Eric Mayo Jobs for Felons: How felons can get jobs
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Showing posts with label good jobs for felons. Show all posts
Showing posts with label good jobs for felons. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Jobs for Felons: They Want Something Better

COURTESY PHOTO | Charles participated in the STEP Forward program, which runs through the McHenry County Workforce Network and is designed to fill local employers’ needs while giving ex-offenders an opportunity for employment. “I’m so grateful for them,” Charles said.

by Susan W. Murray, The Woodstock Independent

Charles, a 41-year-old McHenry County resident, grew up “in a diverse community where there were gangs and drugs.”

By the age of 13, he was caught up in both. At 17, he went to prison for the first time at the Joliet Correctional Facility. He spent 13 years of his life incarcerated.

“There were many instances when I should have been dead,” Charles said. “At one point, I was, almost.”

Upon his last release, he realized how tired he was of the life he had been living.

“I wanted to do better for myself,” he said.

Up against long odds

Minimum wage jobs filled the gaps between prison stretches, but they didn’t add up to a career path. While considering getting a commercial driver’s license, Charles heard about the STEP Forward program – Stateline Transforming Employment Potential.

Launched in 2018, the program grew as a response to the needs of McHenry County employers.

As a business services representative at the McHenry County Workforce Network, which assists job seekers in finding positions, Thomas Faber tries “to find out what local employers need.”

That need, especially as the economy improved after 2010, Faber said, was for “more and more skilled workers.”

In pondering that problem, Faber came to a somewhat surprising solution.

“I don’t think that we’ve considered people who have criminal backgrounds,” he thought.

The FBI’s centralized database lists 70 million people in the United States who have criminal records. That’s nearly 28 million more than have bachelor’s degrees and represents 21 percent of the population.

“We need to be open to the possibility that ex-offenders can be good workers,” Faber said.

Workshops start process 

A board member of the Stateline Society of Human Resource Management, Faber took his idea to other board members, hoping it could address employers’ needs and help ex-offenders.

The board reacted enthusiastically and set up a STEP Forward Steering Committee. Faber and the committee created a five-week series of workshops to be run through the Workforce Network to help ex-offenders plan a return to work, identify a career path, write a résumé, and handle themselves in job interviews, with tips on how to keep a job and advance at a company.

McHenry County College supported the program with pre-apprentice training and then created boot camps – short-term training in various fields, including manufacturing.

Faber recruited volunteer presenters from MCC, local employers, human resource departments, and state and government agencies.

“The first workshop had two participants and six volunteers,” Faber said. “We outnumbered them.”

But the word got out, and soon more participants were signing up for the five-session workshops.

Combining work, training

Faber sits down with each ex-offender who comes to the Workforce Network, including some convicted of armed robbery and murder, but he is comfortable meeting face-to-face.

“A majority of them have gone through a transformation,” Faber said. “They want something better.”

He is less interested in the crimes his interviewees have committed and more “in how transparent they are.”

“If they’re honest, that’s someone I can work with and who an employer can work with,” Faber explained.

After Charles completed his workshop sessions, he identified an interest in CNC – computer numerical control of machine tools. After starting classes on lathe and mill operation through the Technology and Manufacturing Association, Charles heard from Faber about an opportunity to work at Variable Operations Technologies (Vo-Tech, Inc.) in Crystal Lake for 20 hours a week, getting on-the-job training while continuing his education.

Afraid that people would look down on him for his many tattoos and his “vernacular,” Charles dedicated himself to being on time, paying attention to detail, and being a hardworking employee. He “always had a strong work ethic,” he said, even when he was involved in the drug trade.

“This time, putting my best foot forward led me in the right direction,” he said.

When Charles finished his classes, he was hired full time as a CNC technician at Vo-Tech.

The job came with a steady income, insurance, vacation time, and a gym where employees may work out. During the pandemic, Vo-Tech’s production of computer-automated machining systems for the nuclear, healthcare, agriculture, and food industries meant that he was considered an essential employee.

“That was a great feeling,” he said. “I take pride in going to work every day.”

Creating believers

Adam Furman, Vo-Tech’s operations manager, said that four of his company’s 24 employees have come from the STEP Forward program.

His sister and fellow Vo-Tech employee, Jennifer Chrachol, first heard of the program. She learned that companies that hire and train someone from STEP Forward are eligible for cost reimbursement and subsidies for the person’s salary.

