Sunday, July 31, 2005

Making sure ex-prisoners can find employment

In theory, prisons deter people who've committed past crimes from committing more of them. The harsh reality of incarceration, the idea goes, gives them an incentive not to commit more crimes once they get back to the free world. Unfortunately, if ex-offenders can't get jobs, housing, or re-integrate into society once they are released, they're pretty likely to return to a life of crime.

CrimProf blog I found this fine article by John Rakis from the June 2005 Federal Probationer, showing how barriers to employment, in particular, contribute to recidivism. I thought his recommendations were dead on:
1. Criminal justice agencies should provide a continuum of employment-related services to offenders from admission into prison through their release into the community. ...

2. Parole agencies should measure the employment rate of persons under their supervision and report these rates on a quarterly basis. ...

3. State agencies should use the employment rates of the persons under their supervision as an indicator for measuring the performance of parole officers. ...

4. A universally accepted definition of recidivism should be adopted by state criminal justice agencies and used to benchmark the effectiveness of their efforts. The executive and legislative branches of government should set goals for the reduction of recidivism and hold agency heads accountable for achieving those objectives.
Holding parole officers and agency heads accountable for parolees' employment and recidivism rates is a great idea. The same notion could be implemented for those on probation, too. If offenders can't get a job, that's not just their problem, or their family's, but a problem for all of us because, in the end, they're likely to commit more crimes just to purchase groceries and pay rent. Ensuring that doesn't happen is as important -- maybe more so -- than making more arrests.

Meanwhile, the Austin Re-Entry Roundtable -- a collaboration of government and non-profit agencies banded together to help prisoners reintegrate into society after incarceration -- came out last month with it's own plan (pdf) for improving offenders' employment options. Most of it's still in the earliest stages, but the group intends to:
  • Survey local employers and nonprofits to recruit potential employers for felons.
  • Help offenders receive educational opportunities while incarcerated, especially GED programs.
  • Look into giving offenders limited access to the Internet, ,job fairs and other venues to look for work before they're actually released.
  • Determine feasibility of offering an in-prison work program at the Travis State Jail.
  • Research best practices to identify new ideas for boosting employment.
Other portions of their plan deal with housing, drug treatment, and other barriers to success facing offenders leaving the prison system.

What happens to ex-prisoners when they're released -- particularly whether they're able to secure a job and housing -- should be the criminal justice system's most critical concern. After all, that's where the real public safety benefit comes, in theory -- from causing offenders to change their behavior after they've finished their punishment. The system has broken down, though, and nobody's making sure these folks can find employment or even have someplace to stay. Under those circumstances, a return to crime is as predictable as the eastern sunrise.

The system would work a lot better if, following the recommendations from Federal Probationer, Texas parole officers and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice were formally held accountable for their charges' employment status. Maybe in 2007 the Legislature can be convinced to adopt such a measure.

See also: Ex-offenders optimism crushed by state indifference


Anonymous said...

Those are all really good ideas. However, you really cannot prevent someone from committing another crime without gross infringement upon civil liberties which affects us all. The best you can do is offer these incentives to do so. Unfortunately too many consider crime a career.

One must ask why people commit crimes.

One answer: Many don’t want to do the job of work necessary to get what they want and are willing to risk going to prison for a short time because that is easier than doing that work.

Solution. Make the prison stay more odious than the work would have been.

One application: Reduce sentence time drastically for the first time offenders. While doing their time, they would be required to put in 8-preferably 10 hours a day (how about equal to the average work day of the American worker.) of BACKBREAKING and MONOTONOUS work. For instance. In one navy brig (obviously in an earlier time), inmates were required to carry heavy anchor chain from one side of the yard to the other. And then carry it back. And carry it back. And carry it back. That works for me. For those physically unable to work, let them sit at a table taking pegs out of one board and putting them in another, and then back, and then back etc.

So if they do this for their term, and had no access to TV or weight training stuff and the other things that inmates do to fill their time, many would think it easier to go to work than have to do another bit of time, especially if they know that repeat offenders get triple or thereabouts the time of first timers. With help to find employment most of these people could be returned to useful society.

For the repeat offenders, treat them like the incorrigibles they are and let them do the time doing the meaningless work for long sentences.

This may not the perfect solution, or the only solution, but it is a hell of a lot better than current practice. As for rehabilitation, I think we have proven sufficiently that particular option doesn’t work except in rare cases. This would at least solve some of the crowded prison problem.

Anonymous said...

Whoever wrote the 1st comment either does not have a clue about what they are speaking of or are he/she is simply trying to start a debate. I want to believe it is the latter.

Specifically in questioning why people commit crimes. Yes, one answer is that some (a very small fraction of the whole) commit crimes because they "don't want to do the job of work..." Although, statistically, a majority of those who commit crimes of theft, burglary etc. do so because they cannot find work or are not making enough to provide the basics that most of us take for granted. Can anyone say minimum wage? Until all people in the U.S. have the ability to make enough to pay the bills, support a family and save a little in the bank there will be no reduction in crime. We all have our opinions, but the facts are the facts. If those who have committed crimes can become president of the U.S. then they must also be allowed to get on with their lives after serving their time. This is not a simple issue.

