Finding a Job When You Have a Record

Posted July 28th, 2017, by Dan Carman
Kentucky Criminal Defense Attorney

One of the most difficult parts of being an inmate comes not in prison, but after release.  Adjusting to the world on the outside, after however brief or long a stay in prison, takes massive adjustment. While some of the toughest times are behind the offender, also gone are the regimented lifestyle, the rigid schedule, the provision of food (however bad it is), and having at least some heat in winter.

Perhaps, though, the hardest part is simply finding a job that pays enough money to live on.

In recent years, some efforts have been made to help. In Kentucky, HB 40 went into effect on July 15, 2016. This bill allows an opportunity for some Class D felons who have served their time and gone through their probation periods to expunge their records through the legal process, per court approval. Doing this helps with employment by erasing the former inmate’s record from the background search most employers use. However, it is by no means comprehensive and does not apply to all ex-convicts. For most newly released inmates, the bill is not much help, especially when they are released from prison and are in their parole or probation period.

The magazine Business Insider ran a story illustrating just how difficult it is for the 688,000 individuals released from prison each year to get a job.  It describes the plight of an individual who has applied for 75 jobs and had 10-15 interviews, but remains unemployed. The good news is the magazine tells about many organizations that exist solely to help former inmates find work.

In addition, The Houston Chronicle ran a story specifically offering advice on how to gain employment after incarceration. The list includes four steps, including:

Seek Assistance

There are a variety of agencies nationwide set up to help former inmates find work. The agencies provide several services or avenues to make a newly released individual more marketable, including skills training and resume creation. Goodwill Industries helps provide clothing to go on interviews. Generally, parole officers, re-entry counselors or other official contacts can help an individual find organizations that help with job placement.

Offer Tax Credit

Employers that hire felons released in the last year are eligible for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. This credit allows employers to claim a tax credit of up to $2,400 for hiring an ex-felon,  depending on the new worker’s wages and number of hours.


The former inmate should also make sure the potential employer is aware of the federal bonding program. In this case, the federal government through the Federal Bonding Program can offer a commercial Fidelity Bond worth up to $25,000 to cover theft, larceny, embezzlement and forgery, hopefully alleviating these worries for the employer.

Clear Your Record

If possible, an ex-con should clear their record as soon as possible. It is legal in most cases for an employer to decline to hire an individual based entirely on his criminal record. Through the expungement process, very often the time spent in prison will not show up on criminal background checks.

Common Sense

Helping former inmates find employment is in everyone’s best interest. If an individual cannot find work, it is far more likely they will return to crime in order to support themselves. According to the National Institute of Justice, 76.6 percent of prisoners were back in jail within five years of being released, while 56.7 percent were back within one year. By helping felons find jobs after their release, it can help them find a way to legally make a living, offer them stability and give them an opportunity to be a part of mainstream society, hopefully reducing the chances of their returning to jail.

Kentucky Criminal Defense Attorneys are a network of criminal defense attorneys located throughout the state. If you have questions or seek a consultation, contact us online or call us at 1.844.593.3336. 

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