Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Can a Convicted Felon Get a Job Driving Truck? part II

I spoke with Roadmaster and scheduled a meeting with Gloria 06/12/2009 at 09:00. My first impression of Gloria was a good one. She did not come off as the typical recruiter trying to get my money at all costs. She seemed straight shooting and genuine. She started by running a background check through the Utah Department of Public Safety BCI. This took some time to process and as she ran the search I let her have a look at my Federal Pre Sentence Investigation Report. The charges read as follows:

State Charges:
-Release of Fur-Bearing Animals Felony 3rd Degree
-Burglary Felony 3rd Degree

Federal Charges:
-Illegally making a firearm (destructive device)
-Malicious destruction by means of explosive- Aiding and abetting
-Using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence- Aiding and abetting

Gloria was silent for some time before looking up at me and asking me “What did you do?” I explained that I was involved with the animal rights movement in my younger years. My state charges were from an incident where I cut a fence onto the property of a fur farm and then went into the shed where the animals were housed. I opened many cages and pulled the breeding id cards off of the cages and ripped them up. “What about the Federal charges?” she asked. I explained that I built pipe bombs that were used by others to destroy the property of the local Fur-Breeders Co-Op.

She was silent again and continued flipping through the pages. “I see you and your brother went to prison” she said “What happened to the others?” I explained that they got off. I of course explained that I was no longer involved with animal rights and that I made a choice in prison that the criminal life is not what I wanted. I also took the time to outline what I had done in prison to prepare for a crime free life upon my release.

When the background check came back we noticed two things right off. First, the Release of Fur-Bearing animals showed up as 3rd degree felony theft ( I promise I did not pocket any of the mink to sell at the local pawn shop at a latter date) and second, there was no mention of any of my Federal charges. Gloria asked me if I was sure the charges stuck. I told her that either they stuck or I don't know why I was in prison for a half decade.

Reviewing my 2 state felonies Gloria informed me that the only way I would ever be hired in the industry would be if I knew some one or got me record expunged. Since I do not know anyone in the industry (very intuitive Candice) I decided that I would try to file myself for expungement. Gloria gave me the address BCI (Bureau of Criminal Identification) and told me to just go file for expungement myself since it would cost me about $2,000 to have a lawyer do it for me.

Following Gloria's advice, I went down to BCI this morning at 06:55 and waited at the door for 5 minutes for them to open. I walked in and informed the woman at the desk of what I had come to do. She asked for id and the application form which I had printed and filled out as soon as I got back from my meeting with Gloria. The women at the desk then gave me instructions on how to finger print myself and handed me a card to slap the prints down on. This completed I followed her instructions to wait in the lobby until she called my name. In about ten minutes she called me up and handed me the official Utah State Department of Public Safety- Bureau of Criminal Investigations criminal history report on myself. She told me that I would be notified in 10 weeks by letter if I was eligible for expungement or not.

This report still did not mention my federal felonies anywhere. That makes background check number 4 with no mention of these convictions to date. Being a curious fellow, I called the Salt Lake City F.B.I. office and informed them that I would like a copy of my criminal history that included my federal charges. They in informed me that I would have to obtain them through CBI (very interesting.) I called BCI back and told them what the F.B.I. official had instructed me to do. CBI's representative told me the F.B.I. office was incorrect and gave me the phone number to the appropriate F.B.I. office in Clarksburg, WV.

I called the new F.B.I. number and was greeted by a cheerful sounding automated operator. The recording of this happy little fellow direct me to the fbi.gov website and instructed me on how to acquire the necessary forms to obtain my record. I not only have to fill out a request form but also have to print and complete a finger print card. This print card requires that I give my prints in front of law enforcement and have the law enforcement official complete part of the form. All you have to do then is mail the forms off with an $18.00 money order.

While I am not foolish enough to be even remotely optimistic about the outcome of my expungement request, the bright side is that it is highly doubtful that a Utah employer will go through all of the steps required to obtain my federal record and I doubt the Feds will update BCI any time soon since they have not bothered to over the last decade since I was convicted.

