The Beginning of a Life After a Felony

Introductions – Meet The Friendly Felon

Hey there reader! If you’ve found my blog I’m going to assume that you entered the dreaded words “felon friendly” into your search bar of choice and clicked this link out of curiosity for what advice I might have that has to do with those words.

Believe me, I’m familiar with the feeling. I’ve entered those words, “felon friendly jobs”, myself into the search bar so many times over the years, hoping for some new information about jobs that will accept felons. Trying to get an advantage on the playing field of society is not easy without a record in the first place and the whole experience is about ten times as difficult when you do have a record of some sort.

Despair not, as over time here, I will regale you with my own experiences, sharing some pro-tips (which may or may not work in your state or area, the legal beagles like to keep us on our toes which does require some investigation on your own) for how to get by in a world that is not exactly felon friendly.

My Background – Becoming the Friendly Felon

Some background that you might find interesting:

I’m literally a convicted felon – making a site for other felons who are struggling to find those second chances after their conviction. My conviction is theft based, but I hope that what I share is useful for anyone that is trying to get back on a positive path in life.

Now, it took me a while to get to a point where this was a possibility – I was just as lost and confused as you might be feeling right now. I mean, I had no idea what I would do with my life overall or even what I would be doing the next week. Life with a felony isn’t exactly a stable thing – especially in the early years after release. But here I am, now fully armed with research and experience.

Just over ten years ago (at the original time of posting anyway), I made a ton of crap choices in who I hung out with and generally in the majority of my behavior (yay for teenage hormones, not). It’s sort of crazy how things in life can spiral out of control so quickly before you find yourself in a bad place.

-But, it happens. The millions of people with convictions of some sort on their background record proves this – as well as the thousands of stories felons like us have shared – life just gets out of control sometimes. Honestly, approximately one in three people have a criminal conviction of some kind on their record – not all of these are felonies, but the point is – we are definitely not alone in having a criminal record (which I’m defining as every arrest/charge/conviction in your name as recorded by any officiating entity – since that seems to be an issue for some experts in the arena).

For me, it’s a Class 2 Theft conviction that I’m dealing with personally, and it’s my only one – just a single adult criminal conviction – but even that single conviction for theft seems to take out a large portion of career choices even though it isn’t/wasn’t violent and wasn’t spectacular in any particular way.  That single conviction made my life very difficult from that point forward. Especially in a small rural community from which I couldn’t even fathom escaping from (no job, no money – means no moving). From the ice cream parlor across the road to the diners and cafes frequented by local farmers – none would hire me or even give me a kind smile once I explained my situation regarding my background.

This complete exclusion from employment was a huge slap to the face when I began to put in applications everywhere I could. I mean, I was required to put applications in – but I also really wanted a job. I HAD to find something – there was no other option. I had to maintain my shelter and I had no way to find support otherwise. It was too early after the conviction to try to get into the welfare housing authorities in the area or get another landlord that would take me in general.

Thankfully, I’m stubborn and determined to thrive regardless of my record and I refuse to settle for less than what I know I’m worth – no matter how many times I hear ‘No’ or ‘We don’t hire felons’ – and all the other negative responses that have been vocalized over the years. I refuse to take ‘No’ as an answer to my quest of finding my own form of success.

I’m also a mom of one, which has been hugely helpful in the motivation to succeed to be honest! In the first year after my conviction I found out I had a little one on the way, and while I was super nervous about it, we’ve made it successfully this far and it’s been pretty outstanding considering everything we had to face. He’s nearing double digits himself already and is also jumping on the computer software programming bandwagon!

Just imagine the predicament I had found myself in at that time, as if it wasn’t bad enough to be looking for a job with a fresh felony record – add in the look on the employer’s face when they found out I was also pregnant and would need maternity leave on top of the other considerations in my situation.

Those first years were incredibly rough – for everyone involved really – but I managed to get through them thanks to a lot of support from my parents and the paternal family of my child as well. I know that not everyone has that support system available though (especially right after release from prison) – and it really hits hard when you need it the most. All I can say is that you can build new connections and essentially those connections become your new family. I’ve had to reach out and do this often – I talk about how I did this in the Guide to Life After a Felony as well, so be sure to check that out.

Recently, there has been a lot of loss in my family – and that fact has been hitting harder and harder with each passing year and each passing family member. But many returning citizens lack the support they need from family – just check out this link for more about how important family support is to improving reentry rates and reducing recidivism overall.

I’m a psychology major. I’m just a few classes away from finishing my bachelor’s degree in psychology. I’m currently studying and working towards becoming a rehabilitation specialist and creating a more positive response to ex-cons and felons and those with issues that they’d like to leave behind them so they can build a better future. This blog is my first small step into the waters of advocating for re-entry into society.

So, all in all, I hope you enjoy as I venture into the world of blogging and helping fellow friendly felons regain their lives and futures!

Check out some of these other posts while you’re here. Find a little hope in life, learn about ban the box efforts, and check out the Guide to Life After a Felony. If you’re looking for felon-friendly tips for finding work with a conviction, the posts about making a resume, getting through interviews, and finding work online can be really helpful too.

Don’t forget to share on your favorite social media – The Friendly Felon can’t be seen without your help. You never know who you might impact with a simple click. Thank you for being here and keep rising above!

Aza Enigma

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