How would you like to be known for the worst thing you did in your life?
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, this is the situation faced by the over 10,000 ex-offenders released from state and federal prisons every week. And two-thirds are likely to be rearrested within three years.
The DOJ article describes the challenge this way, “What can be done to help people who are released from prison keep from being rearrested? With no job, no money, and no place to live, returnees often find themselves facing the same pressures and temptations that landed them in prison in the first place”.
How do we help people who want a second chance to get a real second chance?
The Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) has stepped up to meet that challenge. For over 10 years, PEP has created a community of accountability and encouragement that provides every inmate who is truly committed to change the choice and the chance to reboot his life. PEP’s programs start with in-prison programs on character development and entrepreneurship, then continue with post-release services including transitional housing and transportation.
PEP’s goal is to provide participants with a comprehensive solution to re-entry in a structured environment of accountability. Once they are released from prison, these men are left with no excuse to return to a life of crime given the tools provided by PEP.
Here are the results:
• STRONG POST-RELEASE EMPLOYMENT.
o 100% of PEP graduates are employed within 90 days of release from prison; in fact, our graduates average only 20 days “from prison to paycheck.”
o Nearly 100% of PEP graduates are still employed after 12 months (compared to a nearly 50% national unemployment rate among ex-offenders).
o PEP graduates have a $12.20/hour average starting wage (68% above minimum wage.)
• SMALL BUSINESS FORMATION/INCUBATOR. More than 360 businesses have been launched by PEP graduates, including five that generate over $1MM in gross annual revenue.
• TRANSITIONAL HOUSING. Approximately 65% of PEP graduates choose to live in one of five transition homes managed by PEP in Houston and Dallas. The transitional housing provides a safe, drug and alcohol free, environment with peer group support.
• EXCEPTIONALLY LOW RECIDIVISM. PEP graduates have an exceptionally low 7.5% three-year recidivism rate (compared to the national average of nearly 50%).
When a man gets out of prison and stays out, that’s a win. When his children do not go to prison and continue an intergenerational cycle of incarceration, that is transformative.
When a “free world” executive volunteer shares his or her expertise with an inmate, helping to build his intellectual and social capital, that’s a win. When that volunteer recruits others and becomes a humble advocate for grace and second chances, that is transformative.
Join me on July 12th as an executive volunteer for PEP in the Cleveland (TX) Correctional Center. You can register here.
See you in prison. It will be an experience that will change your life.
“Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds.”
– Franklin D. Roosevelt