However, sometimes it’s not always possible to get an acquittal. It’s not always possible to get a case dismissed. Sometimes the facts of the case are such that getting your sentence reduced is the best we’re going to be able to do
Sometimes, thanks to New York’s struggles when it comes to setting affordable bail amounts and getting people to trial in a timely fashion, people sit in jail far longer than we’d like them to.
We’ve seen lots of people struggle to get their lives back on track after the interruptions and stresses of an arrest and/or a conviction. Here are a few steps you can take. If you’re trying to help a loved one who is coming out of prison you can help them take these steps as well.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Most people who get out of prison will require some form of help. It could come in the form of counseling, social safety net programs, or from family members and friends willing to lend you a hand.
There are ministries and charities devoted to helping people who have come out of prison, too. You can find a long list of organizations here.
Consider seeking out new training.
If you’re not already drowning in student loan debt coming out of prison may represent a unique opportunity. If you don’t have an income yet your expected family contribution will be zero. This means if you fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) you should be eligible for loans and grants that could put you through college or send you to trade school.
There are even scholarships for felons.
Just make sure you train for a job in which your criminal record won’t serve as a barrier to entry. Teaching, child care, health care, law enforcement, finance, retail, and government jobs are generally going to be off the table. By contrast, jobs in the trades, in IT, and in sales and marketing are often welcoming and willing to offer a second chance.
Stay positive about your ability to get a job.
Six years ago it might have been difficult to get a job after leaving prison. Now, just 14% of companies say they’d never give a felon a second chance.
These aren’t all McJobs either. Companies like Alamo Rent-a-Car, Amazon, American Airlines, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and UPS are all willing to offer second chances. You can view a full (and very long) list here.
Look for felon-friendly housing.
Finding housing will be a challenge, but it isn’t impossible. Avoid apartment complexes managed by big corporate entities. Look for small, private landlords or people who won’t run a background check. Reach out to your network of family and friends if you can.
In a pinch, and if you have funds, an extended stay hotel gives you a safe place to lay your head, one that comes with utilities. There are no background checks and no leases to contend with. As long as you pay your bill you can stay in most of these places indefinitely.
Remember, there are many successful people in the world who have served time.
Take Chris Redlitz. He served twenty years in prison. Now he’s the managing partner of Transmedia Capital, a venture capital firm. He is also the co-founder of The Last Mile, which provides technology training to people while they’re still in prison.
Some have launched companies. Some have become professors. Some you might know the name of because they launched successful acting careers after prison, even though they were no-names before they went. Take a look at this list to get some inspiration.