Zak Williams, son of beloved actor Robin Williams, and Curtis Carroll, an inmate, co-teach a financial literary class at San Quentin State Prison in California.
Williams has an MBA from Columbia and spends a lot of his time studying behavioral finance and valuing tech companies.
Carroll, who was convicted at 17 and is now 36, started “picking stocks” 10 years ago. He started by reading a fellow inmate’s old copies of the Wall Street Journal. Now nicknamed “Wall Street,” he studies patterns and predicts which stocks will do well.
The two teamed up when Williams was looking to get involved in a prison rehabilitation program. He says that it has been helpful for him to give back following his father’s death last summer:
He was very compassionate towards those who might not have been dealt a great hand in life. His capacity for compassion and love was limitless… it was something that brought him great joy, providing happiness and laughter for untold millions and millions of people.
Their class educates inmates about current events regarding the economy, investment strategies, and how to develop skills that will help them in life after prison. They want their students to think of money with a long-term perspective rather than the “high-risk mindset” that might have led to their incarceration.
The teachers say that a disproportionate number of crimes, whether they’re violent or not, are money related. They want to inform the inmates about different, and safer, ways for them to earn money that they didn’t previously realize.
Carroll says, “I believe that financial education is the cure for guys who are chasing money where they’re willing to kill a guy for 20 bucks.”