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Top 10 Ideas That Show Business Roundtable CEOs How To Create Value For All Stakeholders
We are in the process of putting into practice a new social contract between business and society. The most recent evidence is the Business Roundtable’s August announcement that 181 CEOs of America’s largest companies were committed “to lead for the benefit of all stakeholders.”
As I wrote with my fellow co-founders of the B Corp movement: “While it is appropriate to note, even celebrate, the Business Roundtable’s announcement as a sign of an accelerating culture shift, it is important to recognize that the people who are demanding this shift are demanding action.” More than 30 CEOs from B Corps like Amalgamated Bank, Lemonade and Patagonia took out an ad in the August 25, 2019, Sunday edition of The New York Times to express their eagerness to help the Business Roundtable CEOs turn their bold words into concrete actions.
Many of the businesses who signed the open letter to Business Roundtable CEOs are also on the recently released annual Best For The World list, created by B Lab, the nonprofit behind the B Corp movement, which honors the B Corps achieving the most positive impact, as well as those making the largest measurable improvements to their positive impact on people and planet each and every year. These 2019 Best For The World honorees shine a path for the Business Roundtable (BRT) to follow in achieving each of its five newly announced commitments:
BRT Commitment No. 1: “Delivering value to our customers. We will further the tradition of American companies leading the way in meeting or exceeding customer expectations.”
BRT Commitment No. 2: “Investing in our employees. This starts with compensating them fairly and providing important benefits. It also includes supporting them through training and education that help develop new skills for a rapidly changing world. We foster diversity and inclusion, dignity and respect.”
BRT Commitment No. 3: “Dealing fairly and ethically with our suppliers. We are dedicated to serving as good partners to the other companies, large and small, that help us meet our missions.”
BRT Commitment No. 4: “Supporting the communities in which we work. We respect the people in our communities and protect the environment by embracing sustainable practices across our businesses.”
BRT Commitment No. 5: “Generating long-term value for shareholders, who provide the capital that allows companies to invest, grow and innovate. We are committed to transparency and effective engagement with shareholders.”
In their response to the Business Roundtable announcement, the Council of Institutional Investors worries that stakeholder governance creates a situation in which “accountability to everyone means accountability to no one,” creating “hiding places for poor management.” The existence of more than 10,000 successful B Corporations and benefit corporations who have already adopted stakeholder governance and are delivering value to their shareholders and to their customers, employees, suppliers, and communities, while preserving the natural systems on which all life depends, is evidence that this understandable concern is not consistent with the facts on the ground.
The shift from shareholder primacy to stakeholder capitalism is a natural evolution. Evolution happens through positive mutations. B Corps, especially Best For The World honorees, are the kinds of positive mutations that will outcompete in a marketplace that increasingly values an authentic commitment to purpose. The purpose of business is to strive to be best for the world. These businesses show us the way to turn bold words about purpose into concrete actions that create value for all stakeholders, including shareholders.
Let’s follow these leaders down to the path and make real change happen. Let’s get to work.
Expand college in-prison programs – then give participants time off their sentences
Over the past four decades, the United States doubled down on a “tough on crime” philosophy. It worked. We raced ahead as the world’s leader in incarceration, even as violent crime declined. We doled out life sentences to one out of every 2,000 people. Then, in 1994, President Clinton banned the use of federal Pell grants to fund higher education for people in prison, forcing the vast majority of prison higher education programs to close.Eighty-three percent of people released from prison are rearrested within a decade.
Finally, the conversation is changing. A bipartisan cadre of governors and congressional representatives are advocating for more forgiving, rehabilitative prison policies. The Trump administration is working to roll back Clinton’s zero-tolerance crime bill by expanding President Obama’s “Second Chance Pell” experiment, which funds college courses in a select few prisons.
It’s long overdue. Second Chance Pell currently funds college for only 12,000 inmates a year — or 0.5 percent of the 2.2 million incarcerated people. Expanding the program to reach more of the estimated 463,000 Pell-eligible people behind bars could be transformative.
As the debate over whether to lift Clinton’s Pell ban altogether generates renewed attention in Congress, though, we must remember that education alone will not undo the full damage of the tough-on-crime era. But, through a minor policy shift, states can leverage the swell of support for prison education to counteract lengthy sentencing practices — ensuring the expansion of Second Chance Pell also shrinks the overall prison population.
