Life outside prison walls is not easy for many ex-convicts. For many, two of the most pressing needs to enable a smooth re-entry into society are difficult to attain. For many former prisoners finding jobs for felons in California or any other state can be a daunting task. Before leaving prison, it is important to start the process of rehabilitation. Part of this process should include:
- Taking courses or learning a skill to better compete in the job market
- Updating resumes and improving interview skills. For ex-felons, the interview will be a crucial part of their job search.
- Start looking for agencies and organizations that work with and help ex-prisoners find work.
How to Start Your Search
There are many steps that a former felon can take to improve the chances of finding employment after being released from prison. Apart from preparing themselves as discussed above, they can start looking for jobs if possible. Being prepared is a big step in the search for a job.
Even though it is hard to find jobs for felons in California, you are not alone. Apart from help from other felons, there are websites and organizations dedicated to helping make things a little bit easier. Some great websites to start with when looking for jobs as a felon are:
- Felony Friendly (http://felonyfriendly.org/services/employment.html#axzz2s8bOShz6)
- Ranker (http://www.ranker.com/list/list-of-companies-that-hire-felons/business-and-company-info): This website lists companies that hire felons. Although there are lots of companies listed, you should not take this to mean that you will definitely get a job. An ex-felon with a criminal history that includes drug trafficking, violence or sex offences will not be employed by some companies.
- America Works (http://americaworks.com/): This organization helps find jobs for ex-offenders as well as other people who have difficulty finding employment.
- Chrysalis of California (http://www.changelives.org/): This non-profit offers training and transitional jobs to those most at risk of not finding employment and so helps them gain needed experience.
- Xamire.com: the Felon Friendly Network (http://xamire.com/): This site provides information on jobs, housing and other programs for felons to help them make a go at life after prison.
- The Streets Don’t Love You Back (http://thestreetsdontloveyouback.ning.com/page/ex-felon-job-information): This website has a lot of information for the ex-felon as well as a list of palaces that sometimes hire them. It lists felon-friendly employers such as the Salvation Army and the Armed Forces.
- The National Hire Network (http://hirenetwork.org/pdfs/SS_Ex-offenders1.pdf): It not only provides job placement information but also employs ex-convicts as drivers when there is a need.
Some companies will also employ ex-felons if they can qualify for tax credits under the Work Opportunity Tax Credit program (WOTC) (http://smallbusiness.chron.com/tax-breaks-employers-hire-felons-14421.html). This program from the US Department of Labor is actively undertaken by many restaurants to benefit from these tax benefits. To benefit from this credit, however, the employment offer has to be within one year of conviction or release from prison.
Housing for Felons in California
Knowing where to ask for help is one way to improve your chance of finding suitable housing as an ex-felon in California. Your family and friends can offer help and guidance when seeking housing after being released from prison. Section 8 (http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/states/california/renting) is also available to some categories of ex-felons. If you have never been imprisoned for a violent crime, sexual offenses or drug trafficking, you may be able to get help.
Ask church leaders, lawyers, counsellors and others who have come in contact with ex-prisoners for advice and help in finding suitable housing. Chances are they would have had to offer guidance to others before in finding somewhere to live after finishing their prison term.
Programs for Ex-Felons in California
Like in many other states, there are a few programs available to help ex-felons start their lives over after prison. The Information4Felons (http://www.information4felons.com/programs.html) website provides useful data concerning housing and employment help for felons.
The Delaney Street Foundation (http://www.delanceystreetfoundation.org/faq.php) is another good site for felons, especially teens and young people, wanting a second chance at getting it right. This organization provides vocational training in many areas to increase the employability of those who come to them for help.
All is not lost for ex-felons in California as there is always hope. Some states are enforcing the “Ban the Box” rule requiring employers to remove the question of criminal history from job applications. This means that the question of a criminal past will come later in the employment process such as during the interview. If this question is answered in the affirmative on the application, that is sometimes the end of the line for qualified job candidates.
Many former prisoners when faced with multiple rejections create their own employment opportunities by starting businesses. Some organizations will provide training and support for the ex-convict who wants to start a business. The Internet is good source of information on what type of help is available.