Hi everyone...this is my first post on Hubpages, so I hope I'm not stepping on any toes.
During the research phase of my latest book, Confessions of a Hiring Manager (which will be out in March 2010), someone asked me if I was going to include a chapter on how ex-convicts can get back into the job market beyond a minimum wage future. After doing the research on employment and ex-convicts, I discovered that the topic was a convoluted and intricate one that had no easy solution. I didn't find a lot of information that offered a bright overall picture (though there are some individual programs that are bright spots).
Part of the problem lies with the penal system itself (releasing ex-convicts back into the same communities that got them in trouble in the first place; very few viable training programs beyond minimum-wage skills), financial/insurance liability associated with hiring ex-convicts, and as studies show, the pre-incarceration variables that lead a person to commit a crime.
There's much more on this topic at my blog at http://jtkirk.wordpress.com, but I think to maximize your earning potential over your "new" lifetime, ex-offenders have several viable options from which to choose:
1. If you have a high-school diploma, get an Associates Degree. Most are available online or from your local community college.
2. Consider a trade school that offers solid training (consult the Better Business Bureau for leads or your local college/university for recommendations)
3. Eliminate any bad habits that can tempt to back to your former life
4. Become an avid reader. You don't have to have a college degree to be a capable problem solver that other people will notice.
5. Network with people who work in the field in which you are interested in working--you never know who they know who just might be willing to give you a second chance.
People who were convicted of non-violent crimes tend to get hired sooner than those convicted of violent crimes. Women convicted of non-violent crimes tend to get hired quicker than men convicted of non-violent crimes. So, there are opportunities, depending on the nature of your offense, but understand this: we can't blame society for being reluctant to hire ex-felons. Violating a trust (personal, financial, property) is something many people refuse to forgive and forget.
Good luck all.