A new program is teaching Nebraska convicts how to become
entrepreneurs and wage-earners upon their release from prison.
The Defy Ventures program currently trains about 1,600 inmates in California and New York.
Ken Stinson, chairman emeritus of Peter Kiewit Sons’ Inc., says charitable foundations will cover the $2.5 million cost of the program’s three-year trial run in Nebraska.
Nearly 80 Nebraska State Penitentiary inmates participated in the program Thursday. It was led by 40 volunteers, including business executives and charitable foundation representatives, a state senator and a former speaker of the Nebraska Legislature.
Defy Ventures founder and CEO Catherine Hoke says the program has kept 95 percent of its graduates out of prison for at least three years after their release. About 30 percent of convicts return to prison within the same period in Nebraska.