08 Jun Felons, Jobs, and Careers
Michael Justice: Success After Prison
With Earning Freedom courses, we strive to connect formerly incarcerated people with the job market. One of the ways we achieve that goal is by learning strategies that some formerly incarcerated people have used to prepare for success.
Yesterday I interviewed Michael Justice. He told an amazing story. You can listen to his story by watching the video above. Or, you may read the brief synopsis below.
Michael went to prison as a young man. He was 19 years old when a judge sentenced him to serve a 40-year sentence. Initially, Michael adjusted to the ways of the prison. He strove to become a shot caller on the yard. As a consequence of his adjustment, he served his time in high-security prisons, with a lot of time in the Special Housing Unit.
Then, after about 10 years of confinement, Michael found a mentor. The mentor suggested that Michael change his attitude. Instead of adjusting to the prison, Michael should prepare for a law-abiding, contributing life upon release.
Michael accepted the challenge.
Over the next 10 years, Michael studied hard. When he concluded his sentence, he accepted a job at Friendly’s Ice Cream. The job paid $19,000 per year—which was close to minimum wage.
Yet while on the job at Friendly’s, Michael gave his employer 100 percent. He smiled at customers. He treated them well. He made everyone feel happy and special. Customers noticed Michael’s commitment to excellence. Then, one customer offered Michael a job with an opportunity for higher pay.
Michael accepted the job. He learned new skills and he applied skills he learned while he was in prison. Soon, Michael’s new employer promoted Michael to manage the operation. He hired people. And he built record profits for the company. After a couple of years, Michael realized that it was time for him to go out on his own.
Michael is now the proud owner of his own company. His company generates more than $500,000 per year and brings him earnings of nearly $100,000 per year. Further, Michael’s company employs five other people.
Michael is a leader. He shows that when people give their all to an employer, new opportunities open.
If you’re a formerly incarcerated person, learn from the example of Michael Justice!