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sweetprincess_0's avatar

How does a felon find work?

Asked by sweetprincess_0 (33 points ) February 21st, 2013

A person who was convicted of theft while in the throes of drug addiction served a couple months in jail, and is now clean and trying to start a new life. Can’t get work because of their back-round, what would you suggest they do?

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24 Answers

FutureMemory's avatar

Keep trying until they find someone willing to give them a chance. Not much else they can do.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Many are self-employed, run their own businesses (have their own shops, restaurants, maid services, office cleaners, construction site clean-up, food vendors, street vendors, buskers, yard & lawn maintenance. Freelancing personal trainers, yoga teachers, art teachers), they run their own stalls at fleamarkets, trade on sites like Ebay. Some drive cabs for some of the looser cab companies. Day labor. Work as carnies in traveling carnivals. Anything unregulated that doesn’t require a background check—unless the employer is involved in a program to help re-integrate incarcerated felons into society. Hooters does that. Many of their kitchen staff are in the program. I’ve known many felons and they have done all the above, sometimes quite successfully.

livelaughlove21's avatar

I was also going to mention companies that help re-integrate offenders. Here, Lizard’s Thicket does that.

Unfortunately it’s going to be a low-paying job, and it’s going to take time. Theft is probably one of the hardest crimes to bounce back from when it comes to finding work, for obvious reasons. It’s sad, because offenders are set up to fail in our society and this sets the stage for recidivism.

I hope your friend finds a job soon. Good luck.

laureth's avatar

My felonious relative started up his own business installing fireplaces as a contractor. Eventually he was hired by a larger business that liked his work. He’s getting up in years and manual labor is hard on the body, but felons aren’t usually hired for much and have to take what they can get. Ruins your life. I wonder if that’s not why some just go back to crime anyway. What’s there to lose, eh? Broken system.

LuckyGuy's avatar

With so many “non-felons” out looking for work it is no wonder convicted felons can’t find any.
We have a family friend who served time for Rape 3rd, (over 21 having consensual sex with a 16 year old 10 days before her 17th birthday.) They put so many restrictions on him it is almost impossible to keep a job. He got a job driving a snow plow but had to give it up because some of the company’s customers were schools. Sex offenders can’t be within 500 ft? 1000ft? of a school. As if he is going to molest a kid while driving a freaking GPS equipped snow plow at 4 in the morning during blizzard conditions. The company had to let him go. He got a job doing office work at a farm. However every week he had to report to 2 different agencies in the city about an hour away on two different days (naturally). He would get to work at 7, leave at 8, to go to the agency, so he was on time for his 9 appointment that often would not start until 10 (with no apology from the officer) . The meeting was always “Are you working? Yes. ” It would waste time for 30 minutes then he would turn around and drive back for one hour. It pissed away the whole morning and wasted about 100 miles of gasoline all for a $15 per hour job. The farmer needed someone to work 5 days a week not “take off every Tuesday and Thursday morning ” so he was let go.
His friends are now hiring him to do construction work. I hired him to do some computer work.
The system is broken indeed.

NY has an agency that is supposed to help find work for felons – a work reintegration program. They also offer financial incentives to employers to hire felons. Maybe your state has a similar agency. Don’t get your hopes up. The NY agency was virtually worthless.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@LuckyGuy I know from interning with my local probation/parole office and performing as a quasi-agent for a summer that the meeting with your PO may seem pointless, but many offenders aren’t doing what they should and that is the whole point of being under supervision. They don’t seek to screw you out of gas money or a job or a life, but if you’re convicted of a crime, being inconvenienced by the system is a consequence you have to deal with. Sex offenders are under even tighter wraps and, when you are a sex offender, no one cares about the circumstancs that got you there. You’re automatically going to be watched more closely than other offenders. Sucks for them, but it’s their cross to bear.

The system is certainly flawed and, like I said above, it’s unfortunate that offenders are set up for failure upon release from jail/prison, but these felonies are no surprise to anyone. In almost all cases, one knows if they are committing a crime, and the consequences are predictable (and avoidable). Nothing against your friend, but 21-year-olds shouldn’t be having sex with high school sophomores and I’m sure he was perfectly aware of that.

