One of the less-remarked-upon consequences of the COVID-19 epidemic is the discontinuation of prison visits. Suddenly, Flikshop Angels, a program made for the 2.7 million children (1 in 28) in the U.S. who currently have a parent behind bars, has become even more necessary. With the Flikshop app, families can send a picture postcard using just a smartphone.
“There is no internet in prison,” says Marcus Bullock, founder of Flikshop. “No texting or Facebook. These postcards are their lifeline, their reminder that the outside world is waiting.”
“Being an entrepreneur is part of my DNA,” Bullock says. He recalls selling Blow Pops, Now and Laters and Nerds as a child in the D.C. area, and how it felt to break sales records he set for himself. He recognized then that his customers—his classmates—would pay more on the school bus than out on the street when they had access to other sources. This lesson in supply and demand has always stayed with him.
When Bullock went to federal prison at age fifteen, he discovered another example of spiking demand. While the young men incarcerated with him were starved for contact with the outside world, the 4:00 p.m. mail call always brought him letters from his mother. “Every envelope stuffed with photographs,” he recalls, “would fuel hours of conversation in the dayroom. Guys who never knew my family became engrossed in every detail of my home life.”
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