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Friday, February 5, 2021

Ex-offenders struggle to find jobs amid COVID-19

Back in 2015, Bill Livolsi Jr. had no trouble finding work even though he'd been convicted of wire fraud and was upfront with potential employers about his crime.

But that was before the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I am applying to jobs left, right and sideways, " says Livolsi, who has been looking for work since April when he was released from federal prison after serving a 13-month sentence for the crime. "It is extremely difficult ... They're picking the cream of the crop when there are opportunities.''

Almost 1 in 3 adults in the United States has a criminal record, and finding a job when you have a past arrest or conviction has never been easy. But it's become even more difficult in the midst of the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 health crisis that has left millions of Americans unemployed and significantly increased the competition for jobs, public policy experts say.

"Because of COVID-19 ... everybody is having a harder time, and that would be exacerbated for people who are being released from prison,'' says Kristen Broady, policy director for the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution, which focuses on economic policy.

Low-wage positions, a lifeline for those with limited prospects, are in high demand and short supply. Restaurants and other industries that offer lower-paying jobs have struggled amid shutdowns aimed at slowing the spread of the virus. And with a national unemployment rate of 6.7%, employers who have their pick of applicants may be less inclined to hire someone with a record, Broady and others say.   

The hiring dip threatens to slow the progress led by a growing number of states and municipalities to restore the rights of ex-offenders. They are passing laws that wipe criminal records clean, allow some who've committed felonies to vote, and bar employers from asking about criminal histories early in the hiring process. 

Most urgently, the hiring slowdown may make it harder for the 620,000 men and women released from prison each year to get a fresh start and contribute to their communities, advocates and ex-offenders say.  

Bill Livolsi Jr. has struggled to find work after being released from federal prison at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Meaningful employment is crucial,'' says Livolsi, 61, who lives in Owasso, Oklahoma. "It's crucial to rebuild your self-esteem, to rebuild your ties with your family, and just to be able to put food on the table.’’

COVID-19 makes hiring harder 

The jobless rate for those who've been incarcerated has typically been much higher than the general population. A Brookings report published in March 2018 found that 45% of those released from prison did not have any reported pay in the first calendar year after they returned home.

The current jobless rate for those who've been incarcerated is unclear, but placement services that work with ex-offenders believe it's risen during a pandemic that has caused unemployment to soar across the board.  

The Center for Employment Opportunities, which provides transitional employment, coaching and job placement for those released from prison, made 368 placements in April 2019. But in April 2020, near the start of the COVID-19 health crisis, only 140 of its applicants were able to find work.

Similarly, for the period between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2019, the center found jobs for 1,793 of its applicants, but placements dropped by half, to 900, during that same period last year. 

"We already know that in hiring, people with convictions face tremendous hurdles and I think COVID has just exacerbated those situations,'' says Chris Watler, the center's chief external affairs officer.

70 Million Jobs, an employment agency for those with criminal records, says it was particularly successful in finding former offenders jobs in shipping, warehouses and food processing plants. But as the pandemic took hold, "business dropped almost overnight, by 90%,'' says its founder Richard Bronson.

"We were doing very well and then we were virtually out of business," says Bronson, a former financial services executive who started the agency after he served time in prison. 

Will they commit more crimes?
Job seekers who are ex-offenders have to overcome stigma and suspicions that they can't be trusted and may be prone to commit another crime, Bronson says. But historically low unemployment rates before the pandemic, which left tens of thousands of jobs unfilled, made employers more receptive to applicants who'd been incarcerated.

The need for workers also boosted efforts by organizations like the Society for Human Resource Management to get employers to commit to giving qualified applicants with a criminal record an equal chance to be hired.  

But barriers to employment have remained steep. A majority of employers still check to see if job applicants have past convictions, and a host of laws prohibit people convicted of a felony from getting licenses necessary to work in various higher-paying fields such as health care or cosmetology.

Those obstacles have ramifications for not only the individuals who struggle to find work but the economy as a whole, social justice experts say.       

"There is a public safety angle if people can't find jobs when released from prison,'' says Ames Grawert, senior counsel for the Justice Program at New York University Law School's Brennan Center for Justice. "It's more likely they'll return to crime which no one wants. And there’s research that homelessness is more likely and deep poverty... Even those who do find jobs earn shockingly less than their peers."

The economy suffers

The broader labor market suffers as well. When those with felony convictions or who've been incarcerated struggle to find jobs, the economy loses out on roughly 1.7 to 1.9 million workers, and between $78 billion and $87 billion in gross domestic product, according to a paper by the Center for Economic and Policy Research), released in June 2016, that examined 2014 data.  

