Hey Readers! I’ve been scrolling through the Twitter feeds and Facebook groups, and I have been shocked by the amount of misinformation about felons that has been spread.
There’s a few things in particular that I’d like to clear up now. These are the hottest topics for individuals that have a record – sometimes permanently.
- Political Office
- Felon Friendly Employment
- Lack of local research
Voting: In many states, so long as you’ve completed your sentence fully (lock up and supervision included), you can register to vote again and have your voice heard. Now, this isn’t applicable to all states – and this needs to change. Be sure to talk to people, be proactive and positive, and write your representatives (and encourage friends and family to do the same). We can help institute the change that we need to see.
Political Office: Again, in many states, once the sentence has been served out and completed to the satisfaction of the court – you can often run for political office. Of course, you’ll need to look into any potential local rules or anything similar – but this is a general rule for anything you want to do, honestly. There are plenty of stories of success about fellow felons that have pushed through the obstacles they faced as a returning citizen and who are making big changes in their communities – sometimes those of us that have made mistakes can have a lot to offer and sometimes we want to stop others from making the same negative choices we made.
Firearms: In many cases, non-violent felons can also regain access to firearms – again, once completely finished with your sentence. Additionally, some states may have regulations against specific records rather than a blanket law against all records. So, even though I know I sound like a broken record – you’ll need to do your research and not give up on it either. Even in Illinois, where the state requires a FOID card, I am eligible to have that right returned to me with a single theft on my record. Considering the state overall, that might not be saying much, but if it is possible here – it’s worth a look into wherever you are.
Felon Friendly Jobs – Lists concerning felony friendly employers have been floating around the internet for years, ever since we figured out we could share information. And this is pretty awesome. The ability to network is an amazing thing and it benefits us in incredible ways. The thing is – not all felons will be hired by ‘felon friendly employers’. The details of what determines that yes or that no is very much based on the nature of your felony and the nature of the work you’re going for. For instance, with my record, all retail store employers see is a thief when they look at my background. I can’t even get hired at the tiny Dollar General that is nearby. However, I can easily work in the automotive industry, in factories, and many other career paths if I choose to. Flexibility is going to be important as a felon, and so will research. Check out my posts on resumes, interviews, and certificates that might help you – or check out my Guide to Life After a Felony – it’s chock full of helpful information for anyone that needs a little help.
Thinking All States Have the Same Laws – Seriously, just throw that idea out the window now. My research has shown me just how insane the differences are, and guess what – you’ll need to find out what applies to you and your state if you want to succeed with your background. (I can’t stress this word enough – RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH) And on top of that – the laws in your state can change at any time! Now, whether these changes are necessarily in our favor – can only be determined as it happens and that means you have to keep track of the things that pertain to your particular situation. You don’t need to talk to an attorney to keep an eye on these things – you can do this on your own by looking it up every now and then as you work on moving forward in every other area. Another important note is that in many cases, if there are options in your state – and you don’t have a lot of income – you might qualify to have petition fees waived (hello free!) which means that those options are even more accessible than you might think.
Alright, that covers the main pains I’ve seen recently. Here’s a list of previous posts that are also full of resources and a link to the full state by state guide to felony relief programs – The Guide to Life After a Felony:
Guide to Life After a Felony (ebook)
Friendly Felon’s Guide to Life (print book)
That’s all, for now, guys, til next time – Stay Strong, Rise Above, and NEVER let anyone tell you who you are and who you CAN BE. We are MORE THAN OUR PASTS and we will overcome all our obstacles!
Love and Peace – Aza