Felons – crime Essay

         Individuals with a criminal record, yet recognize the importance of being able to reenter society, find themselves battling an uphill battle against still competition for jobs as well as the preconceived notions that many employers have. North Carolina is no different. All ex felons, whether they are violent offenders, substance abusers or had committed sexu8al crimes, find to one varying degree or another, the difficulty in obtaining gainful employment.

This has been the case for John Unger. Mr. Unger had a long history of drug abuse but despite the fact that he once worked as a computer programmer at IBM and earned his Masters in Computer Science, being able to find any job comparable to what he had in his past life, was nearly impossible.  He states: “I entered treatment at age 30 and, with the help of support groups, was able to earn by MBA at the age of 32…I served 20 months in a NC prison and have not been able to find sustainable employment since my release.

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.. One could say that in respect, I have been given a death sentence of sorts. I have tried in vain to secure employment but even the most menial positions in the labor market have rejected me. It is a very difficult existence.” ( Enelow, 2005 p.

23)  Mr. Unger’s initial sentence was as a  result of a minor theft that was caused by his need to buy more drugs. He was ordered to enter a half way house but once he left, a warrant was given for his arrest and he ended up spending almost two years in prison. The worst part is the stigma that is associated with his record. He is 49 years old and not only does his age serve as an impediment to becoming a new employee, but coupled with his criminal record, as Mr. Unger stated: It is a very difficult existence. Another individual said: “I would tell the interviewer that in my youth or previously, I was in jail or prison for using bad judgment.

That while in jail or prison, I worked toward or obtained my G E D or some other training if that is the case. Try to point out something positive done or achieved while incarcerated.Tell the interviewer that “I understand that employers may have misgivings about hiring me, and that I plan to work hard to earn their trust and to help them see I can be a valuable employee.” (Enelow, 2005 p. 25) What is not unique, is the difference of their stories.

Some employers have an open mind to an individual with a criminal past and others do not. Susan Gresham, a ex felon from Winston Salem, told of her brother’s desire to give people a second chance:  “My oldest brother, Jim, passed away in Oct 2000. At the funeral, I approached the casket and a young man was standing there in tears. All afternoon I had heard how my brother had helped people. I commented to the young man that I had not known Jim had helped so many people. The young man looked at me and said “Helped people? Jim Gresham saved my life. I was a bad drug addict/alcoholic felon and no one would give me a chance. No one, until I walked in to his office.

He put his arm around me and told me he would give me a chance. He was like the father I never had. I will continue to honor him in death by not ever going back to my old ways and always working hard”. (www.state.nc.us) Due to the fact that the federal government does not include a person’s violent criminal record is not included in the list of characteristics that an employer cannot discriminate against.

Therefore, there are as many different stories as there are ex offenders who are released. And according to the Department of labor, there is an average of 620,000 individuals who are released from prison. And the numbers of those same people that will find themselves back in prison are very alarming. One way in which the governmental and state programs see in decreasing this number is through the securing of gainful employment.But these stories are not unique.

One ex felon who wished to remain anomalous, said this about his inability to obtain employment after he was released from prison: it doesn’t matter to anyone that I served my country in the Gulf War. I have tried to lie about my past and I have also tried to be truthful but to no avail. It has been eight years since this “F” has been on my record.

” (Enelew, 2005 p. 254)  Many ex felons have complained about the same thing: A mistake, usually made in one’s youth and in which his prison sentence has been served for years, instead turns into a life sentence. Mr. Mercer, a previous high priced architect has suffered a similar fate.

” I am a professional architect. I am also a convicted felon. Although my crime was committed almost twenty years ago I will bear the stigma of a lifetime sentence. Once potential employers learn of my single conviction, they do not even offer the courtesy of a personal letter or notification of denial for employment.” (Solomon, 2005 p. 34) There is no law which requires an employer to hire a convicted felon and the tax breaks that employers do receive, usually do not serve as enough encouragement within the white collar crimes, which is has been shown, includes the past of many current and past convicted felons.Despite the fact that a convicted felon, one individual has remained upbeat and optimistic. She tells of being a twenty year veteran but who fell on hard times and found herself charged with assault and battery while committing a theft.

