, I presume, will not want to take the risk of renting to a felon, especially if other applicants are waiting in the wings. The prisoner must be prepared to respond to questions openly, honestly. The answers must be concise, while conveying the message the prisoner has learned from his misdeeds.

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

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

I am preparing to launch a career as a speaker. I know that a market exists for what I am trying to do. I have a mentor Walt Pavlo, a felon, who travels the country sharing his story. He has spoken at numerous business schools. I am not aware of how much he is making, but I know he is doing well enough to pay his court ordered restitution, his rent and other requisite expenses. I also expect to work as a consultant to offenders facing their own struggle with the justice system. I would like to retain 20 clients my first year at a cost of $2,500 a client. That income, alone with my speaking fees, I hope will total $100,000.

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

My degree from USC, I think, gives me credibility as I begin my career as speaker. My book, Lessons From Prison, I suspect will also help cement me as an authority on the subject of ethics, and specifically the consequences that follow cheating. My market is unusual in the sense that one must serve a prison term. It is not a ride one would willingly choose. My experience of thriving through prison should also help me prepare others to face their own prison term with dignity and strength.

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

My prison records precluds me from obtaining a license. That is a major setback. Distinguishing myself in prison, rather than languishing, would be the only to overcome the obstacles ahead. That requires my waking early and working late. I am trying to use my term as an asset, rather than a weakness. There is no other way.

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

Anywhere from 10-20%, with a higher number being underemployed. It will be tough.

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 may affect me in the halfway house. I will not have launched my new career yet. To qualify for home confinement, I have heard, I must secure employment at a company that provides a weekly paycheck. Upon the completion of my sentence I do not expect the unemployment to affect my career. Organizations will always need ethics and compliance training in good times or bad.

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

Zero time. I earned my way to a job from prison by reaching out and showing the value I would provide.

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?:

My expectation is that I will have to surrender 25% of my gross pay to the halfway house. They expect to me remain lawfully employed and abide by the rules. I am confident I will achieve those objectives.

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

Not sure, maybe $70,000.

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

Too early to tell. I will be jumpstarting a new career in a tough economy.

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

I occasionally obsess over issues. Obsessing can be an impediment to success, especially if they are issues I cannot control. I still stew over decisions I made that led to my imprisonment. I remain frustrated and angry that my behavior caused pain to so many. It is a weakness of mine—it always has been. Introspection taking to the extreme becomes obsession.

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

By actively pursuing our values, and enjoy the struggle that can follow such a pursuit.

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?:

For me I have had to embrace the concept of subordination. Subordinating myself to staff and other inmates ensures that I remain on track. I avoid altercations at all costs—I have no one to impress. My positive behavior puts me in a position to create a meaningful life from prison.

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

I have seen my friends go to the SHU and struggle. Serving time in the SHU can totally destroy what a prisoner is trying to accomplish. It takes a strong person to overcome such conditions. It is part of the reason I avoid complications at all cost. I could handle the SHU, but why if I do not have to?

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

Spending time in SHU or getting transferred to a higher security prison can be devastating for family members. Riding on Con Air or the prisoner transport can keep an prisoner out of touch for days on end. The family worries about their health, their safety, their sanity. I cannot put my parents through any more stress! I will not put myself in a position to serve time in SHU nor will I violate any of these ridiculous prison rules. I am also aware thay my incarceration is harder on my parents. Prisoners adjust; I have. Yet family members wrestle with the idea that a loved one is away. I know this, I get it. I am determined to make their lives better, not worse. That is why my behavior ensures that I avoid any altercations that can lead to harsher conditions.

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?:

None that I know of.

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

It does not.

91. Describe the goals you have set?:

It is my goal to finish Lessons From Prison before I leave prison. I would like to clean up my diet a bit. The food here at Taft is better than I had expected. I would like to continue to write a daily blog, and to continue to connect to thousands my blog. I will continue to be grateful for my blessings, including the love of my wonderful parents.

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

My goals revolve around discipline, fitness, courage, and family. They all align and work with my goals.

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

I gauge them weekly. I access how much I have written, how much I have exercised, how well I have eaten. I gauge whether my beliefs align with my actions. Some weeks are better than others, however, I am committed to improving.

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

I develop self worth and confidence with the completion of every goal. It means I am living up to one of my stated values: productiveness. Goals imbue me to work harder, to do more. And incremental goals add up over time. For example, upon my surrender to Taft I had never run long distances. I ran 2 miles, then in time 4, then 5, 6,7,8,9, and now 10 daily. I celebrated every achievement, and then moved on. Completing those goals spawned an attitude that I can accomplish anything.

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

Achieving all of my goals will require me to work harder. A cliche holds that life is not a sprint but a marathon. It is true. When I complete all of my goals, I think, I will have come full circle. I will have proven to others (or at the least myself), that it is possible to change your life from prison. Setting goals is helping me make that happen.

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

My goals will help ensure my survival on many fronts. Writing and reading and studying and exercising have helped me grow smarter and more prepared for the challenges ahead. I hope it proves to others that I am disciplined, that I am committed to a better life. My writings exhibit the growth of a man through the austere conditions of imprisonment. Completing my goals, especially the reading and writing goals, have helped me finally accept responsibility for my actions that lead me to prison. Indeed accepting responsibility is the first step in overcoming a conviction. I set a goal of doing it, and I would be a liar if I did not admit that it took me a while.

 


Copyright 2018 The Michael G. Santos Foundation