Marquis Z. Burnett, also known as JJ9744 in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Prison System, was born in Philadelphia and raised in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania by his father after the loss of his mother at the age of 7.
At the age of 11, Marquis began to associate himself with the wrong crowd. This progressed to him using drugs and hanging in the streets. Soon after he began paying the price of the street life: Marquis was sent to Schaffner Juvenile Detention Center on seven occasions over the course of four years; and to three Juvenile Placement Facilities on different occasions.
Even though these experiences left bruises and scars, which later in his life he would refer to as “learning lessons”, he was still too stubborn to see the big picture. The streets kept calling and Marquis continued to skip school, use drugs, and loose focus to a point where he dropped out of high school in 11th grade, and soon he returned to the streets.
In 2007, Marquis built up enough courage to enroll with Job Corps in Harper’s Ferry. He finished the program in just four months, graduating and earning his GED, a Painter’s Certification, and a completion price of $1,200.00. This, however, was not enough: once again, the streets kept calling and he was pulled right back as if he left something. Soon the thought of getting out of the street started weighing on him, and he enrolled in the University of Phoenix, majoring in Criminal Justice in hopes of pursuing his dream of becoming a Forensic Scientist that same year.
Like most people in the streets, he didn’t get out fast enough. On December 18, 2007, Marquis was charged with Criminal Homicide. Incarcerated a week prior to Christmas, recently welcoming a newborn baby, and facing a life sentence, all odds were stacked against him. Marquis was convicted and sentenced years later to 7.5 to 15 years in State prison.
Serving ten years of a fifteen year maximum sentence, the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole finally allowed him to go home. Fortunate, blessed and destined to win, Marquis worked the system and learned everything he could while behind the wall. Programs, books and consistent deep thought transformed his perspective. He wrote several books and planned to succeed upon reentering society.
In May 2017, Marquis was released from SCI Camp Hill to Kintock Halfway house in Philadelphia. His first step into reentering society was rough: he lived among men who were free from prison but locked up mentally. Drugs, lack of priorities, no motivation and excuses flooded the dormitories and the minds of most of the men in the facility.
Finding a job within his first week and a half out of prison at McDonald’s was his first stepping stone. Since being out of prison Marquis had the” fail forward fast” mentality. After being released from prison he had at least twenty jobs, and realized a valuable lesson that he reveals in his next book: “Set Sail After Leaving Jail – How to survive the 9 to 5 grind” (projected to be released in 2019).
Marquis decided to move himself up and went back to school to get his CDL to drive tractor trailers. This new opportunity started out well, but the hours in relation to the pay didn’t add up. Long hours and a burning desire to live the dream was not the best concoction.
Marquis realized that without risk there would be no reward, so he quit his job and started his own businesses: 1 Titan Realty Group, LLC. and Living the Dream Consulting, LLC.: a real estate investing company and a mentorship company working with at risk youth and reentry individuals. He also has self published his books here: “99 Other Ways: To Say I Love You To Your Woman” and “Hope, Encouragement and Light for: Friends, Families, and Supporters of The Incarcerated and The Incarcerated Themselves”.
The sky is the limit and Marquis is living his dream of being a entrepreneur, helping those in need and giving back to the community.