Yesterday I got to hear an author speak who was truly inspiring. Michael Santos was 21 when he started making bad decisions, and at age 23, he was convicted for selling cocaine. Perhaps he didn’t have the best lawyer or maybe the judge was trying to make him an example, but the sentence handed down was for 45 years.
Michael knew he’d done wrong and vowed to make his time in prison mean something. He came up with a three-step plan that included educating himself, contributing to society, and establishing a support network that would help him accomplish step two upon his release. He applied to and was accepted to Ohio University and earned his B.A. He wanted to study law, but no law school could get past the requirement that he physically participate in a scholarly community. So he got his masters degree studying what he was already becoming an expert on—prison.
His first book, Inside, recounts another cellmate’s journey to incarceration, though all the names were changed. He submitted his book to a hundred agents, and one landed him a book deal. He continued writing, despite the barriers constantly thrown up by the prison system, about life behind bars. His next book was the result of many interviews of fellow inmates.
In the meantime, a fellow classmate was trying to track him down and discovered he was in prison. She wrote to him. He wrote back. Their correspondence developed into love, and they married while he was still serving time. After he started selling his books, he was making enough money to put his wife through nursing school.
How many people do you know who could do all that while in jail?
His most recent book, Earning Freedom, is all about his own time in the penitentiary and how he lived for the day when he would finally get to live with his wife.
Thankfully he did not have to serve all 45 years. He was released six months ago after 25 years, or precisely 9135 days. By the time he got out, he’d spent more time in prison than he had on the outside. He was offered a job doing speaking engagements as soon as he was released. Because of his parole, he can’t go very far, but his calendar is pretty full. He is such a strong proponent of education that he’s dedicated himself to educating the public at large about the prison system. And now he’s writing a book on his experience since he’s been free.
His is a heartwarming success story about a man who rehabilitated himself. I’m thankful that I got to hear it—it gives me hope. Learn more at http://michaelsantos.com.