William Mark Hope, San Bernardino City resident and member of Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement (COPE)
William “Mark” Hope served a long-term sentence in prison before being released. After being released, the work began to find a job and continue reintegrating into his community. He recalls saying “man there are no jobs out here” but someone quickly reminded him that he can’t expect jobs to come to him instantly. He had to do the work to find them and he set out to do just that. However, as he searched, he learned that many jobs could only be accessed through the internet. He says, “there are tons of online databases where you can find work, but what seems simple to others, is difficult to someone who has spent over 20 years in prison.”
Things such as creating an email account, registering for different databases, and sending electronic resumes and applications were difficult to navigate. Fortunately, Mark found a network of support from people who shared work opportunities through word of mouth and helped him apply for employment opportunities with felon friendly employers who allowed people with criminal records a fair chance to get hired. Many formerly incarcerated people search for employers that won’t judge their criminal history and will understand their specific needs, especially those to meet parole conditions. In Mark’s case, having a network of people who provided him with the knowledge of felon friendly employment opportunities made him confident to follow through.
He was eventually hired and, because of his work ethic, fast tracked to the position of a “Lead Man” where he could make hiring recommendations. Under his lead, Mark has been able to make his employer see the value of fair chance opportunities.