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Showing posts with label employers that hire felons. Show all posts
Showing posts with label employers that hire felons. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Felons can get a Fresh Start in the Military

Felons can get a Fresh Start in the Military
If you are a convicted felon between the ages of 17 and 35 the military may be the perfect opportunity to put your past behind you.

There are many benefits to a career in the military:

Pay and benefits

An enlisted person's salary starts at around $20,000 a year plus full benefits, not including monthly allowances of up to $1,500 depending on where he or she is stationed.

There are enlistment and re-enlistment bonuses can be over $20,000.  If you find that the military is a good career, you can get a full pension after serving 20 years or more.  You will still be a young man when you retire.  You can get a job or start a new career while collecting a full military pension.

Full medical coverage for you and your family.

When you join the military, you are immediately eligible for full health care benefits for yourself and your immediate family members and if you stay through until retirement, you and your family can take these benefits with you when you leave the military. These health benefits also apply to spouses and children.

Skills and training

The military is a great place to get training in basically any field.  You may also qualify for college or vocational training that can translate into a career after you leave the service

Education opportunities after you leave the military

The GI Bill pays veterans who served at least 36 months a monthly living allowance and full tuition to pay for college after they leave the military. Depending on how long the service member commits, this benefit can be used by spouses and children of veterans.

You can buy a home with no money down

By serving in the military, you will qualify for loans to purchase a home with no money down.  This benefit will be available to you even after you leave active service

No Unemployment

There is no unemployment in the military.  While other Americans struggle with unemployment, rising cost of living and other economic difficulties, the military provides employment and benefits for all who are eligible to serve.

The military will ask about any records of arrest, charges, juvenile court adjudications, traffic violations, probation periods, dismissed or pending charges or convictions, including those which have been expunged or sealed.  All government agencies including the armed services have access to all records.

Having a criminal record will not automatically disqualify you from joining the military.  An applicant with a criminal record may obtain a something called a “Moral Waiver." You can find more about Moral Waivers and criminal records from a military recruiter.

In the past, the Army has been the most lenient branch of the military and have a better record of granting Moral Waivers.

Law Violations (Trouble) Prior to Military Service

Felons can get a Fresh Start in the Military

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 | Resumes for Felons | Felon Friendly Jobs | Felon Friendly Employers | Jobs for Felons | Jobs For People That Have Felonies | Jobs For People With A Criminal Record |  Felons in the Military

Felons can get a Fresh Start in the Military

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Thursday, February 28, 2019

I’m an entrepreneur, and I believe in giving ex-felons a second chance

If you’d told me 15 years ago today I’d be leading and running a fast-growing company, I would’ve called you crazy.

I experienced, shall we say, a pretty rebellious youth. To put it more accurately, I was not a good kid. I was arrested 17 times before my 18th birthday and several more arrests throughout my twenties and early thirties. After many run-ins with the law, I had to make a choice: go to jail or serve in the military.

I took the latter option. Five years as a Navy deep sea diver gave me a newfound purpose. But I found myself on the wrong side of the law again when I went down the path of selling illegal anabolic steroids. When I finally decided to abandon that life to build Nutrition Solutions–I found myself standing before a judge waiting to receive sentencing for crimes that I’d committed three years earlier.


The police prosecutor had recommended 24 months in state prison, and I walked into the courtroom that day not knowing if I would walk out on my own free will. What happened next was nothing short of a miracle, as the judge made a decision that allowed me to be where I am today. Although I had pleaded guilty for multiple felony charges, she decided not to send me to prison. Instead, she let me off with a one-year probation. She considered the strides I took to better my life and grow my business and recognized the efforts I had made to change for the better. That judge chose to see the best in me, despite my past circumstances.

I realized that not everyone in that position would have been as lucky. Many people who experience the criminal justice system won’t have the opportunity to prove themselves the way that I was able to. That day, I vowed to do everything in my power to help those with a troubled past, have hit rock bottom or who come from nothing to help them make positive transformations in their lives. Here’s what I learned.


e have a massive problem with incarceration and re-entry in America. One in three Americans have a criminal record, and 60% of those are unemployed one year after being released. Getting a job with a criminal record is almost impossible. As Rick Wartzman previously wrote for Fast Company, many businesses see this as a sign of “the kind of workers that they’ll prove to be,” no matter how committed the individuals are to bettering themselves.

