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Employability after felony
Old 04-29-2009, 08:16 AM   #1
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Employability after felony

This may be a strange topic to bring up in a retirement board, but there's a lot of expertise here so let me throw it out. I have an old friend who lives in Texas who has been a craftsman all of his life, everything from welding to mechanic to heavy equipment operator. A few years ago he screwed up and was found with drugs (I think it was meth) and wound up behind bars. He served a year behind bars, went to state-sponsored rehab, and AFAIK is now clean after more than a year of being out.

As a felon, he is now essentially unemployable in spite of 30 years experience and several craftsman certifications. After a year of interview after interview, and answering honestly to the question "have you ever had a felony," he doesn't get called back. And, since he wasn't laid off, he doesn't qualify for unemployment. Oh, and forget retirement, he has little in savings.

Maybe it's the economy, but I wonder how someone with a single, non-violent, felony arrest can ever get back in the work force? I realize some may say he did the crime now he has to do the time, but he did the time, so how does he get back into being a productive tax-paying member of society?
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Old 04-29-2009, 08:18 AM   #2
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Welcome to the scarlet letter society. It may not be his cup of tea, but I know there are church groups and others who work on this sort of thing. Not sure what else, especially in such a crummy economy.
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Old 04-29-2009, 08:43 AM   #3
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Perhaps he could start his own little business to get the ball rolling? If he has a vehicle and some tools he could offer a "handyman" type service. Wouldn't cost much to get off the ground.

Then he could expand that if it works out or at least he could work at it for a while and then when applying for new jobs he'll have current experience as a business owner.

Just a thought.

EDIT: I Googled, "Getting job after felony" and came up with a lot of links. Maybe some will be helpful, like this one.
http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_does_a...erved_his_time
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Old 04-29-2009, 08:46 AM   #4
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Have a friend that is a convicted felon, due to selling drugs back in the 60s, when he was young and dumb. He served seven years in a state pen. Since getting out he has been sober for over 30 years and has had steady employment as a long haul trucker and makes a decent living. Trying to gain employment being a felon has to be a tough road but if he can get his foot in the door and persevere he may be able to turn things around.
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Old 04-29-2009, 08:50 AM   #5
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Trying to gain employment being a felon has to be a tough road but if he can get his foot in the door and persevere he may be able to turn things around.
Agreed that the key is to probably get that first "second chance" and not screw it up -- and if you prove yourself clean, sober, reliable and valuable for years afterward, that counts for a lot. Getting that second chance today is a lot harder than it was 30 years ago, and that's even assuming a decent economy and job market. It's much harder to shake your past these days.
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"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)

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Old 04-29-2009, 08:53 AM   #6
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When I was a pre-teen and teen, my family, friends, and school made it very clear to me that committing a felony led to jail time and never being able to get a conventional job again. I find it difficult to believe that anyone would grow up in this day of TV and the internet NOT know that this was the consequence of committing a felony, prior to doing it.

So, I am sure your friend has considered what his plans would be in the event that he was caught. He made a decision, and I don't mean to be overly harsh, but in my opinion he is responsible for the (very predictable) outcome.

I suppose that if I were absolutely determined to become a felon, I would resign myself before the fact to the possibility that I might have to be a maid or some such thing for the rest of my life, likely paid off the record as is done for illegals. Perhaps your friend could do the same as a janitor or gardener. He could mow lawns or be a handyman.
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Old 04-29-2009, 09:01 AM   #7
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When I was a pre-teen and teen, my family, friends, and school made it very clear to me that committing a felony led to jail time and never being able to get a conventional job again. I find it difficult to believe that anyone would grow up in this day of TV and the internet NOT know that this was the consequence of committing a felony, prior to doing it.
I don't disagree, but we're not talking about rape or armed robbery here. We're talking about a relatively victimless crime, and I think a society that will shun someone for for life because of one victimless mistake and one tough life lesson is a society that has its undergarments on way too tight.

