No Prosecutorial Experience? These D.A. Candidates Say That’s an Asset.

Tahanie Aboushi, Eliza Orlins and Dan Quart are running behind a broad rethinking of how the criminal justice system should work.

#aboushi-tahanie, #content-type-personal-profile, #criminal-justice, #district-attorneys, #elections-district-attorneys, #manhattan-nyc, #orlins-eliza, #quart-dan

0

Lucy Lang Sought Change at the Manhattan D.A.’s Office. Now She Wants to Lead It.

Lucy Lang has spent most of her career as a criminal-justice reformer. But is she too close to the system to bring about real change?

#content-type-personal-profile, #criminal-justice, #district-attorneys, #lang-lucy, #manhattan-nyc, #politics-and-government, #vance-cyrus-r-jr

0

Illinois Lawmakers Bar Police From Using Deception When Interrogating Minors

A bill that passed the General Assembly with bipartisan support on Sunday would make Illinois the first state to prohibit officers from lying when interrogating those under 18.

#chicago-ill, #confessions, #criminal-justice, #dassey-brendan, #durkin-jim, #false-arrests-convictions-and-imprisonments, #foxx-kim, #illinois, #innocence-project, #interrogations, #police-department-chicago-ill, #state-legislatures, #youth

0

Bill Bratton Discusses Police Reform With Maureen Dowd

America’s top cop on better policing, race relations, Chauvin, Biden, Rudy and Andrew. 

#black-lives-matter-movement, #bratton-william-j, #criminal-justice, #giuliani-rudolph-w, #police, #police-brutality-misconduct-and-shootings, #police-department-los-angeles-calif, #police-department-nyc

0

How a Secretive Legal Process Protects Police From Charges

Grand jury minutes in the investigation into Daniel Prude’s death reveal the many ways the criminal justice system struggles when prosecuting the police.

#attorneys-general, #black-lives-matter-movement, #criminal-justice, #ethics-and-official-misconduct, #james-letitia, #jury-system, #police, #police-brutality-misconduct-and-shootings, #police-department-rochester-ny, #prude-daniel-d-2020, #rochester-ny

0

Linkedin is the reason Apple made the M1 chip

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

This week was good fun not only because we had the whole team together to record, but also because we are still basking in the endless glory of our winning a Webby earlier this week. Frankly we are still shocked. But happy-shocked, like when you get a new toy and it is covered in static electricity.

Anyhoo, we had a packed show with much, much left on the floor as we tried to shoehorn the week into our time slot. Here’s what we got into:

The show flew by, much like our days recently, simply because it was so fun and jam-packed with news. And we got to make jokes about our listeners and Monday.com PR timing, so what else could we ask for? Talk soon!

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PST, Wednesday, and Friday morning at 7:00 a.m. PST, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.

#coinbase, #creator-economy, #criminal-justice, #decarceration, #equity-podcast, #fave, #fintech, #forbes, #fundings-exits, #ipo, #linkedin, #marqeta, #media, #monday-com, #piano, #somewhere-good, #spokn, #spot, #squarespace, #startups, #subscription, #tc, #the-hustle, #theskimm, #union, #uptrust

0

Uptrust raises $2M to fight the billions of dollars wasted on useless mass incarceration

A technical violation is one of those Orwellian terms used by the U.S. government to occlude the absurd morass of process and procedure that is the modern criminal justice system in this country. After an offender has served their sentence, they are often placed under probation, which is accompanied by scores of rules on everything from where the person can go to who they can see. If a person commits a technical violation, they often are sent back to prison — perhaps months or years for an action as simple as being minutes late to a parole hearing.

Technical violations are expensive for all of us. Earlier this year, New York’s capital newspaper the Times Union reported that “New York imprisons more people for technical parole violations than any other state, and at a rate almost three times higher than the national average” and “The re-incarceration of those individuals cost taxpayers at least $683 million…” based on a report by Columbia University and The Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform.

