Patrick Young’s new book is a guide to economic development after incarceration

Despite spending 14 years in prison, Patrick Young refused to let this harsh experience be his defining moment. Not only did he find a way out, he also found a way up. He plans to use his plan to help others find economic success after their release from the justice system.

His book, “A Way Up: Economic Development Post Incarceration,” was released on 2/22/22, a date reflecting his time in prison, as the numbers add up to 10, with 2022 marking his tenth year after release. Young holds many titles in New Orleans, from fighting gun violence to helping ex-servicemen and ex-convicts acquire costumes for job interviews. He now adds the author of the title to his registry and says it won’t be his last book.

Zenger reached out to Young to discuss his book as he opens up about the importance of property and more.

Percy Crawford interviewed Patrick Young for Zenger.

zenger: Your year seems to be off to a good start. How’s it going?

Young: It’s okay, man. The work is progressing well, and now I am very excited to launch this book.

zenger: What made you decide to write a book?

Young: It really is God’s time. I am launching a book on 02/22/22. If you add those numbers up, that makes 10. This year marks 10 years since I was released from incarceration. These numbers also signify alignment. Now is the time for everything to line up and fall into place, so I just saw it as God’s timing.

Percy Crawford interviewed Patrick Young for Zenger. (Heidi Malone/Zenger)

zenger: We have the reason why you are publishing this book. What is the meaning of the title, “A Way Up: Economic Development Post Incarceration?”

Young: The book is about prison and poverty. There is this cycle of people who are in these poor quarters: they are constantly in this revolving door, inside and outside, inside and outside the prison. If you’re locked in, all you want to do is get out. Success is not just about getting out of prison, it’s about getting out of poverty. So you have to find a way up, not just a way out. We need to shift the economic threshold for people who find themselves in these environments.

zenger: Was it an easy process to compile your thoughts into a book?

Young: No man! It was actually a little difficult at first because there’s not a lot of information on economic development for people who have been officially incarcerated, which again…has been the driving force behind everything that.

The military has a version called “TED” [Transition Economic Development]. If you’re in the military, before you get discharged, you have to take this course and learn economic development. But when you think about the number of people incarcerated and their release, where is that same intentionality around them learning how to create wealth after the situation? It’s almost systematically structured to keep people in a certain subset of society. We have to find a bridge. We have to find a way to help people get to that higher level, that higher rung of life.

You have to look at what has been done historically. It was a mental state of Carter G. Woodson, “The Miseducation Of A Negro”. He says if you teach that a black face is a curse, he will hate himself, his brother, and if you can control his thinking, you don’t have to worry about his actions. For so long we’ve looked in other areas of influence, and success was for other people, but it wasn’t for us. So when we took the lens off and said no, we could have our own economic development and build our own regions because that’s what’s missing in our community.

We have more poverty because we have less property. We cannot become owners if there are obstacles. So going to a bank and you can’t get a house loan, you can’t get a business loan, you can’t get a car loan, it’s going to force you to do desperate acts. But in the army, you have access to the USAA [United Services Automobile Association] and Federal Navy. Financial literacy education is one point, but the second point is that we need to create access vehicles for people to have access to capital.

Patrick Young was determined not to be a statistic after his release from prison 10 years ago. (Ayeshia Toy)

zenger: You described the release of this book as a “new beginning”. What does it mean?

Young: It must be a reset in spirit. The book is a strategic plan: let’s go over everything you’ve been taught. Let’s remove that and get a real education on how to create wealth in this community for us. There is a saying “if you want to hide something from someone, put it in a book”. Well, the same way you can hide something, you can set someone free by putting it in a book. And really give someone a path to prosperity and not just more trouble.

zenger: There is a lesson to be learned from this book for anyone, but you specifically made it for people released from the prison system in the free world, right?

Young: I focus a lot on people who have barriers to employment and barriers due to their incarceration status. We have over 77 million people who have some type of conviction. Having a conviction puts you in a separate category when it’s time for you to access certain benefits and capital. This book really speaks to this population.

But we, as a community, endure hardship in the face of poverty. How to get out of this situation ? As long as you stay in this cycle of poverty, we see this revolving door that three out of four people who are released from incarceration return to within the first three years. It’s a crazy number. And you think why? Again, if you don’t have the financial literacy to know what to do with money if you find a job and can’t access capital to buy your own home and cars, this is designed for that you don’t win. You need some type of strategic plan to help you get up and not just get out.

The cover of Patrick Young’s first book, “A Way Up: Economic Development Post-Incarceration,” dedicated to educating anyone with a criminal record to maximize opportunity. (Courtesy of Patrick Young)

zenger: How could you do it after serving 14 years in prison?

Young: The first thing that’s most important…the book is great, and I’m excited about the book, but the first thing that’s most important, even if you’re going to take the lesson, is to be aware of who are you .

I think that by going to prison, I lost my identity. I went to jail right after my brother was killed. I got so attached to him. I wanted to be like him, I didn’t have a father around. For me… it was about finding out who I was. Once you’ve acquired that identity, it’s like, “What can I do?” I was able to bring my different skills and gifts to life because I accepted who I was. For someone who wants to read the book, you have to be sure of who you are and who you are and just have faith. Step forward with your gifts and your creativity, and you can bring anything you want to life.

zenger: What does 02/22/22 mean to you?

Young: It’s such an accomplishment to think my thoughts are precious. This is what motivates many of them. What you think and how you believe should not always be diminished or seen as crazy or weird. You have been given a gift and a vision, and that has value. So many times people will ask me to come and talk or ask me to do something, it’s all added value. This book begins this legacy for my family, for my son where if I am no longer there, my thoughts will continue. It solidifies me that way.

zenger: You already have a lot of titles, adding the author of the title… is it a one-off, or can we expect another book or several books?

Young: This is crazy. I’m already working on the next book. I think the perspective in which I have lived life is important. People want to know what’s going on. It’s almost like a small series, but this one is “A Way Up: Economic Development Post Incarceration.” The one I’m currently working on is “A Way Out: Social Emotional Learning To Stop Gun Violence.”

zenger: I wish you much success, I hope the book does well, and congratulations on its continuation. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Young: Always thank you for your time. It is a blessing. This is the conversation we need to have. When we look at coming out of COVID and trying to restart this economy, we need to make sure it benefits everyone, not just some. We need to make sure it’s not just immigrants, but people coming out of prison.

We need to help people out of difficulties and give them access to opportunities. It’s logic, and it’s the only way to win. We have to go up. The book will be available wherever books are sold. Barnes & Noble, Amazon or you can go to my website,

Edited by Richard Pretorius and Kristen Butler

Recommended by our partners