Having hired former felons myself, I can say for sure that a mark on your criminal record doesn’t mean you can’t succeed and make something of yourself. It’s true that you can’t escape your past, but those who have struggled with life-altering circumstances or a troubled past still can create a productive life for themselves and the people around them. Pain makes you stronger–and adversity teaches you valuable lessons that you will not forget. I’ve found with the proper training, structure, and support those with criminal records can become productive employees and thriving members of society.


To be clear, I don’t give second chances to just anyone. I evaluate those with criminal records and/or a history of substance abuse on a case-by-case basis. Some acts and crimes don’t warrant a second chancexd5. The simple recipe for determining whether or not someone deserves another shot comes down to one element–whether or not that person has accepted full responsibility for their past actions.

Criminal record or not, you can judge a person’s character by the way they view their mistakes. Do they acknowledge it, or do they blame external circumstances? When they accept responsibility for the fact that they were the one who got themselves in that position, they also understand that they possess the ability to get themselves out.

Convicted felons and those who have served time in jail or prison also have been conditioned to living in very stressful environments and constantly being uncomfortable. This gives them a considerable advantage in the workplace when it comes to taking on new challenges, operating under pressure, and stepping out of their comfort zone. A lot of the times, the “uncomfortable situations” they may face at work are like Disney World compared to what they’ve lived through.

At Nutrition Solutions, we spend ample time strengthening each employee’s character, mindset, work ethic, and self-discipline through a mandatory personal development policy for every team member. Each day, we play motivational podcasts and e-books over the loudspeakers of the facility. We have a team briefing that includes 90 seconds of gratitude, and each team member hugs or shakes the hand of every other member. By focusing on the personal development of our team and recruiting those who are hungry for a second chance (sometimes their last), we’ve been able to grow the company more than 500% over the last three years.

A few short years ago, one of my closest friends, Lee Anderson, finished a six-year prison sentence. Throughout his time in prison, I always told him when he got out I would have a job for him and that we would do amazing things together. I picked him up that day and on the ride home, started immersing him in my sales calls to get him accustomed to the company and how we operate. Today, Lee is an incredibly high performer, serving as the director of client relations for Nutrition Solutions. He’s making a significant impact at our company, but more importantly he’s made extraordinary strides as a man, team member, husband, and father.

When your company culture and values spill over and impact your team’s personal lives positively, you know that the principles that you’re teaching at work are making a real difference. Not everyone will deserve a second chance, but I’ve learned it’s worth it to invest in those who have taken responsibility for their past mistakes and are hungry for an opportunity to create a better life for themselves and the people they care about.
Chris Cavallini is the founder of Nutrition Solutions, a lifestyle meal-prep company that provides healthy meals to clients globally.

companies that hire felons

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I’m an entrepreneur, and I believe in giving ex-felons a second chance

Eric Mayo

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Friday, December 21, 2018

Mom is a Felon and Cannot find a Job

 Mom is a Felon and Cannot find a Job

Mom is a Felon and Cannot find a Job

I was just checking out your page with the list of jobs for felons I have been seriously looking having interviews but haven't had any luck I'm a first time felon never been in trouble my whole life made a mistake last yr by cashing a scam check that was sent to me in the mail and at the time I was really in need for money I'm a single mother my child's father is incarcerated. I'm charged in Virginia. My charge is felony false pretense to obtain money.  I only got charged because the store owner pressed charges.  The District Attorney didn't want to have charges against me because I have a good background.  I couldn't pay off the restitution before my final court date and now I am on probation indefinitely  because I didn't have to do any time. I have worked for the state of Virginia before in a mental health facility.  I also worked as a kitchen supervisor in a prison when I was younger and I have a lot of customer service skills. I haven't had a job since last year.  I was working on a military base at a store but they let me go because my charge was pending at the time. My question to you is what jobs or companies are more likely to hire someone with a background like mine?

Mom is a Felon and Cannot find a Job


I'm sorry you are having such a hard time finding work.  Unfortunately too many people give up future employment opportunities by making bad decisions.  Because your convictions falls into the category of theft/ robbery/ larceny, your integrity is in question.  My suggestion is to avoid applying for job that have anything to do with working with money or anything of value.  That would eliminate most cashier and retail jobs.

I have had students in your situations.  A few of them are working for telemarketing companies while others are working in supermarkets and factories.

