18 Jul Why We Created Post Prison Jobs
Post Prison Jobs
(Transcript of YouTube video)
Hi, I’m Justin Paperny. I’m the executive director of The Michael G. Santos Foundation. On my screen, I have a website straightaguide.wpengine.com, which is a division of The Michael G. Santos Foundation. Quickly by way of background, I am a former securities broker from Bear Stearns and UBS. Some bad decisions I made while managing money led to an experience with the criminal justice system that I fully own and talk about. As a result of those bad decisions, I was sentenced to 18 months at Taft Federal Prison Camp after pleading guilty to securities fraud. I surrounded in April of 2008. While in prison, I formed a very close friendship with a gentleman by the name of Michael Santos. Michael is my colleague, my partner and still my mentor.
While in prison working alongside Michael everyday, I was incredibly inspired by his work ethic and his drive and what he’d accomplished through more than 20 years in prison. Through that study, I came to realize how many prisoners were afraid to go home and that’s a strange feeling to have served a lengthy prison term or a short prison term and be fearful to release.
I was amazed at how many prisoners had so much anxiety upon their release from prison. In speaking with Michael and speaking with other prisoners, I realized that anxiety was increased because of what they feared on the other side, what was waiting for them with respect to employment, or housing, or relationships or probation and supporting your family. A lot of people go back to prison because the job they’re working may not be able to fully support them so they revert back to crime.
Upon my release dealing with my own reentry in August of 2009, I did a number of things: prison consulting, speaking on ethics, finance and white-collar crime. My clients include KPMG, FBI, Pretrial Services, USC, my alma mater. But, I also created The Michael G. Santos Foundation, really in honor of Michael and all that he stands for and all the prisoners that he’s helped throughout his journey.
I created The Michael G. Santos Foundation and it’s changed a lot over the years as lot of organizations do. Initially the foundation was geared towards preparing prisoners on the inside, cognitive training, developing values and skills that will help them transition to a law abiding life upon release. Certainly, we still do that. But, over the last few years, we focus a lot of our time on jobs and specifically employing formally incarcerated people through our staffing company.
The idea for the company came when Michael and I were visiting one day and Michael had met with an employer.
Michael was out trying to solicit jobs for people who are out of prison, people who had gone through our Straight-A-Guide program or Michael’s Straight-A-Guide program. The employer expressed concerns to Michael that he was concerned about hiring formerly incarcerated people. Are they accountable? What’s their work ethic? Are they disciplined? There’s a lot of these stigmas that accompany a criminal conviction. Concerned about faking workers’ comp claims that could drive up their MOD rates. Concerns about how they would work alone. Others consider they’ve been imprisoned for a long time often times with very little responsibility.
Look I understand the social injustice that comes with mass incarceration. I recognize we incarcerate way too many people in this country. I recognize people are worthy of a second chance but we also have to embrace the reality that, as an employer, I have a family and my employees have families. At the end of the day, I have to do what’s in the best interest of my company and my employees. For that reason, a number of companies were unwilling to place formerly incarcerated people in their payroll.
To bridge the issue, if that’s the right word, to fix the issue, we created Straight-A-Guide Staffing Solutions through straightaguide.wpengine.com which essentially places formerly incarcerated people on our payroll. We pay the employee. We pay the taxes. We pay the workers’ comp, insurance through the state fund of California. We provide payroll. What that does is it reduces the risk for the employer so they’re able to reach out to us and say, “Justin, we need temporary help for a week, or for two weeks, or for three days, or for a day.”
We’ve really tested this program successfully with Golden State Lumber, which is a huge lumber company in Northern California. They have a lot of yards. Actually to the right, I’m proud to share a testimonial from Divino who was formerly incarcerated, who went through our training program, who successfully worked as a temporary employee on our payroll at Golden State Lumber who was our client. He worked there successfully for several months and eventually Golden State Lumber said, “He’s accountable. He’s ethical. He’s deliberate. He shows up on time. He does everything that we’ve asked him to do. We’d like to convert him to our payroll.”
It’s really how the model was created. We provide a bridge that enables people out of prison to come onto our payroll and to prove to our client, the employer, they’re worthy of a second chance. Then, if they prove worthy of that second chance and deliver, they can get converted to their payroll. That’s what I wanted to briefly touch on today, straightaguide.wpengine.com. Our job is to help formerly incarcerated people transition to the labor market.
Now, I understand the initial job may not be the best job. It may not be exactly what you want to do today. It may not pay as much as you’d like today. Let me be clear.
As a white-collar offender who has a degree from USC and who even while I was in prison came home with a book and a network in part because my prison sentence was so short, I, too, had an initial job that I didn’t love, and I’m not saying some of our employees don’t love their job. But, I’ve had some say, “Wow, this is hard work. I wish I was making more money.” We all wish we made more money. My initial job out of prison was working at a real estate office picking up phones, pouring coffee, licking envelopes, working as an administrative assistant for a few months as I begin to grow straightaguide.wpengine.com and my prison consulting and corporate speaking career.
I say that to you, if you’re home from prison and you’re watching this video and you’re wondering what type of job it may be or what it may pay, this is simply a stepping stone.
This is one step in the process of your rehabilitation, of creating a new track record that demonstrates you can live lawfully. Maybe our temporary staffing position is right for you. Maybe it transitions into a full-time opportunity. But, maybe it’s just a little glimpse. Maybe it’s a little window in your life. Maybe it’s a month, two, three, or four or five months that shows to your probation officer that you can work lawfully. I really want to stress that into a potential employer that may be watching this video.
The people with whom we work have earned a second chance. We are well aware of the stigma that comes with felony conviction and of having served time in prison. I can assure you the people that go through straightaguide.wpengine.com, they’re deliberate. They’re disciplined. They work everyday in prison to overcome the bad decisions they made. Michael Santos created this program with 26 years of authenticity. Prisoners identify with his message and what he overcame and what he went through so we have a great deal of credibility with prisoners who go through our program, and they look at Michael’s accomplishment since his release from prison and, to a small degree, hopefully my accomplishment as well to prove that incarceration does not have to be a barrier to doing great and phenomenal things. We’re just a small step in that process.
I’m very grateful that you’ve watched this video whether you’re a potential employee or an employer. Let me close again. They’ve earned a chance. Give us an opportunity to provide you a dependable, reliable employees who can contribute to the growth of your company. You can help reduce this issue of mass incarceration. The extent that which we lock people up in this country is totally insane. It’s out of whack. We need to do more than talk about giving second chances, a lot of cliches and buzzwords. Let’s step up and actually do it. I assure you people on our payroll, on our team have earned a second chance. They will not let you down. They won’t let you down. They’re great people who I’m proud to call my brothers. We’re all felons. We’re all working hard to prove worthy of a second chance.
This epiphany came to me in prison working alongside Michael Santos. Many years later, it’s our privilege to work together to put more formerly incarcerated people to work. I hope that you’ll help us. Thanks so much for watching. 818-424-2220, if you’d like to learn more about how Post Prison Jobs can help you grow your business and also reduce this injustice of mass incarceration. Thank you so much.