In an attempt to reduce recidivism, Alexa Clay and Kyra Maya Phillips seek to redirect the energy of ex-convicts:
Many gangsters are natural born innovators with restricted economic opportunities. Nobody understands this better than Catherine (Cat) Rohr, who quit her job in private equity to become a champion for the incarcerated. As she told us, “Initially I had this attitude that people in prison were the scum of the earth, that they were a waste of tax dollars.” But in getting to know the prison population better, Cat’s position began to change. “I suddenly realized I was meeting entrepreneurs in prison. That these guys who had run drug businesses had all these entrepreneurial characteristics like scrappiness, charisma, and real skills in leadership and management.” With this realization, Cat began a life committed to honoring the talents and skills of those in prison.
Cat has launched a program in New York called Defy Ventures, which “provides a business incubator for ex-offenders who then have an opportunity to compete for $150,000 in seed capital for their businesses.”