Defy Ventures, Inc. Comes to Tecumseh Prison to Help Bring the Best Out of Inmates

What it's showing me right now is that there are people out there willing to learn about us and our circumstances.

- Jerrold Mcleod, Inmate - Tecumseh State Correctional Institution

TECUMSEH – The message coming from the inside of the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution is not always a good one, but a program called Defy Ventures, Inc., is hoping to change that.

“We’re ready to produce some great stories to show the world that these are amazing people.”

That came from Founder & CEO of Defy Ventures, Inc., Catherine Hoke. She presented the inmates at the prison a new opportunity to transform their lives, and connect with volunteers that have had successful pasts.

“Defy is fantastic. Now that I have come here and seen what it is all about, I couldn’t be more happy. What it’s showing me right now is that there are people out there willing to learn about us and our circumstances. They’re willing to put their best foot forward to try to help us out of our circumstances, so their desire is inspiring,” said Inmate Jerrold Mcleod.

The past two years have not presented a good light onto the facility, all stemming back to the prison riot on Mother’s Day 2015.

Director of the Nebraska Department of Corrections, Scott Frakes, was in attendance.

“You know we’ve had our challenges. We also know that despite the outlier events, there are lots of good things happening. Things are moving forward, and you demonstrated that so strongly by that reaction. I really do thank you for that,” exclaimed Frakes.

During the events on Tuesday, Hoke referred to each inmate as an EIT, or “Entrepreneur in Training.” They participated in activities that featured loud applause, lots of emotion and a bond between those that were incarcerated, and the many volunteers that took the time to meet the inmates.

Henry Hunteman was a Corrections Officer for 12 years.

“Here, they’re taking what they did, and they’re taking the positive side of it. You have got talent, you have got stuff that you’ve learned by dealing drugs, by stealing cars, by whatever. They bring this to the forefront and they make it a positive. Now let’s channel it for something positive and on the good side. I think it’s going to be great.”

According to their website, Defy Ventures, Inc.’s mission is to “transform the lives of business leaders and people with criminal histories through their collaboration along the entrepreneurial journey.”

David Turner is an aspiring music producer, that he plans on expanding when he is released in 26 months.

“I’ve been making music for nine years now. I have over 1,000 songs. I’m a professional at this music thing, so I’m great. I’m going to turn the world around, but when I make this money that I make, I’m going to do a lot of things with children’s hospitals and trying to rebuild people’s lives. You know, for people that’s inside here and people that are out there. I want to turn people’s misery into dreams.”

This is the third prison in Nebraska to implement Defy (Omaha and Lincoln).

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