Having a job can help reduce the chance ex-offenders will commit new crimes, though the quality of the position and the ability to earn higher wages is key to success as well, research shows.

Chauncey Floyd has struggled to find work after being released from prison last year, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Getting Out And Staying Out, a New York area reentry program, says that recidivism rates for its participants who've gone to school, undergone training, received mentorship, or gotten jobs in the previous 90 days are 15% or lower, compared with 67% for young men in a similar age group nationwide. The recidivism rates for its participants dropped as low as 10% early on in the pandemic, says Sonya Shields, Getting Out And Staying Out's chief operating officer. 

Eager to use new skills in jobs

Chauncey Floyd, who returned home last year after serving nearly 16 years in prison, says that like him, many former offenders just want to move on from their pasts and provide for themselves and their families.

Floyd says he was eager to find a job using the computer programming skills he learned while incarcerated. But conversations with potential employers usually end when he tells them he has a record.

“I was ... trying to find a career, not necessarily trying to grab a job just to have one,’’ says Floyd, 46,  who is living with family members in South Carolina.

He's now looking for more manual positions and hopes to eventually start his own business. "You just want to basically have a chance,’’ Floyd says. “Me, going to prison, I don’t want to pay for it for the rest of my life … Some people actually just want to do better.’’

Don't ask about criminal records in job interviews
While hiring has slowed, larger efforts to give ex-offenders more opportunities continue, advocates and public policy experts say. 

Twenty-six states and Washington, D.C., have passed legislation that bar employers in the public or private sectors from asking early in the hiring process if an applicant has a criminal record, says Michael Hartman of the National Conference of State Legislature's Civil & Criminal Justice Program. 

And several states, including Pennsylvania, California, North Carolina, and Utah, have passed or are considering "clean slate'' laws that automatically clear the records of some offenders after a certain amount of time, according to a compilation of research on reentry hurdles and initiatives by the Center for American Progress, National Employment Law Project and Community Legal Services of Philadelphia.  

On the federal level, U.S. Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, introduced the "Clean Slate Act'' in December which would automatically seal the federal records of those arrested for simple drug possession. Those convicted of such offenses would have their records sealed after they finish their sentence. And the legislation would also create a framework for ex-offenders to request the sealing of records for other nonviolent crimes.

"That was a real breakthrough,'' Grawert said of the bipartisan bill, which if passed will make it easier for people who've been arrested or convicted to find work without answering questions about their past. 

Promises after George Floyd death

Promises by many businesses to address systemic racism in the wake of the protests that followed the killings of George Floyd and other African Americans could also open up opportunities for the formerly incarcerated, who are disproportionately Black and Latino, advocates say.

“I’m hopeful because I see in the job seekers that I work with a real passion to work, to contribute, to grow,'' says Watler. "And increasingly, I’m seeing employers ... waking up to the fact that their practices have to evolve.'' 

Follow Charisse Jones on Twitter @charissejones    

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Eric Mayo

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Monday, January 25, 2021

How Felons Can Land Jobs Today

How Felons Can Land Jobs Today

How Felons Can Land Jobs Today
Finding a job in this day and age is different than it was even five years ago.  The computer age has changed the way we look for and apply for jobs.  Felons looking for jobs face different challenges than other job seekers.  By using some different techniques, felons can dramatically increase their job opportunities.  Take a look at these tips and your next job will not be far away.

Get out and Network

Asking people you already know about jobs that may be open is called networking.  This is the single most powerful way to get job leads.  In fact, most people get their jobs this way.  Networking is works so well because many employers will take a good a look at people who are referred to them.

How many categories of people do you know?  This a big group of people who can provide you with a lot of quality job leads.

People in the neighborhood
How Felons can Land Jobs TodayParole/probation officers
Members of your worship group (especially religious leaders)
Former co- workers
Other Former Inmates
Former teachers
Former employers
Casual acquaintances
People you do business with (Barber, landlord, doctors)

This is eleven categories of people.  Let's say you got five job leads from people in each category. That is a possible 55 high quality leads for jobs.  That would be a great start for your job search.  This the single most powerful way to get a job and it how most people find jobs

Get a Professional Looking Email

How Felons Can Land Jobs Today
Your email address should have a professional look.  Employers will probably take more seriously if you have a professional looking email address.  You may want to one that uses your first and last name separated by a period, followed by the two numbers of your date of birth  ex:

Clean Up Your Social Media

How Felons Can Land Jobs Today
Clean up your social media
With the popularity of social media, it would be difficult to find a lot of people who are not using some form of it. More and more, employers are checking social media pages to get a better idea of
who they are considering.  So take a good look at your social media profile or page.  Is there anything that leave a bad taste of an employer's mouth?  You may want to remove it.  That means any objectionable pictures, posts or videos.

