Do Felons Deserve a Second Chance, Obama Thinks So [Reader Post]

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Should convicted felons be given a second chance? Barack Obama thinks so, and he thinks the tax payers should have to foot the bill. He made his view on this issue more than evident during a town hall meeting in Elyria, Ohio on January 22nd. Here is a excerpt from this Ohio town hall meeting, where a 29 year old felon who has never had a job in his life asks Obama if he will help felons get a job.

Jerome the felon asks Obama:

“I’m 29 years old, and I’ve never had a job in my life. I went to jail when I was younger. It’s like hard to get a job as a felon. Is this — any programs that hire people with felonies like something that — because it’s sad, it’s like — 29 years old, I’m 29.”

Obama Answers Jerome:

“Look, I’m proud of the fact that you’re bringing this up because there are people who’ve made mistakes, particularly when they’re young, and it is in all of our interests to help them redeem themselves and then get on a straight path. Now, I don’t blame employers obviously for being nervous about hiring somebody who has a record. It’s natural if they’ve got a lot of applicants for every single job that that’s a question that they’d have in their minds. On the other hand, I think one of the great things about America is we give people second chances.

And so what we’ve tried to do — and I want to say, this has been a bipartisan effort — when I was in the Senate, working with Sam Brownback; my Vice President, Joe Biden — passing a Second Chance Act that helps to fund programs that help the reintegration of ex-felons.

It’s smart for us to do. You know, sometimes people say, well, that’s just coddling people. No; you reduce the recidivism rate, they pay taxes, it ends up being smart for taxpayers to do.”

Shame on Jerome, if he really wanted a job he could get one. He is playing the victim card. In reality he is only a victim of his own bad decisions. Taxpayers already pay for convicts to be in prison, now Obama wants us to pay to get them a job? Don’t get me wrong, I believe everyone(well, almost everyone) deserves a second chance, but it is not the responsibility of everyone else to provide that second chance.

Now before you start sending me nasty emails saying “you are stupid, and you just don’t understand how hard it is for felons to get a job.” Please allow me to stray from the beaten path for a moment and tell you a bit about my own experience.

I am a convicted felon. Five felonies to be exact. I spent the later part of my teenage years (15-19 years old) as a drug addict. Between ages 18 – 19, I lived out of the back of an Oldsmobile, and skipped around from job to job (i kept getting fired for some odd reason, hmm) to raise money for my heroin habit. I continued this pattern of living until I was finally arrested, charged with 9 felonies, convicted of 5 felonies, and sentenced to 1 year and 2 months in prison. One day, as I was sitting in my cell, I thought to myself, “this isn’t the life I want. I want something better, and I’m going to get.” So I made a plan for what I was going to do when I got out, and I decided to use my time in there wisely by educating myself. I started studying college algebra, then moved on to calculus and finally computer science. I also applied for college while I was in prison, so I could attend as soon as I got out. My release day came, and guess what, I went out and got a job flipping burgers the next day.

I worked the early shift at my new job . Public buses didn’t run that early in the morning(in VA, if you receive a felony conviction you lose your license), so I walked to work, 5 miles, every morning. When my shift was over, I hoped on a bus, and went to the local community college to take a couple of classes. When I got out of class the buses weren’t running so I walked home, 4 miles, every night. This process repeated everyday for 9 months until I finally saved up enough money to pay off all of my court costs, and go through all of the red tape required to get my license back. When I finally got my license and my car back, I went out searching for a new, better job. I found 2 jobs. Who would have thought that a convict could get 2 jobs (Jerome couldn’t seem to find 1 in 29 years). I met a wonderful girl at one of these jobs, and we eventually got hitched! Fast forward 4 years and I am happily married, the proud owner of a brand new home, 6.5 years sober, have a good job, and I am almost done with a bachelors degree in computer science (I pay my own way through school, so I only take as many classes as I can afford).

I told you this story to tell you this. I know it is hard to get a job if you are a felon. I do understand. However, if you are a felon, you are not a victim of society, you are a victim of your actions. It is not the responsibility of tax payers to provide you with a second, it is your responsibility. In the United States there are infinite possibilities for a second chance, but you have to go out and get it. It will not come to you. Don’t let your criminal record hold you back, use it as a lesson in life. If you work hard, pursue your dreams, and strive to be a good citizen, good things will happen. That is the beauty of liberty and freedom, you have every opportunity to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get on the right track in life. How could you not love a country that has allowed a drug addicted, homeless convict to become a sober, homeowner, with a beautiful wife, and lives the American dream everyday. God Bless America!

