Aventiv Technologies and Platinum Equity today announced the appointment of Yusef Jackson as a senior executive at the company and advisor to the ownership group. Mr. Jackson will help Aventiv’s corrections subsidiary, Securus Technologies, expand and implement an ongoing operational transformation to make current products and services more affordable and accessible, and develop new offerings that help create better outcomes for incarcerated individuals.
He also will facilitate external partnerships with leaders from the civic, educational, and corporate communities; and deepen internal programs to ensure a more diverse workforce at Aventiv that is more connected to the people it serves. Beyond the company and its operations, Mr. Jackson will help advise the ownership team at Platinum Equity as it considers partnerships for the company.
Platinum Equity CEO Tom Gores said: “We are proud of the reform work Aventiv and Securus have already executed, but we know there is much more to do to drive meaningful change in the company and industry. We are confident that Yusef can affect change through innovation.”
“Yusef brings needed expertise and perspective to our executive team,” said Aventiv Technologies CEO Dave Abel. “He will play a vital role not only in expanding our reform efforts, but also in broadening our view as we look both inward and outward with respect to employee, customer, and community stakeholders.”
Mr. Jackson said that one of his first courses of action will be to review data and speak with both the families of those incarcerated and members of the incarceration community – past and present. “While I know Securus has undertaken a similar effort, it is important that I understand not only the data, but hear first-hand from affected individuals,” he said. “The correctional services industry provides critical technology products and services to incarcerated Americans, but the business practices employed by the industry have been rightly criticized and are long overdue for reform.”
Mr. Jackson said that Aventiv and Platinum have demonstrated a clear commitment to transforming the industry. “If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t have accepted this position. I am proud to be working with Dave Abel and his leadership team in their effort to improve the company and take their reforms to the next level.”
Mr. Jackson joins the Aventiv team with decades of experience as an attorney, entrepreneur, and businessman leading corporate turnarounds, as well as a lifetime of driving structural change to confront systemic racism alongside his family. He has a proven track record in bringing civic groups, religious leaders, local officials, impacted communities, and businesses together for shared causes and mutual goals. He said the vision and commitment to reform are what drew him to the opportunity.
According to research from FWD.us and Cornell University, admissions to local jails have exceeded 10 million each year for at least the last 20 years, and an estimated 6.5 million Americans have an immediate family member currently incarcerated in jail or prison. Incarceration impacts people and families from all walks of life, but disproportionately affects people of color and impoverished communities.
“There are far too many people, particularly from communities of color, caught in the cycle of incarceration,” Mr. Jackson said. “Black individuals are incarcerated five times more and Hispanics at double the rate of whites. The challenges start prior to conviction with an inability to meet the financial expectations of the system. Then, post-release, the stigma of serving time prevents many from finding a job and earning a fair wage. We cannot live up to our ideals or achieve our goals as a nation until this is fixed.”
Ninety percent of those serving time in jail and prison are ultimately released back into society and face uncertain futures without access to educational, job, and community-based second chance programs. Mr. Jackson said that in addition to the work he will be doing to help improve the affordability of communicating with family members while in prison, key areas he will focus on at Aventiv include investing in the development of job and reintegration tools for those who are incarcerated; as well as partnerships with legislators, civil rights organizations, prison reform advocates, law enforcement agencies, and others to eliminate the post-incarceration stigma.
“At Aventiv we have the opportunity to invest in the individuals most affected by the system, connecting them to their families, delivering re-entry resources, and creating a 360-degree circle of strength and real second-chance opportunities,” Mr. Jackson said. “I am motivated to affect meaningful change from the inside out in this company and industry.”