Chapters_1-2

Chapters_3-6

Chapter_7

Chapter 8 - Appendix B

Appendix_C – Figure F-2

 

Chapter 8 -- Working With the Ex-Offender

Over the past two decades, as law enforcement has become a front-line response to substance abuse, many people with substance abuse disorders have entered the criminal justice system. The increase in the number of people in the criminal justice system for drug-related crimes is startling. Between 1980 and 1997, drug arrests tripled to 1,584,000; 80 percent were for possession (U.S. Department of Justice, 1999b). In 1980, 6 percent of the offenders in State prisons and 25 percent of the offenders in Federal prisons had been incarcerated for drug offenses. By 1996, there had been an elevenfold increase in the number of inmates in State prisons on drug offenses, and drug offenders constituted 23 percent of the State prison population. For Federal prisons, the increase over the 15-year period was twelvefold, with drug offenders constituting 60 percent of the prison population.

This astronomical increase does not take into account the high number of individuals with substance abuse disorders who are arrested and incarcerated for drug-related crimes (e.g., property crimes, robbery, assault). In 1997, 57 percent of State prison inmates had used drugs in the month prior to arrest, and one-sixth committed their offense to obtain money to buy drugs (Mumola, 1999).

The "war on drugs" has had a disproportionate impact on African Americans as a result of three overlapping policy decisions: the concentration of drug law enforcement in inner cities, harsher sentencing policies, and the emphasis on law enforcement at the expense of prevention and treatment (The Sentencing Project, 1999a). Given the shortage of substance abuse treatment options in many inner cities, substance abuse in these communities is more likely to receive attention as a criminal justice problem than as a social problem (The Sentencing Project, 1999a). As a result, African Americans who use illicit substances are arrested, convicted, and imprisoned at greater rates than other groups. While Federal surveys show that 13 percent of those who reported using drugs within the previous month are African American, this group constitutes 35 percent of those arrested for possession, 55 percent of those convicted, and 74 percent of those sentenced to prison (Mauer and Huling, 1995; SAMHSA, 1998a). According to current data, the Department of Justice estimates that 28 percent of African American males will enter a Federal or State prison at least once during their lives; the rates are 16 percent for Hispano/Latino males and 4.4 percent for White males (U.S. Department of Justice, 1999a).

The exponential increase in the number of individuals arrested and convicted of drug offenses and the disproportionate representation of African Americans in that group means that many drug and alcohol counselors are working with ex-offenders and that a large proportion of these ex-offender clients are African American. A criminal record is an additional barrier to employment for anyone recovering from a substance abuse disorder. African Americans and members of other minorities (including individuals without substance abuse and criminal histories) also experience employment discrimination, sometimes subtle, sometimes not. Counselors should be aware that the ex-offenders among their clients will have more difficulty finding work and that clients' experiences with discrimination may diverge along racial and ethnic lines.

This chapter describes the barriers ex-offenders seeking employment face and suggests ways for substance abuse treatment programs and counselors to help offenders overcome these barriers. These barriers tend to fall into two categories: internal (i.e., attitudes and characteristics ex-offenders bring to the process) and societal (i.e., the attitudes society has toward those with criminal records and the means it uses to exclude ex-offenders from the workplace). Both types of barriers can be difficult, although not impossible, to overcome.

Barriers to Employment: What the Offender Brings To the Process

Each ex-offender is a unique individual; yet as a group, ex-offenders tend to bring the following common characteristics or attitudes to the process of vocational rehabilitation:

  • Offenders face feelings of failure and hopelessness. Ex-offenders tend to have a long history of failure behind them and may feel that there is little they can do to change their lives. They may have failed at school, at relationships, and at crime, and may have little faith that they will find a job or that employment will make a difference in their lives.
  • Offenders often feel alienated from mainstream institutions. Offenders' experiences with school, health care facilities, welfare and child welfare offices, lawyers, police, and courts have been primarily negative. Their roles while involved with these institutions tend to be those of supplicant or "wrongdoer." Most often, they are told--rather than asked--what their needs are and how those needs will be met. With overwhelming caseloads, human service workers are often too pressed for time to listen to offenders or answer questions. Offenders may perceive this as a lack of respect. As they enter substance abuse treatment and vocational rehabilitation, ex-offenders might expect to face more of the same: requirements laid down by overworked people who believe they know best and who do not care whether the "help" they are offering meets clients' real needs or concerns. Offenders often expect to be treated with contempt and hostility; their sensitivity to the attitudes of others can make them seem "touchy" to counselors.
  • Offenders learn to be cynical and to manipulate the system. From the perspective of an ex-offender, the most sensible way to deal with people assigned to provide "help" he may not want or believe he needs may be to find and exploit the system's weaknesses. The objective is to avoid compliance with burdensome requirements but retain whatever benefits the system offers. Often, in the offender's experience, passive resistance works because the system does not have the capacity to follow through and enforce rules with sanctions.
  • As a group, offenders tend to be less educated, less skilled, and less mature than the general population. Those who spent their youth abusing substances probably did poorly in school and may never have had the opportunity to learn work-related skills or to mature.
  • Some studies have shown that offenders tend to have higher rates of attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) and other learning disabilities than the general population (Eyestone and Howell, 1994; Mannuzza et al., 1989; U.S. Department of Justice, 1998). Offenders may have had considerable difficulty in school because of problems with concentration, comprehension, ability to plan, and ability to sustain effort. When these problems are not addressed in school, they lead to further skill deficits.

Offenders who have served time face additional barriers, and the more time someone has served, the more serious are the barriers to employment. The following points can help the substance abuse treatment counselor better understand the experience that ex-offenders may have had in prison.

  • Offenders' educational, mental, and social problems are not addressed in prison. In many jurisdictions, these services were casualties of the explosive growth in prison population or never were available except at a minimal level.
  • Incarceration widens the educational and social gap. Incarceration leads to "disculturation"--that is, inmates lose or "fail to acquire some of the habits currently required in the wider society" (Goffman, 1961). The very nature of an all-encompassing institution like a prison is incompatible with the development of the social skills needed to succeed in society at large. The prison inmate undergoes a total loss of autonomy. Others determine every detail of his life--from where he will live and when he wakes up in the morning, to what he will eat and how he will spend his time. Successful adaptation to prison requires accepting this loss of autonomy.

