[Nameplate] Fair ~ 45°F  
High: 72°F ~ Low: 52°F
Friday, May 6, 2016

Job search challenging for felons

Friday, March 26, 2010

Damien Terry was released from prison in November after serving over two years. Now on house arrest, he is finding it difficult to get a job.
GREENCASTLE -- Damien Terry is a convicted felon.

He was arrested on a Montgomery County burglary charge in late 2007, and in July 2008 was handed a four-year jail sentence. He was incarcerated for a total of 25 months, spending 15 months in the Montgomery County Jail and 10 months in an Indiana Department of Correction facility.

On Nov. 17, 2009, Terry, 24, was approved for transfer to house arrest. He moved into his mother and stepfather's Greencastle home, ready to put his past behind him and move on with his life.

He had paid his debt to society.

Or so he thought.

Terry, who is a certified agricultural mechanic, had every intention of getting a job and paying his way. But he has found that to be a much bigger feat than he ever expected.

"I've always had a job," he said. "I have 10 years of welding experience."

Terry began pounding the pavement as soon as he was released from prison -- only to find a lot of doors were slammed in his face. He has applied with agencies such as Work One, Employment Plus and Spartan Staffing. He has contacted factories, restaurants and fast food establishments.

"One of my old bosses said he'd be happy to give me a job when I got out," Terry said. "But now his company's not doing well. I knew if he couldn't hire me, getting a job would be nearly impossible."

In many cases, he is told it is "policy" that felons cannot be hired. Many large corporations allow potential employees to apply for jobs online -- but if those who have been convicted of felonies answer the questions on the online application honestly, they are knocked out of contention immediately.

For instance, when an applicant checks "yes" in answer to the query "Have you ever been convicted of a felony," a screen pops up that reads "Information provided does not satisfy the minimum requirements for this position, and we are unable to consider you for employment at this time."

Phil Slavens, assistant superintendent of reentry at the Putnamville Correctional Facility, said not being able to find work often leads to recidivism.

"If they don't get employment soon after they're released, there's a good chance they'll be back," he said.

Putnamville inmates are required to do through a reentry curriculum three to six months before their release dates. Business owners, bankers and other professionals come speak to the inmates, giving them advice on resumes, body language, interview conduct and dress and other issues.

"We also have someone from the BMV come in to talk to them about how to go about getting a valid ID," Slavens said. "They don't realize how important that is when you're trying to find a job. Everyone wants to see your ID. And a lot of these guys, whether it be because of a lack of insurance or because of their driving record, can't get a driver's license."

Slavens said there are several fields of work in which felons can be hired.

"A lot of fast food places will hire them," he said. "Also, there are companies that do office building cleaning in the evenings, and constructions crews will hire in the summer."

Slavens said the economy has made things rougher for job-seeking felons.

"Right now it's hard for anybody, much less for someone with a felony on their record," he said.

Tips for felons looking for work are available at www.indianajobsinfo.com.

"Most felons will find that it's not easy to find a job, though it is not impossible," the site said. "These jobs do exist, but you will have to pound a lot of pavement, make a lot of phone calls and fill out a lot of applications to find them."

Terry said he has done all of that.

"It kind of hurts a little," he said. "But I know where people are coming from. I was convicted of burglary. Who wants me working a cash register?"

There are companies that are paid incentives by the government to hire convicted felons. Work One, a state employment agency, hires employment specialists who work to find or persuade companies to hire felons in Indiana -- and in 2005, helped 150 felons secure employment.

"Keep in mind that small companies are more likely to hire a felon as the owners are more involved in the day to day business, and can see firsthand the ability of their hires to perform the tasks involved in the job," the site said.

Terry pointed out that as a condition of his house arrest, he is required to submit to drug tests.

"I would be the perfect employee right now," he said. "I can't mess up, or I face going back to prison."

Terry doesn't only have himself to support. He and his girlfriend of eight years have two daughters, ages 3 and 4. Terry was ordered to begin paying child support again, and was already $3,200 in arrears.

"So now I'm technically behind $3,700," he said, a look of defeat creeping onto his face. "When I do get a job, I'll start right out with getting my paycheck docked $60 a week ... $50 toward the current, $10 toward the arrears. But I want to get it paid. I'm willing to take any job."

Because he has no job and no vehicle, Terry doesn't get to see his daughters, who live with their mother in Lebanon, as much as he would like.

"I'd like to see them more," he said. "I'd like to have my own home and be living with them."

He also feels bad because his parents are supporting him. Not only does he live in their home; they also pay his house arrest fees.

