The New York Times profiles a young entrepreneur who has a truly innovative plan to bring inmates and their families closer together.
If you want to make a success of yourself, especially in business there are some traits that help. Chris Redlitz, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, lists those qualities as “passion” the ability to “be a leader” and “perseverance”.
Unfortunately those skills alone are not enough. The environment and assets you have externally available play a role as well. For many men who have those innate factors, and less than ideal surroundings, it’s just as easy if not easier to use them to succeed in less than legal ventures.
29-year-old Frederick Hutson is a man with a desire to generate big money. The first time around, at age 24, he went about it illegally, and got caught. Now having paid the price and serving his time, he is back at it again with a stronger, grander and legal plan.
In yesterday’s New York Times his ideas and path are profiled.
His company, Pigeonly, based in Las Vegas, taps an underserved and “captive” market by offering prison inmates an easy and efficient way to receive photos from loved ones and to make phone calls to them inexpensively. “Isolation is the worst thing for an inmate,” Mr. Hutson said. “It makes it hard for him to rebuild his life when he gets out.”
Hoping to reduce recidivism, he came up with an idea for an online platform, called Fotopigeon, that lets friends and relatives upload photos, which are then sent through the postal service directly to the incarcerated for a flat fee of 50 cents a print. “Companies like Shutterfly and Snapfish — their packaging won’t get accepted by prisons,” Mr. Hutson said, “because they don’t like anything that doesn’t come in a plain white envelope.”
Should we as a society look to create more of this type of entrepreneurial venture? Do we want our prisons to be about redirecting people to use their abilities, or do we want to only use them as a deterrent or punishment?
According to the US Department of Justice nearly 1% of our country is incarcerated. That number is made up of 1 in 18 men, compared to 1 in 89 women. These numbers show beyond the shadow of a doubt that mass incarceration is an issue that directly affects men. And what happens to a man after he is released needs to be addressed, unless society intends to simply throw away a substantial number of people.
Photo: AP/Matt York