Starting a business is only a good idea when you have a trade or product, enough money to set it up, and knowledge on how to run such a business. If you don’t have these things, you’re better off working wherever you can until you can acquire those things or get lucky and find better employment down the road.

Felons blaming the system for their difficulties is really pointing the finger in the wrong direction.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@livelaughlove21 Absolutely he should not have had sex with her. (Not that it matters, but she was the one chasing him – and she readily admitted it – Also she was much more experienced than he.)
He was convicted of the lowest level, class E , was considered non-violent offender., no drug or alcohol problems. Served 1⅓ year? sentence. shortened for good behavior.
Our friend did his time. He lives in house with his family and has skills that are useful to society. If we want to help turn him into a taxpayer how about actually listening to him.
Why have two meetings on two different days? Is it to keep him on a leash? Combine the two visits with the two agencies.
If the PO wants to know where he is and if he is really working , how about calling the office and talking with his boss? In the year he was working there, they never called the office. Not even once. How about looking at the GPS tracking on the truck he is driving? This is a professional snow plowing company. They know exactly where every truck is, every second of the day. They know who is driving and how fast they are moving. How about letting him be in a school parking lot as long as the truck is dispatched to that location and is moving at 30 mph during snow days? It would be so easy. The PO knows he can call the radio dispatcher at any time. Maybe that would require a rule change and nobody want to bother.
And why on earth have PO be so late almost every time without even a minor acknowledgment of it? A brief “Sorry I’m late, let’s get down to it. ” would help. If 9:00 is always bad for the PO, change the meeting time to 10. Our friend is never late. He gets there when he is supposed to but it doesn’t matter. It really seems they want him to lose the job so they can justify the busy office.
(We suspect the PO is just arriving to work at 9:45 but our friend is afraid to even make the suggestion. I’d love to sit in the lot and check. :-)
As a taxpayer, when appropriate, I want to see people working rather than in the prison system. There is no incentive for the PO to think that way. His job depends upon having many offenders “needing” supervision.
I figure if the offender has a skill and finds a job where he is working 8–6 every day under tight supervision and the PO has the ability to call the office and the boss at any time, or even go out and visit. the office, THAT is good supervision.

How can we make the system better?

LuckyGuy's avatar

@livelaughlove21 Here’s another example. You’ll like this one.
Our friend lives at home with his family. He is required to answer the door and lte the PO in whenever they visit. Understandable. come.

Because he is a SO he is not permitted to have any Halloween decorations on the house or answer the door for trick or treaters.
The PO when to visit the house one Halloween. Our friend saw the guy and recognized the car so he opened the door to let the PO in when he rang the doorbell.
He got yelled at for opening his door. He knew it was the PO! And he knows he is supposed to always let the guy in! There was never a stipulation “Always let the PO in except on Halloween.” He knew it was the PO!
I ask you. If he refused to open the door would he have gotten yelled at for not letting the PO in?
Was this just a trip for the PO and an excuse to write something so he can collect overtime? No matter what our friend did he would be in violation.
If it wasn’t so tragic it would be funny.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@LuckyGuy I can’t really comment on how his supervision is being handled because each state handles probation and parole differently. In my state, we give offenders the entire day to report to their PO, which helps when they are employed. If they happen to arrive at the same time as a lot of other offenders, they’ll need to wait until the PO gets to them. I never apologized for that when I was interning, for many reasons but mostly because I had no idea how long they’d been there as we didn’t do appointment times. There are pros and cons to both systems; it all depends in how the office is run.

Is he on parole/probation/conditional release? If so, he has not served his time until the conditions of that are met. I, for one, would be eternally grateful that I only had to serve 1 year on a rape charge.

I did not work directly with sex offenders (my offenders only reported once monthly), but I know that they are all treated pretty much the same regardless of the details of their case, at least in SC where I am. They come in once a week to see their PO, but they have other conditions ordered by the court as well, like sex offender treatment, which is separate from probation. Like I said, I don’t know anything about probation or parole in your state.

