Today, an estimated 40,000 people are imprisoned for cannabis crimes, even though: the entire legal cannabis industry is booming; state after state legalizing cannabis, cannabis companies are making considerable profits.
The four cannabis activists agreed this week that this difference is entirely wrong. They talked about how to achieve racial justice in the cannabis field in a webinar, does that mean releasing people or finding jobs.
The panelists also focused on the help the cannabis industry itself can provide.
Richard Bronson, founder and CEO of 70 Million Jobs, also a staffing agency for people with criminal records, said:
“There are 70 million people in this country with criminal records, and each and every one of them goes through hell finding a job.”
And Bronson pointed out:
“Many, many are men and women of color who have done their time,” Bronson pointed out, “and too many are in jail for the activity that has subsequently been legalized. It’s an irony of gruesome proportions.”
This webinar is a series of seminars organized by Vanst, a cannabis personnel deployment agency; its CEO, Karson Humiston, serves as the moderator. The panel also includes Arlene Mejia, which focuses on criminal justice reform, and Weldon Angelos, co-founder, and president of Project Mission Green.
Bronson has imprisoned; she said that there are three of May’s three brothers. But Angelos’s prison story is particularly striking: in 2002, he and Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur’s record crew successfully became a music producer. He then arrested on three counts of selling cannabis, totaling $900.
Many people in jail are of color, and the stories behind them are painful, and ethnicity has affected their arrests, sentences, and problems with their return. The third factor is why The Last Prisoner Project is not only concerned about the release of prisoners but also about the reasons for the return assistance and criminal record deletion.
Angelo’s famous supporters helped: In 2016, President Obama pardoned him. His hard work led him to engage in criminal justice work related to marijuana.
Bronson said during the webinar that there are good reasons for this affirmative action.
“Prior to the onset of the virus, the unemployment rate in this country was about 3.5 percent, historically low… However, among those who have records, and that includes drug-related ones, the rate of unemployment was almost 30 percent, which was the highest unemployment rate of any discrete population, including during the Great Depression.
Bronson agreed that what happened after the release was the key. He said:
“It’s such an incredibly daunting challenge to get a job, and that includes the lowest-paid jobs… There’s a 70 percent change these people will be re-arrested.”
“What as a society do we expect people to do? They need to eat. They often have families. Families need to eat.” And when newly released people encounter hostility and racism, Bronson said, “It’s easy for people to say, ‘Screw it. I’m going to go back to my old life, where my friends are, on the street, where I can make a lot more money and not have to put up with this.'”
The spokesman said that what marijuana employers need to be aware of is the difficulty of re-entering the group. Humiston, CEO of Vangst, told a woman about how to own a BlackBerry when she went to prison and how to use her iPhone when she went out
And not only the changes in technology, but also the reaction of former prisoners to social changes. Angelos described how the situation in the whole society became different after serving 13 years in prison. He recalled:
“I went to the mall, and I just ran out,” he recalled. “I left my sister. I couldn’t handle it.”
At the same time, Bronson talked about issues that employers did not consider: such as the lack of a computer and how this forced former prisoners to rely on the phone.
Bronson pointed out:
“A job search on a phone is miserable user experience.”
Bronson said, then, if an interview conducted, people may not show up for details that the employer never considered, listing transportation, cash, and appropriate wardrobes.
“Collusion piece by piece,” he pointed out that his organization works with Uber and Lyft, at least in transportation.
Another obstacle is the frightening days of the former prisoner’s first day of work. Bronson said the company’s mentors are crucial. “People who come out of prison or prison feel very isolated, terrified, rejected, and ashamed.”
Bronson said that if you want to go for an interview, people may not come to the conversation because some problems that employers have never considered will arise, such as lack of transportation, no money, and no suitable business.
And another obstacle is the difficult situation of those prisoners who are out of jail. Bronson believes that in the company, the mentor is crucial.
“People who have come out of jail or prison feel very isolated, freaked out, ostracized, ashamed.”
Bronson said the good news is that once employers gain the trust of ex-prisoners, they will have diligent and loyal employees to stay. As evidence, he cited a study by the Society for Human Resource Management. The research shows that hiring managers give high marks to this type of recruitment.
“There’s a way large and small employers can change things, and that’s through economic enfranchisement,” Bronson said. “You give someone a way to make a living, you’re giving them a chance.”
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