February 19, 2018 – Bill Kubota, Detroit Public Television’s One Detroit
Mario Bueno, age 39, meets with a parole at diner in Roseville, a suburb north of Detroit.
“I was in sixteen different prisons. I was kicked out of nine of them. You feel me?” Mario said, “When I got locked up I was robbing and hurting drug dealers.”
At age 16, Bueno did more than hurt one drug dealer. He killed one.
After almost two decades behind bars, he was paroled. Now he helps lead his non-profit called LUCK, Inc., which started three-and-a-half years ago.
At the diner, Bueno will help his new client find financial so he can continue college and hopefully, a job.
Detroit-based LUCK stands for Learning Under Correct Knowledge, helping returning citizens, those newly released from prison.
It was co-founded by Bueno, Rick Speck and Camron Colts, all who served time together at the Jackson Cooper Street Correctional Facility.
The three had worked together to train themselves, then other prisoners as part of a conflict resolution program.
Driven to succeed, they took the program far beyond expectations.
Colts served six years for armed robbery. He said, “We understood the model we created on the inside would be truly beneficial on the outside.”
Getting LUCK started, their former deputy warden wrote a letter of support.
LUCK now totals eight men who are all returning citizens, which is different than many other service providers.
“You cannot lead someone from somewhere you yourself have not travelled,” Bueno said.
Bueno and the others are on-call at all times, helping returning citizens, and still, sometimes themselves as they continue to adjust to their new lives outside.
They’ve landed several contracts with other service providers.
Now they’re just starting a new project with SER Metro-Detroit to work with hundreds more returning citizens, providing life coaching and job placement services.
Speck said he’s discovered he needs to do this work. “We’re not trying to save the world,” he often says, “We’re trying to save ourselves.”
See more in this segment that aired on hosted by Christy McDonald, produced by One Detroit’s Bill Kubota and Will Glover as part of , an ongoing public media reporting initiative with funding by the and the