Maybe your friend just got a prick for a PO. It happens. But all I’m saying is you do the crime, you do the time. And that “time” includes any court-ordered conditions after release from incarceration. The system doesn’t give a shit how experienced this girl was or that she went after him (and I’m not sure they should); they only care that he broke the law and committed a sex offense.

One reason that PO’s have meetings at their office is because government spending limits keep more PO’s from being hired, leaving the remaining ones with very large case loads. I was handling nearly 200 offenders on my own, and I was only an [unpaid] intern. Visiting job sites and trying to track down each offender and their boss by phone is out of the question. The jobs of PO’s are incredibly busy and stressful. They have too many people to keep track of to work around the schedules of each offender.

I’d like to say spending limits aren’t the offenders’ problem, but they sort of are. Supervision is part of the price one pays after committing a crime. Should these things be changed? Should prisons focus more on rehabilitation? Should better treatment be offered? Should more PO’s be hired? Should something be done to change the negative stigma tied to offenders in our society? Of course! But these changes take resources the system just doesn’t have. So, until we’re able to change that, this is what offenders (and law enforcement officers) have to deal with.

rojo's avatar

Many times you can find a job with a small construction company. I say smaller because most of your big companies and subcontractors who do larger projects require background checks and will probably bounce you because of the risk. There are all kinds of rules and regulations that have to be followed on commercial jobs that are done for state and local governments so stay away from them.
But smaller jobs done for individuals will not have such stringent guidelines. For instance, the housing trade many times just needs bodies on the job. Put your time in with them, learn a trade and over time you can move on. You may have to start out as a general laborer but experience and a clean work record covering a few years will go a long way to getting that next, better paying job

poisonedantidote's avatar

Find yourself a small industrial place, were you can just walk in and have a chat with the owner directly. A small place that makes PVC doors, or some small woodshop, and you tell the owner your situation.

Then ask he would consider putting you on a low wage as an apprentice until you learn the trade, and just try and reason with them and see what you get.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@livelaughlove21 It is nice to hear comments from the other side of the table. I hope you are hearing some too.
You say you have 200 people, so that means you need to check on 40 per day, or 5 per hour. That is a lot! Wouldn’t it save you time if you were able to just call employed individuals at their supplied work number? (not a cell phone of course.) Maybe most of the offenders you deal with are not working. You wouldn’t have to track down a phone number or boss. It would be attached right to their paperwork along with a copy of the 1099 form or W2 or some document that proved they are working.
I am embarrassed to say I don’t know the difference between parole and probation. (I should look it up .) (I just did. – got it.)
It just seems that from my limited vantage point there are many things that could be done to make the system better – at virtually no cost.
The system we have today does not help get the felon working and contributing to society .

As a side note, with all the cases the PO had he still managed to pull off a useless (antagonistic?) visit on Halloween. Nice.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@LuckyGuy To be honest. I’ve heard all of these arguments before. It’s easy, from an outside perspective, to say changes could be made at no cost to improve how something works. How those things would work in real life is another story.

For one thing, meeting with offenders is only a small part of what PO’s do. I know from experience that offenders are often great liars and a phone call accomplishes very little. I remember an offender that called me every week to reschedule his appointment until I got sick of it and asked what the issue really was. He said he was working a new job, couldn’t get a day off and wanted to know if he could report via phone. I had a feeling he was full of it and told him if his ass wasn’t in the office before Friday, I was issuing a warrant for his arrest. He showed up, miraculously, that afternoon and, after some digging, I discovered he was still unemployed and had lied to my face. And this isn’t just one guy – this is very common among offenders.

