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Keidrain Brewster: How relativity helps reduce recidivism

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The revolving door of incarceration in the United States is a well-documented problem. Across the country, millions of people cycle through the prison system, often returning within a few years of release. Indiana is no exception, with a recidivism rate of 38% in some locales, according to the Indiana Department of Corrections. This means nearly 4 out of every 10 people released will end up back behind bars. Entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker Keidrain Brewster strives to be a living testament to the power of rehabilitation while within the prison system. Incarcerated as a young adult, Brewster felt lost and headed down a destructive path.

“I spent over 13 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. I went to prison for four aggravated robberies with deadly weapons and four aggravated assaults with deadly weapons,” Brewster said. “Growing up in the urban community, I was raised around gangs, drugs and things of that nature. I was raised to believe that if I want something, then I should just take it and that is what led me to prison.”

Brewster’s story took a turn once he was released and ran into an old friend who was making money with a legitimate trucking business.

“I remember coming home from prison and going to the mall and running into one of my homeboys, and he had a candy red painted Camaro, big watch, big chain – I thought he was hustling,” Brewster said.

Following the conversation with his friend, Brewster learned that he could make “serious money” with a legitimate business. “If that CDL [trucking license] is going to have me like my homeboy, then I am going to do that.”

Bigger issues surrounding prison reform and recidivism

Getty Image used for Keidrain Brewster story on prison reform and recidivism.
(Photo/Getty Images)

Brewster stayed true to his word on keeping things legitimate after exiting prison. In 2017, He started Brewster Logistics, a hotshot trucking company, with a single truck and a solo trailer. Now, Brewster commands a fleet of nearly a dozen trucks and multiple trailers.

Since founding his logistics company, Brewster expanded his range from trucks to books and motivational speeches at prisons, a place he once called “home.”

“Without Brewster Logistics, I don’t think I would be doing any of this. I don’t believe that I would be sitting here speaking with you,” Brewster said.

Brewster also visits prisons across the nation to speak directly to a populace that he was once a part of, a group of people he can relate to, to help decrease recidivism rates across the nation.

“I tell people, man, it is all fun and games until the judge says ‘Life,’” Brewster said. “That is when reality hits and there isn’t any going back from that. My book, ‘From the Rec Yard to the Streets,’ is an outline of my reintegration back into society.”

While there are many factors contributing to recidivism, a key element is the lack of focus on rehabilitation during incarceration. Numerous prison systems have been viewed as prioritizing punishment over programs that equip inmates with the tools they need to successfully reintegrate into society.

“In prison, you are afforded three free meals, somewhere to lay your head, a shower … the state [Department of Corrections] is going to do it for you,” Brewster said.

Brewster also points out how the recidivism rates are as high as 72% in some areas of the nation and why that might be.

Organizations helping with prison reform in Indiana

“The moment you are released back into society, you are instantly responsible for all of those things. So, if you don’t have any skills or ways of making [legitimate] money, then the only thing you know to do is back to what you were already doing, robbing, stealing and all of that stuff. That is why the recidivism rate is [high]. All inmates return to prison within the first three years of being released, due to a lack of skills and education. If we can get to them while they are in there, that is going to be transformational.”

Costeena Weathersby of Trusted Mentors, a non-profit organization that helps pair incarcerated individuals with screened and trained volunteers who become mentors, echoed the importance of work from people like Brewster.

“This is why our program and other programs like it are so important because we need to talk to inmates before or as soon as they are released so we can make an impact similar to what Mr. Brewster is doing,” Weathersby said.

According to the organization’s impact report for 2023, Trusted Mentors has an 82% success rate for re-entering adults. Additionally, the organization has an 18% recidivism rate, which is lower than Indiana’s 30% recidivism rate and is significantly less than Marion County’s 46% recidivism rate.

Research indicates that the benefits of successful rehabilitation extend far beyond individual lives. Studies from the RAND Corporation and the National Institute of Justice have shown that reducing recidivism rates leads to significant cost savings for states. When ex-offenders like Keidrain Brewster find employment and become productive members of society, the financial burden on social services, law enforcement and the prison system decreases.

“Today’s inmate is tomorrow’s neighbor, coworker, employee and even employer,” Brewster said.

Keidrain Brewster’s upcoming book, “The Big Reform,” is expected to hit bookshelves later this year.

Contact multimedia and sports reporter Noral Parham III at 317-762-7846. Follow him on Twitter @3Noral. For more news from the Indianapolis Recorder, visit our homepage.

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