She suggests getting into a support group. “I got into counseling to deal with the issues that led to my poor choices. Most people who commit crimes are doing so because they won’t face their pain…. I entered a 12 step program to deal with my issues… So whatever your crime, seek its source. Focus on the cause, not the outcome.

” (www.state.nc.us) This is what will continue to be stressed by the North Carolina Board of Parole Review.But his story is not unique. This is due to the fact that a large number of people within the prison system are from the professional, white collar world. This makes the sting of a criminal record even tougher as it is even less likely that one, once being allowed to return back to society, will be able to secure this high level, high demand, yet with very stiff competition positions.

This was the case for Jerry Murray. “I am at the end of my rope. I have a non-violent, class D Felony for theft that was committed 2 years ago. I have a College Degree in Marketing Management and have great work experience… I applied for a job at Owens-Corning for a job in Sales and Construction and I lied about my felony. I passed all the requirements and beat out two other candidates.

I truly believed that they would do the background check first. When they didn’t, I thought maybe God heard my prayers. Upon my first day at work, the Boss says a background check revealed my record.

I pleaded with him to give me a shot as that was an isolated incident… All to no avail.

I have contemplated suicide. I just can’t face the future with this amount of hopelessness. Please say a prayer for me.

I just can’t deal with this.” (www.doc.state.nc.us) The report did not go into detail about the exact crime that Mr. Murray was guilty of committing but it is all too likely, that the mistake that he made, was an isolated incident. However, the incident would not remain isolated in the capacity regarding how his future employers would view it.

Later, a detailed summary of the North Carolina Board of Labor will go into detail regarding the types of employment that ex felons may expect to be able to secure. The report, though uplifting to those who might have had no hope before, also gives blunt realities concerning the fact that an ex felon still must remain realistic about the types of jobs that they should expect to secure. For white collar workers, the stigma of having a criminal record, many times, prevents the individual from ever knowing that type of life again.

In this respect, one mistake is never really paid for and that will make all the difference. As it will be seen as a central theme, the idea that an individual’s debt has been paid to society once they have been released from prison, is not always the case.However, when the offender has a realistic set of expectations, the transition may not be as daunting as once assumed. For one, employers are given tax breaks by the federal government for hiring individuals with a criminal record. And in North Carolina, over 1200 employers said that they would have little or no interpretations towards hiring someone with a criminal record. These all lead to hope for the person with a criminal record but who knows how essential it is to get back into society and that one of the first and most important steps in that process is securing gainful employment.

                                            The North Carolina Department of Labor recognizes this need and has set forth a number of guidelines for those looking to make that transition from a jail cell to now becoming a productive member of society. The North Carolina Department of Labor states: “Its goal is to help prison inmates get good paying jobs after they return to their homes. Our experience has shown that most inmates do not know how to go about this. Even in prison, inmates can do a number of things that will increase their future employment ability.” The Department of Labor warns convicts who are looking to make this transition, not to wait until the last minute as assume that things will go smoothly. Many prisons have educational programs that give the offender the opportunity to complete their GED as well as earn valuable skills that one would find at a certified trade school.

These are the types of areas of employment where the employers have a more open mind towards one with a criminal past and are more likely to hire these individuals. Not only should one’s education be completed before leaving prison, but one’s career goals and objectives should be laid out as well as being realistic. :”Many people who prepare for release are unrealistic about what they are going to do and lack a workable plan. An example is a person who has no business experience and plans to start a business instead of finding employment.” ( www.state.nc.us) The handbook goes on to explain the impediments that come from an individual with a criminal record expecting their transition into society to be laced with an entitlement mentality.

This is not the case and there are no special circumstances observed in helping a convicted felon obtain employment above that of one with a military background. Contrary to the belief of some past offenders, there does not exist, any special business grants given to ex offenders. “many inmates who give their case manager this employment plan are really admitting that they don’t have one. A long term goal can be to start a business, but employment should be your immediate post release objective.” ( Solomon, 2005 p. 32)           The recommendations by the Labor Board of Review gives much support to the idea that the responsibility lies with the individual regarding the securing of gainful employment. There are sources of assistance but in the end, the responsibility lies with the individual.

