As those who have been convicted of a felony realize, life as they knew it prior to the conviction is over.
That doesn’t mean that life is over, just that nothing will ever be the same again.
This blog post will address the issue of how a felony can affect felons’ lives.
- Loss of Civil Rights
- Housing and Assistance
- Supporting a Felon Following Release
Loss of Civil Rights
The rights they had at that time are collectively known as Constitutional rights.
These are the basic freedoms permitted to all citizens of the U.S.
Among these are the freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, the right to a speedy trial, etc.
When they were convicted of their felony, certain rights were lost or restricted. They still maintained the right to indictment, a speedy trial, and no self-incrimination.
Others, however, were lost. Among these are the right to vote, serve on a jury, hold public office, own or possess firearms.
There are reasons why felons lose their rights.
Crimes against individuals are considered to be crimes against society. Laws were implemented to protect society.
As a result, felons, upon re-entering society, must prove themselves worthy of having those rights restored.
While this gives them a chance to get those rights back, many felons feel as though all of their rights are gone and cannot be regained.
With the difficulty they have in finding a job, often felons believe that this is one of the rights they have lost.
Some felons believe they lose all rights, including the right to work at all, the right to have a family or friends, and the right to self-respect. The list seems endless.
Employers typically conduct a background check on applicants, making it challenging to find a job. Felons may think no one will hire them.
Many employers won’t hire felons, believing they are dishonest and likely to commit a crime on the job. Or employers fear the public finding out they hire felons, damaging the company’s reputation and losing business.
Felons can lose a professional license or permit required in their previous line of work. They can’t be denied the opportunity to regain their license simply because they have been convicted of a felony.
That is discrimination. But they can lose out due to the potential damage or harm or threat they represent for the company with the public.
There are employers who will hire felons, but it will still take persistence in completing a number of job applications in order to find that job.
Housing and Assistance
Housing will be more challenging to locate because many housing sources won’t rent to felons because of the safety threat they may represent. There are resources available to assist with obtaining housing in each of the States.
Felons may find it difficult to obtain federal assistance for food stamps and higher education. They may not be able to receive grants, loans, or work study in pursuing additional education.
Many felons may not have had the best relationship with their families because they were living their criminal life, associating with the wrong crowd, hanging out in bad places, and not having a stable job.
Once they were convicted, although many family members may have remained supportive, others, including spouses, significant others, and children may no longer be willing to offer emotional support. Marriages end and relationships are damaged or destroyed.
That trust they once had from family and friends is no longer there. Felons are looked at differently after that conviction. Family members feel betrayed, hurt, and angry.
Family and friends may no longer be around. New relationships may be difficult to establish because they are no longer seen or treated the same again.
Sure, felons are the ones who messed up, broke the law, got caught, convicted, sentenced, and served the time they earned from their misdeeds.
But life is not the same again. That respect they once received is diminished, their reputation to never again to be the same. Felons are viewed as dishonest, lying, untrustworthy, and lacking integrity.
It’s not just families that see felons in a different light. Society turns its back on them.
Felons will find it more difficult to travel outside the U.S. For example, Canada has very strict laws against allowing felons from the U.S. to enter their country.
They are typically barred from crossing the border unless they wait years following their conviction and then have to apply for permission to enter the country.
Then travel to another foreign country may be difficult depending on which country they want to visit. Each nation establishes its own requirements for entry.
Supporting a Felon Following Release
Families of felons will be able to verify the many challenges their loved one faces. Statistics are against felons. As many as 2/3 return to prison within the first two years following their release.
Families need to let their loved one know that they are there supporting them. The challenges are great, but they don’t have to be overwhelming or stop their lives.
After all, felons completed their sentences, often ones lasting years. How did they do that? Simple. They did it one day at a time, just like they have to approach life now.
They made it through their prison sentence. They can make it after prison also with support by their side.
So what do you think about this blog post about how a felony can affect your life? Have you or someone you know been impacted by a felony? What was that experience like and how did they deal with it? Please tell us in the comments below.