Who hires violent offenders? You’d be surprised.

Their crimes aren’t easy to stomach.

VASAVOR job developer Mouly Aloumouati

Murder. Rape. Armed Robbery. Aggravated Assault.  But when they come to Mouly Aloumouati, they’ve done their time and have one thing in common.

They want a job and they want to start over.

Aloumouati does his best to accommodate.  A business developer at SkillSource Center, (a One Stop Career Center operator in Virginia), he also manages  the VASAVOR (Virginia’s Serious and Violent Offender Reentry) program in conjunction with re-entry organization OAR.  Over the past seven years, he estimates he’s dealt with some 400 violent offenders and found jobs for more than 75 percent of them.

“I’ve got a recidivism rate of 5 percent,”  he says, which isn’t bad, when you consider that nationally nearly two thirds of offenders return to prison or jail within two years.

Affable and approachable, Aloumouati’s secret is a mixture of practicality, doggedness and a willingness to do what it takes to help get his people placed.  When he started, he  had no experience with offenders, but over time he’s developed an acute understanding of the challenges they face and the way to overcome these.

I was fortunate to catch up with Aloumouati two weeks ago when I stopped by the local Career One Stop Center in Falls Church, VA.  Here’s some of what he had to say about how he works and what he’s learned:

On the biggest challenge the violent offender faces:

Some would call it the “fear” factor.   “I would say the hardest thing is getting over the stigma.  But I try to show the people I work with that the stigma is not the end of the world.  You can get past it, if you’re willing to work hard and be persistent.”  The important thing, he adds, is how you come across and whether you are employable.  This means do you have your IDs, do you know how to conduct yourself in a workplace, have you taken responsibility for your actions or are you in denial…otherwise I’m wasting my time because you’re not ready.”  The first step he takes with people who come to him is to do an employment assessment to see where they are.

On what kind of jobs serious offenders can get:

Aloumouati has placed offenders in the labor and construction industries, administrative and clerical jobs, the trades, transportation and food service, among other areas.  Many of these positions are entry-level, but he’s also helped individuals find more advanced positions in the medical and other professional fields.

On how the ex-offender should present himself:

“I tell people I work with you spend 10 seconds explaining your record in an interview, then you spend 10 minutes telling the employer what you can do for him.

On his job hunt secrets:

Aloumouati keeps a file on every employer who’s ever hired one of his clients.  Any reentry organization can develop a similar list by going to case files for the past three to four years and looking at where the offenders they worked with got jobs, he says.  Everywhere he goes, he brings business cards and makes sure he gets them from any employer he meets.  He scans the want-ads and Craig’s List regularly and follows up immediately.  “Youve got to get to the job before the non-criminals do to make your case,” he says.  In fact, he’s been known to drive offenders to an interview to take advantage of a hot lead right away.   Even if the job doesn’t work out — he keeps track of the employer so he can check back periodically and find out about new openings before they’re advertised.

On getting professional jobs:

Aloumouati has worked with former doctors, lawyers, police, judges, military, engineers and plenty of others with impressive credentials.  Sometimes these individuals will no longer be able to work in their field because of their crimes or licensing requirements. Nonetheless he has still been able to help many find very good jobs.  “I have five clients right now, who are making more than $85,000,” he says.

On his advice to an offender who can no longer work in his/her field:

You need to be very creative and change direction. “I tell the people I work with they have to dig deep in their souls and brains to bring me other industries where they can work.”  A medical doctor may never be a doctor again with a felony, but he can work with or for a doctor.  People may lose security clearances, but not the knowledge and experience they had previously.   I have a number of engineers and people in IT that I’ve been able to place in good jobs in the industry.  They may not be doing exactly what they were doing before, but they’re still using their skills.

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9 Comments

Filed under companies hiring ex-offenders, criminal records, education ex-offenders, employers hiring ex-offenders, employment assistance ex-offenders, employment ex-offenders, ex-offender psychology, job search ex-offenders, jobs ex-offenders, personal responsibility, reentry, reentry resources, second chances, starting over, taking responsibility

9 responses to “Who hires violent offenders? You’d be surprised.

