2nd Chance Tips for Those Formerly Incarcerated

Elise Townsend, Joey Ingegneri, Hailey Thoman, Danny Howe, and Andy Silverman posing after the 2nd Chance Panel.

Linkages serves on the 2nd Chance Tucson Committee. They organize job fairs and workshops to create opportunities for people who were formerly in prison or jail to gain employment. They are truly a great resource here in Tucson and we hope to see more cities join this movement.

We recently put on a Second Chance Panel here in Tucson with 3 expert panelists – Andy Silverman, Elise Townsend, and Danny Howe. Their expertise covers everything from employment to rights restoration to housing and more. Most importantly, they have helped hundreds, in not thousands of people looking for help as they reintegrate into society. Here is what you need to know from our recent panel:

  1. What type of crimes can be expunged? – Arizona doesn’t expunge convictions. They have set-asides. A set-aside does not wipe away a conviction, but it is noted on the criminal record and someone who has their convictions set-aside can say to an employer, “A court has set-aside my conviction” when applying.
  2. Is it possible to get a fingerprint clearance card with a felony? – Yes. You have to apply, get denied, and APPEAL. The Arizona Board of Fingerprinting has a 96% appeal approval rating! See here how to appeal once you’ve been denied: https://fingerprint.az.gov/application-process/good-cause-exception.
  3. Do crimes done as a youth go away? – It used to be more certain that the records would be sealed, but now they are much more accessible to employers. It’s not visually on criminal records, just on court records. Juvenile court does hold clinics to help clear juvenile records. Here is a link to a clinic coming up on August 27th, 2018 from 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm – https://www.facebook.com/events/140125610165911/
  4. What is the biggest hurdle for success in overcoming the felony? – Don’t label yourself a ‘felon’. Sell yourself! Leave the felony behind you. Less is more.
  5. How do you answers the questions on applications about prior arrests/charges? – Keep it brief. Answer the question and make sure you say will discuss in interview. Once in the interview follow this process: Admit what you did (keep this brief), Share what you lost, Explain what you learned, Share where you are today.
  6. What do you do about references? If you haven’t been in the workforce and do not have previous employers to speak on your behalf, how do you overcome this obstacle? – If you have no professional references, use family/friends, but MAKE SURE the person being used know and have some key things to talk about. Coach the person being used as a reference. It’s about thinking outside the box. For example, if you have an client who worked for their Aunt for $20 laying tile, that’s professional. Coach the aunt to speak about the work the was done and the work ethic and character of your client.
  7. Where are 2nd Chance friendly jobs? – Applicants need to go in and see employers in person, not just fill out the online application. Let the employer put a face with the name. When you follow up in person, the employer might pull your application to top just because you followed up and they want to make the connection. To employment specialists – know the employers as much as possible. For example Home Depot will not hire felons, but Lowe’s is more of a case by case.
  8. How can an employment specialist be involved when talking with employers about their client’s felonies? – know your clients. Don’t go to employer and ask, “Do you hire felons?” Ask, “What are you looking for? What do you need?” It’s not a charity for employers, it’s a business – focus on how the potential employee will benefit the employer. That is the most important thing!
  9. Can the panel address the unique issues with sex offenders? – For employment specialists – you need to divorce them from their crime. Have them talk about their skills and what they have accomplisehd (including work while incarcerated). Don’t focus on what the conviction is. Employment specialists and the client need to ‘market’ themselves. Express what you can do. With all of that said, the panel did not want to sugar coat that these offenses are some of the hardest due to stigma.
  10. How does one get their rights restored? – Pay all fines and restitution. If you can’t there are resources, call Andy Silverman. At the very least make regular payments, even if they are small. You need to get all the paperwork in line from the prison system. You can do this by going to the superior court or calling Andy – (520) 621-1975.

Check out https://www.secondchancetucson.org/ for the latest events in Tucson.