Chase Bank Provides Financial Literacy to Milwaukee County Reformatory


By Karen Stokes

Superintendent Chantell Jewell

For the first time ever, the Milwaukee County Reformatory (HOC) is offering free financial literacy classes to incarcerated individuals who have committed a crime.

“We have a partnership with Chase Bank; it is designed for people to understand finances and how to manage finances to impact their future,” Superintendent Chantell Jewell said. “Milwaukee County has a bold vision, by achieving racial equity, we believe Milwaukee County will be the healthiest county in Wisconsin.”

When talking about health, financial health is imperative. According to Experian, 34.8% of US consumers have subprime credit scores.

Chase Community Manager, Jerry Johnson, visits the HOC twice a month to teach a variety of topics related to financial health.

“The goal of the program is to take what you know or what you know into action to become financially capable,” Johnson said.

Each two and a half hour session is designed to build on the next and covers a range of financial health topics from understanding credit, applying for credit, borrowing basics to creating a spending plan and how to protect yourself against identity theft.

Chase Community Manager Jerry Johnson

“Their personal financial journey is another piece we’re offering to try to get to the root of some of the practices they’ve done in the past that didn’t get the results they wanted,” Johnson said. .

HOC residents involved in the financial literacy program are currently in a work release program.

“It’s a constant evolution of residents as we start a series, maybe starting with credit and then working on different accounts,” Johnson said. “Individuals are at different stages, some can understand checking accounts, some don’t even have a checking account.”

According to Bank on Greater Milwaukee, nearly 11% of Milwaukee residents are unbanked. More than 50 million adults are underbanked nationwide and dependent on some marginal financial services.

Understanding bank accounts is key to not depending on check-cashing locations or payday loan shops that sometimes employ unfair, deceptive, and abusive debt collection practices and can be costly. Budget and expense planning is important to understanding and protecting your money.

“A budget or spending plan is about telling your money where to go instead of asking where it went,” Johnson said.

“I was extremely touched by the overwhelming response,” Johnson said. “When the residents of the reformatory leave the sessions, they tell others about it.”

“The response is overwhelming. I hear that not only are the residents very interested, but they are passing the information on to the community and their families,” Jewell said. “Having relationships after the release is one of our goals.”

According to Johnson, not only do they learn the information, but they benefit from connecting to resources that help change some of the behaviors they had before.

“At Chase, we’re in the community, financial health has become a core practice of who we are,” Johnson said.


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