Is your life basically over once you go to prison?
Hasn't been a hinderance to me in the slightest, but I'm an entrepreneur type I'm basically unemployable. Even today I'd probably punch a boss who raised his voice to me into the next dimension, and people can tell that just by looking at me. Your mileage may vary though, it makes it more difficult or impossible to get certain types of jobs. I have degrees in accountancy and law (long story) and I'm willing to bet I'm not getting interviewed at Price Waterhouse any time soon.
Of my close friends from prison. One joined a 1% bike gang. One started an asbestos removal business and has half a dozen employees, a nice wife and a house he just bought. My closest prison friend got out in 2012 after doing 18 years, and has a business restoring 1950's corvettes and a wife and gorgeous new baby, a golden time for him at age 61. My workout partner in jail is trapped in a cycle of on again, off again alcoholism and low level poverty. He can't get his life together enough to get a decent car to enable him to travel to decent jobs, etc. The rest of the people I know have mostly returned to addiction or prison, which is what happens to the vast majority of cons.
I know a great many ex cons who have happy, productive, worthwhile careers that would amaze you (several university professors and high functioning people) through participating in the narcotics anonymous program. If you have addiction issues, and you want a good life on the outside, these people will raise the odds in your favour. When I joined I found a tribe of people who understood my struggles, and were not just well wishers, but active supporters in my life. They loved me until I was able to love myself, and gave me examples of how a strong, honourable, masculine man should move through the world with grace and humility.
Truth is, you have to accept the consequences of your own actions. I'm an ex con, and that isn't changing any time soon. I literally tortured people who pissed me off for very flimsy reasons. Anyone who thinks ex cons are dishonest and untrustworthy and should be shunned, is entitled to their opinion, I don't really have a comeback, the evidence is clear.
You are entirely capable of choosing a career which is not going to be affected, like any of the new media internet marketing hustles. Or learning to program (so what if it's hard?), or learning an honest trade from someone who doesn't care about your past just your present. Or moving to a place where it's not a big deal. Like where I am, in Thailand. Or Bali, or Saigon, or...
It is a big world, with many things to experience and see. Life is a banquet.
**** Edit - I just realised that I live in Australia, a country with a SAFETY NET! So in Australia you cannot really be authentically poor without having a big hand in it yourself. I'm certain that some of this probably doesn't apply in the USA.
Its not over, but, well, its marginalized. The stigmatization of people that are ex felons dictates that part of your life be kept by and large a secret, though in the information age this is impossible. It is indeed the modern day scarlet letter. And it is so disheartening. Many people discuss recidivism in patronizing tones, incredulous that criminals keep going back for the same reasons. Well, our society stacks the deck against its citizens that have committed crimes AND SUPPOSEDLY PAID SOCIETY BACK for them in such a manner that it is, well, I won't call it impossible, but highly improbable that anyone recently incarcerated will be able to find a better path.
The real shame in it all is the criminalization of millions of drug addicts in the name of , well, something. I would implore you ask the Regan's but that is a dead issue, pun intended. What a horrific legacy to pin to your lapel. We don't have a crime issue in America we have a criminalization issue, when you can't get a job because you are on drugs and can't pass the mandatory test, well, you still have to eat right? And buy drugs of course, but without a job what the hell do you think an addict can then turn to, the only thing left is a life of crime! Its a shame.
Back to the question, MOST larger companies outright deny felons. and assuming a job is to be had, there is a definite ceiling both in position and income that an ex felon is capped with, and it is a short one indeed. That "have you ever been convicted of a felony" question on applications may as well say "you aren't getting hired". Finding love, yeah, ok, what parent wants to meet their daughters felon boyfriend... Get pulled over and hand your id to the officer, ummm, you're going to get hassled big time. A lot of people don't even want a felon in their home, no matter the circumstance, christmas party or whatever. It sucks. However, the point to letting a prisoner out anyway is this, prisons are cruel and unusual punishment across the board and they change people, dehumanize them, damage them. There are few crimes that get life, but I can tell you a ten or fifteen year sentence may as well be considered the same because you aren't coming back from that the same person at all, assuming you even make it out. Just my take on it.