It’s Orwellian, and also Kafkaesque. And it’s a disastrous waste of public resources. Yet, it’s also a problem that lends itself to potential solutions, and that’s where Uptrust wants to make a difference.

Uptrust is a service that connects people returning to society with their public defenders and court records, ensuring that they have the calendars, appointments, rules, and procedures they need to avoid technical violations — improving their re-entry into normal life while saving significant expenses for taxpayers.

The company announced today that it has raised $2 million in seed funding from a trio of lead investors: the Decarceration Fund, Luminate, and Stand Together Ventures Lab. That’s on top of a $1.3 million round we reported on last year.

The company, which came together in 2015 and launched its first product in 2016, was co-founded by Jacob Sills and Elijah Gwynn as they explored how to improve the criminal justice system. They looked at areas like bail bonds, but kept coming back to a fundamental issue: many people were stuck in the system because of missed appointments or other technical violations. “There are way too many people not exiting the system … and they are circling back through,” Sills said.

Uptrust works through text messaging or its own app. Often, it’s linked with a public defender, since a defense attorney is more likely to get through to their clients than other members of the criminal justice system.

Uptrust’s app allows for quick check-ins with probation officers and also monitors key calendar appointments. Image Credits: Uptrust

The company has been on a growth spree after years of trialing various iterations of its product, and it’s now located in 150 sites in 28 states, up from 30 sites just 18 months ago according to Sills. The state of Virginia, which currently uses the service in two sites, will expand it statewide by the end of this year or early next year.

Currently, the company charges a fee to governments to use the service, with the goal of limiting any financial costs to its end users who often lack the funds to pay. Longer term, however, the company sees a large opportunity in connecting its growing population of users to new services as they re-enter society. “More than half of them have challenges accessing health care,” Sills said, and he sees opportunities in areas as diverse as health care, finance and banking, and housing where the app could play a role in the future.

Yet, he acknowledged that this is still a “new market” that isn’t attractive to many traditional venture capital firms. So with this fundraise, Sills and his team decided to target funds that were deeply steeped in criminal justice issues who would understand both the problem being solved and how Uptrust could both succeed in its mission and also succeed as a business.

They also wanted what Sills described as “good diversity of thought.” Decarceration Fund invests in precisely what it says it does, and Luminate, which is part of the progressive-leaning Omidyar Network, is a philanthropy focused on civic engagement. Meanwhile, Stand Together Ventures Lab is funded by Stand Together which was founded by Charles Koch, who in addition to widely funding Republican and conservative causes, has in recent years also increasingly pursued criminal justice reform to minimize the government’s power over private citizens.

Chris Bentley, managing principal at Decarceration Fund, picked Uptrust as the firm’s first investment because he believed that the company understood precisely what this unique population needed. There’s a “very significant history of well-intended companies in this space causing unintended consequences,” he said. The fund is focused on investing in companies with clear guardrails and business models that are aligned with positive outcomes. “Half of our investment committee are founders themselves but are also returning citizens with real, lived experience with the system,” he said.

Uptrust has now grown to 15 people, centered in San Francisco and also scattered up and down the Eastern Seaboard. The “track record of for-profit companies is pretty bad, since most of them just build what the criminal legal system wants,” Sills said. “We are trying to prove that you can make money and do good and have real impact.”

#criminal-justice, #funding, #fundings-exits, #government, #luminate, #policy, #startups, #uptrust

0

Biden Is Developing a Pardon Process With a Focus on Racial Justice

As a senator, he backed legislation that led to mass incarceration and long drug sentences. Now his administration is signaling that he could use clemency to address inequities.

#american-civil-liberties-union, #amnesties-commutations-and-pardons, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #black-people, #civil-rights-and-liberties, #crime-and-criminals, #criminal-justice, #justice-department, #race-and-ethnicity, #sentences-criminal, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government

0

Why Police Accountability Is Personal for This Manhattan D.A. Candidate

Alvin Bragg has had encounters with the police both in the streets and in the courts. He wants to change the system from within.

