Convicted felon talks about his efforts to help convicts get a second chance

Convicted felon Sean Pica sat down with Hill.TV's Krystal Ball on "Rising" to discuss how the nonprofit he runs helps provide current and former convicts with college education and support. 

Pica, who is the executive director of Hudson Link for Higher Education in Prison, spent 16 years in prison after he murdered his friend's dad when he was a teenager. 

He said his passion for education was sparked when he began teaching other inmates to read and write. 

"I was going to a maximum security prison, and when I got there truly thinking my life was over, one of the officers came to my cell and asked me if I would consider helping the other men to learn to read and write," Pica, who had not finished his own high school education at the time, said. 

He said that Hudson Link and the community in prison encouraged him to go back to school to get his high school diploma before leading the nonprofit. 

"I had more time in prison than out of prison, and now I'm going to run a nonprofit? I think it was a bit ambitious, but I was surrounded by a ton of people in the community that really felt that this was worthwhile and supported me as I did this," Pica said. 
 
"When I took over there were 61 students, one college partner, one facility. And now nine years later we're in six facilities serving men and women. We have 588 students in the program and a $1.5 million budget that we raise privately. There's no state or federal funding for this," he continued. 
 
Pica said that most of the program's students pursue careers in the social services field and that nearly all of Hudson Link's students get jobs within five to six weeks of finishing the program.  
 
His comments come as the Senate has worked to craft bipartisan legislation aimed at addressing criminal justice reform. 
 
 
Pica's interview was a part of Hill.TV's weekly "Freedom to Flourish" series, which is presented by Koch Industries. 
 

— Julia Manchester