I never had a real job.
This is my first meaningful job,so it means so much to me.
I’m a certified automotive technician.
I got a promising future like now that I’ve got a career.
I got financially stable and I’m going continue to excel in this field of automotive.
I’ve been incarcerated since I was 15.
I served 21 years. I was caught up in a drug trade.
My offense was first-degree murder and first degree assault.
I was 37 when I got released.
The day I was released from prison this February, I felt anxious, I felt nervous, I felt happy and also felt sad too.
I learned that my father had passed away the night before.
So I had a whole bunch of feelings wrapped up in one.
But the main thing that I held onto is that I gotta be a success, I gotta do what’s right.
I got to not lose focus on my present moment.
That motivated me to come out here and work hard and show people that we do have second chances.
I founded the Full Circle Auto Repair and Training Center in 2015 in Halethorpe Maryland just outside of Baltimore City.
This program takes individuals who were previously incarcerated and we train them to be auto mechanics,and then find them jobs in the community and dealerships and in local garages and help them build a careers.
Another great thing about this program is that along with schooling and getting our certifications, they pay us.
They pay us to learn because they know that we’re coming home and it’s hard, you know.
We’re here eight hours, so we get paid eight hours for being in here.
They prepare us for workforce someday we’re going into.
So I’m definitely appreciative of that.
We have over two million people currently incarcerated in this country and more than 600,000 are released from prison every year.
Close to seventy five percent of individuals who are released from prison wind up going back within five to eight years.
But the biggest reason for individuals going back to prison, there’s actually several of them.
For one thing when they get out of prison, they get sent back to the neighborhood for the most part where they committed a crime.
They don’t have a job.
They have to make a living somehow and they have very few skills and in our country there’s it’s real difficult to get a job if you have a criminal background.
So we really set people up for going back to prison.
Full Circle is a part of Vehicles for Change program where we receive donated vehicle.
Fixing these cars, I become real passionate because I know these cars given to low-income families.
That makes me happy or that makes me proud knowing that I’m helping a family so they can get to their destinations in a safety manner with these vehicles.
Since 2015 when we started the program we’ve had 120 interns come through our training program.
We’ve had a 100% placement rate. so every single person who’s graduated from this program has gotten a full-time job where they can afford to take care of their families.
They can buy a house.
They can be active citizens in the community.
I’m married to my childhood sweetheart.
I met her when I was 12 she was 11.
We even known each other for 24 years.
She had been a strong support and my success.
Coming from where I come from being incarcerated for 21 years and come home to a career, helping needy families, yeah I believe I am a success.