CLEVELAND, Texas (KTRK) — Dozens of inmates from across southeast Texas are working to improve their lives once they get out of prison.
They graduated from the Prison Entrepreneurship Program, a competitive business and character building program where graduates are required to create and present viable business plans to future investors.
“We push, pull, poke, prod, and stretch these guys in ways they never thought were possible,” explained PEP CEO Bryan Kelley. “In doing so, they realize the glass ceilings they and others have set have shattered.”
The program started out nine months ago with 165 men, but not everybody could keep up with the coursework. Others left when they were released from prison.
Of the 74 men who graduated this year, most of them never finished high school.
Almost all of them live with shame from the offense that put them in prison.
“It was March 14th of 2003. It was in Aransas County. I was leaving the beach coming home and I just, I don’t remember nothing. I just totally blacked out,” explained inmate Albert Anaya. “It’s something that I have to live with for the rest of my life.”
Anaya crashed his car and killed a 49-year-old woman that night.
He was drunk and his 1-year-old daughter was also in the car.
“I’m supposed to be her knight in shining armor, I’m supposed to be taking care of her,” Anaya said. “And here I am putting her life at risk.”
Anaya has been in prison for 16 years. He’s become something of a carpenter, building and decorating clocks with materials he found around him.
“I want everybody to know that even though we’re incarcerated, we’re not all bad,” he said. “We just made bad decisions. I’m just truly blessed to be given a second chance.”
For more information on PEP, visit PEP.org.