i’m reprinting a comment that arrived today in response to an older post. i can’t begin to feel the writer’s frustration, but i’ve heard his story again and again and again and again. by my count, there are about 11.7 million former felons — people no longer under any correctional supervision — in circulation in the united states today. they often have a very tough time finding work:

To Other Convicted Felons,
I am at the end of my rope. I have a non-violent, class D Felony for Burglary that was committed 2 yrs ago. I have a College Degree in Marketing Mgmt. & great work experience. I have endorsements from Probation for successfully meeting the terms & conditions of probation.
I applied to Owens-Corning for a job in Construction Sales & I lied about my Felony. I passed all of their requirements (phone & interview screenings, drug test, online psychological test) and beat out 2 other candidates for consideration. They sent me to Toledo, OH for 1 week of training. 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 of 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. I told him that the guy he nterviewed & liked was the guy that I am.
All to no avail. I left humiliated & ashamed. I see no worthwhile job opportunities & am contemplating suicide. Please don’t say this is crazy, I already know that. 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.

does it help or hurt to know that others have walked the same hard road? with nowhere to hide from their records, i know that many beat their heads against the wall for years (and years and years and years), often working their way up from the very bottom and sometimes getting stuck along the way.

i happened to meet yesterday with some folks on the council on crime and Justice about a new research project on employment and criminal records. in time, it might provide some policy guidance on employment and criminal records, but this research doesn’t offer any help or solace today. at best, it will nail down some social facts on the issue that legislators can consider or ignore.

i’ve never done hard time, but i know i’ve done worse than a class-D burglary. i’m not usually a praying man, but i just gave it a try. i’m also inspired to keep working on reentry and reintegration issues, as both a researcher and a private citizen. godspeed on your journey, man.