Successful adaptation to prison also requires the individual to accept that the everyday rules of cause and effect and reward and punishment have been suspended. Correction officers can (and do) punish groups of inmates because of the actions of individuals. They can (and do) arbitrarily single out and punish an offender for no reason other than personal dislike. Searches of cells frequently result in destruction of inmate property, including treasured possessions such as photographs and valuables such as typewriters and legal papers. Any privilege earned with good behavior can be revoked at a moment's notice on a trumped-up charge. After years in one facility, an inmate can find herself on a bus to another without notice.

Living in a place where the logic of cause and effect is suspended and justice occurs only by chance can create despair and anger. This, combined with the loss of autonomy, can cause an inmate to stop believing that he is responsible for his life or that anything he does can ever matter. He learns that it is useless to try to control his environment or what happens to him; attempts to plan for the future are almost always futile and frustrating. Yet taking responsibility, making decisions, planning for the future, and following through are precisely the social skills that the released offender needs in order to successfully function in the community, especially in the world of work.

  • Survival in prison and survival outside prison require two vastly different sets of skills. To survive in prison, the offender must get along with other inmates, many of whom are angry and hostile and some of whom are dangerous. Because inmates have no privacy, battle over "turf" is common. Because inmates have no autonomy, power struggles are frequent. Survival in this environment calls on some of the behavior that the offender may have learned before he entered prison (and that may have contributed to being in prison). In some ways, the prison experience reinforces some of the offender's more undesirable social and personal attitudes.
  • After release, offenders may experience emotional shock. Life in prison can be brutal. From the prisoner's perspective, the world outside can take on a rosy glow. The disappointments and difficulties the offender experienced prior to incarceration are often forgotten. As she counts the days to release, her expectations may be high that life on the other side of the wall will be good, if not carefree.

However, reality rarely lives up to such expectations. After release, many ex-offenders are overwhelmed by personal and financial troubles. Some have difficulty adjusting to relationships with spouses and families who have changed and learned to live with greater independence while the ex-offenders were away. Others may return to old relationships that were built on the ex-offender's (or mutual) drug use. Still others, who are struggling to comply with substance abuse treatment and vocational requirements, may face hostility from family and friends who may not like the "new" person the ex-offender is being asked to (or has) become. The ex-offender can experience crushing disappointment at how difficult life is and how much adjustment is required. Having learned early in his life to deal with stress by drinking alcohol and using illicit substances, the ex-offender may be tempted by the pull of the streets and old friends or relatives who still abuse substances.

  • Release from prison can bring culture shock. Offenders leaving prison may find themselves in an unfamiliar world. Simple things such as ordering from a menu can seem alien and anxiety-provoking. For those who have served long terms, the shock can be intensified by the pace of technological change during their incarceration. Offenders may be ashamed of their lack of familiarity with things other people take for granted.

Overcoming Barriers Resulting From Offender Alienation

Overcoming the formidable barriers offenders bring to vocational rehabilitation (VR) requires engaging offenders in services. Substance abuse treatment programs that engage ex-offenders should offer the following:

  • Respect. Drug and alcohol counselors should strive to treat each person as an individual with a unique set of positive and negative qualities. Treatment staff should respect ex-offenders' autonomy, asking what they view as their primary needs and offering help in meeting those needs. When an ex-offender resists meeting program requirements, staff should not assume that the cause is willful disobedience. Resistance may arise from a variety of sources, including fear, anxiety, ignorance, lack of social skills, or the "lessons" learned in prison. Respecting the client means working with her to locate the reason for her resistance and then helping her overcome it.

Counselors can also demonstrate respect by holding conversations with clients privately, looking at clients directly and asking, "How are you?" before launching into "business." An attractive and clean waiting area also conveys respect for clients. Program staff can demonstrate respect and cultural competence by explaining why certain questions need to be asked. For example, when asking about school and work experiences during which the client may have repeated failures, program staff should introduce the questions by stating, "In order for us to work together to find the best career path for you, I need to ask you some questions about school and work that may seem upsetting to you. Please let me know if there is a better way to ask you about this information, because that will help both of us."

  • Hope. Offenders accustomed to failure and feelings of hopelessness need contact with positive role models--people who have come through prison and substance abuse treatment and found a job. Employing program graduates as counselors is one way to offer role models; moreover, program graduates are often effective in breaking through clients' denial and cutting through manipulation. Bringing graduates in to speak to groups of participants and compiling a book of letters from graduates who benefited from vocational services are other ways of providing role models.
  • Positive incentives. Offenders need to experience achievement rather than failure. Programs should emphasize and build upon clients' small successes. This principle is in operation in many "drug courts," where judges take the time to praise the accomplishments of offenders, however small these accomplishments may seem. Some programs mark advancement through program phases with ceremonies or small tokens of achievement.
  • Clear information. Offenders need to know what they can expect from substance abuse treatment and vocational counseling and what will be expected of them. Counselors should orient clients to the process they are beginning: what the steps or stages are, how long each lasts, what happens during each stage, and what the program rules are, as well as the consequences of violating them.
  • Consistency. When ex-offenders fail to comply with program requirements, consequences under the program's control must be enforced swiftly and consistently. Offenders quickly learn whether the "system" is taking itself seriously. If there are inconsistent or delayed responses to rule violations, the rules might simply be disobeyed.
  • Compassion. Counselors should be aware that the ex-offender may be juggling many demands. Requirements laid down by the substance abuse treatment counselor may be competing with criminal justice reporting requirements (e.g., to a parole officer) or family obligations. From the ex-offender's perspective, it may seem that everyone trying to "help" her is piling on competing demands that are impossible for her to meet and that make failure inevitable. Counselors should ask the client what other requirements she faces and offer to help her master the skills to manage everything.
  • Information about the career ladder. Many ex-offenders believe that if they do obtain employment, it will be in a low-paying, "dead end" job. It is important for program staff to introduce and reinforce the concept of a career ladder. Clients need to develop a vision of increasing job skills and increasing job complexity, leading to increased pay and responsibility.
  • Assistance in transfer of skills. Often counselors overlook some of their clients' "special talents" that may have served to bring about negative outcomes in the past but that can be used in a new way when the ex-offender is clean and sober. For example, an ex-offender who was a leader of gang activity and showed management abilities (under negative circumstances) can be assisted to see that those same skills could be used to lead a work crew.