Apply for Temporary Employment

I often encourage my students that have marketable skills, to apply for temporary employment.  Temporary jobs is a good way for ex-offenders and felons searching for jobs to get back into the working world.  According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, since 2009, temporary jobs have made up about 19% of all new jobs. This due to companies looking to temporary employment agencies as a way to keep labor costs down.  Companies hire temporary employees for a number of reasons.  One reason is that it is up to the staffing agency to screen and interview employees.  Time is money and the less time used in the
Mom is a Felon and Cannot find a Job
hiring process, the better for the company.  If temp employees prove to be good at what they do and fit in well with the rest of the company, many are hired permanently.  Temporary workers can be very attractive to small companies. They can staff their businesses at a lower cost than regular full-time employees with benefits, which is  advantageous when they do not have the resources to employ a more permanent staff.

There is a twist when looking for temporary jobs.  There are two basic types of staffing agencies.  First there are the large, nationally know companies.  Companies like Adecco, Kelly Services and other big companies have hiring practices that are set at their corporate offices.  These practices may prohibit their local offices from hiring people with criminal records.  Some of them do, and some of them do not.  The other companies are smaller privately owned staffing agencies.  Because these smaller agencies are locally owned, they make their own rules regarding who they hire.  They can hire whomever they wish.  Ex-offenders and felons stand a greater chance of getting hired at these smaller agencies.

Get Help from your Local One-stop Career Center

One-Stop Career Centers are organized to furnish a full range of assistance to job seekers. The centers offer training referrals, career counseling, job listings, and similar employment-related services.  These centers are the best place for job seekers to get every thing they need for a successful job search.  If you need a resume,
Mom is a Felon and Cannot find a Job
you can get help getting one.  If you need interviewing skills, there are classes that can help you with developing them.  There computers that may be used to access the internet to search for jobs.  Each center also has lists of open positions in your immediate area.  Every center has counselors that can provide individualized assistance.  There also may be opportunities to get training for a new career.  With so many services available, I don't know why more people don't use these centers.  You can find the center nearest to you at the website below:

The Federal Bonding Program

Because you have a theft related conviction, you may want to look into the Federal Bonding Program.  A bond is an insurance policy that are issued in the name of an employee that protects the employer from losses due to theft by the employee.  More employers hire ex-offenders and felons than can get bonded.  Unfortunately some insurance companies will issue bonds for employees that have theft or related convictions.  The federal government makes it easier for certain people to get bonded that may not be able to be bonded by private companies.  This is a good selling point on an interview if you point out that you can be bonded.  You can read more about the Federal Bonding Program by clicking the link to another blog post I have here:

Federal Bonding Program helps Felons get Jobs

The best of luck to you

Eric Mayo

Jobs for Ex-offenders and Felons: Where can Ex-offenders Find Jobs

Jobs for Ex-offenders and Felons: Ten Steps to Getting a Job with a Criminal Record

Female felon in MD needs job assistance

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

Female felon in MD needs job assistance

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  Mom is a Felon and Cannot find a Job

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Jobs for Felons: Educated Felon is Looking for Good Job

Jobs for Felons: Educated Felon is Looking for Good Job

Jobs for Felons: Educated Felon is Looking for Good Job

I came across your blog on and read an entry from 2015 that pretty much reflects what's currently going on in my long time boyfriend's life. He recently got his second felony for a drug conviction in 2016. He previously was out of trouble for 10 years, and was actually on his way to obtain his certificate of rehabilitation. Unfortunately, that's no longer on the table now that he has his recent conviction on his record. He's currently serving his probation, but is due for a review in court next week to see if he can get off early (keeping our fingers crossed).

I'm sure as you well know, it is extremely difficult for an ex felon to find gainful employment. It's incredibly discouraging, even for me. I try to be positive and be some sort of resource for him, but he has a very self-defeating attitude right now and I just want to help him. Yes, I recognize that he has made it much more difficult for himself to find a job with a good salary and benefits, but I'm more of an optimist and I try my best to believe that something will come along, if he puts in the work.

He is educated (he has his BA from Cal State Northridge in Psychology) and has work experience in the respite health field. He now believes that is no longer an option for him, once they do a background check he'll be denied. He is very well spoken, and is like a chameleon- he is able to integrate himself pretty effortlessly into anything he puts his mind to...he just needs that opportunity to prove it.  He needs someone who is willing to give him a chance to provide for himself, his family and start preparing for his future. 