While acknowledging the financial pluses of the program, Furman said he would advise other companies not to sign on “just to benefit from the program.”

“Hiring people is always a risk,” Furman said, and he praised Faber for the job he does to screen people before recommending them to a local employer.

“These people are hungry to learn, to get a job, and to start a new direction in their lives,” Furman said. “It’s hard to find that sort of person, even without a criminal background.”

Furman makes it a point to go out on the floor and talk with his employees each day before heading to his office.

“You have to get to know the people and build a relationship with them to create trust,” Furman said. “We’re trying to be that company that gives people a second chance.”

Plaudits and plans

Faber said he resisted the urge to judge the STEP Forward’s success by “looking at the numbers.”

“I value the good fit and the retention,” he said.

He also does not measure how long it takes the workshops’ participants to get a job.

“All are individuals, and some are more ready than others,” he said.

This year, STEP Forward received the Pinnacle Award from the national HR society in Washington, D.C., in recognition of the initiative’s positive impact on the local HR and business communities.

Since receiving the award, Faber has heard from HR society chapters in Rockford and Springfield that want to replicate the model.

STEP Forward recently wrapped up its fall workshops – held via Zoom – with three participants who have career dreams as diverse as robotic systems engineer, a paralegal, and nursing.

The emphasis is to “think bigger,” Faber said.

“Ex-offenders will have better success if they resist taking just anything and look for the job that’s the right fit,” he said.

Faber plans a second employer workshop for next summer to encourage local businesses to hire STEP Forward participants, familiarizing business owners with the tax credits, grants, and other funding available and having attorneys on hand to talk about legal issues.

This year, Charles received an individual achievement award from the Illinois Workforce Partnership for overcoming barriers and getting back to work. He will soon start a TMA apprenticeship to be a certified CNC machinist and has been inspired to create TikTok videos, such as “Top Jobs for Ex-Felons in 2021,” in an effort to reduce recidivism.

“I want to be a man of value,” Charles said, “a man who has knowledge in his industry and can make his company better.”

companies that hire felons

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

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Monday, December 5, 2022

I have no problem hiring ex-offenders. But they’re being let down

Originally published at

I don’t care if a candidate for my company’s open position has a criminal record. But I do care about something more important.

My company is hoping to hire a part-time person to implement and support some of the software applications we sell. Like most small business owners, finding someone isn’t easy in this tight labor market, despite all the recent tech industry layoffs. I can’t afford to pay what some of these people earn – or were earning – in Silicon Valley and therefore my choices are limited. So, what to do?

How about hiring someone with a criminal record?

A portrait of a man with a graying beard wearing a black skull cap.
Sentenced to life for stealing $14: ‘I needed help, but was given jail’

Large corporations including JP Morgan Chase, American Airlines, AT&T and CVS have been doing it for years. State and federal prison systems offer all sorts of opportunities for employers to hire people who were formerly incarcerated. It’s not a bad bet either: studies – like this one – show that people with criminal records are no more likely to quit or be fired than anyone else.

States like Iowa and cities like Philadelphia offer cash incentives to employers who hire ex-convicts. The federal government also offers a very generous tax credit – the Work Opportunity Tax Credit – for hiring people who recently got out of prison. A number of non-profits like Honest Jobs, CareerAddict, 2ndChances4Felons and the Women’s Prison Association connect employers to prospective employees with criminal records or offer programs that help the process. The Department of Labor offers assistance through its CareerOneStop platform.

"You pay your dues and should be allowed to live your life. Most of my clients feel the same. So does the general public."

I wouldn’t have a problem filling my open position with an ex-felon or someone with a criminal record. People mess up. Some more seriously than others. But you pay your dues and should be allowed to try to live your life. Most of my clients feel the same. And so does the general public. In fact, a person’s criminal history has become so trivial that although employers can ask a prospective candidate about it during pre-employment screenings or background checks, many states do not allow that employer to discriminate based on their findings.

So no, I don’t care if a candidate for my company’s open position has a criminal record or is an ex-felon. But I do care about something that, to me, is even more important.

Can they read?

It’s one thing for all of these government programs and non-profit organizations to help ex-felons secure employment. But are they even qualified?