Apply for Every Job You are Qualified for

How felons can land jobs today
Too many felons miss out on jobs simply because they don't apply.  Felons get jobs everyday.  Don't assume that you will not be hired because you have a record.  Never talk yourself out of a job.  What you must understand that the numbers on on your side when it comes to getting a job with a criminal record.  More applications, will lead to more interviews.  More interviews will lead to more opportunities to get hired.  Make a goal of a certain number applications each week and stick to it. Every application you fill out will take you one step closer to getting a job.

Get Professional Looking Interview Clothing

The choice of clothing you wear to an interview will have a huge impact on your chances to get hired.  Remember you are not going to a nightclub or a party.  An interview is a business meeting and you should look like you are ready for business.  Your clothes will create an image or perception of the type of person you are, so choosing your look is critical to presenting yourself as a professional.  It doesn't matter what position you apply for, you should present yourself as a professional.


Men should should wear a dark suit, a light shirt, a tie and shoes that can be shined.  If a suit is
How Felons Can Land Jobs Today
unavailable, dark slacks, light colored shirt, a tie and once again, shoes that can be shined.


The ideal look is a classic business suit (either slacks or skirt,) a light colored blouse and coordinated shoes with a medium or low heel.  Earrings should be small. Nail polish and makeup should be natural looking and tasteful.

Not everyone has clothing like described above, but it is important to get them.  How you look will definitely influence an employer.  If finances are an issue, you may want to look into thrift stores to find appropriate interview clothing.  At thrift stores you will find suits, slacks, shirts, ties and shoes at very affordable prices.

Need Interview Clothes? Ex offenders and Felons Should try Thrift Stores

No matter where you find your clothing, clean and neatly pressed clothing will give you the professional look and help you make a good impression.

When looking for a job, dress like you are going to an interview

I encourage ex-offenders and felons to dress like you are going on an interview whenever you go out filling out applications.  You never know who you are going to meet on your job search.  It's always better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one, than to have an opportunity and not be prepared.

Make a list of your skills 

How Felons Can Land Jobs Today
Make a list of all of your skills and be able to talk about each one.  Make a list your skills and practice talking about them.  The better you can explain you value, the better your chances to get hired. The skills you should focus on are:

Work-specific Skills

These are skills that were acquired by working at a particular jobs.  Can you paint, cook, use tools or perform other types of work?  The skills you used to perform on a job are all examples of work-specific skills.

Transferable Skills

These are skills that can be taken from one type of job and used in other types of work.  Typing, use of office equipment, and telephone skills are all examples of transferable skills.

Personal Skills

These are skills that are part of your personality that helps you do other things well.  Are you a punctual person?  Do you work well under pressure?  Do you work well with customers?  These are all personal skills.

These are three types of skills you can sell to an employer.  If you can easily talk about your skills and how they can benefit an employer, you can get job, even with a criminal record

Follow Up

Follow up with everyone you meet on your job search.  If you fill out an application, find out the name and phone number of the hiring person.  If you get an interview, always get the business card of the person you interview with. The business card will have the interviewer's name, title, address, phone number  and email address.  Right after the interview, you may want to send a thank you email.  If you really want to stand out, you could even send a thank you card.

Get Good References

Having a few good references may be the difference that could get you hired. Have a list reputable who would say something positive about you make a list of five great references.  A reference may look like this:
How Felons Can Land Jobs Today
Mr. David O'Bannion
Vice President, Marketing
XYZ Company
922 N. Bank St.
Chicago, IL 60610

References should never be included on your resume.  They should be listed on a separate sheet and only be submitted upon request.  Before you use anyone as a reference, you should ask their permission.

Use your One-stop Career Center

How Felons Can Land Jobs Today
Every ex-offender or felon looking for a job should visit their local One-stop Career Center.  You will find many resources that can help you find a job or get training for a new career.  You may get personal assistance from trained employment counselors.  You can get help writing a resume, learn interviewing techniques and find lists of open jobs in your community.  Click this link to find your local One-stop Career Center  One-stop Career  Centers

How felons can land jobs today

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Eric Mayo

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Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Can a Juvenile Felon get Jobs in Healthcare?

