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JOBS: When does ex-cons’ punishment end?

Letter by David C. Miles, Tacoma on Nov. 29, 2011 at 9:11 am with 16 Comments »
November 29, 2011 11:07 am

It is generally perceived that the hardest part of being convicted of a felony crime is the time you have to spend in prison. While it is true that being away from your friends and family is certainly difficult, the true pressure occurs when you are released back into society.

It seems like wherever you go, you’re marked. People who don’t even know you judge you on the past, never looking at the person you are but at the things you have done.

While I agree there are certain crimes that are so heinous that they should not be discounted, most offenses are the result of some sort of chemical dependency issue. I know all mine were – property crimes that were committed to support a drug addiction.

I certainly take responsibility for my actions, to the point of addressing my problems through chemical dependency treatment and the prison sentence I served, but at what point do I stop being punished?

Do you know how few places will hire a qualified, skilled worker who has a felony record? I do. Companies that see my résumé posted online will be interested until they find out I am a felon.

How can a man live the right way, be the man he wants to be, when no one will give him a chance? For those of us trying to change, how much do we have to pay before it’s enough?

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Leave a comment Comments → 16
  1. Although not a felon myself I agree with you David. Any person that is/has turned their life around deserves a chance. I would hire someone like you in a minute knowing that you are striving to do what is right and also that you know about living in”the dark side”, which we are all tempted by sometime in our life. Please keep the faith, God bless you.

  2. David, when you wrote this, you shot yourself in the foot…

    “While I agree there are certain crimes that are so heinous that they should not be discounted, most offenses are the result of some sort of chemical dependency issue.”

    So your excuse for committing your crimes is chemical dependancy. Well, as I see it, as long as you make excuses for your crimes, then you should continue to be known as an ex-con. When you admit that, chemicals or not, it was your fault and your fault alone for making bad decisions, then maybe you deserve some consideration.

  3. itwasntmethistime says:

    David, when you can verify that you have replaced every bit of property you stole or damaged (not just the stuff you got caught for) and have apologized in person to every person you ever stole from you can have a fresh start.

    You’re not winning any points by asserting that property crimes are not crimes against people. It created a true hardship for my family when we had to replace an expensive car window a thief broke last year, and believe me, we took it personally.

  4. cclngthr says:

    Well, David, the answer is really simple. You are responsible for your actions, including past actions. If you have committed a crime, even though you claim that crime is to support an addiction, you have to realize that you are completely responsible for your actions. You also have to realize your past actions will affect your future, and where you are able to work, live and do your daily activities. People look at past history and make a judgement call that protects their overall interest. Employers generally choose not to employ felons for a variety of reasons, and one of them is a risk factor of the felon repeating that behavior. Felons convicted of a crime face a high rate of repeating the crime than non-felons do.

  5. BlaineCGarver says:

    Perhaps you can start your own business, and hire felons.

  6. cclngthr says:

    I also doubt, BlaneCarver, that even if David were to start a business and hire felons, what kind of business that company would get from other companies and the public? It is likely that business would be very slow due to the felon/convict issue.

    Both of my brothers are/were in prison, and neither realize(ed) that past histories can dictate what they can do. One was prohibited from being around children and was limited where he could live and go. The other faces limitations due to a federal robbery charge.

  7. Blaine you forgot he should build his own apartments as well then he can be there hero by the Blaine I agree with you

  8. Hi, this is David, the writer of this letter. First, I want to thank everyone for their feedback, especially Darlin’, since she agreed with me. I don’t want anyone to think I excuse my actions for any reason, I made the choices, I paid the price. Information for possible employers of felons, any felon just released from prison that is hired by a company is bondable through the Federal govt. for $100,000, also the company is given a tax break of $2,400 the first year, and $1,200 the second year. So there is a reward ontop of getting a valued employee.

  9. Dave, it takes some courage to reveal yourself like this, so I want to commend you for that.

    Could you further explain the last part of your post?

    What does it mean that companies that hire felons are “bondable through the Federal govt. for $100,00.”?

    Are you telling us that for each felon a company hires it gets to take $2,400 the first year and $1,200 the second off the taxes due, or its adjusted income?

    Thanks!

  10. slugoxyz says:

    Hmm. I’d like to say that this is a dilemma but in fact, it isn’t. David, you made a choice. No matter what reason you give me for that choice, you still made that choice. No one made it for you. You made it. That choice (or the many bad choices) has placed you squarely behind the 8-ball.

