One of the world's foremost entrepreneurs, Branson bootstrapped his way from record-shop owner to head of the Virgin empire. Now he's focusing his boundless energy on encouraging his Virgin group of companies to employ people freshly released from prison, and even some who are still inside and working towards release. "Everybody deserves a second chance," he says.
Of the Ironwood event, Branson blogged:
From separation to togetherness. From punishment to rehabilitation. From despair to hope. I am fortunate to enjoy all kinds of experiences, but few have been as transformative and moving as the first ever TEDx talk held in a California Prison
"That's a sound you only hear in the movies, right?" asked the officer as the distinctive buzzer signified the entrance into Ironwood State Prison opening. I've visited prisons before, but nothing can prepare you for it. It's important to leave all preconceptions at the door, and go in with open eyes and mind.
It was an honour to learn from everyone present at one of the most forward thinking institutions in the US. All too often correction systems focus upon shackling rather than supporting those most in need.