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Monday, July 9, 2018

Erasing a criminal past for Felons


Erasing a criminal past for Felons
From the-dispatch.com  -Sharon Myers  sharon.myers@the-dispatch.com. Follow Sharon on Twitter: @LexDispatchSM

When Gerald Hege filed in February to run for sheriff, the big question was, how can he do that?

After all, Hege had been forced to resign from the office in 2004 after pleading guilty to two felony counts of obstructing justice in a deal that allowed him to avoid 13 other charges connected to corruption in his time as sheriff. Then, after he ran for the office again in 2010, the state’s voters approved a constitutional amendment barring convicted felons from running for sheriff.

When Hege walked into the county Board of Elections office in February, though, he had no criminal record. It had been erased or, to use the term most often heard, expunged.

In December, a new state law went into effect that reduced from 15 to 10 years the time people convicted of non-violent felonies must wait to seek to have those crimes expunged, or wiped from their records. And Hege wasted no time taking advantage of it.

“I think the governor said it best. We’ve got talented people who are skilled at a lot of different things — law enforcement, doctors, lawyers, whatever — who have been convicted. He felt like these people’s experience should be put to use, and that’s why he reduced the waiting time from 15 years to 10 years,” Hege said in an interview with The Dispatch after he filed to run for sheriff.

Hege lost his bid to regain his old office, coming in third among four candidates in the GOP primary. But his run raised questions and interest about the process of criminal record expungement.

What is expungement?


A person’s criminal record includes records of traffic offenses, criminal charges, arrests, dismissals, indictments, convictions and appeals. The official records are kept by the state court system and are considered public record.

Expungement, or expunction, is the legal process of removing a criminal record. To have a felony or misdemeanor record removed, a petition must be filed at the clerk of court’s office in the county where the person was convicted. The petition is reviewed by a local judge, the Administrative Office of the Courts, the State Bureau of Investigation and local law enforcement agencies.

Many criminal offenses cannot be expunged. Only non-violent misdemeanor or felony offenses which were tried in the same court session are eligible.

An individual who was charged but not convicted or found not guilty of a misdemeanor or felony offense can have a record expunged multiple times unless that person has a felony conviction.

A person who has been granted an expungement may be disqualified from getting another in North Carolina.

Doing the time for the crime

Dr. Brian Long is the regional former offender specialist for the North Carolina Department of Commerce. He recently held a clinic at NC Works Career Center in Davidson County for people who were looking have their records expunged.


He began by describing how he went from robbing banks at gunpoint and spending four years in prison to getting a chance to turn his life around and help other ex-felons.

Long said after serving almost four years in prison, he was given a second chance by the judicial system and didn’t want to waste it. He has earned his doctorate degree and has been working with ex-offenders for the state of North Carolina for 13 years on record expungement and other programs to assist felons.

“I took that opportunity to better myself,” Long said. “I struggled when I first came home. Matter of fact, I wanted to give up. People discriminated against me because I looked young and because of my charges. I was always telling them, I am not that same person I was when I was 17. I had to go back to school and work my butt off to prove myself.”

Long has five charges of felony armed robbery from when he was 17 years old, and since it was a violent felony, those charges will permanently remain on his record.

He said although he cannot have his record expunged because his crimes involved a gun, he feels the expungement process is a valuable resource, especially for those looking for a job or getting housing.

“The reason why we do these clinics is to inform the community of what’s available to them,” Long said. “A lot of times, individuals have a criminal record which keeps them from moving forward. We try to inform them about what obstacles they may have to go through or whether they qualify or not. … I have helped people by putting a plan together and helping them get back on track.”

Jessie Taylor of Lexington said he attended the expungement clinic at Davidson County NC Works because he knew that he has issues that might hinder his opportunities in the future.


“I knew I have a criminal record, so I went and checked it out,” Taylor said. “I was impressed with what (Long) was saying, I found it so informative.”

He said although he discovered that he cannot have his record cleared, he still received valuable information and inspiration. Taylor was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, a violent felony, 18 years ago.

He said that he received inspiration from Long’s story because it closely mirrored his own.

“He surprised me when he told me that we may have come in on different boats, but we are on the same ship,” Taylor said. “I made a bad mistake; I was at the wrong place at the wrong time and a weapon was involved. I can’t change that, but I am going to try to work to prove I am worthy of a second chance.”

Pam Walton, director of NC Works in Davidson County, said the agency held the clinic to give people information that could assist them in their search for a employment.

“North Carolina is a right-to-hire state,” Walton said. “If you have two candidates that have equal experience and are the same in every other way, if you have a blemish on your record, it can hurt your ability to be hired. … If you are an employer that has sensitivity issues, it could be a liability if they hire someone knowing they had charges against them.”