I could go on and on about the stupid way society treats drug use as a horrible crime and not as a medical issue, but that would be a hijack. So I'll stop here.
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"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)

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Old 04-29-2009, 09:09 AM   #8
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Of course most people will not hire him... who want's the liability?

As an example... I needed to hire an accountant.. I knew a guy who was very good. Brought him in for the interview and he was great... but then said that he had a DUI back when he was a teenager (was now 35)... nothing since then.... WELL, our company has a zero tolerance for convictions of any sort at any time... and we do a background check on everybody before they are hired.

BTW, we also had this lady who said there was nothing in her background... but there was a DUI in another state. She just thought that it would not be found... and she was good also...

So, your stupid mistakes way back when can hurt you for the rest of your life... even if you are not a felon or spent any time in jail...
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Old 04-29-2009, 09:13 AM   #9
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Meth. That is some nasty stuff. Good luck to your friend - seems like the system is designed to keep a person down once they have been caught and just keep kicking them. His best chance will be to find a small shop with a person as the owner rather than a large place with printed policies & procedures. If he does, and if he is loyal it may work out well for both. I've employed and rent to some people i call (in private) damaged goods. In some cases it works out well for us both, in others they continue their slide.
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Old 04-29-2009, 09:17 AM   #10
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I don't disagree, but we're not talking about rape or armed robbery here. We're talking about a relatively victimless crime, and I think a society that will shun someone for for life because of one victimless mistake and one tough life lesson is a society that has its undergarments on way too tight.
Absolutely. But then we are discussing what is, not what should be. Most companies simply won't hire felons, and it is a fact of life whether we like it or not.
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Old 04-29-2009, 09:18 AM   #11
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Is he involved in any 12-step programs? I believe that would be very helpful to him personally and give him a support group that may lead to employment at some point--someone will know someone who needs someone.

Here's someone in Chicago who hires felons--see the middle of the story for the positive info:

Felony Franks Hot Dog Stand Rankles West Side Alderman Bob Fioretti - cbs2chicago.com
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Old 04-29-2009, 09:32 AM   #12
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It will always be there to an extent but there is a way to minimize it. He has to hire an attorney and get it expunged. A judge will then issue an order that it be removed from his records and that order will be served to local authorities. The expungement has to be done on local, state, and federal levels to be effective and price goes up accordingly. Once expunged he can legally answer the arrest question in the negative. If done correctly the actual records will not show up but the expungement will. The expungement order will be signed by a judge and read something to the extent that on such and such a date the arrest for possesion was expunged under order number 123456 and is effective on 29 april 2009. It's complicated and not all records are eligible. When doing a background most local employers might only search locally and will never find it. The state and federal level will show the expungement which raises the question of what it was for, although it is not legal to ask that question. Working for the government is probably out but I would think he could get by a local employer. IMO it is most effective on the local level and might be worth a few hundred bucks to get it done.
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Old 04-29-2009, 09:36 AM   #13
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Absolutely. But then we are discussing what is, not what should be. Most companies simply won't hire felons, and it is a fact of life whether we like it or not.
True.

I guess I'm sensitive to this because my FIL is a convicted felon. His "crime" was trusting his second wife who turned out to be a serial con artist. She started pursuing FIL shortly after his first wife (my wife's mom) passed away a few years ago.

She had power of attorney over some other guy's bank account and as she was draining many thousands of dollars fraudulently from the account, she got FIL to accept being added to the POA. Since he wrote a small number of checks on that account to buy groceries for the man, when her activity was caught he was an accomplice in the eyes of the law. And since the fraud was perpetrated against a senior citizen, state law gave the state no leeway in letting him off the hook even though the DA repeatedly said it was her, not him, who was the problem. All they could do in terms of "leniency" is cut a plea deal for house arrest, restitution and probation -- but still on a felony charge. So now he's a convicted felon and has to slowly pay back a five figure sum that she racked up.

All for the unpardonable sin of being too trusting.

