Dear Editor,

First I would like to say that the reason I say Black Felons is because there is already an issue with the Black employment rate, a serious issue. And partly because there are just not enough Black owned corporations or small businesses which underlines many other issues that only the divine will address. But it’s a bigger issue when it comes to being black and a felon try to get a real job and stay out of prison.

Unfortunately, so far the community resources I've use have not been too helpful as far as job placement. The community resources I have used include the Probation Department, Maricopa Workforce Connections, and AWEE. If I were to refer some one to one of the three I would say start with AWEE. They did a good job at helping me reorganize my resume and preparation for employment. 

But the real problem is actually getting a second chance. Mostly all the places I've had interviews with look at my conviction personally without knowing all the facts or the law. Understandable to the extent that it was a big mistake in the decisions that got me in such a position. But it shouldn't mean that every administration that I apply at should feel the need to punish me in some form or fashion. Even though AWEE gives its clients Job leads to places that hire felons it is more complicated. Mainly because it depends on the type of felony even though there are federal bonding programs and WOTC available.

I really have three strikes against me.  First is my name which is usually projected as a Muslim name which I automatically get put in a category. Two, I'm a black man, and when it comes to the real hiring practices in Arizona there is a combination of elements that apply when hiring. Lastly I'm a convicted felon and even though I paid the price which is an understatement if I might say.  Particularly in my case and experience in the system in Arizona. I still am portrayed as a threat or monster which I'm not at all.

When companies run background checks they run for over ten years.  If they see something that is theft or violence usually they won’t give me a chance. I have two domestic violence charges. However, I am and will continue to look for a stable job. My goal right now is to find a stable job that will enable me to go back to school. But there is a big problem that I face every day while trying to be a felon who is a productive employed citizen. Even though I wish I wasn't a felon I can’t change that right now or anytime soon.

I did apply at the AZ Workforce Connections. The reason they said they could not help me as far as qualify for the Program for ex-felons is because of my age. They simply put it that even though I was in prison. I was not in prison long enough to qualify. Although I was in county jail for almost 6years before I was released. The judge gave me time served but He required that I get a number so I was in prison for only a week or so. I know that in some prisons you can gain certifications to job related skills but I was unable to have that opportunity. So it makes it more difficult because most jobs say they will only hire if the conviction is 7 or 10 years old and or it can not be a theft or violence. Otherwise you will find ex-felons working at certain telemarketing jobs that are based on commission which some time your getting paid under minimum wage or steals money from there own employees earnings and or condones illegal practices in its dealings with customers or clients in the name of "we need sales" etc.

I was just recently taken back to court even though all my probation fees have been made up to date and I have attended counseling for almost 9 months every week only missed one day. I was still taken to court because I have not found a job. This tells me that their interests are in money not in my rehabilitation under the Probation Department. This is a complex issue and cannot be simply answered. I did not intend to respond so lengthy. But I thank you for your interest and response.

But like I said before this is a complex issue when it comes to this state (AZ) its enterprise on prisons and its underdevelopment of its rehabilitation system.  I have a number of experiences in the system including law suits against Mr. Joe and detention officers to the criminal injustice system and judicial administrations. I hope this gives you a better idea of what I'm trying to convey. I appreciate your attention on these issues. Thank you for the referral I will definitely apply. 

Thank you

Name withheld by request.


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