An honor to serve? How about a fair chance at a job, or housing…


Society doesn’t trust me to use federal assistance for food or school tuition, is willing to refuse me housing and employment simply and solely based on a background check with no discussion because of my criminal record, and some countries won’t let me cross their borders…

…and yet you trust me with the “honor” to be on a “jury of peers” and serve jury duty?

Really.  I find this ironic and hypocritical.  What do you think?

Shame on Hoosiers, Shame on America!  Give us a break!  (Read on to learn more…)

An honor to serve? I’d rather have a fair chance at a job, or housing…or other assistance granted to other citizens. Thanks!

 

I’ve learned a lot in the last 5 years about the barriers our society puts in place for people living with a criminal record.  I was as surprised to learn about them as many people I talk with about my experience.  I guess “ignorance is bliss.”  But ignorance also keeps the status quo in place…  Which is why I try to talk about what I’ve learned, in hopes that education and awareness might help remove the stigma and perhaps even help to change laws or rules to make re-entry easier.

So to clarify – we are talking about someone like myself who is no longer on parole or probation, but has “served the time” for his or her crime.

In my case, I was fortunate enough to not do any actual time in jail or prison, apart from a couple hours around my original arrest.  (So I haven’t experienced the “full force” of “re-entry” – of returning to society after serving time for a crime.

For a lot of reasons, including a Higher Power who was looking out for me and some “next right things” I did when I hit bottom and sought help for my addiction, I was fortunate enough to be given a plea bargain and a chance, through probation, to have my felony charges dropped to misdemeanors – if I met the conditions of my plea bargain.  I was doing well at first in 2010, but was over-confident in my ability to stay clean for the first year of my recovery (while I was on probation) – and ended up blowing the terms of my plea bargain.  While I successfully completed the balance of my 12 month term without issue, I found myself “living with” a felony record.

So, what barriers are in place for someone who has served their time, but still lives with a felony record?  In the State of Indiana (some of these are Federal issues, some are State-specific):

  • I can’t get a student loan for tuition assistance to go back to school
  • I can’t get food stamps
  • If landlords run background checks, I’m likely to face barriers securing an affordable, well-maintained place to rent and live
  • If employers run background checks and aren’t educated with new(er) guidelines related to “ban the box” and fair hiring practices, I’m likely to face barriers getting a job.  Learn more at:

http://bantheboxcampaign.org/
http://www.nelp.org/publication/ban-the-box-fair-chance-hiring-state-and-local-guide/

  • I can’t travel to some countries in the world, including Canada (note: the same is true for individuals convicted of a DUI in the US…no travel to Canada!)
ReEntry Scorecard for the Midwest (click on image for details)
ReEntry Scorecard for the Midwest (click on image for details)

 

Two overarching principles emerged as key criteria in the grading system (with 1 being best and 10 the worst):

• State and federal laws should require individualized determinations about the suitability of someone with a criminal conviction for the opportunity, benefit or right sought that takes into consideration the nature of the conviction(s), the time that has elapsed since the conviction(s), the age of the person at the time of the conviction(s) and any evidence of rehabilitation.

• State and federal laws should prohibit government agencies, public and private employers, and others from considering information about arrests that did not lead to conviction when making decisions about a person’s eligibility for employment, housing, or other benefits.

 

Note: since I completed my probation, Indiana has made some steps in the right direction.  After ~8-10 years, under certain conditions, felony records can be expunged – which makes some of the issues/barriers I’m going to talk about mostly disappear.  Records are still accessible to law enforcement of course – but issues of employment, housing, travel – largely become a non-issue.  But, it’s still 10 years until I reach that point…so around 2021.  For details, see:

http://recoveryindiana.org/documents/HB1482_Expungement_FAQ.pdf
http://recoveryindiana.org/documents/HB1482_Expungement_Summary.pdf)

 

To learn more, check out:

http://www.reentrycentral.org/
http://lac.org/roadblocks-to-reentry/
http://www.lac.org/roadblocks-to-reentry/main.php?view=state
http://www.nij.gov/topics/corrections/reentry/pages/welcome.aspx

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An explanation and apology…as best I can via the web.


I’m grateful to be “on the other side” of a valley — but as is sometimes the case with my loud mouth and unfiltered comments, I have some damage control to do – “taking ownership for my sh**” as they say.

Or as one Christmas sign says, “Santa, I have some ‘splaining to do…”


 

It’s clear you’re upset about some things Todd, and I’m so sorry..however, you just managed to insult a whole lot of people in one fell swoop


I’ll lead off by saying that none of these words “justify” my actions or behavior over the last month, and in particular the last week.  There is damage that has been done to some relationships, which will possibly linger “under the surface” for quite some time.

