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Prisonpreneur: Charting your destiny from cells to sales

James Clingman | 12/16/2013, 7:52 a.m.

We know there is a cause and effect relationship between poverty and crime, and to the degree that we can shift that equation to our advantage, by teaching our young children and teenagers entrepreneurship, and by starting and growing our own businesses, we should make every effort to do so. It is our responsibility to do what we can, to control what we can control, to stay out of prisons, and then to advocate for the kind of training in our schools that can at least provide the opportunity for business ownership among our youth.

I am going to make up another new word for this: “prisonpreneur.” A recent CNN segment featured men at San Quentin becoming technology entrepreneurs while in prison, and getting great jobs when they were released. They were taught all the skills of owning a business while they were spending time incarcerated. What a novel idea, huh? Well, it’s not novel at all, as I have just shown you with our enslaved ancestors, but now that CNN has lauded it, maybe it will take hold throughout the prison-system population.

We need to stop being so hard-headed and make the appropriate changes necessary to control our own destiny, rather than turning it over to a prison system that is only interested in making a profit from the work we put in every day behind prison walls. The answer: Work for yourself not for the new slave master, the prison system. Be a prisonpreneur.

Jim Clingman, founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, is an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati and can be reached through http://www.blackonomics.com.