There are many challenges that felons face when released. From finding decent housing to gainful employment, the world does not make it easy.
Many people take a dim view of crime and those that commit such acts. They often discriminate against felons, without realizing the negative impact. Without support, felons can relapse and return to their bad ways.
Upon release, many seek to find a place that is welcoming. Here we will discuss the most felon friendly states there are and why.
Making a fresh start where you will be given a fair chance is highly desirable. Finding a place that helps you find a job and settle back into normal life is what felons need. It is likely to reduce the risk of recidivism, lessening the burden on taxpayers.
To determine what states make for felony friendly, we need to consider several factors.
Job support is a key issue. States that place limits on how far background checks help felons to secure work. This is because once the limit is passed, there is a reduced chance their felonies will be discovered.
Recidivism rates are also another good indicator of what support felons get. The more help in finding jobs and good housing, the lower the chance felons will land back in prison.
The risk of recidivism is particularly high during the first three years after release. Thus we also need to consider re-entry programs.
These are support programs that help deal with the most immediate challenges felons meet on release. It could be substance abuse, housing, or even job search.
Another consideration for some is the restoration of civil rights like gun ownership and voting.
Let’s now look at the states leading in resolving these issues.
This state is highly attractive to felons thanks to the 7-year limit on background checks. This is from conviction.
Credit Reporting Agencies will not divulge any arrest, indictment, or conviction that is over 7 years old. This rule applies to all income levels.
For those that partake of marijuana, reporting stops past 2 years.
All felony and some misdemeanor offenders ae given a lifetime ban on gun ownership. Only those that are in prison or on parole are ineligible to vote.
The state also has 14 well-organized re-entry programs. They focus on such areas as educational services, vocational training, and job placement. Several are faith-based and have been running for several decades.
On the downside, California does have a 3-year recidivism rate of over 40%.
Nevada also has a 7- year limit on reporting, with no cap on salaries. This is further supported by 6 re-entry programs.
These programs focus on housing, education services, vocational training, job search, and counseling. Several also offer support to families with felons.
For those with substance abuse problems, the Foundation for Recovery offers peer support and counseling. There is also a re-entry program focused on helping veterans that have been imprisoned to avoid homelessness.
Recent laws now allow anyone released from prison to vote. This restoration is automatic, without any other conditions.
The state has a 3-year recidivism rate of just under 30%.
This state has a 10-year reporting limit. The state does have ban-the-box laws that prevent employers from asking questions about criminal past.
Like a blind test, they must first assess if the candidate is best qualified otherwise. It is only thereafter that they can conduct a background check. This is particularly good protection for felons with requisite skills and experience for the job.
The reporting limit does however have a cap of $20,000. That means with a salary that is any higher, the criminal records become entirely discoverable.
Voting rights are restored once a felon is no longer under the authority of the prison service. That means they must be released and completed any parole or probation.
Gun rights are permanently stripped for felons and domestic violence offenders.
Washington does however have 14 ex-offender rehabilitation and re-entry programs. They aid felons in finding housing, legal aid, counseling, and job training. The state has a 3-year recidivism rate of 32%.
Another good state when it comes to allowing felons accessing jobs. Montana has a 7-year reporting limit that CRAs abide by. There is no salary cap on this.
Felons may return to voting upon release, but need to re-register. Violent felons are however denied firearm rights.
The state has 3 re-entry programs. These programs assist with substance abuse issues, housing, and job training.
The Community Counselling, and Correctional Services (CCCS) is noteworthy for the wide variety of programs. They operate in 3 states, including Montana. They offer everything from drug rehab to shelters for juveniles.
Sadly, Montana does have a dismal 3-year recidivism rate of about 42%.
Criminal background checks have a 7-year reporting limit in New Mexico. This applies to all salary levels.
New Mexico restores voting rights upon completion of one’s sentencing. This includes prison term, parole, fines, and any restitution. The same applies to jury duty.
Felons may also have their firearm rights restored, after a ten-year waiting period. This is after the completion of the sentence, including probation.
On the downside, the state only has 9 re-entry programs. They assist with housing needs, substance abuse problems, education, and workforce training.
Despite all these merits, the state does have one of the highest 3-year recidivism rates at 46%.
There is no one single paradise state for felons. There are however those that try to bring down barriers to employment. And attempt to restore some civil liberties while supporting re-entry.
Each felon needs to consider their personal situation. From here they can choose which factors matter most and pick a state that matches their need.
Those with job skills and some savings may not need as much re-entry assistance. They may rather need job placement support and civil rights restoration.
With a little research, you can pick out which state best fits your needs and lifestyle.