My suggestion (again an opinion) is:

1) Stop making everything illegal. The incessant legislation of everything has to stop. It was once said that a society is defined by the number of people in its jails/prisons. Did you know that more than 60% of all Federal prisoners are drug offenders!?! The war on drugs is the perfect example of how legislation has created a blanket problem that affects us all. My tax dollars are spent on this? Let it go, if people want to do drugs, then make them legal. Regulate, create new job markets; add to our economic growth. Oh, I am sure some of you have been led to believe that drugs are the source of revenue to terrorists. You believe the Easter bunny is real too I am sure. Guess what? Drug companies are making a profit off of drugs, the U.S. government profits from the drug trade as do many other “legitimate” groups world wide.

2) If a crime has been committed and the person has done their time...let them go, no strings attached. Why are we striping the rights of offenders? There are of course some universal exceptions for instance sex offenders, murderers...those who have committed violent crimes. These people should be tracked...but let them serve their time and get on with life. For those of you who disagree get a life and a clue. How can anyone re-enter normal life if they are forever labeled, disenfranchised and not allowed to make a comfortable living and doing something other than flipping burgers?

3) Stop being hypocrites. We love to point the finger, tell on each other and judge others at every turn. Yet we can't stand it if other people do that to us...then we sue. All of us have broken the law AT LEAST ONCE in our lives. Probably more than once and have gotten away with it. Well guess what? People in prison or those who have been convicted of an offense are the ones WHO GOT CAUGHT.

I know there are those who might read this and scoff, argue or decry it as false. Get over yourself and join the human race. We all have issues, we all need to help each other out and we all need to learn more empathy and compassion.

Big Dave said...

Hope this gets thru. I got convicted in 76 of marijana possesion. I cannot be a nurse, pharacist, over the road trucker for a majority of companies,or drive a school bus. Work in a bank, security gaurd, plumber in a neuclear site or really anything that pays well. Brother there is NO forgivness in thier hearts or minds. I am 54 next month and still can not find steady work. I have seen the man that is hungry swallow his pride to reach for help only to be told you do not fit our criteria. I have been him. I still can not take my boys hunting. I can't be pardoned or adjudicated. Here it is Christmas and no dough. I am one of the very few that can say que sera, sera. It is not that the temptaion is not there. What little I have I do not want to lose. So in closing you are right about people need help. After twenty plus years there has been nothing done. good fortune to you in your quest. Hope you can make a differance in at least one life. Truth & Mercy, Big Dave

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Merry Christmas, Big Dave. Good luck, and thanks for sharing your story.

Anonymous said...

The truth be told...there are many good people that are wrongly convicted of crimes. Just check out the Justice Project web site and you can see for yourself just how many innocent people are placed in prison and even when they are proven innocent and released...they experience hard times. The society that we live in just don't forgive or forget and even when a person has changed for the good...they continue to be punished! How can a man or woman get on with there life when they can't even find a decent job? The prison system (DOC) is not designed to help a person change for the good..instead... it is designed to create empty souls. The prison system is a business designed to make money. The way they do it is not to rehabilitate the inmates at all...but to keep them coming back! Society is there partner and make sure that anyone...even the innocent don't stand a chance in society. Don't get me wrong...there are some inmates that truly deserve to be inprisoned. However, there are many inmates that don't deserve to be punished the rest of their lives and even though they committed crimes in the past...they have realized their mistakes and desire to live the remainder of their life as a law abiding citizen obeying the law of the land. But our society make sure that they don't...employers/companies refuse to hire them...communities refuse to let them live in decent housing...the justice system plague them for the rest of their lives! I wonder what those that judge and hinder others now will say to GOD when they stand before him and he remind them of their sins? What would the judges, the court appointed attorney's, the PO's, the prison guards, the warden's of the prison, the HR personnel,the president's of the fortune 500 companies and many others in positions of power on earth want GOD to do about their sins? Would they want him to forgive them or say "NO" you are not welcome in heaven? I think that important question that we all should ponder in our hearts, mind, and soul!!! Forgiveness is an important part of the human spirit and all of us should remember that we too need and want forgiveness for our sins!!!

Anonymous said...

I also was convicted of joyriding when i was 17--but since it was in texas, i was considered an adult and so now im an ex-felon. Ive since gone on to graduate w/a 3.6 for bachelors, scholarship to law school. Graduated..and its been 5 years out of law school--14 years since my crime...and to this day, i still have major problems. Cant rent a simple apartment in my name....and i go through the catch-22 for jobs. If i lie on the application, i get the job until they find out..if i tell the truth, i dont get the job. I have NEVER gotten a job by telling the truth. EVER. Even when jobs find out about my history I always ask if i would have gotten hired if they knew the truth. Everyone has said no.
To me, and reading other blogs, stories etc...I can see this lifetime sentence creates animosity towards "the system" or "society"---which leads to lacking guilt participating in crimes.

Anonymous said...

Coming from a different perspective...I am the wife of a sex offender. He committed a crime 24 years ago and has served his time. He is now 45 years old, is a hard worker and a dedicated husband and father. However, his morale and self esteem are low, as he just completed school to become an over the road truck driver, but cannot find employment due to his felony background. I, am a professional woman with a college degree and cannot understand how society expects ex-offenders to be productive citizens in life when they have every strike against them. When people meet my husband, they automatically are drawn to his honest and giving personality, but on paper, he is not given a chance. I understand that there may be fear due to the crime that was committed, but we must get past stereotypes and allow those who want to succeed and give back to society the opportunity to do so.

Anonymous said...

I live with my fiance for 6 months now, again today we are trying to figure out how to pay the rest of our rent.. He is a mechanic and due to the rain he has not worked for two weeks...he worked the first two months at this job for free just to get his foot in the door. Because he is a felon noone will hire him his parol agent is no help and really doesnt care. I feel resentful for supporting a strong intellignet man with a masters degree and I can make three times the money he does and I didnt even graduate... what is up people ?????