Not all are fans


Long said the expungement process is a way to let people correct the mistakes they have made in the past and to prove they are worthy to be considered for employment, housing and other opportunities.

While some people believe that the expungement process is a helpful process, others are wary that it may create issues in the long run.

Davidson County District Attorney Garry Frank said that he feels the expungement process can sometimes hinder the work of the courts.

“The state legislation has liberalized the expungement laws,” Frank said. “At no time during my tenure as district attorney have people had more opportunities to get their records expunged. There is no paint-by-numbers answer; for some people it might be a good thing, but for other situations it lets them out of being responsible for their crimes.”

Frank said the court system tries to take all factors into consideration before charging someone with a felony, so when they are charged it is for a reason.

“Usually folks are given two or three bites at the apple before they are charged with a felony,” Frank said. “We try to take into account when evaluating cases, especially when it comes to younger kids, whether it is a crime of omission versus commission. That means whether someone went into something with bad intent or whether it was a case of they got mixed up in the wrong situation.”

Frank said he has no issue with people wanting to correct the mistakes of their past and better themselves. He said he is concerned about how the expungement law is used.


“We want people to be able to rehabilitate themselves, to get jobs and to be able to support their families,” Frank said. “We want to trust and invest into people. Sometimes the outcome is great; sometimes they do something that makes you wish you didn’t give them that second chance. For us, we try to give them that chance not to be a felon in the first place.”

What if you aren’t eligible?

Long said there are many variables when it comes to expungement laws and there are many who will not be eligible for one reason or another.

He said he encourages ex-offenders, even those with violent felony charges, to commit to being a better person and then to let their work experience speak for itself. He said a person may have to start with mopping the floors at a fast food restaurant but after proving they are trustworthy, opportunities will open.

Taylor currently has a job and said he wants his work ethic and positive attitude to outshine his past. He said the best way to make sure you don’t have to be affected by a criminal record is not get into a bad situation in the first place.

“Don’t make the dumb mistakes I have made,” Taylor said. “Stay in school, be a nice person and try to be something. If you don’t start something, you won’t have to deal with your past.”

Walton said she wants to hold more clinics in the future because many people are interested in improving themselves and putting the past behind them.


“A lot of people think that because of their background these people are lazy or good for nothing, but there is a great many that are interested in working and improving their condition,” Walton said.

Long said he feels it is his duty to help people, like himself, who made mistakes in the past but are honest about their issues and are committed to improving their situations.

“It may take a struggle and it may take time, but if you invest in yourself, things will change,” Long said. “Realistically some people’s criminal background will be a limitation because you are not just going against the system; you are going against people’s mindset. But if you know what you are up against, you can have a plan of action in place and you can succeed.”

For more information about future expungement and ex-offender clinics, contact NC Works of Davidson County at (336) 242-2065 or (336) 472-3116, or Legal Aid of North Carolina at (866) 219-5262.





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Eric Mayo

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Friday, July 6, 2018

How legislation can help ex-prisoners find employment


How legislation can help ex-prisoners find employment
The upsurge in the ex-prisoner population, along with employment and economic output losses, overwhelmingly reflects changes that have taken place in the U.S. criminal justice system over the years, not changes in underlying criminal activity. 

Legislation like the Clean Slate bill keeps ex-prisoners out of the correctional system, minimizing costly recidivism rates and enhancing public safety

By Dr. Michael Pittaro, Faculty Member, Criminal Justice at American Military University

In 2008, I published an article, “Prisoner Reintegration Challenges of Assimilation and Crime Desistance,” that focused on the challenges ex-prisoners face after release. Unfortunately, what I stated in 2008 still holds true today. Confronted with uncertainty, animosity, and a multitude of personal, social and legal barriers, most prisoners reenter society with the lifelong stigma of being an ex-prisoner and cannot fully assimilate into society.
The process of “going straight,” which criminologists refer to as desistance from crime, is multifaceted, yet attainable. While it’s possible, it is often very difficult for ex-prisoners to obtain and maintain employment.  More needs to be done to help ex-offenders find work especially since gainful employment is critical for successful reintegration, reducing recidivism rates, and cultivating public safety.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO HELP OFFENDERS FIND EMPLOYMENT
The United States Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that nearly 95 percent of all state prisoners will be released back into the community at some point, whether it is tomorrow or 40 years from today. This suggests that only a mere 5 percent of all state prisoners are serving death sentences or life without the possibility of parole, and an even smaller percentage will die in prison while serving out their respective sentences.
However, ex-offenders are likely to have a very difficult time finding employment. A 2010 Center for Economic and Policy Research report noted that a prison record greatly reduces an ex-prisoner’s prospect of garnering employment. Even at the relatively low productivity rates of ex-prisoners (they typically have less formal education than the average worker), the resulting loss of economic output in the United States is estimated to be between $57 and $65 billion.
The upsurge in the ex-prisoner population, along with employment and economic output losses, overwhelmingly reflects changes that have taken place in the U.S. criminal justice system over the years, not changes in underlying criminal activity. The dramatic increases in sentencing time, especially for drug-related offenses, partly accounts for the spike in the ex-prisoner population. Therefore, changes in both employment and sentencing laws can have a positive impact on the U.S. economy while simultaneously reducing overall recidivism rates and improving public safety. These changes are of significant importance for African Americans. The NAACP reports that African Americans comprise 14 percent of the U.S. population, but disproportionately represent 40 percent of the nation’s prison population.

