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President Goes to Jail!!

Jail CellMicron Eagle’s President has recently been in Jail and most are pleased that he came out the same day. He was participating in the Prisoners Entrepreneurial Program, an initiative organized by a Houston nonprofit of the same name that teaches business skills to prisoners who will soon be released, including market research, finance and professional etiquette.

The following is an extract from The Texas Tribune dated February 18th written by Maurice Chammah which outlines the program, etc.

”As Christopher ran down the aisle of a Texas Correctional Center classroom, dozens of other prisoners in matching dark blue scrubs flanked him, clapping and cheering in a deafening roar. When he reached the front of the classroom, he spoke for 10 minutes on his business plan for "Adrenaline Indoor Paintball," an idea he has worked on over the last year.

With three investors lined up, he plans to create the company when he returns to the Dallas area. But first he has to finish his three-year sentence for arson “I used to be complacent,” he said. “Without prison I would have never known how to start my own business.”

Christopher is one of more than 100 students in the Prison Entrepreneurship Program, Inmates across the state can apply, and those accepted are transferred to the Last month, the program began a partnership with the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University to offer each inmate who completes the course of study a certificate in entrepreneurship. Although the course of study is not changing, organizers say, the partnership adds credibility and an added incentive for the students to excel.

The associate dean of the Graduate Program in Management and Entrepreneurship at Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business, serves on the governing board for the entrepreneurship program and was so impressed with the curriculum that he persuaded the university to give a certificate to every graduate.

“What impresses me the most is how these men not only complete this very rigorous program within a prison,” he said, “but they do so while completing a full business plan for a real venture that they can launch after release from prison.”

More than 5,000 inmates apply each year, and 120 are selected for the program. “We ask, 'Is the man genuinely committed to change?'” said the program CEO. “The second is, 'Do we believe, based on everything he's done before, he's got a strong work ethic?'"

After three months of classes in character development and computer skills, the prisoners form business plans during six months of entrepreneurship classes and pitch their ideas of businesses to teachers and one another in a scene reminiscent of the ABC show Shark Tank”.

Students in the program, which started in 2004, make up two-thirds of the facility's population. Over the next year, the program plans to fill all of the unit’s 520 beds with students and graduates.

Program officials say they raise up to $2 million yearly from private foundations and individuals, and they estimate that the program saves the state roughly $6 million in reduced recidivism, because less than 10 percent of its graduates return to prison within three years, compared with a national average of 50 percent.

But that doesn’t mean it would work for everybody in prison. “Part of it is probably that inmates who are interested are those already committed to changing their lives,” said a criminal justice researcher with the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

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