Assistance for Ex-felons in Michigan

Prisons in Michigan like the Alger Correctional Facility and Detroit Reentry Center (https://www.michigan.gov/corrections/0,4551,7-119-1435_1498-289645–,00.html) release many felons each year. These ex-felons will be faced with the challenges of trying to re-enter society and become productive citizens.

Most of them will find that the odds are stacked against them, as a prison sentence carries a significant stigma that many people are unwilling to overlook. Employment in particular will be difficult to find, but there are jobs for felons in Michigan if they are patient and get in touch with the right organizations.

A finding felon friendly job in Michigan and suitable housing is pressing needs for many former inmates.

A few will be lucky enough to locate transitional housing or they may be sent to halfway houses as a condition of parole. The really lucky ones will have their own home waiting for them on their return to society. Others will be able to live with friends or family members.

Naturally, renting a room will be impossible without some form of income, so this is the primary consideration for most former inmates. This double-edged sword can make life quite miserable for the former inmate unless they get help.

Applying Directly for Jobs

This might not occur to many ex-felons, but a number of organizations will consider applicants who have served time in prison.

Each company has its own guidelines for rejecting applicants so full disclosure is essential. Popular home improvement retail chain Lowe’s for example will employ these individuals as baggers or forklift operators. However, they will not consider any applicant who has been convicted of felonies such as burglary or receipt of stolen property. Other sources of employment include:

  • Security companies: Duties may include installing security systems or safeguarding property
  • Nightclubs: These businesses sometimes need bouncers or bartenders
  • Fast food outlets: Many of these companies like Golden Corral and Dunkin’ Donuts hire ex-felons in a variety of roles

Many ex-felons find jobs with grocery store chains, trucking companies, fish markets, factories and even in the government sector. In each case it will be at the employer’s discretion whether to hire an individual convicted of a felony. Most individuals convicted of violent or sexual crimes will be ruled out by most companies, regardless of the type of job. Some known felon friendly employers are:

  • Abbott Laboratories
  • Ace Hardware
  • Best Western
  • Bridgestone
  • Domino’s Pizza
  • Federal Express
  • Walmart

Any company listed as felon friendly can change their policies at any time, so always confirm that they still employ felons. Also, remember that sending in an application is not a guarantee of employment.

Getting Help from Organizations

In every state there are groups dedicated to helping ex-felons avoid going back to a life of crime.

Some of these have a listing of jobs for felons, while others provide skills training and assistance with personal development. Every former inmate who is seeking employment should contact one or more of these organizations for help. Since many of them are online, it is easy to contact them. Some agencies that assist in finding employment for felons in Michigan are:

  • The Streets Don’t Love you Back (http://thestreetsdontloveyouback.ning.com/): This organization takes its name from a book with the same title which was written by Robert D. Boyd Jr., a former drug dealer. The website provides a list of felon friendly employers, and support information for ex felons.
  • 2nd Chances 4 Felons (2C4F) (http://www.2ndchances4felons.com/forum-discussions/tag/michigan): This website has a web discussion forum where you can ask questions and a variety of resources for ex-felons. These include job leads, useful information, and postings on job fairs. It also posts job vacancies for companies that need workers in different categories.
  • America Works (http://www.americaworks.com/): This organization operates in many states including Michigan. Its mission is to help all types of job seekers find employment. It also offers guidance in money management and building resumes.

Housing for Felons in Michigan

One of the first stops for any ex-felon looking for a place to live should be the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD). This agency of the federal government creates housing solutions for Americans and it is known for its no discrimination policy. HUD will not turn away ex-felons as the agency realizes the significant challenges faced by these individuals in finding suitable housing, but it does have a few restrictions.

Offenders who were convicted of manufacturing methamphetamines or who are registered for life under the sex offender registration program will not be able to access HUD housing. HUD beneficiaries who become involved in methamphetamine production on HUD property will not be able to access benefits in the future.

Ex-inmates can contact churches and charitable organizations directly, as many of them offer housing assistance. Sometimes this is in the form of help with rent and in some cases these organizations provide transitional housing. Michigan’s Department of Human Services (http://www.michigan.gov/dhs) provides grants for housing to low income families, and former inmates can benefit from this program as well. The Salvation Army (http://www.salvationarmy.org/) is another organization known for its dedication to helping ex-felons reintegrate into society by offering various forms of assistance.

It is best for any felon to start the groundwork shortly before they leave prison. The prison chaplain or counsellor can provide them with information on agencies that can help them after they are released. Friends or family members can also start to work on their behalf to explore options for housing and finding employment.

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