Proper copies of birth certificates as well as social security cards and other important documents that cite you’re on the job training in the past, will further your case in desiring to be gain employment, should be retrieved and copies made. Also, in these post 9/11 days, the newly formed Department of Homeland Security is helping to enforce our long neglected immigration laws. A completed I-9 form in order to check the eligibility for employment within the United States will be sought as well. Resumes, high school or GED diplomas as well as college degrees, resumes, certificate of vocational training and transcripts from every school that the ex offender has attended, even prison schools, should all be included in the individual’s folder with extra copies to be accompanied with them.

This level of competence and organization skills, optimizes one’s ability in securing gainful and meaningful employment.                                                                                                         However, the tools that the ex offender has in securing such employment is no different than anybody else. If an ex offender is a veteran, then contacting the local VA office at 1-800-827-1000 or visiting their website at www.va.gov can serve as a helpful tool as well. But if one is not a veteran, in the state of North Carolina, the tools at one’s disposal are very basic.

An ex offender can receive help regarding useful information from their parole officer. However, no amount of assistance and state and federal programs can serve as an adequate substitute for the right mindset. This comes from one recognizing their weaknesses and being willing to meet those weaknesses head on by asking for help in areas where the state has specific programs to combat what is the number one source of criminal activity: substance abuse.

It was discovered that “In 1985, a North Carolina Legislature Research Commission reported that over 67% of criminal offenses are directly connected to alcohol and drug use.” (Enelew, 2005 p. 321) And that treatment towards this addiction was imperative to the offender if he wished to remain out of prison and become a productive member of society. “The commission proposed an act to establish a substance abuse program for inmates.  Soon thereafter, two statutes were amended, and a Department of Correction Substance Abuse and Chemical Dependency Program was created.” (www.ncsbi.gov) The Division of Alcoholism and Chemical Dependency Program or DACDP, focuses on “providing comprehensive interventions, programs and services that afford offenders with alcohol and/or drug problems the opportunity to achieve self-actualized recovery.

” (www.ncsbi.gov)Despite the fact that ex-offenders have no special status with the state and their desire to secure gainful employment, there are still a number of resources at one’s disposal.

In North Carolina, a helpful website, set up through the Human Resources Department of the state is www.state.nc.

us. This website gives a comprehensive and up to date listing of all that jobs where an employer has a history of being open minded towards the hiring of ex offenders. Other helpful sources can be found in the blue pages of the telephone book. Federal jobs can be found at www.usajobs.opm.

gov or call 478-757-3000. With the use of these two resources, job seekers are then able to secure fact sheets, applications, forms and apply for some of the jobs that they find would be of interest to them. Another helpful resource is the fact that one can submit their resume as well. The employee handbook for ex offenders in North Carolina also suggests that  within 60 days of being released, proper resumes and cover letters should be finished and have been submitted to at least 10-20 potential employers.

Also, the suggestion to follow up with employers after these forms have been submitted also serves as a helpful tool in getting the job that one wants. “remember, that employers are looking for people who know what they want to do, who have skills and who want a career with their company. Don’t forget to consider employers who hire staff for hotels, colleges, hospital, and apartment building owners/managers” (www.ncsbi.

gov) This is consistent with the state’s recommendation that an ex-offender not be put off from securing employment by seeking after the highest paying jobs with the most demand for them. Parole officers within North Carolina as well as the test of the country stress the vital importance in an ex-offender finding employment as soon as possible. A job saves the state money as well as greatly decreases the chances that the ex-offender will commit another crime. According to the North Carolina Parole Board, ex-offenders who are able to obtain a full time job within 60 days of their release date, are 67% less likely to commit a crime that would put them back in prison within a year and 54% less likely to be sent back to prison within five years. These are just some of the reasons why it the importance of obtaining employment is so very important to not only the state and the ex-offender but also for society as a whole.