LEGISLATION INITIATIVES TO AID EX-OFFENDERS

One promising legislative initiative that is gaining in popularity is referred to as the "Clean Slate" bill. The intent of the legislation is to seal the criminal records of low-level, non-violent ex-offenders who go 10 consecutive years without another criminal conviction. The legislation will also seal the records of arrests that did not result in convictions.
The Clean Slate bill has received widespread bipartisan support. In early June 2018, it passed the Pennsylvania Senate unanimously after receiving House approval with only two "no" votes. On June 28, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed it into law. In addition to increasing employment prospects, the law will also improve and increase housing and educational opportunities for ex-offenders.
Another initiative gaining momentum with the blessing of bipartisan support is known as “ban the box” or “fair chance policy.” This particular initiative affords applicants a fair chance at employment by removing the conviction history question from job applications and delaying background checks until later in the hiring process.
A 2018 National Employment Law Project publication reported that, as of June 2018, 31 states, the District of Columbia, and more than 150 cities and counties have adopted “ban the box” policies in which employers consider a job candidate’s qualifications first, without the stigma of a conviction or an arrest record.
The report also noted that delaying records-related inquiries until after a conditional offer of employment ensures a fairer decision-making process. It requires employers to consider the job-relatedness of a conviction, time passed, and mitigating circumstances or rehabilitation evidence. Granted, in some cases, it might just simply delay the inevitable in the form of a rejection letter, but remember that this policy is primarily intended to assist low-level, non-violent ex-offenders (namely drug offenders) in obtaining employment, a key protective factor in combating recidivism.
Other promising initiatives include the Federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit Program, which allows a company to claim a tax credit of up to $2,400 for hiring an employee with a felony conviction within one year of the date of his or her conviction or release from incarceration. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Labor offers a free bonding program for “at-risk” job applicants, including people with criminal records, indemnifying employees for loss of money or property due to an employee’s dishonesty or theft.
Such laws are beneficial for ex-offenders and the community. Not only do they help ex-offenders obtain gainful employment to help them successfully reintegrate into society, these measures also provide ex-offenders with a renewed sense of purpose and identity that many lack after their release. By keeping them out of the correctional system, these laws also help minimize costly recidivism rates and contribute to enhanced public safety.

companies that hire felons


Jobs for Felons: The Facts about Companies that Hire Ex offenders and Felons (2018)



companies hire felons | companies that hire felons | Companies that hire ex-offenders | Employers that hire ex-offenders | employers that hire felons | Jobs for felons | jobs for ex-offenders | jobs that hire felons | places that hire felons | felon friendly jobs | felon friendly employers | how to get a job with criminal record | second chance jobs for felons | temp agencies that hire felons | high paying jobs for felons

Eric Mayo

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Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Felon is looking for training and a career

Felon is looking for training and a career


Felon is looking for training and a career
Hello,

I am Allison, 29 yo, from southern CA.

My concern:

September 2011, I was charged with grand theft in the amount of $30,000 and as result I have a felony and must complete 5 years of felony probation. The actual crime occurred 8 years prior in 2003, at the age of 20. Characteristically, I don't even vaguely resemble the young person that I was then. I feel like I'm stuck working in a job that has no benefits, opportunities, or room for enhancement. I was scheduled to begin classes this year for respiratory therapy, but the board does not allow felon participants because I will not be able to obtain state certification here in CA. Furthermore, as a convicted felon, I don't meet criteria to receive federally funded financial aid to attend any 2 year college.

I make $11 an hour and can't afford to pay for classes with my limited income.. I feel like giving up because I just don't know how to turn this around. The DA is willing to reduce it to a misdemeanor in 2 years and can be expunged after the $30,000 fine has been satisfied, but realistically, that may never happen.

In the meantime, I don't know what to do. I have an 8 yo son and I want to provide him with life beyond the necessities. I just don't know how or even where to begin.

Can you help me manage my life and come up with a plan, please?


