It’s early in the morning on Monday the 21st. In a few minutes I will head to the airport to board a flight to Chicago. I’ll be lecturing Tuesday through Thursday. Before I do, however, I wanted to post a blog I started writing over the weekend. Let’s talk prison and the Michael G. Santos Foundation.
A few days ago I read numerous newspaper articles that describe struggles that state governments have in balancing their spending budgets. Shocking. Prison expenses have grown out of control for numerous states, requiring deep cuts in social programs such as health care, education, and infrastructure spending. I’m excited to spearhead an effort that will lead to safer communities while simultaneously lowering prison expenses.
As the executive director of the Michael G. Santos Foundation, I am collaborating on the design and implementation of programs to prepare more offenders for reentry. In addition to creating such innovative programs, I’m also working to develop programs for at-risk youth that influence them to avoid the types of behavior that lead to trouble with the criminal justice system. I’m very excited about the progress I’m making.
The California Wellness Foundation has sponsored these efforts. Together, we recognize that the costs of confinement take a huge toll on society. We can measure those costs not only in financial terms, but also in terms of wasted lives.
To pay for the California prison system, taxpayers fork over more than $50,000 per year for each prisoner it holds. Those funds come directly out of other social programs that may be of more value to the residents of California. To make matters worse, recidivism rates show that seven out of every ten California prisoners returns to confinement upon release.
By designing and offering programs to prepare more people to live as law-abiding, contributing citizens, the foundation I lead can play a meaningful role in reducing recidivism. It pleases me to have received support and sponsorship from The California Wellness Foundation, but in order to really make a difference I will seek to create strategic partnerships with corporate citizens and other sponsors.
I am developing a new Web site at MichaelSantos.org that will show the efforts I am making. My hopes are that the initial site design will go online by the first week of March. It will offer a completely transparent glimpse of the programs that I am collaborating on to build and offer. The program will profile participants in the program, enabling sponsors and readers to track progress. I’m very excited to lead this innovative and measurable effort to prepare more offenders for law-abiding, contributing lives in society.
I urge readers to contact me about becoming a part of this worthwhile program. It will be data driven, results oriented, and totally transparent. For more information, please contact me. When the new Web site’s first generation is ready for beta testing, I will post a link and I urge those who follow my work to comment.