Convicted felon relief programs vary by state. Programs provide different forms of help and can be organized by government agencies or nonprofit organizations. For example, a local church might work with community felons to help them stay out of jail or find a job.
Relief programs exist to prevent ex-felons from returning to prison. Many ex-felons lack family support and resources upon their release. Relief programs, including those shown on exoffender.org, exprisoners.org and westcore.org, work with felons to transition back into society, by doing such things as helping felons get valid identification. Local agencies, such as CREATE in Nevada (sites.csn.edu/workforce/workforce/community/courselist/prisoninitiatives.htm), have sponsored job fairs specifically for ex-felons.
Government-funded programs such as the Work Opportunity Tax Credit and Federal Bonding Program provide incentives for employers to hire ex-felons. Each state maintains a Department of Labor office that coordinates benefits for employers. The New York State Department of Labor (labor.state.ny.us) extends bonds of $5,000 or $10,000 through the Federal Bonding Program. To qualify, employers must provide full-time work of at least 30 hours a week.
Ex-felons can use resources for entrepreneurs, such as the Small Business Administration (sba.gov), to help start a business. For many ex-felons, finding long-term employment is difficult and nearly possible. Rather than searching for a job, ex-felons should consider working for themselves by capitalizing on a skill. Although some business licenses and permits to carry a firearm for work as a security guard might be impossible to get, countless opportunities exist that do not require a lot of startup money.
Legal aid programs and pro bono attorneys sometimes help felons expunge their criminal records. For example, the Illinois Legal Aid program (illinoislegalaid.org) explains which criminal cases can be expunged and how to find local legal help. State bar associations (professional groups for attorneys) can help locate volunteer or free legal services.
Housing, employment, medical care and counseling represent important needs for ex-felons. Ex-felons might be denied access to general public programs such as welfare because of their criminal history, but each city offers different services. In New York, counseling services exist through several organizations including familyjustice.org and cases.org. Probation officers can help ex-offenders connect with available resources.
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