Kindly,

Allison

 

Felon is looking for training and a career



Felon is looking for training and a career
Hello Allison,

Despite what you may consider a bleak situation, you are better off than most ex-offenders and felons...you have a job. You may not qualify for federal educational funding but you may qualify for occupational training funded by your state.  This training could very well be the start of a new career.  You can get more information from the state Dept. of Labor.  There is a Dept. of Labor representative at your local One-stop Career Center

As I suggest to most ex-offenders and felons looking for jobs, make a visit to your local One-stop Career Center. This is a really underutilized resource. Each state has a network of centers that provide an assortment of free services that can help you in getting a job. In addition, these centers provide a long list of services that can help people get jobs and even train them for new careers. Some services available are:

Career planning and counseling

Workshops (Resume Writing, Interviewing Skills, and related topics.)

Computers with internet access and word processing

Daily access to thousands of job listings

Job-related magazines and local newspapers

Job postings and referrals

Printers, fax machines, phones, and copiers for job search use

Each center has trained counselors that provide one-on-one assistance. Many of them have experience assisting ex-offenders and felons looking for jobs. You can find the One-stop Career Center nearest you at:

www.servicelocator.org




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Felon is looking for training and a career

Jobs for Felons: The Facts about Companies that Hire Ex offenders and Felons (2018)



Felon is looking for training and a career



companies hire felons | companies that hire felons | Companies that hire ex-offenders | Employers that hire ex-offenders | employers that hire felons | Jobs for felons | jobs for ex-offenders | jobs that hire felons | places that hire felons | felon friendly jobs | felon friendly employers | how to get a job with criminal record | second chance jobs for felons | temp agencies that hire felons | high paying jobs for felons | Career Training for Felons

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Monday, June 25, 2018

Lady Felon has Hope for Medical Career

 Lady Felon has Hope for Medical Career



Lady Felon has Hope for Medical Career
I wanted to personally thank you for your information and motivational reassurance that with hard work and good intentions, there will be results.  I am a 32 year female and have had 11 years in the medical field specifically with management and administration.

My last job was the best by far working on a military base as a Tricare representative.  The Dept. of Defense made cuts across all 50 states and my position was eliminated.  Upon my return back home to California from Las Vegas, I allowed myself a little "vacation party time".  My choice one fateful afternoon does not represent  me professionally nor personally but just a "social choice,"  rather one of the biggest lessons in my life.  I am now faced with a Felony charge for possession and with no priors whatsoever, clean image, and of course I will be in excellent standing during my probation period of 2 years....I am now faced with the realization that the next few years and advancing my career in the health field will be impaired.  However not impossible. I will also add that I do not have an addiction and am actually a very nice, sweet, and caring girl.  Nevertheless these things happen for a reason and I want to be like you one day to share my experience and assist others in this unique situation.

With the assistance of my lawyer and definite proof of good behavior, we anticipate for the charges to be lowered to a misdemeanor charge, fees/fines paid for asap, and records to be sealed in 2 years.  I am reaching out to my network of resources in both private practice and small businesses.  There are things I can do to generate income but I want to still have my foot in the health field for my work record.  If it were not for your information regarding the Work Opportunity Tax Credit and Federal Bonding Program, I would not have the reassurance I have at this moment sitting at the library typing to you.  

I am going to get my hands on your book also to have as an additional resource.  If I ever get the opportunity to meet you Sir in person then I will thank you but as for now you are a beacon of light in my tunnel.  

I hope you and your family are well Sir. 


Sincerely,

 Michelle
 

 Lady Felon has Hope for Medical Career

 

Hello Michelle,

Thank you for your kind words.  I tell every ex-offender I meet who is looking for a job is to put a plan together and follow through with it.  Work the plan and never give up.  

Everyone may not have the resources to hire a lawyer, but there are places to go for help.  Your local legal aid office is a good place to get low-cost or even free legal advice regarding the possible downgrading of their charges or expungement if available.  The thing about expungement is, even if it is granted, your record will always be available to law enforcement, government agencies and the court system.  

As I advise any felon looking for a medical career.  Please check with the medical board in your state to see if your conviction will keep you from being licensed or certified.  

Probation and parole officers often have information about serviced available in your area that could offer assistance to ex-offenders and felons looking for jobs.  

Having a criminal record is not the end of the world.  It may make getting hired a bit more difficult but with a plan and hard work, you can overcome a bad situation.  Felons and ex-offenders a get jobs everyday so don't give up!

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 Lady Felon has Hope for Medical Career



Jobs for Felons: The Facts about Companies that Hire Ex offenders and Felons (2018)


   Lady Felon has Hope for Medical Career


companies hire felons | companies that hire felons | Companies that hire ex-offenders | Employers that hire ex-offenders | employers that hire felons | Jobs for felons | jobs for ex-offenders | jobs that hire felons | places that hire felons | felon friendly jobs | felon friendly employers | how to get a job with criminal record | second chance jobs for felons | temp agencies that hire felons | high paying jobs for felons | Medical Jobs for Felons


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