The role of the prison system is not only to punish the offender to protect society from the offender. This happens while the offender is imprisoned but can also have a lasting effect once the offender has been released if he finds a job. A job gives a man a sense of purpose as well as keeps him busy, tired and less likely to be attracted to the wrong people and the wrong areas.So an important question is: “Are there employers out there that will hire ex-offenders?” The North Carolina Parole Board says yes: “ One survey showed that of more than 1200 employers, only eight percent said that they would not hire an ex-offender,.

Since 92 percent of employers will consider hiring you, feel free to look for work from any legitimate source.” ( Enelew, 2005, p. 122) This statistic should however, be taken with a grain of salt. There is no proof to show that these employers were giving their truthful response to the question out of fear of retribution from the state if their answers showed a certain degree of prejudice. The testimonials of the individuals earlier in this report tell of a different story. However, it is very important to distinguish between what types of employers are being asked in this survey and what types of jobs are being sought by the individuals who are giving their accounts of difficulty finding employment.            The U.

S. Department of Labor offers tips for finding the right job. According to the report, asking for job leads from family and friends within the community has a 33% success rate and knocking on the door of any employer, factory or office, regardless of whether one knows if there is help wanted, has a success rate of 47%. Also: “using the phone book’s yellow pages to identify subjects or your fields of interest in your town or city where you were released, and then calling up the employers listed in that field to ask them if they are hiring for the type of position you can do well, has a 69% percent success rate.” (www.state.

nc.us) Persistence is the key in getting a job. Having the right attitude and positive attitude can many times, help to overcome in the mind of the employer, any hesitance that he might have in hiring an ex-felon or just anyone that might not fit the criteria for the job 100%, regardless of his criminal record or not. These are the keys to securing employment and putting the ex-offender on the path to a better future.           And even though there are no special status given to ex-offenders when they are released and looking for work, the federal and state governments do have in place, anti discrimination protections that do offer some protection. “While employers are generally not allowed to have blanket bars against hiring people with criminal records, they are permitted to consider the relationship between the conviction record and the job sought.

” (Solomon, 2005. p. 122) This is designed to also protect employers from being sued for wrongful hiring practices while at the same time, trying to protect the people and customers to whom they serve. Some examples of this would be schools, hospitals and homes that service the needs for handicapped children and adults. Despite  a portion of society’s desire to give these ex-offenders a second chance at life, the needs of this vulnerable population need to come first. Most schools and homes for the protection of handicapped persons require background checks and depending on the seriousness of the crime of the applicant, may usually disqualify the person from being hired. However, there are exceptions. Jason Madison, a thirty year old man from Raleigh was attempting to gain employment at a group home in the area.

He was a calm and reserved man with many friends and a wife and kids. He received a job at the group home because of the fact that no background check was issued for him. After a year of employment, with no problems or complaints, it was discovered that a background check needed to be run on this individual. It later came back that Mr. Murray, when attending college at The University of North Carolina, in 1997, had been involved in a string of serious assaults which occurred on campus. One was so serious an offense that he was expelled from school and required to spend 20 months in prison.

Since being released, Mr. Murray has been a model citizen. Due to the time that has transpired since the incident occurred as well as the fact that Mr. Murray had received high praise for his work with the developmentally disabled population over the past year, it was decided, after over a month long investigation, that it would be in the best interest of the company and the residents that Mr. Murray continue to be employed with the company. It was a harrowing experience for Mr. Murray as he feared that the mistakes of his youth would come back to haunt him but was fortunate with his outcome.

           Another example of  one’s criminal past not serving as an impediment to one’s ability to obtain employment is in the case of Bill Richardson. This case is one with a more serious consequence. To look at Bill, one would never have suspected that he had had a violent past and had spent over seven years in jail. When this was learned, the impulse to ask Bill about this was too great to be ignored.

Bill, who is now 34, said that when he was 21 and living in Arizona, had a cousin that dealt drugs. His cousin became mixed up with the wrong people and became a marked man by his competitors. According to Bill, he and his cousin looked very much alike which made Bill scared for his life. This prompted him to carry a gun with him at all times. One night, while walking in an alley, two men came upon him. Bill took his gun out and pointed it at the two men only to realize a short time later that they two men were really police officers.

