Ex-offenders in Iowa can get help finding Jobs
My name is Katie. I live in Iowa with my boyfriend who is a middle school teacher. I am 23 years old and have a four year old daughter from a previous relationship. I do not have a felony, but I do have 3 simple misdemeanors all that occurred when I was 19 years old…. and I regret them more than anything in the world. I was a proud member of being on student senate and dance team and like most people in their adolescence I had dreams and plans and really intended on doing good in my life. Unfortunately when I was 19 I took a short wrong turn and now I am really paying for it.
I never talk to people about where things went wrong, I am embarrassed, ashamed, and most of all… I don’t want people to think I’m making excuses for myself. I got pregnant at 18, a month before I was supposed to start college. I felt at the time that the right thing to do was to wait a few years till I would go to school and have this baby and try to make it work with her dad even though I had only known him for a few months. Times were hard. We were broke, young, dumb, and screwed when my parents decided to enforce tough love and not let us live with them anymore. We moved in with his grandma an hour away. I didn’t have any friends so I was desperate. I started hanging out with a bad crowd. A year after I lived there I ended up cheating on my boyfriend and when the neighbors told him about the other guy there was a huge dispute at our new apartment. He was drunk, just found out I was cheating on him, and I then told him that I was actually leaving him for the guy. He ran at me hit me till I was in the fetal position then kicked me in the stomach till his friends forced him off of me. Somewhere in the middle of all that the cops got called and he had scratches on him where I only had swelling and bruising on my stomach which I didn’t want to show the cop to get him in trouble. They tried arresting him until I said that he didn’t hit me and we just argued. The cop mentioned that I had scratched him and that if what I’m saying is true, then I should be the one getting arrested. I said “that’s ok I’m not going to let him go to jail for something he didn’t do”. So I got arrested for a simple misdemeanor domestic assault. At the time I didn’t care. I had never heard of that phrase and had no idea what it meant. My boyfriend even told the cops I was lying and he did hit me .. but I defended him and said “who are you going to listen to? the sober one or drunk one?”
I had a job at the time so I thought the worst of it was going to jail and getting a fine. I didn’t think anything of it. Two months later I had a rivalry with some girl in this town that didn’t like me. She would call me saying things, text me, shes even showed up at my apartment a few times. She kept telling everybody and even threatening me that she was going to beat me up. One day I was fed up with it when she came to the door of my car and instantly started harassing me…so I DID fight here. I had an assault but it was dropped to a Disorderly conduct but clear as day says Fighting or violent behavior.
Seven months later my life was in a rut. I lost my job. I had a baby and was close to being homeless with her. We both got the H1N1 virus and had to go to the hospital that was 30 miles away. I didn’t have any money and knew I had no choice but to write a $20 check to go to the hospital. I was going to pay it back as soon as I could.. but a few weeks later I got charged with a 5th degree theft. Even though I know that I knew I didn’t have it… I pretty much got a theft charge for overbalancing my checking account.
I hate thinking that I am making excuses for myself, but here I am almost four years later suffering as much as some felons do with more than half the charge as them. Having a theft and violent crime on my background is ruining my life, my daughters life, and my boyfriends life. I have only worked in bars since then. I took a year of college courses but quit after thinking for so long that I was doing all the work for nothing.
We moved to a big city recently and I decided to take a chance and apply at some 9-5 jobs and there was an inbound telemarketing for Sirius XM Radio hiring and I wanted it so bad! When I was filling out the application it asked about my criminal background and I just put “simple misdemeanors.” They called me, interviewed, asked me if there was anything on my background I wasn’t telling them…. and since they’re simple misdemeanors I truly was not lying. They laughed and talked with me. Sent me to do a drug test and hired me! 2 days before I was supposed to start they called and said they didn’t have all my “paperwork” ready yet so I was going to have to wait another week or two to start. A week later they send me a letter saying that my background check may affect me getting to work there and they would let me know in 14 days. Sure enough they did and it was bad news.
How can they do that? Do you think if I wrote them a letter explaining myself that they would reconsider or think I’m just making excuses? I got a bar tending job but I don’t want to be a bartender for the rest of my life. All these charges happened around the same time. I was 19 and I have been in NO sort of trouble since then. How can these “simple misdemeanors” that I committed as a teenager affect me this badly for the rest of my life? What can I do?
I know you’re probably busy but I would really appreciate a response from somebody that knows what they’re talking about. Thank you so much!
Ex-offenders in Iowa can get help finding Jobs
A: Hello Katie,
That’s quite a story. I advise all ex-offenders and felons looking for jobs, always be honest. If you are not totally honest about your past, you risk having the truth exposed later. You may get a job only to lose it after a background check. You will be fired for being dishonest, not because you have a criminal record.
Many employment applications have a Certification/Release Statement in fine print at the very end that the applicant must sign before the application is considered. This statement may also be referred to as an Authorization. The employer is asking you to certify with your signature that all of the information on the application is correct. Your signature also gives the employer access to information provided by past employers, law enforcement agencies, educational institutions and other organizations that may supply information about you.
Usually on an application, the question will be, “Have you been convicted of a crime other than a traffic violation?” In reference to convictions, it is necessary to list all relative information. Include the name of the conviction, date, location, and the disposition (time served, fine and/or probation.)
Simple Misdemeanor Domestic Assault 8/12/08 Souix City, IA Probation 6 mos
All of your convictions should be listed this way. If you have read the entire application and there is no certification or release statement, and you have answered yes to the “Have you been convicted of a crime?” question, in the explanation section you may write “Will explain at interview. I can be bonded.” (See the video below on the Federal Bonding Program.) The other option is to leave the space blank. It is often overlooked by being left blank and you won’t have to address the question at all. If it is noticed, and you are questioned, don’t go into detail, just give an answer just like this:
“I’m glad you asked because I want you to feel comfortable about hiring me. I’ve done some things that I’m not proud of. I had to learn the hard way that there are no shortcuts in life. If I’m going to be successful it’s going to take a lot of hard work. I have been working very hard to get over my past mistakes. I’m just looking for a chance.”
Below are some resources in your state that may help ex-offenders get a job and put them in contact with other services.
Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) has over 50 centers statewide. They offer many services that can help you get a job or get training for a career.
The Safer Foundation operates a program in Davenport. They offer one-on-one assistance to ex-offenders with services such as employment services, substance abuse treatment, education, case management and services, as needed. The can also refer you to services in your area. A job counselor is assigned to each client for at least one year post-job placement.
Davenport Iowa Adult Program
1411 Brady St. (Map)
Davenport, IA 52803
Tel: (563) 322-7002
Fax: (563) 884-8263
I hope this helps.
I have been helping ex-offenders and felons get jobs for over ten years and I feel I have an understanding of what works. I will be updating this blog often. I will answer specific questions relating to getting a job with a criminal record on this blog so feel free to send me your questions. You can send email me at BelievePublications@comcast.net
If you are really serious about getting a job with a criminal record or helping someone you care about get a job, check out this link: From Jail to a Job
Ex-offenders in Iowa can get help finding Jobs
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