PEP Program Prevents Recidivism
A great number of inmates in U.S. prisons possess entrepreneurial skills that they learned on the streets. These inmates, who are former drug dealers, hustlers, and gang leaders, understand the business process. The nonprofit Prison Entrepreneurship Program is dedicated to channeling these ex-offenders’ skills into executive positions in legitimate businesses.
PEP keeps our communities safer by keeping these ex-offenders from returning to lives of crime. The program helps these people become legitimate business people, so that their former illegal business is no longer their only path to success. The organization is effective because it connects ex-offenders with business talent by providing mentoring and MBA-level business courses and by fostering entrepreneurial enthusiasm.
It is fortunate that these former criminals can be part of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program. Without the skills to get new jobs or start their own businesses, they might not be able to earn a salary, since ex-offenders rarely find employment after they get out of prison. This is because of the reluctance of employers to hire ex-offenders. The problems that many released offenders face in finding employment and obtaining money may lead them back to a life of crime. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, at least 650,000 offenders will be released from prison in the coming year, and two-thirds of those people will be rearrested for repeated criminal activity within the next three years. These statistics contrast with the experience of PEP graduates. Of all PEP graduates, only 5 percent have recidivated.
The program upholds the concept of moral decision-making and the importance of spiritual discipline. PEP connects the ex-offenders enrolled in its program with others who have taken a similar path, providing them with a brotherhood that shares a common past and a common goal.
And yet, should people who were criminal entrepreneurs be rewarded for the skills they picked up in their illegal activities? Is it safe to trust these people and put them back in business? Can we be sure that they will not secretly use their legitimate businesses as a cover for more illegal dealings?