#bragg-alvin, #content-type-personal-profile, #criminal-justice, #elections-district-attorneys, #harlem-manhattan-ny, #police-brutality-misconduct-and-shootings

0

Shootings and Subway Attacks Put Crime at Center of N.Y.C. Mayor’s Race

Rising concerns over crime have led candidates to issue strong appeals for public safety, less than a year after the city was under pressure to defund the police.

#adams-eric-l, #black-lives-matter-movement, #crime-and-criminals, #criminal-justice, #democratic-party, #donovan-shaun-l-s-1966, #elections-mayors, #garcia-kathryn, #mcguire-raymond-j, #morales-dianne, #new-york-city, #police, #police-department-nyc, #police-reform, #primaries-and-caucuses, #stringer-scott-m, #times-square-and-42nd-street-manhattan-ny, #wiley-maya, #yang-andrew-1975

0

After Times Square Shooting, Adams and Yang Stress Support for N.Y.P.D.

Eric Adams and Andrew Yang, among the front-runners in the New York City mayor’s race, said the shooting underlined the importance of public safety.

#adams-eric-l, #criminal-justice, #elections-mayors, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #new-york-city, #police, #police-department-nyc, #police-reform, #times-square-and-42nd-street-manhattan-ny, #wiley-maya, #yang-andrew-1975

0

Granted Parole or Awaiting Trial, Inmates Died of Covid-19 Behind Bars

Among the thousands who have died in prisons and jails from the coronavirus were dozens of people approved for parole or not convicted of a charge for which they were arrested.

#amnesties-commutations-and-pardons, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #criminal-justice, #deaths-fatalities, #probation-and-parole, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #sentences-criminal

0

Chauvin Was Convicted. Something Is Still Very Wrong.

What can be done about all of the suffering that remains?

#callard-agnes-1976, #chauvin-derek-1976, #criminal-justice, #floyd-george-d-2020, #minneapolis-minn, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #police-brutality-misconduct-and-shootings, #police-department-minneapolis-minn, #united-states

0

How a Leader in Criminal Justice Reform Spends Her Sundays

Her work is nonstop, but Soffiyah Elijah finds time in the wee hours of the morning to take a sauna and practice yoga and qigong.

#alliance-of-families-for-justice, #content-type-personal-profile, #criminal-justice, #elijah-soffiyah, #new-york-city

0

How New York’s Mayoral Hopefuls Would Change the N.Y.P.D.

Some candidates in the Democratic primary want to cut $1 billion or more from the police budget, while others have more moderate proposals, frustrating activists.

#adams-eric-l, #criminal-justice, #democratic-party, #elections-mayors, #garcia-kathryn, #garner-eric, #george-floyd-protests-2020, #new-york-city, #pantaleo-daniel, #police-brutality-misconduct-and-shootings, #police-department-nyc, #police-reform, #primaries-and-caucuses, #stringer-scott-m, #wiley-maya, #yang-andrew-1975

0

Review: In ‘Philly D.A.,’ a Reformer Prosecutes the System

The gripping PBS documentary series is a richly detailed look at what happens when an idealist gets actual power.

#brook-yoni-filmmaker, #criminal-justice, #district-attorneys, #documentary-films-and-programs, #krasner-larry-1961, #passon-ted-filmmaker, #philadelphia-pa, #philly-da-tv-program, #police-reform, #public-broadcasting-service, #television

0

After the Derek Chauvin Verdict, the War Continues

The fight for equality doesn’t end after a single conviction.

#black-people, #chauvin-derek-1976, #criminal-justice, #floyd-george-d-2020, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #police, #police-brutality-misconduct-and-shootings, #police-department-minneapolis-minn

0

Trump’s Killing Spree Continues

Arizona follows a model that lets the government ignore questions of cruelty.

