PEP Graduate Al Massey was invited to speak to the Waxahachie Rotary Club, and the local paper wrote this article about his presentation.

Prison Entrepreneurship at Rotary

Al Massey of Prison Entrepreneurship Program

By John Hamilton Waxahachie Rotarian

Half of all felons return to prison after serving their terms and being released. They go back to the old neighborhoods and their old ways, commit another felony and wind up back in prison. In fact, there are about seven million people in U.S. prisons which is twice the rate in Iran. Al Massey explained one way which has been reducing the rate of returns to prison from half to five percent. He is involved with the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) at the Texas Department of Protection pre-release unit in Cleveland, Texas. The problem as PEP sees it is that people may learn in prison but they are not changed themselves. A drug dealer who learns about business in prison may be released to become a better drug businessman. PEP strives to make him a new man instead.

The process involves application, interview and evaluation. Felons who have less than three years left to serve and are not sex offenders may apply. They fill out a twenty-five page application then write an essay. Next, they are extensively interviewed. Those who are chosen are moved to the Cleveland unit. This is not a gated community. PEP only invests in prisoners who will invest in themselves. They are expected to work harder than they ever have before to meet the standards set for them in the1,000-plus hour program.
According to Mr Massey and their web page, PEP made up of servant leaders on a mission to transform inmates and executives by unlocking human potential through entrepreneurial passion, education and mentoring. Their groundbreaking results include the three-year return-to-prison rate as low as five percent, an employment rate of one hundred percent within ninety days and over one hundred twenty businesses launched by graduates.
In addition to the business courses offered, and, perhaps more important, they are offered character development and courtesy training. They have mentors. They study more hours than they would if they were going to college and they are pushed and encouraged to dream the impossible. The impossible is that, at the end of their training, they will have prepared a business plan for a legal business after graduation. Graduates earn a “Certificate in Entrepreneurship” from Baylor University.
After graduation they are released to a transitional home which is not near the area they came from. It is a new environment without the old influences. There are case managers and they are given a package that includes everything they need to start out even including sheets and pillows. If they want to start a business they are eligible for a KIVA loan up to $5,000. There is no handout; it is a hand up.
Graduates are truly transformed with new knowledge, new opinions of themselves and a new outlook on life. They expect to be successful and they have been so far.
For more information visit the web site at www.pep.org or sign up for their newsletter athttp://pep.org/media/newsletter.aspx. Mr Massey may be reached at 281-881-5794 or amassey@pep.org.

For more information about the Rotary Club of Waxahachie where we believe in Service Above Self and doing things as a club we cannot do alone, visit the club website at www.waxahachierotary.org. You can find American flag subscription forms on the website.

Comments
  1. The power of believing in self,is good motivating force in the living of a transformational and successful life.One needs to discover the art of believing in themselves not at the expense of forgetting God their creator.

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