Anonymous said...

I was convicted of doing something stupid. I accept that fact. I also did my time. I paid my restitution. I did everything right. I have gotten lucky with 3 jobs not checking. Granted 2 of them fired me when they found out. The last went out of business. In the last 7 years those are my only 3 jobs I have had. Even fast food checks now.

I begged for a job in my last interview. If I wasn't good with the money I did make and the money I make on odd jobs I wouldn't be living. I have only gone to the ER once in the past 7 years. I won't go unless I must as there are only 4 different hospitals here. I can not afford the insurance nor the bill. The 1 I have been to won't accept me again so I have 3 left I can go to. What do I do when those 3 are also hounding me for payment? Cutting someones grass doesn't pay much. Painting a house pays very little. Illegal Imigrants take more money from me than anyone would believe. I get fewer job offers than they do.

Why do we as a country give more to Imigrants as a whole than we do those who have made a mistake?

Anonymous said...

You know why this is happening? Because we are letting 'them' get away with it by ALLOWING them to call us second class citizens. We have voting rights. It's time to unite and force candidates running for office to appeal to the convict population about what THEY are going to do to make this situation better. ALL CANDIDATES MUST BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE.

Anonymous said...

It's time for a CONVICTED FELON VOTING PLATFORM AND ALL THE WAY TO THE PRESIDENCY OF THE UNITED STATES. They got us in the wallet, so now we get them in theirs. If they don't work to better our quality of life, then they can lose theirs!! They will be voted out of office!! Just watch how fast things change once we UNITE. There is power in numbers. Coretta Scott King was going to make this a reality and now she's gone. There must be someone to take up this torch and we just need to find this person.

Anonymous said...

Thinking on this, we can start on an individual basis. We can write our congresspeople. Ask them what have they done to improve the quality of life for convicted persons and the difficulty in getting gainful employment and then let this candidate know that you will be making an informed decision about voting for them based on their response and that you will forward this response to other convicted felons because you want to UNITE. You will either get no answer, the standard yadda letter or someone is going to really think about it and make a statement. Hang onto it and then forward this statement to other candidates asking the same questions. Make them ACCOUNTABLE to not only us, but EACH OTHER.

Anonymous said...

THIS WILL WORK! Get busy with your pens and computers! Start writing! And don't stop until you see CHANGE!


Anonymous said...

Hi. I put this together in an effort to change this. Please go to Google and search for CONVICTED FELONS UNITE groups. There are three. One is for PARDON BY JURY, the second is to demand a candidate voting platform and the third is for a REFORMED FELON REGISTRY where the offense would read 'reformed felon registered' instead of the actual offense and after the former felon has submitted to certain positive criteria.

GO AND JOIN. This has to change!

T said...

My fiance is a convicted felon. He commited his crime when he was 20 years old. Nothing major. But major enough for this country. Before him I have dated and lived with several "nice" model citizens who have either cheated on me, attempted to assault me and one destroyed me financialy. My fiance is a better man than any of them. Honest, loyal, loving, compassionate and everyone loves him. But because of his mistake we are going to leave United States soon and start over in another country. He cannot find any jobs. Even a gas station fired him. He is depressed and does not want me to be the only bread winner because he wants to be able to take care of his family. He has not commited any other crimes. Never will. But we are both struggling financialy, we cannot afford a child etc. That's a shame. We will not struggle anymore like this because I just don't think anything will change anytime soon. I am 30 years old now and I cannot wait till I am 80 years old for him to find a job so we can have kids. Laws in our country suck. So I am going somewhere else. I am a college educated woman and I never had problems with our "law". But if I was forced to live on min. wage I WOULD for sure sell drugs or do something else to pay my bills. Who can live on $5.15??? R u kidding? I hope things change and wish all convicted felons who are trying to change their ways good luck.

Anonymous said...

I am very concern about ex-cons
can't find a job, or given a
chance to prove them selves.
I have a daughter she served
time for drugs, now that she
is out, every place she has
applied refused her because
of her prison record. How can she
redeem herself, if society won't
help. I pray for a break through
for this serious problem.

viviana said...

Because i am a ex-con i have a few things to say about the subject. I was convicted of a crime in 1994. Got 20yrs sentence that has ruined my life and those of my children. To this date i still have a very difficult time in keeping a job. Not because i am not educated but because, i never say i had been convicted. Of course, i don't tell my parole officer i am working, she said i had to inform my employer of my conviction if i do so i would never get the job! and sadly that's the way it is.
I don't think the problem with ex-con is their conviction, actually is the enability of being integrate it to society. While in prison it really got my attention that most people in prison would never have the opportunity of being rehabilitated for the simple fact that they had never been abilitated to be part of a society. And everything comes down to the early years of that person and the role of everyone involved with that child. The subject is more complicated that anyone can think.
I have been 9yrs on parole and i have not been in trouble since then. Want to say that, is my first time in trouble with the law and i got 20yrs sentence, and that's what really mess up my life!
Today i had a very bad day. Last week i applied in a company, i got the job, they send me to have a drug test, which i don't have a problem with but, when they mention that they will do a background check on me my soul and heart died in that moment. Left the place and came home crying, completly lost and helpless. They call me from the company couldn't bring my self to talk on the phone. The manager of the company was really nice in the interview, i was recommended to the job by a friend that work for that company. I'been really miserable because i felt that i had let down my friend by not doing the right thing. Finally, i got out and call the manager and ask to talk to him, i apologized for my behavior and explained my self. Although, he said that i had blown my chances of employment for not telling him at the begining, i feel much better that i could take my self into the office and apologize.
I am still lost and helpless

Anonymous said...

