Forbes - How E-Waste Is Creating Jobs For People With Criminal Records In Los Angeles

Written by Sarah McKinney, Forbes Contributor

Cross-posted on Forbes. Read original post here.

It’s no secret that the prison system in America is broken, but the statistics are pretty shocking. The United States has less than 5% of the world’s population, and 23% of the world’s prison population – that equals roughly 1 in 100 adults that are in prison. The problem is complicated and hits on hotbed issues like gun control, racism, the war on drugs, sentencing laws, overcrowding, privatization of public services, and prison profits supporting politicians and political agendas that keep us all, metaphorically speaking, locked in. 

...Meet Kabira Stokes, the founder of Isidore Electronics Recycling – a startup that employs people with criminal records to recycle electronic waste in Los Angeles for companies seeking a more responsible way to manage their environmental footprint, and avoid exporting e-waste to developing countries that have poor environmental and workplace safety standards. In the United States, it’s estimated that 50-80% of the e-waste collected for recycling is being exported (predominately to Asia). And only 25% of total e-waste is being collected for recycling – most is discarded in landfills or incinerators, releasing dangerous toxins into the land and air. While e-waste represents just two percent of America’s trash in landfills, it equals 70% of overall toxic waste. So how did Isidore Electronics Recycling come to be?...

...To become an expert on how to make progressive changes at the city-level, she decided to obtain a Masters in Public Policy from the University of Southern California (USC). Around this time a friend of hers made an email introduction to Van Jones – a prominent environmental and civil rights activist who launched Green For All, a national NGO dedicated to “building an inclusive green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty.” (President Obama later appointment him as Special Council on Green Jobs.) They began a correspondence, and Stokes could see her social and environmental passions coming together...

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