Frank Dinucci Organizes Free Accounting Workshops for Inmates

According to a September 2015 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Illinois' prisons held inmates at over 150 percent of their intended capacity (32,000), making them the prison system with the highest rate of overcrowding in the country. A significant portion of these inmates serve time for nonviolent crimes, such as drug charges or DUIs, and belong to the poorer minority neighborhoods.

People are slowly coming to realize that private prisons now exist as a business rather than as a remedial correctional facility for law breakers. Every year, tens of thousands of these inmates are released and find it extremely difficult to reintegrate back into society. Once they have a prison stamp next to their names, they automatically get a bad rep and fail to get employed, suffer from a poor credit history and just fall into a struggle for life. The city of Chicago is the biggest offender, and its crime and homeless statistics are proof of the problem. Frank Dinucci, a well-respected Accounting and Finance Professor at an Ivy League College, has been working toward a way of solving this complex problem. For the last four months, Dinucci has been visiting the prisons of Chicago three days a week where he conducts and organizes free Accounting workshops and classes for the inmates.

"After these convicts do their time, they find it almost impossible to make ends meet because they don't possess the skillset for a sustainable, stable 9 to 5 jobs to earn money and be able to stay off the streets, where most of the crime goes down. The best thing about Accounting is that you don't need to go to a 4-year college to master the skills needed for a job. With the economy slowly on its way up and a new rising wave of startup culture, field experts have predicted tremendous growth in Accounting jobs over the next decade. It represents a great opportunity for these inmates who are looking to break free from their past."

Accounting is a pretty vast field, so Dinucci makes sure he builds up the inmates from scratch. "We start out by introducing basic concepts like Debits and Credits, Revenues and Expenses, General Ledger, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, how to value inventory, the whole nine yards. After we feel comfortable with their understanding and grasping of those skills, we move on to more nuanced topics such as Cash Flow Statements, Ratio Analysis, Income Statements, and Breakeven Point Analysis. It's actually a very structured workshop and our sessions are almost as intensive as a college course. The difference is we don't charge anything. We even hand out homework assignments that need to be completed in order to be eligible for attending the next corresponding training session. The inmates take it seriously, too, since they know this will make a difference to their lives. It's like the most disciplined class ever, as if any one speaks out of turn or misbehaves, they're shut down by the other inmates!

"At the end of the four months of training, we make them sit for an exam and if they pass, we provide them with a certification to prove their skills in the field of Accounting. This is hugely beneficial when they are in the market for jobs after completing their prison sentence. Those who've completed training with us but are still a while away from their release, get to be our Teaching Assistants for subsequent training sessions. We incentive this by transferring funds to their prison accounts as a symbolic gesture of faith and goodwill."

Dinucci has so far managed to draw over 30 inmates for his fascinatingly innovative workshop, and a few have gone on to get jobs as accountants after being released from prison. One of them, Wade Nodine, a 24-year-old who served a year for possession, now leads a more normal life with a steady job and he credits Dinucci for this turnaround. "I was always a hot head; my mind could never focus on one thing and I was always getting in the middle of bad situations. I made bad lifestyle choices, and have paid for my mistakes. The two years have given me time to reflect on what I want for myself in the future.

"Frank has been a lifesaver. I was never the kind to have any interest in books or learning, but I always had my way with numbers. I am much calmer and don't get involved in drama anymore. I try to fill that time by learning more about Accounting since this is a legitimate way to earn a lot of money and support myself and my family. It's been a month since I moved out, and I don't plan on going back to the lifestyle that dragged me to prison. I owe this new life to Frank and I hope he can pull others like me out of the gutter. I've been very lucky that I even managed to get a job with this charge showing up on my background check. Most of the other guys I know from prison didn't even get that second chance." The role of people like Dinucci is thus critical in the broader context of our society.

Source: Frank Dinucci


Categories: Non Profit, Training and Education, Accounting

Tags: Frank Dinucci, Frank Dinucci Accounting, Frank Dinucci Jr