“I’m a former incarcerated person who became a tech CEO,” says Marcus Bullock, 38, who prefers the term “returning citizens” in reference to the formerly incarcerated, for whom for his Flikshop app, launched in 2012, makes it possible to receive picture postcards from friends and family directly. In 1996, the 15-year old Washington, D.C. native was sentenced to eight years in an adult maximum-security prison for carjacking.
After serving two spirit-shattering years, Bullock lost hope and accepted that his life was over. His mother, however, stepped in and did what family and friends rarely ever do: She wrote her a son a letter every day for the remaining years of his sentence. Bullock credits his mother’s unwavering love and support for literally saving his life. His firsthand experience with the transformative effects of receiving mail while incarcerated inspired Flikshop. Bullock is also ramping up the operations of the Flikshop School of Business, an initiative that provides entrepreneurial and life skills to those re-establishing their lives post-release.
IHH: Why don’t returning citizens talk about their prison experiences post-release?
MB: It’s taboo. My uncle, my brother and my best friend’s uncle all came home from prison. There is no motivation or desire to share what they look at as swapping the same experiences. The healing begins when we talk about how the brutality of the prison existence made us feel. We are then sharing the trauma behind the experiences, which, over time, could heal the injury.
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