#arizona, #barr-william-p, #brnovich-mark, #capital-punishment, #constitution-us, #criminal-justice, #food-and-drug-administration, #poisoning-and-poisons, #trump-donald-j

0

The Hazards of American Justice

Three new books analyze the shortcomings of the nation’s criminal justice system.

#books-and-literature, #criminal-justice, #ex-convicts, #greene-jamal-1977, #halfway-home-race-punishment-and-the-afterlife-of-mass-incarceration-book, #how-rights-went-wrong-why-our-obsession-with-rights-is-tearing-america-apart-book, #miller-reuben-jonathan, #prisons-and-prisoners, #rakoff-jed-s, #united-states, #why-the-innocent-plead-guilty-and-the-guilty-go-free-book

0

What’s Wrong With Our Hate Crime Laws?

Charging someone with a hate crime sends a message to the perpetrator, the victim and the community. But is it always the right choice?

#anti-defamation-league, #atlanta-spa-shootings-2021, #criminal-justice, #hate-crimes

0

8 Candidates Compete for a Job That May Involve Prosecuting Trump

Who will be the next Manhattan district attorney? The race is dominated by low-profile progressives who could reshape law enforcement in New York City.

#criminal-justice, #district-attorneys, #elections-district-attorneys, #manhattan-nyc, #vance-cyrus-r-jr

0

Cyrus Vance Will Not Run Again for Manhattan D.A.

The decision by Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the district attorney since 2010, sets off a scramble for the office and makes it likely a new prosecutor will inherit an investigation into the former president’s business.

#criminal-justice, #district-attorneys, #elections-district-attorneys, #manhattan-nyc, #morgenthau-robert-m, #soho-manhattan-ny, #vance-cyrus-r-jr

0

Justice Dept. Backs Away From Trump Era but Is Still Expected to Test Garland

Several politically charged investigations await Judge Merrick B. Garland, President Biden’s nominee for attorney general.

#appointments-and-executive-changes, #attorneys-general, #barr-william-p, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #criminal-justice, #discrimination, #garland-merrick-b, #justice-department, #minorities, #storming-of-the-us-capitol-jan-2021, #terrorism, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government, #wilkinson-monty

0

The Presumption of Freedom

How Merrick Garland can bring bail reform to the federal justice system.

#appointments-and-executive-changes, #bail, #criminal-justice, #garland-merrick-b, #justice-department, #law-and-legislation, #prisons-and-prisoners, #senate

0

Abolish the Federal Death Penalty

It can’t be fixed. It can’t be reformed. Its flaws are inherent. Its time has come.

#barr-william-p, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #capital-punishment, #criminal-justice, #federal-courts-us, #justice-department, #race-and-ethnicity, #sotomayor-sonia, #supreme-court-us, #trump-donald-j

0

The New Debt Prisons

Entrapping debtors betrays the American idea. It must end.

#budgets-and-budgeting, #credit-and-debt, #criminal-justice, #debt-collection, #ex-convicts, #fines-penalties, #prisons-and-prisoners, #probation-and-parole

0

Why Does Louisiana Consistently Lead the Nation in Murders?

It has problems common to several Southern states, like a high rate of poverty, but also an inheritance of violence.

#crime-and-criminals, #criminal-justice, #firearms, #gun-control, #louisiana, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #new-orleans-la, #poverty, #prisons-and-prisoners, #southern-states-us

0

Blue Lives Matter Is Over

Once the Trump mob attacked officers, Republican hypocrisy was exposed.

#assaults, #attacks-on-police, #black-lives-matter-movement, #criminal-justice, #deaths-fatalities, #demonstrations-protests-and-riots, #impeachment, #republican-party, #senate, #storming-of-the-us-capitol-jan-2021, #tillis-thomas-r, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government, #washington-dc

0

What the Pandemic Revealed About ‘Progressive’ Prosecutors

At a time when radical change is needed most, too many have not been the heroes some hoped they would be.

