How Difficult Is It for Convicted Felons to Find Work?


Quick Answer

Depending of the nature of the offense, as well as widely diverging local and state regulations that stipulate what kinds of jobs and where convicted felons are allowed to work, finding jobs is often much more difficult for convicted felons than for people with no criminal record. Although there are studies of employment patterns in small, local samples, there are not yet national statistics available.

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Full Answer

Even though convicted felons who serve their prison sentences and paroles have fulfilled their obligation to the law, they often face employment discrimination because of their criminal records. In many cases, not all of their civil liberties are restored, and the rates of recidivism for their particular offenses tell potential employers how likely they may be to re-offend. For instance, a one-time offender may be more likely to get a job, as long as his parole allows it, whereas someone convicted of serial offenses might present too great a financial risk. While there are opportunities for self-employment, this kind of work often requires a monetary buy-in, and these jobs may not be listed with employment agencies and workforce centers.

In fact, even looking for work in many ways presents a catch-22 for convicted felons, many of whom leave prison with financial obligations, such as child support, that they can't meet. For example, some have lost their driving privileges, so without money to pay for transportation, their opportunities to work outside their local area are limited. White-collar felons may not have the skills for blue-collar jobs and vice versa. Further, although job re-training is available, even if there are such jobs available, a background check can prevent a felon from getting a job.

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