Although they have a strike against them, ex-offenders can find employment in some industries. The main industries that tend to have jobs for felons in Maryland include the food service and restaurant sector, construction, delivery services, non-profits, church-based groups, and surprisingly, the armed forces.
Many ex-offenders will find that the best source of employment for them is to start their own business. Some people who end up in prisons were already skilled at some jobs such as plumbing, graphic design, writing and computer repairs. They can turn these into profitable job opportunities. Finding resources to help them in running a business is easy through organizations such as:
- The Small Business Association (SBA) (http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/starting-managing-business): Here ex-felons who want to start their own business can find information and support.
- The Maryland Small Business and Technology Development Center (http://www.mdsbdc.umd.edu/): Training and support in starting a business and helping to make it successful are part of what you can get from this Center.
- The Maryland Department of Public Safety & Correctional Services (http://www.dpscs.state.md.us/agencies/doc.shtml): Offers educational programs such as GED and skills training to prisoners so they can re-enter society better prepared to keep out of a life of crime.
Finding Employers That Will Hire Felons
The first step towards finding jobs for ex-offenders in Maryland is to ask people you know who may be able to put in a good word for you. While some former prisoners will find employment with friends and family members, others have been able to find placements with churches and church-based organizations as well as non-profits.
Doing a search online for “companies that employ felons”, “jobs for ex-felons in Maryland” and similar terms should provide results. Also, looking for ‘felon-friendly employers in Maryland” can give leads to possible jobs.
Some organizations worth exploring in your job search as a felon in Maryland include:
- 2nd Chances for Felons (2C4F) (http://www.2ndchances4felons.com/states——m-z.php): A site with information on starting over after leaving prison.
- Xamire.com (http://xamire.com/felony-friendly/maryland.html: This is a popular website for finding employment for ex-felons across the country.
- Ex-Offenders.net (http://exoffenders.net/employment-jobs-for-felons/): This provides job related information for felons.
Companies and organizations that tend to be felon-friendly are:
- The Salvation Army (Prisoner Rehabilitation program) (http://easternusa.salvationarmy.org/?openDocument&charset=utf-8): Apart from help with job placement, you can also get life training to get you back on your feet.
- Dunkin Donuts (https://www.peopleanswers.com/pa/testSplashPageEntry.do?splashURL=portalDunkinDonuts1&src=825452): All levels of jobs are available at this chain, and it is great for persons who like being part of a team.
- Olive Garden (https://www.olivegarden.com/Careers/Team-Members/): You can find employment in different areas on both fulltime and part time basis.
- Restaurant chains such as Applebee’s, Golden Coral and other chain stores such as Kohl’s and Walmart are worth exploring for employment opportunities.
Housing for Felons in Maryland
As in any other state, housing for felons in Maryland is not easy to get. Many felons will find that the only places they can get to rent are not in the best neighbourhoods. Many persons who rent houses and apartments are afraid of renting to someone who has a criminal record. Some of these people have valid reasons as they have had bad experiences including non-payment of rent and destruction of their property.
Ways that ex-felons can go about seeking living accommodations include:
- The Internet: Searching for “housing options for felons in Maryland” or “how to find somewhere to live” will bring up places that you can rent. You will also find information on how to look for places to rent as well as programs and websites that can help. Two websites to visit when seeking housing options as an ex-inmate are information4felons.com and (http://www.information4felons.com/where-to-start.html)
- Government programs: Some ex-felons think that a criminal record automatically bars them from getting housing assistance. This is not the case, as each state is different when it comes to this issue. For example, under the HUD program ex-felons convicted of drug and sexual offences cannot get housing help.
- Church-based organizations: Some churches have hostels that they rent to those who are most in need. In most cases this may not be ideal or long-term, but many ex-felons would be homeless without it.
- Family and friends: For many ex-prisoners, family and friends are an easy way of finding suitable housing.
- Single occupancy: Sometimes it is easier to deal with the owner of a single house instead of a property management company. It is important to be honest since many property owners will check your criminal history before renting.
Some homeowners do not do background checks, so you just never know what will happen. Some ex-felons have been lucky in that they just happen to find rental property where the owners do not do a criminal history check. Those who have not been charged with sex crimes, drug or violent offences are more likely to be considered for approval in most cases.
Maryland, like other states, has a number programs and groups that are working to give ex-offenders a chance to live normal lives outside of prison. Organizations that provide information, job preparedness, job placement, training and even housing include NHI.org (http://www.nhi.org/online/issues/139/afterlockup.html) and The Streets Don’t Love You Back (http://thestreetsdontloveyouback.ning.com/page/ex-felon-job-information).
This may be a bit hard to accept, but if you are really in need of a job and have a criminal record, you cannot afford to be too picky. While you may need to take whatever job is offered, you should always put out your best effort.