Surviving Background Checks

Matthew Feeney

I applied for a job in the prison library

(the sanctuary for many inmates).

I jokingly asked if they did background checks.

I got the job - I love my job!

But it got me thinkin'

What the heck am I gonna do for a living on the outs?

“Ban the Box” my ass - this only delays the inevitable question.

Felons can’t be cops or firemen or paramedics.

I once was an Emergency Medical Technician.

Felons can’t be teachers.

I have teaching Degree.

Felons can’t drive cabs (or even Über).

I drove cab during college.

Felons can’t be doctors or even Vets

Years ago I had been accepted into a Vet Tech program.

I’ve been told Paroles can’t be self-employed.

I owned and operated my own company for 6 years.

Parole may not even allow me on a computer.

I spent 12 years as a Computer Network Manager for an International Non-Profit.

Felons can’t be property managers of landlords.

I used to be a property manager for my friend’s dad.

So I consider charity - welfare work

(tho let’s not get started on felons and the priesthood!)

But ironically, sadly

Felons can’t even associate with other felons.

My felony prevents me from visiting prisons and trying to help inmates successfully transition back into society.

Felons aren’t wanted anywhere.

We’re doomed to a solo life.

Which sucks.

Because despite all my experiences

skills and desire to affect a positive change in this world-

I don’t know how I’m going to survive.
I don’t know how I’m going to make a living.
I don’t know if I’ll get over these hurdles.
I don’t know.

So I write.
I write about the perceived injustices.
I write kites to try to make prison a better place.
I write to Senators & Popes & Commissioners & Wardens.
I write to express my fears

and kindle my hopes.

I write to all the letters in the alphabet soup:
Most of the time I’m ignored - but I don’t give up.
I write to survive.
And I am a survivor.