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

Advertisements

To my friend & life coach Scott Collins – thank you for your gift. RIP.


My original post on New Year’s Day has “percolated” into the following – my 2.105  personal Brand and Intentions.  Thank you to Scott Collins – friend and life coach, who taught me some new tools for living before he left us.  Your spirit lives on.  I think of you whenever I see the “eternal flame” candle at Broadway, and for that I’m grateful.  I still use a “Scott Collins Plan” template  regularly to coach the best out of life…


Todd Fuqua, Community Connector & Reflector

Living into visible, intentional, compassionate community thru conversations, faith, meals & action


The building out of my “personal brand”

  • Bakingwhich is really about sharing generously with others; showing hospitality; eating meals together and building community
  • Tech Geek (digital photos, websites, social media, remixing) – which is really about creating or using tools to enhance but not dominate life and having fun
  • Travel – which is really about seeing more of our world and nature; connecting with people; and having fun… whenever possible with my soul mate, friends or family and on a motorcycle
  • Photography – which is really about telling stories; connecting with others through empathy and creativity; and building community 
  • Blogging – which is really about telling stories; connecting with others through empathy and creativity; and building community
  • Being with Loved Ones (my soul mate, family, friends & pets) which is really about finding shelter and being home; naming, connecting & sharing one another’s gifts on a level playing field; and unconditional love 

My perceived gifts that support my “personal brand”

Empathy. Creativity. Compassion. Integrity. Authenticity. Joy. Love.


The organizational realization of my “personal brand”

CToddCreations
www.CToddCreations.com
Sharing hope through creative photography & videography

Second Chance ConneXions
www.SCConneXions.org
Connecting experienced professionals with needs in the community

Candlestick House & Engagement Center
www.Candlestickhouse.org
Individuals helping individuals lead fulfilling lives in community 

CTRecoveryJourney
ctrecoveryjourney.wordpress.com
inspiring each other to greater understanding, peace and health


 2.015 intentions for taking action
“Be Mindful, Authentic & in Community”
(knowing my Higher Power will bless my actions with Her desired outcomes)

  • Intentional community
  • Time banking
  • Compassionate communication 
  • Social Justice & Inclusion personal passion for re-entry, recovery, mental health, homelessness, poverty, LGBTQ, HIV/AIDS

Plan to be spontaneous. Live in the present.
Choose the healthier option.
Listen. Observe. Ask questions.
Be comfortable with “
good enough” and “I don’t know.
Practice serenity.
Admit when wrong. Forgive first. Love always.

Where am I? Foster kids and TCK’s share some commonality…


A friend of mine who is a teacher sent me the following devotion, written by a foster child.  “It relates to many of my students,” he added.

I’m a TCK – “third culture kid” – “Exxon brat” – child of an ex-pat.  Although my sister “had it worse,” going to three different schools in two different countries for High School, the three of us grew up moving around.  And, I’ll be honest – there are many strengths / benefits I have grown up with as a result…so I’m don’t regret my upbringing (perhaps in that way, we are different from foster children…).  I learned a foreign language early on, and am fluent in French even today because of that early education.  I’m able to adjust to new surroundings more quickly, and make new friends.  I’m perhaps more aware of and more resilient to change (though it can still be hard!) because of my changing circumstances.  I followed in my dad’s footsteps, and was an ex-pat myself, moving every 3-4 years during my career, living in different countries and States.  I was a foreign exchange student after High School, the willingness to go, I attribute largely to my upbringing. So, there are many “pluses.”

But “Google” TCK / third culture kid, and you’ll learn more about the effects of this experience.  I have experienced loss and change at a young age, which I’ve later learned has affected me emotionally when it comes to grief, commitment, and feelings.  I’ve done a lot of work to understand and grow from those insights as an adult.  So, there are many “minuses” too.

“A third culture kid is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside their parents’ culture.”

Sociologist Ruth Hill Useem coined the term “Third Culture Kids” after spending a year on two separate occasions in India with her three children, in the early fifties. Initially they used the term “third culture” to refer to the process of learning how to relate to another culture; in time they started to refer to children who accompany their parents into a different culture as “Third Culture Kids.” Useem used the term “Third Culture Kids” because TCKs integrate aspects of their birth culture (the first culture) and the new culture (the second culture), creating a unique “third culture”

 

I’ll let your searching bring further enlightenment into this experience.

I’ll close with my friend’s devotional.

And then, maybe I’ll go write a friend a letter…

WHERE AM I?

I hate moving. When I was a kid, my family moved every year or two, and the whole time the U-Haul was being loaded it always made me sick. Hugging the toilet sick. I didn’t really get any pleasure out of seeing my new bedroom or exploring a new neighborhood. Mostly I spent the first few days worrying. Wondering if anyone knew where I was. Would I be able to get on the right bus at school? And off at the right stop? I didn’t even know my address – how would the bus driver? Would my grandparents be able to find us for my birthday party? And how would Santa know where we were?

Those nerves could be largely settled by one simple thing – getting mail. Not mail for my parents, mail for ME. Mail meant that someone knew where I meant that someone knew where I was. Mail meant I wasn’t lost. Mail meant I was thought of. And, if I was lucky and it was from my grandparents, it usually included stuff – stickers, toys, activity books, crayons – you get the picture. Foster kids move a lot too – an average of 4 times in 20 months, and among kids who age out of foster care at 18, a third moved more than 8 times while they were in custody. Each move means a new house, new neighborhood, new school. Each move means you lose stuff that matters to you – stuff like pictures and drawings and stories you have written and favorite CD’s. Each move means new rules – new bedtimes, new chores, new ways to fold the towels and make your bed. And, they wonder if anyone knows where they are.

GOD, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand. I’m an open book to you; even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking. You know when I leave and when I get back; I’m never out of your sight. You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence. I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead and you’re there, too— your reassuring presence, coming and going.  This is too much, too wonderful— I can’t take it all in! (Psalm 139:1-6)