For employers in various fields, security is important. Employees face challenges in addressing risks. The same is true for felons wanting to get a job. In many areas involving security, special clearance may be required. For some occupations this may take the form of a TWIC card.
This blog post will cover whether or not a felon can get a TWIC card.
- What is a TWIC Card?
- How to Get a TWIC Card
- An Opportunity for Felons?
- The Need for Honesty
- Recommended Action
What is a TWIC Card?
In 2009, the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) and the United States Coast Guard started the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program, requiring maritime workers who need unrestricted access to secure areas of port facilities, outer continental-shelf facilities, and vessels to be regulated under the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002.
The TWIC is a government program that issues cards to workers in certain classifications. According to the TSA, the workers who are required to obtain one of these cards include anyone who:
- Works at a government site (military installations, docks, and other sensitive areas)
- Is a merchant seaman, longshoreman, or truck driver
- Needs to work at sensitive sites without a security escort
There are currently over 3 million logistics and other transportation professionals enrolled in the TWIC program.
The TWIC card is fitted with a special microchip containing biometric data about the card holder. It can be scanned either by inserting it into a special reader, or remotely by special sensors.
How to Get a TWIC Card
In order to obtain a TWIC identification card, the worker has to go through an application procedure. They are required to provide biographic and biometric information about themselves, such as fingerprints and sometimes retinal scans.
There is also a background check conducted by the TSA, and individuals are investigated to determine whether they have a criminal or arrest record, or if they have been convicted of a disqualifying offense.
This process takes a look at the individual’s:
- Arrest record
- Convictions that they may have had in the past
- Current legal issues
Information required for the TWIC application includes a(n):
- Enhanced driver’s license
- Certified copy of their birth certificate
- Copy of their driver’s license
If someone is successful in obtaining a TWIC card, it is valid for five years and then must be renewed.
An Opportunity for Felons?
There are a number of criminal offenses that will disqualify a felon in getting a TWIC card. These include:
- Transportation security crime
An applicant may also be ineligible if incomplete or false information is provided on the application. At the time of the application, someone must:
- Provide identity documentation
- Sign a disclosure form
- Provide fingerprints for the background check
- Pay the required fee for the TWIC
The TSA then conducts security threat assessment background checks for criminal history, immigration status, and terrorism/intelligence watch lists. If a person is disqualified, TSA will send an “Initial Determination of Threat Assessment” with the right to appeal mistakes and seek waiver of certain disqualifications.
An applicant may be ineligible due to:
- Incomplete or false application information
- Disqualifying criminal offenses and factors
In addition to disqualifying criminal offenses, TSA may determine that an applicant is not eligible for the application program based on analysis of the following:
- Interpol and other international information
- Terrorist watch-list
TSA may also determine that an applicant is not eligible based on records related to violations of transportation security regulatory requirements. These include security-related offenses:
- At an airport
- On board an aircraft
- At a maritime port
- In connection with air cargo
An applicant will be disqualified if he or she was convicted, pled guilty (including “no contest”), or found not guilty by reason of insanity for any of the following felonies regardless of when they occurred:
- A federal crime of terrorism
- A crime involving a TSI (transportation security incident)
- Improper transportation of a hazardous material
- Unlawful possession, use, sale, distribution, or manufacture of an explosive or explosive device
Conviction for one of the following felonies is a disqualification if the applicant was convicted of, pled guilty to (including ‘no contest’), or was found not guilty by reason of insanity within seven years of the date of the application.
If the applicant was released from prison after conviction within five years of the date of the application, these crimes will also prevent someone from getting a TWIC:
- Unlawful possession, use, sale, manufacture, purchase, distribution, or dealing of a firearm
- Dishonesty, fraud, or misrepresentation, including identity fraud and money laundering
- Immigration violations
- Distribution, possession w/ intent to distribute, or importation of a controlled substance
- Kidnapping or hostage taking
- Rape or aggravated sexual abuse
- Assault with intent to kill
- Fraudulent entry into a seaport
- Voluntary manslaughter
It is important for a felon to submit documents supporting the waiver application:
- Official documentation showing that the applicant has complied with probation guidelines and all terms of the sentence, paid restitution/fines, and, if applicable, expunged the conviction
- Proof of rehabilitation such as a certificate of completion from a rehabilitation or drug treatment program
- Letters of support from employers, probation/parole officers, clergy, community leaders, elected officials, and family members describing the applicant’s good character
- Awards, recognition, or positive performance reviews received since the conviction
- Sentencing report or transcript that contains favorable information on the circumstances surrounding the crime
- Any other information that would help TSA determine that the worker does not pose a security threat
A TSA Waiver Review Board reviews every application and makes a recommendation to the Director of Security Threat Evaluation, who decides whether or not to issue the waiver. TSA will send a written decision granting or denying the waiver within 60 days of the applicant’s request for a waiver. The applicant has 30 days from the date of service of the denial to appeal this decision.
The Need for Honesty
It is important to be honest in filling out an application when applying for a TWIC card. If a felony isn’t disclosed but is found on a background check, this constitutes as fraud and is punishable. It is a crime to falsify an application, which could result in being sent back to prison.
In order to be successful in getting a TWIC card, it is essential for felons to be honest about their background. They are already seen with negative perceptions of being dishonest, untrustworthy, and unwilling or unable to follow directions from authority figures.
Having their record expunged can give them the chance needed to begin with a clean record and succeed in getting a TWIC card. Expunging a criminal record allows anyone to honestly state on an application that he or she has not been convicted of a crime.
However, not all expungements erase a criminal conviction for TWIC eligibility. Under TSA rules, a conviction is only considered expunged if it is “removed from the individual’s criminal history record, and there are no legal disabilities or restrictions” other than the fact that it can still be used for sentencing for any future convictions.
It is a big challenge, but it might be worth it for a felon wanting to get a TWIC card. Having his or her record expunged and also documenting any training programs or additional education could make the essential difference demonstrating good moral character in a felon succeeding in getting a TWIC card.
Having support from family, friends, or previous employers can 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 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 TWIC card 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.