The PPDS (Pensacola Prison Discussion Society) conducted another meeting at the picnic table last night. The gathering was kicked off by our Hedge Fund Manager with his new favorite line “I USED TO MANAGE HEDGE FUNDS, NOW I TRIM HEDGES”.

Humor aside, we talked about the difficulties we anticipate we will experience when trying to find meaningful employment after prison. I brought up an article I had read in a recent Wall Street Journal written by Mark Holden, a senior vice president at Koch Industries. Holden describes why Koch Industries has “Banned the Box” on it’s employment application. The Box is the question that asks if the applicant has ever been convicted of a crime. By banning the box, applicants with a criminal history get an opportunity to be considered for a position based upon their qualifications as opposed to being summarily rejected because they checked the box. Koch Industries has had success in hiring former offenders and is encouraging other companies to follow their lead and ban the box.

I can confirm that one of my biggest fears is how I will be perceived by potential employers now that I have a criminal conviction. The other members of the PPDS have the same fears. We will just have to wait and see what happens.

Holden concludes his article with a compelling statement. (compelling, at least, to a felon).
“Hundreds of thousands of people with criminal records try to rejoin society every year, and they want to contribute to their communities and improve their lives. We can help them by breaking down barriers that stand in their way. No one should be judged forever based upon what they did on their worst day–and everyone deserves a second chance.”

I do not want to be judged forever based upon what I did on my worst day. Do you?

Ken Flaska

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