Program strategies for overcoming barriers

There are many strategies that substance abuse treatment programs can institute on a program level to help clients who are ex-offenders overcome barriers to employment. Following are some suggested strategies.

  • Programs can encourage and assist clients to acquire a General Equivalency Diploma (GED) by providing GED classes at the treatment site. In this way, clients can feel that education and GED classes are an important part of treatment. If this is not feasible, then program staff should attempt to enroll a group of ex-offender clients together at an outside GED classroom site and work with the instructor on an ongoing basis to sensitize her to the multiple needs of the clients.
  • VR staff should be invited to spend some time at the substance abuse treatment program site. In this way, clients see VR staff as part of the "treatment family," and staff have the opportunity to see the clients in another setting. In addition, this provides the substance abuse treatment program with an opportunity to cross-train staff.
  • Treatment programs can include job and skills training by providing clients with opportunities to perform jobs at the treatment site. When clients are expected to perform (and assisted in performing) important job functions at the treatment site, they (1) learn time management, problemsolving, and many of the unwritten rules of employment, such as not being distracted by friends; (2) are allowed the gradual development of work skills within a known, safe environment; and (3) can try different types of jobs (e.g., receptionist, carpenter, child care aide, gardener, transportation coordinator).
  • Programs should provide clients with guidance on budgeting. Many ex-offenders have not learned how to budget money. Programs should consider providing a skills-building group on budgeting and money management. Counselors can also work with clients to establish bank accounts and review and plan for monthly expenses.
  • Counselors should assist clients who are ex-offenders in following through on referrals and assembling necessary documents, such as social security cards and school transcripts.
  • The program can match clients to mentors or peers who can assist clients with all components of the vocational training or job placement tracks. Peers and mentors who are ex-offenders and have been employed successfully can assist in facilitating skills-building groups and job clubs (see Figure 4-2 in Chapter 4), providing support to appointments, facilitating support groups postemployment, and providing ongoing support. Workplace conflict is to be expected, and peers and mentors can assist the ex-offender in coping with these situations.
  • If the offender's emotional readiness to return to work is poor, substance abuse treatment programs can offer empowerment workshops to help clients increase their readiness. Peer-run or peer-cofacilitated workshops based on stages of change and motivational interviewing strategies can be effective in increasing clients' readiness and help them to feel that they have some control over their vocational choices (see TIP 35, Enhancing Motivation for Change in Substance Abuse Treatment [CSAT, 1999c] for more information on this topic).
  • Participation in 12-Step programs provides clients with peer support for remaining abstinent, handling daily problems, and developing a healthy social network. Substance abuse treatment programs can form linkages with local 12-Step programs to provide clients with information about joining these programs.

Women's Issues

Between 1986 and 1991, the number of women in State prisons for drug offenses increased by 433 percent, compared with a 283 percent increase for men in the same time period (LeBlanc, 1996). The number of African American women incarcerated for drug offenses in State prisons increased by 828 percent from 1986 to 1991 (Mauer and Huling, 1995).

Women in prison differ from their male counterparts in several significant ways: (1) they are less likely to have committed a violent offense; (2) they are more likely to have a dual diagnosis (substance abuse disorder and a psychiatric disorder); (3) they are more likely to have experienced multiple incidents of physical and sexual abuse; and (4) they are more likely to be responsible for their children's support (Morash et al., 1998; Teplin et al., 1996).

In a study of women in California prisons (Bloom et al., 1994), 31 percent reported experiencing sexual abuse as a child and 23 percent as adults, and 29 percent reported physical abuse as a child and 60 percent as adults, usually by partners. Domestic violence may continue to be a risk for women when they return to the community.

Economic self-sufficiency is a challenge for ex-offenders who have not developed employment skills, particularly for women faced with supporting themselves and their children. Women who were involved in drug dealing generally had low-ranking roles, and many women have been forced by economic need to participate in sex work or prostitution. In addition, educational opportunities and job training in prison may have been different for men than for women. A 1980 General Accounting Office study found that women within the Bureau of Prisons had access to only 13 prison industry jobs, while men had access to 84 (Miller, 1990).

Women with substance abuse problems who were incarcerated are more likely to be unemployed or underemployed than their male counterparts (Wellisch et al., 1993). In a large survey of incarcerated female prisoners conducted by the American Correctional Association, only 18 percent of the women indicated that they were qualified to obtain satisfactory employment following release from incarceration (American Correctional Association, 1990).

Female ex-offenders are extremely vulnerable to recidivism and relapse if they cannot sustain themselves economically through lawful employment. This has become even more critical since passage of the Federal Welfare-To-Work legislation (see Chapter 1 for more information).

Program strategies for female clients

Substance abuse treatment programs can institute strategies on a program level to help address the special needs and considerations of female clients who are ex-offenders. Following are examples of such strategies (see also Figure 8-1 for an example of a program that addresses women's issues).

  • Programs should incorporate the teaching of parenting skills and skills in finding child care. Program staff need to help mothers improve their parenting skills and assist them in finding affordable, safe child care when they do find employment. Many women are so concerned about losing their children or reuniting with them after incarceration that they have difficulty focusing on job preparedness. Staff should help clients see that preparing for work will help them care for their children adequately.
  • Once released from incarceration, women with substance abuse disorders should contact substance abuse treatment centers. The treatment program may need to provide transportation to the treatment site as well as make arrangements for child care. Ideally, the substance abuse treatment program should form a linkage to the correctional facility so that substance abuse treatment counselors have the opportunity to "reach in" to women while they are still incarcerated. This prerelease connection helps to establish relationships with these women.
  • Address safety issues--women who have been in abusive situations may be returning to an abuser. Counselors should assess safety issues when women return to potentially violent environments, and a safety plan should be developed and implemented (see TIP 25, Substance Abuse Treatment and Domestic Violence [CSAT, 1997] for information on how to do this). Many women may be prevented from implementing vocational plans by an abusive partner, and this possibility should be addressed. In addition, it is important for the counselor to assess the safety of the client's working environment or potential working environment.
  • Poor retention of women clients in community treatment programs is a widely reported problem. To increase retention, it is important to find or develop a gender-sensitive program that offers a continuum of care, including aftercare.

Barriers to Employment: What Society Brings to The Process

Employers who are reluctant to hire people with histories of substance abuse can be even less enthusiastic about substance abusers with criminal records. Ex-offenders may be viewed as unreliable and morally deficient and feared as volatile and dangerous. When this attitude is combined with the lack of marketable skills and scant work experience common to many ex-offenders, there seems to be little to recommend ex-offenders as employees.

There is no Federal statute like the Americans with Disabilities Act (see Chapter 2) to protect ex-offenders against employment discrimination. Although there are rulings that prohibit employers from asking applicants about arrests,1 employers are free to ask about convictions. In fact, some employers have access to offender criminal records. For example, applicants' criminal records may be screened by employers at any level in the public sector, by licensing agencies (and employment in a great number of occupations requires obtaining a license), by child care agencies, by educational institutions, by health care institutions, and by financial institutions. In fact, some employers may be required to ask about criminal history and to verify the information the offender supplies by checking official records. Which employers can (or must) obtain the criminal records of job applicants varies by State. Counselors and their clients should learn such information about prospective employers ahead of time so they can formulate strategies for addressing employers' concerns (see Chapter 3 for more information).

There are ways employers can obtain information about applicants' criminal records other than by obtaining official records. Employers can develop relationships with law enforcement officials and receive information "under the table." Employers can also pay consumer reporting (or "credit" reporting) agencies for information about applicants' criminal records and work histories. The Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act prohibits such agencies from reporting negative information that is more than 7 years old when an applicant has applied for a job paying less than $20,000 a year. Some States have Fair Credit Reporting laws that provide additional protections.

Some States, such as New York, offer ex-offenders explicit statutory protection against employment discrimination.2 New York's statute (Article 23A of the Correction Law) makes it illegal to deny an ex-offender employment because of his criminal history unless the offender's convictions are directly related to the job he seeks or his employment would create an unreasonable risk to the safety of people or property. The statute requires the employer to consider each ex-offender as an individual, weighing factors such as the specific duties and responsibilities of the job and the bearing, if any, that the offender's criminal history has on his fitness to fulfill the duties and responsibilities of the job; the seriousness of the offense(s) committed; how long ago the offense(s) occurred and the individual's age at the time; and any evidence of rehabilitation. While the statute is well drafted, in practice employers have wide latitude to reject ex-offenders on the ground that their convictions are directly related to the jobs they seek or that their employment would pose an unreasonable risk to people or property.

Unfortunately, once an ex-offender has been rejected by an employer, there is seldom legal recourse, even when statutory protections exist. It will be the rare ex-offender who can demonstrate that she was clearly the superior applicant for a particular job. Therefore, for the ex-offender, as for the person recovering from substance abuse disorders, the best strategy is similar to the "Ounce of Prevention" strategy outlined in Chapter 7. Counselors should help clients who are ex-offenders to

  • Focus on occupations and employers who do not bar ex-offenders. A job-seeker with two strikes against him (inexperience and a substance abuse history) should not make his search more difficult by targeting a job for which his criminal history will be a barrier. Counselors should be alert to the kinds of jobs that will be particularly difficult for clients to obtain. A client with a felony record who insists on seeking a job in law enforcement, for example, probably needs help recognizing that his quest is unattainable. He may also benefit from counseling that will help him understand that his focus is self-defeating.
  • Develop realistic goals. Clients with limited work experience often have unrealistic expectations about the kinds of jobs they can obtain. Often, they need exposure to the long view--the notion that people can start at a level commensurate with their current skills and experience history and work their way up to greater pay and responsibility as their skills increase and their work history accumulates.
  • Clean up official criminal histories ("rap sheets"). If an employer will have access to the ex-offender's criminal record, it is a good idea for counselor and client to take a look at it before the prospective employer does. Offenders' records frequently include mistakes that make their criminal histories look far more serious than they are. For example, the number of the statute the offender violated may be incorrect; a single digit can turn an assault into a conviction for bombing a building. A single offense may also be entered multiple times--when the offender was first arrested, when she was convicted, and when she was sentenced and incarcerated. Multiple entries for the same offense will appear to the employer to be entries for a series of crimes. Multiple entries can sometimes be combined, "shortening" the offender's record. Finally, in some States, offenders can "seal" parts of their criminal records, so that some employers with access will not see the offenses. For example, arrests that did not result in a conviction can sometimes be expunged from a criminal record. The process for obtaining an offender's criminal history, correcting errors, and "sealing" portions of the record varies by State. This process of cleaning up the ex-offender's record can also help the counselor engage her in developing a positive attitude toward counseling, as the process not only demonstrates the counselor's interest in the client's improved job prospects but also can yield immediate and tangible results.
  • Develop "smarts" about when to disclose a criminal record. Clients looking for a job
  • should not volunteer negative information unless the employer has some other way to get it. For example, if a job applicant will be fingerprinted, it is usually a good idea for him to disclose his criminal record before the employer obtains it.
  • Learn and practice a statement that acknowledges a substance abuse and criminal history and offers evidence of rehabilitation. The statement that the client develops should address three important parts:
    1. An acknowledgment that the client has a criminal record. The simple statement, "Yes, I have been convicted of drug possession," is sufficient unless the employer asks for more. If the employer asks for more, the client should offer a brief but accurate summary of the facts. An employer does not usually need to know the full details.
    2. The details of the criminal offense(s) (should the employer request them) without "letting it all hang out" and losing the employment opportunity. Counselors and clients alike should keep in mind that there is a difference between describing a criminal history to a 12-Step group and describing it to a prospective employer.
    3. A brief explanation (should the client be asked) of her record that does not try to excuse it. A client should not profess innocence or claim she was unjustly convicted. Such statements are red flags for an employer, signaling that the client is not honest with herself or others. On the other hand, if the criminal record dates to the offender's youth, she can mention that or other circumstances that might "explain" (but not excuse) the criminal behavior.

The statement should then offer evidence that the ex-offender has overcome his problems and changed his life. The client should be prepared to provide facts to support the claim that he has mended his ways. For example, a client with a criminal record for drug possession could point out that he has been sober for a year, that his criminal activities were limited to the period he was abusing drugs, that he has successfully completed a rehabilitation program, and that his drug use history and criminal activities are behind him. A client who served time for robbery could point to the efforts she made while in prison to prepare for a different future, such as taking academic or vocational courses, earning a degree, or participating in substance abuse treatment. Or, a client can tell the employer that since his release he has become active in his church choir or that he shovels snow for the elderly man next door. Evidence of change could also include written recommendations from community members, such as a minister, parole officer, or counselor. (Note that if the counselor at a substance abuse treatment program is asked to provide a reference, the client must sign a proper consent form, as discussed in Chapter 7.)

  • Develop a "statement of interest." Job seekers who are competing with others who do not have criminal records should be prepared to tell an employer why they are particularly interested in a job and why they are qualified for it. For example, a client who is interviewing for a job as a stock-room clerk might say that she is interested in the employer's business (be it hardware or toys), that she likes working in an environment where she is responsible for keeping track of inventory, and that she hopes, in time, to move up in the organization. Or, a client applying for a job as a car mechanic might mention that he has always been fascinated with cars and helped at a neighborhood repair shop when he was a teenager. The client making this kind of statement should avoid clichés and pat answers. To make the statement believable, the client must believe in the statement. A counselor can be particularly helpful to clients struggling to formulate goals and develop statements of interest.
  • Develop statements about other positive aspects of a client's background. Counselors can help clients sift through their histories to uncover interests, skills, and experience to offer a particular employer. Perhaps a client applying for a food-handling job has worked in a program's kitchen during treatment. Another client seeking work with a landscaper might have earned money gardening during school vacations. A client who can offer enthusiasm, talent, or some related background is more likely to get a job than someone who simply presents herself as needing one.
  • See the problem from the employer's point of view and learn to address the employer's concerns. An employer may never have knowingly hired an ex-offender. The employer may feel that someone with a substance abuse and criminal history is, by definition, a "bad" person, someone who cannot be relied on to show up regularly, who cannot be trusted with money, who probably still uses drugs or alcohol, or who will inevitably relapse into drug use and criminal activity.

During an interview, a client may have the opportunity to acknowledge that he is asking the employer to "take a chance" on him and to address the employer's concerns directly. For example, an ex-offender could say, "I know this job carries a lot of responsibility and that you are probably concerned about whether I can handle it or whether I will start using drugs again. Well, I went into treatment and have been drug free for 2 years. Once I entered treatment, I stopped getting into trouble." Perhaps the client can offer a concrete example that shows that once she became sober her attitudes and actions changed; for example, she volunteered to work in a soup kitchen. Such steady work is evidence that she will reliably show up for work and pitch in. A reference letter from the organization running the soup kitchen could reduce a potential employer's negative view of the ex-offender.

  • Deal with illegal questions such as "Have you ever been arrested?" Counselors can tell a client whose record includes both arrests and convictions to respond by answering, "Yes," and listing his convictions. A client who has been arrested but never convicted can respond in one of these ways:
    • "I have never been convicted of a crime."
    • "No," but this is a lie and, for reasons mentioned in Chapter 7, not a good idea.
    • "That's an illegal question." This is bound to antagonize the employer and raise the suspicion that the answer is "yes."

Program Strategies for Overcoming Barriers With Employers

The following are strategies that substance abuse treatment programs can implement to help clients who are ex-offenders overcome barriers to employment.

  • Educate employers. Some treatment providers are implementing education programs for employer groups to help them understand some of the positive aspects of hiring ex-offenders. Some providers have established Business Advisory Committees.
  • Provide job coaching on an employer's site. If possible, substance abuse treatment programs should consider providing staff as job coaches to assist new employees in adapting to a new work culture (see Chapters 2 and 3 for more information about job coaching).
  • Help clients to evaluate work environments. When an ex-offender is offered a job, counselors should help the client to assess whether the job provides a supportive environment for recovery from substance abuse disorders.

Program Examples

A report (Finn, 1999) described four programs across the country that prepare inmates and parolees for employment by providing intensive educational and life skills services, social support, and postemployment followup, in addition to traditional job preparation and placement assistance. These programs are (1) the Safer Foundation in Chicago, (2) the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) in New York City, (3) Project RIO (Reintegration of Offenders) in Texas, and (4) the Corrections Clearinghouse (CCH) in Washington State. Although each program is unique, they share program components that can be replicated by others. Basic services include life skills training, job preparation skills, job placement, social support, and followup assistance. With regard to providing support services and followup, all four programs devote resources to helping ex-offenders address substance abuse, affordable housing, child care, emotional difficulties, and other barriers to securing and maintaining employment. These programs also follow up with clients after placement. See Figure 8-2 for a summary of the four programs.

Endnotes

1 Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (29 U.S.C. §2000e-2000e-17), which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, has been interpreted to outlaw questions about an applicant's arrests. This ruling is based on two premises: (1) Members of minority racial groups are arrested more often than whites, which means that this question tends to disqualify a disproportionate number of minority applicants, and (2) an arrest that has not resulted in conviction of a crime has little value as a test of character. A few States, such as New York, have adopted legislation that offers limited protection to ex-offenders from employment discrimination. Unlike the Federal laws protecting individuals with disabilities, however, the law permits employers to weigh an individual's convictions against a set of factors in determining whether to hire him. Employers can weigh the disability in terms of whether or not the employer believes it means that the applicant cannot fulfill the "essential functions" of the job (and perhaps also that changes to the job situation would fundamentally alter management prerogatives).

2 To learn more about State law--the protections it offers and the available remedies--providers can call the State or local "human rights," "civil rights," or "equal opportunity" agency. Local legal services offices, law school faculties, or bar associations may also have information available or may be willing to provide a lawyer to make a presentation to staff.

[Back Matter]

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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Office of Applied Studies.

