There is a renewed emphasis on rehabilitation in the Colorado Department of Corrections prison system as Governor John Hickenlooper partners up with Defy Ventures to bring entrepreneurship, employment, and character development to Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility.
The prisoners in the program, also known as Entrepreneurs-in-Training (EITs), met with Hickenlooper one-on-one and were given support and mentorship, reported the Denver Business Journal.
“This program is a step toward lasting change for the men and women who want a second chance at life. We’re thrilled to have Defy here in Colorado,” Hickenlooper said.
The nine-month, MBA-designed, training program teaches the EITs executive coaching, financial investment courses, startup business techniques, parenting education and character development.
An event in February took the participants through a Business Coaching Day where 78 EITs, aided by 50 volunteers from the business community, went through various workshops. The EITs had one-on-ones and group sessions with the outside business groups. The EITs also discussed reentry plans and résumés.
“In California, you can work and get an abortion without parental consent at 12, but you must be 21 to buy a vaping device.” Reason Magazine December 2017 REASON.COM
The event led to much more than covering readiness skills, but also touched on mental health and the rebuilding of self-esteem, which gave rise to new aspirations for the men in the program, according to the article.
After the nine-month training course is completed; the budding entrepreneurs will go through a Shark Tank-Style business pitch competition and then graduate.
“64% of California’s jail population is awaiting trial or sentencing as of December 2016.” Most remain in pretrial custody because they cannot afford bail. Jail Profile Survey, http://www.bscc.ca.gov/
Catherine Hoke, who resigned in March, founded Defy Ventures in 2010 to allow those who are incarcerated nationwide to turn their intuitive business skills that once led to criminal activity into marketable skills toward legitimate careers. Since the inception of Defy Ventures, the EITs have started 165 businesses and created over 350 job opportunities.
“Defy is deeply honored to partner with the Governor’s office and the Colorado Department of Corrections to bring our transformational program here,” said Bob Omer, Executive Director of Defy Colorado.
“There are over 4,800 legal restrictions facing people with convictions after sentence completion…73% of these legal barriers are permanent.” “SAFE AND SOUND: …” by Californians For Safety and Justice Nov. 2017
With a mission to absolve negative perceptions of the prison population and as catalysts for people with criminal histories, Defy is here to stay—with hopes of expanding to other prisons within the state of Colorado, noted the article.