Jobs For Felons

I was just released from prison, and I don’t want to go back. Ever. I’ve been looking for a job, but I can’t find one. I can’t even get an interview. Employers just won’t give me a chance – every application asks if I’ve ever been convicted of a crime. Once the employer sees that I answered “Yes,” my application goes in the trash. What am I supposed to do? I’m ready to go straight and live a respectable life, but if society doesn’t give me an opportunity to make an honest living, I’m going to have to turn back to a life of crime.

Ex-Con Connor

Dear Ex-Con Connor,

The inability to find (or even be considered for) a job is a common problem reported by ex-offenders. It isn’t fair, but it also isn’t surprising. With so many law-abiding citizens out there looking for work, you can’t blame employers for ignoring applications from ex-convicts. You can’t expect them to take a chance on employing a former (and potentially current and future) criminal when they have so many safer options.

So basically, you’re screwed. Employers won’t give you a chance and society at large seems to be pushing you back into the criminal lifestyle that got you into prison in the first place. It’s almost as if you’ve been pigeon-holed into the role of “criminal,” and society won’t allow you to change. The way I see it, you have only two choices:

1) Accept society’s definition of you and resign yourself to a life of crime. This is the easier (and more fun) path to take, but not the better one. After all, participating in criminal activities is how you ended up in this mess to begin with. If you were any good at it, you wouldn’t have gotten caught and sent to prison. So let’s put this option on the backburner.

2) Your second choice is to go straight. Since employers refuse to give you a job, you’ll have to create your own job by starting your own business. But what type of business should you start? Well, that depends on your unique skills and abilities. What skills do you have that you can offer to the world? If what I’ve heard about prison is true, the answer is obvious: you know how to defend yourself from rapists. There’s your solution! Start a business where you teach people self-defense and rape prevention. In this situation your time spent in prison may actually be beneficial – you can use your experience to help sell your status as an expert. You can even hire other experienced ex-cons to work for you, thus breaking the sad cycle of crime, prison, and recidivism. You’ll be a hero! Get to work!

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