National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. DHHS Pub. No. (SMA) 97-3149. Rockville, MD: SAMHSA, 1998b.

Suffet, F., and Brotman, R.

Employment and social disability among opiate addicts. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse 3:387-395, 1976.

Syzmanski, E.; Ryan, C.; Merz, M.; Trevino, B.; and Johnston-Rodriguez, S.

Psychosocial and economic aspects of work: Implications for people with disabilities. In: Syzmanski, E.M., and Parker, R.M., eds. Work and Disability: Issues and Strategies in Career Development and Job Placement. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed, 1996.

Teplin, L.A.; Abram, K.M.; and McClelland, G.M.

Prevalence of psychiatric disorders among incarcerated women. I. Pretrial jail detainees. Archives of General Psychiatry 53(6):505-512, 1996.

Terkel, S.

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Appendix B --Resources: Tools and Instruments

Title:

Addiction Severity Index Package

Purpose:

To evaluate client functioning in seven life areas: employment, medical, alcohol use, drug use, legal, family/social, and psychiatric; often used as an outcome measure before and after treatment.

Target Population:

Substance abuse disorder and mental health clients (adult version)

Administration:

Both clinician-administered and client self-administered forms; paper and pencil and software versions are available.

Test/Scoring Time:

Approximately 60 minutes

Price:

$63 (kit includes 240-page manual and 2-hour VHS video)

 

Some ASI materials may be distributed without cost. See Appendix D for one version of this instrument.

Available From:

National Technical Information Service (NTIS) Order Desk

 

5285 Port Royal Road

 

Springfield, VA 22161

 

(888) 584-8332 Fax: (703) 605-6900

 

www.ntis.gov.

E-mail: info@ntis.fedworld.gov

 

 

Also available from: Delta Metrics

 

2005 Market Street, Suite 1120

 

Philadelphia PA 19103

 

(215) 665-2880, (215) 665-2892

 

For SOFTWARE versions of ASI (Adult and Adolescent versions, and Treatment Plans), contact:

 

Accurate Assessments

 

183 Harney, Ste. 101

 

Omaha, NE 68102

 

(800) 324-7960

Title:

Adult Basic Learning Examination (ABLE)

Authors:

Bjorn Karlsen, Eric F. Gardner

Purpose:

Measures adult learning in a variety of adult education programs, including Tech Prep programs, GED programs, and adult literacy programs.

Target Population:

Adults

Administration:

Designed for classroom use. Consists of 3 levels: level 1 for adults who have completed 1-4 years of formal education; level 2 for adults with 5-8 years of schooling; level 3 for adults with at least 8 years of schooling and who may or may not have graduated from high school. A Spanish version of level 2 is available as well. Related products are available.

Test/Scoring Time:

Untimed; each level averages 2 hours, 40 minutes. ABLE Screening Battery averages about 1 hour.

Price:

$55.75 (kit includes level 1, 2, 3 test booklets, directions for administering, group record, hand-scorable answer sheet, READY SCORE answer sheet, and Selectable READY SCORE answer sheet)

Available From:

The Psychological Corporation

 

555 Academic Court

 

San Antonio, TX 78204

 

Attn: Clinical Sales

 

(800) 211-8378 Fax: (800) 232-1223

 

www.hbem.com; www.psychcorp.com

 

 

Title:

Career Attitudes and Strategiesú (CASI): An Inventory for Understanding Adult Careers (1994)

Authors:

John L. Holland, Ph.D.; Gary D. Gottfredson, Ph.D.

Purpose:

Assesses attitudes related to career, identifies career problems and obstacles in employed and unemployed adults.

Target Population:

Adults

Administration:

Self-administered; individual

Test/Scoring Time:

35 minutes

Price:

$75 (introductory kit includes manual, 25 inventory booklets, 25 hand-scorable answer sheets, and 25 interpretive summary booklets)

Available From:

Psychological Assessment Resources, Inc.

 

P.O. Box 998

 

Odessa, FL 33556

 

(800) 331-TEST

 

www.parinc.com

Title:

Career Thoughts Inventoryú (CTI) (1996)

Authors:

James P. Sampson, Jr., Ph.D.; Gary W. Peterson, Ph.D.; Janet G. Lenz, Ph.D.; Robert C. Reardon, Ph.D.; Denise E. Saunders, M.S.

Purpose:

Assists in career problemsolving and decisionmaking; assesses for and alters negative career thinking.

Target Population:

Adults, college students, and high school students

Administration:

Individual or group

Test/Scoring Time:

7-15 minutes

Price:

$89 (kit includes CTI professional manual, 5 workbooks, 25 test booklets)

Available From:

Psychological Assessment Resources, Inc.

 

P.O. Box 998

 

Odessa, FL 33556

 

(800) 331-TEST

 

www.parinc.com

 

 

Title:

Crawford Small Parts Dexterity Test (CSPDT)

Author:

John Crawford

Purpose:

Tests manual dexterity.

Administration:

The two-part, pegboard-type test uses a wooden board with separate wells for pins, collars, and screws.

Test/Scoring Time:

3 minutes for part 1; 5 minutes for part 2.

Price:

Kit: $564.10 (Canadian)

 

Manual: $22.44 (Canadian)

Available From:

M.D. Angus & Associates Ltd.

 

2639 Kingsway Avenue, 2nd floor

 

Port Coquitlam, BC V3C 1T5

 

Canada

 

(604) 464-7919 Fax: (604) 941-1705

 

www.psychtest.com

 

 

Title:

Geist Picture Interest Inventory

Author:

Harold Geist, Ph.D.

Purpose:

Identifies vocational and avocational interests, especially with culturally different and educationally deprived persons.

Target Population:

Grade 8 through adult

Administration:

Individually or to groups

Test/Scoring Time:

Scoring takes a few minutes.

Price:

$78.50 (kit includes test booklets for males and females, and manual)

Available From:

Western Psychological Services

 

12031 Wilshire Blvd.

 

Los Angeles, CA 90025

 

(800) 648-8857 Fax: (310) 478-7838

 

 

Title:

General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB)

Purpose:

Measures 9 aptitudes with 12 separate tests. The last five tests involve pegboards.