Bill was also searched and a small portion of marijuana was found on him as well. Whether the entirety of this story is true or not, it cannot be said. Bill spoke with an openness that made the listener feel as though the vast majority of the story was true. What was undeniable was the fact that he spent seven years in jail for the offense. 23 hours in a cell with no television and little contact to the outside world. But once he was released and fully intentional to turn his life around, was able to find employment fairly quickly. He found steady and profitable work in a large printing press in North Carolina. Even though he had served seven years in prison for a violent offence against a law enforcement officer and this was brought to the attention of his employers, despite this fact, along with the fact that Bill had tattoos up and down his arms and calf, was offered the job and has been working there trouble free and without incident for the past 3 years.

So it is a testament to the fact that there is no guarantee that an ex-offender who has seven years of prison time under his belt will be excluded from securing employment or that one who was in prison for twenty months for possession of an illegal substance will be able to easily find work, despite his educational background. A great deal of the outcome depends upon the employer as well as the attitude of the applicant. This can serve as a source of frustration for the applicant but also a source of hope regardless of one’s background.           However, the success rate for ex-offenders who enjoyed a professional white collar profession before being convicted, find their ability to remerge into society to be much more difficult. “A convicted felon could lose a professional license or permit. But, licensing agencies are restricted in their ability to revoke licenses because a person cannot be disqualified from engaging in any occupation, profession, or business for which a state license or permit is required solely because of a prior conviction of a crime except under certain conditions.

” ( www.Enelew, 2005 p. 221)         As it was stated earlier, the  North Carolina State Board of Education: “ cannot issue or renew and must revoke, the certification or authorization of anyone who has been convicted of certain crimes.” (Saxenhouse, 2005 p.

12) The State board specifically highlights sexual crimes as well as violent crimes. The State Board of Education (SBE) can revoke a teacher or school administrator certificate or an authorization or permit (such as those held by athletic coaches, substitute teachers, and teachers teaching outside their endorsement area) of a person convicted of a crime of moral turpitude or of such a nature that the board feels that allowing the holder to keep the credential would impair the credential’s standing.” (Solomon, 2005. p122) The Department of Children and Family Services must also deny a license or approval of one become a foster parent or adoptive family if any member of the family who reside in the household who was convicted of a crime which falls within certain specific guidelines. Continuing to read the requirements that this would include, felonies of a violent or sexual nature are at the top of the list. And also, someone convicted under federal or state law, North Carolina included, of a controlled substance is not eligible for federal assistance for higher education expenses for certain periods.” (Enelew, 2005, p.

165) This is an important aspect to understand. Not only does a felony within one’s criminal record preclude them from securing gainful employment as an immediate result of their conviction but also, can prevent an individual who is in the middle of his educational career in the hopes that he will one day secure employment at the job of his choice. And with a college degree being a requirement, it is unlikely that the job in mind is an entry level job that pays minimum wage. In this respect, the impediment that a felony conviction has on the offender is many times two fold and with long lasting consequences. “This includes grants, loans, or work assistance.

For a conviction of possession, a person is ineligible for one year for a first offense, two years for a second offense, and indefinitely for a third offense. For a sale conviction, a person is ineligible for two years.”  (www.usajobs.opm.gov) A criminal record really can have a lasting effect upon the offender. Not only does a sustained amount of time in prison can add to the difficulty of reemergence upon society from a psychological standings but also from a financial point of view as well, not only in the desire to secure employment at an entrance level job as a laborer or in a job that does not require a college degree but also in one’s attempt to secure a college diploma in the first place.

If one is eligible for federal assistance for college yet their own felony conviction disqualifies them, the chances of receiving a college diploma has decreased rapidly. Also, if the individual is somehow able to still pay for his college education, the chances that his criminal record will allow him to utilize its employment power, has been greatly decreased as well. A criminal record for the white collar worker, really does serve as a double edged sword.         There are however, a number of federal programs that award a limited number of grants to non profit and government sponsored organizations that give aid which support their program activities. However, theses federal programs do not give money directly to any individuals. The website for a list of these programs is www.grants.gov.