Crossposted from Liberty and Pride

822 Responses to “Do Felons Deserve a Second Chance, Obama Thinks So [Reader Post]”

  1. 801

    Dorothy

    I believe convicted felons are able body to work and tax payers shouldn’t have to pay our hard earned money to keep someone up who is in better shape than myself. Only those that have not killed or molested a child should be allowed back in the work environment.

  2. 802

    David

    speaking as a felon i would say there is no hope for me, I am fifty two, with a recent conviction because I screwed up m anaging a federal grant. I have a bad back and neck, herniated discs, which puts manual labor on the list of things i cannot do. in my state anything that requires a license is prohibited for a felon. I will never practice law again. I need to die.

  3. 803

    youngsinner

    Hi i am a 21 yr old ibelieve in getting and giving a second chance..ihave about 8 felonys igot introduce to the lifestyle at the age of 11..my father wasnt thier his life got tooken away wen i was 10..so my role model was my big brother it wasnt till than he got sent to prison n now is doing life..all the wrong people influence me so many cases after cases igotten..it wasnt till this year when my fiance left me that made me wanna open my eyes the cause wasnt her but my two children’s(my 3 yr old daughter in my 1 yr old son).what im basicly trying to say is as a young gang member whom experience alot iwould love for someone to see that im willing to change leave the past behind try to do whats best to succeed in the future in get a professional job to support my family and live a normal life and be the man ishouldve been.

  4. 804

    Carla Barrett

    @My Life: I understand I am a felon myself from 8 years ago .I was so proud when I found the company I was working for ,however after working there 3 years I was terminated today due to I have applied for a pardon and that could take years for get if granted at all.It was a emotionall day .They hated it and want me to try and see what I can do andi can get my job back.I need help

  5. 805

    Curtis Robinson

    I’m also a felon who is trying to do the right thing. I have an issue that I can’t seem to get around. I’m trying to get my license back through the courts there will ing to give me a payment plan but i can come up with the down payment im trying to pursue career truck driving school but I need my license back is there any help I can get to do this and I pay them back

  6. 806

    Cara Bullock

    @David: @David:

    @David. …. so I have not been on in a long while and was just browsing through the comments and came across your comment. …. I imagine words from a stranger have little meaning .. however I truly am sorry for the many struggles you have endured in your life. I am 42 years old and have a 22 and 10 year old daughter …. constantly disappointing them and always wishing I could be someone they could be proud of. I am tired, worn down, exhausted …. and just DONE…. THEY ARE THE ONLY REASON I ATTEMPT TO SURVIVE… I USED TO HAVE SO MUCH STRENGTH AND NO MATTER HOW TOUGH THINGS WERE I NEVER GAVE UP….. I wish I could find that strength again. I wish i was dreaming of retirement instead of dreaming to find a job that will at least pay the bills. obviously I could go on and on …. but I wanted you to know I can relate. I do not know you or anything about you …but I know your a human being and you are worth more than you probably give your self credit for. …. I just felt I needed to say that …. if you ever need to chat or just wanna vent …please feel free …hope to hear from you soon

  7. 807

    Tanya Jackson

    I have a felony that is over twenty-five years old and I graduated college in 2010. First of all, I am black and female and it is very hard to get a job…especially in the South. I do not own a home or an automobile because I cannot find a decent job with enough pay to obtain these things. I would like to work in the court system or probation because of my degree but most jobs dealing with the law require a squeaky clean record. So here I sit with this degree, owe money I have to pay back and don’t know how. I am going to be 56 year old soon and never held but one job since the felony…..I went to prison for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. My felony wasn’t a violent crime it was drug related. I did time and got out and still paying. Please help me anyone.

  8. 808

    Nice

    But why should it be that hard? If someone completed their sentenced, paid their restitution, completed their probation, met all their conditions, isn’t their debt to society effectively repaid? Shouldn’t the focus be on preventing recidivism?
    You talk about giving felons a second chance not being a worthy cost of tax payer money. But that’s paramount to preventing recidivism. What is a more worthy expenditure of taxpayer money than to protect public safety?

