CA Inmate “Wall Street” Teaches Personal Finance To Other Prisoners


Curtis Carroll invests from California’s San Quentin State Prison. He is a financial adviser to fellow inmates and correctional officers. Everyone in prison calls him Wall Street, reports NPR. “I couldn’t believe that this kind of access to this type of money could be accessible to anybody. Everybody should do it. And it’s legal!” he says. He pores over financial news: the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Forbes. Carroll, 37, of Oakland, taught himself to read in prison. He’s been in prison for 20 years, doing a sentence of 54 to life for his part in a robbery attempt that ended in a murder. One day Carroll stumbled on the financial section of the newspaper thinking it was the sports section, which his cellmate used to read to him. Another inmate asked him if he played the stocks. “I had never heard the word before,” says Carroll. “He explained to me how it works and said, ‘This is where white people keep their money.’ When he said that I said, ‘Whoa, I think I stumbled across something here.’ “

Every Thursday night, Wall Street and a group of volunteers from outside the prison teach the men some of the principles of sound personal finance, stock investments, retirement and how to manage the money they do have, things most of the inmates have had no training in. “Wall Street” tells his theories to the assembled group. “There’s four steps,” he says. “Every person on this planet that has made money has mastered these four simple steps: savings, cost control, borrowing prudently and diversification.” The group is called Freeman Capital, and he cofounded it with a fellow inmate. His co-founder, Troy Williams, says about 70 people attend the class each week. “Overall, the goal is to get the money to give it back to the community,” Carroll says. “When I look at how Bill Gates and Warren Buffett give 90 percent of their wealth away I thought, what better way than to go back and help the things I’ve destroyed?”

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