Do you have any advice? A direction we can go into that will help him find a job that he will find rewarding, and gainful? I am aware of the Federal Bonding program and have that to bring to the table, but he is very discouraged, depressed and going through some type of learned helplessness. I just want to find something for him to be successful at. Anything I suggest, he seems to retort with a reason why it won't work out. His probation officer is no help, and is hardly familiar with his case.  He hasn't offered any assistance or resources and when I ask my boyfriend to inquire about it with his PO, he shrugs it off and says things like, "i'm just a speck in his caseload". He also doesn't want to bring any unwanted attention to himself, so as to not cause any problems.

I'm at a loss. I myself am working a salary job, but it certainly isn't enough and I know he will only be happy once he's offered a position that will grant him the ability to provide a comfortable life for himself and his family. I don't want him believing that he is only destined for a minimum wage job for the rest of his life....

Anything helps,


Jobs for Felons: Educated Felon is Looking for Good Job

Hello Jessica,
Jobs for Felons: Educated Felon is Looking for Good JobIt seems that your boyfriend has dug himself a bit of a hole.  All is not lost.  One thing I might try is the local community college.  Community colleges are always looking for adjunct instructors to teach freshman classes.  Adjunct instructors are used on an as-needed basis but it is a great way t0 get a start in the professional world.

Another thing to try is contact your local councilperson.  Council members in touch with a lot of things and people in the community.  They may know of open positions in the area,  Remember council members are politicians and every person is a potential vote.

Jobs for Felons: Educated Felon is Looking for Good JobAnother option is to apply for temporary employment.  Working for a temporary agency is a great way to quickly get a job.  Often temporary assignments turn into permanent jobs.  Some agencies have clients that require professional employees.  The key to felons applying to temporary agencies is to apply to smaller, privately owned agencies rather that large national companies.  Sometimes larger companies have guidelines that prohibit the hiring of felons.  Smaller agencies are free to hire anyone they choose so your boyfriend may have better luck with them.

Frequent readers of my blog know that everyone I speak to who is looking for a job I direct to the local One-stop Career Center.  Each state has a network of centers that offer a variety of free services that can assist you in finding employment. In addition, these centers offer a wide array of services that can help a felon get jobs.

 Some services available are:

Counselors for One-on-one Assistance

Jobs for Felons: Educated Felon is Looking for Good JobWorkshops (Resume Writing, Interviewing Skills, and related topics.)

Computers with internet access and word processing

Lists of thousands of job listings

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

Each center has counselors there that help clients in their job searches. 

You can find the nearest location of the One Stop Career Center in your local phone book or on the web at:

I hope this helps.

Jobs for Felons: Educated Felon is Looking for Good Job

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

Jobs for Felons: Five Places Felons Can Find Jobs - Get a Job Quickly!

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Eric Mayo

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Monday, May 7, 2018

Jobs for Felons: Why Ex-Prisoners Struggle to Successfully Reintegrate into Society

Felon Housing

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

Every week, more than 10,000 prisoners are released from America’s state and federal prisons, equating to more than 650,000 ex-prisoners annually reintegrating into society, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. However, recidivism rates are extremely high with approximately two-thirds of ex-prisoners being rearrested within three years of release, according to the Recidivism Center. It’s estimated that nine million offenders return to prison annually.

It’s clear that there’s not enough support to help ex-prisoners stay out of the correctional system. This is just one element sustaining the disproportionate incarceration of African American males. The likelihood of an African American male being sentenced to prison in his lifetime is one in three, whereas for a Caucasian male it is one in 17, according to The Huffington Post. Similarly, African American females are being sentenced to prison at a far greater rate than Caucasian females.

The criminal justice system needs more resources to improve reintegration efforts and help ex-offenders find adequate jobs and housing so they’re less likely to re-offend. Helping ex-prisoners successfully reintegrate into society will not only reduce costly recidivism rates, but, in many cases, will help break the intergenerational cycle of criminality.

Improving Housing Options for Ex-Prisoners

Most ex-prisoners will return to the same communities they lived and socialized in before their arrest. In many cases, these are neighborhoods that have high rates of poverty and crime, leaving many residents feeling disenfranchised from society with little access to social support programs.

In a prior publication, “Prisoner Reintegration Challenges of Assimilation and Crime Desistance,” I concluded that most ex-prisoners returning to these communities will face uncertainty over their future and animosity from a predominantly unforgiving society, as well as a multitude of personal, social, and legal barriers that prevent them from leading law-abiding lives.