There are 10m open jobs in the US – hence the tight labor market – but employers are primarily looking for skilled workers. Most of my clients, like me, need workers who have knowledge. And if they don’t have the knowledge, they need to be able to learn, study and research. You can’t do this if you don’t read.

Many studies, like this one from 2003 by the Urban Institute, found that about 70% of offenders and ex-offenders are high school dropouts. About half are “functionally illiterate”, meaning they can’t read above a fourth-grade level.

Worse, statistics show that 85% of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are essentially illiterate. Penal institution records show that inmates have a 16% chance of returning to prison if they receive literacy help, as opposed to 70% who receive no help. I can’t hire someone – or even teach them the skills my company requires – if they don’t have a high school level of literacy. Being illiterate is a complete non-starter.

Some of the big companies – and good for them – have the resources to help these ex-convicts learn these skills. But small businesses like mine, which employ more than half of the country’s workers, don’t have the ability to do this. So what can be done?

"Governments and non-profits should be investing in programs to get prisoners educated on the basics of reading and math."

The answer is literacy. Don’t pay me to hire ex-felons. Pay to get them literate. People in prison need to learn how to read, period. Instead of tax credits and other incentives for businesses to hire, governments and non-profits should be investing in programs to get prisoners educated on the basics of reading and math first. That’s the priority. Because once someone is at a proficient level of education, he or she can then learn the rest. But they can’t do that if they can’t read an instruction manual or study for a Microsoft certification.

That’s what I’m looking for before hiring someone out of prison. I need people who can read. Unfortunately, that’s not what the system is producing.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Can I Become a Nurse with a Criminal Conviction?

Can I Become a Nurse with a Criminal Conviction?


My name is Denise. I am a 28-year-old female and have two felony convictions from over three years ago, both drug-related. I have been in recovery for over three years, have completed a technical diploma for human services, and am currently a youth counselor/ case manager at a local shelter home. My hopes have been to become a nurse. However, I have no idea if this is possible and neither does anyone else.

I know the laws vary from state-to-state, but I have never been able to get a direct answer on any state laws regarding this. I have done a great job of turning my life around, gaining connections, and utilizing the opportunities I've been presented with, so there is no doubt that if the law allows it I can obtain my license and find a job, regardless of my background. However, I don't want to waste my time and money if the state laws bar me from obtaining my license. 

What should I do? Thanks :)

Can I Become a Nurse with a Criminal Conviction?

Hello Denise,

I often get this question.  I suggest you contact the medical licensing board in your state to see if you were eligible to be licensed.  Also, if the school you are thinking of attending has a placement office, I'm sure they could get that information for you.

I hope this helps.

Companies that Hire Felons


Can I Become a Nurse with a Criminal Conviction?

Jobs for Felons

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Monday, June 22, 2020

Female Felon Seeks a Job

Female Felon Seeks a Job

Female Felon Seeks a Job

My name is Melissa I'm from Philly I do have a criminal record. I got into some trouble when I was 18 years old and was found guilty of aggravated assault, possessing instrument of a crime, simple assault, criminal conspiracy, reckless endangering another person. I was given 11 months jail time.

I thought I needed to better my self because I knew it wasn't gonna be easy trying to find work so I went back to school when I was 26 and got my high school diploma and went to school for cosmetology and completed it also in '07. I'm 28 now single mom of 2 year old twins my question is on my record there are a lot of charges that I wasn't found guilty of and next to them it says nolle prossed.  Is there any way that I can get those removed because it looks really bad with all these charges on there and I think this might be the reason why my luck hasn't been good.

Is there a program out there that has job leads only for ex-offenders if so please put me down. 

 Female Felon Seeks a Job

Hello Melissa,
Female Felon Seeks a Job

I'm sorry you are having so much trouble. As I suggest to ex-offenders and felons looking for jobs is to apply to small companies. Surely there are hundreds of small salons in Philadelphia that can use a hard-working person with a cosmetology degree. You may have to be willing to start off at the bottom, perhaps shampooing and cleaning up. It may not be what you want right away but it's a start. Pick up the phone book and start making a list of salons to visit. Have some business cards made up and leave them with salon owners advertising that you will work on an on call basis if there are no permanent positions available.

