Prison officials want to change the outlook for inmates of a prison that's been marred with riots, and other violent incidents. Defy Ventures kicked off their program "CEO of Your New Life" at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution.
About 60 inmates are going through job and character training programs to give them a positive outlook and help them find work when they leave prison. The program is also at the NE State Penn. and the Omaha Correctional Center.
"It gives us an opportunity to have a new outlook on life, to become entrepreneurs in training, to change the way we think, how we act, and how we interact with each other here so it's definitely a positive for us," said Billy Billups, a Tecumseh inmate.
More than 20 volunteers were on hand for the kick-off event to show them change isn't far away. They were from fields including private business, non-profits, and technology.
“So there’s a lot of great ideas that these men have that I think with a little bit of guiding and coaching they’re able to launch their businesses and kind of what they want to push forward,” said Jeff Slobotski, founder of Router Ventures.
Two years ago two inmates were killed in a riot at the prison, and recently more deaths have taken place. Inmates hope people see they're making positive changes through programs like Defy Ventures.
“The last few months have been intense because a lot of the guys feel like we're getting mistreated in here by staff and things like that. And with this it changes the persona of us,” inmate Clarence Smith explained.
They'll go through 15-hours a week of training for 6 months before graduating. Defy says graduates have a 95% employment rate, and less than 5% recidivism rate once they go back into the real world.
Defy Ventures Inc. still needs more volunteers to go to the prison in Tecumseh about once a month. For more information or to apply go to: http://www.defyventures.org