I was convicted of a felony in 2003 and served five years on probation. I received a pardon five years after that. But that didn’t help at all. 16 years later, 10 years after the pardon, I still can’t get hired by a company that does a background check. In the public’s eyes, there is no difference between my felony conviction and someone convicted of murder. Unless I can get my conviction expunged, I will never get a job with benefits and insurance because of the mistake I made.
I applied to and was denied at least 20 jobs. Volkswagen, Erlanger Hospital, UPS, Fed Ex. I was up front about my record and was told by one company that since I had a pardon, I would get hired, but then after two weeks of training, I was let go. Even with Ban the Box, I get hired, go to training, only to be fired after my background check comes back. I ended up moving away from Georgia to Texas where I had family who would hire me, but when my wife and I went to apply for an apartment, the landlord told me they couldn’t rent to us because of my background. I will never forget the look on my wife’s face. I was in my 40’s and still can’t provide for my family. I felt like a real failure.
When I got arrested, I lost my job which messed up my credit really bad. But in the 16 years since, I have worked on my credit. My wife and I just bought a house two years ago. I have a job now, but it’s in South Georgia so I have to be away from my family all week and only see them on weekends. There is no retirement for me, no benefits. That hurts. I took full responsibility for my actions and pled guilty, but I didn’t know the consequences of my sentence would last a lifetime. I’m a Trump supporting Republican and am pro-law enforcement. But I also know that not everyone is a career criminal. At 49, it’s too late for me, but I hope my story will help others have a second chance for a life.