Where to Find a Job If You Have a Prison Record

The Basics: 

Free black inmateWe are all aware of the horrendous statistics regarding the number of black men in prison.  For too many the numbers are just statistics that the public has become desensitized to.  For the brothers who are incarcerated the situation is too real.  What really hurts is that as bad as prison is, a whole new set of problems exist when you get out. 

Being out of the labor pool for any length of time makes it very difficult to get back in.  For a person with a prison record the problem is exacerbated.  Many people don't want to hire a felon for a number of reasons - some legitimate, some not. 

For many job applications the checkbox exists "Have you ever been convicted of a felony?".  Once this box is checked, many employers will throw the application away or certainly put it at the bottom of the pile.  This forced branding of yourself as a felon severely limits the opportunities for young black men who want to turn their lives around, raise their families, and become productive members of society.  This article highlights some job programs, suggestions, and resources available to you if you have a prison record.

National Programs

After being incarcerated the last place you may want to look to get help finding a job is the federal government.  The fact is however that there are many programs in place to help parolees and ex-inmates find jobs.  The following is a list of programs that offer assistance.

America Works

America Works is a national program that offers a comprehensive and direct approach to finding private-sector jobs for hard-to-place individuals.  America Works only gets paid if they place people in jobs so their incentive is high.  In addition to working with ex-offenders, they also work with welfare recipients and other unemployed people.

American Probation and Parole Association

The American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) is a national organization that provides access to numerous resources including job placement and training, substance abuse recovery, and help with reentry.  The website contains numerous links to these and other resources.

Ex-Offender Reentry

This site contains books, manuals and tips for successfully re-entering society after incarceration.  There are multiple links to local and national resources as well as on-site information about preparing job applications, job search and interview preparation.

Volunteers of America

Volunteers of America is a national organization with local chapters across the country.  One of the focuses of VOA is to advocate for the humane treatment of prisoners and provide services to help offenders successfully transition from prison to productive life in the community.

State Programs

The following programs are in the state of California.  Check for similar programs or the local chapter in your area.

A Reentry Employment Resource

This 6-page guide (prepared by East Bay Works) covers local, state and federal resources to assist you with employment, legal issues and job search.  The guide also lists multiple agencies to assist with finding food, shelter and clothing as well as other necessities for reentry into society.

California Apprenticeship Training Programs

The CalApprenticeship program offers on-the-job apprenticeship training in areas to include bricklaying, carpentry, painting and automotive work.  These paid apprenticeships give you the opportunity to earn a good living-wage while you learn valuable job skills..

Goodwill Industries of the East Bay

Goodwill Industries is a national non-profit organization with local chapters that can assist you with job training, and life coaching to assist in your re-entry into the workforce and society.

Northern California Service League

NCSL is a non-profit agency that has worked inside and outside of San Francisco Jails and California State Prisons and criminal justice for 59 years. Their mission is to reduce crime by helping offenders and ex-offenders become responsible and productive citizens.

General Local Options

Most parolees are mandated to find a job and one of the first places to look is within your own community.  With so many men exiting jail, there is a growing number of individuals and organizations familiar with and who have successfully hired people who have done time.  Within your community you could try some of the following sources for leads and/or employment:

Local Churches

The church is a forgiving place and many who go have seen hard times themselves in one way or another.  Ask your local pastor if he knows of any church members who are looking for a hard working man to help them in their business.  Often times you wil find that a person with good Christina values will be willing to give you a chance, provided that you work hard, are dependable and can do the job.

Community Organizations

There are many organizations in every urban city that exist to help people in one form or another.  Although many of these types of organizations are non-profit they often have paid positions within the organization.  Case workers, administrative help, building maintenance are just some of the types of jobs most organizations require.  An organization designated to help others may be a great place to find a job to help yourself.

What you may not know: 

A person may lose their social security benefits if they have an outstanding arrest warrant.  If this is your situation, contact a lawyer.

As an ex-offender you may be able to suggest the Federal Bonding Program to a prospective employer.  This $8,500 bond serves as insurance against any theft or property loss that may occur as a result of hiring you.  The program (started in 1966 has led to 40,000 jobs for ex-offenders.  To find out more about the program, click here.

What you need to know: 

If you live in California and are an ex-felon the following resource guide (prepared by East Bay Works) is an excellent place to start in terms of finding services and programs to help you get your life started again.  This guide points you to many local, regional and national resources

A Reentry Employment Resource

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