  9. 809

    Garrett Kyle fontenot

    My name is Garrett I have a felony on my background I am looking for a good job I work hard its just no one wants to hire me I have tickets I have to pay and need a vehicle I am willing to do anything to get my life back on track so if u can help me plz do u will never forget me I promise thanks

  10. 810

    Mark.Thompson

    My name is Mark Thomas and 44 year old I’ve been to prison 4 times I’m a veteran I’ve been to the military two times I’ve done some things that are not actually right and I am very saddened by those things all I want is a second chance to have my record cleared in order to be a productive citizen in society have been married 20 years and I have six children 13 grandchildren and I just asked to be allowed to being a productive citizen in society without having a jacket over my back that people would look at me as being something of a virus or playing

  11. 811

    Micah J Smith

    I am a 45 y/o veteran who has had a few run ins with the law. I have two felony drug charges and finding employment in the south is not easy at all. I have always grown up believing that if our high-power can forgive us, why can’t man. Through out the years I have noticed seen and studied corrupt politicians who commit unspeakable acts to the people, publicly beg for our forgiveness, and end up back in office. But, I get caught with drugs (and I was caught dead-to-rights) and I am, for the most part, discarded into the deepest realms of social-Siberia with no hopes of surfacing; and to me that’s not fair. We profess our country was founded on “Christian” principles; note to self “actions speak louder than words.” I have heard via the “grapevine” from a group of veterans and have seen it for myself that the VA does employee veterans with felonious backgrounds, they truly believe in giving second chances. So, I have committed myself to applying in hopes to be in that number. Fellow, vets and civilians respectively, I know its hard and I am right, there beside you, but don’t give up. I know “easier said than done” but put in the words of Charlotte from “Charlotte’s Web” “chin up.” They can’t keep you down forever. Lastly, I have applied for a few jobs on the USAJobs website and have gotten some good responses. Currently, I was offered a position at the Picatinny Arsenal in NJ as a “Contract Specialist.” The position requires you to obtain and maintain a “secret” clearance, but I have seen employed vets who have been granted clearances, even with backgrounds. So, we will see what happens. Good Luck with all. All your hard works to a better life are not in vain.

  12. 812

    willie hayden

    @Curtis Robinson: I am an ex felon who has been out of prison since 2008. I caught another felony 4 yrs later. since then, I have not been in any trouble. I went to school for truck driving ! I am here to tell you, it is just as hard to find a job in truck driving with a felony ! I have had my CDL since july 25 and I still have no job ! if your felony is less than 5 to 10 years old, forget it if on probation, good luck ! I am not saying its totally impossible, but you are going to face the same challenges .

  13. 813

    Francisco Escalante

    I am a convicted felon. I got locked out when I was 17.I think people who are convicted felons should have a second chance in life.they should be programs that help us find job so he won’t end up back in prison. then we should be able to join the military as well.

  14. 814

    Ruth Lewis

    My Son has spent 15 years in prison for a drug charge and other charge but now he can’t find a job and they won’t let him come where I live because I live in government housing.? He feels so discriminated against? What can he do.

  15. 815

    Vern T.

    Im also a convicted felon. Its very discouraging when you want to do the right thing and noone wants to hire you. Please believe 1st, that you have to believe in yourself. 2nd if you really want to work, you may have to lower your expectations. Start with something that can open the doors for you, i.e. , mom and pop, private small companies, and maybe even volunteer 1st! Do not give up on yourself, we can sometimes be our own roadblock. If this can help 1 person, maybe they can pay it forward, Good Luck to all!

  16. 816

    TonyC.

    In a so called free country there would not be stigma against non violent offenses. That was created by government and DOJ, so now it should be their job to fix it. Some peoples dreams are not accessible accesible because of this false stigma. You should be given a chance at a career especially if you obtain a college degree. Then what happens from there is your own doing, but you should not lose oppurtunity from past non violent charges. This is do to government and this tough on crime crap.This stigma that once a criminal always a criminal is ridiculous. It is mainly from these conservative Christian types. The funny thing is their Christian beliefs teach them not to judge but they do the exact opposite..