So yeah, I have a bit of a hangup about the scarlet letter society.
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"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)

RIP to Reemy, my avatar dog (2003 - 9/16/2017)
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Old 04-29-2009, 10:01 AM   #14
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It could be the crappy economy. I imagine welding and heavy equipment operator are two jobs in the dumps right now.

But networking might be the best option at this point. Contact former employers, coworkers, managers, etc. If he left on good terms, they may rehire him or refer him to someone who is hiring. Assuming he is/was a good worker and all.
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Old 04-29-2009, 10:09 AM   #15
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True.

I guess I'm sensitive to this because my FIL is a convicted felon. His "crime" was trusting his second wife who turned out to be a serial con artist. She started pursuing FIL shortly after his first wife (my wife's mom) passed away a few years ago.

She had power of attorney over some other guy's bank account and as she was draining many thousands of dollars fraudulently from the account, she got FIL to accept being added to the POA. Since he wrote a small number of checks on that account to buy groceries for the man, when her activity was caught he was an accomplice in the eyes of the law. And since the fraud was perpetrated against a senior citizen, state law gave the state no leeway in letting him off the hook even though the DA repeatedly said it was her, not him, who was the problem. All they could do in terms of "leniency" is cut a plea deal for house arrest, restitution and probation -- but still on a felony charge. So now he's a convicted felon and has to slowly pay back a five figure sum that she racked up.

All for the unpardonable sin of being too trusting.

So yeah, I have a bit of a hangup about the scarlet letter society.
Tough situation, and I wish him well. Con artists are such lowlife scumbags.
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Old 04-29-2009, 10:15 AM   #16
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Tough situation, and I wish him well. Con artists are such lowlife scumbags.
I should add that he was the treasurer of his union for 20+ years without any question of where any of the money went. He had the checkbook and decades of opportunity.

But none of that matters to the world any more. Now he's just an ex-con.

He wants to move down here near us, but he can't relocate out of his own state right now because of the probation.
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"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)

RIP to Reemy, my avatar dog (2003 - 9/16/2017)
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Old 04-29-2009, 10:18 AM   #17
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Thanks for all the comments and suggestions.

Trek, I think your idea of his starting his own little company is good, I've suggested that to him myself. All he would need would be a truck, some tools, and an ad in Craigs list or the newspaper to get started. Just takes a little bit of startup capital.

Texas, I agree, liability is a big part of the problem. Especially in the trades where many of the jobs need bonding. And with a felony, especially for drugs, bonding is out of the question.

Bestwife, he was not only involved in a 12 step program, but the state payed for it. Part of his release was contingent on his finishing a state sponsored rehab program based on 12 steps, and the state signed off that he had completed the program and was drug free, including passing random drug tests. Ironically, the state will certify that someone is now OK to reenter society, but not to be employed by that same society.

ratface, had no idea expunging was a possibility. I will let him know and suggest he contact a lawyer.
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Old 04-29-2009, 10:25 AM   #18
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...Bestwife, he was not only involved in a 12 step program, but the state payed for it. Part of his release was contingent on his finishing a state sponsored rehab program based on 12 steps, and the state signed off that he had completed the program and was drug free, including passing random drug tests. Ironically, the state will certify that someone is now OK to reenter society, but not to be employed by that same society.
I actually didn't mean doing a paid rehab program based on the 12 steps, I meant does he go to weekly meetings of AA or NA, where people get to know each other over a long period of time (decades for many people) and form informal support groups?

I'm glad he finished the state sponsored rehab program, but that is a completely different animal. Good luck to him no matter what.
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Old 04-29-2009, 10:25 AM   #19
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I don't disagree, but we're not talking about rape or armed robbery here. We're talking about a relatively victimless crime, and I think a society that will shun someone for for life because of one victimless mistake and one tough life lesson is a society that has its undergarments on way too tight.
I don't know Texas law. I think the amount determines if it is a felony or not. Over a certain amount is trafficking - victimless decision for another discussion.
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Old 04-29-2009, 10:27 AM   #20
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Ziggy, I hope there is a special place in hell for your FIL's second wife. So so sad to think the later part of his life turned out like this.
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