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A Second Chance at Life

I committed the crime that I went to prison for when I was 19 years old. My brother and I thought that this was the only way that we could get out of this sexually and physically abusive situation that had been ongoing for years. We had experienced this prison existence for long enough and needed to be released. We took the person’s life and 4 months later was arrested.

I went to jail/prison with no legitimate education. I was 1 semester away from graduation when the abuser made me withdraw from school so we could go to Louisiana. So here I was without an education in a place that I thought would not be able to benefit me in any way. I was totally wrong in that assumption.

In the County Jail I was able to obtain my GED. I got into the program immediately after I was placed in a general population dorm and 5 months later I took the GED test and passed. Actually, I had the third highest score in the entire county where the test was administered in for that year. I missed out on a scholarship to the Community College by just a couple of points.

Then I found myself in prison. I had the mindset that I was going to do the time and not allow the time to do me. I was already involved with doing a lot of correspondence Bible Studies, but I wanted something that was more substantial. I found it at one of the prisons that I was sent to. They offered us the ability to get a trade. I signed up immediately to obtain my Drafting Certificate. Along this time I found out that they were also offering Theology classes in the Chapel. I signed up for these classes too. So within this 4 year time frame, I was able to obtain my Drafting Certificate and a Masters in Theology. It was all about pursuing to be better upon my release then I was when I was arrested.

I was released on April 1st, 2013. Yes, it was not a joke. There were two officers who thought it was going to be funny when they told me that my paperwork was messed up and that I could not leave. I told them that they know that I love to joke around, but my freedom was not something that I wanted to joke around about. They immediately told me that I was all set to go. I got dressed and walked out of that gate as a free man. I had custody so I had been outside of the prison before, but this time I did not have to walk back inside of the gate. I was leaving prison behind me and was ready to begin the next chapter of my life.

Looking for my first job was really hard. I felt like restaurants would probably be the easiest route to go for my first job. For two months, I went out, put resumes in and filled out applications. The big chains never even gave me a chance or ever received a call back. I did find two places that gave me an interview, but the result was the same. I was hired for a day at one restaurant, but when they came back and questioned me more intensively about my background they told me that I could not work there. I was told later by the Kitchen manager that the decision was not from corporate, but that the Assistant Manager of the restaurant made the decision. This was very hurtful as I was working so hard that first night. The Kitchen manager kept trying to get me to come back.

Then I found this restaurant, Jubilee Seafood. I went in and talked with the owner about a job as a server. He told me that he did not have a job like that open. He looked at my resume and asked about the space between jobs and what I was doing in Montgomery. I shared about my past, why I went to prison and what I did in prison to better myself. He looked at me and said, “Since you were open and honest about your past. I am going to give you a job as a dishwasher and start you off at $9 an hour. I love the aspect that you don't feel like you are owed anything. Too many people who have experienced the stuff that you have feel like they are owed something by others in society. This mentality will take you a long way in life.”

I accepted the job and started the next day. I actually only worked as a dishwasher for 3 days. At this time I was promoted to salad and dessert cook. I was just amazed that it had happened so quickly. I realized that when you do the best job that you can do at all times, it will not go unnoticed and you will be rewarded for the work. I had the mindset that I was going to do the best job that I could do. I was preparing the way for the next man who walked into this restaurant with a felony background. This owner would think of how I worked out and be willing to hire the next man or woman. I am still under this mindset now.

I moved up to Philly to go to college. I am now 1 year away from getting my BSW. I had to take some time off because of financial and physical reasons, but am looking at going back in August to finish my degree.

I have had two jobs since in the catering field since I have been out of school. Each one was created because I talked to the owner and shared my story. The big corporations would not give me a call back or even give me an interview. All of this made me frustrated with them because they are always talking about them being EOE, but that equality doesn't extend to people who have felonies in their background. At each job I started at $12 dollars an hour.

The job I am presently at, I have been here for almost 9 months. The first 4 months I was making the sandwiches and helping with deliveries. We had a women come in and to work as office manager and she lasted 3 days. I talked to the executive chef about the opening because there was another person who had started who could take my position. I offered to take the office manager position. We went and talked to the owner about this proposition. He liked it and asked if I felt like I was capable of doing everything that was necessary in this position. I told him that I felt 100% sure that I could accomplish everything that this position required. He told me that he would give me a try on a probationary period. That period lasted 2 weeks and I have been the office manager for almost 5 months now.

I am not sharing this to give whoever is reading this hope. For so long we have had our hope and dreams stripped from us. Now we have the chance to create that hope again and be able to dream about succeeding in life. I just want you to read this and know that you can achieve whatever you put your mind to do. Yes, there might be obstacles in the way; but that doesn't give you a reason to give up. We are a piece of coal that has to go through the pressure and adversity to become a diamond. That day will come if you do not give up. Always tell yourself that giving up is not an option. Keep pressing on and you will succeed. At first, the job might not be exactly what you want, but if you are persistent you will be able to move on up in whatever company you are working for. Be the difference and prepare the way for the people who are coming up behind you. What we do affects others. Be the best that you can be and you will rewarded for it.

Here's to 2nd Chances and returning citizens who are succeeding. One of the verses that got me through my time was Ecclesiastes 4:14 “For out of prison he cometh to reign, whereas he who was born in his kingdom becometh poor.” We reign when we come out of prison, get jobs and be that better person. The world is waiting for us to reign. It's our job to take that label off of ourselves and make them view us not as what we were but as what we are today. I was 214579 for 13 ½ years, but today people know me as David Garlock. Who and what do people know you as?

I’m 36 years old. I served 13 ½ years in prison for murder. My brother and I took the life of the man who sexually and physically abused us for 8 years. While I was in prison I used the time to better myself by obtaining my GED, a Drafting Trade and a Master's in Theology. I have been out for 3 years now. I have been able to acquire jobs at privately owned businesses and I am currently an Office Manager at a Catering Company outside of Philly. I am also working on obtaining my BSW with 1 year left.

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