Michael G. Santos

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Michael G. Santos

Michael Gerard Santos (born January 15, 1964) is an American life coach. Sentenced for drug trafficking in 1987, he became a prison reform activist, writer and blogger before his release in 2012.


Of Cuban descent, Santos was sentenced for drug trafficking (selling cocaine) aged 23 in 1987, receiving a 45-year sentence for "operating a continuing criminal enterprise".[1][2] He served time in 19 different prisons across the U.S.[2] He was released to community confinement in August 2012, aged 48, having served 25 years and two days (total of 9,135 days in federal custody).[2][3] During his journey, Michael served time in prisons of every security level, from a maximum security cell block to a fenceless camp.[4][dubious ]

While in prison, he divorced, got married,[2] earned an undergraduate degree from Mercer University in 1992, a master's degree from Hofstra University in 1995, began a doctorate at the University of Connecticut, and developed programs and resources for inmates and their families.[1] During his incarceration, he has written and published seven books and a number of articles, including for The Huffington Post and elsewhere, including Forbes.[1][2][5] His work, written in longhand, and digitized by his wife, who published his comments on a blog, has received significant recognition[1][6] and has been used in courses on criminal justice.[1] Since leaving prison, he has become a life coach, and continues participating in the discussion of prison reform.[2] He has worked as a staff lecturer at San Francisco State University, and he has lectured at numerous other universities, including Stanford, a law school class at University of San Francisco and UC Berkeley.[2]


  • Earning Freedom: Conquering a 45-year Prison Term (2011)
  • Triumph!: Straight-A Guide to Preparing Offenders for Reentry (2011)
  • Prison! My 8,344th Day (2010)
  • Step Up and Don't Look Back (2007)
  • Gangsters and Thugs: Consequences That Hustlers Pay (2007)
  • Inside: Life Behind Bars in America (2007)
  • What If I Go to Prison? (2004)


  1. ^ a b c d e "Michael Santos – Rare Success in Prison Rehabilitation on". Ethicsdaily.com. 2011-07-26. Retrieved 2013-01-20. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Sam Whiting (2012-11-24). "Inmate shares prison survival strategies". SFGate. Retrieved 2013-01-20. 
  3. ^ "While in prison, Michael Santos reconciles with society | California Forward". Cafwd.org. 2012-10-05. Retrieved 2013-01-20. 
  4. ^ "THELAWNET | Home » By Stubbornly Refusing To Live Down To Expectations, Michael Santos Redefines Citizenship And Explodes A Noxious Narrative". Thelaw.net. 2012-12-03. Retrieved 2013-01-20. 
  5. ^ "Power In Prison". Forbes.com. 2008-09-24. Retrieved 2013-01-20. 
  6. ^ Xeni Jardin at 2:15 pm Wed, Jan 9. "What is it like to be exposed to new technology after 20+ years in prison?". Boing Boing. Retrieved 2013-01-20. 

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