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Employment and Your Parole Status

Not having a job can affect more than your wallet. The consequences of unemployment can affect all parts of your transition.

Looking for work and finding a job in a reasonable amount of time are often conditions of supervised prison release. That means that if you are not actively looking for work or do not have a job you might be in violation of your parole.

What to Do When You Can't Find Work

  • It is highly recommended that you communicate honestly and frequently with your Parole Officer (PO) about your job search and employment status.
  • Be ready to show your PO documentation of your job search when you meet.

If you are having trouble finding employment, tell your PO. He or she might be able to help. Remember, your PO is working with several other ex-felons with similar experiences. He or she may be able to provide you with job leads.

If your PO can see that you are trying your best in your job search, her or she will recognize your sincere desire to find work and might be willing to help you. On the other hand, if you show up to meetings with no job search log, and are unable to identify how you have spent your time, your PO is less likely to be sympathetic.

Consequences of Not Working

In addition to not having money to support yourself, not working can have negative effects on other parts of your re-entry into society.

  • Many rental assistance providers require you to have a source of income in order to receive housing support. Lack of employment could mean disqualification from receiving needed assistance.
  • Treatments and required behavioral programs (i.e. chemical dependency, sex offender, domestic violence, anger management, and other mental health therapies) cost money. You need the income that comes from working to participate in these needed services.
  • Many ex-offenders have child-support responsibilities, or are allowed only to see their children through supervised visits. When you're not earning a paycheck, it can be impossible to pay child support. This can keep you from your children.
  • Medications needed for mental health and/or physical health issues can be expensive. Without a job, it can be difficult to keep current on prescriptions.

Finally, being unemployed can be stressful to an ex-offender and to his or her loved ones — as it can be with any job seeker.

Not having a job can also cause problems with your support system. Your unemployment can be a challenge for the people who are responsible for your housing or otherwise helping you financially. Your positive, healthy relationships with family and friends can be strained.

Being out of work is also hard on you. Unemployment can cause stress and depression. Stay positive by making long-term goals and take small steps to achieve them. You also want to stay in contact with your PO and others with experience in helping ex-offenders find work.

Accountability After You're Hired

When you are offered a job, be prepared to provide the business name, your supervisor's name, business address, phone number, and schedule to your PO.

Your PO will require schedule and transportation information before you start working to make sure you are following guidelines. He or she will want to know how you plan to get to work and if you will be home in time for your curfew.

Once hired, you will need to show proof of hours worked to your PO. This typically happens by showing your paystubs during your visits to your PO.

If your employer does not offer this type of proof of work, you will need to develop an alternative plan with your PO and Supervisor to maintain accountability. An example is to keep a handwritten log of hours worked that is signed off by your supervisor each week.

If you are on Intensive Supervised Release or Work Release, your PO or Designee will need to verify the job assignment BEFORE you can accept the job. They may also visit your work assignment during your scheduled hours in order to maintain accountability. Remember that this is part of their job and they will try to keep their visits as discreet as possible.

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