Target Population:

Grade 9 to adult

Administration:

Comprises two test booklets with four separately sold answer sheets and two pegboards (small parts and gross motor). May be administered to small groups, except for the small parts and gross motor test. The pegboards are expensive and relatively difficult to administer. Their use may be warranted if residual neurological impairment is suspected (e.g., in recovering alcoholics).

Test/Scoring Time:

1 hour

Price:

Test booklets: $71.50 each

 

Prices of answer sheets and pegboards may be viewed in online catalog at www.psychtest.com/curr02

Available From:

M.D. Angus & Associates Ltd.

 

2639 Kingsway Avenue, 2nd floor

 

Port Coquitlam, BC V3C 1T5

 

Canada

 

(604) 464-7919 Fax: (604) 941-1705

 

www.psychtest.com

 

 

Title:

Kuder Occupational Interest Survey (KOIS)

Author:

Frederic Kuder

Purpose:

Assesses interest of students and adults in areas related to higher education and occupations.

Target Population:

Grade 10 through adult

Price:

$135.10 (package includes 20 books with items and response section, complete scoring, individual narrative reports, counselor's narrative reports, instructions; manual sold separately)

Available From:

CTB/McGraw-Hill

 

20 Ryan Ranch Road

 

Monterey, CA 93940

 

(800) 538-9547 Fax: (800) 282-0266

Title:

System 2000 (formerly Microcomputer Evaluation Screening and

Assessment [MESA] System)

 

Purpose:

A modular software system for IBM-compatible personal computers, including a career planner, census database, computerized assessment, competencies database, dictionary of occupational titles (DOT), and more. Modules can be purchased separately.

Price:

Varies by module (e.g., system manager, $300; computerized assessment, $3,875; DOT database, $1,015)

Available From:

Valpar International Corporation

 

P.O. Box 5767

 

Tucson, AZ 85703-5767

 

(800) 528-7070 Fax: (520) 292-9755

 

www.valparint.com

 

 

Title:

Minnesota Clerical Test (MCT) (1979)

Authors:

Dorothy Andrew, et al.

Purpose:

Measures aptitude for office work such as bookkeeping, filing.

Price:

Examination kit: $41.67 (Canadian)

 

Booklets (25): $102.56 (Canadian)

 

Manual: $35.26 (Canadian)

 

Scoring key: $32.05 (Canadian)

Available From:

M.D. Angus & Associates Ltd.

 

2639 Kingsway Avenue, 2nd floor

 

Port Coquitlam, BC V3C 1T5

 

Canada

 

(604) 464-7919 Fax: (604) 941-1705

 

www.psychtest.com

 

 

Title:

My Vocational Situation (MVS)

Authors:

John L. Holland, Ph.D.; Denise Daiger; Paul G. Power

Purpose:

Helps determine lack of vocational identity, lack of information or training, or emotional or personal barriers.

Target Population:

Adults

Administration:

Self-administered

Test/Scoring Time:

Less than 10 minutes; can be tabulated "at a glance"

Price:

$25 (kit includes manual and 50 questionnaires)

Available From:

Psychological Assessment Resources, Inc.

 

P.O. Box 998

 

Odessa, FL 33556

 

(800) 331-TEST

 

www.parinc.com

Title:

Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT-III)

Purpose:

Measures listening comprehension for spoken words in standard English, provides a screening test of verbal ability.

Target Population:

2.5-90+ years

Administration:

Individually administered

Test/Scoring Time:

11-12 minutes

Price:

$149.50 for basic kit; other related products available at various prices.

Available From:

AGS/American Guidance Service

 

4201 Woodland Road

 

Circle Pines, MN 55014-1796

 

(800) 328-2560 or (612) 786-4343 Fax: (800) 471-8457 or (612) 786-9077

 

E-mail: agsmail@agsnet.com

 

 

Title:

Psychological Screening Inventory

Author:

Richard I. Lanyon, Ph.D.

Purpose:

Provides brief, nonthreatening mental health screening. Identifies people who might benefit from more extensive examination.

Target Population:

Adults and adolescents

Administration:

Individual or group

Test/Scoring Time:

15 minutes

Price:

$49 (includes manual, question and answer sheets, scoring templates, and profile sheets)

Available From:

Sigma Assessment Systems, Inc.

 

511 Fort Street, Suite 435

 

P.O. Box 610984

 

Port Huron, MI 48061-0984

 

(800) 265-1285 Fax: (800) 381-9411

 

 

Title:

Reading-Free Vocational Interest Inventory (R-FVII)

Author:

Ralph L. Becker, Ph.D.

Purpose:

Measures vocational interests, likes, and dislikes of special populations.

Target Population:

Learning disabled, mentally retarded, and disadvantaged individuals ages 13 and older

Administration:

Individual or group

Test/Scoring Time:

20 minutes

Price:

$84 (introductory kit includes manual, occupational title lists, and 20 test booklets)

 

 

Available From:

Psychological Assessment Resources, Inc.

 

P.O. Box 998

 

Odessa, FL 33556

 

(800) 331-TEST

 

www.parinc.com

 

 

Title:

Revised Beta Examination (Beta II)

Authors:

C.E. Kellogg, N.W. Morton

Price:

$153.85 (Canadian) (kit includes booklets, key, manual)

Available From:

M.D. Angus & Associates Ltd.

 

2639 Kingsway Avenue, 2nd floor

 

Port Coquitlam, BC V3C 1T5

 

Canada

 

(604) 464-7919 Fax: (604) 941-1705

 

www.psychtest.com

 

 

Title:

Self-Directed Search¨ (SDS¨) (several versions available)

Author:

John L. Holland, Ph.D.

Purpose:

Assesses vocational interests and long-term career planning.

Target Population:

Individuals on the career-development track

Administration:

Self-administered; individual or group

Test/Scoring Time:

15-25 minutes

Price:

$133 (for Form CP: Career Planning) (introductory kit includes professional user's guide, technical manual, 25 form CP assessment booklets, 25 career options finders, and 25 exploring career options booklets)

Available From:

Psychological Assessment Resources, Inc.

