Former inmate-turned-entrepreneur hopes his mobile app will lower recidivism rate

Marcus Bullock, from the Washington, DC metro area, is the founder of Flikshop, a mobile app for people to upload and send digital postcards with photos and messages that reach loved ones currently incarcerated. “We have sent more than 700,000 postcards and connected more than 170,000 families,” said Bullock.

Bullock knows firsthand the impact a message from a loved one can have outside prison walls. In 1996, he was arrested for carjacking and sentenced to eight years in prison.

“My best friend and I stole a guy’s car when I was in my sophomore year, and he was in his junior year of high school. We banged on the window with a gun, demanded the car keys, jumped to the driver’s side and accelerated and left him standing there. We were arrested the next day and I was sentenced to eight years in adult maximum prison as a result of that carjacking,” Bullock said.

Bullock says that while serving time in Virginia prisons he suffered from depression, but once his mother started sending him a photo and a written message every day, his mood changed and he focused on more positive thoughts, especially in life afterward. from prison.

“That’s what started to give me some hope and aspiration for what the next few years could be,” Bullock said.

Although Bullock started a new life after serving his sentence in 2004, he never forgot the impact a simple message could have for his friends who are still locked up. It was then that she began researching how to develop a mobile app that would eventually become Flikshop. She then got approval from 2,700 detention centers across the country to send Flikshop postcards to inmates.

“My friends that I grew up with in prison who used to see my mom send me letters and photos got a little restless that I didn’t take the time to send them letters and photos like my mom did, so that’s when I had the idea to create Flikshop” Bullock said.

In addition to lifting the spirits of those incarcerated, Bullock says knowing loved ones are looking out for you outside of prison helps deter ex-convicts from returning to prison once they’re released, which would help curb the rate of recidivism.

According to the Sentencing Project, 1 in 81 black adults is serving time in state prison, and according to the Justice Department, which tracks the recidivism rate every ten years, about 66 percent of released inmates are rearrested three years later. . A 2021 report from Florida Atlantic University said that “although African American men are more likely to participate in reentry programs, they continue to struggle with recidivism and reunification at higher rates.” Bullock thinks his Flikshop app can make a dent in the stats.

“Imagine if we were able to connect a million people who are incarcerated with their loved ones. What would that do to recidivism rates? I would probably cut the rate in half,” Bullock said.

To use the Flikshop app, users pay 99 cents to send a message and upload a photo that can be sent to prisons and jails across the country. Bullock also has a Flikshop Angels program that allows people to pay credits that are then donated to a family to connect with an incarcerated loved one.

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