Misinformation is Abundant

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.

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.

Firearms: In many cases, non-violent felons can regain access to firearms – again, once completely finished with your sentence.

Felon Friendly Jobs – Lists have been floating around the internet for years, ever since we figured out we could share information. The thing is – not all felons will be hired by ‘felon friendly employers’. This 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. However, I can easily work in the automotive industry, in factories, and many other career paths if I choose to.

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)

Alright, that covers the main pains I’ve seen recently. Here’s a list of previous posts that are also full of resources:

Misinformation about Felons

Timelines and Tips

Felons and Certifications

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

The Early Morning Struggle

Good Morning Readers, it’s approximately 5:16 am, and I’ve been up for nearly an hour already.

It’s breakfast shift day at my payroll job.

Partly my own fault for volunteering, but I also have inventory to deal with today. Either way, thanks to the lovely cold in the Midwest right now, my car loves to not start immediately.

As I was cursing my volunteering spirit, and the poor, cold battery that has been struggling for its life for the last month or so, I realized that the sort of determination I was showing was part of why I’ve moved so far forward.

Are you the person who lets those moments of frustration overwhelm them? Or are you the one that pushes through the frustration and makes things happen?

No matter how many times my car has refused to start in this weather, I don’t let it quit, because I know I CAN’T QUIT either. It doesn’t matter if it’s just while I’m facing off with a loose battery post in 0 degree Fahrenheit for the eighteenth time in a morning – or going to that millionth interview where my background is going to get brought up again (even after an entire decade of good behavior) – I make the best of those situations, and push through them – because I have a goal.

And I’m determined to reach it.

Keep pushing forward guys! Even on those cold, dark mornings, where it seems the sun will never light your day.

Love and Peace – (a very cold and sleepy) Aza

Introspecting the Post Conviction Mentality

It’s important to remember that a conviction is something that happens to you, and that it doesn’t define you.
It’s also important to remember that one of the worst things about trying to change your life is how frustrating the whole process can be, but good things do NOT come easy – not for the majority of us anyway.
I went for years thinking that my record made me worthless in the eyes of society before realizing that I really did still have something to contribute that would be helpful and meaningful somehow.
The social perception that I wasn’t worthy of a job depressed and infuriated me in the early years during probation and even after a successful completion of my sentence, things didn’t seem to begin to turn up. Every failed interview and every let down in housing options made me feel stupid and insignificant in the eyes of society, and why should I try to cater to that – they hate me right? (sound familiar at all?)

But I know now that I am more than my past, and I know from interacting with a huge group of fellow felons online in a variety of platforms that many other felons out there are more than their past too.

Really letting that sink in can be hard, both for the felon and for the never convicted.

And it’s honestly understandable. A fellow felon just mentioned to me last week that there are many out there who are still actively being shitty (for lack of a more eloquent description), and yes, there is always that danger, but I assure you that there are many more of us that simply want to live our lives in some semblance of a secure manner.

One of the leading things I’ve found in my own research and work with this stuff, is that when we’re denied our basic rights on the outside, we find them met on the inside.

And that sucks. It makes people want to go back, simply because it meets those basic needs. However, what those sorts are forgetting, is that there are more than basic needs in life. We have needs for positive social interaction with other people that want us to grow and learn. We have desires for lovers and families (in some cases). We have a wish to do something that leaves a mark on the world. But, somehow, we get caught up on those basic needs, simply because we hear no too often, lose that job, are denied that apartment, or lose that sense of security in life. All because we made one (or more) mistakes, and even though we tried to do better, the more we had to hustle in the wrong way just to get by.

I can only say that through sheer bull headedness that I’ve managed to scrape by and fight my way to what I want in life. It takes a lot of work, and a lot of going the extra mile. If you’re in the same boat, I want you to know you’re not alone, you’re worth more than your past, and you can do whatever you really put your mind to. Hustle for the good side of things, even harder than anything you might have done in the past for that other side. Something I found that is posted on The Friendly Felon Facebook Page, is Chris Pratt’s quote, involving this sentence-

“IT will break before YOU do…”

That’s powerful right there. Meditate on that bit there, and see where you can take life.

