Archive for December, 2011

Hi Everybody!

Well, it would appear that I will NOT be attending school just yet.  I will probably continue to write the state board of cosmetology to appeal the rejection I recieved from BCC, and get some kind of approval to take the course.  The fact is, unfortunately, with the new age of backgroung checks, my chances of getting into any kind of program that requires a licence by the state of FL are slim to none.  I could work on an AA degree, but I am going to finish my book before I take on something that big.

  You can look at any of the statistics and posts offered  by my blogging guru, The Gateless Gate Zen Center (KC), and you will see that this state wants to convict and incarcerate as many drug addicts as they can. Prisons are money making machines.  I have stated before that nowadays these convictions on your background can stop you from being able to get a licence for any type of profession.  I was told that it was considered on a case by case basis, but I was denied even though I have no violent or robbery type charges.  Just small drug posession and prostitution. 

This may seem like a really broad statement, blanketing a very touchy and contreversial subject.  I am here to tell you that it is not.  It looks like it doesn’t really matter anymore what your charges are, if the state can find a reason to stop you from getting an occupational licence, they will.

 I have explained before, that I was a homeless junkie, selling her body and soul for a fix.  The police knew me on site.  Sometimes, when they couldn’t charge me with a crime, they would follow me as I walked from place to place, knowing full well I had nowhere to go.  They would laugh at me when they stopped me several times a night, and tell me to et off THEIR streets.  They knew I was homeless.  Sometimes, I would find a place to hide, and lay down, exhausted in some bushes or in an abandoned car.  If they found me, they would charge me with another misdemeanor, trespassing.  It went on and on, but NO ONE offered me any help.  What I DID get, was a record a mile long.  Trespassing and paraphenalia, prostitution and on the occasion that they found a pill or crack crumb, felony drug charges.  Charges piled up during that stage of my life, and there are 18 pages of shame for me to explain every time I submit to a background check.  Our system is slowly taking everyone down, charge by charge, who is addicted.  It even appears now after some research, that I cant even get licenced to be a drug counselor, because I have so many charges.

All those charges incurred court costs and fines, which adds up to a figue I can’t even hope to pay in my lifetime.  Especially when you take into consideration what I am about to explain next.

Ok, so years later, I am one of the  ones who have made it out of that life.   The obstacles are obvious, place to live, find a job, get some kind of education even if I can’t get a certificate or a licence.   There is one huge factor that I have not mentioned before, and that is child support.  After you get back on your feet in the free world, all of you financial obligations come after you. This one is the worst, because you can’t put it off, and you can’t get a decent paycheck.

The thing about child suport, is that once you start working your humble just got released job, it isn’t long before the state begins to garnish your wages.  It doesn’t matter how much you make, a certain percent will be taken out of you each day.  For me, I made minimum wage, working for day labor, which is all I could find.  Being female for me means you can’t do some of the work the larger men can do, so minimum wage was all I could get.  When I was provided a job assignment, which was sometimes all week, and sometimes as little as once every two weeks, 40 percent of my pay went to the two men who have my daughters. After working an 8 hour day, I recieve 24 dollars.  Both of these men have houses they live in (which is why my daughters are with them in the first place), they have a driver’s licence and and a car.  They have good jobs, making more than I could even dream of at this point.  Yet, my only means of survival is reaped to give to them, reguardless if it leaves me enough to survive.   I called child support enforcement, and was told no matter what, 40npercent of my pay is gone, there is no sliding scale based on how little I make.

For me, I have so many fines and court costs that have added up during my years of addiction and incarceration, and so much back child support that there is very little chance I will be able to get a drivers licence.  When I am able to work, the 24 dollars a day I make is not enough to survive, much less start paying on fines.

It is hard not to be bitter and angry.  I try to focus on what makes me happy.  God, my writing, my beautiful girls and my hopes that one day I will somehow get out from under all of this. Makeup and art thrills me, as well as music, so I let myself go in these things and try to forget…

I stay with my boyfriend despite the abuse, in between his crazy mood swings, I recieve the love I have craved for so long and he provides a good home, and a place for me to try and move ahead.  nI tell myself this to get by.  The truth is, I would have left by now if I could.  But, I know I probably would have went back, or found another relationship right away.  I don’t know how to get out of needing to be loved.  Maybe I even need to be abused…I don’t know the answer to that, but I think it’s a weakness, lack of self respect thing.