My husband is a convicted fellon from Texas. Texas has this program called Project RIO to help ex-cons get jobs. But the catch is you have to be on parole or probation. When my husband finished his time he was not put on parole or probation and he was told there was no help for him. But thanks to Bush even if they wanted to help they could not because of lack of funding they can only help those on parole for the first year. He finished his time in 2000. He has been out of work for the last 2 years. I make only make $10.00 an hr Which might seem like a lot to most people but when that is the only income for 2 people it is not. We lost our haouse and have had to move to the geto just to be able to afford a piece of crap place to live. And every day my husband just gets more and more depressed. Because he can't find work and what little jobs he gets last for a few days here and there. The laws suck and need to be changed. We talk about moving but where can we go that we won't run into the same problems. He has even considered acting like all the illegal immergrants and getting fake id's with a clean background so he can get a job, but he is torn because he knows it is a crime and he promised GOD while he was in prison he would never commit another crime. But look where society is leading him, to break his promise to GOD.

Anonymous said...

Living the same nightmare as some others that have posted....convicted of a felony (theft) of a former employer (learning that a betrayal of trust is probably as unforgivable as murder in some people's eyes). Payed back 20k (which pushed me to the brink of bankruptcy) in restitution, on probation for 5 years but released after 1 year since the amount that was taken was paid back. Had to start my own business since employment in my chosen profession was next to impossible, i've built up an ok business in the last 3 years, but still only making about 13k a year. Hopefully I can get the felony expunged in 2 years, however that costs anywhere from 1500 to 2k to process the paperwork and there's still the problem of the previous employer, who was paid back 100% but still has a vendetta and tells any future employer exactly what happened. Good luck to all ex-felons, you'll need it and probably a good measure of divine intervention to get beyond your past mistakes.

DayC said...

The reality? Doing the time means the rest of your life. My brother was recently released with a multiple-felony record. He can't get a job being honest. He is living in his car because nobody will rent to him. I am not in a position to assist, and our parents are deceased. Who will help him? He breaks the law being homeless and lving in his vehicle in most cities. He can't RENT a place, because of his record. Tell me, how do I help him?

Anonymous said...

In 1993 I was newly married to my college sweetheart, she was from Japan and couldnt work in the states yet. I looked and looked for work and was unsucessful until I came across an abatement ment company who trained and hired me. I went from $10.00 an hour $20.00 in about six months and words couldnt express the satisfaction of providing for my family in this way.

Shortly after my pay raise the owner was found guilty of a tax crime and had to go to prison for a short stay and another company took over. They fired everyone in the company except for me and I was very surprised at this because I was the only black at my company? Well it was discovered that my new boss like to "party" and I was approached by him and he asked if I knew the streets and could supply him some "party gifts" cocain! I said no I didnt know anything about that and his reply was too bad because we dont have much work going on and he would have to lay me off!

Now if I could take care of him then I would be one that they would keep. I went from $20.00hr to nothing and my wife and I began to suffer again after some time of being laid off. I knew plenty of people who I could get drugs from, it was just an everyday part of life were I grew up. So I began to supply him with drugs and I got my job back making good money and I made a profit on the sale of the drugs which was much more money than the $20.00 an hour.

I didnt know it then but I had just sold my soul to the devil, what once use to be scary was done in a breeze and then the addiction started, my boss was addicted to coke and I was addicted to the money and my new found lifestyle. I had become the man on construction sites and I even bought investment property and started a small Limo service with one limo and one party bus here in St. Louis. To make a long story short I was kicked in by the DEA in 2000 and lost everything at once. My wife, my home, business and since then I have struggled to make things come together. I jumped through all the hoops the goverment wanted me too and when I was done there was no comfort for me, it seems so hopless. Well Im feeling sad again I know I made some bad choices but I wish I could be forgave and live a decent life. good luck to all.

Anonymous said...

I sit here at 1:23am reading all the sad stories about those of you that have been convicted felons. No, I have not served any time but have four very smart, bright and energectic nephews that are convicted felons. I want to start a business called, Second Chance, because I do feel something needs to be done. The nephew that has served his time because he was a drug addict is out, and trying hard to gain employment and keep hitting a brick wall. When he applies for a job and tells the truth, his application is denied. When he lies, gets hired, they do a background check, he gets fired. I'm really afraid that he will go back on the streets because how many no's can one person take. Our family has much faith and we keep telling him things will change. I pray to God that he helps me with my vision to start, my business SECOND CHANCE. I do see the pain that this has caused my family and I want to make a difference. Please each of you keep the faith and I will pray for your second chance. A friend in VA!

Anonymous said...

