California’s recidivism rate is one of the highest in the country – coming in at a staggering 75%. Meaning, 3 out of 4 people who go to prison, will end up back in prison again, at some point during their lifetime.
Society choses to label these people as “career-criminals” but the system does very little to address the core issues at play that are forcing them to commit these crimes in the first place. Many of these folks start from disparaging beginnings (ie foster care, low income families etc), after they serve their time they are thrown out back into the streets and told to get their lives back together.
Unfortunately, that is a lot more difficult said than done. These people have very little support from the community itself.
My situation was different. I came from a well-put-together family. I had money. I had an education. And I had success at a relatively young age. But none of that mattered when I was labeled a convicted felon. the system came crashing down on me.
And I am talking about the financial system – banks in general.
While banks are essential community services that provide savings, checking accounts, investing, and loans, when you are a felon, they completely shutter you out. In fact I was receiving checks and letters in the mails from major institutions telling me they did not want my business because of my now criminal record. How long I banked with them, the history of my accounts, my assets, none of that mattered to them. They only wanted to protect themselves and were doing that by disassociated themselves with anyone that had a record. It was not about the community, the people, or believing in second chances, if you were a felon, they wanted nothing to do with you.
So lets take a step back here.. we send defendants into incarceration with no means to access the real world, provide very little work in terms of rehabilitation or education, and then kick them out and tell them to get a job, but then the very banks they are supposed to be setting up accounts with refuse to let them in the doors. No wonder we see 3 our of 4 felons going back into the system after their release. The cards are absolutely stacked against them.
So I write this blog with a plan. During my time of incarceration, I plan to hand write to every bank executive I can find. Anyone who has a hand in the financial system and I want to explain to them how people end up in the system, the concept of intergenerational recidivism, and how we as a community can help lend a hand with education and giving second chances. Something as simple as allowing an ex-con to be able to open a checking and savings account can go along way to keeping that person off the streets and on the right path. My pillars of accomplishment will be as follows:
- Work with a major bank to create a social cause that welcomes those that were formerly incarcerated to open checking and savings account with them.
- Create education programs on investing and the power of compounding
- Put together promotional campaigns in under privileged communities.
- Ensure these services can be performed free of cost in perpetuity
If you work in the financial system and have come across this post, write to me, and together we can make a change.