Updated: Jan 18
During the hiring process, most organizations want to know if the applicant has been convicted of a felony. Regardless of the equal hiring process, it's safe to say that most businesses refrain from hiring ex-felons which is an easy way for most ex-felons to return to the activity that put them in prison in the first place. Most human resource departments do not realize that most ex-felons just want to take care of themselves and provide for their families. Now, more than ever, businesses are opening their minds to providing opportunities to ex-felons but plenty still don't know exactly how to go about the intricacies of dealing with an ex-felon and breaking the prison cycle which has plagued the economics and cohesion of the black community.
There are three focuses when it comes to hiring a human being (I mean an ex-felon) and increasing the likelihood of a fruitful outcome and healing experience. Before I begin, it must be understood that there is no perfect way to go about this, however the member of the organization who will be the one interacting with the applicant must understand people on a basic level and have a calm presence about themselves but must also have a backbone and know when to be serious. It's only our experiences as an organization that has allowed us to present these three essentials to shed light on this topic.
1. A SINCERE DESIRE TO MAKE A POSITIVE CHANGE IN THEIR LIFE
This individual must want better for themselves. Their actions and words should show that they do not want to go back to prison. Being able to look a man or woman in the eye and visibly see how sincere they are about making a change. If this is somebody that was wrongly convicted or doing time for a petty crime then it makes this entire process easier because they won't have many internal changes to make. However, if they have made a decisions that led to a major conviction then that's where the organization has to wisely evaluate this individual's heart and soul. The person must understand the "why" behind their past decision(s) and not just the sob story or plea to be hired. There may be several sincere conversations about each of you in these early phases.
2. STRUCTURE OF THE ORGANIZATION
The organization must understand how circumstance, environment, and survival is sometimes the catalyst for many crimes and how true morals and principles are not evaluated by the courts. We are all human and this is still a man-made system that carries plenty of flaws. This does not mean exude naivety but to present a form of sternness, trust and responsibility. The organization must see if their actions align with what it is they're saying. A lot of times, money is their focus although they may not verbalize this. When opportunity and money is difficult to come-by it makes it easy for one to go back to their old lifestyle for the risky but consistent money. The organization must have the ability to evaluate ones actions and level of productivity on the job. The organization must take some accountability within this entire process as well and must be honest with themselves before even starting. You must ask yourself, do we have the resources? The structure? The money? The people? to make sure this person is in the right place to succeed. Ex-felon or not, everyone wants to be apart of a winning team. The reward is important. Empty promises break trust. Be very upfront. The organization has be sure they can pay however agreed and on-time for them to take care of themselves and potentially their families.
The understanding of patience and how vital it is within our communities. There are some people that will say one thing and sometime do it and other times not. This shows an internal conflict to do the right thing but struggling to remove themselves from their old lifestyle. You can sense the internal struggles that an ex-felon has when they want to make change but are in conflict with their current circumstance or past traumas, whether hidden or recognized. Promoting patience, self-accountability and leading by example are key. Some ex-felons want to join a team's mission, share a vision that's bigger than themselves, and help more people in their situation. Some ex-felons actually want to steer people away from going to jail, learn a new skill, and put some more money in their pocket. Like Karate, attaining self-discipline with strengthening the mind and developing a consistent work ethic. People will come and go but there will be ones that take advantage of the opportunity and be willing to grow. The ones who do not fit or don't take advantage of this opportunity must be calmly told that their assistance won't be needed.
This is definitely still a process in the works for the Ascxnd team. We haven't worked through a prison reform program yet we have developed our own strategy and have constructed several beautiful projects with ex-felons who have committed themselves to better life.
Many are familiar with the communal changes from the 1960's until now from the guns, drug and gangs that were strategically implemented in the neighborhoods. However, we must now be accountable for our current situation and do better. We must learn applicable skills that carry longevity. Skills that carry monetary value. Skills one can learn and keep with oneself forever. Skills one can obtain to start a business with. There aren't many businesses that will hire an ex-felon so with these skills, they should be inspired and encouraged to start something themselves.
Over time, they will sense your heart and you will sense theirs. Then you will realize the title ex-felon really becomes what it is. A title. And nothing more.