Racine Reentry Programs Helps Those with a Criminal Conviction Become Law-Abiding Entrepreneurs
Date:  11-18-2013

New program provides business courses and mentors for formerly incarcerated persons
About 2 years ago Reentry Central posted a report by Matthew C. Sonfield in the Library section of our website. The report, “Entrepreneurship and the Development of a Concept,” describes how in 1992 Sonfield had an idea that formerly incarcerated inmates and those about to be released from prison should be given entrepreneurship training as a way to help them find legitimate employment, and thus help reduce recidivism.

Sonfield followed up with his idea by getting permission to conduct the Miner Sentence Completion Scale-Form T (MSCS-T) test among a small number of prisoners in three states. MSCS-T is a tool used to gauge motivational factors related to entrepreneurial success.

Sonfield writes in “Entrepreneurship and the Development of a Concept,”

About 35% of all of all prison inmates have been convicted of drug trafficking crimes (Drug Data Summary, 2003). It is not unusual for a local drug dealing operation to have $100,000 in sales per week, a 90% net margin, and 90% repeat business (Prison Entrepreneurship Program, 2007). Drug dealers, and their employees, often display the same entrepreneurial and managerial skills as successful owners and employees of legitimate business operations. If entrepreneurial “propensity” or “aptitude” is an attribute that some people possess to a greater degree than do others, and if a portion of our nation’s prison inmates possess this attribute, then entrepreneurial or self-employment training for soon-to-be-released inmates and recently-released ex-convicts would be a potentially valuable component of our nation’s social policy efforts, and might result in a lowering of recidivism rates with resultant benefits for society. Click here to go to website.

Recently, the international group Against Violent Extremism (AVE) informed Reentry Central about an organization in Rancine, Wisconsin that is promoting the idea of felons becoming productive citizens by becoming entrepreneurs. Click here to go to website.

According to its website the Racine Vocational Ministry (RVM), headed by Executive Director Jim Schatzman , is “a faith-based nonprofit organization whose services go beyond simple job placement to a holistic approach that cares for and addresses the whole person.” Click here to go to website.

RVM’s Community Re-Entry Program works to reduce recidivism among high-risk felons who committed a violent or gun-related crime. The 2nd Chance Program works with medium- and high- risk individuals who do not qualify for the Community Re-Entry Program. Both programs are funded by United Way of Rancine County. Sex offenders are not eligible to participate in the Community Re-Entry Program.

But RVM is going a step further to help citizens returning back to their communities. A new entrepreneurship program has been created. Although efforts by Reentry Central to reach Jim Schatman for comments before this article was posted were unsuccessful, Michael Burke of the Journal Times writes that those participating in the entrepreneurship program will take business courses provided by RVM partner SCORE. SCORE will also provide mentors who have extensive business experience.

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