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Webinar Recap: Rethink Prison

For every 10 people that are released from prison, it’s expected that four will be back behind bars within three years; that’s a recidivism rate of 40 percent. How can we reverse such a startling statistic?

In our May Topic North Texas webinar, Natalie Baker and Bryan Kelley of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) brought light to the recidivism issue and how PEP has become part of the solution. Also, hear the breath-taking stories of Natalie and Bryan as they walk through life in prison and the positive impact PEP is making both inside and outside of prison walls.

The “Cost” of Incarceration

Our country has a prison problem. One out of 100 Americans is in jail or prison today—a total population of 2.3 million, which is equivalent to the size of Dallas, Fort Worth and Plano combined. One out of 15 Americans will go to jail or prison in his lifetime.

For many, prison is “out of sight, out of mind.” But it becomes everyone’s problem when prisons continue to bloat with repeat “customers” who understand their role in society—steal, kill and hustle. For those who would rather focus on preventing crime by working with at-risk populations who have never committed a crime, consider this: prisons are the largest concentrated pools of future criminals. That’s a conversation starter for real crime prevention solutions.

The driving passion of PEP manifests itself in a progressive nonprofit solution that is single-handedly changing the way private institutions and state governments view correctional facilities. This passion is based on the idea that prison inmates—especially former gang leaders, drug dealers and those with violent offenses—have a massive reservoir of untapped potential. PEP seeks to redirect these men into legitimate enterprises, leveraging their proven entrepreneurial skill-sets to inspire an even deeper change.

 The Prison Entrepreneurship Program

With over 1,400 applicants every year, PEP selects 100 men to go through their rigorous programs. Participants work diligently over the nine months to comprehend and dissect business strategies and create a full business plan for a realistic new business venture. The program brings in volunteers from the corporate world to hear presentations, network with the men in the program, and to later serve as possible mentors and/or investors after their release. At the end of the nine months, participants earn a certificate in entrepreneurship from the University of Baylor.

About the Presenters

Natalie Baker is PEP’s Executive Relations Manager for the Dallas-Ft. Worth area.  In her position, she is responsible for managing a portfolio of major and prospective supporters, coordinating monthly events, meetings and public presentations throughout the Greater DFW area and assisting with the management of all in-prison events that PEP offers throughout the year at the Sanders Estes Unit in Venus, TX (about 35 miles south of the DFW metroplex).   A former practicing attorney, she recently served four years in the Florida state penitentiary, enabling her to better advocate for the men in the PEP program, as well as voice the importance rehabilitation plays in a prisoner’s future.

Bryan Kelley is currently the Re-Entry Manager for the Dallas branch of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program. Bryan leads a re-entry team that literally picks up PEP participants at the prison gate upon release and ensures that they continue their journey of success outside prison walls. In his role as such he wears many hats: life coach, counselor, property manager, family liaison, recruiter, fundraiser, speaker, disciplinarian, cheerleader and part-time house mom. He will soon add teacher and character coach to his repertoire by leading the character development portion of the program inside the Estes prison unit. What’s more, Bryan is a product of the program himself, having spent nearly 22 years behind bars, he was released in 2014 and now helps his PEP brothers traverse the very steps he took just a few short months ago.

For the full details from the webinar, watch the presentation or view the slides below.

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