Leaders Link Episode 14

A conversation with Lindsay Levin and Rev Dr Madeline McClenney, Thomas Adams and Jessica Taylor

Leaders Link

29 July 2020

Welcome to a new episode of Leaders Link: a series of live-streamed conversations with leaders who have special reflections to share on some of the greatest challenges of our time.

This session featured Rev. Dr Madeline MClenney, President and Founder of ExodusFoundation.org, and Thomas Adams & Jessica Taylor, President and Executive Director of Chance for Life.

Between them, Madeline, Tom and Jessica have spent decades addressing the myriad problems inherent in America’s prison system. Today we hear their views on the system itself, and their highly successful methods of helping inmates – both those inside and those tackling re-entry.

Madeline begins by describing prison as a means of social containment, adding that “The only thing prison demographics will tell you is who is in charge of making the laws – not who is most likely to commit a crime, let alone whether the laws are just”. She reminds us that the link between poverty and prison is a myth – trauma, educational achievement and family dynamics are key factors driving incarceration.

Thomas explains that most of the young offenders his organisation works with spend their early lives within a six-block radius – limiting their perspective on life (and how others see them). Chance for Life teaches them how to survive by learning to negotiate, react and build relationships with officers and inmates.

Jessica talks passionately about teaching offenders to ‘Stay alive until people learn who you really are’. She says one of the principles driving Chance for Life’s success at cutting recidivism is the idea that nothing around you will change, until you do. Her mantra, she adds, is “Fight fire with water”.

Our next Leaders Link features Carla Walker-Miller and Kim Freeman. They've challenged a historically discriminatory system through their professional achievement in the energy and education sectors, and their determination to foster talent from diverse backgrounds. What can they teach us about embedding equity in society?

To join this episode on Thursday 6 August at 10 AM (PT); 1 PM (EDT); 6 PM (BST), you can register here. These sessions are free and open to everyone, so do invite your networks to join!

To receive the latest updates about this and other events, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn