By Johnny Street
July 29, 2011
Make no mistake, parole is technically a duration of a sentence served outside of an institution, not an ending or completion of your sentence. It is treated like a step towards being completely free from obligation to the Corrections Department, but all those parameters (checking in, pissing in a cup, paying restitution) are all part of your sentence. This is also where it is really easy to violate your sentence, and wind up back in prison or jail. A key aspect that would make someone violate their parole is destitution, and what a horrible time to be destitute.
It is common knowledge that unemployment statistics are appalling. Depending on where you live, anywhere from 10% to 25% of a population is without work. This does not even factor in those who’s unemployment benefits have expired, or the ones who are under employed. We’ve all heard our own horror stories of downsizing, lay-offs, and the random doctor who has to bag groceries to supplement their income. With all sorts of people desperate for work, any work, the ones on parole are now even lower on the employment food chain.
If you are in such a mess, I hope these ideas help. Landing employment could very well be what makes you complete your parole, and stay out of institutions.
- Start Looking For A Job Before Parole Is Granted. Inmates who are eligible for parole are notified before their hearing by a case manager.
- Get As Many Good Letters Of Recommendation As You Can. With virtually every new place of employment running background checks on you, it is almost futile to think they won’t find out if you’ve been recently incarcerated. Be honest. Your word will only be taken at face value by a prospective employer, but what will help is by getting a recommendation from a third party. This can be a former employer, a religious figure, or even your parole officer.
- Call Your Parole Officer. Part of a Parole Officers job description is helping a parolee find long term employment. Obviously this can vary.
- Utilize All Social Services And Job Placement Agencies. The US Department of Justice can help you locate employers who hire parolees in your area.
- If You Believe You Are Being Discriminated Against During Your Job Hunt, Contact The ACLU. This is a very large grey area. You can be denied employment for a number of reasons. Obviously employers cannot deny you employment based on race, sex, sexual preference, or religion- but they can as long as they don’t cite one of those as the reason for it. All the same, you as a parolee still have rights, and the ACLU can inform you of what rights you have and if you are, in fact, being discriminated against.
- Contact The Head Of Your Local Place Of Worship. Churches are very connected within a community, and they can possibly suggest employers who are sympathetic to your situation.
- Persistence, Perseverance, Patience. It is not uncommon for a parolee to look for work and have nothing come of it. Even day labor can deny you employment based on you having a record. We live in a very unforgiving time when it comes to people out of work, and how much more that is amplified when you have been incarcerated for however long. Keep in mind your first line of getting back on your feet is your Parole Officer.
It is a shame that the concept of incarceration impairs you from living a prosperous life. It’s as if not only it is a system set up to promote failure on the parolee’s part, but your struggle is in fact an undocumented part of your sentence as well. To the victims of a crime you committed, the “serves you right” mentality is common. Either that or the altruistic “I forgive you”. No matter what put you in the situation of being on parole- being a raw deal, a plea to a lesser charge, or on a very rare occurrence of the punishment actually fitting the crime, parole is a very real and savage step when it comes to sentence fulfillment. In this cruel era of economic depression, never has getting back on your feet been harder for the parolee.
Johnny Street is the socio/political and biographical author of “A Defiance Of The American Dream” (available now on amazon.com), “Nacirema”, “Some Day In November: The Biography of Amber Bray”, and “Fourth And Life: The Biography of Marlin Carey” (available late 2011- early 2012)