So, if you’re like me, and have a felony on your record, you’re probably noticing that employers are not as willing to see you for interviews and work with you for decent jobs. Half the time you can almost watch them as they review the application, see a note about your record and promptly mentally chuck it into the trash can.
Simply put – a criminal background can be a real *itch.
Felons Can Find Hope with Reentry Resources
However, there is a shred of hope for us, especially if you’re also like me and have been behaving and staying out of trouble with the court system. If you have, you might have a chance at earning something called a Certificate of Good Conduct. This is what we call a ‘reentry resource‘. Now, I know for sure that Illinois has this particular reentry tool available, you may have to search for your own state information to be entirely certain about your situation. The justice system has a lot of variations on reentry tools between the states. (Update: I wrote a book on reentry for everyone! For more info – buy the print edition here: Guide to Life After a Felony – I did a ton of research for you!)
Now, for my fellow felons in Illinois (or Ill and Annoyed as many residents currently know it as… ), if you have a single felony background (first time offenders) and have been behaving for at least 3 years (along with a couple other requirements that are dependent on the type of conviction), you basically already qualify to apply for a Certificate of Good Conduct. Now, what this certificate does is take away liability from the hiring company for hiring someone with a record. It won’t erase your record, but it will help people see that you’ve turned a new leaf, taken a new path, and generally have played nicely with society for a while. This helps give employers an incentive to hire you and it helps protect them.
Reentry Resources: Certificates for Felons – My Experience
For my Certificate of Good Conduct (definitely a thing in Illinois AND New York), I took myself to the doctor and ordered a drug test on myself (The receptionist was rather confused at first, but was happy to schedule it for me). Then I got a copy of my criminal record, available at the local courthouse (and state police, or federal records can work as well, I’m sure). With these papers combined, along with the filing papers for the application for Certificate of Good Conduct, I got myself a court date.
I actually had a major advantage with the court, as no one in my county had ever attempted to earn this certificate before to the judge’s recollection, and I knew more about the Certificate than they did (Didn’t stop them from having a mini-conference about it and checking their law books before getting back to me – their faces were EPIC tho…). They didn’t even have a nice official paper that looks like a degree and portrays what the Certificate is. I only managed to get an updated note on my court file, but I print it out for consideration when I need to prove to an employer that I have it.
The best part is, this is only one of the possible ways to get a leg-up in the employment world. There is far more to come, and I look forward to sharing all sorts of reentry resources and post-conviction tips with you!
Please share my blog and spread the HOPE!
Love and Peace,
Aza E @aza_enigma (Twitter)