My husband, Michael Santos, has been a resident at FPC Lompoc since July 2005. This August marks his 20th year of consecutive confinement for a first time, non-violent crime.
On April 18, administrators at Lompoc Camp put him in handcuffs and locked him in “the hole,C where he is kept in isolation for 23 hours each day; not because Michael broke the rules or violated prison policies, but because Michael is an author who writes about the prison system from within the prison system.
Michael is a man who inspires others to make better choices, to accept responsibility for their own bad decisions that led them to prison, and to prepare for a contributing life beyond prison. He is a living manifestation of rehabilitation in its purest form.
Prisons today focus on punishment, not rehabilitation. A prisoner must be self-motivated, redirecting his/her own efforts toward growth, introspection, education, contribution, and preparation for a law-abiding life beyond prison. Michael began that effort in 1987 when he started his prison term at age 23.
Clearly, the Bureau of Prisons has no mechanism in place to recognize and celebrate the fact that Michael will emerge from 26 years of confinement as an educated, accomplished, contributing, successful man who has achieved extraordinary things despite continual obstacles and barriers erected by prison administrators.
That is the irony of America/s prison system; the Bureau of Prisons insists that rehabilitation and maintaining family ties are top priorities, yet FCC Lompoc has locked Michael in isolation and separated him from a loving family and an international network of support while they fabricate reasons to punish him. Such irony is ludicrous and shameful, and it is inconsistent with everything society has stated our response will be to successful rehabilitation.
We do not know how long this administration intends to keep Michael in isolation. We want the matter resolved quickly. Keeping Michael locked up and isolated is not only wrong, it is a waste of what the prison system ought to realize is a valuable resource for promoting rehabilitation: Michael/s example.
Please visit www.MichaelSantos.net.
May 1, 2007