Talking about my criminal record will be the hardest part of my re-entry to society. I've decided to tell the truth about my record as honestly, calmly, and directly as possible. Do you feel that I should be the first to bring it up, in conversations concerning a job interview, if it looks like the interviewer isn't going to? I want to just get to the point. Please take a moment to consider this and then write and tell me if the following sounds okay to you:
"In 2000 I was convicted of aggravated robbery and served five years in the state penitentiary. I am not proud of this time in my life but I take full responsibility for my actions. I am a recovering addict. This time in my life has taught me to evaluate my priorities. I am no longer using illegal drugs or involved with anyone, place, or thing that could cause me to relapse. I avoid all stimulants such as tobacco products. I am highly motivated to prove myself and fully intend to turn my life around.
I understand it may be hard for you to put yourself in my shoes, and you may be reluctant to trust me or believe anything that I say. I can only tell you, I am serious about the changes I've made in my behavior and that I will work harder than anyone else to prove to you that I'm not the same person prior to prison. You may place me on probation and observe my work habits and personal habits. I want this opportunity to prove myself worthy of acceptance as a productive and responsible member of society today.
While incarcerated, I completed a paralegal correspondence course, I sacraficed to pay tuition for it. I attended counseling, drug treatment, drug recovery, and self-help groups. I served as a trusted servant, in the position of group secretary in the NA Fellowship, for over four years. I completed the Laubach Tutoring program and acted as a tutor to other inmates as a member of ProLiteracy America.
I attend religious services regularly. I served as an Alternate Reader for readers unable to attend services. Also, I volunteered to assist the handicapped to exit facility during fire drills; to clean-up aging inmates spills and/or infectious materials which create hazardous conditions; and assisted illiterate inmates while reading legal mail and preparing letters to their attorneys. I was also active in chess tournaments where I excelled.
Frankly, I haven't received a single misconduct or rule infraction report, or other disciplinary action. My security status has been lowered to the minimum allowed in the facility, and all my classification reviews were very favorable. Overall, generally, I have managed to get along well, with both staff and other inmates throughout my incarceration, without incidence. I have attempted to make amends to others harmed by my conduct."
I'm planning to use nontraditional tools, such as networking, informational interviewing, and the Internet to get as many people involved in my job search as possible. Networking is a shortcut to finding the vital information I will need by asking everyone for input and advice, such as friends, neighbors and relatives. It is not asking them for a job. Actually, word-of-mouth through acquaintances and associates is the best resource for an ex-offender to find out where the jobs are. Additionally, showing prospective employers that, despite my past, I am now ready to be honest and responsible is critical to obtaining an interview to get hired. Therefore, "defusing the bomb" is extremely important. Any job search technique that will allow me to meet, talk with, and win over the employer before my record is brought up, is one reason why networking is advantageous to me. Otherwise, if the employer becomes aware of my record before meeting me, chances are I will be "red flagged". Complacency in this rapidly changing economy could easily lead to my missing out on getting my feet in the door at all.
Would you hire me or any other person like me today? If not, then what would you suggest that society do with ex-convicted or ex-addicted men and women caught in this trap? Thanks for your time and honesty. Enjoy your blessings!