Once a felony has stained a record, it can pose difficulties in integrating into society once released from prison. It can be a chance to start a brand-new life in a different state. The problem is finding the most suitable state to live in because some states take stringent measures against a felon, while some are friendlier.
Many felons find it hard to get decent employment, housing and other public benefits. Research by the Legal Action Center showed that up to 75% of felons could not find jobs a year after their release. The result is most felons end up going back to crime and jail again.
Statistics show that 1 in every 3 Americans has a criminal record. That amounts to approximately 70 million Americans. In this article, we look at the most felon friendly states.
What is Considered a Felony?
These are serious offenses as regarded by society and in law. They attract different punishments according to the circumstances under which the felony is committed and its severity.
- Drug charges
Some consequences come with having a felony in your record. Most states have harsh rules that put restrict felons in the services and benefits they can obtain. The list below indicates some of the consequences of having a criminal record.
1 Lack of access to public benefits. A felon in need of further studies may not get funding from the state.
2 Loss of voting rights.
3 Lack of employment.
4 Travel restrictions outside the US.
5 Loss of the right to hold a public office
6 Losing parental rights.
7 Loss of the right to serve as a jury
Factors to Consider when Choosing a Felon Friendly State
Finding a suitable place to live, work, and being allowed to continue life as an ordinary citizen is essential. It makes the process of reorganizing your life easier.
When picking a felon-friendly state, these are the factors you should consider.
- Ease of access to services and jobs
- Protection and reinstatement of your civil rights
- Ease of access to decent housing.
- Salary cap and background check exemptions.
A friendly state should have means that help you blend more easily into the community. The most crucial factor is access to decent employment. Conviction and incarceration come with job loss, and a criminal record makes it challenging to find a job.
Here are the Most Felon Friendly States
A state that makes jobs accessible to felons solves other problems with it. A felon with decent employment is less likely to fall back into crime because it helps them find decent housing and improves their quality of life.
What makes most of the states below fall into this list is the 7-year limit on background checks before employment—counting of the seven years begins from the date of conviction.
5 New York
8 New Mexico
Here is a complete list of the states where the 7-year background check rule applies. They make the most felon friendly states.
California is a haven for felons thanks to the 7-year limit on background checks and no salary cap. An employer is not allowed to look into a candidate’s criminal history beyond seven years, irrespective of the amount of pay in question. It is considered among the friendliest states for felons because of the wide range of re-entry programs.
The state is a felon-friendly nature, but, surprisingly, it has not lowered recidivism rates, which stands at 50% and has been for the last ten years.
Kansas also applies the 7-year rule and a salary cap of $20,000 annually, and the state goes further to support felons by offering access to education and counseling. Each correctional facility has many programs and means to help felons manage better outside prison.
After conviction, a felon loses their right to vote but they can re-apply to have the rights reinstated upon release from prison. The recidivism rate is only 33.1% for the last three years because felons receive much support.
The state of Massachusetts also implements the 7-year rule and a salary cap of $20,000 per year. The re-entry programs cover the most basic needs and wants of any felon. There is support offered in education, employment coaching, housing, and rehabilitation, the average recidivism rate for the last three years is 32%.
Nevada offers a 7-year limit and no salary cap. The state goes further to support felons in settling down, access education and counseling. It ensures that the transition to civil life is as seamless as possible.
Upon release from prison, a felon’s right to vote is reinstated. The Nevada Department of Corrections report indicates that only 28.63% of felons fall back to crime.
For the state of New York, the 7-year check limit also applies while data shows that 40% of felons go back to crime and the salary cap is $25,000.
Like most states, New York offers felons channels to help them adapt better to society and cope. The state is favorable for felons because it offers 10 programs and services to help them find work, housing, legal services, education, and health services. It has a broad approach towards assistance to felons.
Texas offers a salary cap of $75,000 with a 7-year background check limit. The state is keen on integrating felons into the community. It offers elaborate employment coaching programs to help felons secure meaningful employment.
After completing a sentence and probation, a felon can apply for their civil rights. There are some occasions where you can regain your full rights, and the state only has a 21.4% chance of felons going back to crime.
For the state of Washington, the criminal background limit is ten years. Employers are free to ask for details of criminal history. The salary cap is $20,000. The restoration of voting rights only happens after completing the sentence and probation and the recidivism rate for the last three years is 32%.
There are multiple programs to help ex-convicts transition to life after prison. Counseling and rehabilitation for felons with drug-related problems are available. Those felons with domestic violence history have their rights to own firearms stripped. California is the most felon friendly state because it offers the largest range of re-entry programs.
The 7-year background check limit is available and a $20,000 salary cap. With the completion of a sentence together with a probation period, a felon can vote. There are elaborate programs to help felons shift into civil life and the right to own firearms restores after ten years. The recidivism rate for the last three years is, however, 50%. Because the state has a criminal record expungement program for felony dismissals, it is among the most felon friendly states.
Colorado offers a 7-year limit and a $75,000 salary cap. It has centers all over the state to help rehabilitate felons by offering elaborate services. Re-entry services help felons transition into the communities and search for work and housing simplified. Despite the amount of support offered, the Colorado District Attorney still reports a 50% rate of felons who return to crime.
Montana offers a 7-year limit with no salary cap. Felons have to register anew to be able to vote. The state’s programs to help felons cope are in housing, counseling and rehab facilities, and finding shelters for juveniles.
There is a 42.2% rate of felons who return to crime.
To conclude, the states discussed above all offer a period after which background checks on a criminal record cannot be run, making them the most felon friendly states. California and Montana’s states have no cap on salary, prohibiting an employer from going beyond the 7-year check limit. That makes them good choices or professionals capable of getting high-paying jobs.
We cannot particularly point to one single state that can offer everything to felons, but some make it easier to transition than others. Lowering the level of access to basic needs and employment for felons is vital. It ensures that felons find it easy to restart civil life and adapt faster to life after conviction and incarceration.
Failure to help felons transition can increase recidivism rates, as shown here by the World Population Review.