Originally, my learning problem addressed reducing recidivism from the angle of SEL development and job skills training for ex-prisoners. Since then, I’ve chatted with a founder of a non-profit who works in reducing recidivism for juvenile offenders and a program director from another non-profit who works in the East Palo Alto community to equip learners of all ages with skills for the tech industry.
Both of them mentioned the problem of, even if they equip their learners to be equally qualified as other candidates, if the community/system around the learners doesn’t change then the learners are still stuck. More specifically, if people in positions of power, i.e., hiring managers or police, aren’t aware of or address their biases, these learners will continue to be overlooked.
This made me interested in looking at the system perpetuating recidivism. I recalled a story someone from the East Palo Alto non-profit shared regarding his perception of the police in the area. He shared that every day he and his friends would constantly get harassed by the police for doing nothing, just for standing on the corner. Coupled with the nature of our politics today, I began thinking more about the divisions in communities based on the inability to empathize with each other, either due to political affiliations, race, gender, etc.