Can a Juvenile Felon get Jobs in Healthcare?


I was 16 years old,  I got arrested. I was put in the wrong situation which involved my mother and her boyfriend. I was told they took a plea and allowed the felony to be put on me. I went and got certified in nursing was working for 12 years and now it is haunting me. I love healthcare and want to try to stay in the field. I feel that I belong helping others. I just want a good paying job that I love to go to everyday. Is there anything out there I can work or go to school for?

Can a Juvenile Felon get Jobs in Healthcare?

Can a Juvenile Felon get Jobs in Healthcare?I get this often from ex-offenders and felons with juvenile records who are looking for jobs. Contrary to what many people believe, juvenile records do not disappear when on reaches the age of adult. In many states, juvenile records are sealed. Sealed meaning they are hidden from the public. They will always be available, however, to the court system, law enforcement and government agencies. Since many jobs in health care require licensing or certifications there will be the question of can you be certified.

You will have contact the medical licensing board in your state to see if your conviction will keep you from being certified or licensed.

I hope this helps

 Can a Juvenile Felon get Jobs in Healthcare?

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Can a Juvenile Felon get Jobs in Healthcare?

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Monday, January 11, 2021

Can Employers Refuse To Hire You Because Of Your Record?

The Criminal History Record Information Act Protects Your Rights

Under ideal circumstances, once you’ve been convicted for a crime and served your sentence, your punishment should be over. You should be able to go on to build a new life and contribute to society in a positive way.

However, for many people with a criminal record, it can be exceedingly difficult to find a job—long after they’ve paid the price for their crime.

In Pennsylvania, the Criminal History Record Information Act is designed to protect people with a criminal record from workplace and hiring discrimination. Here’s how it works.

It Limits How Employers May Base Their Decisions on Your Record

Under the Pennsylvania Criminal History Record Information Act, an employer generally can’t use your criminal record as a factor in deciding whether or not to hire you.

There are exceptions. The employer can consider your criminal record as a factor in hiring if your crime directly relates to the job you applied for. For instance, if your crime involved money laundering, a bank can legally decide not to hire you for that reason.

There are certain jobs and careers where your criminal history may legally bar you from employment. For instance, people with certain felony convictions can be barred from working with children, the elderly, or adults with special needs.

Licensure requirements may specifically prevent individuals with certain crimes on their record from working in the field as well.

However, if the employer did use your criminal history as a reason not to hire you, they have to notify you of that in writing and explain their decision. This gives you a chance to bring litigation if you feel it’s necessary.

It Introduces Consequences for Discrimination

If you believe the employer violated the law in choosing not to hire you based on your record, you have the right to sue for damages.

Possible damages include a certain amount for each violation of the law, as well as punitive damages if the action is found to be purposeful. The employer may also be on the hook for your attorney’s fees and litigation costs.

What To Do if You Feel You Were Unlawfully Passed Over 

If you feel an employer unlawfully used your criminal history as a reason not to hire you, you have recourse in court.

Talk to a knowledgeable attorney.  An attorney can assess the situation, determine whether your rights were violated.  Contact your local legal aid office where you may qualify for free assistance.

The information provided here does not constitute legal advice. It is intended for general purposes only. If you have questions about a specific legal issue, you should speak to an attorney.

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Can Employers Refuse To Hire You Because Of Your Record?

Eric Mayo

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Tuesday, December 22, 2020

How to get your criminal record sealed or expunged in Pennsylvania

How to get your criminal record sealed or expunged in Pennsylvania

In the United States, there is an estimated total of between 70 million and 100 million people who have some type of criminal record. And for many of them, elements of everyday life such as finding an apartment or job, or applying for some types of public aid are often very difficult, if not impossible.

But depending on the charges or convictions on your record, and the length of time since your legal trouble began, you may be able to fully or partially clear your criminal record. But it’s not necessarily a straightforward process.

“Some people are able to navigate the process on their own,” says Jamie Gullen, supervising attorney with Community Legal Services of Philadelphia’s employment unit.

In Pennsylvania, the most common approach is filing a petition to have your record either expunged or sealed. But who is eligible, and how can you apply? Here is what you need to know:

What’s the difference between getting my record expunged and sealed?

The difference comes down to who can see your criminal record.

Sealing — or “limited access,” as it is known in Pennsylvania — only closes off your criminal records from public view, and doesn’t completely remove or destroy them. So, in some circumstances, they can still be accessed, such as by police, criminal court judges, and district attorneys, as well as by certain employers, (for example, if a job requires a federal security clearance).