Finding safe and affordable housing is difficult for ex-prisoners who often face limitations on where they can live. Many times, low-income public housing is their only choice. These housing developments are often overrun with drugs, gang violence, and other criminogenic factors. Private housing is often not an option because ex-prisoners are exclusively barred from the private housing market due to the stigma of being an ex-felon.

In some cases, even the public housing market has banned ex-prisoners from renting or leasing an apartment, which can happen if the criminal conviction was drug-related, a sexual offense, or a crime of violence as outlined in the exclusionary policies of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. If ex-prisoners are forced to return to the same destructive environment that contributed to their initial incarceration, they will often submit to the same temptations and reoffend.

Barriers to Employment for Ex-Prisoners

Along with obtaining suitable housing, finding and maintaining employment can greatly improve an ex-prisoner’s odds of leading a crime-free, productive life. However, ex-prisoners face the society-wide stigma of being an ex-convict, which severely limits the number of sustainable job opportunities available to them.

Many employers conduct criminal history checks on prospective employees and reject anyone with a criminal history. In a somewhat dated, yet significant Urban Institute study from 2003, more than 90 percent of employers surveyed were willing to consider filling job vacancies with welfare recipients, while only about 40 percent were willing to consider hiring an ex-prisoner.

Companies in the retail and service sector that require contact with customers are among the most unlikely to consider hiring a convict. Employer reluctance is greatest when the offense in question was a violent one and least when it was a nonviolent drug offense.

Many ex-prisoners are limited to working inconsistent, low-wage jobs – such as in construction or manufacturing – that make it incredibly difficult to support themselves and their families. In addition, ex-prisoners are often mandated to pay further penalties including parole supervision fees, court costs, restitution, child support, drug-testing fees, counseling fees, and more.

To complicate matters further, finding employment opportunities can be especially challenging because many offenders have limited work histories. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than one third of all prisoners were unemployed at the time of arrest.

Educational Obstacles to Finding Employment

The National Reentry Resource Center concluded that only about half of incarcerated adults have a high school degree or its equivalent, compared with 85 percent of the adult population. In Prisoner Reintegration Challenges of Assimilation and Crime Desistance, I noted that most ex-prisoners do not have viable, marketable job skills, or sufficient literacy to obtain gainful employment.

To compound matters, many prisoners have a learning disability. According to Joan Petersilia, 11 percent of prisoners have a documented learning disability compared with only 3 percent of the general adult population.

While there are some educational opportunities available to inmates while they are imprisoned, only one third of all prisoners choose to participate. Educational programming, including specific classes that focus on GED preparation, adult basic education, and learning English as a second language, would collectively improve odds of employment.

There’s no doubt that more must be done to help break down the barriers that hinder ex-prisoners from leading law-abiding and productive lives. Helping them find adequate housing and providing educational opportunities that leads to gainful employment are all critical to successful reintegration and reductions in recidivism. However, ultimate change must come from the offender. The ex-prisoner can break the cycle of criminality only by changing his or her unlawful ways. Ex-prisoners must abstain from crime, substance abuse, and other problematic areas which put themselves at risk. They must also seek out opportunities to improve their situation and put in the work and effort to lead productive and lawful lives.

About the Author: Dr. Michael Pittaro is an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice with American Military University and an Adjunct Professor at East Stroudsburg University. Dr. Pittaro is a criminal justice veteran, highly experienced in working with criminal offenders in a variety of institutional and non-institutional settings. Before pursuing a career in higher education, Dr. Pittaro worked in corrections administration; has served as the Executive Director of an outpatient drug and alcohol facility and as Executive Director of a drug and alcohol prevention agency. Dr. Pittaro has been teaching at the university level (online and on-campus) for the past 15 years while also serving internationally as an author, editor, presenter, and subject matter expert. Dr. Pittaro holds a BS in Criminal Justice; an MPA in Public Administration; and a PhD in criminal justice. To contact the author, please email For more articles featuring insight from industry experts, subscribe to In Public Safety’s bi-monthly newsletter.

Companies that hire felons

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Jobs for Felons: Why Ex-Prisoners Struggle to Successfully Reintegrate into Society

Eric Mayo

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Friday, May 4, 2018

Jobs for Felons: Give former felons a chance to work

J.T. Weis - The Detroit News

Jobs for Felons: Give former felons a chance to work
Picture by By
At Abcor Industries we live out the triple bottom line: people, planet, and profit. This is driven by my faith, which teaches that all people are of equal value, redeemable and entitled to the dignity that God intended when he created us.