    It’s a little like trust. If you lie to me, how long before I should trust you? Well, it varies from person to person. But truth be told, that lie plants the seed of doubt in my mind. In fact, you can never get back to 100%. If you break the law, commit a felony, how long before I should trust you? Yes. Your initial punishment was prison but your release from prison doesn’t mean we should trust you immediately. Why would I hire you before I hired a person who has not committed a felony? Even if that person had less skill, I trust him/her. He or she has lived their life making the right choices (or they’ve never been caught). In either case, if I am hiring and I have the choice between felon and honest person, I’m hiring honest. Why wouldn’t I? Does that mean you aren’t honest now? Does that mean you aren’t a good person now? Nope. But we have to set the bar somewhere. I can’t afford to do an extensive psychological exam on every person I hire (and as clean as you say you are, I wonder what demons lie deep down). I can only do the regular background and upon doing so, I will discover that at some point in your life, you made a series of bad decisions. Recidivism rates are just ugly and maybe the reason for that is that a convict can’t get a break. But that makes it a vicious circle and you on the outside of that circle. I wish your words would make young people think again before making a bad decision that will punish them for the rest of their lives. That’s the best I can offer you. You can reach out to young people on the cusp of decisions that will change their lives. Professionally, you screwed yourself and I’m not sure there is redemption. Not 100%. I realize that life is not black and white but at best, as a convict, you lie somewhere in the grey and that’s probably the best you’ll ever achieve. Bummer.

  11. Hi, it’s David again I would love to explain all the government programs for employers that hire felons so what I will do is research it more thoroughly. I will make a comment tomorrow posting my results.

  12. Thanks David. I will be looking forward to what you have to post.

  13. Hi this is David, sorry I didn,t get back to you yesterday. This is what I have found regarding the benefits of hiring felons getting released from prison. Within one year of release, any company that is willing to hire will receive a $2400 tax credit after taht employee has worked a total of 600 hours in the yearfor the same company, in the second year of employment the company receives a $1200 tax credit after the same criteria is met. In addition the company can request a bond from the Federal government, called a fidelity bond, that will cover any losses, upto $100,000 that result from criminal actions by that employee in the event they resort to old crimnal behaviors. This reduces the potential of loss that may incur. I agree that potential employers of proven felons should require some evidence that that person has made positive strides in changing, don’t just take our word for it, but how about giving us a chance to show you what we have been doing to leave that lifestyle behind us. For example, I can provide proof that I was involved in, and completed an intensive chemical dependancy treatment program. While this is no gaurantee, it does, I believe show significant progress.
    I don’t want people to think I have a pity party going in my head. I have people that love me, a church that trust me to volunteer to work there, am given free roam to most of their facility, and faith that God will bless me as I continue to love and trust Him. I wish I could post a way for people to contact me directly, but I don’t think that’s allowed, if it is let me know thru a post and I will post my email address, because I would love to correspond directly with some of you, especially the ones that have a somewhat negative view toward my letter so I could demonstrate what God is capable of doing in someone’s life. God bless you all.

  14. Well David, given the info you have just provide as regards the benefits a company gets for hiring a felon, it seems like they would be foolish not to. If they hire me, a person with no criminal record, they get no tac credit or bond whatsoever. They just get an employee.

    In your letter you wrote: “Do you know how few places will hire a qualified, skilled worker who has a felony record? I do. Companies that see my résumé posted online will be interested until they find out I am a felon.”

    Perhaps, if there were some way to put on your resume or cover letter the actual benefits of hiring a felon, then maybe that would make a difference. Maybe prospective employers just don’t realize what a good deal they would get by hiring felons, over non-felons.

    If they do know the benefits of the tax credit and bond, why do you think they still don’t want to hire felons? There must be some reasoning behind it. What’s your take on it?

  15. Well I think the reality is most companies don’t know about the benefits, also you may have heard the term ‘ once an addict, always an addict’, I believe people feel the same about criminal behavior. This may not be allowed, or even wise but I believe that God has given me an opportunity to show his grace in my life so here is my personal email address, milesd63@yahoo.com, anyone feel free to contact me and I will be glad to discuss the challenges in the life of an ex-felon, an addict and how I am able to keep my integrity intact today through the grace of God.

  16. CleanBeachGroup says:

    Volunteering is a great way to show potential employers that you’re involved in positive activities that benefit the community.

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