"It sucks," he said candidly. "I watch my mom and my stepdad struggle with the bills they've already got, and I know if I would just go back to prison it would save them $7,000. I've been telling my mom that as soon as I get a job I'll start paying her rent. This really bothers me a great deal."

Terry takes full responsibility for the choices he made that led to his current trouble. He had been arrested for petty and juvenile crimes, but his 2007 arrest was his first major offense. He was involved in the burglary of a Crawfordsville business.

"I was strung out on drugs," he said. "I've been an addict for six years."

Terry began smoking marijuana at 14. By 16 he was doing meth, and at 21 was hooked on not just meth, but cocaine as well.

He attended Southmont High School, and for the first couple of years was an A-B student. He played baseball, basketball and football.

"I was planning on going to Harvard for my law degree," Terry said. "I wanted to be a criminal lawyer. That was my big dream ... besides playing professional sports."

Then the drugs took over. He quit sports, and eventually dropped out of high school his junior year (he has since earned his General Equivalency Diploma).

"I was young and I wanted to live the fast life," he said. "I was totally addicted to money and drugs.

"I started out young in the drug lifestyle," he continued, casting his eyes downward and letting out a heavy sigh. "I got old quick. I feel a lot older than 24."

Although he gets discouraged, Terry refuses to stop considering the possibility that things could turn around for him and his family. He has been sober since his arrest.

"It feels good to be clean," he said. "I've thought about going back and getting certified in welding, maybe getting an associate's or bachelor's in business," he said. "I'd like to start my own business."

But as quickly as the optimism comes, the nagging sadness returns to take its place.

"I get depressed a lot," Terry said. "I'm stressed out all the time. My mind races."

Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. If you feel that a comment is offensive, please Login or Create an account first, and then you will be able to flag a comment as objectionable. Please also note that those who post comments on bannergraphic.com may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.

What a challenge. This man has reaped the seeds he has sewn. Damien, may I suggest sewing new seeds?

How about taking your bad experience and sharing it with younger people in effort to help guide them in a right direction?

Visit and find a church that accepts you and have fellowship for support. Strenghten yourself from the inside out and your world will change.

It takes a lot of courage to put yourself on paper and online like this. Keep your chin up, and good luck to you, you have a lot of heart a talent that need not be wasted.

-- Posted by Xgamer on Sat, Mar 27, 2010, at 8:11 AM

Are we supposed to feel sorry for you? How many burglaries did you commit before you got caught? I think Mcdonalds will hire felons. You might have to settle for a entry level paying job and continue your debt to society. Years of hard work, dedication, and then you might show a record to prove your worthy of higher paying jobs. You gotta start somewhere.

-- Posted by nascar_Couple on Sat, Mar 27, 2010, at 8:48 AM

Just say no.

I was convicted of a felony some 13 years ago but have held three good jobs since that time simply by checking "no" when the application asked if I was ever convicted of a felony. If they do their homework and find out you lied, you really haven't lost anything.

-- Posted by '74tiger on Sat, Mar 27, 2010, at 8:57 AM

The article states that most fast food restaurants will hire felons.Has it occured to you nascar that it may be hard right now to gain employment even with McDonalds? The economy has hit everyone hard.

Damien you keep trying. Don't let this get you down.

-- Posted by MaryKMagdalene on Sat, Mar 27, 2010, at 9:31 AM

My fiance is a convicted felon, so we know exactly what he is going through. He recently had a job as an independent contractor and as soon as the guy he was working with found out about his record he decided he didn't need the help anymore. It's very frustrating, but he's not giving up and I hope Damien doesn't either.

-- Posted by Meadow31 on Sat, Mar 27, 2010, at 10:22 AM

I agree with "Xgamer" .but to go further, Damien, my suggestion is for you to not only to visit a Church, (perhaps one within walking distance of where you live) and attend regularly. I am speaking of one who "has been there, done that".. you need to get right with God..HE forgives all.. Once you sincerely turn your life over to God and ask for HIS help you are heading in the right direction. DO NOT start out by lying about

anything, as suggested by "Xtiger"! Learn how to

pray (there are websites you can visit..to learn how to pray. If your folks don't have internet access, visit your local library)Watch religious

shows on tv, ie: David Jeremiah, Charles Stanley,

and Joel Osteen. A request to all those who read

this post: This young man needs your prayers...as an intercessor you can help, DAMIEN I AM PRAYING FOR YOU..>

I pray for you all God's blessings (There is no mention of "luck" in the scriptures" Best of all,



-- Posted by mothersue on Sat, Mar 27, 2010, at 11:36 AM

Good luck Damien,my son is 26 living at home no job,no felonies looking everyday there are not many jobs out there,and less in putnam county,maybe you should persue furthering your education,try to get a grant,once again good luck.

