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Re: Hiring convicts- Part 2 [Re: copper] #165048 06/17/07 06:31 AM
Joined: Oct 2006
Posts: 31
Mountain Electrician Offline
Junior Member
Six years ago, I was convicted of drug possesion and did a short sentence in a prison camp. It was a non-violent, first time offense. After my release, I came home to the small, conservative rural area where I had lived and worked as an electrician for 20 years. As in any small community, everyone was aware of my situation and a job was hard to come by, although I think it was more due to my erratic drug induced behavior before I was arrested than the fact that I had actually been to prison. One contractor was willing to take a chance on me and while he didn't pay me much, I was greatful for the job. He helped me get my feet back on the ground, and I made him money. I ended up moving from that area, but I will always be greatful for the opportunity he gave me when no one else would.

I am now in business for myself, and would not hesitate to hire a convicted felon, provided they were the right person for the job. Like any other prospective employee, you have to base your desicion to hire on their skills and ability, and whether or not they are a fit for your company. With an ex-offender you have to consider some other things as well. First, the type and severity of the crime. Violent offenders have a higher recividism rate than non-violent offenders, and sex offenders will almost certainly do it again, given the chance. Secondly, the number of times they have been convicted. The definition of insanity is making the same mistake over and over, expecting a different result. I would not knowingly hire a crazy person. Finally, another warning sign would be how honest they are about their past. Some one who lies on a job application or at an interview is obviously not the kind of person you could trust or want working for you.

I don't disagree that hiring a ex-con can be a chancy thing to do, and for some might be completely out of the question, but I will say there are many of us out there who made a mistake, paid the penalty and are ready to become productive members of society again. To dismiss us out of hand could be not only a disservice to us, but to yourself as well.

Work Gear for Electricians and the Trades
Re: Hiring convicts- Part 2 [Re: Kenbo] #165086 06/18/07 12:36 AM
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 16
stevenj76 Offline
Junior Member
I wired houses, new construction, for a convict. It was hush-hush, nobody knew until his sex offender paperwork was found under the front seat of the truck.

He was the fastest, cleanest, wireman I've ever known. 3 of us roughed a 2500sqft house in 5 1/2 hours, and all the homeruns were run flat side-by-side and the all the wiring looked like it was ironed. Now, we didn't do the phone and tv, but still, thats flying.

Funny thing is, this guy is 6'6 250lbs solid and the nicest guy in the world. He could probably whoop 6 guys asses. Goes to church every Sunday. Never, ever, thought he could have been a con. He was one of the owners, and he had a couple of cons as foremen. It was a non-union shop, but they were all union before they went to prison. Just goes to show, electricians stick together in the big house.

Re: Hiring convicts- Part 2 [Re: stevenj76] #165090 06/18/07 02:44 AM
Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,327
Trumpy Offline
Mountain Electrician,
Thanks for your post.
It seems to me that the police forces of the world seem to be taking on the more "victimless crimes" as opposed to the harder crimes, like violent crime and sex offenders.
Like a lot of things, the police these days, have been "dumbed down" to make them more Politically Correct.
I'm not looking to make a political statement here, but why is it that so many serious crimes never get solved?.
On the other side of the coin, I would employ a guy here looking to make a new start, I draw the line at Sex offenders and people charged with Fraud, the PoCo here was ripped off for $230,000 a few years back by a woman that ran our office.
I wouldn't touch a person that had "Theft as a Servant" on thier police record, with a 10 foot barge pole!.

Re: Hiring convicts- Part 2 [Re: Trumpy] #165094 06/18/07 08:40 AM
Joined: Oct 2006
Posts: 31
Mountain Electrician Offline
Junior Member
Here are some disturbing statitics from the US Bureau of Justice website:
"In 2005, over 7 million people were on probation, in jail or prison, or on parole at yearend 2005 -- 3.2% of all U.S. adult residents or 1 in every 32 adults."