So-called “earned time credit,” which gives students who participate in educational programs time off of their sentences, is taking hold in a growing number of states. Earned time credit policies incentivize incarcerated learners to participate in educational programming, ensuring more of the 95 percent of prisoners who will eventually reenter society do so with the backing of education, while also turning the tide on mass incarceration and potentially saving taxpayers money through reduced recidivism costs. Such policies cost nothing to implement, and they signal a state’s recognition that vengefully long sentences do nothing to help perpetrators, victims, or society at large.
Earned time credit has the dual effect of reducing costs and improving outcomes, shortening students’ time behind bars while harnessing the power of education to make it less likely that they will reoffend after release. In states such as Washington and Oregon, these policies have saved taxpayers millions of dollars.
These efforts are supported by a strong evidence base: a 2013 meta-analysis of correctional education programs found that education reduces the likelihood of recidivism, and increases post-release job placement, by about 13 percent. For every dollar spent on correctional education, researchers estimate that states save five dollars on reincarceration costs. And tying education to early release amplifies these benefits even further, allowing students to begin contributing to the outside world sooner.
Sentence lengths have ballooned over the past few decades, driving the mass incarceration crisis. To counter the systemic damage of four decades of retributive criminal justice, we have to give incarcerated learners more than degrees — we have to give more of them a chance to apply what they have learned to life on the outside.
Expanding earned time credit programs, and other opportunities for accelerated release, also hold potential to ignite a broader conversation on how sentencing practices can recognize human potential for rehabilitation. Students who reenter society early with the support of high-quality education, equipped to succeed and to advocate for themselves, can begin to take down the myth that long sentences are necessary for public safety.
Skeptics question whether incarcerated learners should have access to free education, when there never seems to be enough to go around for even “rule followers.” But, one of the most important ways we can ensure the government can invest in programs that serve people on the outside, such as Pell, is to finally tackle the inconceivable amount of money we spend locking people up.
Prison education is an investment that pays off many times over, as incarcerated students discover their untapped potential, leave prison ready to contribute meaningfully to society, and build lives that keep them from winding up back behind bars. If we can lower prison spending, we can create a bigger pie that will better serve all students.
Most importantly, it’s a mistake to mark people in prison as categorically unworthy. Over the past several years, I have worked with incarcerated learners across the country; their stories are often heartbreaking, but their grit, dedication and thirst for opportunity are unparalleled. Many have spent their lives navigating the social injustices that make some far more likely to wind up behind bars than others, and are now saddled with such lengthy sentences that they worry they will never have the chance to do more.
We’re writing off an unacceptable amount of human potential if we define 2.2 million people by the worst thing they’ve ever done.
Arti Finn is the co-founder of American Prison Data Systems, a public benefits corporation working to promote free and ethical education options for incarcerated learners.
Technology Helping Inmates in Maryland Prison Pass Classes at a Higher Rate
Technology is something we all take for granted. Everything is at your fingertips and only a click away. But for 1,800 inmates across Maryland who are studying to earn their GED or high school diploma, technology is changing their lives for the better.
First Step Act
First Step: Using Evidenced-based, Individualized Programming to Improve Outcomes for Returning Citizens
As President Trump signed The First Step Act, we celebrate this noteworthy bipartisan triumph. We hope this Act marks the first of many steps to overhaul our criminal justice system.
Though the passage calls for celebration, we know reintegrating former inmates into society takes more than a single act of legislation. It calls for high-quality programming so that returning citizens can become productive, self-reliant, law-abiding members of society, capable of supporting themselves and their families. As such, the Bureau of Prisons urgently needs to take additional steps to channel resources and changes in policy and practice around the country, addressing everything from gaps in education and mental health care to basic access to essential technology. And, Congress needs to fully fund this effort.
At APDS, we have been focusing on rehabilitation in the form of evidenced-based, individualized education, job training, and reentry programming. In addition, we have provided staff training resources to support this approach. The states and counties where we work are already seeing gains.
Since our founding, APDS has made an unprecedented effort to improve security, education efficiency, and curriculum access for inmates and correctional staff alike. And, we do so without charging the inmate or their families.