Love and Peace

Aza

 

Felons and Certifications

Hey Readers! I have a really neat interview with Lisa Forbes coming up, where she will talk about the factors that played into her conviction, and how she has turned her life around, and how she defines her success as a reformed recruiter.  I am quite excited to hear her story and learn from her experiences, how about you?

Now, while we wait for the interview, I wanted to let you guys know that there are affordable certifications that will help you improve your employability (apparently I’ve made a new word – according to Google spellcheck) after a conviction. Food service may not be a very high level income, but it can certainly help make ends meet when we  fall on rougher times. I know that life gets turned upside down now and again, and having these to rely on can mean keeping your rental versus ending up homeless (or homeless again – goodness knows I’ve been there myself).

These certificates are the Basset license (basically a responsible bar tender) and the Food Handler license.

I completed the Basset training in about 4 hours just yesterday evening through watching video after video, answering the practice questions, and then completing the final exam. I paid around 14 bucks for it, and now I can be hired at any bar in my state. Of course, not all states have a full requirement of a licensed server, but even if they don’t require it, it may be a good idea to invest in it, because it will show that you will go above and beyond the basic expectations and that you’ll be a responsible seller.

The Food Handler license will help you gain cooking and waitressing jobs too, and I’ll be taking this course soon as well – I’ll make an update when I have more information on the cost and the type of course that is offered online.

Neither course has mentioned performing any sort of background check, and I haven’t found a bar yet that runs a check for hiring purposes (maybe my area is a bit BFE though – let me know if your locale is different), so if you’re a people person and know how to defuse the situations that can come up in a bar, you might consider becoming a bartender.

The cash tips are often pretty decent – especially if you’re lucky and get the ever coveted weekend evening hours, and that’s money you can typically take home each night on top of the weekly paycheck for your hours. Tip based jobs are sort of awesome in that way, even if they are ‘lower income’.

That’s all for now guys, come back soon and find some inspiration in Lisa’s interview, and keep rising above!

Aza

Finding Freedom (Full Release)

Hey Readers!

It’s been a long two weeks since I uploaded my work into Smashwords, but the book is finally fully released!

If you haven’t pre-ordered it already, please use this coupon code to get your copy from any retailer for only one dollar! (CF98Q ) (Smashwords Link)

It contains helpful tips and hints that I found useful over my own years of struggle, as well as a state by state breakdown of what we can do to get our records off of our backs. I’m not saying getting through it is easy, but I know from experience that it’s worth it.

Also, if you love the cover art, please go here to see more of the artists work. She’s a wonderful photographer and digital artist, as well as a close friend of mine. (See, positive networking helps out everyone involved!)

Anywho, thank you so much for stopping by, I hope you’ve found something helpful here, and if you’d like to connect, find my Facebook page The Friendly Felon .

Stay strong fellow felons, we got this!

Raging Against the Ticket (Final Update)

Hey Reader! Glad to see you back again! I have my final update about the ticket that I was given this April. Imagine that, it took a whole two months to straighten out! Goodness. Oh, well, that’s just how it goes when you play by their rules.

Alright, so, I got dressed up again (nice blouse and khaki pants this time, a suit would have been over the top for this discussion I’m thinking), and made my way up the courthouse stairs. I find a seat, and wait my turn to talk to the state’s attorney assistant.

After waiting a few minutes past my time, (it seemed a bit busy that day, and as she likely had multiple individuals to talk to with varying cases, I didn’t much mind), I was finally called in.

We review the ticket information, both the state statute (I brought a copy of that statute myself), as well as my recollection of the events. I had brought photos of the area that the officer had been parked at, and we looked it over and I had to point out where she was parked in relation to the hill. I explained that I did indeed drop my speed to a safe one, and had moved partially into the adjacent lane to make for an easier recovery should another vehicle have appeared at the crest of the hill at the worst time possible.

After this, and a few quiet moments where she looked through her large legal book, assuredly containing every possible detail about the law, she told me she would dismiss this ticket. The best part, is that she complemented me for being prepared and for being honest.

I tell you what Readers… I danced my way down those stairs and to my car. So, should you ever encounter a ticket situation where you are confident (honestly confident) that you did not actually break the law, simply be prepared and be calm. Know your limitations though too. Even though I knew personally that I had not broken a law, I was still scared silly that I would be forced to pay a huge fee and be embarrassed by a new ticket on my record (and since I am currently driving for my living, that’s a super mega bad deal). The reason why, is that I know how unreasonable the court system CAN be. It isn’t always. and this was a small victory for me, especially considering that I do have a felony record.