#bail, #black-people, #coronavirus-risks-and-safety-concerns, #criminal-justice, #foxx-kim, #krasner-larry-1961, #mosby-marilyn-j-1980, #police-department-nyc, #prisons-and-prisoners, #united-states

0

Is Kevin Cooper an Innocent Man?

We’ve seen the DNA evidence in the Kevin Cooper case. It points elsewhere.

#black-people, #california, #chino-hills-calif, #cooper-kevin, #criminal-justice, #discrimination, #dna-deoxyribonucleic-acid, #false-arrests-convictions-and-imprisonments, #forensic-science, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #police-department-san-francisco-calif, #race-and-ethnicity, #san-bernardino-county-calif, #united-states-politics-and-government, #witnesses

0

Trump’s Pardon Process Was a Mix of Mercy and Favoritism

The former president doled out pardons to political allies and friends, but he also helped people serving harsh sentences.

#amnesties-commutations-and-pardons, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #criminal-justice, #trump-donald-j

0

The Homicide Spike Is Real

The uptick will be New York City’s most difficult challenge this year.

#crime-and-criminals, #criminal-justice, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #new-york-city, #police-department-nyc, #police-reform

0

Outside Trump’s Inner Circle, Odds Are Long for Getting Clemency

President Trump has doled out pardons to friends and fellow Republicans. Thousands of others without connections have largely been left out.

#amnesties-commutations-and-pardons, #criminal-justice, #justice-action-network, #mandatory-sentencing, #prisons-and-prisoners, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government

0

Behind Trump Clemency, a Case Study in Special Access

Philip Esformes was sentenced last year to 20 years for Medicare fraud. Then a well-connected organization supported by his family weighed in with the White House.

#aleph-institute, #amnesties-commutations-and-pardons, #bribery-and-kickbacks, #chabad-lubavitch, #criminal-justice, #dershowitz-alan-m, #esformes-philip-1968, #ethics-and-official-misconduct, #florida, #frauds-and-swindling, #justice-department, #kushner-jared, #lobbying-and-lobbyists, #philanthropy, #schneerson-menachem-mendel, #sentences-criminal, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government

0

Financial Aid Is Restored for Prisoners in the Education Plan That’s Tucked Into the Stimulus Bill

Reversing a ban on Pell grants for prisoners, begun in the 1994 crime bill, is just one of several higher-education equity provisions included in the huge funding bill.

#alexander-lamar, #colleges-and-universities, #criminal-justice, #financial-aid-education, #historically-black-colleges-and-universities, #pell-grants, #united-states-politics-and-government

0

It Was a Landmark Crime Bill. Then a State Senator Added a Special Favor.

The clause to weaken penalties for official misconduct in New Jersey was added by a powerful Democrat whose girlfriend’s son faces five years in prison.

#criminal-justice, #grewal-gurbir-s, #law-and-legislation, #mandatory-sentencing, #murphy-philip-d-1957, #new-jersey, #politics-and-government, #prisons-and-prisoners, #sentences-criminal, #state-legislatures, #stier-edwin-h

0

The Man I Saw Them Kill

The Trump administration has resumed federal executions after a 17-year hiatus. I witnessed the latest one.

#capital-punishment, #children-and-childhood, #crime-and-criminals, #criminal-justice, #federal-bureau-of-prisons, #forensic-science, #intellectual-disabilities, #justice-department, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #prisons-and-prisoners, #sex-crimes, #torture

0

Lawrence Byrne, Former Lawyer for New York Police, Dies at 61

His younger brother, a police officer, was assassinated by a drug gang at 22, a key moment in the city’s crack epidemic of the 1980s.

#attacks-on-police, #black-lives-matter-movement, #byrne-edward-r-1966-88, #byrne-lawrence-m-1959-2020, #criminal-justice, #deaths-obituaries, #legal-profession, #police, #police-department-nyc

0

House Passes Landmark Bill Decriminalizing Marijuana

The House passed sweeping legislation that would decriminalize marijuana and expunge nonviolent marijuana-related convictions. The measure is all but doomed in the Republican-led Senate.

