This past week, the Seattle Times published an op-ed I wrote about the need for prison reform. In the article, I talk about how I caught a big break following my release from federal prison. I was released in October of 2008, during the heart of the recession, and everyone found it difficult to obtain employment, let alone a guy just released from over a decade of incarceration.

My first job was washing cars for a Chevy dealership in Council Bluffs, Iowa. But it was a temporary because once the temperature dropped below freezing, I couldn’t continue washing cars outside, which meant that I was out of a job.

So, I applied to Cockle Printing and a number of other places. I remember my interview with the Cockles, and I remember the stunned silence when I dropped the bombshell of my entire story on them. I think after that, most places would have just sent me on my way, without checking my references or even considering the possibility of employing me.

But to their credit, Andy Cockle, Trish Billotte, and Renee Goss did check my references. And after a phone call with attorneys Seth Waxman and Noah Levine, and a call with a family friend, they decided to do the unthinkable–to give me the second chance that few else would.

Who does that?

The answer is very few, which is why prisoners have such a difficult time finding employment and why the recidivism rate is so high (nationally, two-thirds of prisoners go back to prison within three years of their release). And sending people back through the criminal justice system and into a prison is a costly endeavor.

We simply need more people like the Cockles, people that decide to take a chance of someone like me.

Thank you Andy, Trish, and Renee.