I am a convicted felon from 2004. I served my time and moved back to houston. upon returning to houston i could not find employment even with Project-RIO. So i moved down to corpus. i had a job for 3 weeks and had to quit (was asked to resign due to not being able to go to work) due to my health-i had barely started getting over pneumonia when i was hired and worked in a fuckin cooler!!! i re-applied and never heard from them and was told that it could take up to 3 weeks before anything might happen. so i went and found another job thanks to the rio worker down here. i lost that job 8 days later because of public transportation i was late 3 times-though i honestly believe it was because i didnt work like an immigrant; which is what was mostly on the landscaping crew. ever since i have been looking and looking and have been told numerous times because of my felony i could not work there. i even re-applied at the "House of Pain" (if your from corpus, u know what that is) which was my 1st job down here. i am now on the streets because my so called "friends" felt that i couldnt do anything with myself because of my felony. i turned to my rio worker and she basically told me that i would not be able to get a job unless i got my DL-which i cant due because i dont know any one that has a car and insurance in their name. i tried TRC when i got out of TYC back in 2002 and am going to try again. maybe this time i will get lucky. i cant get a job where i want and the jobs i get i cant maintain because of one thing or another. i have been looking for any type of grants that might be able to help me in my position but have found nothing but bullshit ads and links to more bullshit. i was born and raised in texas and can honestly say "I FUCKING HATE TEXAS!!!" any republican state will fuck you if your a convicted felon-regardless of your felony!!!

Anonymous said...

I plead guilty to a white collar crime, (conspiracy to commit bank fraud) in Oct 2006, for a judgmental error I made while working with "the devil" in the late 90's. I am a well educated woman who can't find a job to save my soul. The sad thing is that the people who keep denying me employment due to my background are probably the biggest felons around, they just have not been caught yet. Something certainly has to change within our system. Probation office is no help whatsoever. They had never heard of the term "felon friendly" employers. I have been unable to find work since the indictment was handed down - and its not like I am not looking outside my comfort zone. The government needs to give some REAL incentives to employers who are willing to give a felon a second chance. Although I have not been sentenced yet, I may as well be sitting in prison. There definitely needs to be reform in our criminal justice system. I feel for all the felons out there who are struggling to find employment. It sucks. SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE DONE!!

Anonymous said...

I am not a convicted felon yet but I will be one in a matter of months, as I have pled guilty to a felony. No drugs, no victims, or malice at all. I am a computer programmer and I am used to a pretty decent life style. Your stories make me sad but I have to keep faith that GOD will see me through. Even though I know your stories are true and I must deal with reality that life will be tough once the judge pronounces sentence. GOD bless all of you and please keep fighting to see change in Texas as well as America to give real Americans a second chance.

Forest said...

I was convicted of felony menacing in 2004. I did a year in prison and another year at a half-way house. It was difficult but I found a good job. After a few months I found a dream job that pays 60k a year. You just have to plug yourself into the right area, trust in God, and never complain. Just to be out of prison - is heaven everyday.

Anonymous said...

I find it amazing that in the the state of Texas people are not more sensitive to the needs of individuals who have made mistakes in there life, I had a good job however I was laid off in December of 2006 and because of a past mistake in the year 2000 which was only a misedeanor I am having trouble finding employment. I have went on several interviews and always interviewed well but the background gets me everytime, yes it very disheartening, somehow someway we all need to unite inorder to facilitate change, because the reality of it is I know that I have change my life for the better and I truly believe that a lot of ex-felons have change for the better as well, employers should be able to see that if a man or woman has not been in trouble for several years, that should speak volumes about there character and desire to be law abiding citizens, if a man or woman can not work then what are they to do??? Everybody in the world has flaws, I hope God is more forgiving than man...

alabama g said...

I am a 44 year old African American male who is now looking for work, society dictates already that blacks have to be three times as better as our counterparts(Anglo's) just to be recognized in the work world anyway unless we are shooting hoops, singing, running or hitting a ball then a second chance for me is becoming more and more remote. I have been to well over 20 interviews told the truth about my past when ask however as one blogger indicated when you tell the truth you have just hunged yourself. Therefore is the truth overrated??? Rejection hurts a lot especially when you are truly trying to change for the better, however a man does a need to work to have a sense of esteem and belonging. I can understand why some people just give up and go back to crime however due to my faith in God, I continue to perservere and hopefully soon I will run across that understanding employer. You know what is really sad is that when you ask the job counselors to give you a list of companies that will have hire people with special barriers to employment they have told me that information is private, what a joke huh???

Anonymous said...

My sisters...I was convicted of felony menacing in 2004. I hear you all. I agree, however ---> Society doesn't "expect" us to rebuild ourselves. Society could care less about us. Do you think that people really give-a-*CENSORED* that some ex-convict can't get a job? The truth is, a felon is just one less person they have to compete with. If it were up to the majority of society, we'd simply be shot dead. That's the truth. Society does not want the tremendous hassle of having to deal with a bunch of "filthy-felons." We make those who have not been in trouble with the law feel better about themselves.

I tell you all, I am a very possitive person, but this is reality.

Anonymous said...

I am a mother of a felon. My son had in his posession 1 tape of child pron. It was a sting operation and the government traped him into the purchase. That's another story.

If you think that being a felon spells doom, you should try being a felon labled as a sex offender. He is not a prevert and not a real sex offender. He has never touched a child. But that label will follow him the rest of his life.

He did his time and it broke my heart to leave him at the prison. The happest day in my life was when he came out. While he was in prison, I discovered that the guards that process family members for vistation are more perverted than most wearing the label of "sex offender". Because his was a non contact crime, he only had to register for the 3 years of his probation. But the label of "sex offender" is a broad term. Whether you are contact or non-contact offender the protocal after probation might be different, but the background check shows "sex offender" regardless of the level of offense. He said that he was careful in prison to not state his crime, because he had heard that the other prisoners would make it very bad for him. It was a scary time for him and for our entire family. When he got out of prison, it took him about 5 years to feel somewhat normal again; EXCEPT FOR FINDING A JOB!

