Women in Prison Learn to Pay Themselves First

Women in a New Hampshire prison are learning financial basics from a local daytrader who ultimately wants to establish a legal defense fund.
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In late October, 10 women graduated from a special program at the

New Hampshire State Prison for Women

. This program is not the typical job placement and counseling program one might expect at a women's prison. Instead, over the course of 10 weeks, these women learned some solid fiscal concepts, such as how to read a financial newspaper, how to save and plan for the future, the importance of paying yourself first and the value of compounding.

The architect of this unusual program is Robin Dayne, a daytrader in Nashua, N.H., who's known for her training and coaching

prowess. But she also has a much bigger vision for her program, one that entails getting other traders to help. Eventually she'd like to see the program expanded to include a legal-aid fund and a halfway house for these women so they will always be able to seek advice and help. Currently her agreement with the state precludes her from contacting them after they are released.

"My mission is helping these women," she says. "Trading is the vehicle that creates the cash that goes into this mission."

She was inspired with the idea for the program by a prison employee who attended a seminar with

Tony Robbins

, the self-help guru and Dayne's former employer. Financial aspects are incorporated into a learning regimen based on Robbins' 30-day Personal Power program. Although Dayne's New Hampshire program is relatively small-scale, six groups of women have gone through it since April 1998, and it may become a model for others. Women wanting to start similar programs in Minnesota, Florida and Washington, D.C., have been in touch with Dayne for more information, she says.

The goal of the program is to teach these women -- some serving time in the maximum-security facility for felonies such as murder, and most suffering from low self-esteem -- to prepare for a future life outside prison. "They have the capability," Dayne says. "This is something they can learn."

To teach the concept of buying low, for example, the women chart one stock over the course of a month, say


(CSCO) - Get Report

, for example. After discussing the concept of buying low and selling high, the women are asked to look at the graph and determine when would have been the best time to buy the stock, Dayne says. She has also donated several books to the prison library, such as

Investing for Dummies


Ultimately, she plans to establish a fund to help with defense or appeals and a halfway house for these women, some of whom have been abused throughout their lives. She is still in the midst of establishing her own business coaching traders, but "once

it is really cooking," she'll have a pool of people who hopefully will be willing to help. "My goal is to get a whole bunch of traders who will, for a day or a half-day, trade for the fund," she says.

Her current business -- she's coached about 1,500 people -- is laying the foundation for her future endeavors, she says. In the meantime, she'll continue to inspire women like the one she says has become a role model in the prison. Incarcerated for murdering her husband after taking years of his abuse, this woman needs cash for her defense, Dayne says.

"She makes some ridiculous amount of money, maybe $5 per week," Dayne says. But the woman, who's earning an accounting degree while in prison, is saving that money and investing in shares through her mother. "Maybe in a year and a half, she'll have enough money to buy an attorney again."

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