 

P.O. Box 998

 

Odessa, FL 33556

 

(800) 331-TEST

 

www.parinc.com

 

 

Title:

Slosson Intelligence Test-Revised (SIT-R)

Authors:

Richard L. Slosson, Ph.D. Revised by Charles L. Nicholson, Ph.D., Terry L. Hibpshman, Ph.D.

Purpose:

Provides a quick, reliable measure of intelligence to determine if further, in-depth evaluation is needed. Slosson Full-Range Intelligence Test (S-FRIT) (1993) is also available from source listed below ($119/kit).

Target Population:

Ages 4 years and older

Administration:

Individual

Test/Scoring Time:

10-30 minutes

Price:

$91 (introductory kit includes manual, norm tables, and 50 score sheets)

Available From:

Psychological Assessment Resources, Inc.

 

P.O. Box 998

 

Odessa, FL 33556

 

(800) 331-TEST

 

www.parinc.com

 

 

Title:

Strong Interest Inventory

Purpose:

Measures interest in a broad range of occupations, work activities, leisure activities, and school subjects.

Target Population:

Clients interested in career development or job change, as well as students exploring careers

Administration:

Licensed therapist or other professional trained in testing administration

Test/Scoring Time:

30-40 minutes (317 items)

Price:

Several versions available ranging from $69 to $135. Applications and technical guide: $57.75

Available From:

Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc. (CPP)

 

3803 East Bayshore Road

 

Palo Alto, CA 94303

 

(800) 624-1765 Fax: (650) 969-8608

 

 

Title:

Tennessee Self-Concept Scale (TSCS:2)

Authors:

William H. Fitts, Ph.D.; W.L. Warren, Ph.D.

Purpose:

Measures self-concept in adolescents, adults, and children.

Target Population:

Adolescents, adults, children

Administration:

Individual or group

Test/Scoring Time:

10-20 minutes

Price:

$130 (kit includes manual, answer forms, and 4 prepaid mail-in answer sheets)

Available From:

Western Psychological Services

 

12031 Wilshire Boulevard

 

Los Angeles, CA 90025

 

(800) 648-8857 Fax: (310) 478-7838

 

 

Title:

Vocational Preference Inventoryú (VPI) (1985)

Author:

John L. Holland, Ph.D.

Purpose:

Assesses career interests through a brief personality/interest inventory based on the RIASEC personality theory.

Target Population:

Adults and older adolescents

Administration:

Self-administered

Test/Scoring Time:

15-30 minutes

Price:

$44 (introductory kit includes manual and 25 test booklet/answer sheet/profile combinations)

Available From:

Western Psychological Services

 

12031 Wilshire Boulevard

 

Los Angeles, CA 90025

 

(800) 648-8857 Fax: (310) 478-7838

 

 

Title:

Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS-III)

Author:

David Wechsler

Purpose:

The most widely used ability assessment instrument; results reflect age and abilities of today's population.

Target Population:

Ages 16-89

Administration:

Individual

Price:

$625 (complete set includes administration and norms manual, technical manual, stimulus booklet, record forms, response booklets, object assembly subtest, block design subtest, picture arrangement subtest, and scoring templates)

Available From:

The Psychological Corporation

 

555 Academic Court

 

San Antonio, TX 78204

 

Attn: Clinical Sales

 

(800) 211-8378 Fax: (800) 232-1223

 

www: hbem.com; www.psychcorp.com

 

 

Title:

Wide Range Achievement Test 3 (WRAT3)

Author:

Gary S. Wilkinson, Ph.D.

Purpose:

Measures development of reading, spelling, and arithmetic skills. New standardization of this widely used test yields all new grade ratings.

Target Population:

Ages 5-75

Administration:

Individual or group

Test/Scoring Time:

15-30 minutes

Price:

$142 (introductory kit includes manual, 25 blue test forms, 25 tan test forms, 25 profile/analysis forms, plastic word list cards, and soft canvas carrying case)

Available From:

Psychological Assessment Resources, Inc.

 

P.O. Box 998

 

Odessa, FL 33556

 

(800) 331-TEST

 

www.parinc.com

Title:

Wide Range Interest-Opinion Test (WRIOT) (1979)

Author:

Joseph F. Jastak, Ph.D.; Sarah Jastak, Ph.D.

Purpose:

Culturally and sexually unbiased pictorial interest test for vocational career planning and counseling. No reading or language understanding required.

Target Population:

Ages 5 through adult

Administration:

Individually or in groups (individual administration is necessary for those too limited by age, mental ability, or physical limitations to complete the answer sheet). Self-loading IBM scoring package available.

Price:

$150 (starter set includes manual profile/report, picture book, answer sheets, scoring stencils, attaché case)

Available From:

Wide Range, Inc.

 

15 Ashley Place, Suite 1A

 

Wilmington, DE 19804-1314

 

(800) 221-9728 Fax: (302) 652-1644

 

 

Title:

Wonderlic Basic Skills Testú (WBST)

Purpose:

Measures job-related math and language skills to identify basic skill levels of job applicants and employees.

Target Population:

Teenagers and adults

Administration:

Individual

Test/Scoring Time:

20 minutes

Price:

$115 (introductory kit includes user's manual, 25 verbal tests, 25 quantitative tests, and scoring diskette with 25 uses for each test)

Available From:

Psychological Assessment Resources, Inc.

 

P.O. Box 998

 

Odessa, FL 33556

 

(800) 331-TEST

 

www.parinc.com

 

 

Title:

Work Potential Profile (WPP)

Purpose:

Identifies current characteristics and dispositions of older adolescents and adults seeking employment. Provides a criterion-referenced profile for the initial assessment of long-term unemployed persons and persons who have difficulty finding employment.

Target Population:

Adolescents and adults

Administration:

Individual or group; self-administered

Test/Scoring Time:

Untimed

Price:

$150 (introductory kit includes manual, 10 WPP questionnaires, 10 WPP answer sheets, 10 WPP group summary forms, 10 individual summary forms, and 8 score keys)

Available From:

Psychological Assessment Resources, Inc.

 

P.O. Box 998

 

Odessa, FL 33556

 

(800) 331-TEST

 

www.parinc.com

 


Chapters_1-2

Chapters_3-6

Chapter_7

Chapter 8 - Appendix B

Appendix_C – Figure F-2