Excerpted from cdispatch.com by Isabelle Altman

David Duett’s job interview was going great. The Columbus native had been referred for the position by the business’ owner. The hiring manager had come to the portion of the interview where she talked about salary and time off, and Duett was hopeful.

But then the manager turned the page of Duett’s application and saw his background.

“(When) she saw I’d been arrested and saw that I had a felony conviction, it’s like the door shut,” Duett remembered. “I went from thinking I was fixing to start a job the next day to I didn’t even get a call back.”

Duett had become addicted to methamphetamines in the early 2000s. In 2008, he was arrested for conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamines and served three years in the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Upon his release, he learned how devastating it is to be turned down for employment because of a past mistake.

“The word felony, on your record, is the worst word you could ever have,” he said. “… That word follows you everywhere you go.”

Finding the fit
Duett eventually regained his old job as a dental assistant at Columbus Dental Clinic — he credited Dr. John Fields with giving him a second chance. Not everyone would have done that, Duett said.

MDOC authorities, however, are hoping more employers will soon become more open to giving felons second chances. Matthew Riley, MDOC’s statewide re-entry coordinator, has hosted the “82 Counties in 82 Days” initiative to travel the state and encourage employers to look at the possibility of hiring those with criminal records.

In Lowndes and Oktibbeha counties, Riley said, that includes everything from manufacturing companies to major corporations like Wal-Mart.

“National data tells us that if a returning citizen is employed, they are three times less likely to recidivate,” Riley said. “That’s why our employment push is so, so important.”

You can read the full article here.