I will always believe that there’s nothing a person can’t handle if they have confidence, support, and persistent. Even with that belief, it was still difficult when I returned from the federal prison camp after my 17-sentence. I earned my Bachelor’s degree in English back in 2008, so one would think it would be easy to find a job after prison. However, I realized during my two years on pre-trial, getting a quality job, let alone with my degree, was going to be difficult. The question is, however, how does someone not give up? It’s so tempting to give up. I remembered wanting to return to prison camp because at least I didn’t have to deal with rent, bills, and demanding employers. I even thought that publishing my book, Subprime Felon: Inside Federal Prison Camp, would lead to some happiness or freedom. Though I see my book as an accomplishment, it didn’t give me want I wanted. At the same time, I realized I had more freedoms outside of prison than inside. The challenge was to find a way to minimize my depression and frustration in order to keep a level head and find a solution. Here are a few methods I used, though these aren’t perfect, they may work as a way to stepping stone to better solutions.
Have a great diet
At Herlong Prison Camp I was able to eat as much as four meals a day. That’s not always possible in the real world. However, I find that maintaining a high fiber, and high protein diet does great for mental focus. I also recently discovered that having a high potassium intake keeps my nerves come, which helps minimize depression and anxiety.
Looking for employment is more than just putting in job applications and hoping to get the right job. I suggest creating a game plan. I find that when you come home from prison, inmates have to get the first job they can to satisfy their POs. As understandable, and sensible, as this is, that first job will most like not be a long-term financial solution. To avoid seeming overqualified, I suggest not putting high levels of education on your resume, if you’re applying for low waged jobs.
I believe that returning inmates should set time aside every day, even if they have their job, to explore self-employment options and to apply for better-paying jobs. Yes, looking for a quality job with a felony is going to be hell. But if a felon believes the high paying job is necessary for his life, he needs to stay confident and persistent in his quest.
I suggest going to sites like Indeed.com and in the search bar look for jobs that pay $35,000 or better. Also, you should pay someone to review and write your resumes and cover letters. Lastly, when searching on Indeed, or similar sites, be sure to narrow down the search results. My normal search might look like “English major, $35,000, -sales, -management.” By putting “-sales” this eliminates any positions that have the keyword or phrase “sales,” which usually prevents me from seeing jobs with sales involved.
Building and Maintaining Relationship
A community will make the transition easier. A community will give you support when a felon needs it. It will provide a felon job leads and counseling, which could be motivation to keep going. Some relationships will be lost throughout time. It’s essential for a felon to focus on the relationships that they have currently and could forge in the future. Also, avoid destructive and fruitless relationships with toxic people, they add unnecessary stress and do nothing to improve anyone’s life.
Move to a Bigger City
I’ve learned the hard way that the opportunities for felons depend on their city and environment. I returned home to Sacramento and found it difficult getting a quality job because of my criminal background and restaurant work history. However, when I moved to Los Angeles, I was able to cut back working in restaurants and work as a production assistant for films and background actor. Yes, these are low paying jobs, but with my degree, the experience I get by being on set will help me become a screenwriter in Hollywood, which is my goal.
Dealing With Depression and Frustration
There’s no magic pill or solution to dealing with the depression and frustration that a felon will deal with when they come home. The trick for felons is to understand that they have done everything in their power, legally, to put themselves in the best position possible. Everything has to work itself out. I understand the frustration of waiting for everything to work itself out. However, I remind myself that if there were a better idea, I would do it. A game plan is so important because when a felon reaches that point where they have done everything, they have to believe that what they did is sufficient and the results will come in time.
I hope this helps someone. At the time of this writing, I’m still struggling to have the life I want. However, I see things coming together. If nothing in this article works for you, then the best advice is keeping your head up and never giving up.