After spending 18 months with the humilation of prison, trying to find a job was even more humilating. The parole offer (who I might add was a dip shit) gave him no choice, if he didn't find work then the parole officer would report him as violating the terms of his probation and he would be sent back to prison. Within a few days of being home, he hit all the resturants looking for a cook's job and finally found a chain that was willing to sit down and talk to him.

He has been out for 6 years now and he still is with the same company cooking and that's all he will ever be able to do for the rest of his life.

He only makes $12/hr but he has benefits and everyone there likes him. He had to be honest up front. He knew that resturants need and have a hard time keeping cooks. He leveraged that he had to stay employed for 3 years and if they would hire him, they would know that for 3 years they would never have to worry about finding a cook. He got the job.

I had a friend who as a "handy man" and occassionaly he ask my son to help me and he would give him a little cash. After 3 years he had enough money to put a downpayment on a house. That went through without issue, but the real-estate sales man might have helped to push that through.

I think he'll make it. He takes in friends every now and then who find themselves needing housing and they give hima little cash and that helps, but it's not a frequent occurance. His income is pitiful and the work is hard. It doesn't compare to what a real job would pay, but he is glad to have it.

How in this world does a person make it after prison if their family were not there to house them and help them adjust back into society?

I think the primary problem is the minimum sentencing guide lines. Too many people are going to prison in this country. It's a sad commentary that we are sending people to prison who are not really a threat to society. If we made drugs legal like alcohol, then the prison population would drop down by 50%. I have read about drug offenders in CA, who have 3 offenses and they sent to prison for the rest of their lives! The US legal and penal system are severely in need of an over haul.

I've said my piece and now I can go to bed. It's 3 a.m. I spend a lot of nights not sleeping because I worry about this "felon" thing.

Anonymous said...

wow, i'm going to court now in new jersey and i'm facing assualt charges with a weapon, which would most likely land me a felony charge. i just so happened upon this web-site plaining out my future just in case i do become a felon, and it's supprising there are so many stories i've read,that
say just about the same thing "when it comes to employment we are hopeless" i'm 29 years old i attend rutger college of camden and now after reading all you all blogs i'm second guessing will my time spent in school even be worth it. i can relate to "keep the faith" or "only time will tell" but the truth is from reading these blogs i'm pretty much up sh*ts creek with no paddle.i'm a finance major and i was looking at the sorry side of at least becoming a teacher, or the bright side of landing a half decent job in Atlantic city, i had a gut feeling securties(stocks, bonds, and mutal funds) were out of my potentail future. now i don't know if i wont to even return to class on tuesday, thanks for sharing all of your stories, it felt great to expressing my feelings and at the same time sad reading you alls. thanks again, good night.

Anonymous said...

I have done my time and I have gone on to finish collage, I got a minor in Spanish and a bachlors in English. I will finish my masters in Literature by December 2007. I am hopeful only because my brother and sister found good paying jobs in Ohio after they goet out. I am moving but I wiah you all good fortune. With my education i can atleast teach over seas.

Anonymous said...

I need prayer, this is my last hope. I don’t want to live anymore, I’m so ashamed, I cannot even look at my self in the mirror. I failed HIM, you know, GOD I mean I have failed HIM, and it feels as if HE has given up on me. I pray, and pray and HE does not answer, so what is my life without GOD? Exactly, a life not worth living. After my Mom died I had to take over where she left off. (keeping our small family together) I was 31 and a single mother of 2 (one boy one girl) my niece with her little one and her mom my older sister. I worked 2 jobs. (how did my mom ever do it?) I had a job working for this company as an extra on call person, once the company got bought out I was “laid off” (or actually just not called back into work) Funds were tight so I applied for food stamps. Well I eventually found a job; (a good 1) got off the assistance and moved on. Well several months after a representative from the state agency came by my house left information to give him a call. I did to my surprise I was being investigated for welfare fraud. Apparently I had lied on my application to the government when I answered “NO” to the 1st question “are you employed” I did not know that even though I was not going to work or receiving a pay check that the company still had me listed on their payroll. So in the eyes of the government I misrepresented my “status” (lied if you will) the state brought charges against me. Struggling, I found an affordable lawyer (who, as it turned out really did not care about my case) on the day of my trial (by judge) she advised me to just pay the money back, well lets see if I could just pay it back, I would not be having to go to trial I just could not afford it ($1800.00) so she got me 4 years probation, 400 hours community service, and a fine. I served my probation, performed my community service hours and paid my fine. That was 10 years ago. I thought that would be it and my life would get back to normal, not so at all. My attorney did not get me a “deferred judification” so am not able to file for expungement or to have my record sealed. Years went by some good, some not so good. I lost my job @ the company (I became very good at what I did) getting a job was hard, but I prayed every day asked GOD to bless me with a good job that had excellent benefits, in turn I would work hard and be a blessing to others. I did I worked hard, and life was good. In the mean time my niece had some problems, had to move back in with me, and my sister was laid off of her job. Soon after she was laid off she got really, really sick. Okay, now it’s time for me to be a blessing. Well I took on more that I could handle, getting these small loans with outrageous interest rates. To help her out, plus keep my bills paid. Things started spinning out of control, I could not handle the loans and keep up my bills, it got so bad it started to affect my bank account (oh yeah I worked where I banked) I stared to get warnings from my supervisor and the internal auditor. I could lose my job, my awesome job that GOD blessed me with. I ended up resigning, (so as not to have a termination on my record) lost my apartment, my car everything. Well needless to say I have not been successful with finding another job; no one will hire me as I am now considered to be a “FELON” when you go on an interview you are treated like the scum of the earth. I remember when this first happened I called the DA’s office to find out what my options were if I even had any, the young man I spoke to very rudely told me that I would never find work or a descent place to live in this country, and then he laughed. I let GOD down the good job he blessed me with I ruined it, I pray, but my prayers are unanswered, I don’t blame him, I am a failure, I failed HIM. I am so ashamed, my daughter is getting married, and I cannot even afford to help her out. I’m so depressed, I cry all of the time (every waking moment) I think about suicide every day, I even ask GOD to take me from this life, I don’t deserve it .

