Mark Pierce Thriving in Prison, His Mother Says


Life doesn’t slow down for anybody and this autumn, much to my concern, it has actually seemed to speed up. For months, my wife essentially worked another full-time job studying for her medical board exams. At the same time, she and I have been discussing job offers she received to start her career as a pediatrician. AND we have a very active 14-month-old daughter.

Still, I sometimes think about an article I wrote in August about former Razorback football star Mark Pierce, who has been serving a 15-year prison sentence for a 2008 drunk-driving accident that killed another man. In the article, I had to rely on news accounts to string together Mark’s story (no phone interviews were allowed.) I wasn’t able to make the trip in person to his east Texas max security prison, and I wasn’t about to break out some pen and parchment.

So I filed the story with Sporting Life Arkansas, some people read it and thankfully liked it, but still I knew nothing more about Mark’s fate than what I had found through Google. Until late September, when this email – from Mark’s mother – arrived:

Mr. Demirel,

Thank you for article you wrote about Mark. As a mother it was extremely difficult to see his life once again all over the net but the article was honest and sincere. I wanted to let you know, Mark is doing very well at the Beto Unit. The accident changed Marks life. He never thought anything like that could ever happen to him.

Mark had turned his life around. He had a great job that he loved with International Paper in Vicksburg, Mississippi, bought a home, fell in love and got married May 23, 2007. On May 9, 2008 he had a baby boy. He came home for Christmas where he went golfing with his brother and uncle. He had too much to drink and left the golf course and had a tragic accident.

Mark refused to have a trial. He said he was guilty, pled guilty and expected to take his punishment. He’s been in the Beto Unit for the past 3 years and done very well. December 2012 he received a Paralegal Certification from the U.S. Career Institute with a grade of 98%. February 2013 he received his certification in Electronics Technology from Trinity Valley Community College with a 4.0. In December 2013 he will graduate with his Associates in Business- Management from Trinity Valley Community College and has maintained a 4.0 and is on the President’s Honor List.

He will be transferring to the Hughes Unit outside of Waco, TX at the end of the year to continue his education working on his Bachelor of Science in Business Management. I pray that he will use what has happened to him to help others from making the same mistakes he’s made. His first choice for his future was to pursue an education in Psychology and become a Youth Counselor. Unfortunately, that degree program is only offered in Houston, Texas and I didn’t want him to be that far away.

Mark’s mother, Debra, goes on to tell me how to contact Mark – his snail mail address and a new cyber method, but I haven’t written him yet. If I did, I would ask him if he even likes football anymore, who his mentors are and if he plans to have anything to do with the Razorback program when he gets out. It’s obvious that he’s been able to succeed in a very regimented culture, but how does he plan to keep that kind of structure when one day he walks free again?  Perhaps assimilating into society after spending years in prison is as big of a shock and challenge as entering prison in the first place.

I won’t ask Mark these questions now. I have to prepare for a 5-day trip to Houston and next week have a few pressing deadlines to meet and, then, the holidays…  But, one day, when life again speeds up for him, and speeds down for me, perhaps I’ll finally be able to interview him.

Until then, best of luck, Mark Pierce. Know there are many Arkansans rooting for you.

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  1. Mark is not the same man that walked into that prison. It has changed him and in his case I believe for the better. I see no need in continuously writing articles about the mistakes that he made in the past. Can you imagine if people just started writing about all of your mistakes?? He is a good man and always for the underdog, but he had an accident. How many people do you know that have gone out for happy hour or to play golf and had some drinks and then got behind the wheel?? It could happen to ANYONE!! He has made many efforts to prove himself while incarcerated and I have no doubts he will be a functioning part of society when he gets out and not instatutionalized like many others that have been locked up for many years. He has a determination like no other person I have ever met and I know he will do good things upon his return to the free world. Personally, I think that time would be better suited for all to teach themselves a little more about what actually happens in the prison system and how they are treated and the effects it has on society when most are released. Most of those guys locked up are not trying to improve themselves except to try and perfect their crimes and that is why we have so many repeat offenders and another victim. It is a shame but I am thankful everyday that Mark wants better for himself and his family.

  2. It has now been six years since Mark Charles Pierce’s mistake cost my brother his life. While he maybe learning from his mistake, my brothers widow and kids will never recover from it. My nephews and niece can no longer remember their dad and are without a male influence in their life as a result of this mistake. Do not attempt to minimize or trivalize this mistake, for the consequences have been far too great.

    Mark Charles peirce, while on probation for possession of illegal substances, drank an inordinate amount of alcohol on the golf course, drank more in the bar afterwards and then decided to drive home. A decision that cost my brother his life.

    After the collision MCP didn’t own up to the crash, instead he called his family who picked him up nearby and tried to hide him from the police. His families enabling continued throughout the whole ordeal, including letting him escape fully own up to the facts surrounding the accident. From reading articles on the Internet it appears that This family trait has repeated itself many times over throughout the years and was a substantial reason for my brothers death.

    Why continue to write about this story? Maybe the consequences are to great not to?

  3. I’m sorry to hear about your brother’s death. I do not pretend to know all sides of this tragedy. I am only reporting and commenting on what I see in newspaper articles, through e-mails, etc. I write about Pierce for two reasons – 1) As a former Razorback star, major events in his life are often newsworthy and 2) I hope his story – and the circumstances around it – prevent future tragedies.

  4. Evan I was a good friend of marks I worked with him at ip me and the guys have been trying to find him for several months if not years if you could please contact me I would gratefully appreciate it…

  5. In high school, he was the god, the best player a dismal school could offer. He was a real jerk in high school, and a bully. He got away with it because he was a ‘football hero’. If he had been held accountable then for his aggression and self entitlement, maybe 3 children would still have their dad.

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