Social Justice, The New Employment Opportunity | Jason Rhude | Tedxalmansorpark

Social Justice, The New Employment Opportunity | Jason Rhude | Tedxalmansorpark

[Applause] [Applause] [Applause] [Applause] what if it were you everybody in this room has at some point or another committed a crime and many of you will do that very thing again in fact according to NBC 52 percent of you have consumed cannabis in your life and they’re gonna choose to continue to consume cannabis and you guys are still allowed to breathe the air to see the sunshine and get on with your lives you’ve avoided some of the obstacles that many of the people in my community have suffered in fact in the United States were the most incarcerated country in the world the land of the free I’m gonna tell you guys the story about a guy named fate fate Vincent Winslow is his full name born of poverty one of the many stories that the American Civil Liberties Union has shined light on fate again a poor disadvantaged individual found himself homeless in his 30s he was in a parking lot panhandling and a police officer walked up to him and asked him if he can get him some weed faith in a terrible social situation agreed so he took $20 from this undercover police officer with the intent of a five dollar Commission walked over to a street dealer that was there in the parking lot purchased about 20 dollars worth of weed returned to the police officer handed over the weed and was promptly arrested meanwhile the marked bill that he used to make that purchase was still in the hands of the white dealer that he bought that cannabis from faith who had had some pre some priors ended up going to jail for twenty dollars worth of cannabis his sentence was life you and I get to pay the bill while this is a terrible story there’s a lot of nuance to it again going back to the idea that in the United States we incarcerate more than anyone else in fact in the United States the number of people with college degrees is around 14% the number of people that are walking the streets with a criminal record is about 15% so to put that into perspective it’s somewhere in the range of 70 million or 700 million people rather with criminal records it’s about 67 million people with college degrees pretty crazy isn’t it it’s pretty significant number I come from the cannabis space again where when we talk about bridging gaps my community is working diligently to end social stigmas to go from the black market to the supermarket if you will and it’s exploding all around us the very things that have gotten these people in trouble oftentimes or the potential pathway out when I see people that are in prison for nonviolent drug offenses I see entrepreneurs like me I see disadvantaged peoples that were looking for an opportunity to feed their families to take care of and foster their own futures and whatever way they could in a country where we incarcerate 1% of our citizens we have another challenge you and I get to pay for it it costs around thirty thousand dollars in many states but between thirty and sixty thousand dollars a year to put somebody behind bars and a guy like Saint Vincent Winslow who ended up with a life sentence for $20 worth of cannabis the average life sentence is 22 years a 22-year live sentence is about 1.3 million tax dollars that you and I pay for the conversation that I’m having isn’t to go back and unravel what’s gone on with our criminal justice system because it’s not something that we’re going to be able to flip a switch to change the reason for this conversation is to look at a segment of our society of our population that’s become a third class the barriers to entry for people that have a record are so numerous and we’re talking about housing credit jobs people that are on probation or parole and you talk about obstacles in our lives I know many people that have degrees without any obstacles at all that finds employment to be challenging so is our correction system corrected I’m not in any way implying that there isn’t a need for a criminal justice system or that everybody that’s behind bars is innocent we all take risks we all take chances what I am however proposing is that I don’t want to pay that bill and considering one in five of those people that are behind bars are nonviolent drug offenders we’ve got a lot of work to do if we could have intervened a little sooner for a guy like faith Vincent Winslow that 1.2 million dollars could have crafted his life in a different direction and he’s not the only one again the reason that I’m here to have this conversation isn’t in any way to imply that the system’s gonna fall apart tomorrow but we’ve talked about social justice we talked about corporate social responsibility and where I see true social justice is by taking into account that we’ve created a third class and finding a path to correcting that so what’s the correction it’s every employer and every employer thinking through what it means to have a criminal record think about the sister the daughter the cousin the brother or the you that is carrying that record you guys saw the number it’s astonishing so that being said the call to action in all of this the real social justice the real social change comes and starts with each one of us not just employers and employees working together too in the stigma but the people in power and if you’re one of those people making the choice to be more empathetic to be more considerate to put yourself in the shoes of that very person that’s on the other end of that interview we all have challenges in life we all have bumps in the road and there isn’t any reason that we should carry a Scarlet Letter through the rest of our lives the children that we were making decisions for the people that we are going to be the entrepreneurs the people that looks at opportunity and made a change I look at it from the perspective of I would much rather have our friend fate out taking care of his children his ailing mother contributing to society becoming part of the tax producers instead of costing and it starts with us so the call to action here was intended originally to be for the cannabis industry but it’s relevant to every industry and while I know that in my business I’m taking a look I think that the call to action for everybody it’s to stop and think through primarily because it could be used [Applause]

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