So, rejoice fellow drivers, you CAN win your traffic ticket, and avoid the embarrassment and wallet-emptying that tickets can cause. At least when you’re well prepared and are open and honest about the circumstances (and have a chance to speak to the state’s attorney people).

Also, please check out my second most recent post, which asks for your paranormal and supernatural stories (along with a free book in reward!). I even share one of my own experiences to get the ball rolling on the creepy and wonderful things that dig into our spirituality and change our perspectives.

That’s all for now guys, I’ll be jumping back into work on my books, and will post more soon. Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you here again! -Aza

Timelines and Tips

In light of my graduation (still blows my mind that I’ve finished it), there has been a lot of recent reflection on time and how it affects our convictions and our careers. I know that I will have to invest a lot of research into the companies that I will be applying to, especially because I chose a human services pathway (for my focal career, I have lots of different interests though, so I’m also not limiting myself – a very important factor for getting by as a felon) and they really want good examples for employees – which is difficult to prove when you have a felony background. So, I’ve started to venture into the pool of knowledge and experiences of other like-minded individuals with similar circumstances. Much like you yourself are doing now, reading this post.

First off, some employers are just always going to reject you. They have this policy or that policy or sometimes it happens to be some sort of personal bias based on a negative experience. It isn’t your fault, and you shouldn’t let yourself base your worth off of their rejection, and you shouldn’t hate them for it either. They simply want to cover their behinds in the case of court situations (based on some sort of statistics that they’ve had created by their insurance agencies) or they’ve been taught to be this way in some shape or form at some point. But there are plenty of employers that are willing to take a chance on someone that is honest and upfront about their past, you just have to sift through the rest to find them.

If you need additional experience for your resume, consider volunteering in various organizations or even a local community garden. It shows that you have interests in the community and that you’re taking steps in socially preferred situations. It gives you more depth on your resume and if you stick with it for a while, you get serious brownie points with human resources people. Stability of some sort really makes them happy, at least from my experience. For instance, when approaching interviews with personal resumes (not the single application sheet), I’ve found that focusing on the jobs I held the longest has been more rewarding in terms of improved (over minimum wage) employment than listing more of the shorter jobs that I have had over the years.

I’m also considering putting together presentations that show the specific reasons why felons are good employees, to be used in the application process for certain jobs. For instance, I am considering offering various organizations my skills on an independent contract basis, if my background comes up, I will be prepared with why my background has proven to be an asset in both my personal and professional aspects of my life. While this is mostly for my own personal use, if anyone is interested in creating their own, I’d love to help you brainstorm ideas for yours.

Obviously, not gaining any new charges or convictions is also helpful, as the longer that you stay out of trouble the more things you can qualify for both in jobs, certifications for jobs, college financial aid, and even housing assistance in some states/counties. For instance, certifications of good conduct  can be gained rather quickly in the state of Illinois, check your state laws to see if your area offers this and what conditions have to be met to earn it. If I recall my research into it a couple years ago when I earned mine, I found that I could have done it within a year or so of my conviction, instead of nearly 8 years later.

However, I didn’t even know something like that existed until right before I applied for it in 2015 after stumbling upon it while searching for expungement information (super lame in this state, which is why I decided to start owning my background and find a way to make it work FOR me instead of against me). I’m telling you, research is THE really big thing here. You kind of need to research until it FEELS like your eyes are bleeding and your skull is going to explode because some of it is very wordy and can be difficult to understand because laws have their own language and lawyers can muddle it up (sometimes in your favor if you’ve really proven to be recovered from making your bad choices, turns out State Attorneys can actually be nice people!). It pays off though, especially if your local court system isn’t even aware of the possibility and you are able to show them that it exists and that you deserve it. (It just makes your week, let me tell you that!)

And on that note, I’ve realized how tired I am so I bid you farewell until next time my dear Reader. If you have questions or suggestions for posts, please comment or contact me. I’d love to share useful information that you really want, instead of using random ideas that I get in the shower that become long rambles. 😛 (And I had the audacity to complain about 800 word essays…HA)

Peace ya’ll – Aza