Streams

Has Your Felony Conviction Ruined Your Life?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

(Oneword/Shutterstock)

Senators Cory Booker and Rand Paul are teaming on a bill that would make life easier for those who've served their time for non-violent felony convictions, from help with finding a job to stricter regulations about what remains on someone's record. Paul has also spoken out about wanting to change the laws regarding voting eligibility for non-violent felons in federal elections. We take calls from anyone who's served time about what life is like as an ex-con, and what the government can and should do to help.

Comments [13]

I'm happen to be a convicted felon. I'm also a mother. And I suffer from PTSD that led to my felony. You can say all you want about me. I am college educated and held a job that used to pay $40,000 a year. But due to a mental health issues and me making threatening remarks to the man who used to beat me, I did five years for threatening to kill him and he got anger management and alcohol counseling for throwing me down a flight of stairs. He was still a loud to serve in the military but I can't even get a job at Walmart. I more than paid for what I did.

Aug. 02 2014 11:54 AM
TI from NYC

To simply put, if a felon can't get a job you are just asking them to go back to their criminal path or whatever it maybe for living. This whole concept of job interview noways is frightening because even a educated person is unemployed, let alone if you have criminal past there is no chance.

Aug. 01 2014 09:34 PM
Stephanie Labes

In addition to the issue being addressed we should also being looking at the question that is on most job applications asking if you have ever been convicted of a crime. Even if you were convicted of a misdemeanor it will often be held against you when looking for employment.

Jul. 31 2014 03:00 PM
John from NEW YORK

I think it would be prudent if Brian ask Cory and Rand the following question: If non-violent felonies are totally removed from the record; would this removal then not show up when background checks are done for the purpose of obtaining handgun licenses. Currently, MANY states do extensive checks on all applicants for what may be called concealed carry licenses; firearms purchase certificates; and many other licenses related to firearms i.e. NY and Ct now restrict ammo purchases and require background checks for these too. It would seem to me that in that battle for National (as well as individual State) gun control, once these felonies are removed, our governments won't be able to stop peoole who are currently considered FELONS (and not legally allowed to own a firearm of ANY KIND)from owning firearms. p.s. I also think that by taking these steps to purge non-violent felonies, we further enhance the culture of NOT TAKING ACCOUNTABILITY for our actions............ This comment is intended to remain anonymous

Jul. 30 2014 01:10 PM
Mark

Why are they giving non-violent offenders special treatment? To me committing an economic crime says more negative things about your character than standing up for yourself in a confrontation that turns violent. Once a person shows they will do anything to make money from selling drugs, theft of physical goods, various forms of fraud, etc. you know that person will always be untrustworthy as an employee or co-worker and will be toxic to your organization. I'd rather have the person that stands up for themselves than the corrupt criminal. It seems like this is just a further push to bring 3rd world level corruption to America. Now doing "whatever it takes to get yours" is excusable and should not be held against you. Yeah, I know America is one of the most capitalist places on the planet but part of our economic success comes from low corruption compared to the economically failed parts of the world.

Jul. 30 2014 12:16 PM
Lei Lawton from Astoria, NY

Whatever happened to the "Certificate of Disabilities" that convicted felons are supposed to receive once they are released from prison and go through their parole period with no further incidents? Many are never told, and most do not read the handbook provided by the NYS Division of parole upon their release. This certificate bars an employer from refusing to hire a convicted felon based on their conviction, time served and crime. But as you can see from many of the responses, many are fine with NOT having these 'non-violent felons' working in certain professions. At the same time for those who tell the truth and are denied employment, what venue do they now have in order to survive? How long does public assistance keep supporting them and how long do you think the average taxpayer is going to put with that?
There are no easy answers here. But we have to stop talking and start doing. Don't get me wrong. There are some people that need to be locked up because of their actions. It is as though there are forces out there that want to create a "Purge" mentality. Just recently when there was this huge influx of migrant children and women coming across our borders, many people wanted them not only returned but killed outright to send a message to those coming across our borders to commit crimes. We are no different than those countries that kill children, women and men like cattle. With all of the so-called agencies, NYC, NYS still has a crime rate, and a heavy prison population. Once they come out, where do you think they are going to go? And if they are not adequately prepared, what do you really expect them to do but return to a life of crime.

Jul. 30 2014 12:06 PM
Mark

What about "violent offenders"? Can they get rehabilitated? I'd rather work with a guy who got in a couple bar fights over summer break during college than some dude who has a habit of stealing everything that isn't locked down...

Jul. 30 2014 12:00 PM
Jack from Manhattan

Steinbernner couldn't vote? Cry me a river. The effects of laws not on;y serve as punitive measures to the lawless but also act as deterrents for the law aiding. As a youth I'm sure there were a few behaviors I might have enjoined had there not be the consequences of being caught looming over my head. I have spent many years obtaining the education I have and would not willingly engage in any activity that would endanger my career. Indeed, there are certain career decisions I have made that reduced the risk of me being put into compromising positions. There are benefits of obeying laws. Why should we as a society, encourage stupid, negligent or pernicious behavior simply because the consequences of someone's illegal actions interfere with their life? Most of these situations described could have been simply avoided.

Jul. 30 2014 11:47 AM

George Steinbrenner? Okay. He should have been able to vote.

Dinesh D'Souza - Forgeddaboudit. He didn't just make illegal donations, he created a solicited them.

*IF* Katherine Harris HAD NOT purged the felons (and normal citizens with sound alike names) from the Florida voter roles, Al Gore would have been President. Think of it. No Bush. No Iraq War. No Roberts. No Alito.

The War on Drugs and the rise of the prison industrial complex has created more felons than otherwise would have existed. If they were not truly dangers to society before we changed the rules, why are they now?

Jul. 30 2014 11:31 AM
Tony from Canarsie

George Steinbrenner might have claimed that he lobbied for a pardon so that he could vote, but I suspect that voting was actually the least of his reasons.

Jul. 30 2014 11:28 AM
William from Manhattan

I think it's strange that at least two callers felt they should be able to rejoin the workforce as health care professionals - including one whose felony was for selling drugs.

Jul. 30 2014 11:24 AM

My friend has a felony conviction. Hasn't been in trouble since then. He always tells the truth on applications and never ever gets called for a job.

Knowing this person, recidivism is not going to happen. But how certainly can anyone say that when there is no way for him to get work honestly?

Even without turning to crime, it forces my friend to stay on public assistance, which he doesn't want to do. It's demoralizing. on top of trying to work through his own regret about his life choices, he is kept in a continual state of feeling like an outsider, not good enough, not worthy, not viable.

I know we all have free will and bad choices were made. For the folks who say "tough," do you think about the large population without any future?

Is there not a better system in place where people can actually CHANGE and contribute? Are there not LEVELS that can be assessed and DEGREES determined of crime and possible expunging of someone's record?

Jul. 30 2014 11:23 AM
kthmcgv from nyc

I'm sorry but I'm fine not having non-violent felons working in nursing. Especially those with past drug issues. We have to protect citizens that are sick and disabled, as well as children, from people with questionable backgrounds.

Jul. 30 2014 11:23 AM

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