The diversity of Virginia’s economy means that it continues to produce jobs in a number of areas. This should be good news for ex-felons who typically have difficulty finding employment. However, many former inmates still find it difficult to find employment. This is largely due to the unease many employers feel about the idea of hiring felons. They sometimes feel that these workers could pose a threat to their business or to their other workers.
Another factor that prevents ex-felons from finding work is the fact that many of them are unskilled. For this reason, the majority of them can only get minimum wage jobs. Even those who take courses while in prison are still at a disadvantage because of the stigma that a prison sentence carries.
Ex-felons are generally encouraged to go back to school or take skills training courses wherever they can. Due to a lack of funds, this is not always easy, but charities and the federal government have created programs to offer assistance.
Protection for the Ex-felon in Virginia
The federal agency the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/) protects all kinds of workers from discrimination. Based on its guidelines, ex-felons in Virginia and elsewhere cannot be prevented from working due to their criminal past. The agency was established in 1965, and its operations have sometimes met with resistance by some states. The Federal Bonding Program (https://vadoc.virginia.gov/documents/programs/federal-bonding/federal-bonding-program-brochure.pdf) also offers a level of protection to ex-felons and some comfort to employers.
The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-%26-Self-Employed/Expanded-Work-Opportunity-Tax-Credit-Available-for-Hiring-Qualified-Veterans) (WOTC) is another move by the federal government to help ensure that felons are able to find employment. This is an incentive program, and it gives employers a tax credit for each ex-felon they employ. Applicants can download the appropriate form and present it to the employer when seeking a job.
Jobs for Felons in Virginia
Felon friendly companies exist all over the US, and because of this, many men and women are able to find work after leaving prison. Due to the fact that many of these jobs are low paying, there is always the chance that a few felons will be tempted to return to criminal activity. The vast majority of felons however, want to make a fresh start and even a job with a low salary is a step in the right direction.
With a little patience, ex-felons and their families can find places hiring in Richmond VA, and Winchester VA. After leaving prison many people benefit from joining ex-felon support groups. This helps to ease the transition from felon to member of society; it provides a resource for information on jobs, training and housing.
Many former inmates start by searching the Internet for jobs and those without access can head to the local library. One website, Indeed.com (http://www.indeed.com/q-Felony-l-Virginia-jobs.html) is a good place to start. It lists job openings from various companies and other important details including the closing date for applications, and the job description. Xamire.com ( http://xamire.com/felony-friendly/virginia.html) also offers the names of felon friendly employers looking for workers. You can also find additional information like the wage and the specific departments where positions are available. This site includes links to the relevant websites if you need to know more. Either of these sites will provide information on jobs for felons in Virginia. Former felons can start their search for work at any of the following employers:
- First Fleet Inc.
- HQ Aero
- Enterprise Rent-A-Car
- U.S. Marine Corps
- Goodwill Stores
Each employer may have some restrictions based on the type of crime or the age of the conviction. It is a good idea to contact the company directly for details. You should also consider contacting the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for help in understanding your rights as an ex-felon seeking work.
Housing for Felons in Virginia
Since felons are often ruled out as tenants by landlords. Some former prisoners seek federal assistance to find suitable housing. Transitional housing is hard to find in most states, but sometimes this is the only option available. Section 8 housing vouchers under the HUD program (http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/states/virginia/homeownership) is sometimes the best option available to ex-felons. Sex offenders and some drug offenders are not eligible for these benefits. As such, those ex-felons charged for these crimes will have to find other means of getting suitable housing.
It is possible to find landlords who will rent to felons but this can take a lot of time. You can check classified ads or the Internet for condos, apartments and housing units that will take people who have felony convictions. Keep in mind however, that some of these units are located in low income or high crime areas, which presents another challenge to someone just out of prison. Since it is easy to perform background checks, it is best to be honest with prospective landlords when looking for a place to rent.
The felon program run by Virginia CARES (http://www.swva.net/nrca/va-cares.html) has played a major role in helping ex-felons re-enter their communities. This private charity assists felons and their families with some of the inevitable challenges of life after prison. It provides help with finding employment, transportation, food and housing. Virginia CARES also helps former prisoners to finds job leads and assists them in preparing for interviews. Thanks to this organization and assistance from the federal government, felons in Virginia can make a fresh start after serving time in prison.