At that rate, it seems that everyone will have to deal with either working along side or hiring some one with legal issues of some sort. Does that mean 3.2% of the adult population in the United States are hardened criminals? Hardly. But the criminal justice system needs some work, IMO.

Federal proscecutors have a conviction rate in the high 90's, and in 2005 the federal prisons were running at 134% capacity. Lots of "victimless crimes" , although that isn't an accurate statement as my wife and children suffered plenty while I was gone. The point is, the system is punitive not rehabiltative, and with a recividism rate around 70% it's obviously not working. I'm not sure it's meant to. With more and more privatization of state and federal prisons, it has become a big business and with an overall inmate population growth rate of 3.3% annually from 1995 to 2005, it's not likley to slow down soon.

I've seen the system from the inside, and it is not geared to keep people from coming back. It's heartbreaking to see the potential and talent that goes to waste as young people put themselves into this machine that keeps them revolving in and out of prison for the rest of their lives. To me our tax dollars would be much better spent figuring out ways to keep the non-violent first time offenders out of prison than paying to keep them in for years and years. Programs on a federal level that actually educate and train some first time offenders would be a great start. I had a huge advantage as I had a trade before I got in trouble and had knew what I was going to do when I was released. Most of the other inmates with charges similar to mine didn't have this advantage, and would be back. I tought a class on basic electrical wiring while I was in there, and the response was very positive and the class was always full.I volunteered to teach the class and put the cirriculum together myself or it never would have happened. I was amazed that in a minimum security facility that was supposed to be preparing inmates for intergration back into society, there were no vocational programs available. Untill something is done about these types of things, the status quo won't change.

Maybe I've gone off on a bit of a tangent, but it is something I feel strongly about, and IMO pertains to the original post as the issue of hiring or not hiring ex-offenders is not going away untill some sort of reform in instituted in our state and federal justice systems.

I don't know what the system is like in NZ, but here it needs an overhaul

Re: Hiring convicts- Part 2 [Re: Mountain Electrician] #165104 06/18/07 01:07 PM
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,482
gfretwell Offline
My biggest problem with the US social system is there is nothing of substance between "kicked out of school" and prison.
We need more intervention programs for kids in trouble. It used to be the army but that is not politically viable these days.
We should also stop the stupid drug war but stupid "wars" seem to be a habit with us (ignoring the current mess in the middle east ... please)
We have "wars" on poverty, crime, alternate lifestyles or whatever is the current political football. They never work.
The drug war may be the dumbest, Say what you will about drugs, criminalizing them does nothing but fill the street with gunfire and jam prisons with people whose only crime is using or selling the wrong drug. On the other hand if you are using the right drugs (something you bribed a doctor to sell you) you are just taking medicine, even if it is the same drug. Alcohol and nicotine are billion dollar businesses.
We learned nothing from prohibition, in spite of the direct parallels. Legalize drugs and tax them. Turn a $500 million dollar expense into a $500 million windfall revenue increase and the number of addicts will probably stay about the same. At least we could treat addiction as a medical problem, not a crime.

If you think I am crazy, answer this question
Which drug kills the most people in this country, causes the most lost productivity and has the most addicts ... hint, it is legal. We even have an open thread about people trying to quit right here.

Greg Fretwell
Re: Hiring convicts- Part 2 [Re: gfretwell] #165422 06/27/07 12:53 PM
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 116
XtheEdgeX Offline
I'm an electrical supervisor for the feds in a multi prison complex in Florida. I totally agree that there are not enough training programs here to keep inmates from returning to a life of crime when they leave. I've taken it upon myself to put together a training program to teach the basics to the inmates that are on my work detail.
I agree with what was said about treating each one as an individual. Most of the inmates that I've worked with are more than willing to learn the trade, and are always eager to go out and do the work. And it's been satisfying to hear that someone that I trained is now working in the trade on the street and is doing well.
If I was ever in the position to hire an ex con, I would. If the person is qualified for the job, I would have no problem with that.

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