Gritsforbreakfast said...

To the last commenter, I'm so sorry! Please do not feel ashamed or embarrassed. Humility is a virtue. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. I know your family appreciates what you do for them, and that your daughter knows you love her and would do anything you could. Please don't harm yourself - the truth is we mean more to others than we know, and it would only hurt the ones you love. Good luck, and try to forgive yourself, because God has already done so. You'll be in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

I am a convicted felon, the felony : rape i refuse to explain anymore. in any case im a sex offender i have to register with authorities. i have been out and totally free for 4 years now, no problems other than work. in and out of jobs for this time period fighting to survive. im now going through truck driving school for a class A cdl and trying to find employment in the trucking industry, ive tried other job venues and the only thing available are low level heavy labor jobs, which i have two bulging discs. you do the math on that. sooo trucking industry/driving is about the only thing im good at that i enjoy and can do. with all that said, the only jobs available to any ex-felon are manual labor low paying crap jobs. anything that would allow a person to raise a family or even afford to have a relationship or live comfortably denies based on past criminal history. which IS discrimination!!! i said DISCRIMINATION! i dont believe society owes me anything, i have hurt society, so now society in turn hurts me. there are organizations that help ex-felons (and sex offenders as we are in the same boat) good luck finding them! google and google more eventually you will find one that can help. go through your church. ive heard that works as well. if not for family id be hung a long time ago!
Thank God for Family!
Thank God you are Alive!
Forgive those that persecute you!
And most importantly hand over your anger and frustrations to God and talk to your loved ones about whats going on! For those of you without hope you are already lost. Even though pain comes with Hope accept pain as part of your life and bear it with your head up. never let anyone who may persecute you see you with your head down. And pray to your higher power for the courage to change the things you can!
Now ive been turned down for about 8 trucking companies now, one is still pending which is considering hiring me. I still Hope! If they turn me down ill continue looking, ill hurt, ill despair, ill feel empty inside but still will continue on my path until i find the one company that will give me a chance! DO NOT GIVE UP! DO NOT QUIT! Hear my words and take them to heart! you cannot give up! a loser is not someone who fails, a loser is someone who doesnt try!
if anyone gets something out of this please pass it on to the next person who is suffering from persecution from things that have happened long ago in the past... all humans dont have the drive to keep another down, just remember that.

R said...

It's been difficult being labeled as a felon. So much judgment and fear in these so-called human beings who have lost their humanity. The claim of being religious and following the path of god im most cases is an egoic concept of what he truth really is.
I just got back from another job interview and was told very feverently that felons were not employed there.
It is hard to accept the unnacceptable. More than anything may we be in that place within that accepts the be-ing-ness of the reality that we as humans truly are. It's too bad that most humans don't realize that until the last breath.
the such-ness of life

Karen said...

I have a felony arrest, on probation(deferred adjudication) for another 1 1/2yrs. The charge was possession--drugs left by a roomates friend in my apartment, found by my daughter and the police called.I have over 25 years experience in Customer Service, Receptionist,and Data Entry and CAN NOT find a decent job!! I have been offered many jobs that pay over $14/hr but when they check my background, they take the offer of employment back.I would like to know what people like me, no convictions, are supposed to do?? I live in the Houston, TX area and have checked with my probation officer several times, local work force agencies, and applied at well over 500 companies---all to no avail! If anyone could help, PLEASE contact me at I am almost at my wits end and about to lose everything!

Anonymous said...

I think its unfair for me not to be able to obtain employment, low income housing, orsection 8 housing.iv paid my debt to society and yet im still paying. Iv wrote the President,the Mayor, the Govenor, and barack Obama all to NO avail. I feel that somthing needs to be done because that,s why these institutions become a revolving door for most people.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone heard about this new law passed 9.1.07 Texas Penal Code Article 42.12 Section 20? If so how does it work please email me and let me know @


Anonymous said...

I too have a felony conviction, only mine is Federal (received probation- no prison). Contrary to popular belief which holds that Federal crimes are somehow "worse crimes", my offense would be 100% expungable or pardonable had it been at the state level, but since it's Federal and the federal system is predicated on the 250 year old Justice ideal that is no longer practiced, my only option is a Presidential pardon, which almost never, ever happens.

A lot of folks who were convicted by the state have recourse for pardons, expungement, etc. Look into them. Me? I'm screwed. My college degree may as well be used as toilet paper. What used to be a bright future is now pretty dim not because I'm a bad person, but because I made a stupid mistake.

The people who suggest that total and complete social marginalization for life is a reasonable consequence for having marijuana when you were 20 years old are the sort of people who aren't even worth considering. Their opinions are so rigid- even when they're totally wrong- that there's no sense arguing with them.

Everyone else believes that people like us should be given second chances but they don't care enough to fight on our behalf, thus, we're a scant minority that is crapped on unfairly since we don't have the votes to make politicians listen (that, plus they're all afraid of a Willie Horton scenario, so it isn't like they'd advocate for us anyway)

People like us either commit suicide or reoffend to make a living, not because we want to, but because we have no other choice.