We look forward to working with correctional systems at the federal, state, and county levels to leverage our software and technology to deliver high-quality, data driven, individualized programming to all incarcerated learners and returning citizens. Working together, a full-scale transformation of the system becomes possible.
Program gives inmates tablets to help re-integrate into society
Fox 13 News
A new pilot program is helping Utah inmates prepare for re-entry into society. The tech-assisted, focused re-entry program has 225 new tablets. Each cost $500, and come pre-loaded with educational materials, individualized treatment plans, housing information, employment options and more. The network they use is monitored, with no access to WiFi. All communication is monitored.
Can Tablets Help Educate Prisoners — and keep them from returning to Jail?
APDS aims to help people behind bars get an education by supplying them with a platform for receiving appropriate curriculum. The idea is to supplement whatever curriculum is provided officially by giving prisoners tablets…
Jail Tech: Phones, tablets, and Software Behind Bars
Technology has solved a number of important social issues that affect humanity. Education has become democratized and health information can be distributed to doctors around the world via the internet. Vaccines are delivered via drones. Apps predict earthquakes. The world is changing because of technology.
Tablets Improve Reading Scores, Behavior At Juvenile Facility
Indiana Public Media
A juvenile correctional facility in southeastern Indiana started an experiment two years ago. It distributed secure tablet computers to all of the girls. The goal of the technology was to help improve the girls’ educational experiences and opportunities. But the tablets are having an impact beyond the classroom.
Can Giving Prisoner Android Tablets Save Taxpayers Money?
The U.S. prison system is absolutely massive—more than two million Americans are currently in jail, and 40 percent of inmates return to prison within three years. This also takes an economic toll—$74 billion in U.S. taxpayer money is used annually to offset correction costs for America’s 2.2 million prisoners (who represent 22 percent of the entire world prison population).
Online behind bars: if internet access is a human right, should inmates have it?
For most of the developed world, internet access is a given. Google, Amazon, Facebook offer a privileged world of communication, entertainment, shopping and education that many of us take for granted. Unless, that is, you happen to be incarcerated.
From Prison Tech to Educational Museum: Companies That Redefine Customer Service
Chris Grewe, an educational publishing veteran turned founder and CEO of American Prison Data Systems, wants no repeat end-users. Founded in 2012, APDS uses plastic-enclosed tablets to securely deliver content and services to inmates. APDS aims to reduce recidivism by providing inmates with educational and vocational apps plus limited contact with the outside world.
Prison ed tech takes off: Tablet-based systems in correctional facilities help inmates get educated
Tablet-based systems in correctional facilities help inmates get educated, learn new skills—and maybe find a job when they’re released. In his many years teaching prisoners incarcerated in Alabama’s state correctional system, Brannon Lentz has never seen anything like it.
2-year program at Madison facility shows positive impact tablets have on behavior
The data is still being collected, but the staff at the Madison Juvenile Correctional Facility is noticing the nearly 50 incarcerated young women are calmer, not filing as many grievances and reading more books.
Android in prisons: Meet the man who put Galaxy Tab S2s in Rikers Island
The concept is simple: Seed inmates with feature-limited Galaxy Tab S2s. The inmates typically have access to only educational and vocational apps, through in some cases they can use the tablets to read ebooks, and prepare for upcoming court cases..
Inside the Tech Startup That’s Building Tablets for Inmates
Some San Francisco jail inmates are now in possession of computer tablets they can use to do homework, read novels and prepare for their criminal cases. The tablets were distributed Wednesday to more than 100 inmates.
Teaching Prisoners: Meet ten socially responsible startups changing NY business
One in every four kids in the United States fails to complete high school on time. That’s a stat Christopher Grewe is fond of using to prove his crucial point: “If you fail to complete high school, you’re eight to 10 times more likely to end up incarcerated…
With prison tablets, a choice between rehabilitation and profiteering
Al Jazeera America
A growing number of facilities are adopting more immediate means of communication such as email from handheld devices, providing a way for inmates to stay in touch more regularly with family members.
S.F. jail inmates to have access to prison tablets
Cutting edge technology isn’t normally available to the more than 2 million men and women jailed in the United States — cost, security concerns and a criminal justice system that has favored punishment over rehabilitation are among the reasons.
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