  17. 817

    Matt

    No stigma
    The left villified Bernie Madoff for his non-violent crime, doesn’t he have like 30 yrs where he’ll die in jail for his non-violent crime
    False stigma is BS
    You screwed up and it is up to you not society to prove yourself
    Getting a 2nd chance is dependent on you maybe taking a lesser BS job to establish your credentials and than advancing
    By your standards if you have degree in banking admin and your busted for
    insider trading your assumption is that trading companies should give you another shot even though you’ve proved yourself a liability
    Also its great that its right wing christians are holding you back via they’re hypocrisy like no one on the left ever held a grudge or a prejudice against a felon
    Your post and its inherent ignorance shows most likely its your attitude thats holding you back and not society

  18. 818

    Jeanne

    I was released from prison in 2012. I went to school and got a degree and worked for a landscaping company for over a year. I now have a college degree but still can’t find work. I made one emotional bad decision ten years ago for the sake of my seven year old child and honestly would do it again if it kept him safe. I spent seven years in prison, jump threw all the hoops of probation and halfway houses, and have still not been able to find work. (McDonald’s will not even hire me) Should I pay for my entire life for one bad choice?

  19. 819

    mark Thompson

    really sad and it’s really a shame. America being the country of the home free brave we’re supposed to be the greatest country in the world but yet of person goes to prison and is not allowed to have an opportunity to clear his name even after serving that time I’ll believe that we could have been incarcerated and have a felony record she come together and petition the state of petition to quarts in order to have all records cleared please respond to me because I would like to start a kiss chin see if the courts would overturn all the sentences after we have served our time thank you please respond

  20. 820

    Vern T.

    Do not be discouraged, you will just have to work a little harder, but the reward is far greater. Take any job that you can get, heck get 3 jobs if you can handle it. Save your money and start your own business, if you’re the boss no-one can hold you back from what you want, only you can do it, if you really want it! Dont go try to get a job that requires a background check. Volunteer, work for a small franchise, maybe a friend or family can help you, but again its up to you if you want to succeed! Good luck, i wish you all the best. Remember, if God forgives you, you have to forgive yourself and do something good for yourself☺

  21. 821

    ksp2089

    It amazes me that after reading this wonderful article about starting over, people are commenting to ask for handouts. This point of the article is YOU HAVE TO HELP YOURSELF! I was convicted of 4 felonies almost 11 years ago due to being with my ex-husband when he committed a crime. I walked out of the courtroom on probation, but with something to prove to the world. I got a divorce and took a job at a local factory to (barely) provide for my two kids. I worked harder than anyone there and went back to college at the same time. I eventually got a decent paying job in an office, where i stayed for 5 years. During this 5 years, I was constantly identifying weak areas and working to improve myself physically, professionally, and personally. Among many other things I read, listened to books while driving, trained for half marathons, and became a group fitness instructor, which at that time meant I was working 3 jobs, but it was great networking and even a Carnegie course can’t beat it for public speaking confidence! I was hired to run a local business, then actively pursued by both a financial advisor and a real estate broker. I was hired by Edward Jones investments and am also waiting to hear from DPOR regarding my real estate licensing. One of my letters of recommendation was from the Commonwealth’s Attorney who restored my firearms rights and knew my story. He had since observed my extensive work in the community and was happy to go to bat for me. Another letter was from the Sheriff. I don’t know if the state of VA will issue the license, but I do know that if I can’t get them, no felon can. I also know that if I can’t get them, I have a secure job at Edward Jones and will begin working toward passing my Series 7 to become a Financial Advisor. The moral of this article is that it can be done IF and ONLY IF you are willing to go above and beyond, to make sacrifices, and to work harder than anyone else around you every step of the way.

  22. 822

    Chill

    @ksp2089:
    Great Job. America is the most incarcerated country in the world. People who do drugs is probably the number 1 reason why that is. Women who get abortions argument is hey it’s my body, well the person who smokes pot or drinks alcohol can say hey it’s my body. What infuriates me is how willing these politicians are to forgive illegal aliens and give them amnesty for breaking the law. Yet it’s own citizens they want to oppress and see that they never rise again. I guess it is such a corrupt system that if you make just one small mistake in order to navigate through life you need to hire an attorney. Yes that is why they won’t forgive us they need to keep on feeding the attorney’s.

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