After years of working in the corporate world, my desire to live a more meaningful existence continued to grow. With that in mind, entrepreneurship was the path to pursue this goal and I acquired Abcor Industries in Holland, Michigan.

Abcor has the technology for powder coating wood and is leading the drive for innovating higher performing wood materials.

Owning Abcor allows us the freedom to make decisions which improve people’s lives and drive an enterprise that contributes to the betterment of the planet. Additionally, we support important nonprofit entities, institutions and schools.

As a senior manager at publicly traded companies, I wasn’t able to deploy a felon hiring strategy — or consider anyone with a criminal history. With Abcor, we are breaking the stigmas and helping change people’s lives.

More than half of our production employees have been convicted of felonies and have served long sentences, hence repaying their debt to society. My intention is to continue to do everything possible to ensure they are productive members of a dynamic entrepreneurial company.

Productive employment is the leading force in their personal mission to build a new successful life as a responsible tax paying citizen. Productive employment is the leading factor in reducing recidivism. We are an important component of their life recovery. They are a vital part of our success.

Recently, I was invited to a forum on the subject of hiring re-entering citizens. At first, it was very encouraging to see so many human resource executives interested and open to the practice. However, each of the executives had a common theme of being only interested in “light felony” applicants. This was clearly driven by a risk mitigation approach.

Toward the end of the forum, they asked me to opine on their approach. They were surprised by my response that short sentence “light felony” applicants had a higher fallout rate and were more difficult to manage. Those who have served the longer sentences are very motivated, highly loyal and committed to the mission.

Currently, we at Abcor and other employers are urging the Legislature to pass bills currently before the state House Law and Justice Committee that would remove some barriers to employment and require objective reasons for denying parole to low-risk prisoners.

Right now, there are too many who remain incarcerated and present the lowest risk to public safety. The law requires that denying parole to people who present the lowest risk to public safety can only be based on objective reasonings. Subjective parole denial is immoral, and it’s wrong. Not only is it counter to our values, it also wastes millions of taxpayer dollars annually on keeping these low-risk prisoners locked up.

There remains much more the state of Michigan can do to help. It should continue to expand vocational training during incarceration, implement laws and financial benefits for bridging organizations that help the released find employment, housing and transportation. In my view, the Department of Corrections could and should become a powerful force by investing in these systems and have a positive impact on workforce development.

Every year, nearly 10,000 people return from prison to Michigan communities. Many are unable to find employment due to their criminal records, even though many employers face a shortage of available workers. There exists a significant opportunity to do better.

Those in position to do so, should construct systems, laws and enterprises to set the groundwork for personal recovery. There is a major win-win for society available to us all and we need to act upon it.

J.T. Weis is the owner of Abcor Industries in Holland, Michigan.

Companies that hire Felons

From Jail to a Job

Jobs for Felons: Give former felons a chance to work

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Eric Mayo

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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Jobs for Felons: Navigating a Digital World After 40 Years in Prison

Aaron Mondry - Splinter News - Detroit

 Navigating a Digital World After 40 Years in Prison

Edward Minor had a paper due for his English class on income inequality at Wayne County Community College in Detroit. He’d completed all the research and knew what he wanted to write. The main issue was time—he only had a few hours.

But countless, frustrating obstacles delayed his progress, from the laborious pace at which 62-year-old Minor types to figuring out how to save his document. The final step, however, was really tripping him up. Since he was using a computer at the library, he needed to email the file to himself so he could edit it later on a different computer.

“Do I just put my email address up here?” Minor asked, pointing to the bar at the top of the web browser. Eventually he got some help from a computer technician, but he wasn’t confident he’d be able to find the document later.

“They’re doing it so fast and I’m trying to follow,” he says. “They don’t see that there’s a baby right here in front of them. I’m a baby out here!”

Jobs for Felons: Navigating a Digital World After 40 Years in Prison

Ed Minor types at the Detroit Public Library, wearing a pin with a photo of Angela Davis.
Photo: Nick Hagen

Indeed, Minor’s relationship to the world isn’t so different from that of an infant. That’s because, in October 2017, Minor was released from prison after being incarcerated for more than 40 years. A modern-day Rip Van Winkle (who left society for a mere two decades), Minor is adrift in a society that left him behind.

