Felons have a significant challenge finding a job after their release from prison. There are resources available even though felons may doubt that anyone will hire them. Those who have hired felons have discovered that they make good employees, although it might be in a different career from one felons had before their conviction.
This blog post will address the issue of whether or not a felon can get a merchant credential.
- What is a Merchant Marine?
- What is a Merchant Marine Credential?
- An Opportunity for Felons?
- Recommended Action
What is a Merchant Marine?
A merchant marine works aboard a ship carrying cargo across oceans and lakes. Most countries have a merchant navy, a fleet of ships which are owned and registered by that nation but are separate from the military. Many countries use their merchant navy to aid the military during war by transporting goods and equipment.
Those who staff the merchant marine are known as merchant marines and serve in the merchant navy. Many have previously served in the military during periods of war.
There is a system of ranks and specialties which corresponds to that of the military. Some specialize in a particular field, such as navigation, communications, or heavy-equipment operations.
A captain or a ship master is a general overseer of the vessel’s operation, assuring that the ship remains on course and operates safely. A sailor or a deckhand, also known as an ordinary (new) or able (experienced) seaman.
What is a Merchant Marine Credential?
A merchant seaman typically completes formal training and an apprenticeship before being hired to work as an employee on a ship. Often, someone is trained in the military, but may also receive private training. A merchant marine must obtain a Merchant Marine Credential as part of his or her training.
A Merchant Marine Credential (MMC) is a credential issued by the U.S. Coast Guard that allows a candidate to become a merchant marine and work on a transport ship. It combines parts of a merchant mariner’s license and certificate of registry.
An applicant must meet the following criteria:
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Be a U.S. citizen with a valid passport that has at least seven months remaining before expiration
- Have a Transportation Workers Identification Card (TWIC) and/or Department of Defense Common Access Card (CAC) with a minimum of ten months remaining before expiration
- Have a Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC), issued by the United States Coast Guard to mariners sailing aboard all U.S. vessels with at least ten months remaining before expiration
- Pass a physical examination
- Be drug-free and submit to urinalysis
- Be able to obtain and maintain a security clearance
- Be capable of speaking, understanding, reading, and writing English
An Opportunity for Felons?
There are circumstances in which a felon may not be able to become a merchant marine. Someone may not be certified or hired for failing to report:
- Previous security clearance issues (revocation of security clearances)
- Financial debts
- Previous felony convictions in the past ten years where actual time was served in jail for more than one year
Felonies that can result in denial of a Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) from the Coast Guard include crimes involving:
- Money laundering
- Controlled substances
- Motor vehicle offenses
The Coast Guard may conduct a criminal history and may even exam an applicant’s driver’s license if it has been suspended because of a DUI. A DUI can prevent someone from getting a Merchant Marine Credential for three years after the conviction.
The applicant must provide proof of completion of an accredited alcohol rehabilitation program before becoming eligible to apply again. Three years after the conviction, regulations indicate that an assessment will not be necessary if the applicant’s driver’s license is still in effect.
A felon who has a record with serious convictions may be seen as lacking in moral character. These include criminal convictions for:
- Child molestation
- Disorderly conduct
- Reckless driving
Certain factors will be considered while determining the restoration of moral character:
- Type of crime and number of convictions
- Recency of conviction
- Age at which the crime was committed
- Evidence of repeated criminal activity
- Connection between the crime and the legal operation of a vessel
- Character references from responsible individuals
- Length of time since release from incarceration
Whether a felon becomes eligible to receive an MMC will depend on:
- The nature of the crime
- Proof of completion or an accredited drug or alcohol rehabilitation program
- Active participation in a group like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous
- Character references to attest to an applicant’s reliability and suitability for employment
- Steady employment
- Completion of all aspects of sentencing
It’s important to be honest while filling out an application for a Merchant Marine Credential. If a felony isn’t disclosed but is found on a background check, this constitutes fraud and is punishable by jail time. It is a crime to falsify an application, which could result in being sent back to prison.
Having their record expunged can give them the chance needed to begin with a clean record and succeed in getting a Merchant Marine Credential. Expunging a criminal record allows anyone to honestly state on an application that he or she has not been convicted of a crime.
It would be a challenge, but it might be worth it for a felon wanting to obtain an MMC. Giving him or herself the best chance for success by having his or her record expunged and also documenting any training programs or additional education could make an essential difference.
Having support from family, friends, or previous employers can also make a huge difference. A felon doesn’t have to be defined by his or her crime. We are not defined by our mistakes but by how we recover from them. He or she can begin again and live an honest life and achieve a goal no matter how difficult it might seem.
What do you think about this blog post? Have you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to get a Merchant Marine Credential with a felony? What was that like for him or her, and how did he or she achieve success? Please tell us in the comments below.