Have you been convicted of a felony? Did you serve time in prison, only to experience hardship and struggle upon your release? If so, you’re not alone. Millions of convicted felons exit the prison system and face an arduous battle reintegrating into society.
Being judged by society, and turned down for jobs and housing is only one struggle. In some states, felons convicted of drug-related offenses are banned from receiving food stamps and other types of financial assistance.
Once released, you’re completely on your own
Movies make it seem like everyone gets the help they need when released from prison, but that’s not always reality. In fact, many people don’t have any friends or family on the outside and they struggle just to find their way to a halfway house. Many end up bunking illegally with other convicted felons, which is against most parole terms.
For felons exiting the prison system, life is rough. Some people have no choice but to show up to job interviews in prison shower shoes because they don’t have the money to buy real shoes. However, despite the hardships, having persistence to create a new life pays off.
Even felons have wisdom to share
Let’s face it, the prison system is full of felons and so is the “real world.” A felony conviction will always be part of your record, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it to your advantage and help other people.
Today’s social media influencer scene is full of people who share life experience, insight, and wisdom on a variety of topics people can relate to. Some of those people are convicted felons, and you might be surprised to learn that some are gathering tens of thousands of subscribers.
For example, Jessica Kent has more than 47,000 subscribers, and shares openly about her experiences. Kent is a former addict who was convicted for a non-violent drug offense, and never received the help she needed in prison. She had to detox in prison in an unsafe manner, and has witnessed other people die from the same experience.
More than half of the U.S. prison population is doing time for non-violent drug offenses, and few receive the help they need. When they’re released from prison, they try to do things right by getting a job, but nobody will hire them. They can’t afford treatment, so they’re forced to turn back to drugs to survive. it’s only a matter of time before they’re back on another charge.
Kent details her life in prison and the struggles she went through just to create a basic income and living situation to get her daughter out of foster care. She’s made an incredible life transformation and now has two children. With a felony on her record, it’s still tough for her to find housing and jobs, but YouTube has given her a platform to share and inspire and encourage others in similar situations.
In some southern states, laws that govern felonies are stricter than most. For example, Oklahoma doesn’t classify felonies by severity like most states. A crime is either a misdemeanor or a felony. Misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year in county jail, while felonies are punishable by death or imprisonment in state prison. A second DUI offense is a felony. However, Oklahoma is one of eighteen states that will restore a felon’s voting rights after completion of their sentence.
Kent addresses the voting issue, and a variety of topics that speak to felons but also carry a message to anyone looking for inspiration when life gets hard.
Living a good life is harder after a felony conviction but not impossible
It’s almost an unspoken rule that after you’ve been released from prison, the best way to improve your life is to focus on other people. You might not be able to achieve the personal goals you were pursuing before, so be open and ready to change direction with your life.
Life after a felony isn’t easy, and that’s probably never going to change. It takes strength and determination to make your life work, but thanks to people like Jessica Kent, creating a new life doesn’t seem out of reach.