By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large
Zak Williams, son of the late actor Robin Williams, has joined with a San Quentin inmate…who also happens to be a stock market whiz…to teach financial literacy classes to others incarcerated at the infamous California prison.
The inmate, Curtis Carroll, known inside as the “Oracle of San Quentin,” began taking an interest in the stock market when he was able to hang on to copies of another’s Wall Street Journal earmarked for the trash. For Williams’ part, he became involved when he developed an interest in prison rehabilitation, and, soon after, found a perfect match in Carroll with his MBA from Columbia.
While picking stocks is a big part of the class, and a feature in which the other inmates are keenly interested, the pair takes a “big picture” approach to money, as well, focusing on such things as the mechanics of the economy and how an interest in this area can translate to a useful, productive life outside of prison.
As long as people are in prison, any effort to make it a more “elevated,” less violent institution is as much in the interests of the staff who work there…and the rest of society…as in the interests of the inmates themselves. Hopelessness and the feeling of “nothing to lose” ill serve the innocents around those carrying such desperate emotions with them, and while many of us are justifiably oriented on traditional law-and-order postures, it is reasonable to at least look with an open mind at any effort designed, ultimately, to help make all of society a safer place.