#criminal-justice, #harris-kamala-d, #house-of-representatives, #marijuana, #nadler-jerrold, #united-states-politics-and-government

0

Only 9 Trials in 9 Months: Virus Wreaks Havoc on N.Y.C. Courts

The coronavirus has upended criminal trials in the city, infiltrating courtrooms in ways that threaten both health and justice.

#bell-alexander-graham, #center-for-court-innovation, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #courts-and-the-judiciary, #criminal-justice, #jury-system, #manafort-paul-j, #new-york-city, #prisons-and-prisoners

0

Prisons Are Covid-19 Hotbeds. When Should Inmates Get the Vaccine?

Federal officials have suggested that corrections staff receive high priority for a coronavirus vaccine, but not the millions of vulnerable inmates held in U.S. facilities.

#advisory-committee-on-immunization-practices, #american-medical-assn, #black-people, #centers-for-disease-control-and-prevention, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #criminal-justice, #disease-rates, #hispanic-americans, #prison-policy-initiative, #san-quentin-prison, #united-states, #vaccination-and-immunization, #your-feed-science

0

Here’s One Thing Republicans and Democrats Agree On: Criminal Justice Reform

Republicans up and down the ballot tried to link Democrats to lawlessness, but lawmakers in both parties are keeping criminal justice reform on the table.

#criminal-justice, #elections, #police-reform, #presidential-election-of-2020, #prisons-and-prisoners

0

A Big Win for Democrats in California Came With a Gut Check for Liberals

Joe Biden received one of the highest margins in the nation in California, but a look at how the state’s ballot measures were decided shows a more complex picture of the electorate.

#affirmative-action, #california, #criminal-justice, #democratic-party, #presidential-election-of-2020, #referendums, #taxation, #united-states-politics-and-government

0

2,258 N.J. Prisoners Will Be Released in a Single Day

By March, officials expect to have reduced the state’s prison population by about 35 percent since the start of the pandemic.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #criminal-justice, #disease-rates, #ex-convicts, #law-and-legislation, #new-jersey, #prisons-and-prisoners, #sentences-criminal

0

5 Policy Issues Where Trump and Biden Diverged at Final Debate

The debate on Thursday night had long stretches of illuminating policy discussion on climate change, health care, the coronavirus, immigration and criminal and racial justice.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #coronavirus-risks-and-safety-concerns, #criminal-justice, #debates-political, #global-warming, #health-insurance-and-managed-care, #immigration-and-emigration, #presidential-election-of-2020, #trump-donald-j

0

A Question of Life and Death Looms for Amy Coney Barrett

If confirmed, she may soon have to reconcile her Catholic morality and the law over a death penalty case.

#alito-samuel-a-jr, #barrett-amy-coney, #capital-punishment, #constitution-us, #criminal-justice, #first-amendment-us-constitution, #francis, #freedom-of-religion, #john-paul-ii, #kavanaugh-brett-m, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #prisons-and-prisoners, #roman-catholic-church, #supreme-court-us, #texas

0

America’s Refusal to Address the Roots of Violence

Elliott Currie’s “A Peculiar Indifference” traces the history of violence in Black communities and the reasons for it.

#a-peculiar-indifference-the-neglected-toll-of-violence-on-black-america-book, #black-people, #books-and-literature, #criminal-justice, #currie-elliott, #income-inequality, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #race-and-ethnicity

0

The art of pivoting with Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins and Jessica Matthews

Building and growing a startup is hard, but pivoting said startup into something new and then achieving that same growth is even harder. But it’s not impossible.

Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, founder and CEO of PromisePay, and Jessica Matthews, founder and CEO of Uncharted Power, both have experiences doing this. At TechCrunch Disrupt, they shed some light on their respective, yet somewhat similar, paths.

