Volunteer Kevin Lundquist, Senior Financial Director at Oracle, discusses interviewing strategy.

Volunteer Kevin Lundquist, Senior Financial Director at Oracle, discusses interviewing strategy.

By Joe Orlando, CDCR Public Information Officer

Re-entering society after release weighs heavily on the minds of those currently serving time, which is why there are groups available to help make the transition easier.

“If they try to throw you a curve, what should you do? Don’t get frazzled, just move on to the next part of the question,” said Kevin Lundquist to San Quentin State Prison inmates.

It’s good advice from a man who should know – Lundquist is a Senior Financial Director at Oracle and has interviewed hundreds of people.

He’s also one of the volunteers who meets regularly with inmates interested in learning about everything from how to write a resume, to interviewing, to being financially prepared to re-enter society if and when they get out. The group name is Freeman Capital, and the program, Financial Literacy.

“There isn’t one person I know who hasn’t had a bad interview. The key to having a good one is practice, practice, practice,” said Lundquist.

So they practice interviewing. Lundquist said there will be three different people interviewing inmates at the next meeting and so he urges them to be prepared.

Once a week over the next several weeks, this group of inmates will come to this class and prepare for life on the other side of the walls. Everyone has to deal with finances. For most of the general public, it’s juggling a house payment and a car payment, with food and gas.

It isn’t much different for the inmates. Most have jobs working for the California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA). Inmates receive wages of $.35 to $.95 per hour before deductions. There’s not as many dollars to juggle, but they still need a sense of how to handle their money.

Inmate Curtis “Wall Street”  Carroll, Financial Literacy Class Instructor, speaks to other inmates at San Quentin State Prison.

Inmate Curtis “Wall Street” Carroll, Financial Literacy Class Instructor, speaks to other inmates at San Quentin State Prison.

Many of the men have never had a bank or checking account and have never used an ATM.

“I committed crimes for financial gain. I didn’t really want to do it, but I gotta eat,” said Curtis Carroll, known as Wall Street.

Carroll said he’s a self-taught financial man who learned about money management and stocks by reading and listening to the experts. He said he came to prison nearly illiterate, but now advises others on money matters.

“It’s not just about the money. It’s about what it can do for people, and it’s about how it can change your lives for the better,” Carroll told the crowded classroom.

Organizers say there is a waiting list to get into the class.

Over the next half hour, Carroll breaks down his audience by age. He tells the baby boomers, “You’re in your fifties now and so when you get out, there are not going to be a lot of options because many of you have spent most of your life in here (prison). But you still need to know what to do, and how to be financially prepared.”

One middle aged inmate said, “I know nothing about money. I’m bad with it. That’s why I’m here.”

Not everyone is learning for the first time how to handle money.

Inmate David Jassy said he worked in the music business, and was also a marketing executive who dealt with a lot of people who had a lot of money.

“I learn something all the time in these classes that I didn’t know,” he admitted. “I think it benefits everyone.”

The financial empowerment section of the class is broken down into three curriculums;

  • Re-Entry. What do I need to know to go back to society?
  • Money Management. Making money and keeping your money. Be smart with what you have.
  • How do I prepare for retirement? Taking age into consideration, how can I make sure I’m fiscally ready?

“The hope is that they will be proactive while in prison so that they can become productive members of society,” said Steven Emrick, Community Partnership Manager and program coordinator.

Volunteer Lundquist reminded the gathering of their immediate task.

“You need to have a plan for interviews, and if they ask you where you want to be in five, 10 or 15 years? Know what you want and where you’re headed,” Lundquist said.

More on rehabilitation and re-entry

New bank account to help offender on re-entry, http://www.insidecdcr.ca.gov/2010/07/new/

CDCR’s youngest inmates go to college, http://www.insidecdcr.ca.gov/2012/01/cdcrs-youngest-inmates-go-to-college/

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