Building a New Life After 18 Years in Prison
We are fortunate to have one of our former resident’s at the Tacoma Residential Reentry Center share his experience in transitioning out of prison and into the center. Pioneer operates all four federal residential reentry centers in the state of Washington. The reentry centers serve as a bridge from incarceration to life in the community. Our centers help formerly incarcerated individuals with a successful transition through an array of services focused on finding and retaining employment, reconnecting with families, overcoming a substance use disorder and other issues, and becoming productive members of society.
Pictured Top: Marcus at his job
Pictured Middle: Marcus getting married
Pictured Botton: Marcus grocery shopping for the first time in 18 years
Hello, my name is Marcus. I wanted to share my experience of living at, and completing my time at, the Tacoma Residential Reentry Center (TRRC). Well, allow me to start by saying I was incarcerated for 18 years in the Federal Bureau of Prison system and sent to TRRC to finish out my last 10 months. I must admit doing 18 straight years in a maximum-security prison, and not making it to a low-level custody prison until after I had served almost 17 years, was an experience within itself.
Then my journey to the residential reentry began. I soon learned that I needed a state ID to get other things moving along. I also needed to use a computer to set up appointments because I was released during the COVID-19 pandemic – just to make things a little tougher on me. Since I was incarcerated for 18 years, I had no knowledge of computers let alone the skills needed to fill out things and set up appointments. That alone was frustrating and overwhelming for me.
However, I soon learned that I needed to take control of my life, and all my life decisions, by being patient with myself and humbling myself to ask questions and ask for help! When I asked questions, I learned what I needed to do, and I accomplished getting a state ID card and landing a full-time job. After four months on the job, I even received a raise in pay due to my performance at work. I am still employed full-time and I am enrolled in a class to get my CDL license for truck driving to expand my options.
Since being at TRRC, I also managed to have the opportunity to finally marry the love of my life! The time I spent in the reentry center has been a positive experience and a good transition for me as I now move into the community with my wife. It paved the path and gave me the opportunity to acquire a state ID, driver’s license, social security card and set-up a bank account. All of these things you probably take for granted, but really are needed to function in the community.
All of this has allowed me to make responsible life-changing decisions that are helping me along the way of my newfound freedom. On my journey, I have also been able to utilize the tools I learned in the Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP) which are called the, “Eight Positive Attitudes to Change.” That has really helped me to adjust my way of thinking and behavior.
As I walk out of the reentry center, I leave with a plan that I have been working through during my stay. I will continue to not allow any roadblocks stop my journey or discourage me from accomplishing the things I need and want for myself in this life. I will stay dedicated, determined and disciplined to continue on my path to success. A strict focus on keeping control of my actions and decisions, and participating in pro-social and positive activities, will be my guideline.
I am proud to say I have now reconnected with my family, children, grandchildren and loved ones. I wanted to share a few images with you all. I truly believe my success came from within - starting with my heart and my desire to change for the better. I became a positive role model in life to others and myself to become successful. I now believe in myself.
Thanks to Pioneer for all their direction and assistance during my transition.
The staff at TRRC was instrumental at setting up the necessary guideposts for Marcus’s journey toward a successful community transition. Lora Dear, employment specialist, presented the tools for Marcus to create a professional resume and prepare himself for employment. Ms. Dear also provided him with a job reference should the opportunity present itself in the future.
Marcus had a great attitude and often expressed his desire to change and complete personal goals. He became a stand out participant in the community treatment program facilitated by Richard Whittington, Pioneer’s clinical supervisor. Mr. Whittington praised Marcus’s accomplishments in the program at a meeting with TRRC director, Pete Milosovich, and the rest of the case management team.
While in community treatment, Marcus learned how to use specific tools to set goals, utilize positive affirmations and express personal feelings. Case manager, Stephen Maifea, maintained additional goals for Marcus to include regular exercise, and direction to acquire health insurance, transfer home and assist with the approval necessary for marriage while in a federal release program.
Our staff’s motto at the Tacoma Residential Reentry Center is, “Every resident every time; no matter where our residents are at in their lives, we will help them get to where they want to be.”