That discrepancy is lifeless unsuitable, 4 activists agreed this week. They spoke at a webinar on tips on how to obtain racial justice within the hashish area, whether or not meaning getting folks launched or discovering them a job.
The panelists additionally targeted on what the hashish business itself can do to assist. “There are 70 million people in this country with criminal records, and each and every one of them goes through hell finding a job,” stated Richard Bronson, founder and CEO of 70 Million Jobs, a staffing company for folks with felony information.
“Many, many are men and women of color who have done their time,” Bronson identified, “and too many are in jail for activity that has subsequently been legalized. It’s an irony of gruesome proportions.
The webinar was one in a series organized by the cannabis staffing agency Vangst; its CEO Karson Humiston served as moderator. Also on the panel were Arlene Mejia, re-entry project lead of the Last Prisoner Project, which focuses on criminal justice reform; and Weldon Angelos, co-founder and president of Project Mission Green.
Bronson has been incarcerated; so have three of Mejia’s three brothers, she said. But Angelos’s prison story is particularly striking: In 2002 he was a successful music producer in Utah working with Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur’s recording group. Then he was arrested for three counts of selling marijuana, totaling $900. Because of mandatory sentencing laws, Angelos was sentenced to 55 years in federal prison – an over-the-top penalty that attracted protests from celebrities as disparate as Senator Cory Booker, D-N.J., singers Bonnie Raitt and Alicia Keys and arch-conservative billionaires the Koch brothers (Angelos: “When I met Charles Koch, he said, ‘The only thing different between you and me is you got caught.’”).
Angelos’s well-known supporters helped: He was pardoned by President Obama in 2016. And his travails have led him to work on cannabis-related felony justice ever since.
There’s good motive for such activism, Bronson stated throughout the webinar. “Prior to the onset of the virus, the unemployment rate in this country was about 3.5 percent, historically low,” Bronson famous. “However, among those who have records, and that includes drug-related ones, the rate of unemployment was almost 30 percent, which was the highest unemployment rate of any discrete population, including during the Great Depression.
“God only knows what it is now.”
Clearly, lots of these in jail are folks of coloration with distressing tales of how race influenced their arrests, sentencing and issues upon re-entry.That third issue is why The Last Prisoner Project concentrates not simply on prisoner launch however on re-entry help and document expungement.
What occurs after launch is essential, Bronson agreed. “It’s such an incredibly daunting challenge to get a job, and that includes the lowest-paid jobs,” he stated. “There’s a 70 percent change these people will be re-arrested. That’s recidivism.
“What as a society do we expect people to do? They need to eat. They often have families. Families need to eat.” And when newly launched folks encounter hostility and racism, Bronson stated, “It’s easy for people to say, ‘Screw it. I’m going to go back to my old life, where my friends are, on the street, where I can make a lot more money and not have to put up with this.’”
What hashish employers want to comprehend is that this inhabitants’s difficulties in re-entry, the audio system stated. Humiston, the Vangst CEO, recounted one lady telling her how she’d had a Blackberry when she went to jail – after which an iPhone when she bought out. “She has no clue how to use an iPhone,” Humiston stated. “It’s mind-boggling; so much changes so fast.”
And not solely expertise modifications however former prisoners’ societal coping abilities. Angelos described how after 13 years in jail he couldn’t be round crowds. “I went to the mall, and I just ran out,” he recalled. “I left my sister. I couldn’t handle it.”