You may want to the Philadelphia Re-entry Coalition.  There you will find a list of resources that can help ex-offenders and felon.  You can get more information here:

 In Pennsylvania, under some circumstances, you may be able to have a criminal record expunged, which means that information is removed from your record.  If you are eligible to have your records expunged, you may petition the court for an order of expungement. I suggest seeking legal assistance from a qualified attorney. You may be able to free or low-cost help at your local legal aid office. You can get more information here:

I hope this helps

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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!

Lady Felon needs Job Search Help

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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Why JPMorgan Chase Wants to Give More Former Criminals a Second Chance

Why JPMorgan Chase Wants to Give More Former Criminals a Second Chance
Why JPMorgan Chase Wants to Give More Former Criminals a Second Chance
Originally published on By Matthew Heimer October 21, 2019
In 2018, financial giant JPMorgan Chase hired more than 20,000 people in the U.S. Roughly 10% of them—about 2,100—had a criminal history. And if CEO Jamie Dimon’s plans are realized, those employees will eventually be joined by many more co-workers with similar blotches on their records. 
JPMorgan today is announcing several major steps to encourage second-chance hiring for those with criminal records. The bank is officially "banning the box"—removing all questions about criminal records from its job applications. It will steer more than $7 million toward organizations that provide job- and life-skills training to the formerly incarcerated. The bank is also launching a new “policy center,” a think tank of sorts that will design and advocate for regulatory changes around certain economic issues. Its first agenda item: reforming rules that effectively bar former felons from employment, in finance and elsewhere.
In an interview with Fortune, Dimon described the new campaign as an offshoot of the bank’s widening economic-revitalization campaign, an effort that has involved steering financing, training and expertise to cash-starved neighborhoods, particularly in Detroit and Chicago. Those campaigns, he said, had exposed more of the bank’s leaders to the challenges faced by “returning citizens” with felonies on their records. “They can’t get jobs, they can’t rent a home,” Dimon said. “Socially, they’re on the margins.”
The bank’s moves come at a time of growing bipartisan support for criminal-justice reforms that could help better integrate former offenders in the economy. Those include reductions of penalties for some minor misdemeanors, as well as measures that could help people more easily expunge their criminal records. There are about 70 million working-age adults in the U.S. with either an arrest record or a criminal conviction, according to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice. Research suggests people with such blemishes are much less likely to make it past a first job interview. And a 2018 study put the unemployment rate among formerly incarcerated people at 27%, many times higher than the wider jobless rate.
JPMorgan stresses that its focus is on building opportunities in entry level jobs for people whose past offenses were relatively minor—think DUIs, disorderly conduct, or low-level drug possession. (Hiring hardened criminals or fraudsters to work in sensitive financial positions remains well out of bonds.) The bank’s early pilot programs in building an employment pipeline for candidates that qualify will be focused in Chicago, where JPMorgan launched a $40 million neighborhood revitalization campaign in 2017. 

A new policy arm

Heather Higginbottom, a former State Department official during the Obama administration, will begin tackling issues related to returning citizens in her new role as head of the JPMorgan Chase PolicyCenter. At the top of the agenda, she told Fortune, is working with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to ease rules that make it hard for financial institutions to make second-chance hires. Other priorities, she said, include campaigning at the state and local level for broader ban-the-box rules; making criminal-record expungement automatic for low-level convictions; and changing rules that enable courts to suspend the drivers’ licenses of minor offenders—a punishment that often hamstrings someone’s ability to get or hold down a job.  
The PolicyCenter will eventually take on a range of other issues related to economic inclusion. Dimon said he envisions the center “digging into everything that creates income volatility—tax payments, healthcare, having to get your car fixed.” Higginbottom added, “The criteria is: Do we have unique expertise and experience? We’re looking at things like retirement savings, affordable housing, areas where we bring a lot of data to bear.” 
What made second-chance hiring the first priority? Dimon said one catalyst for the decision was Bryan Stevenson, the law professor, defense attorney, and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative. Stevenson spoke to top JPMorgan Chase executives in 2018 about criminal-justice reform and racial inequities. People in the audience “were absolutely speechless and teary-eyed,” Dimon recalled. “The injustices of the system—that motivates people.” 

Why JPMorgan Chase Wants to Give More Former Criminals a Second Chance

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Why JPMorgan Chase Wants to Give More Former Criminals a Second Chance

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