Season 3 is here! This season, Against All Odds, highlights Asian Americans who have overcome immense obstacles to launch organizations, movements, and businesses around a meaningful cause.
We kick off the season with a gripping story from Jason Wang, a former gang member and ex-convict, now the founder and CEO of FreeWorld. FreeWorld provides employment opportunities for people with criminal histories.
At the age of 15, Jason was arrested with a 12-year sentence for aggravated robbery, a first degree felony.
In this episode we talk to Jason about:
His abusive childhood,
What led him to join a gang as a teenager,
Some of the lessons he learned in prison,
The state of our criminal justice system, and
Why he thinks it’s so important to give people, especially ex-convicts, a second chance.
It’s a raw and unfiltered story about how Jason picked himself up from rock bottom, against all odds, to build a life of meaning for himself and others. Mostly, it’s a story about redemption: how to forgive, and free ourselves from each of our own mental and emotional prisons.
Trigger Warning: This episode includes references to domestic violence, abuse, and suicide.
Resources And Episode Citations:
Follow Jason on Twitter @JasonWaang and learn more about FreeWorld at joinfreeworld.com/
Asians make up approximately 1.5% of the federal prison population. Source: Federal Bureau of Prisons https://www.bop.gov/about/statistics/statistics_inmate_race.jsp
Recidivism rates in the U.S are high. According to the National Institute of Justice, close to 70% of released prisoners are within three years of release, and more than 90% are within nine years. Source: https://nij.ojp.gov/topics/corrections/recidivism
Defy Ventures is a nonprofit organization that provides entrepreneurship training to those who are currently or formerly incarcerated. Jason participated in the program shortly after being released from prison and went on to start two companies. Learn more about Defy Ventures at https://www.defyventures.org/
Other organizations that serve the community by providing positive role models and resources for legal defense and justice:
- Apex for Youth (https://apexforyouth.org)
- Asian Americans for Equality (https://www.aafe.org/)
- Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (https://www.aaldef.org/)
Our writer for this episode was Preeti Varathan. Preeti is a reporter and producer who spent the last year traveling around the world hosting an international news show for Quartz. You can find her on Twitter at @preeti_varathan.
Thanks to Kessyl Lim, our assistant producer; Debbie Wong & Kim Hernandez, our social media coordinators; and Rachel Chou our sound editor.
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