The website: “ provides a convenient point for information about the availability of competing ways in which to access the listings of these programs.” (Enelew, 2005. p341)  However, another impediment for the ex-offender is the fact that in the state of North Carolina, there are no special grant programs. This does not exclude an ex-offender from applying for these jobs. However, with the steep competition for these programs, one’s criminal record can serve as an impediment. But, as it is usually the case with an ex-offenders past criminal record, whether it be regarding the employer, university, or government, there rarely in place, any laws which discriminate across the board with regard to an ex-offenders desire these things.

With regard to these small business loans, as it was mentioned earlier in this report, the North Carolina Parole Board discourages ex offenders from trying to start their own business. An ex-felon has access to a limited amount of cash usually and even for people with no criminal record, starting a business has a high failure rate. So why do companies hire ex-offenders? “The main reason for employing people with criminal records is the creation of support. A second reason for this is to get valuable work skills back into the corporate and job environment.” (www.

state.nc.us) it is beneficial to the employer, the employee, the federal government as well as the offender himself to get a job.

A productive individual is a happy and content individual, less likely to revert back to a life of crime. Also, tax credits are given to employers who hire ex offenders. In North Carolina, a tax credit of $2,300 is given for each individual with a criminal record that is hired.                                                                                                                                               The employer also receives tax reductions when they hire ex offenders as well.  “Also, the law in the USA states that no employer may discriminate against ex-offenders. The law however is aimed at persons with minor offense records. Serious offences such as rape, murder and violent acts do not fall in the scope of protection.” (Solomon, 2005 p.

227) This is due in part to the fact that many offenses are minor and there is a forgiveness that is given by the federal and state governments. “Imprisonment of six months or less is seen as pardoned after seven years, while minor offences are excused after only five years. If you were imprisoned for more than 30 months, the record is never wiped or excused. If an offence took place before the age of 18 years, the period is cut in half.” (www.

ncsbi.gov) In this regard, an employee is under no obligation to disclose an offense that has been pardoned. In this respect, it is beneficial to the employee that he does not give his potential employer the opportunity to discriminate against him even though it is reported that over 92% of the 1200 employers polled in the state of North Carolina have stated that they would have no problems hiring people with a criminal past. Such stats of this nature can only be taken at face value as there is no way in which to know the minds and hearts of 1200 employers when actually faced with the possibility of hiring an individual with a criminal record.

This again, only applies to people who are not working in a field that has a portion of “vulnerable population “ among them. Schools, hospitals, nursing homes or group homes are not included on this list. will have to disclose pardoned offenses. “Whenever there is a question on the application form or when the employer asks you in an interview, you should disclose offences. The best way to disclose your offenses is to attach a separate page to the application form with a full explanation for the reasons and the type of offences, as well as the date and relevant rehabilitation steps taken.” (Enelew, 2005 p.

267))One program that has been set up especially for ex-offenders in their desire to reenter the work force in North Carolina is the Prisoner ReEntry- Ready For Work Program. This program “ Addresses the critical need of ex-offenders through faith-based and community organizations. This program is a collaborative effort between the Department of labor, the Department of Justice Public/private ventures, and the Annie E. Casie Foundation.

The initiative seeks to reduce recidivism by focusing on case management, mentoring and job training/placement. Four essential sectors are tapped to deliver these services: business, faith, the justice sector and community.” (Solomon, 2005, p 215) Since President George Bush was elected President back in 2000, there has been a greater push than ever before by the Department of Labor, to establish faith based organizations that help with troubled teenagers, substance abuse and in the assisting of ex-offenders successfully reenter society by dealing with the physical, monetary and spiritual needs of the individual. Ready 4Work “ creates a partnership between businesses, faith-based and community organizations, criminal justice officials, local government and the workforce investment system to improve outcomes for ex-prisoners and the community in which they live. The faith-based and community organizations provide volunteer mentors to help ex-offenders become job ready so they can be referred directly to an employer.” ( Solomon, 2005 p. 223) In North Carolina, the closest faith based organization is in Raleigh and initially received a three year grant in 2003 and its effects were planning on being scrutinized in 2006.