Anonymous said...

I was a manager for 6 years made 45k per year, I called in my own script. for ambien i got addicted to it. I have no prior record, I am doing very well on probation they are letting me off 2 yrs early but still, i work for 6.50 hr. as a hostess at a restarant, its all I can get even mc d's checks background! Ive been offered manager positions but once they ck my background it it over!!!!!!!!!! I am 28 and im so sick of living at home w/ my parents moved back when i got probation, my point is TEXAS sucks they wont give ppl chances, if they would just give me a chance they would like what they see. I have so many fines to pay for prob. and at 6.50 how do they expect u too? My PO is wonderfull and is working w/ me to see if the judge will drop half fees.Its depressing and its hard to stay positive.I have found that MOM and POP stores ,(localy owned) will not check background.I am determined to get a manager position if i have to start out low and work up. for ppl that cant find jobs i suggest restarant( spelling is bad) localy owned and gas stations that are also. temp. agency's will work w/ u. Mowing yards,car washes, oil field also. thanks for reading this it might help someone, I hope! GOOD luck to all and dont ever give up!!!!

Cianci said...

I believe that every person can change if they truly want to. I am a convicted felon and I have 2 more years on parole. I apply for any and every job that I want. Most of them I do not get...But somebody will see me for the person that I am and not the person that I used to be. As teenagers we all make stupid decisions. The difference between me and the people that don't have felonie's? ....They just didn't get caught. I will never stop and I will never give up. I love to work and I love doing the right thing. Who can fault me for that? And for anybody that reads this that is a convicted felon also--Don't let the state of Texas tell you who you are...BE WHO YOU WANT TO BE AND DONT LET ANYBODY STOP YOU. Like my best friend once told me "Shoot for the moon, and if you miss...You will still be a star!"

Anonymous said...

I am the wife of a convicted felon and i have seen first hand the struggles that he is going through trying to find a job. He is no longer the person that he was then but he is still paying the price. He a great father and husband that just wants to take care of his family but cant. We are now homeless because he cant get a job and when he does they let him go as soon as they find out that he is a felon. I am a full time student.....or trying to be....
I tried to log on to convicted felons unite but for some reason i cant get through.....if someone will let me know what to do or who to talk to i would love to help this fact i need to for the well being of my family. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

People, the "System" is doing this to A LOT of people; that way the illegals can move into the jobs you use to have but at min-wage and no benefits. The government has sold out the United States. What you do is get Pell Grants, Student Loans, Food Stamps; when you get out of school with your degree and can not get a job, you file for DEFERMENTS due to poverty hardship AND MAKE THE TAXPAYERS PAY!

Anonymous said...

id like to know if there are any programs in the huntsville alabama area,and if so what are the prerequisites.

Anonymous said...

I was convicted of robbery when i was 16 years old and spent the next 5 years of my life incarcerated for that monumentally stupid mistake.Basically growing up in prison changed my mentality in such a vast way that i feared i would become one of the 85% who get caught up in the system and never get out.Every single thing you learn to survive inside is exactly the mentality that will surely insure you are one of the 85%.Upon release you are supposed to just be able to pick up and continue as if you didn't just spend the last 5 years of your life becoming someone you don't recognize or even want to be anymore.Even solving simple problems elude you.Your method of problem solving has been either cunning or violence for so long it is extremely hard to reverse.And yet there are no programs to try to help us (filter) back into society.Why? If the government really expects rehabilitation these programs are a necessity.Allow these men and women a chance to reclaim their pride and dignity so they will become assets to the community.And remember without the ability to change we would ALL be doomed for failure.

Carlos Smith said...

I'm in the same boat as all of you. I was arrested for spanking my son while in the Army. Charged with child abuse and domestic violence. Happened in NY in Febraury 2008. I got kicked out the Army after giving them 7 yrs of my life, a felony on my record, and served 2 weeks in jail. Nice going huh?!! I'm 26... I had to move back in with my mom!!! Moved back to my home state of TX. Can't find work in Houston due to the fact that everybody does a background check. Maybe someone can answer this for me: What does getting arrested for spanking your child have to do with you working in a warehouse on the graveyard shift? I don't get it. When you get into trouble, you're constantly told to get a job, find gainful employment, stay out of trouble... whatever. Some people get a break and find a job that looks at what you can do, not what you've done. Nowadays, you're forever labeled a screw up and no employer wants to give you a second chance. But doesn't society tell you every day that you deserve a second chance?!! I still don't get it. Probably never will get it. I see why most people that get out of jail or prison go back to doing the same thing that got them there in the first place. You have to make money somehow. Every area needs a drug salesman it seems... You're supposed to learn from your mistakes. What can you learn from a society that constantly throws your record in your face every time you try to find work? What can you learn from a society that holds a grudge? A lot of felons commit suicide because they feel that the world has cast them off and given them the middle finger. I feel that pain. I suffer from PTSD from two tours in Iraq, depression and anxiety from bombs going off while there, and now insomnia has paid me a visit. I love life, but sometimes I think that it would be better if I ended it. My wife and I are separated, and she asked for a divorce. Life just keeps getting better. I would go to college, but there's no use in going. You have a degree and everything's fine. Until they find out you've got a record. Then you're fired! If you tell the truth, you aren't considered for the job. If you're dishonest and lie to them, you might get hired up until they find out. Then you're out on your ass again. When will society change? Will society ever change? Hopefully it will in my lifetime. Good luck to you all out there struggling. Don't give up, and don't give in. You aren't alone.

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