Former Inmate Turned Entrepreneur Hopes His Mobile App Will Reduce Recidivism Rate  

Marcus Bullock of the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area is the founder of Flikshop, a mobile app for people to upload and send digital postcards with photos and messages that make their way to their loved ones currently incarcerated. “We’ve shipped over 700,000 postcards and connected over 170,000 families,” Bullock said.

Bullock knows firsthand the impact a message from a loved one outside prison walls can make. In 1996, he was arrested for carjacking, and it landed him an eight-year prison sentence.

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

Bullock says while serving time in Virginia prisons he suffered from depression, but once his mom started sending him a photo and a written message every day, his spirits turned around and he focused on more positive thoughts, most notably life after prison.

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

Even though Bullock started a new life after serving his time in 2004, he never forgot the impact a simple message could do for his friends still locked up. It was then he started researching how to develop a mobile app that would eventually become Flikshop. He then got approval from 2,700 detention facilities from across the country for Flikshop postcards to go to inmates.

“My friends who I grew up with in prison who used to watch my mom send me letters and photos got kind of agitated 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 elevating the spirits of those incarcerated, Bullock says knowing loved ones care for you outside of prison helps deter ex-felons from going back to prison once they’re released, which would help curb the recidivism rate.

According to the Sentencing Project, 1 in 81 Black adults is serving time in state prison, and according to the Department of Justice which tracks the recidivism rate every ten years, about 66 percent of prisoners released are re-arrested by three years later. A 2021 report from Florida Atlantic University said, “although African American men are more likely to participate in re-entry programs, they continue to struggle with recidivism and reunification at higher rates.” Bullock believes his Flikshop app can put a dent in the statistic.

“Imagine if we’re able to connect one million people who are incarcerated to their loved ones. What would that do for the recidivism rates? It would probably drop 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 nation. Bullock also has a Flikshop Angels program that allows people to pay for credits that are then donated to a family to connect to a loved one incarcerated.

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