PromisePay, formerly known as Promise, got its start as a bail reform startup that aimed to reduce the number of people held behind bars simply because they can’t pay bail. Now, it’s focused on helping people make payments for parking and traffic tickets, court fees and child support.

“We actually had this huge existential crisis,” Ellis-Lamkins said. “We at Promise are focused on ending mass incarceration and on decreasing the number of people in jails. So we started to be very successful and we sold very well. And what we realized fundamentally is when we created efficiency, it made the systems more efficient at incarcerating people. It didn’t make them more efficient at what our wrong assumption had been, which is if the system is more efficient, it would decrease the number of people in the system. And so we made a decision that growth was not consistent with who we were as a company. So I went back to our investors, which is hard when you’re making money and said, this is not the path because I don’t think this is a long-term path.”

She told investors there are already people who sell their tech to law enforcement, but what Promise wants to do is liberate people. It became clear to her that she was selling to the wrong people when she was talking to a client who said the difference between them and her was that she cares about people in the criminal justice system and they don’t. Ellis-Lamkins told investors she was going to stop selling to prisons and jails, and offered to give investors their money back.

Instead, she started looking at why people are ending up incarcerated.

“And luckily, that spurred growth, but I’m just not going to be a company that grows on the backs of poor people and Black and brown people, because there is a better way,” she said. “But it was frightening in the moment to abandon a market in which we’re making money.”

Thankfully, she said, not one of her investors had a problem with her decision.

Matthews said she had a relatively similar experience with her company, Uncharted Power, which got its start as Uncharted Play. Her company’s first product was an energy-harnessing soccer ball that could power a lamp after just a few hours of playing with it. She later integrated that tech intro strollers to power cell phones.

But after raising her Series A round for Uncharted Play, Matthews realized that her company needed to go all-in on infrastructure. She thought about the ultimate goal of her company, which is to get people the infrastructure they need in their lives. She just didn’t see a way of doing that with soccer balls.

“So we got good at making these things and pushing them and scaling them out, but when you have this balance of not just profit and impact but impact because you know that you’re a member of the group you’re trying to serve. For me, it was sitting down and saying is this actually solving the problem even if it’s successful.”

Matthews said she realized it wasn’t. So that meant walking away from the products that were bringing in millions and had 64% gross profit margins, Matthews said.

But it all paid off. Last year, Uncharted Power raised additional funding from an investor that validated her thesis for the future of power infrastructure.

“That moment was huge for us,” she said.

Matthews and Ellis-Lamkins also had some other gems worth sharing about imposter syndrome and measuring success. Here are some more highlights from the conversation.

On imposter syndrome and representation 

Ellis-Lamkins:

It feels like tech has failed so significantly in investing in people they don’t know and missed out in growing companies because of that. So I think our obligation is to help make sure that we are not the only ones.

Matthews:

It’s not imposter syndrome, it’s representation syndrome because I feel the exact same way. When we raised our Series A, the immediate thing I thought was, ‘Oh, man. I can not lose these people’s money.’ This is huge and if we don’t work, it’s not even about us, it’s about every other person who looks like me.

On measuring success

Ellis-Lamkins:

I think part of what we should measure is how does technology improve our society in general, a measurement of success. I do think that if we measure success, it should not just be, I could make a billion dollars or have a company that valued at a billion dollars if the consequences are greater than the actual benefit and so I think that’s really important.

Matthews:

Let’s get rid of the term “social enterprise.” It’s bullshit. Enterprise is an enterprise. A problem’s a problem. Let’s create a value system based on the problems. There are some problems that are more important than others. And knowing that means we need to back and support the founders who get that more than others, and then beyond that.

#criminal-justice, #disrupt-2020, #jessica-matthews, #phaedra-ellis-lamkins, #promisepay, #startups, #tc, #techcrunch-include, #uncharted-power

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#criminal-justice, #police, #police-brutality-misconduct-and-shootings, #police-department-rochester-ny, #prude-daniel-d-2020, #rochester-ny

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