Transforming the lives of incarcerated women in Florida
This is the vision driving Virgin Unite's commitment to criminal justice reform. Shifting the system's focus from extreme punishment and mass incarceration to addressing harms, rehabilitation, and successful reintegration for those coming out of the criminal legal system.
Central to this mission is the promotion of fair chance employment opportunities, since having the right skills and opportunities is crucial for long-term stability for returning individuals and their families.
Televerde Foundation has pioneered a ground-breaking programme that marries these essential elements and Virgin Unite is excited to partner with the foundation to help bring it to incarcerated women in Florida for the very first time, marking a significant step towards positive change.
Florida ranks among the top incarcerating states in the US, with the statistics for women being particularly staggering. Despite a general decline in incarceration rates nationwide, the number of women behind bars has surged by over 750% in recent decades. The repercussions of this trend extend well beyond the incarcerated individuals. For example, approximately half of the women in US prisons, and 80% of those in jails, are mothers. Without focused interventions, studies suggest that up to 70% of these children are likely to become trapped in an intergenerational cycle of incarceration. Televerde Foundation's efforts are transforming the lives of incarcerated women and their families.
Recently, Virgin Unite hosted an event in Miami spotlighting the Televerde Foundation's initiatives in Arizona and Indiana, where its PATHS (Prepare, Achieve, and Transform for Healthy Success) programme was first established – offering vital support to women both during and after their incarceration. The event highlighted how crucial the role of businesses is in this transformative process.
Against the backdrop of ongoing discussions on criminal justice reform, the event focused on the root causes of women's incarceration and explored how the PATHS programme has positively impacted the lives of participants and the businesses they joined post-incarceration.
The success of the PATHS programme speaks volumes about its impact. 96% of participants secure employment within their first month post-release and impressively, their average starting salary is $41,000 – a significant leap of over 160% from their average earnings before incarceration. The program has also achieved a 0% recidivism rate among its participants.
Businesses partnering with PATHS have noted that graduates are among their top performers, excelling in sales and customer success roles and often rising through the ranks faster than their peers.
This success is partly due to the foundation’s connections to Televerde, a purpose-driven business that champions second chances and impactful sourcing. The business works closely with global business leaders to enhance their marketing, sales, and customer service efforts with cutting-edge business practices and tools, which helps ensure participants in PATHS have access to the most current and effective training and education.
While the foundation's programmes are poised for expansion in Florida, Televerde's business operations are already making a difference at Homestead Correctional Institution, setting the stage for the inaugural Florida PATHS Workforce Development Center which will reach beyond those the company can support as employees.
A group convened by Virgin Unite, including criminal justice reform leaders, visited the site and met with women living and working there, to learn about their lives and their future aspirations.
"In the journey to transform the justice system and open doors for those involved in it, our partnership with Virgin Unite has been pivotal, especially in our efforts to make a significant impact on the lives of incarcerated women in Florida," said Michelle Cirocco, executive director of Televerde Foundation. "Virgin Unite's commitment to this cause goes beyond partnership – it's a powerful example of leadership and dedication to social progress. Our shared vision is making a significant impact in Florida, proving that when we unite our strengths, the potential for positive change is boundless."
The Televerde Foundation's record in altering life trajectories, fostering meaningful career paths, and breaking the chains of poverty and incarceration is undeniable. For a deeper insight into the transformative journey of the PATHS program, visit the Televerde Foundation website.