To conclude, it seems that a convicted felon cannot become a truck driver unless they know someone high ranking in the industry or they can get their record expunged. So why did I file for expungement even though I know it will never happen? If I am to lead my kids by example I think it is important to exhaust all possible options while trying to rise above this.

If any one would like any further info. on BCI or obtaining their fed records, please feel free to e-mail me at riseabove801@gmail.com

Until next time you know the drill, Stay strong, proud, and free!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Can a Convicted Felon Get a Job Driving Truck? part I

So I finally decided that I would get serious about trying to break out of the low earnings category I am currently in. I have had a few people telling me I should go drive truck for some time now. The thought of being away from my family for 2- 10 weeks at a time just always reminded me of being in prison. With the birth of our little girl last month I decided it might be worth the sacrifice to ensure my kids and wife never have to worry about having enough money.

Now starts the documentation of my attempts to move my family up and out of the janitorial class in America's economic caste system. My goal is to find an opportunity for a convicted felony to have the potential to earn at least $50,000 a year. Of Course I do not expect to just walk in and make this kind of money. I currently work for a company that offers individuals chances to climb into the 6 figure salary range. The company I currently work has a glass ceiling in place for felons though. I cannot say I blame them as they are often the subject of press coverage.

Starting June 03, 2009 I began locating trucking companies that are hiring new drivers. I was able to quickly eliminate the following companies as potential future employers because their web site or the recruiter I spoke with informed me that they either do not hire felons or that the conviction must be older than 10 years. My last conviction date was November, 1999 so I am not yet at the 10 year mark. The companies I eliminated based on this follow:
CR England, Knight Transportation, Yellow/Roadway, Celadon Trucking, Covenant, Crete, CRST, FFE, Hunt, Land Air, National, United Van, SCG, Watkins, and Shepherd.
Not too bad. There is still hope. Right?

I kept going and located a few companies that state on their web sites that they may hire felons if the conviction date is over 7, 5, or in some cases 3 years old. So I began calling each of the companies and speaking with recruiters. Here is what I found out.
The following companies told me they would not hire me after I explained what I had been convicted of:

Gordon, Prime, Schneider, Southern Refrigerated, Quality Carriers, Perkins, Landstar, and Davis

I am kind of surprised at this point as I remember many of the guys I was in prison with either had Ken Worth or Peter Built (truck brands) tattoos. They also had a CDL course at the prison where I did my time. Many of the guys I met there informed me that they were going to drive truck again upon their release.

I still had hope though as May and Swift told me to fill out an application. I filled out applications with both and began calling the recruiters back the following week. Although I have left multiple messages I have yet to receive a call back from either company. This being the case, I decided to start checking out CDL schools in the area.

After doing my research and calling back to speak with numerous recruiters regarding the best schools, it came down to Fage and Road Masters. I called both companies. I spoke with Fage first and informed them that I was interested in getting into the trucking industry. I explained I had five felony convictions and did not know if this would keep me from obtaining employment. The Fage representative told me this should not matter and proceeded to try to schedule me to meet with a councilor.

I declined the offer to meet with Fage and called RoadMasters. I was put into contact with Gloria and , once again, explained my situation. Gloria told me she would like to meet with me the next day so she could run a back ground check to see exactly how my record came up. We scheduled to meet the following day.

I will finish this in a couple of days.

Until then stay strong and free!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

This blog was started with the intention of documenting my attempt to try to gain honest employment with the potential to earn at least $50,000 a year. I am a convicted felon who has served 13 months in jail, 52 months in federal prison, and 4 years on probation/parole. My last conviction date was November, 1999, I was release from a Federal Correctional Institution 08/05/2004. I successfully completed 3 years of supervised released with the Federal Probation Office 08/07/2007. I owe $800,000.00 in restitution.
I hope to document the challenges I face and try to help others along the way. Please feel free to e-mail me with stories of your own at riseabove801@gmail.com
Until next time stay strong and stay free!