My guest today is Quan Huynh, a former prison inmate, published author, and business owner who is now working to help those with a criminal past transform their lives.
A product of the California prison system, Quan served 22 years of his life in and out of correctional facilities. After receiving a life sentence for murder, he was paroled in 2015. Today he’s the executive director for Defy Ventures, a nonprofit whose mission is to shift mindsets, and to give people with criminal histories their best shot at a second chance through career readiness, personal development, and entrepreneurship training programs.
Quan Huynh is the author of Sparrow in the Razor Wire: Finding Freedom from Within While Serving a Life Sentence. He’s been featured on Entrepreneur, PBS News Hour, Talks at Google, and numerous other publications.
In today’s episode we discuss:
- Quan’s life growing up in Provo, Utah, in a Roman Catholic, Vietnamese family, while experiencing racism as a boy
- How he never felt like he fit in anywhere—until he and his friends started breaking into cars and stealing stereos[
- The dark path Quan took that ended up with him facing 45 years to life in prison at the age of 17, for conspiracy to commit murder (and that was just his first arrest)
- How employers can legally discriminate against former prisoners who are looking for work
- The moment when Quan completely shifted his viewpoint—hearing a sparrow chip outside, he started seeing his prison sentence as an opportunity to remake himself into a better person
- How Quan helped other inmates prepare to go in front of the parole board—by looking at the reality of their past, versus the inaccurate stories they told themselves about their past crimes
- How Quan started a business within six months of being paroled, and how his work is helping people prepare to transition from prison to the outside world
The cost of incarcerating one person in California is $90,000 a year—versus $1500 to put someone through Quan’s program. Most inmates walk out of prison with $200 and no support. Quan is now working to shift mindset of the business community and those who can directly help them solve this problem
His story is remarkable, and I urge you to give it a listen!
Links & Resources
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