Richard Branson: Turning prisoners into entrepreneurs could save £1.4 billion per year

Richard Branson writes about our latest publication, ‘From inmates to entrepreneurs: how prison entrepreneurship can break the cycle of reoffending’.

I’ve often wondered how societies can build a criminal justice system that finds the right balance between punishment and rehabilitation of those in its care. As far as numbers go, the prison system is doing a lousy job at ensuring people in prison stand even the slightest chance of becoming useful members of society again.

Just imagine you are running a school, and nearly half your students, year after year, fail their final exams. When fault rates run that high in any organisation, the failure is a systemic one.

There are many pieces to the puzzle. Business must be part of the solution. And of course, we must not forget that many of those currently in prison are fantastically entrepreneurial in their own right. Just today, a new report released by the Centre for Entrepreneurs makes a compelling case for self-employment to “be recognised as an effective pathway towards rehabilitation and reduced reoffending for many ex-prisoners”. The researchers found that entrepreneurship and self-employment could save taxpayers more than £1.4 billion, at a cost of no more than £82 million per year. That’s a phenomenal return on investment. And it could lead to 11,000 new businesses every year. Examples from Texas and Germany show how it can be done. To quote my fellow serial entrepreneur Luke Johnson: “Not introducing a prison entrepreneurship programme would be such a waste of both money and potential.”

Read the full blog post here