Did you talk about your prison experience with your family?
Neither my mom nor my grandmother wanted me to talk about going to prison. It drives them crazy. It was difficult for my wife to hear me say, “My last grade completed was ninth grade. I would walk on stages and say, “You know that the highest level of education was the ninth grade.” Everyone’s jaws would drop. “Surely, not you, Marcus,” I would hear. The shame is attached and bottled up.
Returning citizens are often forced to accept disruptions in their lives to avoid recidivism. Did you?
I couldn’t drive the same way home from work for a week straight. I can’t eat at a particular restaurant I frequented before. I won’t even allow people to know what school my children attend. When you return home from prison, you tend to take two-minute showers. It’s swift. You hurry up, and you get out of the water. You haven’t had the luxury of standing in the shower and having water run down your back for years. You’re programmed to get up, get in the shower, wash your body, get out, hurry up and get dressed. Now, you’re like, “Wait, what am I supposed to do again?” Those are the nuances of reentry for me.
At what point should the reentry process begin?
The reentry process should start well before someone comes home from prison. I’m challenging myself with Flikshop to be thoughtful around how we even build the technology to be able to make sure that we contribute to the solution for recidivism.
Ninety percent of our users are family and friends sending to incarcerated loved ones. But we also establish strategic partnerships with businesses and organizations, such as Slack and Koch Industries, both of which espouse fair-chance hiring and offer employment to returning citizens regardless of their criminal record. It’s not just the problem of the parole board or the probation committee. It’s the entire community. This a problem for humanity. Everyone needs to play a part in solving it.