For those who know me, and know my battle with addiction and mental illness (depression, mood swings, etc), some of this will be easier to understand. For some who don’t know me or my journey to “get here,” it may not even come close to explaining my actions and behavior. I understand that – I simply ask for as much compassion and tolerance as you’re able to offer.  And I’ll live with the consequences…because that’s part of taking responsibility and owning “my sh**.”


This year, life continues to happen – even with some of the grounding and framing I set out for 2015 in my “brand” and personal intentions for 2.015.

While I don’t want to go through all of what has been going on “behind the scenes” per se, suffice to say that continuing to look for part-time employment and considering a move to North Carolina in 2015 have brought me face-to-face with some of my demons and some of my past (many of which I’ve written about on my blog here before…)

Personal events in 2009 and 2010 have fundamentally changed my path in life, and either closed some doors permanently or is keeping them closed for several more years…  And while none of the information is new, facing the topics and roadblocks again is hard…and sparks off some grieving and a range of feelings from anger, to sadness, to resentment…  And, I sometimes let those flow over into comments and actions that have hurt others (as the quote above says!)

Of course, having our timelines for the move to NC change again (probably not until 2016!) set off another set of reactions and feelings – and grieving…

And, then last week, a friend that I used to run around with in my using days passed away from heart failure at the age of 23.  A couple people in my life knew about this, but not many…so that was working in the background, bringing about its own feelings, grieving, regrets, self-loathing and fear.  So young…

Lastly, an individual who robbed me last year and has been “AWOL” / missing for a year suddenly contacted me because he was “embarrassed” that I had posted about the burglary / house invasion.  That resurfaced some of the pain of that trauma…


 

As I’ve shared before, like most people, I’m trying my best, with good intentions – but am imperfect and will fall short sometimes.  So, if I’ve said or done something recently that hurt you – I’m truly sorry.  I’ve tried to “clean up” some of the damage that was posted to Facebook or the web – and as importantly, focused on personal apologies and conversations where the pain / damage was perhaps greatest.  And, I need to “regroup” and get back to better managing my issues and shit, such that they don’t “come out” in such ugly ways.  It’s a life-long process for me…so I’m doing my best, and try to patient and compassionate with myself (and others!) along the journey.

With some exceptions, I rarely intentionally hurt others – but when I do (intentionally or unintentionally!), where I’m aware, I do endeavor to go back and make amends.  So, if I’ve hurt you and we still need to clear the air, even after this post, please let me know.  Of course, as I aspire to as much as I can (and will still fail!), please express your unmet needs and valid feelings in an objective manner that allows me to hear and receive your feedback. Silence is by far the worst of all choices. Passive-aggressive behavior I can work through; silence robs us both of a growth experience and an ability to connect.

Perfectly imperfect,

Todd

 

 

 

I’m sorry I let you down…but please speak up and don’t assume intent…


I live my life in the moment, but try my best to be considerate of others.  But at the end of the day, I can’t take the world’s perspective into account or I would never be able to experience this moment fully.  I could second guess every step, every move and miss the opportunity of being fully present.

Unfortunately, this sometimes means that others may feel excluded because I don’t reach out “in the moment” to share the experience.  As a “recovering people pleaser,” I’m trying to find that balance between connecting considerately and being fully present in the moment, being more fully aware of my needs.  Sometimes I “get it right” for all parties; sometimes I worry too much what others think, feel or want and “miss me;” and unfortunately,  I sometimes inadvertently overlook others’ needs and upset or hurt them.

If I’m lucky in the latter case, the other person will express their feelings to me in a straightforward manner that allows me to understand the impact I had on them. It doesn’t lessen their pain or change their feelings, but it allows me to be aware, to apologize and hopefully strike a better balance the next time.  Sometimes, I get an emotionally charged response, which is really a lose-lose situation because I’m left feeling manipulated, or hurt with spiteful attacks…and it still doesn’t lessen their pain or change their feelings.  Instead we are both left hurt, simply because the other person “lashes out” or lets their past hurts, issues or unmet needs be perceived as as a personal attack (which for me, is rarely the case…). And then, sadly, there are those times when the other doesn’t voice anything…which for me is the worst of all situations, because their pain is still real and I’m left without the opportunity to be aware, seek forgiveness and (hopefully) act differently next time.

I share this in the hopes of raising awareness of a couple key points. First, like most people, I’m trying my best, with good intentions – but am imperfect and will fall short sometimes.  Second, at least for me, I rarely intentionally hurt others – so please don’t assume intention, but express your unmet needs and valid feelings in an objective manner that allows me to hear and receive your feedback. And finally, silence is by far the worst of all choices.  Passive-aggressive behavior I can work through; silence robs us both of a growth experience and an ability to connect.