Entrepreneurship Program Helping Residents Develop Vital Life Skills

The Prison Entrepreneurship Program, or PEP, is a part of the daily operation of the Sanders Estes Unit in Venus, Texas.

A faith-based program designed to teach the guiding principles of successful business practice, PEP has been compared to a mini-MBA. Admission requires an extensive screening process. 

Resident Juan Madrigal looked into the program and determined it was something that would help him change his life by helping him get to know himself better. 

“I lived a certain lifestyle,” he said.  “When I got over here (to the program’s housing area), it was totally different. Everything was more united, there was no tension, and I wanted to be a part of that.”

The program sets out to change lives through a comprehensive rehabilitative effort involving residency in prison, release from prison, and ongoing support after prison. Sanders Estes Unit greatly values its PEP partnership which involves dorm routines, classroom activities, and events where volunteer business leaders teach the PEP participants about what it takes to be successful on the outside; not only in business, but in life.

Deputy Warden Terry Wiktorik says of the facility’s support of the program, “One of the benefits of having the PEP program here at the Sanders Estes Unit is it doesn’t just necessarily help the offenders that are in the program, the benefits spill over to the general population offenders here as well.” 

Wiktorik says residents in the PEP program model not only good behavior that affects the other residents, but it also promotes achievement, helping motivate greater participation in the other programs offered at the facility.

Wiktorik says,

“Our mission here is, obviously, to prepare offenders for integration back into society; make them better neighbors, make them productive citizens of the community, but more than that, to give them the tools to succeed when they get out.  And PEP, along with Sanders Estes Unit, we’re doing that.”