Monday, June 1, 2015

Are there chemistry jobs for ex-offenders?

A longtime friend of the blog asked a really interesting question: what aspect of chemistry employment or what field of chemistry would be most friendly to the ex-offender community?

I'm a bit stumped about this; the one thing I do remember is Linda Wang's 2007 article about UC Berkeley chemistry graduate students teaching prisoners in San Quentin.

I would imagine that jobs that require work around sensitive chemicals (scheduled drugs, for example) are out of the question. I presume that environmental/agricultural QC-type positions might be doable?

Readers, if you have suggestions, I would be interested in hearing them. Also, do you know someone who has spent some time in prison that has gotten a job as a chemist? 

11 comments:

  1. At a company I used to work for, they hired a janitor who was a hard worker and a great employee. About a month after he started, the outfit they outsourced his background check to finally got around to sending the report, which revealed a criminal record, and he was promptly fired. I can understand the fear that a janitor would have easy access to steal things, but I felt sorry for the guy because he was a hard worker and wasn't allowed to have even a low-paying job emptying trash cans.

    My advice would be to pursue companies too small to have an HR person on staff, as they'll be less apt to have rigid "check-the-box" requirements. Another tactic is to get your foot in the door through temping or by doing something beneath your ability, like a degreed chemist starting as a batchmaker on the plant floor.

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  2. I once got a request for career advice from an inmate. He had been a computational chemist, but due to the nature of his crimes was not going to be allowed to use computers upon his release. I printed and postal mailed a number of web sites for him, but did not have a lot of good ideas for new career paths.

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  3. There are few job opportunities, much less chemistry job opportunities, for ex-offenders. If they wish to continue with chemistry, their most promising prospects are on the black market. I don't mean to sound flippant; that's more a statement of how callous and short-sighted the laws are in the US.

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  4. I wonder if it would be realistic to move outside US, maybe to Europe or Canada where the background check would not be a problem. Another possibility would be anything oil and gas exploration related - they have some rough crews operating the rigs, and the pay is good.

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  5. seems a bit too obvious....

    Move to Colorado to be an analytical chemist?

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  6. The Aqueous LayerJune 2, 2015 at 8:42 AM

    The job market is tough enough for chemists without criminal records. I'd imagine having one would pretty much eliminate you from most applicant pools. I'd say that finding any job let alone one in chemistry is going to be difficult at best,

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  7. USA obviously does not believe in punishment and subsequent rehabilitation. Society is not set up for rehabilitation, with background checks making former inmates invalid and not allowing former inmates to vote. Immigration is a good choice, unfortunately it's not really one you can make with a criminal record and you're best of doing it before getting the criminal record. It's one of the things I really, really hate about America and why it'll be a long while before I come back probably. Shame on that company for firing the janitor (from Anonymous' story), or for those automatically not considering those who served their time for employment.

    No wonder more and more people feel like it's justified to screw others, especially when they involve corporations who are involved in power structures. (see the 'Burning down the Bayit' insurance fraud episode of Family Guy, or the recent rise of sovereign citizens).

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  8. Hi Uncle Sam,

    You are a US expat. I returned to the US in 2003 from western Europe. Twelve years later, I must conclude that people with non-standard backgrounds like myself really have no chance in finding meaningful, long-term jobs in academia, industry or government. It would be interesting to correspond with you as a real person. Am open to any suggestions on how to privately communicate.

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    1. Hey GC, I read your bio a while ago, and I do notice your posts from time to time. I just got a five year contract myself, but I don't know what's going to happen after. Plus I'm at an earlier stage of my career so I'm not sure I can give any advice... But there is an anonymous email that I use for retraction watch and such. blatnoychelovek at gmail Feel free to write there. I might not answer for a couple of days. They are waxing the floor in my building and the computer is prisoner at the lab. I hate using the phone to type. Also C-jobs might have my email if I remember right.

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  9. A very good friend of mine and excellent chemist lost a legal battle, basically because he ran out of money fighting the legal system and is a rugged individualist. This resulted in him having to do one year of time. While I obviously can't go into any details about this on a blog site, he is ​gainfully working as a chemist now, although not as a "regular" employee. It also prevents him from traveling abroad.

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