So this is just another aspect of getting out, and my story.  I am not nearly as strong as some of my sisters and brothers who have been released and done so well.  I know I have a lot of deeper problems that I have yet to get a handle on, and I hope that sharing all this will help those who still still struggle as I do.



 I was rejected for the cosmetology program at Brevard Community College.  If you read my previous posts, you know that it was quite costly to apply.  I have been going through a process that has taken two months and two hundred dollars.  I paid for a background check through Certified (105.00), application to BCC (30.00), application to cosmeology (25.00) a physical (10.00 through brevard health alliance)and hepatitus B vaccination, first shot (25.00).  That is not including the cost of loading a prepaid visa each time a new fee came into play.

 I called the school ahead of time, and asked one of the administrators in that area many questions reguarding my past, because I was concerned I would be denied when I learned of the requirements for getting accepted.  She listened to my story (and I was brutaly honest), and told me that she didn’t  think it would be a problem.  I told her of my felonies, and she said that I would have to write a letter (which I did) explaining my situation, and would probably have to do the same for the Florida State Board.  NIX!  This was NOT the way it all went down.

After my background check was posted for the powers that be to view, I called the school.  the said they recieved my leter, it was heartfelt and very good, and they would call me when they viewed my background.  Four days later, I recieved a call…

“We have to say no, Michelle you have 7 felonies!  you can’t get licenced in the state of Florida!”

I asked, how is that possible?  I was specifically told it was considered on a case by case basis, and that if I am clean (and have been for several years now) that I would have a chance to be heard by the state board.  The voice on the other end of the line told me that they are not going to even get me in touch with the state board, and that they do not believe I can ever get a cosmetology license.

I would like to remind you, the reader, that I am not a murderer, or a child molester, I never hurt anyone.  This whole thing is based on the fact that I was a drug user for several years who prostituted herself when she was homeless.  I never even stole from anyone.  I sold myself, and that is all.

So, I have been trying to get in touch with the state board of cosmetology on my own.  I have to call back today after 4 pm.  I am going to find out if I can appeal to someone there, instead of the school I applied to.  A local independant school that I contacted said they would gladly take me if I could provide some kind of proof that the state board would be willing to licence me despite my history.  I pursue this because it is a passion for me, I love hair and make up.

Tomorrow, I am going back to BCC and consulting with a course advisor, because I am going to take some classes no matter what the outcome.  I want to learn and explore my interests, and find out what I CAN do with my life despite my felonies.

Covering all my bases, so to speak.

Here’s the KICKER…the thing that really twists my pretzel…when I was in prison, cosmetology was one of the courses provided for inmates who were willing to learn and rehabilitate.  I took that course, and while there, I distinctly recall one fellow classmate who upon release, took her test, passed it, and went on to get a job doing hair.  After that, I never heard of another.  Has the new age of computer backgound checks made the criteria more strict?  Is it really possible that a recovering addict will forever be denied a licence to cut hair because of drug charges? Are women in prison taking this class, only to be denied a licence after all of their hard work?  WHAT IS HAPPENING?

It’s getting out of hand…people make mistakes.  We ALL do.  Some worse than others.  But, if background checks that reveal a history of drug use can stop a recovering addict from getting an education, and rebuilding their life, what hope is there for them?

I have been putting in a lot of applications for jobs, and I hear, over and over…

“yes well, after we complete a backgound check….”

Yes…after you complete a backgound check, I will most likely not be considered for the job, when you have 5 other applicants who DO NOT have a criminal background. I understand.

And so, an education is paramount.  It is important to allow a recovering addict to apply themselves, PROVE themselves able to stay clean, and to learn, so that when the job market is the goal, they may come equipped with a trade and be ready to do the job.  Employers are focusing on backgrounds though, not the individual. Hmmmmmm……

So then, the worst part of all this…many addicts are not really guilty of any kind of felonious act…no crimes against society…just, well, getting high.   Now they are felons.   What percentage of our population is addicted to some kind of substance?  My God…where are we going with this?