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Prisoner & Ex-Offender Rights: CLASSY Awards Top 3

Prisoner & Ex-Offender Rights programs address the population of people that have been sentenced to time in jail. Working to lower the recidivism rate by protecting their rights to education, safety, and economic opportunity, these programs address issues of juvenile justice, inmate abuste and lack of transitional support for inmates. View the key indicators of this subcategory here.


Entrepreneurship and Life Skills Training for People with Criminal Histories
Defy Ventures
WHAT THEY’RE ADDRESSING People with criminal histories (PCH) are America’s most stigmatized and overlooked talent pool. PCH face discrimination in the labor market and are relegated to minimum-wage jobs. 60% of PCH exiting jail remain unemployed one year after release. The lack of legal economic opportunities for PCH results in recidivism and generational legacies of crime, incarceration and poverty.

[su_pullquote align=”right” class=”top5″]Entrepreneurship and Life Skills Training for People with Criminal Histories
Program Name

New York City, New York
Location

2012
Start date

Catherine Hoke (Rohr)
Program Director

@DefyVentures[/su_pullquote]

Defy Ventures is an entrepreneurship and employment training program and business incubator for people with criminal histories. Their program leverages the natural characteristics and skill sets of former drug dealers and gang leaders, such as street smarts, drive, charisma, and execution abilities, to defy the odds and launch legal and profitable start-ups. By teaching entrepreneurship and employment skills and leveraging the private sector’s involvement, influence and expertise, Defy empowers people with criminal histories to start businesses and gain meaningful employment, strengthen family relationships and break generational cycles of poverty, crime and incarceration. Defy’s approach is grounded in evidence showing that entrepreneurship is a viable employment strategy for people with criminal histories as they reintegrate into society. An independent evaluation of Prison Entrepreneurship Program shows that teaching entrepreneurship to people with criminal histories prevents recidivism and reduces reliance on welfare. Defy’s model also heavily draws on reports by microfinance organizations across the globe that use entrepreneurship to equip disadvantaged populations to exit poverty. In the two years their entrepreneurship and character development program has been up and running, 87% of Defy graduates are employed, more than 71 businesses have been incorporated. Graduates have also increased their income by an average of 94%, getting them off welfare, and have a < 5% recidivism rate. LEARN MORE.

[su_quote cite=”Catherine Hoke (Rohr), Founder & CEO” class=”top5″]In January 2014, Defy began creating a scalable online blended learning program and mentor-mentee matching platform, the first of its kind for people with criminal histories. This scalable solution will enable millions of people with criminal histories to access Defy’s well-tested methodology in urban communities throughout the U.S. [/su_quote]


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Justice For Families
Justice For Families
WHAT THEY’RE ADDRESSING Involvement in the juvenile justice system is the greatest predictor of adult criminality. In 2012, 900,000 youth were arrested. On any given day, over 70,000 youth are detained in juvenile facilities. Yearly costs to incarcerate one youth are up to $88,000, but then many “graduate” to adult jails. Systemic flaws prevent families from being effective advocates for their children, drive children deeper into the system, reinforce cycles of poverty and racial inequity, and waste taxpayer dollars.

[su_pullquote align=”right” class=”top5″]Justice For Families
Program Name

United States
Location

2011
Start date

Grace A. Bauer
Program Director

@justice4fams[/su_pullquote]

Justice for Families is the only national juvenile justice organization working to train families of incarcerated or formerly incarcerated youth and adults to lead grassroots campaigns for justice reinvestment initiatives. These initiatives aim to redirect government investments away from harmful and wasteful school discipline and juvenile justice policies and towards investment in life-building opportunities for youth and families. Their work has focused on creating internal and external family leadership to address juvenile justice policy and practice. Internally, families work within systems to help other families navigate systems to produce better outcomes for individual families and change system culture. Externally, families push systems to improve policy and practice through grassroots campaigns and public awareness. Leveraging their report, Families Unlocking Futures: Solutions to the Crisis in Juvenile Justice, Justice for Families has proven that given the opportunity families have solutions to help their children and improve policy and practice within the system. In the past year, Justice for Families has been inundated with requests from government agencies to provide assistance and expertise. They are working closely with over a dozen jurisdictions to improve system culture, policy and practice and have connected with over 1,400 families, providing tools, information and support that help them keep their children out of facilities. LEARN MORE.

[su_quote cite=”Grace A. Bauer, Program Director” class=”top5″]Justice for Families has become the go-to organization for families looking for support and Family engagement has become a trend in juvenile justice in the past year and many prominent leaders in the field are now talking about the critical need to engage with families, pushing our message even deeper into a culture that has historically ignored and blamed families. Families around the country are finding the information and support needed at a level never seen in the juvenile system. [/su_quote]
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In-Prison Business Plan Competition
Prison Entrepreneurship Program
WHAT THEY’RE ADDRESSING In 2013, over 700,000 inmates were released from prisons across the country. Nearly 60% of them will be unable to find a job within 12 months; even if they do find a job, they can make nearly 40% less than they did before prison. Without a stable source of income, many will return to lives of crime. By 2016, over 350,000 of them will be back in prison (at a cost of nearly $32K per inmate per year).

[su_pullquote align=”right” class=”top5″]In-Prison Business Plan Competition
Program Name

Texas
Location

2004
Start date

Pat McGee
Program Director

@PEPtweets[/su_pullquote]

Prison Entrepreneurship Program’s In-prison Business Plan competition is a six-month mini MBA program that enables participants to earn a college Certificate in Entrepreneurship from Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business the #70 MBA program in the US (U.S. News) and the #5 Entrepreneurship program in the US (Princeton Review).. Graduates complete a financial literacy course, an employment workshop, a business etiquette course and a Toastmasters class. They also develop a complete business plan that is presented 120+ times in ‘Shark Tank’-style pitch events. PEP trains inmates to not only secure and sustain employment, but to create their own economic opportunity through entrepreneurship. In 2013, a team of researchers from Baylor University conducted an independent evaluation of PEP’s effectiveness, determining that the program outperformed all nine other major models of prison rehabilitation by up to 70%. Since 2004, over 1,000 graduates have launched 160+ businesses with at least two now generating $1MM+ in annual sales. The program has also reduced recidivism rates by over 90% compared to the national average. LEARN MORE.

[su_quote cite=”Pat McGee, Program Director” class=”top5″]PEP is not just another prison program. We are a revolution. We stand for the belief that no life is beyond redemption…We stand for the belief that entrepreneurship has the power to not just build businesses, but to change lives…Most importantly, we stand for the belief that a country as great as ours should not have the world’s largest prison population. [/su_quote]

The kickoff event for Class "Triumphant" 21 of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program in Cleveland in January
The kickoff event for Class “Triumphant” 21 of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program in Cleveland in January 2014

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The Human Rights Experts

The Leadership Council is an honorary board comprised of a diverse group of experts that will collectively determine the winners of the CLASSY Awards in this cause sector. Their unique perspective and valuable insight establishes this recognition as one of the highest honors in the social sector.

LC_human- BLOG

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Photo credit: Prison Entrepreneurship Program

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