If your record has been expunged or sealed, you no longer have to disclose that you have that record if you’re asked about it on things like housing or employment applications.

What types of records can be expunged?

Expungement is more limited, and applies to fewer kinds of records, Gullen says. Mostly, that means that only “non-conviction” records — records in which you were charged with a crime but not convicted of it — can be fully expunged.

Felonies and serious misdemeanors — such as those that involve violent crime and sexual offenses — generally cannot be expunged.

There are, however, a few other cases in which you can get a criminal records expunged, including:

Convictions for summary offenses, such as disorderly conduct and loitering, so long as you haven’t been arrested for five years since being convicted.
Crimes for which you completed a special program, such as the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program, or the Small Amount of Marijuana Program.
If you are 70 years old or older and have been arrest-free for 10 years since being convicted, any conviction — misdemeanor or felony — on your record is eligible for expungement.
Additionally, Pennsylvania is one of the few states to offer “partial expungement,” meaning that, for example, if you were charged with 20 crimes and only convicted of one, the remaining 19 charges could be expunged.

What records are eligible to be sealed?

That’s a little more complicated. Pennsylvania has “automatic sealing” as part of our Clean Slate law, which doesn’t require you to do anything to have certain criminal records sealed. (Other records require that you file a petition, which requires some paperwork.

Generally, after certain periods of time, Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate law will automatically seal:

Convictions for many second- and third-degree misdemeanors after 10 years without any further convictions
Summary offenses that are at least 10 years old.
(There is some overlap here with expungement, but even if your record is automatically sealed, you can still try to have it expunged if you need extra protections.)

Some convictions are automatically sealed but you can still petition the courts to seal it. Those, Gullen says, include some nonviolent first-degree misdemeanors, as well as some second- and third-degree misdemeanors. For example, if you have a second-degree simple assault charge, it may be eligible to be sealed if you file a petition, Gullen says.

In the past, to get your record sealed, you had to pay court fines and costs related to your case. But starting in January 2021, that rule doesn’t apply for petition-based sealing. And it’s been removed for automatic sealing starting in November 2021, according to CLS. (But if your case includes restitution, that must still be paid.)

“The rules around what is automated and what’s petition-based are quite complicated,” Gullen says. But one good resource is CLS’s website, where you can find guides and flowcharts that can help you determine your eligibility and options.

How can I get my record sealed or expunged?

The first step is to obtain your criminal record. You can find that on the site, or via the UJS Portal, which provides public access to court records, simply by entering in your own information. If nothing shows up, it’s possible that your record is already sealed, but if you need more assurance, you can get your full record from the Pennsylvania State Police via the “Request for Individual Access and Review” form.

From there, you can find whether you are eligible to have your record sealed or expunged. Then, Gullen says, the process for applying to have your record expunged or sealed is largely the same, just different paperwork. Both forms are available online, and require information like your name and address, as well as information about your records.

Next, you need to file the forms with the court in the county where your charges were filed. You have to pay a fee of $132 per form to file, (there can also be additional fees from the county where you are filing). If you are low-income, though, you may be able to file under an “In Forma Pauperis” status, which would waive any filing fees.

“In Philadelphia, once the petition is agreed to, it basically gets sent to a judge to sign off on, and the courts send that paperwork onto local and state police, and other agencies,” Gullen says. “It’s more complicated to figure out what’s on your record, and to figure out how to file everything than the actual processes after that.”

But if you need help, local legal aid organizations like CLS can review your record and go over your options. If you’re not in Philadelphia, can help you find your local legal aid group.

Can I get a pardon?

If your record can’t be sealed or expunged, that doesn’t mean that you are out of options. The remaining option is a pardon, which can be particularly helpful if you were convicted of a felony. A pardon allows you to say that you were never convicted of a crime if an employer asks. But they don’t automatically clear your record.

Getting a pardon is similar to filing for expungement or sealing, but you don’t have to pay a fee to apply, and you file directly to the Board of Pardons, not an individual county court.

The difficult part, Gullen says, is that you have to get court documents about your case — including the criminal complaint, plea or verdict and sentencing order — from the court in which the case was filed, and every county has a slightly different process to obtain those records.

Once you get your documentation and fill out your application, you should expect a lengthy wait. Gullen says that the process can take three to four years from start to end, so pardons generally don’t provide “immediate relief.”

Criminal Record - How YOU Can Get It SEALED Or EXPUNGED

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 | List of companies that Hire Felons | Expungement | Sealing of Records

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