-- Posted by obeone on Sat, Mar 27, 2010, at 1:58 PM

Big stick...your a Big piece!! The fact is this guy made a very bad choice,but you cant expect him to just lay down and give up! Thats whats wrong with people like you. You would rather this man keep on making poor choices, instead of him trying to move on with his life in a possitive way and be a productive member of society. Maybe we should back him into a corner and keep poking him with a stick, and not allow him to be perfect as you appear to be.

-- Posted by woodsman on Sat, Mar 27, 2010, at 5:27 PM

Damien, It will be hard for you but never give up on yourself. I have a son with a felony and he was hired right out of prison by a company that knew his record and hired him to give him a second chance. When he was laid off last year he kept checking back with them and when they started hiring back they took him back. He did go out of his home county. In the meantime while he was laid off he mowed yards, did landscaping and carpenter work and other odd jobs and was given a second chance by many people. He also went back to school and took classes in welding and air conditioning. There are many good people who will support you . Listen only to them. Turn your back to the others and do find a place of worship. This is what my son has done and the members of this church are his best supporters. I pray that soneone who reads your story will give you a chance to prove yourself. You WILL make it. God blesses you and loves you and you have my love and prayers also.

-- Posted by dumpsterdiva2 on Sat, Mar 27, 2010, at 8:40 PM

It's hard for everyone right now. Don't lie on your applications to get a job, be honest, you might be suprised how people react to your honesty. Also, don't expect something just because!! There are alot of qualified people out there who can't get a job, are we going to do an article about them??? Interesting story choice Banner!!!

-- Posted by idiot on Sat, Mar 27, 2010, at 10:19 PM

For the past couple of weeks I have seen alot of young people mugshots in the local paper, some are from Indiana and other states.

Those kids are college students on Spring Break, people would be amazed how they can act. I'm sure their parents have no idea of what they get up to.

I wish you luck Damien, times are tough for a lot of families these days, and I hope something comes your way.

-- Posted by JanetFla on Sat, Mar 27, 2010, at 10:26 PM

How many stories of the people that dont have any felonies that cant find a job make the paper come on people. not saying that damien is a bad person but we need to wake up and see what is going on here. you have people telling him that is is ok that you are or was a theif.

-- Posted by ???unknown on Sun, Mar 28, 2010, at 8:27 AM


-- Posted by obeone on Sun, Mar 28, 2010, at 2:46 PM

Hey Damien - try getting your CDL's - most Trucking companies don't check for Felonies.

-- Posted by luv2bmom2001 on Sun, Mar 28, 2010, at 7:56 PM

damien keep plugging along it,s tuff. some of us know where your coming from. and to all the people of putnam county and women who get support remember mr bookwalter loves to hand out felonys to people who are behind on child support and for smaller crimes. why dont they start a work program for these people instead of making it harder for them to get jobs or have them work in the prison,s before taking and giving them a felony. yes for prosocutors it looks great on their records that they have gotten x amount of felony convictions but how many people have they helped ????

-- Posted by mrcatfish43 on Mon, Mar 29, 2010, at 8:30 AM

Is it just me or are there an awful lot of felons in our town now.

-- Posted by T.C. FATHER OF 2 on Mon, Mar 29, 2010, at 12:20 PM

There is a new program in Putnam County that assists individuals with felonies get employment and continuing education! It's called 2nd chance @ 124 N. Jackson st. There are alot of people out there and everyone deserves a 2nd chance!!!

-- Posted by community2ndchance on Mon, Mar 29, 2010, at 1:49 PM

Good story banner!Damien don't give up.There will always be people to stand in line to judge.I left putnam co. 27 years ago because I had such a bad name. (Never had a felony)I moved out of state and went back to school,then came bacame back 19 years later, married the love of my life. I now am respected have a good name. And can hold my head up high.You can do the same thing. Just don't give up.The only person you really have to worry answering to is,Jesus! Pray about everything! And always remember DON'T TELL GOD HOW BIG YOUR STORM IS,TELL YOUR STORM HOW BIG YOUR GOD IS! I will keep you our prayers! Good Luck!

-- Posted by mamawfolck on Tue, Mar 30, 2010, at 12:46 PM

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: