“Welcome Home” is a weekly message from Rev. Dr, Harold Dean Trulear, Ph.D. to any and everybody who may be returning home from jail/prison and those affected.
Finding work when you get home from a bid is a challenge. In an increasingly automated and computerized economy, many jobs for persons accustomed to working with their hands have been eliminated. Many jobs have gone overseas or to different parts of the country which have lower labor costs. Every state has what they call “collateral sanctions,” restrictions on the types of jobs available to people with felony convictions, or other criminal records. And even with more communities passing “ban the box” legislation, removing the box on job applications to check if you have a record, that only gets you in the door. Most personnel people can still ask your permission to do a background check once you get an interview.
One resident in a county jail told me “If I don’t get a job soon after I get out, I will have to go back to selling drugs…it’s all I know how to do.” My response to him was: “Wrong answer on two counts. First, if you leave that as an option, you’ll probably do it anyway. That’s what happens with most people. It’s called making a reservation.”
Second, I told him: “Let’s edit your sentence. Take out one word…all you know how to do is sell.” In fact, starting one’s own business has become one of the most attractive options for people coming home from jail or prison. “Entrepreneurship,” the key to creating your own job, whether selling things like energy, household products or travel, driving for Uber or some other transportation company, or developing a business in extermination, crime scene cleanup or residential contracting gives a man or woman an opportunity to create a career, not just making money. Some of us are great salespeople, we just need the right product.
Several years ago, Hofstra University surveyed a group of inmates in the New York State Correctional System, and a group of entering business students on entrepreneurial intelligence. Guess which group scored higher? So be thinking about starting a business as a way of making the transition back home. More next week on some practical ideas and resources for being an entrepreneur.
Rev. Dr. Harold Dean Trulear, Ph.D. is an associate professor of applied theology at Howard University’s School of Divinity. He also works on behalf of prisoners and returning citizens as the national director of Healing Communities USA, a reentry initiative. Dr. Trulear is also a former inmate.