The criminal law system was put in place to make sure people pay for their crimes. And it’s pretty clear – if you commit this offence, you will have to spend this much time in jail. Once you’ve served your sentence, your debt to society should be cleared. However, in real life you have to carry the burden of having a criminal record for years to come and this will impact many areas of your life. Let’s have a look at the ways having a criminal record affects your life and what you can do about it.
Finding a job
It shouldn’t be like that, because the key to rehabilitate yourself is to make an honest living and be a productive member of society. Still, many employers might have serious doubts about hiring you.
The best thing you can do is to showcase your skills and make it clear you are prepared to work very hard, accepting long hours or doing night shifts.
Don’t try to hide your past! Many businesses ask for a background check and they will find out about it. If this happens, you can expect your application to be rejected as, on top of being an ex-con, you’re also a liar.
Be honest about your conviction and the circumstances that led to it, show remorse, but also determination to make a clean break with that part of your life.
You need to understand you have the right to a decent living after serving your sentence and let it show. You cannot walk in and demand a job, but don’t beg for it either. Be dignified!
Renting a place to live
Many landlords ask for a background check before signing a lease, so be prepared for an unpleasant conversation. As with finding a job, be honest about your past and try to talk about the person that was in prison as a completely different person. You’re not that guy anymore! Securing a job first would be a big plus.
If you cannot get a place of your own, try staying with relatives or friends until you have a stable income and can persuade a landlord to take you on. Also, consider visiting charities and community services that might put you up for a while.
Repairing your reputation
Be prepared for people to look at you differently after getting out of jail. Depending on the nature of your offence, people might show you pity, but more often distrust.
Keep a low profile for a while and do your best to change people’s perception about you. Take care of your external appearance. You might be an ex-con, but you don’t want to look like one!
You will need to be patient and give people time to accept your back. Don’t force yourself upon them!
If possible, volunteer for a local organisation, take part in community efforts to clean the neighborhood or plant trees. In other words, you need to prove you’re a responsible citizen and deserve to be treated like one.