Everyone deserves a second chance

Richard Branson

Everyone deserves a second chance. Ive spoken before about the need for companies to employ people who have criminal histories. This is ultimately good for the individuals, the businesses, and also good for society.

Another thing that would help enormously would be if people who have been in prison for non-violent criminal offences had their slate wiped clean after three years of successful probation. The vast majority of people who are in prison are there for drug-related cases. By limiting their opportunities to find careers when released, they are encouraged to re-offend rather than go on to make a positive contribution to society.

One organisation that is working to give people with criminal histories opportunities is Defy Ventures. This New York based non-profit organisation provides life-changing leadership and job opportunities and is funded and managed by experienced entrepreneurs.

Rather than condemning people for their past mistakes, Defy Ventures recognise that many former drug dealers and gang leaders share similar skill sets and talents with top business leaders. They aim to nurture these abilities to help both the individuals as well as society as a whole.

There are plenty of other organisations working hard in this area notably Working Chance, who offer restorative recruitment for women offenders. We are working hard at Virgin to support positive initiatives to encourage the rehabilitation of prisoners, and urge other companies to do so too.

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