Tuesday, April 17, 2007

keep hanging on

another tough comment arrived tonight on an old post on expungement and employment. maybe you feel no sympathy for ex-felons or maybe you think they're exaggerating the pain. i get enough phone calls and letters and emails and first-hand testimony, however, to know that the stigma is real enough to push people over the edge. when a western state extended its five-year registration requirement to a lifetime public stigma, for example, i got a call from a guy at the end of his rope after 4.5 years. and it wasn't the first (or the tenth or the hundredth) time i've heard such desperation.

i posted my response and repeat it below, though it seems pretty lame. i tell myself that life is beautiful and anything is possible, but sometimes i'm just stumped. how would you respond to this message, from a commenter identified as dead soon?

Hello. I've got convictions a-plenty (five I believe at this point). All over a decade old and all centering around writing bad checks. I've worked in tech all my career and can't get a job. I had one at HP and was hired through a temp agency that was not required to run background checks at the time. I doubt that situation exists anywhere in America any more. If you lie about your record you will be found out and probably get fired if not worse. If you tell the truth, well you don't get hired to begin with. My advice? Stay in crime and as often as possible perpitrait those crimes against companies that have turned you down for honest work. What else have you got? See you in the grave as this is my last log on anywhere. I don't want to be a criminal and since losing my last job to a coworker that used my record to get me fired (she was promoted to my job)I give up. I'd say that a full year of no work due to a fifteen year old bad check conviction is enough. Tonight it's a drug smoothy that should end this existence and if it doesn't it's a bullett at 6am sharp as I have my alarm set. I served my time and didn't owe the interest society demanded. My kids couldn't afford it either but at least now they get the insurance. Can't look them in the eye anymore when I can't even get a job that pays the bills. Bye.

damn. try to hang on a little longer, friend -- sometimes you'll see something in the sunrise that wasn't there the night before. i can't know what you've gone through, but some of us have held on by our fingernails through tough nights. thinking about your kids ten years from now sometimes helps, as does the promise of strong coffee and an apple fritter in the morning sun (or maybe a heineken and an egg mcmuffin in the parking lot) -- rewards large and small for making it through the night.

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