In the case of the Raleigh organization, they saw a 16% decrease in the number of ex offenders that found themselves in trouble within a year of their release date from prison. This is not a great decrease but since the grants that they receive from the government are small compared to the dollars spent trying to fight the war on drugs and with witnessing less of a success rate, coupled with the fact that much of the workforce that comes with these organizations are volunteer based, the cost to the state and the federal government is at a minimum. For more information on these programs, please call 1-800-829-1040.

   Another tool at the disposal of an informed ex-offender is the federal bonding program. “The federal bonding program is a unique tool to help a job applicant get and keep a job. The program issues Fidelity bonds and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of labor. A fidelity bond is a business insurance policy that protects the employer in case of any loss of money or property due to employee dishonesty.” (Saxenhouse, p. 218)   This is all in an effort to help erase the discrimination that comes from an employer being reluctant to hire an individual with a criminal record.

If an employer does hire such an individual on good faith and the hiring actually makes the employer lose money by way of direct thrift of the company’s materials or dishonesty of any kind, that employer is reimbursed by the federal government. This is a relatively new program directed by the US Department of Labor and the numbers on the amount of money that has been paid out in relation the number of cases, state by state, is still being waited upon to be submitted. However, with this program comes a possibility of dishonesty by the employer and the program could be exploited. In North Carolina however, the number of such cases have been extremely low with only four suspicions of employer theft.           When the Republicans took over Congress in 1994-95, the welfare program saw a drastic overhaul.

No longer were people allowed to stay on welfare for as long as they desired and specific caps were placed upon the length and circumstances in which one would be allowed to remain on welfare. In this respect, welfare programs are more likely to service the disabled, elderly and otherwise unemployable individuals. It is seen that an ex-offender may not necessarily be deemed “unemployable.” This is due to the amount of effort as well as the programs that both the federal as well as the state of North Carolina has put forth in order to help the ex-offender enter back into society successfully. As a result, there are sixteen states in which there is no general assistance programs for ex offenders and six states in which welfare assistance programs are on a county by country basis.

North Carolina is one of these counties.A criminal record does not have to be a life sentence for an ex-offender, but many times, if the ex-offender expect to reenter society with the same degree of success immediately after being released from prison, he or she will be hit with a strong dose of reality. If one had secured a white collar job before being imprisoned, there is a strong likelihood that such a  job may never be available to him for the rest of their lives. Testimonials have been given by people who had committed their crimes years and some decades in the past. They have had a clean and productive work record since then but many times, that blot on their criminal record will come back to haunt them and as it was described in one testimony, a life sentence was given for a crime that had only a 20 month sentence. This is the problem for the small but significant number of ex-offenders who held professional jobs and who wish to reenter society at the same level in which they left society. More times that not, this dream does not come to fruition.

            That is why the North Carolina Parole Review Board suggests that the main goal of the ex-offender is to stay persistent and have the right positive attitude but to be realistic. It would be better, the Review Board suggests, to be focused upon getting a job instead of being out of work for months or years as the individual waits for the high priced professional job that pays six figures a year or attempts to start their own business. This is just not realistic and the time that an ex offender may spend out of work and idle, only increases the possibility that they offender will find himself back in prison. Even though ex offenders are not given special treatment with regard to receiving business grants as well as an elevated status in the eyes of the employers of the state of North Carolina, there are still ways in which an ex offender can utilize the advantages that he has through implementation of the many federal and state programs that are offered to the ex-offender.

WORKS CITEDEnelow, W. (2005) Tools of the Trade: Getting People Back to Work. New York: Premier Press.Saxonhouse, E. (2006)  Unequal Protection: Comparing Former Felons’ Challenges to Disenfranchisement and Employment Discrimination.  Stanford Law Review.  Vol.

56Solomon, A. (2005) Employment Rights for Ex-Offenders. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.www.state.nc.uswww.usajobs.opm.govwww.doc.state.nc.uswww.statelibrary.dcr.state.nc.us;


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