Can ex-felons still get a job?

Consider a young ex-offender who seeks employment to live as decent as possible. Consider too a company seeking "honest" workers that are "reliable" and "trustworthy". I have emphasized the words in quotes not to point out the culpability of hiring ex-felons but to underline the main concerns many employers have regarding that hiring practice.

When seeking to diversify a workforce many employers look to immigrants rather than a group that has long been excluded from the list of minorities. Not all ex-felons can be considered criminals. Some were people who committed acts of violence or were involved in illicit activities because of circumstances they were in at that time. They were not committing those crimes as part of their way of life.

Let me quote an ex-felon in Greensboro NC writing an outraged response to society's treatment of him and others like him:
Many of us are nonviolent offenders who have taken great strides to turn our lives around, only to be slapped in the face with criminal background check history that may be more than 10 years old, time and time again. I find it extremely hard to find out where punishment stops and redemption begins.

All we want is to be able to support our families and be productive, taxpaying citizens like everyone else. Instead we are reduced to being slave workers for temporary services.

If we really are rehabilitating ex-felons and helping them "reenter" society, shouldn't we also consider helping them find employment so they can support themselves and their families without resorting to crime? Luckily there is still a goodly number of employers who are felon-friendly.

In a Denver Office of Economic Development 2005 survey, nearly 350 area companies reported they would hire ex felons. Companies who hire ex-felons seek people who are starting anew. They are more likely to be in their best behavior because they are highly motivated to keep their jobs as part of their parole agreement or their release terms.

Another reason for companies to be felon-friendly is that employers can receive federally mandated tax reductions – up to $2,400 per worker – and a free insurance policy. The tax benefit is part of the U.S. Work Opportunity Tax Credit program that encourages employers to hire disadvantaged job-seekers.

Job search questions and answers for ex-felons abound at Yahoo! Answers. One of the best answers was given by Mufasa who recommended "Safer Foundation" (located just west of downtown Chicago, close to Union station). They have contacts with several of the large corporations in Chicago and can get an ex-felon a job. Usually ex-felons first work a couple of smaller jobs until the employers can evaluate how well he or she works and then they'd set the employee up with Commonwealth Edison, Peoples Energy, and other companies which are felon-friendly.

Another organization helping ex-felons find gainful employment is DenverWorks. This nonprofit training and placement organization helps prepare a variety of workers for primarily entry-level jobs, likely in janitorial, food service, manufacturing and warehouse settings.

The organization also conducts job-preparation workshops and provides free clothing for employment interviews and new employees. Its computer lab is open for training and job-search use.

Reach DenverWorks at (303) 433-0300 and online at

For ex-felons seeking jobs from felon-friendly companies try following these job search tips from credible sources:
The JobLounge - Resumes for Ex-Felons
The Ex-Offender's Job Hunting Guide


Anonymous said...

Thank you SO very much for this information. 10 years ago, my son, who had never even had occasion to speak to police was arrested for a felony which he committed. He served his time. Now - 10 years later - he cannot even get a job at a 7/11. It is heart-breaking for our family to watch someone who is so bright and personable end up suicidal because he cannot find work except with the sleaziest employers who cheat him time & again. He wants desperately to get married, have a family and participate in our democratic process. One youthful mistake should not destroy a person's life forever: WHEN DOES THE PUNISHMENT END?
So I thank you for the helpful information; I will immediately pass it on to my son.

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