The hunt-and-peck typing method he employs, which itself is slower than usual, is just the beginning of his technological difficulties. The computers, wireless internet, and touch screens that many take for granted are alien to him. Even looking at a computer screen—with all its strange icons, commands, and windows—is like deciphering the Rosetta Stone.
While Minor may be an extreme case, he squarely fits the description of Americans who suffer most from the digital divide, a phenomenon that describes how technology can contribute to inequality: He’s elderly, he’s poor, and he’s a person of color.

Resolving the divide’s underlying issues will be anything but simple, but the negative effects are pretty straightforward. If you don’t have access to the internet or the skills to use it, you also won’t have access to countless jobs and resources. As Tom Wheeler, former chair of the FCC, said in 2015, “The bottom line is this: If you are not connected to the internet…you cannot participate fully in our economy and our democracy.”

As of 2015, Detroit was the least connected city in America. Forty percent of Detroit’s households have no broadband connection and 70 percent of its school-age kids have no internet access at home (excluding smartphones).

For its size, Detroit is woefully under-connected. But rural areas and small metropolises often have it worse. According to a Brookings Institute report, almost one in four people in the United States lived in low subscription neighborhoods in 2015. Fewer than 40 percent of households subscribed to broadband internet.

Price is often an inhibiting factor. Detroit’s two main broadband providers, Comcast and AT&T, respectively, offer plans for their slowest connections at $25 for 12 months (and $50 afterwards) and $40 per month with a $99 installation fee.

Jobs for Felons: Navigating a Digital World After 40 Years in Prison

Ed Minor
Photo: Nick Hagen

Federal programs can lower the cost of these plans, but a study by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) showed that in Cleveland and Detroit, AT&T didn’t built out the infrastructure sufficiently to provide residents with high enough connection speeds to meet program guidelines. In other words, there’s a major correlation between plan availability and poverty.

The NDIA has described this as “digital redlining,” a reference to the practice that denied people of color access to housing, and which ran rampant in Detroit in the mid-1900s.

That’s in line with what Diana Nucera, director of the Detroit Community Technology Project, has witnessed. “Whether it’s artificial intelligence or internet access or healthcare,” she says, “the problems of the digital divide all stem from the same place: racism.”

I described Minor’s situation to Nucera and asked what she thought. “If he’s a victim of the digital divide, he’s also a victim of several other things before that,” she says. “It’s much more complicated than giving this gentleman a computer.”

Before Minor ever went to prison, understanding modern-day technology was the least of his concerns.

He came from a challenging home life. “My family were alcoholics,” he says. “I never met my mother’s side of the family. My father’s side was just drunks, dope fiends, dealing in corn liquor. My father was always jumping on my mother; my uncles were always jumping on their girlfriends.”
That contributed to his feeling aimless as a youth growing up on Detroit’s west side. “I didn’t know what to do with my life,” he says. “Didn’t want to do anything with my life.”
As for technology, his family didn’t even own a color TV.

“The problems of the digital divide all stem from the same place: racism.”

Minor was imprisoned once for seven months for breaking and entering. When he was released, he wanted to pay back a favor for a friend that helped him out while in prison. But the only way he knew how to get the money was to steal it. Planning to mug someone outside a nightclub, he says he brought an unloaded BB gun whereas his co-defendant, without telling him, brought a real gun.

According to Minor, his accomplice shot the person they were mugging, and after they were arrested, made a statement saying Minor committed the murder. Minor says he was pressured by his lawyer and the judge to plead guilty to second degree murder.
The sentence: life with parole.

Navigating a Digital World After 40 Years in Prison

Ed Minor checks the bus schedule on his phone.
Photo: Nick Hagen
Since getting out of prison, Minor has lived with his cousin in Southfield, an adjacent suburb of Detroit about 15 miles from downtown. On a normal day, Minor wakes up at around 11am, eats breakfast, and takes an hour and a half-long, two-bus transfer journey—with an undersized bicycle in tow—to either the WCCC campus or Detroit Public Library’s main branch. There he’ll do school work and develop his computer skills for several hours before heading to his job as a dishwasher at a nearby restaurant.

He often closes out, which means leaving work at around midnight and catching one of the last rapid buses heading north. At that time of night, the bus no longer runs for the last four-mile leg home, so he either bikes or walks depending on the weather. Once, the bus never came and his co-worker paid for a rideshare. He rarely gets into bed before 3am.

While at the downtown library, the person assisting him is often Keronce Sims, a computer technician. He teaches classes on computing basics, but his main job is helping patrons and employees troubleshoot computer issues. That means he’s often running from one request to the next all day long.

