On finding and keeping a job after being released from incarceration
April 27, 2015
David Walls was released from incarceration in 2008. He firmly accepts responsibility for the actions that led to that incarceration. Yet, at the time of his release he couldn’t help but feel angry and frustrated. Before his incarceration he’d had a very good job but now, here he was 36 years old and trying to get a job as an ex-felon. This happened during very difficult economic times, when almost everyone was having difficulty finding work.
David was lucky that his parents took him in. He stayed with them for 18 months. He stayed with them even after he had found a job; but he had a teenage son, living elsewhere with his mother. David wanted to support that son and become a role model for him.
He found New River Community Action’s Virginia Cares project there to help him, as was the Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services. He had also been part of a Work Release program when in jail. That was helpful too. At the time of his release he became associated with a church, which was, and continues to be, a source of comfort and support.
After his release, he started hitting the streets every day, hundreds of times, looking and looking for a job, any job. He finally found a customer service job in Roanoke. He got the position despite being truthful about his history. He performed well in his work. However, after being on the job a month, company corporate headquarters changed its policy regarding employing former felons, and he was dismissed.
He started once again looking for work. Meanwhile, before, during and after the time he was in jail, he accumulated bills. These bills continued to pile up and were a source of continuing worry to him.
He found out that it was easier to find a job when you already had a job; so, over a period of a year and a half, he took a number of part-time jobs -- any jobs -- working more than one job at a time when the work was available. One of his part-time jobs was with Virginia Cares. In 2010, to his relief, he was able to get an apartment of his own. New River Community Action helped him with the rental deposit and the first month’s rent.
He had been sentenced to seven years probation; however, his progress was consistent and satisfactory, so he was released from probation after three and a half years. That was also a relief.
David continued with part-time work until 2012 when he found a full-time job in a warehouse. It was an entry level position with no prospect for moving up, so he continued looking for a different job.
In 2013 he obtained work at a production company. There the people were sympathetic; and he was promoted in 60 days to a Production Associate position as Logistics Clerk. Only the Human Resources office knew about his felony. Still someone found out about him and shared that information with others. Fortunately, this time Human Resources were supportive, and he did not lose his job. That makes him appreciate it even more. He now supports himself and his son and is working to have a closer relationship with his son. Currently he is a Supervisor in the production facility with 22 people reporting to him.
Recently he received an even better job offer, which also has a better salary. However, he’s working for the company that gave him a chance and has been good to him; so he decided that he prefers to stay with them. He does have a job on the side as a nutritional and personal physical trainer for between three and eight people at a time. Feeling he is being helpful to others is a source of satisfaction.
The fact that some people continue to judge him despite everything bothers him; however, he knows he is a good person, and not everyone is going to judge him.
David has further educational aspirations. He had started college, but now wants to complete his degree in the field of Marketing. He wants to meet a nice lady. His father died recently, and he wants to do more to look after his Mom. He also wants to develop closer friends at his church.
Below are reflections of David Wall on April 2, 2015
- - Take responsibility for my actions and the subsequent consequences.
- - Apologize to those who I affected and recognize their feelings.
- Develop positive coping skills and mechanisms to deal with life situations.
- Take ownership of my life. Work each day to develop and improve a better situation for me and my family.
- Realize God is in control, and he will never let me down. As people will; God will not.
- Develop selflessness towards helping others and giving back... so one day I can help someone in a similar position to myself 10 years ago.
- Realize that I'm a good person who made mistakes but has made the necessary changes.
- Respect those person’s feelings that can't accept my errors.
- Look forward to my bright future.
- All those feelings were brought about by those that have helped me these past 10 years: My family, my church family, Virginia Cares, New River Community Action, the Department of Rehabilitative Services.