  1. Jon Graves

    Can this list of employers be published?

    • Jon,

      I only wish it could. Unfortunately, like most job developers, Aloumouati only shares his leads on jobs with those clients who are working with him. In order to keep up good relations with employers, most employment counselors who work with offenders want to be sure that any candidate they send is prepared and a good fit for the job. Otherwise, they quickly lose credibility with hiring managers and the doors close for other people with criminal records who are looking for jobs. I have seen some lists of local employers who hire ex-offenders offered as handouts at Career One Stop centers. I’m not sure how updated they are. My suggestion would be to talk to a counselor at your local Career One Stop center or state employment office and perhaps they would be able to refer you to employers looking for your particular skills. Good luck!

  2. I have a violent offense of aggravated assault. I’m looking to start my life over. I’m 53 years old with a CDL license Class A no endorsements. I’ll do any type of work from dishes to mowing grass. I live in Seymour, Tennessee 37865.

    • Robert,

      Thanks for writing. My first suggestion would be to visit your local employment/career-one-stop center and talk to a counselor there. This link shows that there are 5 centers (my recommendation if you could get there would be the first one) iin your area . http://www.servicelocator.org/Search/etaSearchOffice.asp?zip=37865&city=&state= &proximity=25&search=Search . Even with an aggravated assault charge, getting a job as a driver is not out of the question, especially since you already have a CDL Class A license. You might also want to check out the Hire Network Link on my blog — if you go to Tennessee resources there it lists some organizations that help ex-offenders find employment. As Mr. Aloumouati notes, a violent offense need not be a bar to future employment, the key is proving that you really want the job and have put your past behind you and then putting in the effort to pursue all job leads, which it sounds as if you are ready to do. Good luck!!

      • I don’t know how the economy is like in Tennessee!
        Are you still on probation, if yes, how far you could travel, And far away from your victim? And what type of obligations you currently have? substance abuse class/ sex therapy class and others?
        Sometimes, is your license really active? I would double check!

        Regardless of your charge, with a CDL license you are in the right industry where your charges in most case don’t matter.
        Google all recycling, delivery, logistics, and constructions companies in your area and get your pen ready to start filling out applications.

  3. Mouly,

    Thanks for stopping by with a reply. You make a good point about a person needing to know how far he is allowed to travel and making sure all obligations are fulfilled before making a move. Hope this helps you, Robert!

  4. Robert Prater

    Hi this is Robert again. Thanks for your suggestions. I will definitely try these out for I still can not find any type of work. Everything gives the polite brush off as soon as they hear the word felon. I was released on Nov.29,2009. I also have 10 years on parole. I have a great parole officer which is willing to work with me on travel. Thanks again Kathy and also Mouly. My problem is because I was locked up for 10 years and don’t have recent driving time within the last 6 month’s to three years. I’m not a sex offender. Just for knowledge.

  5. Molly Miller

    HI, My fiance was convicted of attempted murder and aggravated discharge of a firearm at 19 years old in 2002. He spent 5 years in prison and has now been out for 5 years. He had been hanging out with the wrong group of people and was in a very bad place when he committed his crime. He is now a student at DeVry University with a 4.0. He has a strong desire to reach out and help others. His passion would be counseling troubled teens so that they don’t make the same choices that he made. However, he can’t seem to find a job anywhere. The only resource to help ex felons anywhere close to him is in downtown Chicago (he lives in the south suburbs). In order to take advantage of their services, he would have to give up the bad job he has now which is his only source of income. He and I have been doing research for months, hundreds of job applications and interviews. They like him, know about his background, hire him, then as soon as the check comes back he never hears from them again. He has so much potential and such a great heart with a lot to offer to others. Do you have any suggestions for him?

  6. kelly

    Im a violent offender in i know its hard to find work not alot in my area to help us either.

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