“What aren’t I responsible for?” Sims says with a laugh. “I’m one of three in the building…I’m putting out some matches, some candles, some fires.”

Local libraries are common destinations for people without computers or internet access. Detroit’s main branch has about 80 computers and there’s no time limit on how long someone can use one or, aside from games and X-rated content, what they can use them for.

In his 30 years at the library, Sims has seen all types of people use the computers for every conceivable reason: to apply for assistance, look for work, write a thesis, sue someone, or just to watch videos and go on Facebook.

Sometimes, according to Sims, people have panic attacks when trying to take care of a stressful matter using a machine they don’t understand. “I see it all the time,” he says. “I see a lot of impairments. Some are dyslexic, some are recovering from a physical injury or a stroke. Some are visually impaired. I’ve seen people with missing digits.”

Sims has been working with Minor since the summer and is encouraged by his effort. “Some people inquire about our services but don’t show up,” he says. “But [Minor] showed up. He knew nothing at first—the whole digital world was foreign to him.”

Navigating a Digital World After 40 Years in Prison

Keronce Sims helps Ed Minor navigate a computer at the Detroit Public Library.
Photo: Nick Hagen

In addition to having a felony on his record, little free time in his daily life, bad eyesight, hyperthyroidism, and no car, Minor also has very little money, and few people he can rely on besides his cousin. He’s also battling the type of culture shock that has nothing to do with the digital world. Simply going to the supermarket is a stressful experience that results in decision paralysis. “I stick to chocolate or vanilla ice cream and white socks,” he says.

As director of DCTP, Nucera oversees programs that foster use of technology based on community need. One of those programs is the Equitable Internet Initiative, which will provide 150 Detroit households with high-speed internet access. The program also involved training 25 local “digital stewards,” two of whom were in their late seventies, in hardware installation and WiFi setup. Age matters, but it’s not the primary barrier.

Minor has a passion for housing. After he’s done taking his prerequisites at WCCC, he’s planning to take classes on real estate. Despite everything he’s been through, he’s remarkably optimistic.
“Oh, it’s gonna get done,” he says. “Keep doing what I’m doing, don’t cry about it, move with it. I feel I’m on a mission.”

Sims and Nucera both think he has the capacity to overcome his technological difficulties.
“Clearly he’s extremely resilient,” Nucera says. “You don’t come out of prison after 40 years as an optimistic man without having a sense of self and being very intelligent. It’s not about his ability to learn. It’s about whether or not society can accept someone who’s been in prison for that long.”

Updated List of Companies that Hire Ex-offenders and Felons

Navigating a Digital World After 40 Years in Prison

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Eric Mayo

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Felon Wants to Become a Barber

 Felon Wants to Become a Barber,

My name is Gracie and my boyfriend is currently incarcerated and was sentenced 3-10 year sentence for battery with a deadly weapon, conspiracy robbery and attempt robbery and is hoping to only do 3 with parole. He's working on getting his GED now and wants to get into barber school when he gets out but while he's doing that, what kind of job do you think he will be able to get here in a gold mining town? Or any other place?

Felon Wants to Become a Barber

Hi Gracie,

Felon Wants to Become a BarberIf he wants to be a barber that is great.  I know of many ex-offenders and felons who have chosen to be barbers and hairstylists.  Every community welcomes good barbers.  I have been to many prisons and found that barber/cosmetology instruction is offered as vocational training within the prisons themselves.  If that is
the case where your boyfriend is, he will be ahead of the game.  What you may want to do first is contact the cosmetology board in your state to see if his convictions make him ineligible to be certified or licensed.  If not, he could still turn it into a profitable "hobby."  He could make house calls and cut hair.

Always a strong suggestion I make to all felons looking for jobs is to make a trip to the local One-stop Career Center.  Once know as the "employment office," the local one-stop offers many services like resume preparation, interviewing skills and other resources to help citizens get jobs.  There are also computers available for job search use.  Every center has lists of available jobs in the immediate area.  He will also find counselors that offer personal assistance to those looking for jobs.  If barber training is not offered at your boyfriend's facility, there may be funding available for training at a barber school.  The counselor will be able to tell you if funding is available.  The counselors also may know employers that have hired ex-offenders or felons in the past.

You can find the local One-stop Career Center here:

Jobs for felons: Where Ex-offenders and Felons can find Jobs

 Companies hire felons

Felon Wants to Become a Barber

Get more info here!

Felon Wants to Become a Barber

Eric Mayo

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