Unfortunately, PO’s cannot look at every offender as trustworthy until they prove they’re not. It’s quite the opposite actually. It only took a month for me to realize this. I got sick of being lied to and walked all over and, I must say, my new (less naive) attitude served me well.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@livelaughlove21 I can see how you would get jaded after looking at that all day. But what about the “honest” felon (is that an oxymoron? ) who really is working, living with his family, has no drug or alcohol problem, and has never missed a meeting?
Our friend has a CDL license so he can drive tractor trailers and heavy equipment. That is how he got the job plowing parking lots. Does the PO really think he is a hazard to society when he is driving a monitored snowplow at 30 mph? Do they think a reputable employer would risk their reputation for the benefit of a felon?

So, assistant PO, what should he have done last Halloween? Open the door for the PO or ignore him? Was someone setting him up to fail? Either way he was wrong. Or (glass half full) either way he was right!

By the way this is pretty cool that I can ask you these questions. I certainly can’t call the PO! Yikes! They’d probably call it harassment. .

livelaughlove21's avatar

@LuckyGuy There are certainly honest offenders out there. Some people make mistakes, do stupid things, but are actually good, honest people. And PO’s know that. It’s just that most of them don’t fit that bill. And no, I don’t think what the PO did on Halloween was right, if the details you know of are the whole truth. The situation doesn’t make much sense to me, but then again I’m not familiar with sex offender supervision specifically or the terms of that type of supervision in your state.

It sucks that law enforcement has to be so jaded and cynical, but it comes with the territory. I think a good PO expects the worst but hopes for the best, and actually believes there are good offenders out there. This way, they aboid disappointment but remain open when these good ones come along. However, I imagine it’s hard to feel this way after so many years of seeing a whole lot more bad than good. I went into the internship thinking they could all be helped and that they all had good qualities that I could utilize to help them on the outside. The sad part is that this isn’t always the case.

I’m sure your friend is a good guy, and it sucks that he has to suffer partly because of other shitty people before him. But that’s life, isn’t it? There’s always people ruining it for everyone else.

Paradox25's avatar

I do know of places that’ll hire almost anybody, including convicted felons, but they pay lower wages. The best thing to suggest here would be to bite the bullet and try to work your way up again after serving your time. There are no guarentees unfortunately, but I do know of a few convicted felons who’ve managed to work their way back again, at least the ones devoted to staying clean.

Some felons do deserve their fate, as many that I know of blame everyone else for their problems while getting chance after chance. I’ll vehemently state this though: anybody, and I mean anybody can become a convicted felon. All it takes is that one incident where somebody picks a fight with you or harrasses somebody close to you to verify my point here.

@LuckyGuy I had a few close calls like your friend there. Many of these girls were much more experieced than me, despite being a few years younger than me. Early twenties is still a tender age, especially for shyer guys, and maturity doesn’t have a distict Mendoza line because one hits a specific number in the age department.

What made this even more difficult for me was the fact that there was immense peer pressure placed upon me, even by people older than me to engage in sex with them. One of the girls even threatened me with rape accusations if I didn’t go out with her (I was 22 and she was 17). I think it’s a shame that all sex offenders are treated equal. I’m glad I never gave in to peer pressure, but when I look back it does frighten me what could of had happened.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@Paradox25 22 and 17 wouldn’t be a crime in most states. I mean, rape is always a crime, but it wouldn’t have had anything to do with a minor.

Paradox25's avatar

@livelaughlove21 I’m not getting into details here, but the threat wasn’t for statutory rape.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Paradox25 Yep – In NY 21 and 16 is a felony, even if she is 10 days before her 17th birthday and was the aggressor. Asst Dist Attys love these cases because they are so easy to prosecute. All they need are two birth certificates and one confession. The ADA has all the papers and procedures set out in advance so they can prosecute with the minimum amount of work. Cookie cutter style. Later, they can say they are hard on sex offenders and can point to the figures during election years. Shameful.
I don’t understand why they don’t go after the guys who get 14 year old baby mamas pregnant. Actually I do. The girls will lie or won’t identify the guys and it would take a few hours of extra work to sort it out. The ADA can’t be bothered with a case that would require some time.
There are 15 year old girls giving birth every day in the city. How about standing by the hospital door and prosecuting each and every one of those guys.

