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Learn From Federal Judges

My name is Michael Santos. As part of my work to improve the outcomes of our nation’s criminal justice system, I have spoken with many federal judges. Two of those judges agreed to participate in a video interview. I asked them about steps a person could take to prepare in advance of sentencing. Listen and learn from what they said in the videos below. In the presentations, both judges spoke with me about the importance of character reference letters:

If you’re facing a sentencing hearing, we can help. Although we have a team of sentence-mitigation experts for people that want one-on-one consultations, we also offer digital courses for those who are prepared to do the work. Start by watching the videos on this page so that you’ll have an idea of why we can help you restore confidence as you start preparing for sentencing.

Prison Professors

Values-based, Goal-oriented Decisions Lead to Success


I came into the system and without an understanding of what to expect.


I saw the challenges and the pathway that I could take to begin preparing for success.


I put priorities in place to gradually conquer imprisonment to emerge successfully.

Digital Course: Get Instant Access to videos, lessons, and templates

Character Reference Letters: What You Need to Know

If you’re thinking about sentencing, you must think about all the preparations that you’re able to make. Indeed, your defense attorney will work on your behalf. The videos above and below give you clear guidance: judges want to learn more about the people they’re about to sentence. 

For that reason, every defendant should invest time and energy to learn how to write the perfect character-reference letter. Although they may ask others to write character-reference letters on their behalf, few people know how to write a letter to a judge. This course on writing effective character-reference letters will help. 

Through this digital course, you’ll get a series of modules. Each module includes a video where I help participants understand how to write a persuasive character reference letter. Expect the following from this course: 

  • What is the purpose of a character reference letter?
  • How do character reference letters influence judges and sentencing?
  • To whom should you send requests for character-reference letters?
  • How do we approach prospective writers for character-reference letters?

Following those tutorials, we offer several templates that will help your family, friends, and colleagues as they draft character-reference letters on your behalf.

  1. Sample: Defendant’s wife
  2. Sample: Defendant’s neighbor
  3. Sample: Family friends
  4. Sample: Employer
  5. Sample: Mother
  6. Sample: Volunteer coordinator
  7. Sample: Employer
  8. Sample: Nonprofit / Mentor

Finally, we’ll offer some bonus material that will prove useful. 

Watch the remaining videos on this page to learn why our team at Prison Professors is an excellent resource for you if you’re facing sentencing or prison.

Another Federal Judge Advises on Sentencing

Besides Judge Bennett, who gave us invaluable insight, we can also learn from Judge Bough, who speaks about the importance he places on a defendant’s preparation for sentencing. If you’re serious about wanting to work toward the best possible outcome, learn how best-practices for preparing.

About the Author

Michael Santos

I made bad decisions as a young man. They led me to prison with a 45-year sentence. With daily journals, I documented the journey. That methodical process led to a successful journey through prison and to building successful businesses upon my release. I created this journal to help other people prepare for success.

“Develop the will to prepare for success .

Invest in Yourself Before Sentencing 

If you’re facing a criminal charge, you’re in a critical time of your life. The decisions you make every day will have an enormous influence on your future. For that reason, our team at Prison Professors offers considerable amounts of information to help.

I was 20 years old when I began making decisions that led me into trouble with the law. Authorities arrested me in 1987 when I was 23. Had I understood more about the challenges ahead, I may have made better, more informed decisions.

Instead, I went through the judicial proceedings blindly. I did not know what options were available to me, and the lawyer I hired did not help. I am responsible for the bad decisions I made. By not understanding the system, I exposed myself to severe sanctions.

After a jury convicted me of all counts, a judge sentenced to 45 years in prison. Had I made better decisions, my sentence would have been far less.

Don’t go into a criminal charge blindly. Start preparing for sentencing immediately with our Preparation for Sentencing Course.

The video below will show more about my journey through 26 years in prison, and some of what I learned.

Download your Sentencing Preparation course now, and get instant access.


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