When Convicted Felons Can't Find Work

The purpose of this article is not to look at why people commit felony's, why they were sent to prison, given probation, or other rehabilitative measures the felon has completed or refused to partake. What we are looking at here are the after-affects of a felony conviction and how this impacts gaining employment.

A felony conviction severely restricts an individuals ability to gain meaningful employment. Employment discrimination emerges in various common forms including employment application screening, criminal background checks, reference checks, and professional licensing restrictions. Most employers look no further than at the surface of these convictions and biasly conclude that other applicants, even the less qualified without a felony conviction, are more suited for employment.

Our society looks down on the convicted felon as someone who can never be trusted and/or not deserving employment.

While it is true that some crimes are more hideous than others, not all felons are equal. A murder or rapist (violent crimes) is far less likely to gain employment as compared to someone convicted of Drug Abuse or Felony Fleeing (non-violent crimes). These examples are, never the less, felonies.

So what does one do when they can't gain meaningful employment due to a felony conviction?

  • Lie/Nondisclosure on employment applications - With this being the most popular, one hopes that the employer will not perform a criminal background check and the applicant relies solely upon his/her interview skills to land the job. In many prison systems, most Pre-Release programs will teach these "skills". If the employer later finds that the employee does have a felony criminal background, this can be grounds for termination, but well worth the gamble on part of the employee. If the employee becomes well-liked and is productive then chances are he/she will not be terminated and asked to not discuss the conviction with other employees.
  • Change ones identity - This common road may include using (for employment purposes) the name and other personal information from a friend or family member with no criminal record. The goal here is to evade an employers criminal background check and/or gaining licenses in restricted career fields. The identity change may be either consensual or by theft. If done consensual then this will most likely remain unreported to police.
  • Self employment - "When you can't find a job, make one." Here we have the entrepreneurial spirit. It's one of a gamble. But generally the bigger the gamble... the bigger the pay off. What we see here is an ideal situation for the convicted felon - he is his own boss and employer. Self-employment pay-offs are substantially larger and provides an easy avenue for "unreported income." Most self-employed transactions are cash or other forms of non-traceable income. Self-employed Services are generally found at substantial lower cost to the consumer, reducing competition and gaining a wider customer-base. It's not uncommon for a self-employed convicted felon to make in excess of $50k to $250k annually and successfully evade reporting such income. Few are ever caught and the financial penalties if caught make it well worth the gamble. In the mindset of the convicted felon one believes the the Local, State and/or Federal governments have no right to their personal income, and not reporting the income is a form of retribution/payback to what the criminal system has done to their personal identity and inability to gain traditional employment. Most self-employed felons and non-felons believe that what the government doesn't know won't hurt them.
  • Career criminal - This is the least taken road of convicted felons, despite popular belief. With this, the convicted felon sustains his/her income by committing regular burglaries, shoplifting, distributing narcotics, extortion, or other criminal activity that provides a decent pay off. This group also has an extremely high rate of prison recidivism. This avenue is also generally found to be a "last resort" when unsuccessfully trying to gain meaningful employment.

Tom & Ruth claim no responsibility in how you, the reader, interprets this information. The above data is for information purposes only, are not suggestions, and is not endorsed or recommended as a lifestyle by Tom & Ruth.

To aid in gaining meaningful employment, as a convicted felon, we recommend that you petition your judge to have the arrest and conviction record sealed from public access.