Paradox25's avatar

@LuckyGuy I didn’t actually sleep with any of them, so I’ll assume that I would of had a shot at clearing my name if these events occured today, with DNA testing. These events occured during a time period in the early nineties though, so I might have been screwed if she went through with it.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Paradox25 You don’t have to sleep with them. Just touching parts is enough. Even if she is touching your parts. In our friend’s case they prosecuted about 6 months after the event. There was no DNA collected . They asked if he remembered doing it on such-and-such a holiday and he said “Yes”. They asked her if she remembered doing it on that holiday and she said “Yes”. He was done.
He foolishly thought Rape always meant forcing one person to do something against their will.

He taught thousands of people the true meaning of “NY Jail bait”. See this one

Oh! One more thing to be aware of. She used to send him pictures of herself “Thinking of you”, boobs, kissy face. He never did that. The pictures that she willingly took herself and willingly sent to him were on his phone. That was used as further evidence.

Paradox25's avatar

@LuckyGuy Something needs to be done about this. Are there any advocates for making changes in these ridiculous laws? I know there are a few men’s rights organizations that speak out against laws like these, but are there any other efforts being made to make these laws more sensible, like through introduced legislation, or even politicians who would openly demand some reform to these laws?

Damn, even if he didn’t give her his number she could of easily acquired it through other means such as a friend, etc. I just don’t feel it’s right that someone should go to prison, get a felony on their record, and effectively have their lives severely altered just because some person thinks you should. Is there another voice here?

LuckyGuy's avatar

Since this happened I have found so many cases, that are so stupid they make a sham out of the Sex offender list. It is no secret that I had prostate surgery so I talk with other guys who have had it done. One guy in Indiana (or Illionois) was driving home from work on a busy road when he was suddenly stuck in traffic for what seemed like forever but was probably 30 minutes. He was recovering from prostate surgery so his bladder capacity and sphincter was very limited. As he was sitting in traffic he could not stand it any more so he pulled the car off to the soft shoulder, got out of the car and walked into the bushes and peed where he thought he was out of sight. Someone in a car behind saw him and called the police. The busybody gave a description of the car. When traffic finally began to move he was pulled over. The cop asked him if he peed on the side of the road. He answered “of course”’. The cop asked him if he did it in his pants. The guy said “No. I peed on a tree.” Did you have to take it out to pee on the tree. “Of course how else can i pee on a tree?”. In Indiana that is a that is indecent exposure – even though he was not flashing anyone and was not getting any kind of sexual gratification and had prostate surgery 3 months before. . He need to pee! He was charged an convicted of indecent exposure But here is the best part: in that stupid state indecent exposure is a sex offense and he was convicted of a sex offense so he was put on the Sex offender list.

I hope the Assistant DA, state trooper and alert citizen who called it in are very proud for the good work they did making our society safe. What a waste… what a freaking waste…

Oh did you see the one about the two girls 14 or 15 who sent picture of their boobs to another 14 year old boy. They were charged with distribution of child pornography!
I’ll see if i can find it. I can’t find the one I remembered but here NJ girl 14 charged is another one.

LuckyGuy's avatar

The case I saw had a 14 old girl charged with distributing child porn to a minor. She had the hots for a 16 year old football player so she took pictures of herself and sent them to him- unsolicited. He was opening his email while talking with his mother and she saw the pictures. It was totally unexpected.
Rather than call her parents the boy’s mother called the authorities. Once she did that they had no choice but to press charges. That girl’s life is wrecked. Her record might be sealed but the internet does not go away.
Rather than chase something serious the DA’s office spent time and money on that nonsense. Got to stop those dangerous sex offenders. Another notch on the DA’s belt.

Our friend’s case has taught me that not every SO is a dangerous pervert deserving any and all punishments society has reserved for the scum of the earth. Don’t get me wrong. Some people are dangerous and do deserve it. But not everyone.
As you can see from @livelaughlove21‘s answers, Parole/Probation Officers become so jaded they cannot tell the difference. It is not their job nor do they have the time to make it their job. Sad…

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