42. Volume: Coss Marte: Breaking Through the System

The American prison system has been under intense scrutiny as of late. And it should be. Marijuana is legal in all or some capacity in all but a handful of states. During the pandemic, marijuana dispensaries were deemed essential. Yet, there are thousands of people, the majority of them people of colour, locked up for drug-related, non-violent crimes. Oh, but it gets worse.  

This is The Psychology of Entrepreneurship,

a highly produced audio documentary style, revealing series that follows Ronsley Vaz and his guests, as they strive to go inside & unravel the inner workings of the mind of an entrepreneur, artist, athlete, academic; to decipher what is the psychology of our decisions.

If you are an entrepreneur (BTW we consider that mothers are the original entrepreneurs) and would like to understand why we do certain things in certain situations, and if small changes in thinking can deliver massive amounts of results in success and happiness, then this podcast is for you.

Coss Marte was a different kind of entrepreneur.

A whopping 43% of American inmates end up back in prison before the end of their first year out. The ones that manage to stay free often end up in poverty and disadvantaged living conditions. A system that calls itself correctional is anything but. Coss Marte wasn’t going to end up another statistic.

Coss grew up in the mean streets of New York. As a kid, he was painfully aware of the difference between those with money and those without. It was that awareness, and a desire for more, that led him to sell drugs at the young age of 19. 

And he was good at it. He quickly was running a multi-million dollar business and managing over 20 people working under him. Add in the customer service and delivery aspects and you wouldn’t be lying if you said that Coss was quite the entrepreneur. 

Ok, yes, selling drugs was illegal. And he’s not saying he’s proud of it. But come on, let’s give credit where credit’s due. The man had something going. Until it fell apart. One of Coss’s delivery boys cooperated with and turned him to the feds. And this was after they had already managed to tap his phones. He was caught, and sentenced to seven years in prison. 

Things need to change.

His story doesn’t end there. During his time behind bars, Coss saw the many flaws in the American prison system. One of the most glaring, blatant problems is how inmates are used for cheap labor. And by cheap, I mean forcing them to take customer service calls for the DMV all day long for 7 cents an hour. And make underwear for Victoria’s Secret. Basically any job that you can imagine is being done by American inmates behind prison walls. Yes, this is happening. And it has been for decades.

When Coss was finally released, after being framed by a correctional officer and thrown into solitary confinement two months before the end of his sentence, he knew what he had to do.

Today, Coss is the Founder and CEO of CONBODY, a unique physical training program based on what he learned  while serving time. All ConBody instructors are former prison inmates who have transformed their lives and are helping others to transform their bodies.

Coss also is the Executive Director at Second Chance Studios, a nonprofit digital media company that trains and employs formerly incarcerated individuals. He firmly believes that former inmates need to be given the tools to live a sustainable life. This means training that can lead to a career, not just low paying jobs.

In this volume, Ronsley and Coss break down the systemic issues in American prisons. If this isn’t a subject you’re familiar with, prepare to be shocked. Coss explains his passion for helping his fellow former inmates and why we need so many more people like him fighting for the cause. This volume is full of hard truths and heartbreaking perspectives, so please listen. And afterwards, check out the links below to join the fight.

Other important topics in this volume:
  • The thrilling story of Coss’s time and eventual demise as a drug dealer
  • The infuriating story of Coss being framed by a correctional officer
  • The harsh reality of prison labour for profit
  • Why giving prisoners physical labour skills does nothing to build sustainable careers
  • The significance of Psalm 91 to Coss
  • A story about a postage stamp that will give you goosebumps
  • Frightening statistics on people of colour in the American prison system
  • The parallels of the plight of Aborginal peoples in Australia
  • Why you should watch 13TH on Netflix
Links & Resources:                                                        

Coss on LinkedIn

CONBODY

Second Chance Studios

How Many People are in Prison on Marijuana Charges?

VICE Documentary on Indegenous Incarceration

Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie

 

How Can You Get Involved? 

Get Involved in Criminal Justice Reform

Help Ex-Prisoners Find Jobs

Why Prison Reform Matters in America

How to Contact Your Local Officials and Let Them Know We Need Prison Labor Reform NOW

Author: Kaili Bonnyman

Kaili is the Queen of Audio at Must Amplify.

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