Mark Whitacre: A Proven Voice for Reentry
Dr. Mark Whitacre has been a part of our JPW3 prison outreach ministry for several years and, in many ways, has been the role model and living example as to how we all can live in God’s grace. As Douglas Burris, Chief of U.S. Federal Probation in the Eastern District of Missouri, has stated publicly, “The story about Mark Whitacre’s redemption and second chance is one of the most inspirational stories of our time.”
Mark Whitacre is best known for his whistleblower role in the Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) price-fixing case in the mid-1990s. He was the FBI informant of the historic case and wore a wire every day for almost three years. However, he was charged for several white-collar crimes including fraud that occurred during his tenure as President of the Fortune 500 company’s Bio Products Division. Whitacre served over eight and a half years in federal prison, almost all of that in minimum-security camps.
In light of the staggering 99% divorce rate for inmates serving over five years in prison, it is indeed a rare occurrence to have a family survive and remain intact during such an ordeal. The Whitacre family not only survived; they thrived. For example, his wife (his high-school sweetheart) and children moved to each location that Mark was located, and they visited him every weekend. Their commitment to each other and their solid foundational faith are the bedrock of this amazing overcoming journey. Early in this journey, Mark, his wife (Ginger), and their three children decided to get “BETTER” rather than “BITTER” and commit every day to building their faith and reaching out to others.
Mark Whitacre was released from prison in the Christmas season of December, 2006 after almost nine years of incarceration. Like his model years during incarceration, Mark has set the standard on how one should lead his or her life after prison. His case of redemption has been nothing less than remarkable, and he has certainly made the most of his second chance. Mark has often stated, “You do not wait until you are released to get your life in order. From day one, you take responsibility for your actions and begin to chart the course of your second chance.” Mark and Ginger have assisted dozens of couples prepare for prison, and they have assisted dozens of families prepare for the releases of their loved ones. They continue this service of donating their time to serve others today.
His awesome story is being noticed nationally and, as a result, he has been sought out to share his story and testimony, motivate and inspire others to walk the same path, and work closely with key members of the various branches of the justice system. Mark is committed to leading by example, using his platform to encourage others, and being an activist for positive change in providing second chances for those who are committed to charting new courses in life.
In July of 2010, Mark was chosen as a “poster boy” for his successful reentry story, and, as a result, he was the speaker at the U.S Court at the Eastern District of Missouri in St. Louis. The Federal Judges in that District had a private luncheon with Mark during his stay in St. Louis in order to ask Mark, “How did you do it, and how can other ex-offenders do the same?” More recently, Mark has been chosen as one of the most successful reentry stories, which has been chronicled at www.reentrysuccessstories.com —a community website founded and maintained by JPW3.
In early 2011, Mark was the guest speaker at the Quantico FBI Academy in Virginia. It is remarkable and unprecedented to be completely embraced by the very law enforcement officials who sent him to prison.
In March of 2011, Mark was invited by Douglas Burris (Chief of U.S. Probation of Eastern District of Missouri) to speak to community leaders, to meet one of the most innovative Federal Judges involved with reentry programs (U.S. Federal Judge Casey Rodgers, Pensacola, Florida), and to become an active proponent of successful reentry programs as well as the more recent pilot program—“Reentry Court Program.” Mark was a guest speaker on March 22, 2011 at the U.S. District Court in NW Florida’s first graduation of ex-offenders from the “Reentry Court Program.” This pilot program in Pensacola that was implemented by the Honorable Judge Casey Rodgers is ground breaking in the federal judicial system.
JPW3 is excited to have Mark Whitacre as an active part of our Outreach, and we look forward to see what the future holds. More background information about Dr. Whitacre can be found at www.markwhitacre.com.