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5 Ways to Help a Loved One with a Criminal Record Change Their Life

People make mistakes in life and, unfortunately, for some, those mistakes can lead to an arrest and conviction. The crime may have been minor, possession of a small amount of marijuana, or it could have been serious, armed robbery. If you have a loved one who has been convicted and is now living with a criminal record, there are things you can do to help them change their life and find success.

Help them Find Work

One question on a job application can derail even the most dedicated person from applying if they have a criminal record. Every application asks if you have ever been convicted of a crime and, if the answer is yes, you must answer truthfully. However, there are companies that will hire an employee even if they have a criminal record. One way to help your loved one is to identify businesses where a criminal record is not an issue. Computer programmers, web developers, writers, mechanics and carpenters are types of jobs where a criminal record would have no impact on the duties of the job. A job search online can help you identify local businesses who may not require background checks and who are willing to hire someone who has been convicted.

Talk to Professionals

It is not unusual for people who have been convicted to suffer from depression which could lead them back down the wrong path. Talk to a counselor or someone with a master’s in social work who can give you advice on the best way to deal with your loved one. It would also be a good idea to arrange for counseling for your loved one as well to help them manage their feelings about the arrest and conviction. If they spent time in jail or prison, they may be experiencing sensory overload in the outside world, so counseling is a great way for them to manage their thoughts and improve their life.

Eliminate Opportunities

Often, people are arrested and convicted of crimes of opportunity. Many criminals commit crimes simply because they had the opportunity to do so. Today, more people are using prevention initiatives to eliminate the opportunity for crime. If your loved one committed a crime of opportunity, do what you can to keep them from temptation in the future, at least until they have undergone counseling or made strides that indicate they will not take advantage of opportunity again. This could include the installation of video cameras or restricting access.

Show Them Trust

Although you want to be sure your loved one does not take advantage of an opportunity to commit a crime, you also want to let them know you trust them. Give them chances to prove themselves and don’t “hover” over them to be sure they stay on the straight and narrow. Although they may have learned their lesson when it comes to crime, they will still make mistakes and they will need to know that you have faith in them and that you trust them to do the right thing.

Help Them Find Housing

If your loved one is not a spouse or child, you will want to find them affordable, safe housing. Many apartments and rental units have policies against renting to people with criminal records. However, in 2016, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that denying rentals based on criminal records may violate the Fair Housing Act. Some crimes, however, such as sex offenses, may not be covered by the new regulation, but for most crimes, it could be illegal for a landlord to refuse to rent to someone with a record. It may be necessary to contact an attorney to learn whether this applies to your loved one.

A criminal record can haunt someone for years, but there are things you can do to help a loved one who has made serious mistakes in the past. By providing them with love, support and understanding, your loved one can start down a better path and change their lives.

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.

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