This is rather generalized. In some ways though, it is correct. Regardless of lifestyle beforehand, it is over. Aside from the additional restrictions (which you may choose to obey, or violate) that probation/supervised release entail (for the duration of such), you are a felon for life. That felony prohibits you from many activities that are perfectly allowable for non-felons, regardless of your conviction; and sometimes additional activities dependent upon your conviction. These prohibitions may or may not be noticed by the individual, and others may minimize their loss. (Usually because they have them or consider them to be a negligible loss due to lack of application to their own life.)
I will use myself as an example. I was a trained Navy nuclear power plant operator, fully-qualified to sit as reactor operator. Persons who manage that are highly sought after in many professional fields, even if they initially lack the training otherwise required to perform the job's responsibilities because they are known to be very adaptable and easy to train. I was also a lead damage control technician for my department, having attended advanced firefighting training; an effective trainer, assisting in rapid qualification of multiple new operators; and the administrator and technician for a secure network to enable efficient operation of the power plant after being trained by the civilian company that designed and produced new systems for the Navy. Now, I am not able to work in any of those fields. My professional investment means little to anybody else, but is now a complete loss.
Also applicable in many cases are the possible living conditions attainable after going to prison. I can't rent an apartment at any corporate-owned complex that I've found. I can't buy a house if it's not in an approved location.
Life may not be over, but it sure is unrecognizable from any that is lived by a non-felon.
A former inmate told me his formula for success.
He'd show up at Work Source, or whatever the places is where you can sign up for being a day laborer. He'd show up with his work gloves, clothing appropriate for the weather, and planning on working.
He'd show up every day, and didn't get discouraged when there weren't enough jobs. When he got selected, he worked his butt off. Very soon, the employer simply decided to cut out the middle man. He found that even though he had a felony, the average kid with a clean record or a bad one, is LAZY and UNRELIABLE, so he'd work hard, and show up to work, and show up every time.
The next he knew, not only was he a permanent employee, they wanted to keep him when they saw a subcontractor talking to him, so they actively helped him, giving him rides from the job sites and picking him up, and finding places closer to work, a church shelter here, an inexpensive apartment there.
Now we've seen 1. Hard work, 2. Reliability, and the third element was Loyalty. He'd bite his lip and not feed in to the grousing, 4. Just do things, don't complain. He'd take care of the company's equipment because they took care of him.
Next he was supervising.
So he was willing to work hard, be reliable, be loyal to someone who took care of him, and he didn't complain about things that needed to be done.
He used his desire to make life better to mature.
No, your life is not over! One may need to adjust their plans or goals as there are several career fields that are now lost to them. There are some jobs, good ones, that are still available and of course they can start their own business. There are inmates that have gone on to become lawyers, paralegals, social workers, substance abuse counselors, writers, security consultants, and so on.
Life is full of challenges and obstacles, successful people learn ways to overcome. We all also make bad decisions and choices that impact our futures and life, not just those that are incarcerated. There is nothing that can't be overcome except death. Flexibility, creativity, and determination can be powerful tools in redirecting or rebuilding ones life. But quitting never gets anyone anywhere...
That depends on why your going, for how long and how strong your resolve is. Due to some terrible life decisions I spent ten of 12 years in prison, the last five being in basically segregation. This was difficult and I often truly did believe my life was over. The psychological effects of spending one's entire day, week, month, year in a barren room devoid of meaningful human contact cannot be overstated.
I was released 3 years ago in March. I just recently successfully completed my commitment to the court. Upon my release I began work immediately at a local factory, earning $8.50 an hr for 10 hour days of grueling labor. After a few months I seized an opportunity at a larger manufacturing facility as a temporary making $12.60 an hr. After 3 months of doing that I was not only hired full time but also received a promotion to team leader, now making over $20. I have continued my career, receiving several more promotions. I am now a production supervisor making a hefty salary and living a happy and comfortable life.
We are all responsible for the decisions we make and the consequences of those decisions. Many times the best way to learn to do something is to learn the many ways to NOT do it. Do not waste the valuable opportunities life throws at you disguised as consequence. If you have an out date you have an opportunity. Your behind the wheel. Drive.